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Steel rigid MTB VS classic touring bike.

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Steel rigid MTB VS classic touring bike.

Old 02-03-20, 09:47 AM
  #1  
RH Clark
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Steel rigid MTB VS classic touring bike.

I have an opportunity on 2 different bikes right now. One is an 89 Specialized Hardrock already set up with racks, front and back. It has 4 panniers front and back,and a large handle bar bag. Also has fenders. It was a daily commuter,has a good bit a surface rust and hasn't been ridden in 10 years. It also has a complete tool kit for the road with wrenches.

The other is a 1983 Schwinn Voyager SP supposedly greased, tuned and original with no rust. Just no rear rack but I'm told ready to hit the road. It's $75 more than the MTB with all the accessories.

When asking about the Schwinn I have had some cautions about touring on a freewheel and axel's breaking. The Schwinn is a 5 speed rear and the MTB is a 6 speed rear. Because I've heard so much about rigid steel MTB making good touring bikes I was wondering if one or the other of these bikes has a stronger axel or is less likely to break an axel or have freewheel trouble.

One other question, What might I expect it cost me to get some panniers and racks and fenders for the Schwinn used?
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Old 02-03-20, 11:02 AM
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The hardrock is a freewheel as well. Cassettes didn't start till 7 speed.

Do you prefer flat or drop bars? Which bike fits you better?
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Old 02-03-20, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
The hardrock is a freewheel as well. Cassettes didn't start till 7 speed.

Do you prefer flat or drop bars? Which bike fits you better?
Yes Sir
I thought they were both FW's. I just wasn't sure about potential durability of one verses the other. Seems they are both what should be proper size as best as I can tell by measuring. My original thought was to get the Schwinn and set it up just to have the experience on a touring style drop bar bike. I've only rode a couple in the parking lot at a bike shop. My current daily is a Trek Marlin 5 MTB and I like the straight bars.

Then I saw this old rigid frame MTB set up ready to tour the world including spare parts, bags, wrenches, fenders, racks and all. Guy bought it from a shop and never toured. He did use it daily for a couple years as a commuter and it hasn't been ridden for 10 years. All the bags and equipment is what interests me the most.

If however the Schwinn is likely to be just as reliable and more comfortable, which is my guess, barring the freewheel and axel comparison question, I will stay the course on the Schwinn.
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Old 02-03-20, 11:36 AM
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Buy both, take the accessories from the hardrock and put them on the voyager, then resell the hardrock. Depending on the value of the accessories, it will probably be cheaper this way as well.
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Old 02-03-20, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
....wondering if one or the other of these bikes has a stronger axel or is less likely to break an axel or have freewheel trouble.

check out both bikes, get the one that fits the bestest.

freewheel axles aren't that dainty.

people have done world tours on freewheel bikes....and lived to tell the tale.

you're planning a short tour on pavement with a reasonable load.

unless you're planning on strapping 200 pounds to the bike, along with your
280 pounds, and then cruising offroad down boulder-strewn mountain tracks,
shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 02-03-20, 11:52 AM
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Agree with Katsup, fit is very important. If neither bike fits well, pass on them and keep watching for something else.

And agree with Katsup, if you have the wrong bars for your type of riding, you won't enjoy it.

Freewheel, people have toured on freewheels, but they generally carried light loads. If you wanted to do longer trips with heavier loads, you would want a better wheel.

I assume both are steel. The 6 speed bike probably has a rear wheel spacing of 126mm. You probably could fit a modern 130mm wheel into that bike if you wanted to have a stronger rear wheel, and you could upgrade your rear derailleur and shifter to indexed for more speeds if you did that. The bike with a 5 speed probably has a 120mm rear hub spacing, would be harder to fit a modern wheel into it.

I assume both would have cup and cone bottom bracket, but the 1989 bike might be cartridge. Regardless, I would suggest putting in a new cartridge bottom bracket, if the cranks are compatible with a Shimano UN55 bottom bracket, that would be a low cost upgrade.

Right now, Siera has a good price on Backroller (rear) panniers. I am not familiar with the Detours panniers, I think they are rear ones, the price looks great.
https://www.sierra.com/s~panniers/

If you are in a community with a Sierra store, you can have them shipped to the store for pickup for free, then you can decide if you like them.

There have been several threads on this forum with mountain bike to touring bike conversions, that might give you some ideas.
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Old 02-03-20, 11:58 AM
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I new to this and 51 years old but I'm 6'2 and 170 lbs. I ride on average 30-60 miles a week and did a few 100 mile weeks last summer. I's getting stronger and younger every day. My first trips ill be short but I do eventually and soon plan to ride Alabama to Colorado. I would like to go this summer but I have mechanics classes and bike outfitting and shorter trips to get under my belt first. My biggest trouble right now is that I'm broke financially. That may be a plus though cause back when I had money, I didn't have time.
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Old 02-03-20, 01:16 PM
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A few random thoughts.....

I'd personally go with the MTB for the simple reason that it's more versatile. Changing tyres can give me access to places the Schwinn won't go.

If the bags are as old as the bike are they in good condition?
Can you offer to buy the panniers/racks seperately?
As for the tools - some tools are such poor quality they can cost you money. Make sure of the quality.

Rust. Is this serious or cosmetic? Personally, I think a worn, old look on a touring bike is an advantage over a shiny new one. It is less likely to be stolen if it looks old, more battered than the one beside it and there are many similar versions of it around.

Consider the cost and availability of components in your decision. Freewheels, chains need to be replaced regularly. Are they available and at what cost? Bear that in mind too for on the road.

What size wheels on the Schwinn?

What are the gearing ratios currently? Are they adequate for your needs? Can they be changed easily?

An advantage of the MTB is that there are thousands of those bikes anywhere you go - a handy source of spares.

As mentioned above hub width is important if you ever want to consider replacing or improving the wheels.
If gear ratios are not suitable for you, or if freewheels are expensive or difficult to buy it may make sense to change out the rear wheel and replace with a 7, 8 or 9 speed cassette - of course that means new shifters too, probably.

Here's an off the wall idea - how about using your current bike for some shakedown trips?
Not sure if you're planning on camping and cooking, but just getting on the road will teach you a lot about what is important for you.
I learned so much just by doing on a bike that was, probably to most people, totally unsuitable. Yet, it got me out and about and learning. When the time came for a "new" bike I knew exactly what was important - to me.

If you're going down the pannier route just make sure that anything you buy is as compatible as possible with what type of bike you'll probably buy. If you're thinking of a more minimalist bikepacking route your bike is probably more suitable - although the gear is expensive.

For what it's worth, I bought a mid 90's Trek 800 and over the course of about 3 years built it into my touring, go anywhere bike. I had to do it slowly because I didn't have the money to do it fast.
I transferred racks etc from my old bike and used them until I could upgrade. Ditto with lights etc.
By taking my time and having the chance to think things through I've ended up with a bike that cost a fraction of something similar if bought new.

Oh! All of the above is based on one assumption and that is that both bikes are equally as comfortable. An uncomfortable bike, no matter how good, cheap or highly specc'd is no good for touring.

Best of luck!
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Old 02-03-20, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour View Post
A few random thoughts.....

I'd personally go with the MTB for the simple reason that it's more versatile. Changing tyres can give me access to places the Schwinn won't go.

If the bags are as old as the bike are they in good condition?
Can you offer to buy the panniers/racks seperately?
As for the tools - some tools are such poor quality they can cost you money. Make sure of the quality.

Rust. Is this serious or cosmetic? Personally, I think a worn, old look on a touring bike is an advantage over a shiny new one. It is less likely to be stolen if it looks old, more battered than the one beside it and there are many similar versions of it around.

Consider the cost and availability of components in your decision. Freewheels, chains need to be replaced regularly. Are they available and at what cost? Bear that in mind too for on the road.

What size wheels on the Schwinn?

What are the gearing ratios currently? Are they adequate for your needs? Can they be changed easily?

An advantage of the MTB is that there are thousands of those bikes anywhere you go - a handy source of spares.

As mentioned above hub width is important if you ever want to consider replacing or improving the wheels.
If gear ratios are not suitable for you, or if freewheels are expensive or difficult to buy it may make sense to change out the rear wheel and replace with a 7, 8 or 9 speed cassette - of course that means new shifters too, probably.

Here's an off the wall idea - how about using your current bike for some shakedown trips?
Not sure if you're planning on camping and cooking, but just getting on the road will teach you a lot about what is important for you.
I learned so much just by doing on a bike that was, probably to most people, totally unsuitable. Yet, it got me out and about and learning. When the time came for a "new" bike I knew exactly what was important - to me.

If you're going down the pannier route just make sure that anything you buy is as compatible as possible with what type of bike you'll probably buy. If you're thinking of a more minimalist bikepacking route your bike is probably more suitable - although the gear is expensive.

For what it's worth, I bought a mid 90's Trek 800 and over the course of about 3 years built it into my touring, go anywhere bike. I had to do it slowly because I didn't have the money to do it fast.
I transferred racks etc from my old bike and used them until I could upgrade. Ditto with lights etc.
By taking my time and having the chance to think things through I've ended up with a bike that cost a fraction of something similar if bought new.

Oh! All of the above is based on one assumption and that is that both bikes are equally as comfortable. An uncomfortable bike, no matter how good, cheap or highly specc'd is no good for touring.

Best of luck!
I appreciate all the well thought advice my friend. I'm no novice to camping out ,even a week at a time. I'm just new to cycling. I have mechanics classes planned and several short tours first. My current bike is fine for short trips and lots of experience but I think I'm going to try the Schwinn just to see how a steel touring bike rides. Worst case I learn more about what I like and what I don't.
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Old 02-03-20, 06:02 PM
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Buy both bicycles and then make use of all three of them. Follow your plan of using the Schwinn as your daily. During that time, either move the wheels from the Trek over to the Hardrock or sell the Trek and use the proceeds to modernize the HR and make it better for touring.
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Old 02-03-20, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
Buy both bicycles and then make use of all three of them. Follow your plan of using the Schwinn as your daily. During that time, either move the wheels from the Trek over to the Hardrock or sell the Trek and use the proceeds to modernize the HR and make it better for touring.
Oops. In my haste to see the Hardrock put to good use, I overlooked the type of rims that the Marlin has. Sorry about that. I still like the idea of selling the Marlin in order to modernize the HR though.
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Old 02-03-20, 10:47 PM
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Dude, isn't this your THIRD thread on the same damn thing?
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Old 02-03-20, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
I have an opportunity on 2 different bikes right now. One is an 89 Specialized Hardrock already set up with racks, front and back. It has 4 panniers front and back,and a large handle bar bag. Also has fenders. It was a daily commuter,has a good bit a surface rust and hasn't been ridden in 10 years. It also has a complete tool kit for the road with wrenches.

The other is a 1983 Schwinn Voyager SP supposedly greased, tuned and original with no rust. Just no rear rack but I'm told ready to hit the road. It's $75 more than the MTB with all the accessories.

When asking about the Schwinn I have had some cautions about touring on a freewheel and axel's breaking. The Schwinn is a 5 speed rear and the MTB is a 6 speed rear. Because I've heard so much about rigid steel MTB making good touring bikes I was wondering if one or the other of these bikes has a stronger axel or is less likely to break an axel or have freewheel trouble.

One other question, What might I expect it cost me to get some panniers and racks and fenders for the Schwinn used?
Well for $75 you have a Schwinn in good shape and only need rack and fenders or a MTB which needs a complete overhaul.
At this point the only thing I would consider is, which bike fits you best.
Comfort is the number one priority for a touring bike
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Old 02-04-20, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Dude, isn't this your THIRD thread on the same damn thing?
I didn't think so ,but sorry if I am being a jerk by needlessly posting. I'm just a clueless newbie trying to make good decisions.
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Old 02-04-20, 08:10 AM
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I'd lean towards the mountain bike as it seems fully equipped for touring. The rust does concern me though, suggesting that it's been left out in the rain or ridden in the rain and not cleaned up afterwards. That rust suggest a certain level of mechanical neglect that could be evident elsewhere.

I rode the PCH from SF to LA on a mountain bike with slicks. It did pretty great. But it was in better mechanical shape.
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Old 02-04-20, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
Buy both, take the accessories from the hardrock and put them on the voyager, then resell the hardrock. Depending on the value of the accessories, it will probably be cheaper this way as well.
Seems like a reasonable idea. What sort of shifters are on the Schwinn? Downtube, stem, bar end? Do you know how to use whatever it has?
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Old 02-04-20, 08:38 AM
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I would like to offer a bit different opinion. I believe that once you get either of these bikes "tour ready," you are going to have a significant amount of $$$ into it. You may be able to get a more trouble-free, more modern bike for not that much more. I see appropriate bikes, racks and bags on CL all the time that are very reasonable. You might even consider this by selling off something (which you mentioned in another thread).
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Old 02-04-20, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Seems like a reasonable idea. What sort of shifters are on the Schwinn? Downtube, stem, bar end? Do you know how to use whatever it has?
Here's a photo of the Schwinn from one of the other threads. I'd get this one, but I know what changes I'd make and can do so.
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Old 02-04-20, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Here's a photo of the Schwinn from one of the other threads. I'd get this one, but I know what changes I'd make and can do so.
Appreciate it. I'm trying my best to buy it. I have an appointment and I've committed to buying as long as fit is as it should be and description is as stated. I have found another similar touring style that I will get that has bags and racks for the same price. I'll have about $400 in everything and a bike to sell if it works out. Even if I spend $1500 on a touring bike,I need experience on this touring style before I know for sure what I want to spend big money on.

This other bike I'm buying for the racks and bags has the same size 40 spoke rims as the Voyager I am hoping to get. Everything is in place but I don't have anything in hand yet. I just saw the Specialized close to where I am going to get the Voyager so wanted some thoughts on it for a back up plan.
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Old 02-04-20, 08:35 PM
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I suspect that the Hardrock has 26" wheels and the racks might not have adequate clearance for the wheels on the Voyageur (27" or 700C). Depends on when those parts were produced; it used to be an issue sometimes but might not be if those components are newer. Just saying, don't get frustrated if things don't match up. Stuff like this happens.

I'm assuming this Hardrock is the only Specialized you're looking at, but if it turns out to be a touring bike and not a mountain bike then things are more likely to swap over nicely.
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