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Best Mountain Bikes for Touring?

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Best Mountain Bikes for Touring?

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Old 02-28-09, 08:55 AM
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AlanK
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Best Mountain Bikes for Touring?

For a few months now I've been weighing my options for a second bike that will be used for utility (shopping, etc), inclement weather commuting, some rough roads/moderate trails and possibly touring. Since I already have a X-cross fair-weather commuter w 700c wheels I'd like to get a 26" hardtail mtb. I'm looking for a recreational hardtail because I want something with fairly relaxed geometry. I'd like to get something decently spec'd, preferably about LX level quality. Here are the problems I've found:

- Almost all the recreational mtbs I've looked at have mediocre or worse components.

- All higher spec'd bikes I've found are intended for racing; consequently the geometry is slanted towards the quick and nimble rather than the relaxed and stable that I'm looking for.

So far of all the bikes I've checked out the best option seems to be the Jamis Durango 3, which seems nicely spec'd for $1K retail. However it has hydraulic disc brakes: I'm not opposed to getting discs, but would prefer mechanical since they require less maintenance.

I was seriously considering getting a Surly LHT, but the bottom bracket is way too low to handle rough roads (and of course trail riding is out of the question). So I was just hoping to get some suggestions and input. Thanx in advance
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Old 02-28-09, 11:35 AM
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I would suggest getting the recreational bike with the best frame and geometry, then wear the components out with time and replace them with LX or better,.... or if you're impatient like me, swap the parts out when you buy the bike, or hawk them on ebay. One last thing, if the mountain bike is going to be used a lot for touring and road riding, it is often suggested you buy one size larger than normal for the longer effective top tube and slightly less upright position, mind you this varies a great deal by model.
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Old 02-28-09, 02:04 PM
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I'll echo Robow's advice here. What you're looking at/for is in fact what I've 'created' (not quite finished yet) over the past four years; as I've realized that my riding consists and will consist mainly of a) fastish commuting and b) much longer on/off road touring rides. Re. the latter, not 'mtb'ing' as such, but rather light(ish) off-road, what the Euros call trekking. Bought a Giant Rainier in '05, spent the first two years with it constantly looking at different bikes, then realized that suitably modified I already had the basis for what I wanted.

The problem now is simply that most decently-specced h/ts (LX/X7 or above) are wannabe xc race bikes -- hence no rack mounts (if that matters/it did to me) etc.

However, there are still some very good candidates for this usage, though most will need upgrading over time. Any of Rocky Mountain's recreational xc hardtail range (e.g. Trailhead); Specialized Rockhopper (the Pro model is pretty well equipped stock), or the 09 Hardrock if upgraded; Kona's base Kula model retains rack mounts, though the geometry's a bit off I think for road use -- bikes of that kind come to mind.

I agree re. hydros, by the way; my Rainier came with horrible Hayes so1e things, which I junked last year for a set of BB7s/SD7. Pretty much got the bike where I want it (LX crank, 717/XT wheelset, X9 shifters/cassette 12-25, tires change according to use); it goes anywhere/does anything I want it to do.
Final thought: most of the really desireable 'on/off road/expedition' tourers are pretty much mtb based anyway, so I reckon I've got pretty close over time, though can't deny I really, really want something like a Thorn Raven Nomad Sport Tour or similiar -- maybe someday
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Old 03-01-09, 04:56 AM
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badger,

Thanx for the info. I looked at the Rocky Mountain and Specialized bikes - certainly good candidates, but the Durango 3 seems to be a more no frills/practical rig (again, apart from the hydros). It has better hubs that are worth rebuilding around when the time comes. Both the RM and Spec bikes seem to have glaringly cut a few corners to keep the price down, reduce weight, etc.

Yeah, I looked at Thorn bikes a couple years ago when I was just toying with the idea of getting a touring rig. Great bikes, but they seem somewhat expensive for what you get. I looked at their web site and I couldn't tell if the bb height would be higher than the LHT. If not the LHT is a far superior value.

The more I think about it practically the more I think the best overall value for me would be the REI safari: Nothing too fancy, just solid, reliable components. And while it couldn't do technical single-track it could handle just about any rough road you can throw at it. For overall usage and values that's tough to beat. Also, it wouldn't be too expensive to upgrade a couple comps to make it truly expedition worthy [specifically the cranks.]

Anyway, here's a link to the Durango specs. I'm curious to hear what you think:

http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...ngo3_spec.html

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Old 03-01-09, 11:28 AM
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http://www.voodoocycles.net/08_bizango.htm This is the bike I'm looking to get, I think I'm going to get just the frame and build it up from there, can anyone say anything about how this bike would be for touring?
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Old 03-01-09, 11:57 AM
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AlanK: I hear you re. Thorn; I'm just a real sucker for their overall design (which does come from a great deal of experience), and (a shameful admission) their promo. literature -- oh, those pictures of expedition tours in far-off lands I have a dream (prolly completely silly at age 57) to do the Argentina/Patagonia thing -- oh well!

Back to reality, I agree completely re. Spec/RM etc., especially wheels. I do think one is stuck facing a few upgrades if going this route. The Jamis I'm familiar with -- my much-loved LBS is a Jamis dealer. They really are excellent bikes at their various price points; on the Durango, I would say go for it, but I do think you will be replacing those hubs (Shim. 475). My Rainier came with them; I just don't think they're adequate to high-mileage riding. I rebuilt mine a couple times before saying 'h_ll with it' and going for XT. But then, I'm a bit of a fanatic when it comes to wheels. Other than that, would work well.

The Safari I know about, though have never seen one (don't think we can get them up here). Now, that does look like the kind of thing that would work extremely well, especially if you're not wedded to front suspension; lots of owners seem to love them. Suspension is in fact my last major decision; I did upgrade my Rainier's fork to a very good Marzocchi (MXPro), which works very well/is very reliable; this year will be my 'year of the carbon rigid fork' experiment, to see how I get on with a good rigid fork/wide tire combination over varying surfaces. Once that experiment is complete, my 'plan' is to have a frame built for me, with all the braze-ons etc. I want, and transfer everything over. I only own/want to own one bike, so feel justified in going this somewhat wacky but fun route Edit: now that I think of it, maybe I can use that last statement as the foundation for an argument to order a Thorn -- oh dear, it's never-ending!
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Old 03-01-09, 12:49 PM
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Another option if your handy with the spanners, is to find a late 80s early 90s MTB (as these have the geometry your after) & speck it to your taste. Use the money saved for a tour
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Old 03-01-09, 12:53 PM
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How about a Salsa Fargo?


It's quite capable of being ridden offroad, it's quite capable loaded on road.

Wait...damn, 26 inch tires... I forgot people still rode mountain bikes with those.
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Old 03-01-09, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
Wait...damn, 26 inch tires... I forgot people still rode mountain bikes with those.
The ARE actually better, years will prove it!

As for good touring MTN Bikes, if you are OK with buying a frame and getting a bike shop to fit the frame out, The Orange P7 (Frame: 375) and On-One Inbred (185) both make excellent touring frames.

As for Thorn bottom bracket height, the Nomad S+S, eXp and eXXp BB are definately higher, and I'm quite certain the Raven BB is higher also, but can't prove it as I dont have one of the frames to hand.
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Old 03-01-09, 06:24 PM
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badger, re suspension fork... I'm very much a minimalist so I don't want one; more things the potentially break and fix, etc.

That Bizango looks pretty cool. The only thing I don't like about it are the hubs (why couldn't they just use LX?).

When I'm ready for an expedition tour I'm probabaly get the Thorn so I won't have to change anything.
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Old 03-01-09, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
badger, re suspension fork... I'm very much a minimalist so I don't want one; more things the potentially break and fix, etc.

That Bizango looks pretty cool. The only thing I don't like about it are the hubs (why couldn't they just use LX?).

When I'm ready for an expedition tour I'm probabaly get the Thorn so I won't have to change anything.
Yep -- that's why I'm so attracted to the Thorns: well thought out/suitable to their purposes, etc. One final thought: if you've no need for suspension, one bike that does come to mind is the Marin Muirwoods (not the 29er version -- though that too I 'spose if one is so inclined). Anyway, I mention this simply because for very little money you could buy a quality steel frame/fork, then upgrade the (admittedly low end) bits as they wear out. Quite a bit of anecdotal evidence kicking around as to just how good this frame/fork really is for commuting/touring. If I were starting again now, that might well be what I'd do. Far as I know, this will be (09) the last year for this bike; looks to me like next year's will be an alloy frame (I'm extrapolating from the Marin UK website). Just a thought.
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Old 03-01-09, 08:57 PM
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The Long Haul Trucker is basically the best touring bike you can get. That's what it was built for. I rode my Giant FCR cross country with NO PROBLEMS at all.
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Old 03-02-09, 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by X-LinkedRider View Post
The Long Haul Trucker is basically the best touring bike you can get. That's what it was built for. I rode my Giant FCR cross country with NO PROBLEMS at all.
I agree that $ for $ the LHT is far and away the best tourer I've seen, but again it can't really handle rough roads. Or Can it? I'll have to take a closer look at one myself and think on it. If I'm not going to be riding moderately rough roads it might be OK.

In fact... I just finished reading a few threads about the Fargo and it has a pretty low BB as well, so maybe I'm being overly-concerned about something that likely won't be an issue. Again, I'll take a look at the LHT 'in-the-flesh' to see if I'm just being anal.

Cool pic of your FCR

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Old 03-02-09, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by DukeArcher View Post
As for good touring MTN Bikes, if you are OK with buying a frame and getting a bike shop to fit the frame out, The Orange P7 (Frame: 375) and On-One Inbred (185) both make excellent touring frames.
Was gonna recommend the Inbred earlier but decided not to. It has long chainstays in back and beefy frame, and I've seen a number of them used for loaded touring, but it also has an extremely long top tube, with the intention that it be used with a very short stem to give twitchy, aggressive handling. The OP indicated he wants something with more relaxed handling; achieving that with an inbred could be tricky.
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Old 03-02-09, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by X-LinkedRider View Post
The Long Haul Trucker is basically the best touring bike you can get. That's what it was built for.
The LHT is definately NOT the best touring bike you can get! It is one of the better value for performance offers though.

Originally Posted by Thasiet View Post
Was gonna recommend the Inbred earlier but decided not to. It has long chainstays in back and beefy frame, and I've seen a number of them used for loaded touring, but it also has an extremely long top tube, with the intention that it be used with a very short stem to give twitchy, aggressive handling. The OP indicated he wants something with more relaxed handling; achieving that with an inbred could be tricky.
Fair enough, though the twitchyness can be dampened if there is going to be some luggage weight in the front.
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Old 03-02-09, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by DukeArcher View Post
The LHT is definately NOT the best touring bike you can get!

They're going to smite you around these parts for saying that.....

Personally I run a Gary Fisher 29'er that double duties betwen commuter and touring. 29'ers are just 700c wheels, pull the big tires off and put 38's on and it's a great platform IMHO
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Old 03-03-09, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
For a few months now I've been weighing my options for a second bike that will be used for utility (shopping, etc), inclement weather commuting, some rough roads/moderate trails and possibly touring. Since I already have a X-cross fair-weather commuter w 700c wheels I'd like to get a 26" hardtail mtb. I'm looking for a recreational hardtail because I want something with fairly relaxed geometry. I'd like to get something decently spec'd, preferably about LX level quality.
My personal first choice would be a decent touring bike which will also be a good all-purpose bike.

Another option would be to find a mountain bike from the late 1980s or early 1990s, without front or rear suspension. If you've got a good frame, you can build it up to what you want and it will serve you well. I used such a bike until it was finally stolen from me.

The problem comes because the mountain bikes today tend to have full suspension or at least front suspension. Riding with a suspension system is not a good idea for touring. The suspension will absorb some of the energy you're putting into pedaling and it will be something else that can go wrong. On very rough trails, a front suspension form might be okay, but even there I'd be hesitant. A suspension is also something else that can go wrong. On a tour, simple is good.

A cyclocross bike might also be an option, but only if you have the ability to mount a front and rear rack to the bike. Cyclocross bikes are set up to handle rough road and trail conditions.

I don't have any specific recommendations, simply because there are a lot of suitable bikes on the market. It depends on what you want.
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Old 03-03-09, 05:06 AM
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Have a look at Merida for a pretty widely available range of recreational bikes that mike work; or Orange P7 for "classic" MTB tourer.

The Cannondale 29ers might work. I like the older Terra as a MTB/touring frame (26" wheels). They have a MTB-style tourer, too - very nice, but very expensive.
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Old 03-03-09, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
My personal first choice would be a decent touring bike which will also be a good all-purpose bike.

Another option would be to find a mountain bike from the late 1980s or early 1990s, without front or rear suspension. If you've got a good frame, you can build it up to what you want and it will serve you well. I used such a bike until it was finally stolen from me.

The problem comes because the mountain bikes today tend to have full suspension or at least front suspension. Riding with a suspension system is not a good idea for touring. The suspension will absorb some of the energy you're putting into pedaling and it will be something else that can go wrong. On very rough trails, a front suspension form might be okay, but even there I'd be hesitant. A suspension is also something else that can go wrong. On a tour, simple is good.

A cyclocross bike might also be an option, but only if you have the ability to mount a front and rear rack to the bike. Cyclocross bikes are set up to handle rough road and trail conditions.

I don't have any specific recommendations, simply because there are a lot of suitable bikes on the market. It depends on what you want.
You can usually switch a suspension fork out with a rigid fork, rigid forks are relatively inexpensive for a chromoly fork. If you like the rest of the bike you would have a great mountain bike and with the fork change a great touring bike, and if you want to use it for trail riding you could switch the other fork back out. Not super easy, but it is likely you would be using each fork for long periods of time, so the change is relatively easy for the amount of time your going to be using it and the money you would spend on it.
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Old 03-03-09, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Newspaperguy View Post
Another option would be to find a mountain bike from the late 1980s or early 1990s, without front or rear suspension.
I agree. I recently picked up a no suspension 1990 Bridgestone MB-5 as a bad weather utility bike and was amazed at how road bike-like the geometry is. It has all 500LX components and would work great as a tourer with narrow 1.5 tires. The only drawback on some of these is the lack of lowrider fork braze ons, but most racks can be clamped on as well. And heel clearance could be an issue if you have really big bags in the back.
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Old 05-24-15, 05:54 PM
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Resurrecting an old thread, as I feel the same and would like to see where this is at now 5/2015 and with 29ers as they seem ideal

Myself with the limited available excessive race wannaby bikes I resorted to a Specialized Crosstrail from LBS. Basically a Rockerhopper frame with slightly longer chainstays,wheelbase for panniers, low riser bar and a touring tripple. I swapped the coil spring fork for rigid



But, I am always looking

Current


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Old 05-24-15, 07:59 PM
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^Hybrid^

I wouldn't tour on an aluminum frame/carbon fork. But that's just me.
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Old 05-25-15, 09:37 AM
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This is a Koga-Miyata World Tour, Rohloff, with 26" wheels , Kogas Bikes are already used for Long tours around the world *

WB Bicycle Gallery: Robert Clark's Koga Miyata WTR

*2008 record set by Mark Beaumont was on a Koga Rohloff, (with 700c-35 is wheels)
Mark Beaumont - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nick Sanders has apparently recaptured the record bested by Mr Beaumont

Nick Sanders - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Old 05-25-15, 10:31 AM
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Mijome07

Hybrid in the sense mountain / touring bike yes. Hybrid is a VERY broad term these days and can be applied to nearly any modified or non absolute specific bike. Personally, I don't care for the term .......bikes are bikes

Aluminum /Carbon fork - tour concerns - your in a small minority that tends to be loud and feels a need to point it out despite not being asked

I think most of us, me included have owned many steel bikes. So please spare me the "steel is real" follow up.
Btw - I fabricated / welded - mig,tig,stick in the skilled union building trades as a journeyman for 15 years prior. How about you ? Are you a welder/fabricator? Metallurgy education ?

I resurrected this meaningful thread with a question and to see what's available. Not for your blatant off topic opinion on alum/carbon nor what a hybrid is or is not
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Old 05-25-15, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill1227 View Post
Mijome07

Hybrid in the sense mountain / touring bike yes. Hybrid is a VERY broad term these days and can be applied to nearly any modified or non absolute specific bike. Personally, I don't care for the term .......bikes are bikes

Aluminum /Carbon fork - tour concerns - your in a small minority that tends to be loud and feels a need to point it out despite not being asked

I think most of us, me included have owned many steel bikes. So please spare me the "steel is real" follow up.
Btw - I fabricated / welded - mig,tig,stick in the skilled union building trades as a journeyman for 15 years prior. How about you ? Are you a welder/fabricator? Metallurgy education ?

I resurrected this meaningful thread with a question and to see what's available. Not for your blatant off topic opinion on alum/carbon nor what a hybrid is or is not
I like this thread but I think mijome07's comments are on point and fair game. There is nothing off topic about discussing material. By the way, I happen to agree with you that the material discussion is a bit of a red herring. There are good bikes made from a variety of different materials.

In any case, I'm a bit surprised that surlys don't get more mention here (assuming you're OK with a steel frame) as they make a lot of different offroad touring models.
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