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Bike Question

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Bike Question

Old 08-17-18, 01:51 PM
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Bike Question

So, here is my question...is there a "perfect" bike? My definition of "perfect" here would be a bike that is versatile enough to meet all/any of my cycling needs.

I've been riding mountain bikes and road bikes for over 13 years...started as a mountain bike but mostly ride on the road now. I got into gravel riding a few years ago though I do not live near any gravel right now. I have always loved road riding...but I do not race! I am really wanting to transition into some touring...hence my posting on this forum. Is there a bike that would be versatile enough to meet these needs...the occasional gravel ride, regular road/training rides, and touring when I am able? I assuming it is not a real problem to take racks off when not touring and just doing training rides if I wish.

Three (perhaps four) bikes I have been eye-balling are: the Nashbar Touring bike; the Fuji touring bike; REI's Co-op Cycle ADV 1.1, and the Masi Giramondo. Not necessarily stuck on these but generally like the specs and the price point. (before I can buy a new bike I need to sell my motorcycle )

Not necessarily looking for specific bike recommendations (though they are welcome) but thoughts on whether a touring bike is what I'm looking for or is there another direction I should be seeking?

Thanks in advance!!

- Pastor Joe
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Old 08-17-18, 02:03 PM
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Short answer: no, there is no "perfect" bike, but yes, there are plenty adequately "versatile" bikes, many of which youre already onto.

Long answer: the three pages that are bound to ensue of arguing over the perfect bike.
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Old 08-17-18, 03:29 PM
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Out here hundreds of people tour the coast on all sorts of bikes, every summer..
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Old 08-17-18, 03:54 PM
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My immediate response was "yes, it's my bike, and no, you can't have it!"

To be more serious, yes, a touring bike with ample clearances for wide tires and fenders fits the bill perfectly. Back in the day (late-70s, early 80s), I had just one bike, A Raleigh International. I mostly did recreational sport riding on it (centuries, daily rides with friends), but also used it for commuting, gravel road riding, and touring (including multi-week touring through Europe, New England and the west coast states). I also used it for criterium racing for a while, though its long wheelbase was not ideally suited for that. It used to be that multipurpose bikes like this were common in England. I think they were referred to as "club racers". Many of today's touring bikes and so-called "gravel bikes" have the same properties of those old club racers.

Currently I have a vintage (1981) Ron Cooper that is very club-racer-like. It has road racing geometry but also has wide tire/wheel clearances and a triple crankset to give low gearing. I'm currently running 700Cx32mm tires on it and use if for centuries, gravel rides and commuting. I would have no hesitation touring on it. The only downside of a touring bike or "gravel bike" is that it will be slightly heavier than a typical sport or racing bike. That doesn't matter unless you're racing.
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Old 08-17-18, 05:03 PM
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I have a touring bike which I also use to run errands, haul my canoe to the lake (14 miles away) and back, and just putter around on for fun. I have ridden it some on dirt roads, there is one I travel regularly but it's only about a mile, and the year before I built my first canoe I took this bike through the Moose River Plains road in the Adirondacks, it's about 20 miles or so (as I recall) of gravel. Last year with the canoe I took the same bike through the dirt road from Big Moose Station to Stillwater and out on the Lowville end, and it did fine for part of the trip. One end of that road is not so much gravel as beach-like sand, and I sunk into that pretty badly in spots. I have 700-32 Schwalbe Marathon tires on the bike. There were a few places where it was almost more than I could do to walk the loaded bike-trailer combination up some of the hills because my feet were sliding backward in the sand almost as fast as I walked forward. On the other end of that road where it's more compacted and less sandy I did fine and had no problems. If I was going to do a lot of gravel riding I think a mountain bike would be handier, but when I'm going 300 miles and only 20 or 30 are on gravel it makes more sense to have a road-efficient bike that can do the gravel than to have a gravel-capable bike that would be much slower on the road.
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Old 08-17-18, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by blowboat
So, here is my question...is there a "perfect" bike? .... versatile enough .....started as a mountain bike but mostly ride on the road now.... wanting to transition into some touring...
short answer....yes. the bike(s) you now have are adequate...

most any road bike can carry enough, even without racks, for credit card touring.

your mountain bike, if you still have it, will be fine. maybe switch to lighter/smoother tyres if you'll be on pavement.

figger out what kind of touring you will do before buying the bike to do the touring.
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Old 08-17-18, 09:11 PM
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MTB's can be nice for touring esp if they have eyelets for racks/fenders etc. Blowboat lists some nice touring bikes but max tire width is a bit limited. Perhaps there's some drop-bar adventure/gravel bikes in the same general price range?
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Old 08-18-18, 04:40 AM
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Ah! The perfect bike thread!

Any bike will go anywhere - it's just that some will be more comfortable than others.

I use an old MTB for all my riding and there are a lot of advantages to the idea.

You can throw on skinny, slick tyres (or even different wheels) for non-loaded road riding.
Throw on wider tyres for offroad, or longer distance touring.
If you're weight conscious remove the touring paraphernalia when not touring.

Rather than spending lots of money on different bikes, spend less money on specific components to do the job you want.

Works for me.
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Old 08-18-18, 07:26 AM
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I have half a dozen perfect bikes, each for different conditions. But I have the space to store them and have accumulated them over many years so buying them was not a financial burden.

Yes, it is easy to shed the touring racks when you get home. I take off my front rack for riding around home and put on a different rear rack for home use. My rear rack for touring is a Tubus Logo which has a very narrow platform, but it is a very strong solid rack that is outstanding as a pannier hauler. But around home I want a wider platform than the Logo offers. I have toured wtih a Racktime AddIt rack too, less capacity than the Logo and it has a wider platform so it is a good compromise rack for both around town use and also light touring. Right now I have an AddIt rack on my rando bike.

A touring bike would be good as a generic do-it-all bike as long as you do not mind a slower bike for road riding because it would have the wider tires that have some flat protection and with enough tread to work well on gravel. And perhaps most important, a touring bike should not handle like a wet noodle once loaded up for touring, whereas a different kind of bike might not work so well for touring. And a non-touring bike is less likely to have the the front rack mounts on the fork.

You need to decide if you want flat bars or drop bars. Or perhaps something else. If you have one bike for all purposes, that means that you are using one kind of bars and one kind of shifters for all purposes too.

One of my touring bikes has 37 mm tires on it, that is a good compromise for road riding while also working well enough on gravel or rough pavement. You can put on different tires for a bike tour, thus if you had one set of wheels you could vary your tires for the purpose. But that of course means taking the time to do so. One of my bikes this year I shed the studded tires at the end of winter and put on a set of touring tires. And then a few months later changed the tires again to wider mountain bike tires for riding in some looser gravel. But I have the time to change tires, and perhaps more importantly I do not mind working on bikes, I was a bike mechanic before I went to college so I am used to working on a bike.
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Old 08-18-18, 07:03 PM
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I appreciate all the responses and help. I'll keep trying to define goals and "needs" and see what shakes out. Thanks again!
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Old 08-19-18, 04:13 AM
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Keep your eye out for an old Cannondale aluminum touring bike. It’ll be a little lighter and stiffer than a classic/standard steel tourer and I think the geometry might be a little less relaxed too(which you’ll want for the all arounder). Personally, I wouldn’t ideally use something like a LHT as my only bike. They’re good at touring, but heavy with sluggish handling. To me they’re more of a specific “good for touring” bike than a “jack of all trades” bike. Many “gravel bikes” are good all arounders. If you get a touring specific bike, I’d recommend a set of tires for fun road rides. Or even a lighter wheel-set if the budget is there. Ditching a pound of rotating wheel weight and a pound of stiff tire rubber can make the bike a more fun to ride rather than just being good at hauling stuff.
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