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Fenders? Smaller tire w/fenders? Or larger tire w/o?

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Fenders? Smaller tire w/fenders? Or larger tire w/o?

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Old 03-14-19, 07:04 PM
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blovejoyGB53
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Fenders? Smaller tire w/fenders? Or larger tire w/o?

Trying to make tire and fender decisions on a new touring bike (Soma Saga Disc v2)... This will be a do-it-all bike in daily use but I want it to ready for anything, including a big self-supported tour, and dirt and gravel roads figure into both the daily rides and the touring.

I am mostly sold on Schwalbe Almotion's, as I have been pretty impressed with them on another bike (28x2.0). Marathon Supremes are a possibility as well. Mondials are probably out, though truly heavy duty and built for touring they just seem too much tire for the daily rides.

So, the question but with a general follow-up regarding fenders in general...
Should I go with a smaller tire (700x38/40-622 in Schwalbe labeling) with fenders? Or do I go bigger on the tires (28x2.0/50-622) without fenders? I currently live in an average rainfall area (but not the PNW) and touring could be anywhere.

The follow-up question is... I assume fenders are a great thing on a tour. Keeps the bike cleaner and the rider as well. But I also know that fenders can get bent or damaged, can make it harder to transport the bike at times and can maybe have issues on gravel or forest roads (all the way from sticks jamming, gravel clanging around to mud bringing the whole thing to a halt). So, I guess the big question is... fenders or no fenders? Keeping in mind the tire size requirements...

Sorry for the mostly lame question as I know the most obvious answer is, it depends... But I was curious on what others have chosen.
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Old 03-14-19, 07:17 PM
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If Iím sure of anything, itís this truth: never sacrifice tire for fender
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Old 03-14-19, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
If I’m sure of anything, it’s this truth: never sacrifice tire for fender
I think this is correct. The circumstances under which fenders make a positive difference are limited, and may never materialize. Tires always matter.
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Old 03-14-19, 08:04 PM
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I would run fenders if my tours were mainly on paved roads and I expected to get rain at least a couple of times on the tour. Riding in the rain or on wet roads without fenders is miserable.

If I was mainly on unpaved roads then I'd probably go with larger tires for added comfort but at least have some kind of rooster tail protection.
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Old 03-14-19, 08:22 PM
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I mostly prefer a tire in the 35 or 37 or 40mm range for touring on pavement. On gravel I prefer 50 or maybe up to 57mm.

Do you think you will predominantly be on pavement or on gravel?

If it is a wet day your bike can become quite a mess on gravel with no fenders. In the photo, it was my only tour so far without fenders, they did not fit into my S&S case or my other luggage so the fenders stayed at home. But on the day in the photo, even though the gravel was so well maintained it almost looked like pavement, I really wished I had fenders.

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Old 03-14-19, 09:03 PM
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Best of both worlds - big tires. fenders and River City Bicycles Reacharound brackets. (You cut the fenders at the brake location.) These (or equivalents) are quite common here in Portland. I've done it with two bikes. No drawbacks except an extra step at install and a few bucks for the brackets.

https://store.rivercitybicycles.com/...originals-1909

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Old 03-14-19, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
If Iím sure of anything, itís this truth: never sacrifice tire for fender
Nah. That's just the race industrial complex talking for you. Fenders are a requirement for other than fair weather cyclists IMO. The amount of questionable liquids I've avoided being sprayed with is worth it alone. Additional comfort and cleanliness when it's raining just add to the considerable value.

Properly stiff fenders - either steel or aluminum - minimize or eliminate most concerns with stiffness, foreign object intrusion and other issues that come from the terrible scourge of plastic fenders. In additional to several thousand miles or regular riding, I've done a few hundred miles of light touring with VO fenders and they don't rub or shake or rattle - and this includes a fair bit of gravel and even some singletrack.

I couldn't imagine heading out into the world on tour riding a bike without fenders. Why? Especially now that split fenders and rinko-style disassembly is more well known and easier to implement most issues with packing and transport are eliminated. My fendered touring bike can be made to fit in the back of small car with an additional 5-7 minutes of disassembly, course that was the product of an hour or three of modifications done at home.
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Old 03-14-19, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Nah. That's just the race industrial complex talking for you. Fenders are a requirement for other than fair weather cyclists IMO. The amount of questionable liquids I've avoided being sprayed with is worth it alone. Additional comfort and cleanliness when it's raining just add to the considerable value.

Properly stiff fenders - either steel or aluminum - minimize or eliminate most concerns with stiffness, foreign object intrusion and other issues that come from the terrible scourge of plastic fenders. In additional to several thousand miles or regular riding, I've done a few hundred miles of light touring with VO fenders and they don't rub or shake or rattle - and this includes a fair bit of gravel and even some singletrack.

I couldn't imagine heading out into the world on tour riding a bike without fenders. Why? Especially now that split fenders and rinko-style disassembly is more well known and easier to implement most issues with packing and transport are eliminated. My fendered touring bike can be made to fit in the back of small car with an additional 5-7 minutes of disassembly, course that was the product of an hour or three of modifications done at home.
Pics please?
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Old 03-15-19, 04:27 AM
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I meant don’t let fenders dictate tires. I love fenders & have done lots of crazy things to squeeze them on different bikes. choose your tire based on parameters that affect tires, THEN deal w fenders. I agree that you can make fenders fit almost any bike, regardless of tires. But if you can’t, then get a different bike. But by all means get the tire you want!

that aside, you might not need such a wide tire for touring. listen to experienced tourers (which I am not)

I once listened to a podcast by a touring couple & it was interesting to hear they preferred 26” wheels cuz they were more likely to find appropriate touring tires worldwide, in that size. another benefit, I think, is 26” wheeled bikes can fit wider tires with fenders






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Old 03-15-19, 06:04 AM
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Thanks to all for the response! All of the comments pretty much sum up the debate in my deciding but I think I have a plan, at least for testing. I am going to move some larger volume tires (from another bike) over to the Soma just to see what that brings as far as feel and capability. If it turns out to be, well, amazing, then so be it. I will also keep looking into the future to try and get a better idea of what that potential tour might look like. I cannot imagine a full-time paved road tour as I am just too car averse and wary these days. But I keep looking at pictures from the RSF archives and noting that they certainly did not need huge tires or whatever to go on adventures...

Thanks to all for the input. It was my first post here and I am impressed, certainly here with the touring group. Anyway, I see a Thorn Nomad there in the a collection of bikes, as well as other very cool bikes, and you don't see that just anywhere. Oh, and Ben, thanks for the link to the reach-around brackets. Those probably won't help with this bike but they certainly could with others.

Thanks! I will post back with any great insights and/or discoveries...
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Old 03-15-19, 07:01 AM
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if this forum is good for anything, it's good for debate. especially stuff like this. other famous debates are how to clean your chain ... ;-)
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Old 03-15-19, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by blovejoyGB53 View Post
Trying to make tire and fender decisions on a new touring bike (Soma Saga Disc v2)... This will be a do-it-all bike in daily use but I want it to ready for anything, including a big self-supported tour, and dirt and gravel roads figure into both the daily rides and the touring.

I am mostly sold on Schwalbe Almotion's, as I have been pretty impressed with them on another bike (28x2.0). Marathon Supremes are a possibility as well. Mondials are probably out, though truly heavy duty and built for touring they just seem too much tire for the daily rides.

So, the question but with a general follow-up regarding fenders in general...
Should I go with a smaller tire (700x38/40-622 in Schwalbe labeling) with fenders? Or do I go bigger on the tires (28x2.0/50-622) without fenders? I currently live in an average rainfall area (but not the PNW) and touring could be anywhere.
First let me just say that the idea of wider and wider tires is just getting out of hand. Why do you want to lug around a heavy 2" tire unless you have a really good reason for it? Like off-road knobby tire reason. Yes, wider tires can roll better but if you add weight...especially rotating weight...that comes at a cost.

Originally Posted by blovejoyGB53 View Post
The follow-up question is... I assume fenders are a great thing on a tour. Keeps the bike cleaner and the rider as well. But I also know that fenders can get bent or damaged, can make it harder to transport the bike at times and can maybe have issues on gravel or forest roads (all the way from sticks jamming, gravel clanging around to mud bringing the whole thing to a halt). So, I guess the big question is... fenders or no fenders? Keeping in mind the tire size requirements...
Many, many people will tell you that you simply can't tour without fenders. I'm not one of them. I've toured most of my life without fenders. I find them to be more of a hassle than an asset. If it is raining, you are probably going to be wearing a rain suit and you'll get the outside of you wet. Fenders aren't going to keep the rain off. Nor are they really going to do that much to keep the splash off you. When you hit a puddle, the water gets thrown out and up, right into the bicycle slipstream and then right on to you. You still end up wet.

As for keeping the bike "clean", that's a dubious claim as well. Bikes don't need to be spotless to operate well. They also won't melt if they get wet. Even if they do get dirty, just wash them off. A regular carwash can be used to clean your bike quickly and well. If you are worried about water infiltration into the bearings, don't direct the spray at the bearings under full power or replace your bearings with ones that resist water infiltration.

Finally, you've hit right on the head when it comes to the clearance issue. If you are going to be riding off-road, fenders just serve to catch stuff and bring the fun to a halt. Or, worse yet, floppy ones can catch on the wheel and send you over the bars.

I vote no fenders.
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Old 03-15-19, 07:58 AM
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I hate riding in the rain without fenders. If you think you'll ride in rain, I recommend figuring out a fender solution. But I also agree that an ideal solution does not impact your tire size. I picked my fenders on my first touring bike for the tires I thought I would use. Eventually I found myself enjoying wider and wider tires, until I hit the limits of the fenders. At that point, yes, I had some issues riding through mud. On my next bike, I got the widest fenders I could fit, and they're a flatter style, so even when the tires are technically a little too big for the fenders, the issue is with less-than-ideal coverage, not with tires that actually rub the fenders.
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Old 03-15-19, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by blovejoyGB53 View Post
Trying to make tire and fender decisions on a new touring bike (Soma Saga Disc v2)... This will be a do-it-all bike in daily use but I want it to ready for anything, including a big self-supported tour, and dirt and gravel roads figure into both the daily rides and the touring.

I am mostly sold on Schwalbe Almotion's, as I have been pretty impressed with them on another bike (28x2.0). Marathon Supremes are a possibility as well. Mondials are probably out, though truly heavy duty and built for touring they just seem too much tire for the daily rides.

So, the question but with a general follow-up regarding fenders in general...
Should I go with a smaller tire (700x38/40-622 in Schwalbe labeling) with fenders? Or do I go bigger on the tires (28x2.0/50-622) without fenders? I currently live in an average rainfall area (but not the PNW) and touring could be anywhere.

The follow-up question is... I assume fenders are a great thing on a tour. Keeps the bike cleaner and the rider as well. But I also know that fenders can get bent or damaged, can make it harder to transport the bike at times and can maybe have issues on gravel or forest roads (all the way from sticks jamming, gravel clanging around to mud bringing the whole thing to a halt). So, I guess the big question is... fenders or no fenders? Keeping in mind the tire size requirements...

Sorry for the mostly lame question as I know the most obvious answer is, it depends... But I was curious on what others have chosen.
I ride a number of bikes, some with full fenders, one with just two rear flexible zip tied on plastic guard things on the downtube that helps grimey stuff going all over the front derailleur, and extending under the rear rack and out--stopping my back getting a dirty wet line on it.
Another bike has no fenders.

first, for tire size, I ride from 700x28s, to 700x35, to 26x2.15 mtb tires, to 26x 2inch supremes, and ride all bikes in wet or dry and on paved or dirt.

For daily use, I'm clearly in the fender camp, its just nice for you and your drivetrain not to have gritty crap all over it. For daily rides, I have a lighter fenderless bike, its my "fast" bike, 700x28, and its fun. It used to have a rear fender, which is nice for keeping your back clean, but took it off when I lightened it up a bit and overhauled it last year. When I ride it and have to go through some muddy pavement, construction zone stuff lets say, its a pain how the bike and I get all splattered.
If its raining, I use my "commuter", an old hybrid, 700x35, full fenders, and its nice to keep all clean.

I do notice a diff in less drivetrain maintenance with fenders, it keeps gritty stuff off chains.

so in my mind, for a daily use bike, fenders are a great help. But thats up to you.
My heavy touring bike is a frame that can take wide tires, so I have full fenders with looooots of space between them and the 2inch supremes, and the fenders work well for rain, and the extra space is great for sticks, mud whatever, and thats why I set this bike up like this, for my longer trips in other countries where I'd be on all kinds of surfaces--but this bike specifically works well for this, as it can take up to 2.8in fronts and 3in rear tires, so can fit even 2.5 inch tires with my existing fenders.
Sure, there is probably some more water spatter cuz of the tire/fender clearance, but hey, it works pretty darn good.

So, now tire size.
I've ridden a lot on 38/40 tires, and they are a great compromise of width/comfort/better on loose surfaces in my opinion.
2inchers work great too, but its really up to you to try diff widths and see what you prefer.
For regular use, I prefer the 38s compared to the 2in, as the bike feels faster (I'm talking my Troll that I've ridden a lot with both tires)

If possible, putting more clearance between tire and fender is always going to be better for sticks, but that depends on your frame.

toe overlap might be an issue for you, your toes and fenders....again, my 26in Troll is great for this, and I have no toe overlap, even with the fenders setup the way they are, most bikes will not have this luxury.

re dirt, Ive ridden 28s on dirt a lot, 35s are even better, and 38/40 even better--and entirely doable, especially on the average dirt road.
If you plan on riding a lot of dirt and loose and bumpy, 2in is going to be easier. Ive ridden a lot loaded on dirt on the 2in supremes, and they work pretty good. Not 2.5 or 3in territory, but its always a compromise of dirt vs road, and anyway, your bike is probably limited to 2in

my review on 2in supremes, at about the 6000km mark

Schwalbe Supreme26x2 followup #2 roughly6000kms

I would suggest trying diff tire widths, only you will know what you like. Worse case scenario if you try the 38s and fenders, and you dont like them, go larger, take off the fenders. Not the end of the world.
Ride regularly though in rain sometimes, and it is nice.
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Old 03-15-19, 08:34 AM
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I would add that the worst case scenario fender damaging situations are fairly rare. I've damaged a front fender from toe overlap a long time ago.
My first good touring bike, which was my only bike, had fenders on it forever, and I rode it on all kinds of stuff, and never had a bad stick incident, or mud...but I didnt ride it in much mud, so as you said yourself.....

it depends.

but still, millions of people use fenders everyday and disasters dont happen much.
Yes they can, but most fenders have those emergency release tabs now, so that helps. I personally have never had them release from something jamming in, but some people have, but then millions of bike hours have gone by without this happening, so one has to be realistic.
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Old 03-15-19, 08:42 AM
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Properly placed mudguards are a compromise option.
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Old 03-15-19, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
never had a bad stick incident
doesn't happen, until it happens. & sometimes it trashes your derailer at the same time



was lucky to mush it all back into place, & rode in whatever gear it was in, for the 3 miles back to my car

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Old 03-15-19, 09:45 AM
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How wide does a tire need to be for touring? I would think a 42mm would be big enough for most. If you can fit a 42 under fenders, that's pretty good, no?

Edit: additional thoughts

I've never toured and I don't mind if that fact disqualifies my opinions. I don't think I'd want to tour without fenders, with a long mudflap at least in the front. Before I ran fenders on my commuter bikes it'd only take one or two wet rides before my drivetrain was gritty and squealy and I'd have to thoroughly clean it to get it back into smooth working order. Since I added long fenders with a front mudflap extension about 600 miles ago, I've only had to clean my bike 3 times, and this was over the course of a northern Indiana winter. I wouldn't want to spend a bunch of time cleaning my bike while touring. The front mudflap doesn't always keep my feet completely dry, but it DOES keep whatever liquid the front tire kicks up off the chainrings, chain, FD, and the cable run underneath the bottom bracket.

It's been 3 weeks and around 150 miles since I last cleaned anything on my bike. Last three commutes have been with wet roads (including on the way to work this morning), here's a couple pics of drivetrain in current state:





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Old 03-15-19, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
How wide does a tire need to be for touring? I would think a 42mm would be big enough for most. If you can fit a 42 under fenders, that's pretty good, no?
Agreed, definitely agreed! It is just the tires I like (the Schwalbe Almotion's) only come in what are labeled 40-622 (actually 700x38) or 50-622 (actually 700x46-48). 700x42's would actually be perfect and is about where my bike would max with fenders I know there are good tires available in that 700x40-45 range so there are definitely options. The Marathon Supreme is available as 42-622/700x40 and that is a great tire as well. I am not going to over-think it too much, at least no more than I have already! That said, things cost real money so I am trying to only do whatever I do once.
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Old 03-15-19, 10:36 AM
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as rumrunner shows, there are no guarentees in life. Heck, I just got out my fendered commuter, with reasonably tight tire/fender clearances, because we have had some rain so the salt will be a lot less on the road. Plus, my old mtb I use for winter riding certainly in wet conditions gets me more wet.

It comes down to evaluating risks, heck today I could go out and not pay attention or whatever and have this mess happen to me. (touch wood) but the chances are that it won't, and I wont have dirty stuff all over my legs and booties today compared to my other bike.

for a long time I ran my one bike with just the rear fender, as I found it very useful to be able to take off the front wheel,and easily fit my bike across the back seats of my car, rear wheel in footwell and fork up near opposite door pillar. With a front fender, you cant do that. Easier laying it flat in a trunk also as you can turn the bars any way and not have a fender in the way, bending it etc.

so yes, compromises, and compromises/risks with dirt and trail riding especially.
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Old 03-15-19, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by blovejoyGB53 View Post
Agreed, definitely agreed! It is just the tires I like (the Schwalbe Almotion's) only come in what are labeled 40-622 (actually 700x38) or 50-622 (actually 700x46-48). 700x42's would actually be perfect and is about where my bike would max with fenders I know there are good tires available in that 700x40-45 range so there are definitely options. The Marathon Supreme is available as 42-622/700x40 and that is a great tire as well. I am not going to over-think it too much, at least no more than I have already! That said, things cost real money so I am trying to only do whatever I do once.
of course, and why its fun to discuss stuff and get opinions and experiences.

what tires have you ridden on, and how much riding have you done, touring yet? If so, on what surfaces, what tires etc etc?

Riding on gravel and whatnot can be perfectly fine on 32s, but if you know you'll be on dirt roads more often, a wider tire is more fun to ride on, more comfortable and you'll be in more control. This is why I found the 38 (1.5in) to be a good compromise for a lot of diff types of riding surfaces.

and then we get into an individuals bike handling skills and what they are comfortable doing. There can be a huge range, and no internet blah blah is going to determine that.
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Old 03-15-19, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Phamilton View Post
I added long fenders with a front mudflap extension
what did you use? I used a mouse pad & binder clips
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Old 03-15-19, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
what did you use? I used a mouse pad & binder clips
It's just a chunk of plastic I cut from a used quart motor oil bottle, drilled 2x and zip tied.
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Old 03-15-19, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
of course, and why its fun to discuss stuff and get opinions and experiences.

what tires have you ridden on, and how much riding have you done, touring yet? If so, on what surfaces, what tires etc etc?

Riding on gravel and whatnot can be perfectly fine on 32s, but if you know you'll be on dirt roads more often, a wider tire is more fun to ride on, more comfortable and you'll be in more control. This is why I found the 38 (1.5in) to be a good compromise for a lot of diff types of riding surfaces.

and then we get into an individuals bike handling skills and what they are comfortable doing. There can be a huge range, and no internet blah blah is going to determine that.
Well, I am not sure I am proud of it but I have been experimenting with bikes and set-ups for a long while now. I just turned sixty-six so a long while is pretty accurate! I have more bikes than one possibly should (at 9-10 currently) but that number will decrease soon. And those bikes (all steel) range from older (Trek 720, Raleigh Randonneur) to newer, though still old school in design (Rivendell Hilsen, now the Soma, plus a few others, including a 650b conversion). Oh, and a Brompton! There was actually one point in time where I *almost* had a bike with every tire size (16", 20", 26", 650b, 700c, 27"...) though I know there were some types/sizes missing. Actually, the only one of those missing at the moment is the 20". I like Schwalbe tires but also use Compass/Rene Herse tires and Pasela's on the Trek.

I have done some short touring and exploring over the years but never true long distance, or a months-long self-supported trip. I actually went 4 years or so car-free (and by choice!), 2 1/2 of those in Denver, and was quite proud of that. I broke down and bought a car last year (what I term "the ultimate bike accessory") but we'll see if it stays. I am a good rider, and experienced with more than most, but certainly not to the level that others have done. One thing I need to experiment more with is riding a fully loaded bike, making sure I understand how much that will affect handling, gearing, etc.

I will say, I do completely agree with the comments about bigger not necessarily being better. I surprised myself with some almost accidental testing, moving wheels between bikes and being too lazy to change tires. I won't go into details, as it approaches some level of sacrilege and I need to ride them more. But I will say the math (rotational mass, coefficient of friction, and a lot more things that I don't really know enough about), the math is very real(!) and larger volume tires (or just more supple?) should not be assumed to just be automatically better.
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Old 03-15-19, 11:23 AM
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My set up; I left Generous clearance over the tire (Frame build choices)
Bruce Gordon had braze ons on the rack to shorten up the strut length ..
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