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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 02-22-06, 10:52 PM   #1
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I am a bit of a roadie so I need some help. My brother asked me to identify the main difference between these two types of frames; Road vs Touring, Besides the obvious what is the difference in geometry? Can you set up a steel road frame to tour? What are other considerations?
Thank you in advance.
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Old 02-22-06, 11:25 PM   #2
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In general, touring bike frames have more relaxed geometry, ie. slacker headtube and seat tube angles,and longer wheelbase, to produce a more comfortable ride and slower handling that takes less attention, and is more stable with a load. The chainstays, being longer, tend to provide more heel clearance for panniers, and the frames will usually have braze-ons for up to 3 or 4 water bottles, and racks front and rear. The bars may be higher for more comfort on the road, while usually retaining the drop bar configuration to allow for multiple hand positions.

Many older steel bikes came this way to begin with, nowadays with the standard road bike being more specialized and racy, one has to seek out these characteristics in a frame. While one can tour on almost any bike, you can see that the most appropriate frame will have been designed for touring.
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Old 02-23-06, 12:04 AM   #3
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Also, the will sometimes have braze-ons for cantilever or V Brakes which work better when the bike is loaded with gear.
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Old 02-23-06, 04:10 AM   #4
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There are a variety if different styles of touring bike:
Light touring bikes are designed for day rides and fast supported/hostel touring. They are often made of racing materials but with clearance for medium tyres and fenders and a small luggage rack. Gearing is usually compact double for road triple.

Med tourers are capable of short camping trips so are made of heavier duty materials with more tyre clearance ( so require cantelever brakes), 2/3 waterbottles, front+rear racks. They are agile enough to be rideable unladen as commuter bikes and capable off-roaders. Gearing is road or MTB triple.

Expedition bikes are purpose-built for long term camping style trips on rough roads. They have loads of tyre clearance, often for 26" MTB wheels and all the braze-ons. gearing is MTB triple or Rohloff hub gear.

The geometry of the bike is tuned to the expected load, heavier loads needing more stable steering. The rider position is a matter of choice. Many have a slacker seat-tube and higher head-tube/handlebars. The chainstays are long to place the load inside the wheelbase and to avoid heel-clip on the panniers. Bottom brackets may be low to lower the centre of gravity.
M and exp bikes use the MTB standard (135mm) for rear dropout spacing instead of road (130mm). This permits a stronger wheel with less dish but you cannot use boutique wheels.
Material of choice is usually steel, it is tough, reliable and well proven with tubesets tuned to touring use over many decades of experience. It is reasonably cheap, "easy" to work in a small workshop, brazeons can be adapted as required. You can get touring bikes made from Al or Ti but so far, not in carbon.

Last edited by MichaelW; 02-23-06 at 06:11 AM.
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Old 02-23-06, 08:31 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
You can get touring bikes made from Al or Ti but so far, not in carbon.
Some bike builders/manufacturers are using carbon components. When I ordered my True North touring bike, I chose a carbon fork and seat post.
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