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Touring on Specialized Sirrus carbon 6.0?

Old 08-28-22, 07:43 PM
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k8t
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Touring on Specialized Sirrus carbon 6.0?

I'm tentatively planning to ride the Trans Am next spring and trying to decide on bikes. Is it crazy to even think about touring on a carbon hybrid?

My options are:
1) a 2022 Sirrus carbon 6.0 with drop bars and 2 x 11 gearing. It's a very comfortable ride all day long but I'm not sure about putting more weigh on it. The LBS put a rear rack with trunk bag on it, but I'm not sure about rear panniers and a heavier handlebar bag on the front. It's rides fine on dirt roads and paths with 30 mm tires, and has room for wider tires and fenders. Can you put more weight on these bikes?
or
2.) a Novarra Randonee that's too big for me with brakes that I can't get to stop the bike well enough unless I'm all the way down in the hoods. A local bike shop has "adjusted" a couple times but without much improvement. I love how smooth-riding this bike is but the braking issue combined with the stand-over being uncomfortably tall make it uncomfortable getting off and on through-out the day.
or
3) a new bike altogether. I've been looking at the SOMA Buena Vista steel disc mixte. A shop in San Francisco has built these up for all sorts of touring situations, including transcontinental, so I'm pretty sure I could have that built to accommodate 2 small rear panniers, lightweight tent/sleeping, small stove, and one flat-rack bag above the front wheel.

It would be better for my budget if I didn't have to buy a new bike.

I'm planning on more hotel/hostel/warm showers than camping but want to be ready for camping in some of the more beautiful places, and to have the option if I feel like stopping sooner than planned. I'm determined to fit all I need in larger front panniers used on the rear, a rear rack bag, and the one bag in the front.

I'm a 63 yr-old retired woman, and an avid cyclist with many cycling vacations but no big tours under my belt. I'll be taking shorter tours from around home in preparation for the bigger tour. I have plenty of time and I'm in no rush to race through the Trans Am. I'll be riding East-West starting from Washington DC on the Eastern Express in early to mid May.

So back to my original question... Is it crazy to make this ride on a carbon hybrid, the 2022 Specialized Sirrus 6.0? Would extra weight on some of the longer rail trails on a carbon bike be a bad idea?

Thanks for any thoughts on this.
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Old 08-28-22, 08:05 PM
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Lots of folks will tell you you can tour on any bike.That is true but if you are going to be carrying camping gear,clothes and food you really should look at getting a proven touring bike. There are lots of them out there.They are designed to carry weight and have the proper gearing. Kona Sutra,Surly Trucker .Trek520 to name a few. Have a great trip.
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Old 08-28-22, 08:19 PM
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I donít understand the part about rail trails? What longer rail trails are you taking about?
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Old 08-28-22, 08:31 PM
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You wrote about putting front panniers on the Specialized. It does look like it has a threaded eyelet on the fork. One problem with the fork is that it is carbon with no mid fork riv-nut/ receiving nut to attach a front rack. That is a feature I would consider mandatory for a touring bike, with the exception of a steel fork where you can use a u-bolt. There are times where it is nice to have a water bottle cage under the down tube, but not the end end the world without one.
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Old 08-28-22, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I donít understand the part about rail trails? What longer rail trails are you taking about?
Sorry for the confusion! The Eastern Express follows nearly 600 miles of rail trails/dedicated bike paths. The C&O Canal Towpath, Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), and the Katy Trail are the longer ones I was referring to. I've read that several miles of all of these are unpaved and can get kind of rough depending on how much rain there's been.
Is that the case?
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Old 08-29-22, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by k8t View Post
Sorry for the confusion! The Eastern Express follows nearly 600 miles of rail trails/dedicated bike paths. The C&O Canal Towpath, Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), and the Katy Trail are the longer ones I was referring to. I've read that several miles of all of these are unpaved and can get kind of rough depending on how much rain there's been.
Is that the case?
When I did GAP and C&O there were three of us, all three thought we had the right tires for a rainy trip (rained several days), I had 50mm width, one guy had 47mm and the third had 35mm width. We were packed for camping, a bit heavier than you are planning.

And when I did Katy, I had 50mm width, I think my touring partner also had comparable width tires. It had been dry and stayed that way while we were on it.

My point is that rough or not varies greatly depending on what tires you plan to have, especially tire width. I tour on tires that vary from 37mm to 57mm in width. I am not going to research your bikes so I do not know what width you have. I have seen people tour on 32mm width if they planned to stay on pavement.

From what I have seen, the people that try to tour on carbon bikes use all bikepacking gear without racks or if they can use a rear rack on back with small (25 liter) panniers they might get away with it. That sounds like your planned amount of gear. But I do not know what tires you can take on it.

You are talking about an epic kind of trip. I would want to have the bike for an epic trip instead of trying to force another bike to do the job. You are planning on spending months on that bike.

That said, I have seen plenty of people tour on hybrid bikes and have a great time. But, the hybrids I have seen people tour on were metal frames, not carbon. Example, the gal in the photo below flew from the UK to Toronto, I met her weeks and many miles later on Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, I think her hybrid was aluminum framed. She had about the same amount of gear you are talking about and was near the end of her trip. Note the bikepacking style harness for a dry bag on the handlebar, not a front rack. I am not sure what tire size she had, but they look like something in the 30s (mm) range from the photo.



For a long trip, I like to have a detachable handlebar bag that takes seconds to remove from the bike, that goes into stores and restaurants with me because it has my valuables, phone, stuff I can't lose. Her bag was not that type of bag. I do not recall what she was using for valuables.

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Old 08-29-22, 05:40 AM
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There is a wide range of how much of a load the gear in your description of what you plan to carry might wind up actually being. Where you are in that range may make a big difference in how easily it will be to make that bike work.

Personally I'd use it and be happy with it (other that some personal preference things), but I pack really light. I don't know how you'd put front panniers on that bike.

You could get some gear up front with a bar roll or handlebar bag. The bag roll can be as simple as a stuff sack and a couple straps. Thread the straps through a couple pieces of pvc pipe if you need to get a little space from the bars.

In the back a bikepacking style seat bag is the usual answer, but a big Carradice style bag would be another good choice.

A frame bag can be added if you have room. I ride a smallish frame and am not willing to give up that spce for water bottles, myself. Other things like tanks bags and so on can add a little capacity. I know a lot of folks here hate them, but I actually like a little backpack with no more tha 4-5 pounds in it. Something like an REI Flash 18 works for me. I keep the stuff that needs to stay with me in it (money, plastic, ID, phone, etc).

I rode the Southern Tier with the load (14# base gear weight) split between the handlebar bag, the top of a rear rack, and the backpack. I did a similar split for an on/off road tour on a MTB with a bar roll on front and the gear split more or less equally between the bar roll, the top of the rear rack, and the little back pack. It worked out fine in both cases. I packed lighter than most folks in both cases, but I could have carried more on the rear rack easily. Even using small panniers would have been possible if necessary.

On hind sight I might have used a big seat bag instead if a rear rack if I had one handy. I kind of like that idea. Check out a user named Nun's posts on this forum for his setup.

Another option that doesn't particularly suit me, but some folks like is a trailer. I rode with a guy on the ST who went that route. He had some mechanical issues with the combination that he blamed on the bike not handling the heavy trailer well. It was a new bike and he dealt with the manufactuer a couple times during the trip to have parts sent to him. I know a few others who pulled trailers with carbon bike without issues.

Edit:
I should add that the guy I rode with on the ST was on what I think was probably a bit closer to a race bike and had swapped wheels out to even lower spoke count ones. I suspect that the problems he had were related to that more than anything else. I think he wound up with a new heavier wheelset. His problems were all with the rear wheel, deraileur hanger, and RD.
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Old 08-29-22, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by k8t View Post
Sorry for the confusion! The Eastern Express follows nearly 600 miles of rail trails/dedicated bike paths. The C&O Canal Towpath, Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), and the Katy Trail are the longer ones I was referring to. I've read that several miles of all of these are unpaved and can get kind of rough depending on how much rain there's been.
Is that the case?
The EE is different from the TA.

The parts of the C&O can become very muddy after a lot of rain, and some of ti is not the smoothest surface. A wet GAP will generally just get you and your bike dirty. I've done it on 32c tires fully loaded. I don't think the concept of a carbon frame is the issue. It's what you do with it that is. How much gear? How is it "attached" to the bike. Generally see Tourist's advice above.
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Old 08-29-22, 06:29 AM
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So basically to save You some time and misery the answer to the Sirrus is: not recommended.

I'm glad you report that the sirrus is a comfortable ride all day long but what does it really mean? All day on paved roads? What is the longest miles you rode on the sirrus? Did You ride the sirrus loaded with camping gear?
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Old 08-29-22, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
The EE is different from the TA.

The parts of the C&O can become very muddy after a lot of rain, and some of ti is not the smoothest surface. A wet GAP will generally just get you and your bike dirty. I've done it on 32c tires fully loaded. I don't think the concept of a carbon frame is the issue. It's what you do with it that is. How much gear? How is it "attached" to the bike. Generally see Tourist's advice above.
Back when I was in Maryland I remember the C&O getting pretty deep with mud, but I think they did a lot of regrading so I am not sure how it is these days. There is a web site dedicated to biking it, you might check it out for much more info at The C&O Canal Bicycling Guide - Welcome! I am not sure if they still have the most up to date info or not, but id not a google search will likely turn up a ton of info.

Also someone here has likely ridden it lately and will comment on whether the path is still the same or whether they have improved the surface.
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Old 08-29-22, 08:38 AM
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I rode the GAP and the C&O in 2013. Most of the GAP was not too wet when I rode it, my comments are mainly about the C&O.

I was surprised at the lack of mud that you sink into. Even saturated, the ground felt pretty solid. Initially I was fearful of riding into puddles, as I expected that soft muck below that slows you down and stops you in the muck. But that did not happen, could ride right through. But, that was nine years ago, has it gotten worse?





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Old 08-29-22, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I rode the GAP and the C&O in 2013. Most of the GAP was not too wet when I rode it, my comments are mainly about the C&O.

I was surprised at the lack of mud that you sink into. Even saturated, the ground felt pretty solid. Initially I was fearful of riding into puddles, as I expected that soft muck below that slows you down and stops you in the muck. But that did not happen, could ride right through. But, that was nine years ago, has it gotten worse?
I don't have a handle on when the improvements in the trail occurred. 2013 may have been after it was improved. I can remember times WAY back when some sections could seem bottomless in the wet times.
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Old 08-29-22, 03:34 PM
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I don't know how much stuff you will end up putting on top of your rear rack. Most cyclists don't realize until it happens to them, that they find out that their foot can catch on stuff on the rear rack and have to change their mounting style, where the foot is put over the top tube. (eliminates the pesky problem of catching your foot on the rear rack stuff.) There was a post on here, not too long ago about it. Anyways a mixte would be nice /have an advantage.
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Old 08-29-22, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
...
There was a post on here, not too long ago about it. ....
how to dismount a loaded tour bike?
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Old 08-31-22, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by k8t View Post
I'm planning on more hotel/hostel/warm showers than camping but want to be ready for camping in some of the more beautiful places, and to have the option if I feel like stopping sooner than planned. I'm determined to fit all I need in larger front panniers used on the rear, a rear rack bag, and the one bag in the front.

I'm a 63 yr-old retired woman, and an avid cyclist with many cycling vacations but no big tours under my belt. I'll be taking shorter tours from around home in preparation for the bigger tour. I have plenty of time and I'm in no rush to race through the Trans Am. I'll be riding East-West starting from Washington DC on the Eastern Express in early to mid May.
being the internet, you're going to get all kinds of opinions here.
most of the folks here have substantial touring experience, but it will be hard for you to know what is malarky and what isn't.

my wife and I are of similar age to you, and I've toured since the late 80s.

I'll try to keep this short------bike gearing low enough that is realistic and enjoyable for riding a bike with 30lbs of stuff on it--the Sirrus gearing is too high--it will be murder on long hills
The Sirrus isn't really made for touring, so the wheels and spoke count arent made for weight--there's a very good chance you'll break spokes and totally mess up your day and trip.

you. could be a 63yr old Olympic athlete type, or a super slow occasional rider, but most likely you are in the middle, like most of us here--and the lowest gear on the Sirrus with the 48/32 and 11-32 cassette is 27 gear inches.
what are gear inches? who cares, lets call them jubejubes, its just a number that goes with a calculation of each gear on your bike, as tourers, we want to know what is the lowest gears for slogging up hills with lots of crap on our bike and we are tired and hungry.

27 g.i is not low enough for any semblance of enjoying yourself touring.
I learned this back in the early 90s when my touring bike had a 25 g.i. low and my first fully loaded (over loaded) trip in hilly terrain wasn't much fun. My friendly local bike shop showed me some charts explaining gearing and how to change my small chainring to a smaller one to get a lower low gear, and presto, for my next trip I had about 21 gear inches. Not only did I reduce the amount of crap I took on next trip, but I also then had the rough equivalent of one lower gear, so it was doable.

Having an idea to do a Trans Am is great, but just get the right tool for the job, and you will want a bike with low gearing and is made for carrying stuff that won't have problems.
I mentioned 30lbs of stuff, and that's a very realistic amount of weight for bike touring, especially if you have never bike toured before and carried your own stuff.
Going minimalist is great, but frankly, at close to the same age as you, I have no interest in going totally minimalist, I aint 25 anymore , but then maybe you are a tough cookie who can live. with very little.
Really, the only way for you to start getting an idea of what you need for a two month long trip, is to start putting stuff together into panniers, and getting yourself out there on a loaded bike for some weekend trips and adjust accordingly.

I hope you can achieve your dream.
Its doable, just plan realistically.
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Old 08-31-22, 07:19 AM
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forgot to add this gearing chart for the Sirrus
and the chart for my super low geared touring bike, which when I don't need the lowest gears, I don't use them, Easy peasy.
There is a long time accepted recommended range for touring gearing, about 20-100 gear inches, and it's still relevant.

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Old 08-31-22, 07:41 AM
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DJB makes some good points. Touring bikes were designed for average folks carrying average touring loads. They do that well. Not long ago a "normal" touring bike probably had a low gear of about 20 gear inches. These days folks are going lower. Your bike could be there with a 24r inner ring. Nor sure if your current crank and derailleurs accomodate that or not, but if not with a bit more modification it could be done. Of course some here find they want even lower gears. That said, I'd wager that the majority that in 1976 the majority of Bikecentennial riders had gearing no lower than your bike and carried more than 30#. I don't say that to reccommend it though.

Then there are folks that do tour on ratios like you have or highter. They are in the minority though. I have met a few who managed even in the mountains, but I don't recommend it unless you know that you are the exception.

As far as the wheels go... Some of that will depend on rider weight, but yeah, you will either need to pack light (especially if you are a larger rider), use a trailer, or get a heavier duty set of wheels.

Personally I have found that embracing a very light packing style suites me. It allows me to ride what ever bike I want, within reason, and riding an unladen bike is a joy IMO. For me comfort on the bike and while sleeping are key and neither of those require much "stuff". Others like sprawling space in a big tent and a lot of gear. You have to figure out what works for you in that regard, but ultralight doesn't equate to uncomfortable in my experience despite folks painting it that way.
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Old 08-31-22, 05:00 PM
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Thanks everybody! I really appreciate all of your thoughts on this.

I've been riding my Sirrus and thinking about all your comments. I pretty much agree that this isn't the bike for a long distance tour. The front fork, wheels, and gearing are just part of it.

I don't want to worry about the bike the whole time and would rather ride something that's designed to carry 30ish pounds for a long haul. I want the option to take more if I want, without worrying about the bike.

So the training continues as I shop for that next bike. Fun!

Thanks again!
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Old 08-31-22, 06:21 PM
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one idea is given that you have some time in front of you, keep an eye out for used bikes. It is possible to find used ones, although realistically its harder than before since covid.

but no matter what, having a bike that fits you properly is the most important thing. As you said that your drop bar bike is comfortable all day long, then that gives you a really good template of knowing what dimensions work for you, and you can use these measurements to feel a lot more comfortable buying any bikes in the future.

I personally find my drop bar bikes to be more comfortable day after day after week after week, but then I too have had bikes in the past that didnt fit that well and learned from those lessons and have gotten a much better idea of reach, bar height, bar shapes etc, top tube length and stem lengths etc etc , so that the bikes I use for touring are pretty darn comfortable. (I think its fair to say too that as we get older, we get smarter for noticing comfort stuff that we kinda just ignored when we were younger)

there are lots of bikes out there that can work for you, the main thing is that you have the interest to do this. You'll figure out what tool to use, and again, if you can do some short trips carrying roughly the amount of things for a TransAm, you'll at least see if you really like doing this sort of thing. (and you can perhaps do this before a new bike, just to see if you really hate bike touring , or love it)

do you own panniers, tent, and all that sort of stuff?

all the best researching bikes.
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Old 08-31-22, 06:59 PM
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I had a look at this bike online. It is a flat bar bike. Yours has drop bars? It doesn't seem to have eyelets for racks. Yours does?

As long as you can fit a rack to your bike I don't see anything wrong with touring on it.
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Old 08-31-22, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
I had a look at this bike online. It is a flat bar bike. Yours has drop bars? It doesn't seem to have eyelets for racks. Yours does?
As long as you can fit a rack to your bike I don't see anything wrong with touring on it.
It does have 24 spoke wheels.
Yes, a light rider, a fairly light load and some fatter tires to help with the wheelset, and it could work, but the tall gearing won't be a Christmas present some days.
Is it the best choice? Could be, but probably not.
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Old 08-31-22, 08:40 PM
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Yes, my Sirrus has drop bars but no eyelets on forks for racks. After looking more closely, I now hesitate to add much more weight than what I already carry in my rear pack.
Yes, I have panniers, tent, etc, that I've used on my original touring bike, a Novara Randonee. The Randonee is too big for me.
Looking forward to shopping other options now, including used.
Thanks for all the great suggestions and comments everybody!.
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Old 08-31-22, 08:47 PM
  #23  
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You can use your bike


I have a few other videos on this exact topic
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Old 09-01-22, 05:08 AM
  #24  
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Well

You can change the fork and the drive train and get a second wheelset voilla! :-)
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Old 09-01-22, 05:38 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by k8t View Post
I've been riding my Sirrus and thinking about all your comments. I pretty much agree that this isn't the bike for a long distance tour. The front fork, wheels, and gearing are just part of it.
I don't think that is exactly true, but it sounds like it probably isn't the bike for your tour and most likely a different bike is a good idea. That said, while I enjoyed my Trans America, I never really liked the ride on my touring bike. It was always so nice to get back on one of my other bikes. When I later toured on my old road bike and did a mixed surface tour on my 1990 MTB I never felt that way. The touring bike is the one bike in my fleet that just sits unridden.

One should not try to make a pack mule out of a bike not intended to be one. For someone who wants to pack light and go relatively unladen it might be a good fit it still might be a good choice. With ultralight backpacking gear and techniques that is doable, but folks so inclined generally know who they are or start out packing heavier and evolve into lighter packing and change bikes later in their "career".

If you are at all still considering the existing bike... There is one other possibility that seems to get very little mention here and that is the use of a trailer. I have met quite a few folks successfully going that route with light road bikes and moderately heavy loads. It would require lower gearing, at least a smaller inner ring. I'd say at least 24T? Does your crank accomodate that possibility?).
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