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Expedition Touring; replacing my trusty mountain bike

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Expedition Touring; replacing my trusty mountain bike

Old 01-27-19, 06:54 PM
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Expedition Touring; replacing my trusty mountain bike

Anyone touring on a recent hardtail mountain bike? Any recommendations for a basic/durable bike as a base to modify for an extended trip?

The photo below is the bike I used for a majority of my Alaska to Argentina trip in 2016/2017. As a whole, I am fairly happy with how it handled and particularly the overall reliability. In this case, I started with a stock 2011 model Trek bike and made some general upgrades: wheels, racks, brakes, saddle, etc. Once I had my second rear wheel in San Diego, it lasted all the way to Ushuaia. The frame cracked in Argentina and was welded and lasted the last of the trip.

I am in early stages of dreaming of another rough expedition, perhaps joining a friend starting on the Road of Bones (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R504_Kolyma_Highway) and a little piece of eastern Russia after that. Given the repaired frame, I'm not using my South America bike other than commuting.

So I'm thinking of perhaps starting with something similar. A reasonable basic hardtail type mountain bike and upgrading subsystems with an eye towards reliability. If my past bike is any indication, I might spend more on the upgrades than the base bike itself. The key item is myself and gear are moderately heavy, so durability/reliability is the most important factor. I expect mostly rough gravel riding (sometimes quite rough with large individual boulders) and occasional sections of pavement. I cycled across Russia in 2007 on a Trek 520 but expect these roads to be rougher than what I encountered then.

Any suggestions of bikes to look at starting from? My default is to start fairly mid-range mountain bikes from Trek or similar manufacturers. Perhaps suspension fork but not full suspension. Ability to have wider tires than the 700x38C my Trek 520 would otherwise allow.
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Old 01-27-19, 08:57 PM
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Ok, I'll bite.
I figure its best to go the "if it aint broke, don't fix it" route and stick with 26inch wheels. You've been down this route and you know what wheelsets work for you, so I would think it would be good to stick with them?
If this is what you want to do, then it eliminates some bikes that are 29 inchers, like the Surly Ogre.

I was always super impressed how your Trek (s) frames performed so well. I really don't know what similar mountain bike frames are out there nowadays, and certainly not if the level of frame quality is around anymore for what 26 inch bikes are still sold (mountian bike ones I mean).

I know those British Thorn bikes are still 26in, or at least some models, but I do know they are pricey bikes, but do have a solid reputation as really solid bikes.

Do you think you would need and or use wider tires than the 2 inch ones you used on your Americas trip? I'm wondering if the Road of Bones etc would be better with wider? I've ridden on 2.5's and the difference is quite noticeable on dirt and loose dirt, and all the reports I've read of folks using 2.5, 2.8 seem to confirm that it makes really rocky stuff a lot lot easier--I do realize though that you start to get into wider rims with the larger sizes.
My wifes Troll, a 2017, has wider stock rims than my troll, and it came with 2.5 tires, but those rims are still not really wide at all, and dont look that different than mine or yours I dont think (I don't recall the dimensions of inner width and all that of miine and her rims)

I know I've mentioned my friend who did a big part of the Divide Trail on 2.5 tires and really liked them for all the loose stuff, and said they rolled reasonably well on asphalt also, but its always a compromise for having them wider for the rough stuff.

on the whole wider tire tangent, there are more and more frames designed for wider stuff, but I don't think other than the Troll, there aren't many (or maybe even any) for 26 inch wheels--but I could very well be wrong.

No matter what, the priority is always going to be a really sturdy frame and fork isnt it? Especially for what I maybe wrongly perceive the roads in that part of Russia, and why I'm thinking wider tires to help the frame and wheels (and you) if there is a ton of really bad surfaces for a long long time.

I'm curious to see what ideas others have.
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Old 01-27-19, 10:20 PM
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The Jamis Dragonslayer has a 26+ wheel version. I don't know how the geometry compares to the your current bike though.
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Old 01-27-19, 11:29 PM
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I started out my touring on a converted MTB. I loved the comfort, but always felt it was lacking some how and dreamed of a full fledged tourer. Finally, for christmas, I gave myself an LHT frame and built it up. Have not done any long tours yet, but the short rides I have taken show promise. They have 26" and 700c as well as rim brake or disc brake versions.
The only obstacle I see for an MTB is the tire size. I'm not sure about the availability of 26" MTBs these days, yet if you go to 27.5 or 29", what will be the tire availability in the middle of nowhere?
The Trek 920 is much more rugged than the 520 and can use 27.5 or 29, and up to 2.1"

So many things to consider. I envy you, yet also feel sorry for the inner debates you will go through.
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Old 01-27-19, 11:34 PM
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There are several different European bike manufacturers that sell complete bikes, some also sell the frames or anything in between. Koga, Santos, Thorn, I am sure there are others. Of those, I am only familiar with Thorn. Or some of the custom makers here in USA, Co-Motion, Rodriguez (spell?). The Co-Motion bike owners I have talked to were pretty happy with their bikes. A gal I used to work with loved her Rodriguez, hers was more road oriented, but I have not talked to her since she crossed Africa so I do not know how well it worked on rougher roads. I think you can buy the frame only for the Co-Motion bikes, not sure about the others.

Your past experience looks like it is based on dérailleur gearing. Have you considered Rohloff?

I used to complain about how heavy my Thorn Nomad is, it tips the scale at about 40 pounds. But it performed so well for me in the interior of Iceland that I no longer complain about the weight. It is designed for a Rohloff, not dérailleurs, there is no dérailleur hanger on it so if you want deraileurs it is not the bike for you. I built it up from the frame and fork, I bought the Rohloff on-line from Germany, etc. I built it up with the stuff that works and is reliable, but avoided the expensive bling. For example, a UN-55 square taper bottom bracket is very low budget but they are known for reliability. If you want a suspension fork, the frame is designed for a 100mm suspension fork or you can use the stock solid fork. I have both the solid fork that I tour with, but I put a suspension fork on it for mountain biking on White Rim Trail in Canyonlands and also Maah Daah Hey trail.

My Nomad, below.* Thorn recommends flat bars for that model, but I prefer drop bars so that is how I built it up.





It sounds like you are starting from a blank sheet. What do you want, steel frame or another aluminum frame? Flat bars or drops? Derailleurs or Rohloff or maybe Pinion? 700c or 26 inch? Type of fork?

If you order a bike or a frame from Europe, you will have to pay a customs duty fee. I think customs fee on my frame and the other parts in the box on that same order was about 6 percent. But I think a complete bike is closer to 11 percent.

*
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Old 01-27-19, 11:38 PM
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This is a great photo gallery, you can get some ideas from it.
The Loaded Touring Bike | Photo Gallery Photo Gallery by Wheeler Creative Works at pbase.com
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Old 01-28-19, 08:05 AM
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I tour on a Trek 800 Sport, which, I think, is from about 1997, so not recent if that is important to you.
It has no suspension at all, which was my decision. My previous hybrid type had front suspension and I decided that it wasn't worth it. Fatter tyres will do for me.

At this stage, after about 3 yeas of ownership, the frame is all that is left of the original. Everything else has been upgraded or replaced to suit my requirements.

Taking an old MTB and upgrading it is, I believe, a fantastic way to get the bike you want.

For me, there were a few factors at play in my decision.
The first was probably cost. I was on the road for minimal investment, then, as time, experience and money allowed I was able to upgrade specific components.
The second, was that I had no mechanical experience and wanted & needed to learn. A cheap MTB seemed a very practical way to do this. Had I invested a lot more on a bike, I would have found it hard to start poking around with it.
Third, an older bike is less attractive to thieves.
Fourth, the type of frame it is is very common. Everywhere. In the event of catastrophic failure somewhere, it should be straightforward enough to source a replacement frame, transfer components and continue on.

My touring has evolved to include more off-road and the bike is more than capable of handling the rough stuff. The widest tyres I have run are 2,5 with no issue.

This is probably not a lot of use to the OP, but for anyone considering a cost effective, or at least, a cheaper upfront approach, I'd recommend it.
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Old 01-28-19, 08:15 AM
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If things are still anything like in 2007 regarding hard tail MTBs, be aware of frame flex. Mine is my commuter and backup tourer. Backup because fully loaded the rear end does sway considerably which makes it very annoying day in, day out. Maybe keep that in mind when going the mid-range MTB route.
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Old 01-28-19, 08:22 AM
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Thanks for inputs so far.

A few general reactions and some of my general biases as I look:
-- Wheels, I have had good experience with these particular 26" wheels, even compared with the 700c experiences with my Trek 520. Some of that is disc brakes as well. So a bias towards 26", but I haven't ruled out a 29er as starting point. Many of the areas I am headed there isn't much of anything at all. Magadan has population of ~100,000, Yakutsk has ~250,000, Chita ~300,000 and in between large stretches where other than a very small village almost nothing at all. So basics like spare tires and tubes I bring and something severe enough I end up in one of Chita/Yakutsk/Magadan anyways. When I was there in 2007, Chita had 700c bike components.
-- Tire sizes. I'm still learning more about the road choices. 2" is my starting point. Depends also a bit on durability of tires available. Past experience gives me a Schwalbe bias.
-- Frames, current frame is 24" and I liked having a slightly larger frame; this is where the crossover gets interesting since some manufacturers seem to split to have smaller frames with 26" and larger with 29ers.
-- Custom, I had a bad experience with a custom bike that turned out to be a lemon, so I am a bit more wary in that area - so want to look first at existing models as a base. I will put money into replacing things like wheels.
-- Bars; I like multiple hand positions. If the bike starts with flat bars, I'll put in risers.
-- Material; the aluminum bikes (both this Trek and earlier Cannondale) were still enough and comfortable enough riding, they also eventually cracked for different reasons - though after many many kilometers. Frame material is not the top of my consideration list - but all else being equal I'd bias towards steel.

So roughly speaking my biases in rough priority order:
* Frame that fits and is comfortable
* Wheel durability, support similar wheels to DT Swiss combo that got me across South America
* Ability to add front and rear racks
* Tire width that supports durable tires, Schwalbe bias
* Disc brakes over caliper brakes
* 26" bias over 29er
* Stock bike starting point favored over custom
* Steel slightly preferred over Aluminum
As I go further down in the list, I am more flexible particularly if I am getting more higher in the list.
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Old 01-28-19, 08:29 AM
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My buddy bought a Specialized Rockhopper, whichever level retails around $900, for our Iceland trip. Seemed to work fine.

That said, I'd probably just find a decent 90's frame and a fork of your choosing, and transplant the components from your old bike if they worked fine. I think the leaning towards 26" is going to rule out most modern frames anyhow.
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Old 01-28-19, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
A gal I used to work with loved her Rodriguez, hers was more road oriented, but I have not talked to her since she crossed Africa so I do not know how well it worked on rougher roads. I think you can buy the frame only for the Co-Motion bikes, not sure about the others.
I own a custom from Rodriquez. It is a road going fixed gear bike, not a touring bike, but I would be happy to answer any questions about quality and buying experience, either here or via PM/Email.

https://www.pedalroom.com/bike/2018-...z-custom-37179

Rodriguez sells either frames or full builds.

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Old 01-28-19, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Your past experience looks like it is based on dérailleur gearing. Have you considered Rohloff?
Choice is derailleur vs. Rohloff is somewhat orthogonal to frame/bike, but for now I'll stick with a derailleur choice.
Photo below is taken on the route I am considering with more photos here: https://www.ssqq.com/archive/vinlin27c.htm

Fortunately, this is more of a rare occasion and it isn't always like this in either time or location. However, I have
also seen occasional muddy messes on the Dalton and Dempster. On the Dalton in 2016, both myself and two
Swedish tourists messed up our gearing: I got mud in things and torqued my derailleur off the bike. They got
mud into their Rohloff hubs fouling up the mechanisms.

So for now, I'll bias towards a bike with derailleur hanger mechanism and also bring an extra hanger - and
hope for not too much mud.
*

Last edited by mev; 01-28-19 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 01-28-19, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by mev
Thanks for inputs so far.

A few general reactions and some of my general biases as I look:
-- Wheels, I have had good experience with these particular 26" wheels, even compared with the 700c experiences with my Trek 520. Some of that is disc brakes as well. So a bias towards 26", but I haven't ruled out a 29er as starting point. Many of the areas I am headed there isn't much of anything at all. Magadan has population of ~100,000, Yakutsk has ~250,000, Chita ~300,000 and in between large stretches where other than a very small village almost nothing at all. So basics like spare tires and tubes I bring and something severe enough I end up in one of Chita/Yakutsk/Magadan anyways. When I was there in 2007, Chita had 700c bike components.
-- Tire sizes. I'm still learning more about the road choices. 2" is my starting point. Depends also a bit on durability of tires available. Past experience gives me a Schwalbe bias.
-- Frames, current frame is 24" and I liked having a slightly larger frame; this is where the crossover gets interesting since some manufacturers seem to split to have smaller frames with 26" and larger with 29ers.
-- Custom, I had a bad experience with a custom bike that turned out to be a lemon, so I am a bit more wary in that area - so want to look first at existing models as a base. I will put money into replacing things like wheels.
-- Bars; I like multiple hand positions. If the bike starts with flat bars, I'll put in risers.
-- Material; the aluminum bikes (both this Trek and earlier Cannondale) were still enough and comfortable enough riding, they also eventually cracked for different reasons - though after many many kilometers. Frame material is not the top of my consideration list - but all else being equal I'd bias towards steel.

So roughly speaking my biases in rough priority order:
* Frame that fits and is comfortable
* Wheel durability, support similar wheels to DT Swiss combo that got me across South America
* Ability to add front and rear racks
* Tire width that supports durable tires, Schwalbe bias
* Disc brakes over caliper brakes
* 26" bias over 29er
* Stock bike starting point favored over custom
* Steel slightly preferred over Aluminum
As I go further down in the list, I am more flexible particularly if I am getting more higher in the list.
Might want to take a look here: https://www.oxfordbikeworks.co.uk
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Old 01-28-19, 12:55 PM
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Thorn , UK also makes touring frames and forks available for derailleur preferring riders

Co Motion in Oregon does too . Rodriquez in Seattle will build anything you want..

Surly bikes 26" wheel ? I quote ; "Some Long Haul Truckers are designed for 26˝ wheels ... 26˝ frames have clearance for 2.1˝ tires;

... and some for 700c. ... 700c has clearance for 45mm tires; individual tire and rim combos affect tire clearance"



I found a Koga WTR , in the states, Used , 3rd hand.. , someone brought it back from Europe, & sold it, since there are no dealers stateside..






....

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Old 01-28-19, 01:08 PM
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Thorn Sherpa
  • 10 different sizes
  • 1 very small size with medium top tube,
  • 4 sizes with long top tubes,
  • 4 sizes with short top tubes,
  • There’s also a step through size!


...
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Old 01-28-19, 01:25 PM
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you can check out the Surly pages for the Troll and the Ogre for the geometry and dimensions, and compare them to the Trek. Seems to me also that given how much you have ridden that bike, replicating the seat to bar dimensions and all that would clearly be the way to go, and the plus is that you have a very clear base of what to go from and compare to see if they can match up with stem changes and bar shapes.

One of the other big pluses of the troll and ogre, in the case of the 2017 and newer Trolls, is that because the frame is designed to take up to 3in tires there is lots of room for fenders , and if no fenders, lots of room for mud and crud.

for me, the most important factor will be to try to get a reliable answer on how a given frame will be with your body weight and the weight of your stuff, which is significantly more than my opposite end of the scale body weight and load.

I suspect that if you write Surly with a detailed account of the long, arduous trips you've done, and on what bikes with all the details of total bike weight expected, they would respond to your serious questions. Your past trips really add up to a heck of a lot of experience, and I would hope they would take your questions seriously and honestly.

Again, I was so impressed by how the Trek and its front suspension fork held up so well on your Americas trip.
Given this trip idea location, I would think that your load weight will not be any different than the other trips, just due to the remoteness aspect and having to be prepared so much.

look forward to hearing more of how this pans out
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Old 01-28-19, 01:31 PM
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This is a thread that I'll follow with considerable interest, event though my plans are closer to a ride in the park -- nothing to compare to crossing the Kolyma.

1, Alastair Humpreys, high profile adventurer, has done this. On his blog he suggests/recommends three bikes. A low-end Marin, the LHT and the Thorn Serpa.
2. Given the OP's profile, I'd avoid stock solutions. They are meant for a typical rider. The OP is a very powerful rider. I recall reading about several misadventures wrt wheels, cranks and pedals.
3. I'd give a good look at the Surly Troll frame (as per djb's suggestion). Extremely versatile platform. Surly's blurb says "The Troll has evolved into a frame that has been pushed deeper into the category of off-road touring." Which is exactly the OP's use case.

4. Wheels: (1) as strong as reasonably possible. 26"x48H tandem wheels perhaps (Peter White? An eye watering $1000 for a wheelset) or more run-of-the mill 26"x36H (ours are Mavic XM317 on Shimano XT 780 ~ 150$ from a German online shop ; (2) wide tires to absorb shocks. The Troll accommodates 2.5". (we ride Schwalbe's Almotion 2.1"); (3) spread the weight -- an extra wheel trailer might be used to carry luggage, removing 20Kg or so from the rear wheel.

5. Drivetrain: Word seems to be that Shimano Saint is indestructible. Read somewhere: more than twice as strong as XTR. I would not splurge on an internal system (Rohloff) for a couple of reasons (1) cost; (2) range (a 3x10 can be set to achieve steps of 5%, which, for me at least, is not trivial. Rohloff's steps are 13.5%. Fine for low gears, brutal in high gear); (3) risk exposure: I understand that Rohloff is very reliable, probably more than derailleur systems. But stuff happens. I understand that customer support is stellar. I also know by experience that shipping goods to several countries is like playing the lottery. And that it takes forever to go thru customs.

6. MIsc : The OP's pic shows a very long section of exposed seatpost. We have Thomson seatposts. Their blurb says "The Thomson Elite seatpost is over 40% stronger on ultimate strength tests than the strongest production seatposts on the market." Call me gullible but I believe it. Lots of testimonials. Saddle : I'd stay away from Brooks Flyer. Their suspension system may fail. We've had bottle cage failure(s). Swapped flimsies for King cages. We've standardized fasteners to marine grade (316) hex screws.

Last edited by gauvins; 01-28-19 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 01-28-19, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
Thanks for inputs so far.

A few general reactions and some of my general biases as I look:
-- Wheels, I have had good experience with these particular 26" wheels, even compared with the 700c experiences with my Trek 520. Some of that is disc brakes as well. So a bias towards 26", but I haven't ruled out a 29er as starting point. Many of the areas I am headed there isn't much of anything at all. Magadan has population of ~100,000, Yakutsk has ~250,000, Chita ~300,000 and in between large stretches where other than a very small village almost nothing at all. So basics like spare tires and tubes I bring and something severe enough I end up in one of Chita/Yakutsk/Magadan anyways. When I was there in 2007, Chita had 700c bike components.
-- Tire sizes. I'm still learning more about the road choices. 2" is my starting point. Depends also a bit on durability of tires available. Past experience gives me a Schwalbe bias.
-- Frames, current frame is 24" and I liked having a slightly larger frame; this is where the crossover gets interesting since some manufacturers seem to split to have smaller frames with 26" and larger with 29ers.
-- Custom, I had a bad experience with a custom bike that turned out to be a lemon, so I am a bit more wary in that area - so want to look first at existing models as a base. I will put money into replacing things like wheels.
-- Bars; I like multiple hand positions. If the bike starts with flat bars, I'll put in risers.
-- Material; the aluminum bikes (both this Trek and earlier Cannondale) were still enough and comfortable enough riding, they also eventually cracked for different reasons - though after many many kilometers. Frame material is not the top of my consideration list - but all else being equal I'd bias towards steel.

So roughly speaking my biases in rough priority order:
* Frame that fits and is comfortable
* Wheel durability, support similar wheels to DT Swiss combo that got me across South America
* Ability to add front and rear racks
* Tire width that supports durable tires, Schwalbe bias
* Disc brakes over caliper brakes
* 26" bias over 29er
* Stock bike starting point favored over custom
* Steel slightly preferred over Aluminum
As I go further down in the list, I am more flexible particularly if I am getting more higher in the list.
China direct gets you titanium for the price of steel.


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They do custom orders.

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135 100 dropouts,
No more cantis for me, mud sticks to them.

32 spokes is good, modern spokes are stronger than old style. Who wants to search for the links to German parts house where dt hubs are much less money as are tubus racks direct from Germany.
Schmidt dynamo?
A carefull shopper could get dt 240 and carbon rims for around $600. You do know how to build your own wheel?

Originally Posted by gauvins

5. Drivetrain: Word seems to be that Shimano Saint is indestructible. Read somewhere: more than twice as strong as XTR.
Is this true? I see that some Saint hubs are 72% off today.



Let us know what you decide on the seat,
27.2 titanium seat post could be a good choice

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Old 01-28-19, 05:29 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by katsup
The Jamis Dragonslayer has a 26+ wheel version. I don't know how the geometry compares to the your current bike though.
I've been wanting to experiment with Reynolds 853 for on-road touring.

A Jamis Dragon popped up in my search today.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Jamis-Drago...o/264167169795

Unfortunately slightly smaller than the OP's bike. Cantis? Apparently a few "newer" Dragons with 853 and discs. Was the 853 Dragon discontinued in 2016? Replaced by a 520 version?

Hopefully this summer I'll build a custom 29er, but unfortunately likely with whatever tubing Nova Cycles is selling.

@mev, what is your front lowrider rack for suspension? How did you like the combo?
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Old 01-28-19, 08:21 PM
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I am also following this thread with interest because, rather than the usual "theoretical dream build of fanciful proportions" I think it will have some reality tempered by your extensive experience.

I'm still at a stage with kids and mortgages that I can't/won't splurge on expensive custom builds so I am somewhat guided by my success with 80-90's era rigid 26" mtbs. Cheap, good chromo frames, quality drive trains and decent stock alloy rims and the fact that most parts can be replaced at a reasonable price. I sort of see them as the old Jeep version of the more expensive modern Range Rover. The caveat of course being, knowing what to look for in a used bike to begin with.

To me the Troll looks similar but of course, with more gear capability and wider tires. I have to admit I am intrigued by the +size/fat bike idea for more rougher roads but also question the trade offs in terms of slower riding on better surfaces. Fatter seems to be a specialization that comes at a cost that way. Cool if you can afford multiple expensive bikes but I'm currently putting all extra money eggs into my other endurance road bike basket.

I'm also curious about your choice of disc for those road conditions. I would worry that disc rotors would be more effected by mud than canti's and harder to repair. If I were going off the grid that way I think I might prefer friction shifting and canti's because they are so simple to see and understand/repair in the field. Curious about your thoughts there. Also derailer vs IGH as, with a busted derailer I can always default to single speed until the next town by shortening the chain.


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Old 01-28-19, 08:54 PM
  #21  
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A couple people above mentioned the Thorn Sherpa.

I highlighted my Thorn Nomad above in post 5, as that was the bike that I thought would be a great bike for your planned trip, but I also own a Thorn Sherpa. Both are 26 inch wheel bikes. I consider my Nomad to be my expedition bike, my Sherpa for medium duty touring and my Lynskey Backroad (Titanium and 700c) to be lighter weight touring. Everybody should have three touring bikes.

The Nomad has a rated weight capacity of about 60 kg not counting weight of the rider, but the Sherpa has a rated capacity of only about 35 kg (excluding weight of rider). When I think of a trip like you are proposing, i assume you might have to load it down for parts of your trip, thus I was suggesting the heavier duty Nomad over the Sherpa. But the Sherpa is a great bike too. But I have carried over two weeks of food on my Nomad whereas I think my Sherpa would not have been as happy with that much of a load as the Nomad was.

I built up my Sherpa in about 2010 or so. I bought the frame and fork used from someone that had bought the frame and fork new, but he found the size was not quite right for him. I built it up with a 8 speed cassette and road triple (half step plus granny) with bar end shifters and drop bars. The widest tire that I can fit on the Sherpa with fenders is 50mm. (The photos above of my Thorn Nomad in post 5 have 57mm tires and I can run that size of tires with fenders too, although the photos show the bike without fenders because the fenders did not fit in the S&S case.)

Tours I have done on the Sherpa were mostly good quality gravel or pavement, Katy Trail, GAP and C&O, Glacier Waterton Loop, a tour in Southern Florida. Plus other riding around home. To re-iterate my thinking, I think the Nomad is better for what you are thinking but the Sherpa would probably perform well too.

If you want to consider the Sherpa in more detail, let me know and I will happily respond to your questions.
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Old 01-28-19, 08:55 PM
  #22  
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happy, the big advantage to discs is that in crappy, gritty conditions, you arent wearing down the rims, and mountain bikers have been using discs now for ages and ages, in all kinds of gloopy conditions and they just work fine.
Yes, granted there is a new set of mechanical stuff to learn, but now after a couple of years with tried and trued Avid BB7's, I've figured out how to muck about with them and am fairly confident with how to change pads and whatnot. The big thing in this case is that mev has good strong wheels that work for what his bike is carrying, and its just plain nice not to wear the rims away slowly in crummy riding conditions.
re shifters, the deore level of trigger shifters are really a great mix of cost vs how well and long they work, thats been my experience, which is nothing compared to mev's.

I readily admit I'm a fan of the Troll, but going back maybe 5 years when I started to get serious about thinking of doing some longer trips, I considered using my old mountain bike, but then when I started looking at what I would need to replace, cost wise, combined with looking at how there could be some unknowns with my almost 20 year old aluminum frame, thats when I started looking at the Troll.

re wider tires. I think there is always going to be a point where too wide has a disadvantage, but it really depends on the riding conditions and how much you are carrying. Like I said, without going to "fatbike" territory, the 2.5 inch to 3 inch territory is always going to have a big advantage over rough rough terrain. Even the 2.5's really have a big jump in riding comfort and float over soft surfaces compared to 2 or 2.1, 2.2 and I've done a fair amount of riding on 2 inch road tires, and a bit on 2.5 mtb tires with big knobbies, and a bit on 2.5 intermediate tires , the surly extraterrestrials.
I think the tough marathon mtb plus, and mondials and such max out at a bit over 2 inches--2.1 , 2.25---but tire choice will always come down to figuring out what percentage of what type of roads you'll be on---and mev certainly has a ton of riding experience on all kinds of stuff.
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Old 01-28-19, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
happy, the big advantage to discs is that in crappy, gritty conditions, you arent wearing down the rims, and mountain bikers have been using discs now for ages and ages, in all kinds of gloopy conditions and they just work fine.
Yes, granted there is a new set of mechanical stuff to learn, but now after a couple of years with tried and trued Avid BB7's, I've figured out how to muck about with them and am fairly confident with how to change pads and whatnot. The big thing in this case is that mev has good strong wheels that work for what his bike is carrying, and its just plain nice not to wear the rims away slowly in crummy riding conditions.
re shifters, the deore level of trigger shifters are really a great mix of cost vs how well and long they work, thats been my experience, which is nothing compared to mev's.

I readily admit I'm a fan of the Troll, but going back maybe 5 years when I started to get serious about thinking of doing some longer trips, I considered using my old mountain bike, but then when I started looking at what I would need to replace, cost wise, combined with looking at how there could be some unknowns with my almost 20 year old aluminum frame, thats when I started looking at the Troll.

re wider tires. I think there is always going to be a point where too wide has a disadvantage, but it really depends on the riding conditions and how much you are carrying. Like I said, without going to "fatbike" territory, the 2.5 inch to 3 inch territory is always going to have a big advantage over rough rough terrain. Even the 2.5's really have a big jump in riding comfort and float over soft surfaces compared to 2 or 2.1, 2.2 and I've done a fair amount of riding on 2 inch road tires, and a bit on 2.5 mtb tires with big knobbies, and a bit on 2.5 intermediate tires , the surly extraterrestrials.
I think the tough marathon mtb plus, and mondials and such max out at a bit over 2 inches--2.1 , 2.25---but tire choice will always come down to figuring out what percentage of what type of roads you'll be on---and mev certainly has a ton of riding experience on all kinds of stuff.
As to tire size, I will say the advantage that something like the Troll has in being able to flex from normal to plus would be a bonus as far as not needing to replace the whole bike perse. Those sorts of benefit details are what separate newer/custom bikes from older ones.

As to discs. I admit I am new to their nuances having only one recent bike that has them but my concern would be mud getting into the calipers and caking those up. I know cantis so well that I can field strip them easily but would be less eager to start tearing my calipers apart. Perhaps with experience? I do agree that disc does save the rim and on road surfaces I think they win out (although I could ride cantis forever and not complain) plus I am quite gentle on my brakes so things tend to last a long time regardless. Curious what Mev will say as I really don't know.

Because I feel I can build a basic tourer well using the rigid 26 platform I think, if I were to splurge on a more expensive build, it would be a purpose specific frame type to get to the next level of performance in an area I might not achieve otherwise. That's what's interesting about this build. What specific specs would really pay off (or be worth the investment) vs what an ordinary build could do just as well.

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Old 01-28-19, 10:12 PM
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having the flexibility to go from normal tires to plus was very much something that appealed to me, it also can take a rohlof , but despite a bit of dreaming, I'm fine with derailleurs as Im so familiar with them.
Like you Im pretty easy on my stuff, including brakes, and they last a long time, but I specifically was thinking of the muddy, rainy long descents that could happen, and my take on discs is that crud isnt really an issue and just rinsing stuff off is enough--but I dont really have the experience of really being in gunky stuff that much.
Im also still really sold on a mtb crankset for this type of touring with a fair amount of weight. To me its ideal and you end up using the low low and the medium high regularly, and my average speeds are such that a 44/32/22 is perfect.

Mev, have you given thought to sticking with 8 speed or going higher? Your trek 520 must be 9 speed right? Have you noticed a diff in chain life from 8 to 9? Would you consider going to 10? My wifes troll is 10 speed, and recently when I did a big cleanup on our bikes, I measured the chain stretch and was a bit surprised that it looks like her chain was about at the same stretch point (about half way to when I like to change them, at 1/16 over 12 inches) as my 9 speed troll chain---but my bike has about 2500+kms, and hers has only about half that.

Im a bit concerned about that, and maybe part of it is because I have fenders, and her bike doesnt , and so more grit has been thrown up on the chain. We did ride in rain a certain amount on a few trips, and so maybe that did it? I'm curious enough to create a thread to ask others about how they have noticed a diff in more chain wear with 10 spd and hopefully there are enough people that have the experience with both.
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Old 01-29-19, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Everybody should have three touring bikes.
With the greatest of respect everybody does not need three touring bikes.

Sure, if you want to race across country with a credit card in your back pocket, then cycle down the GDMBR, then do the Pamir Highway, three different bikes sure will make a difference. But the majority of cycletourists do not do that.

I don't expect to change your mind, but for anyone interested in touring on a bicycle, yes the bicycle is important, but not as important as what's going on between your ears.

No bike, no matter how well designed/specced will get you to your destination if your head is not in the right place. Mind you, a well adjusted head on some bikes won't get you everywhere, either - but it will get you most places. A little bit of common sense is required.

It's easy to fall into the trap reading and watching about touring that you need x,y,z otherwise......disaster! Statements like the above reinforce that opinion.

It's really not true. The bike should be 1) Comfortable, 2) Strong enough & stable enough to carry you and your gear where you want to go and 3) ideally, well understood by yourself to keep it running and to identify potential issues before they cause serious problems.

This is an interesting thread, not least because of the challenge of the proposed tour. I don't mean to take it off-topic, and I'm sure some of the long-timers here will disagree, but my post is directed at the people who are starting out, are nervous about the idea of heading away with just a bicycle to get them from A to B and are wondering what they need.

And, in my opinion, they do not need three touring bikes.
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