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mcavana 03-11-06 08:09 PM

Sure you can search for it all over the place, but here it is in one spot. Calling everyone who has cyclo toured before... If you started touring all over again, what would you tell yourself? what would your bike setup look like? what kind of racks and paniers would be best? What camping gear would your recomend?

Help our new-bees out!!!!


roadfix 03-11-06 09:24 PM

Jamie has done a great job with his site:

jcwitte 03-11-06 10:55 PM

One question that I know comes up every so often is...
"What bike would be good for touring if I have a tight budget?"
Of course "tight budget" could mean alot of different things to alot of different people. I did a search for the word "budget" and this is some of what i came up with...

If your budget is really tight (below $700), you might be best off upgrading a bike you already own. It may not be a true dedicated touring bike, but touring can and has been done on all sorts of bikes. Also, older and/or slightly used touring bikes can be found on ebay, craigslist, or even at local garage sales in your area.

If you have a little more cash on hand ($750-$950), the next step up would be one of the budget touring bikes from REI (Novara Randonee), Fuji (Fuji Touring), or Bianchi (Bianchi Volpe). REI often times has coupons (check the coupon forum on this site) for 10-20% off.

Next up from that (on up to about $1400) would be the Trek 520 (ready to tour with after swapping to lower geared crankset and a stronger rack), Cannondale T600 (??) or T800 (Aluminum bikes), or the Surly LHT (sold as a frame and then you build it up how you want it).

After that, things start getting expensive for the "budget shopper". There is the Bruce Gordon BLT, the Rivendell Atlantis, the Koga Miyata World Traveler, and I think Waterford's models are in the high end as well. Regardless of which bike you get, "most" tourers have steel frames with attachments for three water bottle cages, front and rear racks (mid-fork braze-ons), at least 36 spokes per wheel, drop style handlebars or flats with some sort of extension for more hand positions, and mtb gearing for hauling heavy loads up steep mountains.

mcavana 03-12-06 06:41 AM


The brooks B17 saddle is the number one most recomended saddle for touring. it is old school, and they simply don't make anything like them anywhere else. Most people buy them from because of the generous return policy. For most they are not that comfortable when you first get them, but once they have a chance to take the shape of your butt, they are unbeatable when it comes to being in the saddle all day long. there are several different types of brooks saddles. To find out more info, search for brooks on this forum. there are probably over 100 threads that talk about the saddle, the different models, and what to recomend for different bike setups.


tgbikes 03-12-06 01:25 PM

I thought you would never ask. I,m almost aways disapointed with the bike fit threds. Information gushes across the screan, usualy with no point of referance. the way any bike fits is dependant on what is to fit it. Now in my 60th.year i,v only been riding for about 15 yrs. this includes a cost to cost and Golf to The Canadian border. Most of the riding has been 1 or 2 weeks at a time, so I,v had several opertunities to correct bike fit. I have size 13 feet, my arms spred to 6 in. more than my hight, and a short torso. these are the important things that make bike fit a nightmare. perticularly if you follow the ritings of one guru , who never tells you his personal dementions, There seems to be an abundants of cries for long and high stems while this may be wondreful advice for people with long torsoes and short arms, but not for me.
the conventional thinking is that a person with a short torso does best with a short top tube, however with #13 shoes and 175 crank arms a longer top tub than is found on most of the bikes from the golden age. it seems that most of the 23 in. bikes from that period have 56 57 top tubes this gets me about .75 in of toe overlap. My long arms are stored between my sholders and the handle bar,s this is done by puting the bars about 60 mm below the seat/at level. one thing I notis with the barhight is that on a short ride on the bike trail, when going down and underpas the pressure increses on the top of the hood while on the slight clime up the other side I feel my middle finger pulling on the bottum of the hood, I think this sistum workes for me with my long arms. Posaly having your self fit for a sut of cloths may give you a foundation for what you deed in a bike, IF you ask hoe the masurments compar to most people, when I find a long sleve shurt that fits my armes it is in the big and tall shop and has a tale down to may knees Ge I feel better now but I stil cant spell Have a good ride

stokell 03-12-06 06:36 PM

1 Attachment(s)
If I had to do it all over again I would buy the bike I've got. It is assembled by Urbane Cyclist in Toronto and it is their touring bike.

Urbane is a worker owned co-operative so they also fit my politics and lifestyle. Employees really listen to your needs and they stand behind their products.

Not everyone can build up a custom bike from scratch. I have neither the skills nor the time so for just a little more I got to allow someone who really knows what they are doing to do everything from measure me for a frame to assemble a bike with my choice of brakes, gearing, racks et al.

GiantDave 03-12-06 07:26 PM

With correcting all the mistakes from my first tour bike (Giant OCR Tour) which had road specific gearing and tires, along with a compact frame, I could have bought a fully equiped custom bike and still had change left over. Ive learned a great deal since then and my new bike is a Surly LHT that fits great and is very comfortable.
The components work well together (carefull research helps) and the Brooks B17 cant be beat. I put this machine together myself and feel confident I can repair most, if not all , problems that may arise. Total price with carefull shopping was less than a bare bones Trek 520.
Much of what Ive learned was here at these forums.

mtnroads 03-13-06 12:03 AM

We get many questions on this forum from folks with around $600 to spend on a loaded touring bike, wanting to know if it is possible. Well of course you can tour on just about anything with enough patience, but assuming you want a bike suited for the purpose, and a fairly trouble-free experience, here are some suggestions. Two common configuration of touring bike are the road-bike style, with drop bars and 700mm wheels, and the expedition-style, with 26" wheels and a more typical flat handlebar like a mountain bike. The roadbike style will be slightly faster on pavement, and the expedition-style is possibly a bit more rugged due to the 26" wheels and mtn bike frame. Both can be purchased or built on a budget, keeping in mind the following:

First of all, a loaded touring bike generally will have a stronger, heavier frame and wheelset, frequently with 36-spoke wheels, to carry the weight. The gearing will almost always be a triple in front, often with a mountain bike (mtb) crankset and small chainrings, combined with large cogs in the rear, for low overall gearing capable of climbing over hills with a load. Tires will generally run larger than typical roadbikes, for load capacity and a smoother ride. Shifters may be the simpler and more reliable bar-end style.

Frame material will usually be chromoly steel for strength and a smooth ride, although there are exceptions to this, such as the excellent aluminum Cannondale touring series. The frame geometry itself will have more relaxed angles and a longer wheelbase for stability and room to carry panniers. The seating position often puts the bars at seat height or greater, and the frame will have an assortment of braze-ons for mounting of racks, water bottles, and other accessories.

Ok, with a basic understanding of what we are looking for, what can we get for around $600? Assuming that you want something manufactured within the last decade or so, two popular options representing each type of bike configuration are as follows:

1) Used bikes designed for loaded touring frequently come up on Ebay or bulletin boards like Craigslist, which I prefer. Bikes such as the venerable Trek 520, the Novara Randonee, Fuji Touring and the Cannondale T-series are all candidates - with strong wheels, frames and appropriate gearing in most cases. A 5-10 year old model can usually be found in good shape for around $500, which allows a little extra for servicing, wheel truing if necessary, and possible fit modifications (stem, etc). It may have a rack and/or accessories. Make sure the wheels appear true and in good condition, with even spoke tension, or allow for rebuilding.

I bought my 1995 Trek 520 off CL a few years ago for $600 with low miles and it has been trouble-free. Note that the earlier 520's came with mtn bike front gearing, unlike the more recent models which have a road crank (which can be swapped). In any case, this style of traditional touring bike will also serve well as a commuter and general purpose road bike, being the faster choice of the two styles on pavement.

2. The second option is the expedition style bike, for those who prefer a flat handlebar and/or plan to do some dirt roads along the way. The budget approach here is to convert a steel mountain bike from the early 90's to a touring rig. I did this recently with a 1993 Trek 970 - a high end chromoly mtn bike with a rigid fork, lugged frame, and XT components. Expect to pay $2-300 for a similar Trek, Stumpjumper or Marin mtn bke of similar vintage. I would suggest buying a higher end steel frame model which will have better wheels and components than an entry level bike, and the price difference will be minimal. It will also be lighter. Look for a rigid fork for pedaling efficiency, lower maintenance, and a smooth ride with a load.

In my case, I cleaned up my bike, serviced the bearings, and mounted Continental Town and Country 26 x 1.9 tires - beefy tires that roll well on pavement but can handle rough terrain as well. I added Jandd racks - the Extreme front holds panniers high or low, and the Expedition rear is extra long for better heel - pannier clearance. The riding position was too stretched out, so I put on a shorter stem and bars that had some rise, along with a Terry men's saddle, although it may get a Brooks at some point. This entire touring setup, with racks and all modifications, was under $500, leaving money for panniers.

Make sure you get your riding position dialed-in properly - or you will be miserable. Also, note that mountain bikes often come with 175mm crank arms for greater power off road, where a similar size roadbike might have 170, or 172.5. The longer arms will result in slightly greater knee flex which may cause discomfort when pedaling all day long, especially if you are not a tall person. I prefer shorter crank arms myself, due to knee issues from running. They can be changed, but allow $100 more on the project cost if you think it will be necessary.

In summary (finally!) either one of these bike setups should carry you on week-long tours or across country without problems, and without a large investment, saving money for actual touring expenses while on the road. You can always buy a fancier rig once you find out how much you enjoy touring!

jcm 03-13-06 03:12 PM

I like what mtnroadshas to say, especially about his Trek 970. I have a Trek 830 from 1988 that is not up to the quality of a 970 with regards to wheels/hubs and some other componentry. But, it has a bullet proof frame. It's set up for my personal physical situation so it's a little different than what most people consider normal for long rides. Still, it works for me and will pack like a mule and climb like Jeep. It was to be my tourer until bought a Trek 520 off CL. Fully loaded/racked and with Nitto upgrades and a Brooks B-17, it cost me $550. It's a '98. New ones go for $1,100 around here.

Bottom line, it can be done. There are lots of good bikes out there for sale.

ken cummings 03-13-06 05:47 PM

I praise the Bianchi Volpe for that price range. I had one after a car hit and wrecked the Miyata 1000 tourer I was using. After another cyclist wrecked the Volpe I upgraded to a Cannondale touring frame using parts stripped from the Miyata and the Volpe. Finally I lucked into some $$$ and upgraded to a Bruce Gordon BLT. The BLT is his budget bike. I still have the Cannondale. Two years after I got the BLT I am discovering touring specific things Bruce built into it.

In a pinch any bike will do. I heard of a racer down to his last Masi. Threw everything in a knapsack and heard across the country.

jamawani 03-16-06 11:23 AM

Chilled Water on Your Tour

No need to spend $15 for an insulated water bottle that holds half the water.
An old sock works much better and is cheaper.
And if you have two water bottles, you can use the pair.
Just put the water bottle in the sock, keep the sock wet, and your water stays cool.
Out West, where the air is really dry, your water will be cold.
It's called evaporative cooling - and it works.

EmmCeeBee 03-16-06 02:01 PM

After you've got your bike, the next question is how to carry everything.

Some people swear by trailers, some people swear by panniers, most people say if you're completely undecided, only you can tell by trying both.

This is about panniers.

It's generally accepted that a bike is much more stable if you split the load between front and back. Sure, you can carry 60lbs on a rear rack only, but many people end up asking "Why is my bike squirrely when it used to ride so solid?" Rear-rack only is fine for shopping, for commuting runs and for light touring, but for loaded touring you should plan on using both front and rear racks/panniers.

Some people even say to go with 60/40 split, front/rear. That's 60% of the weight on the front. The effect is as if you're riding on rails, you have a very stable and sure-footed load. It will probably take an afternoon to get used to the feel, but after that there's no turning back.

Many panniers manufacturers to choose from. Ortliebs, Arkel, Jandd (and others) are recognized for top-of-the-line bags. They're well-designed, rugged, last for multiple round-the-world tours. No small factor is that when something does go wrong with them (say, a mounting hook comes loose), they are quick to respond. If you're headed to Patagonia or across the Silk Road, consider these expensive panniers only. Others will certainly recommend their favorites.

But for touring in areas that aren't so remote (say, across the US), you can get by just fine on panniers that'll save you a bunch of cash. Nashbar, Performance, REI (MEC in Canada) -- all sell good panniers starting in the $50 range (one pair) that can last over many summers and thousands of miles. My wife and I are proof: a set of REIs and a set of Nashbars that have 40,000 miles on 'em and still have several years left of service. Plus, for shopping trips around home, the less expensive ones are ideal since they don't put such a big investment at risk.

Only you can decide how important price is in choosing equipment. One person may argue to "Go for the best at the start". Another person may advocate for Nashbar panniers, based on price and knowing that they'll probably last long enough for their use. If cost is a consideration, you can still get good quality for your budget. If your wallet allows, go for expedition quality.

-- Mark

Bekologist 03-16-06 03:02 PM

Don't stop dialing it in, don't stop parsing your list to carry less and less.

Always be willing to stop and 'check things out'.

Always be willing to try a conversation on someone if you feel like talking, otherwise don't feel obligated to say much. (I feel like I operate at about 40 IQ sometimes on tour and the words don't always pour out.)

ken cummings 03-16-06 04:08 PM

Features I desire after having owned 4 different touring bikes and 48 years of cycling. Connections for front and rear racks and fenders. Bruce Gordon rear racks have an offset to make changing the rear wheel easier and a 'brazeon' on the rack to keep fender stays away from the dropouts. Beefy tubing. Room for 38 to 43mm tires and matching fenders. I may not use them all of the time but I want to be able to. A triple with a 22x32 low or better. Drop bars. Mechanical brakes. Cantilevers for big tires and muddy conditions. Disc brakes if I will be facing a lot of big descents with a full load. I do not have discs now. Good tech support from the builder. (Bias for Bruce Gorden, I live a 22 mile ride from his shop). Rust-proof fittings. Parts that are generally available as exotic hardware might be difficult to replace while on tour. A wife that wants to pick you up at work if it is raining hard. Have had that one for 35 years come St. Patricks Eve. :D . She also pushes me to replace worn gear when it get ratty looking :) . And likes to run sag stops on double centuries and longer brevets. :p .

Saltheart 03-22-06 06:49 PM

Don't give up at the first problem you run into...(flat tube and no more patches, blown tire #@&%$#% miles between two cities and no spare, broke spoke and wheel wobbling like a drunk dog going downhill, finding that tent leak in the middle of a thunder storm etc etc....and you WILL run into some problem, think of these things as Lagnaippe a little something extra to flavor the experience.

mcavana 03-24-06 03:23 PM

Helpful hints that i just learned:

ORGANIZE YOUR PANNIERS!!!! On my first trip it was a total disaster going through the days ride having no idea what I put in what pannier. Everytime I needed anything (tylenol, gum, wallet, camera, rain gear, power bar, phone, lip balm, ect.) I had to look through all the bags to find them!!! It was SOOOO frustrating!

At first I packed my sleeping pad and tent inside of my panniers... causing a lack of room for other things.. as a result I had things crammed in the bags making it extremely difficult to find / get to anything without making a huge mess. after that first night I put the bag and pad on my back rack instead, making the panniers much less crouded. The bike did not handle any differently (I thought it would handle differently and that is why I put everything in the bags to start off with)

Even if in a warm client, in my opinion, you must pack rain gear. I used a bike specific poncho and a shower cap over my helmet. The cap made a HUGE difference!!! Even though it was not cold, these items were absolutely needed. I drove 97 miles that day... about 80 of them in the rain. It would have been absolutely miserable without these items... it is not so much the rain falling, it is the wind normally associated with rain, and the horrible road spray you will constantly be nailed with by passing cars and trucks.

I used a bike specific (incredibly loud) airhorn mounted to my handle bars... I installed this as a joke, or a toy... It ended up being EXTREMLY useful during the trip. There were several times I used it (especially in the bad weather) to make drivers aware of my presence.. there were also 3 different times that while driving through farm lands large dogs (unleashed) started chasing me. In all three instances a loud long toot of the horn stoped them dead in their tracks (Apparently it scared them... and I am not suggesting this would work for all dogs)

BUY YOUR WATER. At first I was just getting the resturants to fill them when I stopped. THIS WAS A MISTAKE. 3/4 of the way through the first day I started to experience serious discomfort from the chlorine in the local waters. This cleared up immediately once I consumed my first purchased gallon of water, and did not come back because I continued to drink only the bottled water.

I had 4 full size water bottles with me on the tour. I should have brought 5. I kept buying my water by the gallon at the various stores... it takes a few gulps and about 5 bottles to hold a gallon of water. because I only had 4 bottles, I ended up wasting water from every gallon I purchased.

I spent a good bit of time wondering if I should bring my good head light. It is pretty big, and has a heavy battery. I was very glad that I brought it along because it was very useful when riding around town at night, and it also made the day of rain MUCH safer.

If bringing a stove, you have to practice making things on it before you go. I did not and that was a mistake. I made some camping store noodles, rice, and grits. They were all horrible to eat because I had no way to mesure water, and there were no flavorful ingredients anyway. The store bought camping food was crap at best. I never even considered the idea of bringing pancake mix until it was too late... it would have been a fantastic breakfast every morning, but I did not have a frying pan. all i had was a little tiny pot to boil water in. I would have saved a lot of money if I had properly prepared here by doing a few practice meals.


WHEN SETTING UP CAMP, AVOID SETTING UP NEAR ANYTHING THAT LOOKS OUT OF THE ORDINARY. There are some sick people out there, and if I had followed this simple rule (that is not always that obvious) I would have avoided a realy scary situation.

That is all I can think of for now.... I will chime back in as soon as I remember anything else.


Rogerinchrist 03-24-06 04:31 PM

A good water filter can save you the hassle and $ of buying lots of water.

longboardsteve 04-11-06 08:49 PM

Sick People???

Originally Posted by mcavana
Helpful hints that i just learned:

WHEN SETTING UP CAMP, AVOID SETTING UP NEAR ANYTHING THAT LOOKS OUT OF THE ORDINARY. There are some sick people out there, and if I had followed this simple rule (that is not always that obvious) I would have avoided a realy scary situation.

That is all I can think of for now.... I will chime back in as soon as I remember anything else.



I am doing my first tour this summer. My wife is freaked out about me camping near weirdoes. If you wouldn't mind, please go into more detail on your experience. Thanks.


USAZorro 04-11-06 10:18 PM

Originally Posted by longboardsteve

I am doing my first tour this summer. My wife is freaked out about me camping near weirdoes. If you wouldn't mind, please go into more detail on your experience. Thanks.


Steve, look through this thread: for the account in his own words. He set up camp near something that looked like a large, weird tarp - which turned out to be a shelter for a large, menacing, mentally disturbed individual.

ken cummings 04-12-06 10:34 AM

About wierdos. When it is getting dark out on the open road and I have to just camp where I am I get way off the road. Like 200 to 300 yards with trees, brush, and a bulge in the ground shielding me from drivers. And I keep the lights low. The tarp tent is dull grey green. And when I do head into the bruch I wait until no traffic is visible in any direction. In KOA and other campgrounds I get as far away from the driveways as possible to keep headlights from waking me or lost cars from driving over me. Camping next to a large log provides shelter from wind and cars. In one town I asked the police about safe camping and they let me set up on their lawn.

nm+ 04-29-06 11:16 PM

Originally Posted by ken cummings
In one town I asked the police about safe camping and they let me set up on their lawn.

Remember that cops can be your best friend. You may fear the LAPD, but local cops can be really cool. I've had so many great homecooked dinners with police when I've asked where to camp. Plus no one messes with you when you're camped in the police chief's yard.

Bill Abbey 05-04-06 11:26 PM

If you know what type and size of bike you are looking for, Touring or Hybrid depending on your personal comfort, with the appropriate racks. Then you put the word out at the various local bike clubs. Stuff happens, and it is usually good. I received my brand new BOB-original packaging etc. from a friend of a friend including shipping,$160, everyone happy. Tonight on a ride with a couple of bike club members, one had a brand new Rodriguez touring bike. She GAVE me her older (but still great) Trek 531, fully equiped and in great shape I know at least two people who could use it. Now I've been across the US and have ridden Alaska on my Marin Sausolito. I have ridden with Panniers and a BOB. It is all good. People like to help out others.

Camping gear. Buy a light (under 5lbs) two man tent, good quality, with rain fly. You will find a footprint for it, in the form of a light weight tarp maye on the road. You will appreciate the room. My headlight is also my camplight. i bought a whisperlight stove at a garage sale. Tour specific clothes aren't that big a deal, except for raingear and warm layers. Bring some light nylon rope. It is useful, particularly in bear country or where "critters" might get into your stuff.Thermarest self inflating pad is great. I get by with a knife (sharp) fork and a spoon. Maybe a stirring spoon too! I really like the Shimano bike sandals for riding. I have a pair of Sealskin socks that I can put on in cold or inclement weather. The sandals are very comfortable and you can wear them into the shower (or town) and not worry about picking up any nasty's. Then if you feel the need for another pair of shoes, you have more choices- cheap tennies or whatever. Pack a Kevlar spoke in your repair kit. Cheap insurance. If I did one thing consistantly, it was to buy breakfast. It is the cheapest meal of the day, filling, and you meet the nicest people. You then have at least one hot, usually delicious meal under your belt no matter what else happens.

ink1373 07-31-06 10:38 PM

Originally Posted by nm+
Remember that cops can be your best friend. You may fear the LAPD, but local cops can be really cool. I've had so many great homecooked dinners with police when I've asked where to camp. Plus no one messes with you when you're camped in the police chief's yard.

Probably not to be counted on if you are young, pierced, tattooed, non-white, or in any other way "different".

billypilgrim 08-01-06 03:24 PM

Originally Posted by ink1373
Probably not to be counted on if you are young, pierced, tattooed, non-white, or in any other way "different".

Definitely an important consideration. I myself happen to be of partial asian descent, and also sport a full beard. In the patriot-act age, to many people that equates to Taliban-on-a-bicycle, and I have had some unpleasant experiences with law enforcement ( and locals ) in predominantly caucasian counties. Even here in the northwest. Nothing scary though...

top506 08-14-06 06:55 PM

Originally Posted by jcwitte

If your budget is really tight (below $700), you might be best off upgrading a bike you already own. It may not be a true dedicated touring bike, but touring can and has been done on all sorts of bikes. Also, older and/or slightly used touring bikes can be found on ebay, craigslist, or even at local garage sales in your area.

Like a Miyata 210/610. Outstanding touring platforms, and better frames than you can buy today. If you insist on index shifting you can add it for (well) under $100.

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