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I've done my research and looking for feedback on a new touring bike

Old 12-04-22, 10:00 AM
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I've done my research and looking for feedback on a new touring bike

Hi everyone,

I've done a ton of research, read the magazines, watched a lot of touring videos on YouTube and been to the bike shops. I'd like to find out what is popular among the crowd here for primarily road touring with a "Little bit of gravel or off-road" versus a straight "adventure bike", one that can do it all.

On the road side I'm leaning toward a Fairlight.
On the adventure side I'm leaning toward a Surly, Kona or Salsa, with Surly leading the pack.

I'm a big rider, 6' 1" and 220. I'm 64 and ride every day and backpack and hike all the time too. I used to work in bike shops for years when I was a young man so I know my way around bikes but have never "toured".

Money is not a concern. I want a bike that is rugged and can take the punishment at the sacrifice of some added weight. Steel is almost a must, aluminum maybe but carbon is out.

For those that tour on roads, what do you ride and for those that adventure bike, what do you ride. I'm talking long tours here, 800+ miles.


---

Last edited by drlogik; 12-04-22 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 12-04-22, 10:15 AM
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Any of those choices would work. If you were just doing pavement, a slick tire 32-35mm would be good, if you want to venture onto gravel rail trails, moving up to a 38mm would work, you can still get away with a slick tire, just lower the air pressure. Nothing really needed special for the frame, a dedicated tourer can handle whatever a gravel bike can, its mostly just appropriate tires. Obviously a tourer is going to weigh significantly more. My lugged steel Miyata, with the fenders and F & R racks installed is 32 lbs., where as my Cannondale Topstone with its gravel wheels and tires but no baggage, is 23 lbs. I would use bikepacking bags on the Gravel, but at a significantly reduced carrying capacity, so would be appropriate for credit card touring, where as my tourer with the Ortleib F &R panniers can easily handle full self supported camping setup.
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Old 12-04-22, 12:38 PM
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Get a proper Rohloff14 bike or forget it. Stay away from anything with a TT slope more than 2".
Get a dyno hub, mine is a SA XL-FDD. First one has done 2 tours and 29,000 miles, now on it's 3rd bike, still going strong.
ZERO worries or fuss. Tires 38+ are better for comfort. Don't gear it stupidly low.

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Old 12-04-22, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
On the road side I'm leaning toward a Fairlight.
On the adventure side I'm leaning toward a Surly, Kona or Salsa, with Surly leading the pack.

I'm a big rider, 6' 1" and 220. I'm 64 and ride every day and backpack and hike all the time too. I used to work in bike shops for years when I was a young man so I know my way around bikes but have never "toured".

Money is not a concern. I want a bike that is rugged and can take the punishment at the sacrifice of some added weight. Steel is almost a must, aluminum maybe but carbon is out.

For those that tour on roads, what do you ride and for those that adventure bike, what do you ride. I'm talking long tours here, 800+ miles.
-
A Surly, Kona, or Salsa will all be fine. They are well established bikes. Geometry on them is all slightly different so no idea if one fits you.
As for Fairlight, I am biased since I have a Secan frame for my gravel bike- I would absolutely use a Secan or Faran frame. The Secan has a carbon fork with moints and higher level of tubing, but the Faran's tubing is actually the same butting profile and has a steel fork with mounts. Either could be excellent and it just depends on how you want to pack the bike.
The Secan's carbon fork can mount 2 anything bag mounts. If that is all you want to load on the front, it's a great choice.
The Faran's fork can handle a full pannier rack or a porteur style rack plus a lot more weight up front.

Both the Faran and Secan are incredibly well designed. Dom, one of the owners, killed it when spec'ing the frames with features as well as geometry. The geometry can handle a front load fine(in my view based in geometry numbers, the rack and fender mounts are well placed, the dynamo wiring option is really well done, and the paint is longnlasting(not something to overlook for a work bike).
With the R And T frame options in each size, there is geometry to fit pretty much everyone.
They are quite capable on gravel and the reason why I bought a Secan frame is because the geometry is very much 'endurance road' vs 'adventure mtb'. I wanted something that fits like a drop bar road bike, only with wider tires.
I am 6'5 220#. The Secan frame doesn't flex in a negative way for me and the chainstays are long enough for me to have a rear rack with panniers on, but not hit the bags with my heels(14 shoes). I do mount the bags to the back of my rack, to be clear.


If you haven't gone page by page thru the Fairlight design notes and look book, I encourage you to. It's rare for a bike company to share so much background info and reasoning for why they do what they do.
Look thru the Faran and Secan notes and look book. Heck, take a look at their Strael too, just to then see what they changed between a road and gravel/adventure design. You can email them any questions too as Dom is very responsive and will nerd out very quickly.


My old gravel frame turned into my current commure/touring frame. It's a Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross rim brake frame. I mention this because it's worth looking at Black Mountain's upcoming ModZero frame. It's flat mount disc, steel fork, rack and gear mounts front and rear, and designed by an absolutely awesome guy. A little lighter and more unique that a Surly. Plus the geometry doesn't result in a goofy 80mm of spacers like what's on so many Surly bikes.
https://blackmtncycles.com/mod-zero-2/





A Sutra will take you around the world. Many bikes are equally capable. To me, what's most important is finding one with the style of geometry you like(chainstay length, trail number, mounts, etc) and makes you want to jump on and ride when you look at it. Something a bit more unique and no so overbuilt that is also well thought out is what appeals to me.
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Old 12-04-22, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
Get a proper Rohloff14 bike or forget it. Stay away from anything with a TT slope more than 2".
Get a dyno hub, mine is a SA XL-FDD. First one went 2 tours and 29,000 miles. ZERO worries or fuss. Tires 38+ are better for comfort. Don't gear it stupidly low.
Seriously? I guess I better throw my bike away and forget it since I don't have a Rohloff14. Oh, and I may be guilty of gearing my bike ridiculously low. Sorry. I shall toss it in the bin and take out a mortgage to buy the bike you recommend, then walk it up the hills. Thanks so much for your sage advice.
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Old 12-04-22, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Money is not a concern.


Titanium.
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Old 12-04-22, 04:49 PM
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Touring, are you thinking ultra light in which case you could get by with bikepacking gear (no racks). Or a bit heavier with rear rack and panniers and handlebar bag or harness. Or, more conventional touring with front panniers too. Big difference in the type of bikes.

Gravel, I like tires that are 50mm wide or wider, but I have done 40 or 37mm wide on rail trails. Road I usually use 35 or 37 or 40mm tires. And that dictates what kind of bike you want.

When you say 800 plus miles, I assume four panniers but I am hesitant to spend more time on this unless you tell us more. If you have been doing the research, and since you backpack and camp you already know something about weight and volume (liters) of your gear so I am assuming you have already thought about these details.
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Old 12-04-22, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post


Titanium.
The Habenero titanium cross/gravel bike might work. Has pretty long 44cm chainstays common to tourers, has rear eyelets. Run it with a Ritchey carbon adventure fork which has eyelets for a rack. Pretty good gearing available with a 2x GRX group. $3400 or so
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Old 12-04-22, 05:20 PM
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Surly LHT, pre-disc brakes. Lots of road and “off-road” miles, including 700+ mile trips​​​​​​. And not going lite.
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Old 12-04-22, 05:22 PM
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Do you have a reasonable idea of what low gear you think would be appropriate for what you'd be carrying?
And how wide of tire would you want to able to run?
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Old 12-04-22, 06:11 PM
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In this day & age, you should consider 700x37 tires to be the minimum width you'll accept, preferably even bigger. That lets you just roll over so much more crap in the roads, including most potholes, without damaging your wheels. Plus the ride is WAY more comfortable. Which gets more important, with more mileage. 😎
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Old 12-04-22, 08:47 PM
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Thanks for the feedback folks.

Not interested in "ultra light" touring, at this point. I'll lose more pounds off my middle section instead of cutting weight off the bike. Off the body doesn't cost a dime.
Not a fan of titanium or carbon so that alone usually keeps costs in control....generally....
Not a fan of Rohloff.
I'll probably opt for a more lightly weighted 4x panniers setup instead of two heavy bags.
Agree with stardognine, I like wide tires so probably 37's minimum..and coupled with a steel frame it's a pretty smooth ride already. My daily exercise bike is a Wabi Special with 30's.

My goal is not break neck speed but take my time and enjoy the ride, nature and people. I like to fly fish and I'm a photo buff also so going to make time for that. That extra gear weight will be spread across the 4x panniers. When I backpack in the wilderness for 3 to 10 days I carry a 70L pack, which includes room for my camera and fishing gear. I go pretty light but that's carrying everything on my back. I figure spreading the weight around 4x panneirs would be best for balance on the bike. I'm all ears if folks think differently though. Remember, I'm a back packer but not a bike tourer so I have a lot to learn.

I'll probably do some "credit card" touring through some areas but will be camping in between.
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Old 12-04-22, 10:24 PM
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CoMotion Divide?
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Old 12-04-22, 11:14 PM
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As you've never "toured", I would look for a bike that can be used as a commuter in case you don't like touring. With that in mind, I would avoid super expensive bikes.
If you're going off road for fly fishing and such, 35mm is minimum for tires, I would even consider going to 45mm

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Old 12-05-22, 12:26 AM
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LHT seems to be a good choice.
It's designed for touring, carrying 4xbags.
wide enough tires for what you're planning.

26": 2.1" with or without fenders; 700c: 42mm with fenders, 45mm without fender
are you wanting drop bars or straight?
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Old 12-05-22, 04:52 AM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Thanks for the feedback folks.

Not interested in "ultra light" touring, at this point. I'll lose more pounds off my middle section instead of cutting weight off the bike. Off the body doesn't cost a dime.
Not a fan of titanium or carbon so that alone usually keeps costs in control....generally....
Not a fan of Rohloff.
I'll probably opt for a more lightly weighted 4x panniers setup instead of two heavy bags.
Agree with stardognine, I like wide tires so probably 37's minimum..and coupled with a steel frame it's a pretty smooth ride already. My daily exercise bike is a Wabi Special with 30's.

My goal is not break neck speed but take my time and enjoy the ride, nature and people. I like to fly fish and I'm a photo buff also so going to make time for that. That extra gear weight will be spread across the 4x panniers. When I backpack in the wilderness for 3 to 10 days I carry a 70L pack, which includes room for my camera and fishing gear. I go pretty light but that's carrying everything on my back. I figure spreading the weight around 4x panneirs would be best for balance on the bike. I'm all ears if folks think differently though. Remember, I'm a back packer but not a bike tourer so I have a lot to learn.

I'll probably do some "credit card" touring through some areas but will be camping in between.
I think there are a wide variety of bikes that would fit this quite well. I am assuming you will use drop bars, as that is the norm in USA.

Thanks for mentioning Fairlight, I was not familiar with them. One thing would make me a bit nervous about them is that when I look at their website I do not see any photos of one with four panniers. Thus, I question if the frame would be too soft for conventional touring with four panniers if nobody has photos of it that way. And if you stay 220 pounds, that also means you need a pretty stiff frame when your gear is loaded on the bike.

The list of other bikes you are considering are all ones that have extensive use, thus should fit your needs quite well. I would not rule out the Trek 520 or a Fuji touring bike which would expand your list. If you built it up from the frame, Co-Motion would be a good option but would be somewhat more expensive.

Yes I heard you say not interested in titanium, but the Lynskey Backroad is a nice frame. You might want to give it a look. I am quite happy with my Lynskey, I built it up five years ago. They have made a lot of changes to the frame since mine was built, but overall it looks like none of the changes detracts from the goal of being a solid touring bike. When I bought mine, the fork was not included with the frame, I have a steel fork on mine but now it comes bundled with a carbon fork. I use 37mm tires and have 45mm fenders on mine. I have two steel touring bikes and the Lynskey, I consider the Lynskey to be my light touring bike.
https://lynskeyperformance.com/backr...ring-frameset/

With that many choices, I think you need to think about some details.
  • Will the frame offer the size tires you may want if you also have fenders mounted?
  • Will you be using a dynohub? If you build it up from a frame, adding a dynohub is only the cost of the hub, minus the cost of the regular hub. But if you add that to a complete bike, then the price goes up.
  • Some will want a kickstand, some do not, if you want a stand will that void a warranty and can one be fitted to the frame. I have them on my steel touring bikes but do not have one on my titanium bike.
  • You said you are 64, I am 68, I find that in the past decade I raised my handlebars about 10 to 20mm and in a couple situations I shortened the reach on my bikes. Whatever you choose, anticipate wanting your handlebars higher or further back as you age more.
  • And you need to think about drive train, a 1X, 2X or a triple crank. I think you will find most experienced bike tourists that use four panniers will suggest a triple crank.

If you can test ride any of the bikes before buying, even if it is only riding around a parking lot, I would encourage you to do that.
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Old 12-05-22, 06:17 AM
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I don’t have a Surley, but on my TransAm ride this year, I sure saw a lot of them.

Derailleur equipped touring bikes are still very popular. So are rim brakes.

On the TransAm, I talked to three people — two were married and traveling together — with Pinion drive, but I was surprised that I didn’t talk to anyone with a Rohloff.

I am five years older than you and I like my triple chainrings and 34 tooth rear sprocket, but I still pushed up some hills in Appalachia and the Ozarks.

I like my 26X2 inch tires and, though I wavered about building up some 650b wheels, I just laced up another set of new 26ers last week. The bicycle industry is certainly trying to push 26” wheels and tires aside, but at my age I suspect I will be able to stay on them as long as I want to.

I haven’t read it, but Alee Dunham of Cyclingabout.com has an ebook that compares lots of touring bikes.
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Old 12-05-22, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
Get a proper Rohloff14 bike or forget it. Stay away from anything with a TT slope more than 2".
Get a dyno hub, mine is a SA XL-FDD. First one went 2 tours and 29,000 miles. ZERO worries or fuss. Tires 38+ are better for comfort. Don't gear it stupidly low.
Why do you think more TT slope than 2" is bad? From where I look at it there's only upsides to TT slope but maybe you have a better understanding...
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Old 12-05-22, 10:29 AM
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If money is not an object then i would have a bike built for me,maybe Co Motion . Lots of great off the rack bikes, i ride a disc Trucker and it is tough and comfortable.

Last edited by garryg; 12-05-22 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 12-05-22, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Thanks for the feedback folks.

Not interested in "ultra light" touring, at this point. I'll lose more pounds off my middle section instead of cutting weight off the bike. Off the body doesn't cost a dime.
Not a fan of titanium or carbon so that alone usually keeps costs in control....generally....
Not a fan of Rohloff.
I'll probably opt for a more lightly weighted 4x panniers setup instead of two heavy bags.
Agree with stardognine, I like wide tires so probably 37's minimum..and coupled with a steel frame it's a pretty smooth ride already. My daily exercise bike is a Wabi Special with 30's.

My goal is not break neck speed but take my time and enjoy the ride, nature and people. I like to fly fish and I'm a photo buff also so going to make time for that. That extra gear weight will be spread across the 4x panniers. When I backpack in the wilderness for 3 to 10 days I carry a 70L pack, which includes room for my camera and fishing gear. I go pretty light but that's carrying everything on my back. I figure spreading the weight around 4x panneirs would be best for balance on the bike. I'm all ears if folks think differently though. Remember, I'm a back packer but not a bike tourer so I have a lot to learn.

I'll probably do some "credit card" touring through some areas but will be camping in between.
With you attitude towards this, I believe you will truly enjoy yourself. I will also say the Surly Long Haul Trucker would be a good choice. I have the original version, but the current model would work very well for you. The Kona Sutra SE is an option as well. https://www.konaworld.com/sutra_se.cfm

Last edited by phughes; 12-05-22 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 12-05-22, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Lathe View Post
I don’t have a Surley, but on my TransAm ride this year, I sure saw a lot of them.

Derailleur equipped touring bikes are still very popular. So are rim brakes.

On the TransAm, I talked to three people — two were married and traveling together — with Pinion drive, but I was surprised that I didn’t talk to anyone with a Rohloff.

I am five years older than you and I like my triple chainrings and 34 tooth rear sprocket, but I still pushed up some hills in Appalachia and the Ozarks.

I like my 26X2 inch tires and, though I wavered about building up some 650b wheels, I just laced up another set of new 26ers last week. The bicycle industry is certainly trying to push 26” wheels and tires aside, but at my age I suspect I will be able to stay on them as long as I want to.

I haven’t read it, but Alee Dunham of Cyclingabout.com has an ebook that compares lots of touring bikes.
I'm never surprised when I fail to see someone touring with a Rohloff. I am surprised when I actually see one. In the past eleven years since I bought my Surly and got more involved in biking and the industry, I have seen exactly one bike with a Rohloff in the wild. That is not to say they are not good, they are in fact excellent, they are just not common, and there are reasons for that, cost being the biggest hurdle someone needs to clear.
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Old 12-05-22, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
Why do you think more TT slope than 2" is bad? From where I look at it there's only upsides to TT slope but maybe you have a better understanding...
I wouldn't get too concerned about his "understanding." Not much thinking was involved, it was all opinion.
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Old 12-05-22, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by drlogik View Post
Thanks for the feedback folks.

Not interested in "ultra light" touring, at this point. I'll lose more pounds off my middle section instead of cutting weight off the bike. Off the body doesn't cost a dime.
Not a fan of titanium or carbon so that alone usually keeps costs in control....generally....
Not a fan of Rohloff.
I'll probably opt for a more lightly weighted 4x panniers setup instead of two heavy bags.
Agree with stardognine, I like wide tires so probably 37's minimum..and coupled with a steel frame it's a pretty smooth ride already. My daily exercise bike is a Wabi Special with 30's.

My goal is not break neck speed but take my time and enjoy the ride, nature and people. I like to fly fish and I'm a photo buff also so going to make time for that. That extra gear weight will be spread across the 4x panniers. When I backpack in the wilderness for 3 to 10 days I carry a 70L pack, which includes room for my camera and fishing gear. I go pretty light but that's carrying everything on my back. I figure spreading the weight around 4x panneirs would be best for balance on the bike. I'm all ears if folks think differently though. Remember, I'm a back packer but not a bike tourer so I have a lot to learn.

I'll probably do some "credit card" touring through some areas but will be camping in between.
1. Being a backpacker, you probably already have some relatively lite camping essentials like a tent/sleep system, bag and sleeping pad. Maybe even cooking gear also. That puts you ahead of the curve relative to other newbs. My first unsupported tour, which I took back in '99, was nearly four months. I was a devout roadie who had never camped a day in his life. I ended up riding my touring bike fully loaded only once before I hopped a train out west to start the trip. That's about as green as you can get.

2. If you can deal with the extra weight, I say take the camera and fishing stuff. On the tour mentioned above, I toted a full Mamiya 645 setup with metered view finder, power grip and three lenses, a smaller 35mm and, of course, film for both cameras. (I mailed home exposed rolls and had fresh rolls mailed to me.) Never regretted the extra weight. Of course, I was 34 back then.

3. Four panniers with the tent strapped to the rear rack is the way I like to roll. (See my Avatar.) You can more easily segregate/organize things, and I like the balance it affords. If you are disciplined, which I suspect you are, you won't simply fill the space just because it is there. Never understood that. I think it was the combination of me being a newb and being a cautious person that kept me from maxing out capacity. The camera equipment was a must, but that meant not toting luxuries. I have told this story before, but one woman in our group of 13 started out with a blow dryer and a Sonly Watchman TV. They both got mailed home at the start of the 3rd day.
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Old 12-05-22, 12:28 PM
  #24  
greatbasin
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If I had those parameters, I would look at the Co-Motion models with either a pinion gearbox or a Rohloff hub.
Personally, I went more the vintage route and invested about a fourth as much while being just as if not more stylish. I take it easy though. If I was more ambitious, the little bit extra cost for current tech would be well worth it.
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Old 12-05-22, 02:08 PM
  #25  
GamblerGORD53
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
Why do you think more TT slope than 2" is bad? From where I look at it there's only upsides to TT slope but maybe you have a better understanding...
All it takes is looking thru the pics file.
Steep 6" slope frame = cramped bottles, gangly seat post and awkward seat tube mount of the rack. They look just plain stupid.
Weird thing is the smaller the frame, the more likely of a frame bag. LOL.
There are more 2" slope bikes in the pics than I thought there were. So there I AM onto something.
Level Surly frames have the weirdest stems of any bikes by far.

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 12-05-22 at 02:18 PM.
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