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bike for light rider

Old 12-31-09, 12:26 PM
  #1  
ubermensch84
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bike for light rider

First off, just wanted to say this forum has been a wealth of information. I've read dozens of threads and this is a great resource for touring, best I have found

Wasn't sure if I should start a new thread or resurrect a 2 year old one. Everybody was jealous of the 145 pounder in this thread and I weigh less! I'm not trying to do the TA in 45 days but a lot of the info pertains to me as I do travel light and I don't weigh a whole lot
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...istola+touring

I am going to buy a bike with the plans of doing long fully loaded tours likely starting with the TA this summer. My load and I would not exceed 150 pounds so I don't see the need for a bike designed to carry excessive weight like the LHT which I was leaning towards before. I also have 7.5/8 feet so I don't think panniers on a bike with a smaller chain stay will be an issue for me. Also, everybody says the LHT is slow and rides like a tank. This will be my only bike so something like the crosscheck seems to be a little more versatile and more fun and faster to commute on in the city and around town and on longer day rides. Definitely seems to be a major added benefit of having a faster unloaded bike when not touring which will be a majority of the time + the thought of taking a heavier bike up a pass scares me a little though I have no experience and many post say bike weight is overrated, but those posters probably also weigh much more than me

One of the potential drawbacks to the crosscheck are the 700c wheels which I have read are harder to find around the world. I definitely plan on making my way to South America and Asia over the next several years. Seems a solution to this is to carry a folding tire and wheels/tires can always be shipped even if it requires a bit of a journey to get to a town

Anyway, some thoughts on a versatile touring bike for a lightweight person would be much appreciated. Is it practical for me to get something like an LHT? I'm not limited to the crosscheck at all but it seems to fit most the criteria needed to tour (I would switch it to a triple and gear it lower at time of purchase), faster and more fun at home and it is in the price range I am looking at. The Bianchi Volpe seems to be a possibility too

thoughts?

-------------
fyi-thanks to everybody for their replies in my building thread, read them all and was great information. Decided buying a complete bike is more practical for me + I want to be on the road already!!

Last edited by ubermensch84; 12-31-09 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 01-01-10, 11:58 AM
  #2  
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You might give the Co-Motion Nor'Wester a look. It's niche is light touring. Although it comes standard with 700c wheels, they probably can build one anyway you like.
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Old 01-01-10, 12:24 PM
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IMHO, you need to make up your mind whether you want 700c tires or 26-inch tires, and whether your budget is firm. If you really want 26-inch tires, in your price range, you only have two choices - the Novara Safari and the Surly LHT. If you have a custom-bike budget, your choices expand quickly, as lots of custom builders will make you a bike with 26-inch wheels. [EDIT - a later post in this thread points out that the Safari now comes with 700c wheels, so I'm not familiar with any commonly available choices in 26-inch wheels other than the Surly LHT).

If you're willing to get a bike with 700c tires, the Jamis Aurora Elite is another touring bike in your price range is that is a very nice bike but built to be 3 to 4 pounds lighter than a Surly LHT. The 2009's were particularly nice and light. For 2010 they have added disc brakes, which added a bit to their weight, and may or may not be to your liking. But with 700c tires.

But if you're willing to own a bike with 700c wheels, a number of "light" touring bikes or 'cross bikes will do, particularly if you're willing to look at the 'cross bikes with aluminum frames. The Specialized TriCross or Redline Conquest, for example, would do -- they're a few pounds lighter than a Surly Crosscheck, I think. They have a aluminum frames, though - which some people like, some people don't. As far as I know, the Bianchi Volpe and Surly Crosscheck aren't that much lighter than the Surly LHT - a couple of pounds, maybe. You could possibly do just as well getting a Surly LHT (so you get the 26-inch wheels you want) and then investing in a lighter weight set of wheels / tubes / tires for around-town riding. The stock wheels/tires/tubes are pretty heavy.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 01-02-10 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 01-01-10, 12:43 PM
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Well, I'm fairly light at 140lbs, and I've owned and toured with both a cross check and an LHT, so maybe I can provide some insight. I think if you plan to tour a lot and you plan to go to south america the LHT with 26" wheels is a no brainer.

In my opinion there are still huge benefits to using a dedicated touring bike even for a light rider. It's not your body weight that makes a big difference in the bike's handling, it's when you start attaching panniers to the bike. I've toured with a full load for camping on a old hardtail trek, a cross check, and an lht, and the lht was definitely the most stable with all that weight on the bike. The long wheel base really helps stabilize the bike, and gives you the confidence you are going to want bombing down a mountain road with full camping gear.

While I slightly prefer riding my cross check for commuting and an unloaded centuries, the lht is still a great ride. I don't think I go any faster on my cc, I think it just feels a bit faster because the handling is snappier.

No bike is perfect for all situations, there always compromises. That being said I think a 26" wheel LHT is pretty versatile bike and an ideal tourer/commuter/whatever bike.
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Old 01-01-10, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by pasopia View Post
In my opinion there are still huge benefits to using a dedicated touring bike even for a light rider. It's not your body weight that makes a big difference in the bike's handling, it's when you start attaching panniers to the bike. I've toured with a full load for camping on a old hardtail trek, a cross check, and an lht, and the lht was definitely the most stable with all that weight on the bike. The long wheel base really helps stabilize the bike, and gives you the confidence you are going to want bombing down a mountain road with full camping gear.
This is a really good point. Even though a lighter/smaller rider might not need all the ruggedness of a super-sturdy frame, nor need the long chainstays for heel clearances, there are other benefits to owning a bike with "true" touring geometry.

From your OP, it wasn't clear to me if you had actually ridden the bikes in this price range. Why don't you ride a couple and let us know what you liked/didn't like?
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Old 01-01-10, 07:19 PM
  #6  
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thanks for the replies.

At the time of writing I hadn't tried either bike. Yesterday I went and test rode both the cc and lht. I had never ridden a bike with either drop bars or bar end shifters before so I found that to be awkward and will take some getting use to. That took some away from being able to judge the bikes. Also, they only had 54's of both models in stock which is a little big for me. I did go up a small hill and play around with the gears some and enjoyed both bikes, they are both much nicer than what I have now. I think I went in wanting to be sold on the crosscheck but I could see how the LHT may be more comfortable on longer rides though that would be easier to guess on a proper size bike I presume. You're right Benge, the weight difference really isn't that much. I think the idea of getting a 2nd set of wheels for unloaded riding at home may be a great solution. Excellent point on the LHT better stabilizing the load as well pasopia.

You're right, i need to decide if I'm willing to get a 700c bike which I haven't decided yet. I think I need to return and test ride both bikes again for a more extended period

I'm going to look into some of the other options you mentioned. Thanks again
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Old 01-01-10, 08:33 PM
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One thing you may wish to consider, is that it seems that quite a few "round the globe" type riders forgo road bikes and drop bars entirely, as it's likely to be much easier to obtain more basic parts locally in many areas. There are quite a few flat bar 26" wheeled bikes aimed at the urban market that could easily be equipped for touring, with fenders, racks and so forth. Many of these types are inexpensive enough to justify having multiple bikes, one for extended rural touring and another lighter fun bike.
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Old 01-01-10, 09:24 PM
  #8  
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The 26" vs 700c wheels is an issue ONLY for international travel. You can find both sizes easily anywhere in the USA. I am touring on a Randonee with 700c wheels and it hasn't been a problem yet. We are now down in Ecuador (cycled down from Alaska) and all is well with the 700c so far. Before we left Texas we needed to buy a new bike for my son (massive growth spurt) and REI had changed the Safari to 700c as well - so now we have two bikes with the larger wheels.

We had to rebuild my rear wheel in Colombia, so contacted a bike store and had them ship the spokes in. We did have to wait for them to arrive, but my son had surgery on his toe so we were waiting for him to recover anyway.

We carry spare tires with us and will have a couple new ones shipped down to Peru. I've heard that the quality of tires available in Peru is pretty bad, so we will most likely have a 26" for the tandem shipped down too. So - it appears as though there really isn't much difference in the two sizes.

As for a bike for a light rider - my 11-year-old son is very happy with his Safari. He doesn't carry a lot of gear, but has four panniers and a drybag on his rear rack and the bike seems to handle well.
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Old 01-02-10, 09:59 AM
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Issues of parts availability are, as nancy said, largely overblown. Though they do exist... Specifically it can be tough to find a sturdy and wide tire and rim combos in 700c sizes- most of the available 700c stuff is very light and skinny for road racing. 26inch stuff will always be available in a stronger wide/burly combination, and is therefore better for touring.

Far more important in determining wheel size is the fact that if you are looking at a 50- or 52 cm bike, the 700c wheels are just too big for the frame design. 26" or 650B would be a better size for a well designed bike in that size.

get the LHT.
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Old 01-02-10, 10:56 AM
  #10  
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Handling fully loaded is certainly an issue. I've read several articles about tourers that really came into their own when loaded. From personal experience, I can tell you I had a 1992 Nashbar tourer that rode nicely unloaded, but got this unnerving shimmy when loaded. When going downhill and building up speed, it got downright frightening! I now have an LHT that is rock-solid at any speed I've been able to attain (including some fierce downhills.) It handles great with a load.

Another issue is eyelets. It's certainly nice to have eyelets for front and rear racks and fenders. You can get around this if you don't have the eyelets, but I like having them. I also like my LHT's attachments for spare spokes. After having a tour ruined by broken spokes, I bought tools and learned how to change them. Then I had to carry some. On my old bike I ziptied them to my left chainstay. The LHT has nifty brazeons.

Another consideration is how much room there is for wide tires. I have some tours under consideration that include some sections of dirt and gravel. I have Schwalbe 700 x 32's on my LHT, but may go to something wider. The LHT has room. Not all bikes do.

You are lucky, though. I weigh 200 lbs. myself. Before my last tour I picked up my loaded LHT and got on the scale. The total for all three of us (me, the bike, and the load) was 300 lbs. That's why I worry about broken spokes. (Incidently, I made it almost 1,000 miles without breaking any, knock on wood.)
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Old 01-02-10, 11:01 AM
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For touring, I would easily go with the 700c's. there are SOOOOO many more tire options and you will be faster in the long run. Touring with my friend on 26", I felt like I was waiting for them at every mile.
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Old 01-02-10, 07:53 PM
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I'm not positive, but I don't think you can get a LHT smaller than 54 cm with 700 wheels. I believe the smaller sizes come with 26" wheels.
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Old 01-03-10, 07:16 PM
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If you have the money, you could put 26 inch wheels on the cross check and then put on brakes that allow the pads to be moved down to the right height. I don't think you could use cantilever brakes, but since your load won't be that much, you won't need the extra stopping power
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Old 01-03-10, 07:43 PM
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out of curiosity would a 26" wheel mess up the geometry on the crosscheck

I decided my primary priority with this bike is to get a great touring bicycle. One that I will be comfortable on for long rides day after day. I had read a couple people in various places say the crosscheck is "good at a lot of things but great at nothing", maybe there is some truth to that or maybe it is a little over stated but I determined getting a bike designed for touring best fits my needs. Then down the road I can get a speedster or whatever wants/needs I have in the future for fun around town

Long story short, I put a down payment and ordered a long haul trucker today. They are going to change it from 26,36,48 to a 24 so hopefully that will be sufficient. But now that I look the lows look great but a lot of gears repeat. Should I have asked for something different?

113.5 85.1 56.7
96.0 72.0 48.0
83.2 62.4 41.6
73.4 55.1 36.7
62.4 46.8 31.2
54.3 40.7 27.1
48.0 36.0 24.0
41.6 31.2 20.8
36.7 27.5 18.4


Thanks for all the help. Now to start riding and getting in shape to cross the country this summer

Last edited by ubermensch84; 01-03-10 at 08:00 PM. Reason: added gears
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Old 01-04-10, 12:03 AM
  #15  
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You won't regret it, it's a great bike.

There are always going to be duplicate gears with a triple derailleur setup. That's the gear setup I run, except I use a 26, with a 11-32 in the back, works great for me.
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