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selecting the right touring bike

Old 06-26-23, 04:25 PM
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selecting the right touring bike

I had a bike fit about 2 months ago. I don't think it helped me in figuring out what I need in a bike. I have a couple of "make do" bikes (one is too mall and OK for light touring, but not for major hills or long touring) - Bianchi Advantage and the other is a folding touring bike, but I think I'm a bit too heavy for it with it loaded - Bike Friday NWT.

I've been scouring the local used markets and reading up on bikes for about a year and either what I think I want just doesn't exist, or I'm looking wrongly.

What I want - one that is good for my size - I'm around 210 lbs. and 5'6" tall with long legs and short torso. (bike inseam is 31").

Ideally, the bike would be steel and a either a Mixte or one that doesn't stretch me out too much. I would also prefer to buy used for budget reasons and for environmental reasons.

There are some used bikes somewhat local to me that are available, but I'm just not sure about sizing!

Like there is a Miyata 1000st in a 50cm, but when I look at geometry details, it says it's an aggressive fit? According to my bike fit I'm a 52cm, but the Bianchi Advantage I have is a 46cm (with some spacers).

There's also a Mixte in a 52cm tourer - Claud Butler that was supposedly a very good tourer back in the day.

or should I go for a modern steel bike like a Kona Sutra or Salsa Marakesh? in a 50 or 52cm?

For starters, I'm just wanting to do a bunch of rail trails nearish me and I know about any bike will work (thus the Bianchi I picked up is fine), but I would like to do more bigger tours very soon - perhaps across the US or part of the US.

I just seem to be a hard case - I'm heavy (I have a large, strong build and added fluff) AND I just don't really care for bikes I have to swing my leg over to get on and off. I "can" do it. I just find it ridiculous to need to do it and would prefer not to.

Please give me some things to think about. Thanks.
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Old 06-26-23, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
...
AND I just don't really care for bikes I have to swing my leg over to get on and off. I "can" do it. I just find it ridiculous to need to do it and would prefer not to.
....
Not sure if this would help or not, link to an old post I made:
How to dismount a loaded tour bike?
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Old 06-26-23, 05:54 PM
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Thanks - I can do it... I just don't like to do it with a heavy, loaded bike. They manage it in Europe to have sloped touring bikes, I don't know why they can't manage it here. It has nothing to do with being a girl - but with preferring to have a safer and easier way to get on and off a loaded bike. IMO, all bikes should be this way! LOL
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Old 06-26-23, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
...
What I want - one that is good for my size - I'm around 210 lbs. and 5'6" tall with long legs and short torso. (bike inseam is 31").
...
Here's a big list of touring bikes:

https://www.cyclingabout.com/categor...packing-bikes/

The most important frame measurements are stack and reach - it sounds like you would fit on a bike with higher stack and shorter reach (than an average bike), and you've got your step-through requirement. These somewhat unusual requirements will make it difficult to find a used bike that will fit.

As far as low step through, you could get a Velo Orange Polyvalent frame and have it built up, but that's more expensive than buying a complete bike, and it's not a true touring frame, kind of a all-round light tourer.

https://velo-orange.com/collections/...lyvalent-mk5-1
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Old 06-26-23, 08:19 PM
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How about a Marin Larkspur? I haven’t ridden or seen one but it’s on my radar for a step through all roads bike. Pathlesspedaled has a review on Youtube. It looks solid.
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Old 06-27-23, 01:39 AM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you lose rigidity when you lower the top tube attachment point to the seat tube further down, like above ? And less rigidity is not great for stability when you start putting significant weight on that rear triangle.
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Old 06-27-23, 09:59 AM
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There is a whole lot more to fitting than frame height, and honestly a fairly wide range would work once you get the other stuff in line. Saddles move up and down, front to back, stems can be picked to do the same, handlebars determine a whole lot of how you end up stuffed on a bike, and the crank arms do have a huge impact on how well you mechanically interact with the bike.

I would start by getting a beater old school bike, often for free, around 52 height and 52 top tube, and just money wrench it until you get it to fit you. Try different seat and stem positions and definitely different crank arm lengths until you hit the sweet spot.
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Old 06-27-23, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by robow
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you lose rigidity when you lower the top tube attachment point to the seat tube further down, like above ? And less rigidity is not great for stability when you start putting significant weight on that rear triangle.
The further it gets from triangles the lower the strength/weight, but the strength and stiffness can be increased with added material. It looks like the low step Polyvalent uses a thicker top tube, and that Marin Larkspur has extra bracing. I'm not sure that completely compensates for the reduced triangulation, but it might.
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Old 06-27-23, 10:38 AM
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I would just go order a Surly Disc Trucker and stop stressing over it.
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Old 06-28-23, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by robow
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you lose rigidity when you lower the top tube attachment point to the seat tube further down, like above ? And less rigidity is not great for stability when you start putting significant weight on that rear triangle.
Depends on the tubing. If you used the same diameter tubing I can imagine a mixte/low step being less rigid but with larger diameter down tube and top tubes it should be solid. Think of the difference between an early Cannondale road bike and a steel road bike made with light tubing. Both conventional triangles but one significantly more rigid than the other. If the down tube was large enough you wouldnít need a top tube, like some scooters w 3 hp motors.
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Old 06-28-23, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
I would just go order a Surly Disc Trucker and stop stressing over it.
I’d get a Marin Larkspur as it’s the closest thing and change the tires for touring. US bicycle fashions are primarily based on recreational/racing marketing hype and less commuting/general transportation as is more common in Europe where mixte/low steps are more common.
A disc trucker isn’t a low step bike.

Last edited by LeeG; 06-28-23 at 10:09 AM.
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Old 06-28-23, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
I had a bike fit about 2 months ago. I don't think it helped me in figuring out what I need in a bike. I have a couple of "make do" bikes (one is too mall and OK for light touring, but not for major hills or long touring) - Bianchi Advantage and the other is a folding touring bike, but I think I'm a bit too heavy for it with it loaded - Bike Friday NWT.

I've been scouring the local used markets and reading up on bikes for about a year and either what I think I want just doesn't exist, or I'm looking wrongly.

What I want - one that is good for my size - I'm around 210 lbs. and 5'6" tall with long legs and short torso. (bike inseam is 31").

Ideally, the bike would be steel and a either a Mixte or one that doesn't stretch me out too much. I would also prefer to buy used for budget reasons and for environmental reasons.

There are some used bikes somewhat local to me that are available, but I'm just not sure about sizing!

Like there is a Miyata 1000st in a 50cm, but when I look at geometry details, it says it's an aggressive fit? According to my bike fit I'm a 52cm, but the Bianchi Advantage I have is a 46cm (with some spacers).

There's also a Mixte in a 52cm tourer - Claud Butler that was supposedly a very good tourer back in the day.

or should I go for a modern steel bike like a Kona Sutra or Salsa Marakesh? in a 50 or 52cm?

For starters, I'm just wanting to do a bunch of rail trails nearish me and I know about any bike will work (thus the Bianchi I picked up is fine), but I would like to do more bigger tours very soon - perhaps across the US or part of the US.

I just seem to be a hard case - I'm heavy (I have a large, strong build and added fluff) AND I just don't really care for bikes I have to swing my leg over to get on and off. I "can" do it. I just find it ridiculous to need to do it and would prefer not to.

Please give me some things to think about. Thanks.
It would help you a lot to have specific dimensions in mind for maximun standover as well as stack and reach. Changing stems can get you in the ballpark. The biggest issue in getting used old mixtes is that they aren’t built with beefy tubing for loaded touring and 210lb rider. You don’t mention handlebar preferences so that skews choices especially in used bikes. The cheapest Larkspur is under $1000.

Another issue is if you do find a bike with optimum fit but it’s not really optimum for heavy rear loads move your load forward onto low riders and save the rear rack for top loads. . For me low riders on 26” wheels is too low tothe ground but I found some front top loading racks can work with panniers with adjustable hooks allows the load to be moved back closer to the forks. I had a Surly CrossCheck that really didn’t handle a heavy rear load well with my 220 lbs at the time but when moved forward was great.

Same thing with a NWT Bike Friday. I used BF front rack with panniers and it handled great. Your average sport tour/mixte really isn’t set up for heavy rear loads. And with your weight looking at used bikes budget in another $150 for a new rear wheel if needed.

Do you have a preference for tire sizes?

Last edited by LeeG; 06-28-23 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 06-28-23, 04:09 PM
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If you are considering a Bike Friday, call them. I think they have a new model for bikepacking. If they can't fit you for your size and weight, they would likely tell you.

If you want to spend a lot, Thorn makes a step through frame for their Nomad Mk III. Can be fitted with derailleurs or a Rohloff. They sell frames or complete bikes, but they are not cheap. And shipped from the UK adds customs duty and shipping costs. Currently out of stock, I have no clue how often they get more in stock.
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/thorn-step-through-frames/

You should decide first if you want drop bars or flat bars, that changes the frame sizing.
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Old 06-29-23, 06:08 AM
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The shop I worked in for decades had professional level fits and part of that service was guiding you towards an appropriate bike to ride. If it was one of ours, fantastic, if not we were still obligated to helping you select the correct frame size in the brand of your choice. I ask you to consult with your fitter for some guidance.
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Old 07-01-23, 01:52 PM
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I actually picked up a Bike Friday this spring. It's the regular one and the weight limit isn't an issue if I ride unloaded. Unfortunately, right now I can't really get out and ride, but I sure I want to!
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Old 07-01-23, 01:55 PM
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I did that and they pointed me toward a Salsa Journeyer or a very pricey other bike. They did tell me they would assist me with finding the right fit with other bikes, but they just were looking at gravel bikes which is probably OK, but I'm not wanting to do a day or two on a bike, but a loaded tour and prefer Panniers than than things on the tail.
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Old 07-02-23, 06:54 AM
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Please give me some things to think about. Thanks.
If you otherwise like the BikeFriday, check out the Dahon Launch (300-pound weight limit).

If you want to spend a lot...
Moulton TSR30. The 'velvet I-beam'. Low, super stiff frame. Round-the-world luggage capacity.
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Old 07-02-23, 04:27 PM
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There is a used one (Polyvalent low rider) nearish me in the right size. That is tempting. First of all it's beautiful (shouldn't matter, but it does!) and I like the low step over. It just takes one more thing I don't have to think/worry about when I'm exhausted from a long day of riding. Also, this would be the main (non-electric) bike which means I might be wearing a skort which is my usual summer wear.

I have an electric cargo bike (that a has a low step over for grocery shopping/errands. It's just SOOOOOO heavy (75lbs) I will NEVER put in in a vehicle because of the weight and changing the rear tire of that bike basically requires a bike shop to do (that was what the bike shop told me). I've had it for 6 years.
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Old 07-03-23, 06:42 AM
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I know you are not a fan of the leg over - BUT Surly is having a sale

Google Surly Yard sale and you will find it

Disc Trucker ticks all the boxes but one....
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Old 07-03-23, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Cagouillard
I know you are not a fan of the leg over - BUT Surly is having a sale

Google Surly Yard sale and you will find it

Disc Trucker ticks all the boxes but one....
I like Surly bikes but donít buy something because itís on sale.

I you really want a step through the VO is probably the best option.
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Old 07-03-23, 04:20 PM
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First you need to determine the optimum frame size for your body and to allow for attaching racks and panniers. It is also important to have downhill stability even with a cross wind and this is a function of fork rake. The "endurance" bikes have this "relaxed" geometry that lends itself to touring use. Nice to have brazed on attachment points for the pannier rack(s) but not essential as there are adapters that work equally well.

For wheels I like to use 4-cross lacing as this aborbs as much road impact shock as possible and so much longer spoke life. When a spoke breaks with a load on the wheel it can result in permanent damage to the rim - not good on a tour.
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Old 07-04-23, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
...
For wheels I like to use 4-cross lacing as this aborbs as much road impact shock as possible and so much longer spoke life. When a spoke breaks with a load on the wheel it can result in permanent damage to the rim - not good on a tour.
Four cross on high flange hubs was the norm half a century ago, but these days three cross is perfectly adequate in most cases. I have never broken a spoke on a wheel I built and I tour on wheels that I built. I have never used four cross on a modern low flange hub, only on vintage high flange hubs years ago.

I tour on 36 spoke in the rear, usually 36 front but my light touring bike is 32 in front and 36 rear.
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Old 07-04-23, 03:38 PM
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If you're concerned about standover height and you want a used steel frame for environmental and cost reasons, you might want to think about a used mountain bike.

This is my 90s Specialized Stumpjumper that I converted to drops. It has loads of clearance (it's a 19 inch frame and I ride a 23 inch road bike), the stock gearing on a vintage MTB is right for touring, and it can handle a fair amount of weight.

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Old 07-05-23, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
...
This is my 90s Specialized Stumpjumper that I converted to drops. It has loads of clearance (it's a 19 inch frame and I ride a 23 inch road bike), the stock gearing on a vintage MTB is right for touring, and it can handle a fair amount of weight.
...
That is a great looking bike.
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Old 07-05-23, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
If you're concerned about standover height and you want a used steel frame for environmental and cost reasons, you might want to think about a used mountain bike.

This is my 90s Specialized Stumpjumper that I converted to drops. It has loads of clearance (it's a 19 inch frame and I ride a 23 inch road bike), the stock gearing on a vintage MTB is right for touring, and it can handle a fair amount of weight.

I had the exact same model... that got stolen
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