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Newb looking at touring bikes

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Newb looking at touring bikes

Old 03-25-08, 06:32 PM
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green_lipped
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Newb looking at touring bikes

Hey all! I'm a college student and a bike newb. I'm going on a tour from Ohio to San Francisco this summer with some other students (most of them more experienced than me, thankfully) and I'm trying to figure out a good bike. I'm looking at:

* a used Trek 520 (not sure what year)
* a used 1984 Trek 420
* a new Aurora from Jamis
* a new Fuji Touring bike

The alternative is my dad's old bike. It's a univega grand turismo from around 1975, not sure what specific year, but it seems to have been maintained pretty well, and my dad's willing to gift it to me. So: what should I go for? What are the pros and cons? I'm female, 5'6", and intending to ride with loaded paniers. I'd really like to go with the free bike option, but I'm willing to shell out to avoid being miserable.

Thanks in advance for help; y'all are badass. If you're ever near Oberlin College in Ohio, come say hi to the bike co-op.
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Old 03-25-08, 07:08 PM
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Sigurdd50
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All good choices
As much of a classic bike lover that I am, there is something about a newer tour bike for dependability.
Fit is key
I have a Jamis and I love it
My daughter (22) just bought a Fuji Touring for a Trans Con ride this spring
Either are good choices
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Old 03-25-08, 07:21 PM
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Green lipped,

Do you know that until March 31 you can get a Novara Randonee touring bike at 20% off? It would be about $760, which I think is in the neighborhood of the other two new bikes you're looking at. I think you can order online. It's a good bike at any time of the year, but in March -- when you can get 20% off at REI -- it's a *great* deal.

Having said that, I will say I'm biased on your question because in the 80's I used to ride a Univega touring bike. It's a great frame. From your comments, it looks like you have access to tools, space and help at the bike co-op. If I were in your shoes I'd take the Univega, and at least give it a thorough going over and get some good local advice on whethe the frame is in good shape. (I'm assuming you've confirmed that the Univega will fit you -- if not, don't consider it).

It might take some work to refurbish the Univega for a trip (new cables, tires, tubes, check drivetrain for wear, potentially convert it to use new 700c wheels). But as a "modernized" classic it could do a good job for you. And at the end of going over it you'd be really comfortable w/any repairs or maintenance it would need on the road.

Like the poster above, I wouldn't normally advise trying to take off on a big trip with an old bike. And I *wouldn't* try to do it if you don't have the time, interest and knowledge to make sure it's ok for the trip. But I'm partial to Univegas, and again (from your comments about the bike co-op) assuming you have help and time at the co-op between now and this summer. If you don't go for the Randonee this week, I'd at least go through the Univega carefully and see what it looks like -- you could even post pics here and I'm sure folks would chip in w/opinions and guidance.

BB

Last edited by BengeBoy; 03-25-08 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 03-29-08, 04:59 PM
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Hi green_lipped.

I am Oberlin Class of 1978, and last summer, on my way from Chicago to New York (by bicycle), I stopped in Oberlin overnight. I don't remember any names at the bike coop, but I really enjoyed my visit. I was tickled pink (almost) when somebody offered me to sleep on the couch. (I stayed at the Inn.) Although I missed my last class reunion, Oberlin is a place where I feel haunted with memories, where I have some memory of every nook and cranny. That's especially the case with Keep Coop, which was where I slept my first night in Oberlin, as a prospective student. The following day I spent much of the evening talking to Jim at the Ohio City Bicycle Coop in Cleveland. So, I really have a very recent and vivid picture of those bike coops! I could post some pictures here.

I'm wondering what that 1975 touring bike of your Dad's is like, because if you can fix it up well enough, it's probably the cheapest alternative you have. Sometimes the spokes on those old wheels were not built of the best steel, or the steel may be stressed out from years of use. I have had the spoke breaking problem before. There is nothing you can do but build a new wheel. I'm sure that somebody around the coop can build you some new wheels for it. Can somebody who has built some wheels look yours over and check them out. Sounds to me like this was Dad's old bike that sat in the garage, and you are probably a lot lighter than Dad too, so maybe with a bit of maintenance you can go with this bike. Do the hubs or headset feel loose? How much did your Dad really ride that thing. One thing you might want to do if you take over Dad's old bike is buy a better seat, one that is right for your anatomy. You can move the seat over to a new bike later, if you decide to spend the money.

I actually have my Dad's old 10-speed. He was one of those frugal old university professors who rode his bike to work every day. When he was about 55-60, he had more or less stopped riding the sport bike and was riding more of a cruising bike, so I took it over. However, when I passed through Oberlin, it was on my custom Moots.

I was very impressed by the abilities that people have around that Oberlin Bike Coop. If you can get the bike to Oberlin for a checkup before you leave, I think you could trust the old bike.

Howard
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Old 03-29-08, 05:23 PM
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Go for the Univega!

Phew.. I'm riding an old Univega Gran Turismo (1984?) that I refurbished... Orig. Frame, rebuilt BB, orig cranks, orig Suntour FD, and orig brakes. Build up new 700c wheels on some older 8 Speed Dura Ace hubs with some Salso Delgado rims. New (XT) RD. Ultegra bar end shifters, Brooks saddle, free old mustache handlebar from a recyclery. New paint job (rattle can). I didn't know very much about bicycle mechanics when I started on this project, but my roommate was an old wrench and we have a great bicycle co-op here in Asheville. All in all I learned how to take apart and put together everything on my bike. Spend around $300 on the project or so. Feel great about it.

Have Fun!
Travis

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Old 04-03-08, 01:22 AM
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I'm going to see Oberlin College's new President, Marvin Krislov, tomorrow. I'll ride my late 1970s Japanese 12-speed, the one that I mentioned above, since I'm going to have to park in front of a downtown hotel for several hours. The great advantage to older bikes is that a reasonably modest lock will deter theft.

Howard
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Old 04-03-08, 02:14 AM
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Getting the right frame size, handle bar height, stem and crank length can make a LOT of difference. And frame geometry has come a long way since your dad's bike was built. I've been riding and touring for over 50 years on a variety if bikes. Currently, I tour on a Surly Long Haul Trucker that a local shop built up with high quality parts using a scientific bike fitting system. At 67 I can ride that bike all day and feel much less discomfort when I'm done than I did on lesser bikes when I was 25 years younger.

So, my advice to the degree you can afford it, is to spend money on a professional fitting, buy a touring frame, and then add the best parts you can afford. For any kind of riding except racing (and especially for touring), don't worry about weight. Look for comfort and durability.

On the other hand, it's only April. Why not give your dad's bike a try. Maybe take it to a local shop and see if they think it fits you or maybe they can make some modifications to make it fit a little better. If you practice with it and feels comfortable after 6 to 8 hours in the saddle a couple of days in a row, you may be able to save yourself a lot of money.
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