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Should I Convert Hybrid to More Touring-Style?

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Should I Convert Hybrid to More Touring-Style?

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Old 03-22-08, 04:46 PM
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IronMac
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Should I Convert Hybrid to More Touring-Style?

Hi all,

I was wondering I can get people's opinions on this idea? I currently have a Trek 790 hybrid...great bike but I've been considering a new bike in part because I'm looking to do greater distances at a faster pace and still be able to do self-supported touring. It's been suggested that I may swap out the flat bars currently on the bike and switch over to drop bars. I know that someone on here has done the same thing to his Specialized hybrid and turned it into a full-blown touring machine. The 790 has done full-blown touring, it just doesn't look like it.

So, should I do it? One of the thumb-shifters of the Deore DX system is shot and has to be replaced so this is also a good opportunity. Would this make economic sense at all? Or would I be better off just getting an LHT complete or something similar?

Thanks!
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Old 03-22-08, 05:21 PM
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The major question is: If it has done full-blown touring and you have been comfortable on it, why?

It sounds to me as though you are looking to validate the plan for a new "something", whether that is a new set-up on the currrent bike or a new bike altogether (more likely the latter).

Replacing a thumb-shifter is much, much cheaper than converting to drop bars and acquiring the shifters (whether STI/Ergo or bar-ends or downtube). And it's sure a whole heap cheaper than building up a new bike (although you could conceivably swap over a lot of the parts, but you'd still need a new handlebar/shifter arrangement).

You just have to remember function over appearance. If you want both together, in the long run, a new bike might be a solution.
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Old 03-22-08, 06:07 PM
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What I'm wondering is if this "conversion" would allow me to do greater distances at a faster pace? I'm certainly not looking to replace the 790 with another hybrid. I also don't want to replace the 790 with a racing bike that can't do self-supported touring.

I mean, I was standing in front of a Surly LHT Complete today and thinking...geeze, the geometry looks similar enough with the exception of the drop-bars and I asked one of the staffers and he said it would help since I would have more hand positions and not be as upright.
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Old 03-22-08, 06:38 PM
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Rowan
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Well, if comfort is a factor, then whatever change you make will enable you to go further in one sitting. But as to pace... well, that depends on the engine. A higher pace means getting fitter to sustain that higher output.

The option of more hand positions with drops is true, with one caveat... you need to be able to use the drops regularly to make them worthwhile, at least in my observations. As an example, I have used the drops that come as standard on the Fuji Touring probably 5% of the time I have had the bike (six years), and then really only to "improve" aerodynamics on downhills. Bearing that in mind, my fixed gear tourer has cowhorn bars which emulate the hoods position and give me a number of other comfortable top-of-bar hand positions similar to drops, but eliminate the drops. I seem to be more comfortable on the FG than the touring bike (there are other factors at play, of course, but I don't miss the drops on the FG).

There are others who regularly ride on the drops, probably more so than on the hoods. Their bars generally are set high (seat level), and the drops are shallow. Maybe the geometry of their bikes allows them to do that, too. But the older one gets, the more upright the position is likely to be.

Soooo... the question still is: How comfortable are you on the 790 and would, perhaps, fitting alternative bars, such as trekking ones or even cowhorns provide a better solution? Remember, if you want a more aerodynamic position to obtained a perceived increase in speed (although it's really only minimal), you may be trading off comfort by having to bend over further for longer periods?

Another cheaper solution might be to experiment with stem length and angle which can help change your upright position to a more forward one, without compromising your seat position and knee-over-pedal-spindle position. I am not familiar with the 790, but does it have a threaded or non-threaded headset? That can influence the ease with which you can experiment with angles and lengths (for example, just flipping the stem on the steerer tube on a non-threaded headset system may achieve a lower position immedistely).
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Old 03-22-08, 10:49 PM
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My two cents: Get aero bars or bar ends for a different hand position, keep the flat bar and get a trailer. Done, simple. Ready to roll across the country for $300 or less.
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Old 03-23-08, 09:54 AM
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Trek 790

I have toured on my 790 a fair amount. I have used panniers on some trips and a BOB trailer on others. My 790 has never let me down. It is a good solid bike. That said, I now either use my new LHT or my Cannondale T2000 for touring duty. But, I would not hesitate to use the 790 again if I needed to.
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Old 03-23-08, 10:33 AM
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If the 790 is what I think it is.... Swapping out the bars will NOT make the bike faster. The geometry of a hybrid is set up for comfort and general use, not speed. I agree with the others in that if the 790 is comfortable, don't alter the bars (other than, for example, changing the grips or adding bar-ends).

Touring bikes are not very fast, either. It will be faster than a hybrid, but not by much. A true road bike, on the other hand, will perform (and feel) noticeably faster than the 790.

What may work out better is to keep the 790 as your touring bike, and pick up a different bike for speed and long distances. If your idea of a "long" ride is 70 miles or less, almost any entry-level road bike ($750 - $1000) will do the trick.
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Old 03-23-08, 06:06 PM
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Thanks everyone...yeah, the consensus seems to be to put bar ends back on the bike if I want to have more hand positions. Having drops may not do very much or at least not provide the value given the costs and trouble. Rowan's idea of heightening the stem is an interesting one because I was just looking at a pic of the bike earlier and the seat is higher than the stem. Hrmmm...

Bacciagalupe sort of hammers in the point that a touring model especially one like the LHT is not going to be much faster. Sort of stuck here because I want to do long distances fast on a touring-style bike. Long for me being around 250-320 kms in a day, no load. I just don't want go to a racer.
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Old 03-24-08, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by IronMac View Post
Sort of stuck here because I want to do long distances fast on a touring-style bike. Long for me being around 250-320 kms in a day, no load. I just don't want go to a racer.
Well ... you can put together a brevet-style bike. http://www.rusa.org/brvreg.html

Some manufacturers are making models with a more relaxed geometry but still more aggressive -- lighter and faster -- than the typical touring bike. For instance, here is a model by Trek ... http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...pilot/pilot21/
I have not seen one, but judging from the rough description it sort of matches what you describe.

If you want to build a bike, here is a good option, the Soma Smoothie ES ...
http://www.somafab.com/extrasmoothie.html
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Old 03-24-08, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by IronMac View Post
I know that someone on here has done the same thing to his Specialized hybrid and turned it into a full-blown touring machine. The 790 has done full-blown touring, it just doesn't look like it.
Thanks!
That would be me! As others have said drop bars are not going to make you faster. Considering how long the top tube is on most hybrid bikes you may find them extremely hard to use causing pain in the upper body areas after a couple of days of serious touring. Trekking bars are the solution and should be the only upgrade to flat bars currently on the bike. You can reuse your brake levers and replace that thumb shifter with less expensive ATB type shifters. Don't replace them with grip shifters! Those things cause hand and wrist problems after a few days. Everyone I've ever toured with never knew my touring bike was a converted hybrid unless I told them.
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Old 03-24-08, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by IronMac View Post
Rowan's idea of heightening the stem is an interesting one because I was just looking at a pic of the bike earlier and the seat is higher than the stem.... Sort of stuck here because I want to do long distances fast on a touring-style bike. Long for me being around 250-320 kms in a day, no load. I just don't want go to a racer.
The plot thickens.

Since you are, in fact, looking at long rides....

Performance: A rough take on the relative performance of bikes is: MTB < hybrid or "touring MTB" < touring bike < cross bike < standard, "performance," audax, randonneur style road bikes < racing bike < time trial bike < recumbent (on flats)

Comfort is a little tricker. The thing about MTB's and hybrids is that you are much more upright. This has several benefits for comfort and touring, including less strain on your back and a better view. However, it is also the major reason why MTB's and hybrids are slower. More upright = more drag = worse performance. Also, upright positions put more pressure on your "twees." When you're touring that's not a problem, as you are constantly stopping and this relieves the pressure.

However, if you're in the saddle in a hybrid position for 8 hours and need to make it to a control point at a certain time, it is possible (if not likely) that the more upright position will become less and less comfortable as time wears on, and could cut off circulation.

Now, I do think it's possible to get a bike that you can use for touring and ultra-distance events, it all depends on how much of a premium you want to put on performance and/or touring. E.g. if you are going to tour extensively, will do 1 or 2 ultras a year, and commute, a touring bike might actually work out pretty well. Put faster wheels (or just skinny slick high PSI tires) and adjust the handlebars to a lower position for the ultras; and go with strong wheels, wide medium-pressure tires, fenders, and raise the bars for tours.

My general feeling is that a full-on touring bike will still be a little bit too optimized for carrying loads. However, there are a few bikes that can be used for light touring and long distance rides: Mercian Audax, Salsa Casseroll, Specialized Sequoia, Surly Cross-Check. (I picked up a CC for that purpose recently, but haven't fully put it through its paces yet.) Bike Friday New World Tourist is also an option if you're into folding bikes.

If performance is key: numerous options. My faves are Specialized Roubaix (carbon), Lemond Sarthe, Jamis Xenith, any working steel road bike.

You may also want to check out the Long Distance forum. Plenty of folks in there have done 1200 km brevets.
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Old 03-24-08, 04:09 PM
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I toured Cuba on a Bianchi advantage. The only parts that were stock were the drivetrain. I had no complaints about the GEO.
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Old 03-24-08, 07:20 PM
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http://www.ifp.uiuc.edu/~smallik/cyc...enueDrops.html
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