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IS there a bike for me?

Old 04-01-10, 04:06 AM
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IS there a bike for me?

Hey, I've had several bikes in the past. A BMX Mongoose, Trek mountain bike and a NEXT mountain bike to name a few. This would be my first Road Bike and I have a few specific needs.

A few years ago I went to Europe and wanted to be fit, so I bought the Trek and road it into the city everyday for a while and when in Europe I lasted through all the walking, and in Amsterdam could not find a bike to ride. There were rust piles chained to the street signs. NOBODY left a good bike to ride. Alls I saw was a place to rent a bike but you had to return it to the same place, pretty much eliminating any benefit to it, plus it was easy to get lost there.

Anyways.

I have a good job now and am working 5 days a week and I heard it will be eliminated in a few years (courier running bank bags of proof work), they say they'll go all digitial. And I want to make another trip west.

The year after I went to Europe I had a Yamaha sportbike and road around the state for about 7,000 miles (Nov 05-Mar 06) when the bike races came to Birmingham, AL (Im in Ms) so I went there on my bike and got addicted to it. So I came home and loaded up some gear and headed to Cali. Went to a race in LA then on to Oregon to visit family while I maintained my bike and waited for the following race in San Fran a month later. I lived out of my tent pretty much teh entire time I was not in Oregon. All in all it was a month trip (late April 20 to May 31). 9000 miles total and never road the bike again after that.


Now I want to go back to Cali when I get the chance and do it by pedaling this time. I've budgeted 50 miles a day and think I could make it in a month. I loved so much living in the tent and almost pitched it on the side of the Interstate my first night out, then came across a park. Anyways,

Im a beginner and don't want to spend more than I need to, but I am adamant about getting a good bike that I can field dress if need be on the side of the road and not be stranded pushing it and calling for a bus to bring me home. Light weight is not the most important since I will be carrying a tent and other stuff needed to get me there and possibly back (if I have the drive).

What I do need is a bike with enough gearing to get me up some hills without throwing a lung, a bike that will mount a rear rack to hold my tent and clothes and possibly saddle bags, normal pedals since I'll wear shoes (not the spikes), reflectors, good low rolling resistance tires and tubes that will go the distance (app 2000 miles) and not pop going over loose rocks that get tossed to the side of roads. Of course I will use the bike on weekends beforehand to get used to it and find any quirks that will hopefully surface if there in that timespan. A water bottle holder would be nice as well.

Im 5' 11" 225lbs and wear a 32" inseam in my pants (40X32). I've looked at charts online and it looks like a 55-58cm bike will fit me........is this correct,...can you verifty OR do I need to buy local and test ride it.

I test rid an old 80s bike with the shifters on the frame and it rode fine it just put alot of weight on my hands and made the steering twitchy (something I dont need when cars are scootin' by 50mph faster than I). But the guy said it fit because I stood over the frame in front of the seat and could lift it and inch or two before it hit my body.


I don't know alot about bikes but know I HATED this Trek Mountain bike I had. But probably because I used it on the street. The handlebars were just about perfectly straight and killled my wrists. And when I would get it in top gear and pedal hard the chain would slip off and I would darn near fall down and that was while moving fast. I just don't want to experience that again. So now I need a bike for the road and like the curved handlebars but also prefer/need the bars to have a stright section up top to rest when you don't feel like being bent over.






Thanks and I hope I didnt overdo my first post.
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Old 04-01-10, 08:29 AM
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Not sure how much you want to spend, but it sounds like you need a touring bike. Surly Long Haul Trucker comes to mind.

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/long_haul_trucker_complete/

There are tons of other touring bikes out there. In an older used bike, look for a Schwinn Passage among other. Check out the touring forum here on Bike Forums

https://www.bikeforums.net/forumdisplay.php?47-Touring

Oh, and welcome to the forums.
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Old 04-01-10, 08:48 AM
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Old 04-01-10, 01:59 PM
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It sounds to me like:
- You want a touring bike, and
- You need to invest most of your time finding a local bike store that you trust to help you with fit, etc.

I don't think you know enough about bikes to get a used bike; find a bike shop you can trust and go from there.
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Old 04-01-10, 03:52 PM
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Most local bike shops are not interested in touring bikes. Racing and comfort bikes are where the $$$s are. Most don't even understand the fine points of fitting a touring bike. That being said, educate yourself as much as possible and use their resources, backed by the knowledge you've gained.

In a dedicated touring bike, the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the Trek 520 are the most popular. $1400 plus or minus. A budget alternative is the Windsor Tourist from www.bikesdirect.com. There are many others. As for fit, your guess is probably about right. But, there is no way to tell for sure without test riding, and even then it might need some tweaking to get it just right for your riding style and body geometry. Top tube length is nearly as important as stand over. The problem for many is that the nearest bike shop that might stock a touring bike to test ride is often hours away.

The fact is that the bike you get doesn't have to be a perfect fit. Just as close as possible. It doesn't even have to be a dedicated touring bike. A Trek FX 7.2 would make a nice tourer with some bar extensions. Humans are quite adaptable. Attitude and determination are much more important for touring than a perfectly fitted bicycle.
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Old 04-01-10, 11:59 PM
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thank you for your replies. Can you tell me what makes a touring bike different from a regular bike? I've been looking at the Mercier Galaxy steel frame on bikesdirect.com. Someone at another forum said they were more comfortable for long tours. I trust that even though I don't understand how any bike sans suspension could ride differently. I need to find whether to get a 56cm or 58cm as those are the two sizes they say will fit me.
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Old 04-02-10, 02:02 AM
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Generally, a touring bike differs from a road racing bike in the geometry.

Slacker angles, more upright sitting position, longer chainstays, and subsequently a longer wheelbase. As well, the tubing on a touring bike is usually of heavier gauge, and the chainstays especially, are beefed up to support the extra weight a touring rider will carry.

For the rider, the touring bike has a bit slower handling than a typical road bike. But this slower handling, generally leads to a more stable handling bike. The more upright sitting position (seat below bar height, vs seat equal to, or above bar height), will take the weight off your arms, and put it on your sit bones.

Gearing for touring bikes is typically set up with a triple chainring, and a 9 speed cog set out back. Many touring bikes utilize a mountain bike derailer in the rear for the extra tooth capacity, to give you as wide of a range as possible.

The Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) as has already been suggested to you, is pretty much the de-facto benchmark for common touring bikes these days due to it's well deserved popularity. As such, I will use it for a comparison to a "road" bike, the Surly's own Pacer:





You can see how the LHT is set up with a higher bar height, more reclined seat tupe and head tube angles.

As well, a lot of touring bikes use cantilever brakes right now. The reason is, Cantilever brakes give you both:
A: more stopping power than tradition side pull calipers, and
B: more tire clearance than calipers as well.
The stopping power benefit is especially welcome when trying to slow yourself down on a mountain descent, when you have an additional 40 lbs loaded on your bike. The tire clearance gives you room to run larger, higher volume tires (32-40mm for 700c, and usually up to 2.1" for 26" wheels). Wider tires handle heavy loads better than narrow racing tires, absorb road irregularities with some suppleness, and give you more traction on rough surfaces like gravel, mud, etc. The trade off, is that they do have higher rolling resistance, but you're touring! Speed is not your goal, the enjoyable journey is!

Dedicated touring bikes also sport dual eyelets on the dropouts to ease the attachment of both fenders, and racks. Many have mid-blade eyelets on the fork, again for rack attachment. Oh, and you need not worry about water bottle holders: I believe all touring frames have a minimum of 2 locations for holders, many have three. Some, like the Salsa Fargo have 5?

Sizing though, you are going to need to go to a local store and try something out. Different bikes are going to fit you differently; from different top tube lengths, to different ways of measuring the frame.
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Old 04-02-10, 11:29 AM
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A steel bike frame is more flexible than aluminum, thus giving a slightly smoother ride. The LHT, Trek 520, and Windsor Tourist all have steel(cro-moly)frames.

I can assure you that a dedicated touring bike, properly sized, will be more comfortable than a racing bike like the Galaxy you mention. Besides, the Galaxy is not designed to carry a load and would not be nearly as reliable for your purpose. Additionally, the gearing is too high for loaded touring. That being said, with some ingenuity and determination, you can make just about anything work.

As for 56 vs 58, no way to tell for sure without test riding the specific bike. The Trek dealer in Jackson should have racing bikes in both sizes. You could test ride them to help you reach a size decision about a touring bike.
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Old 04-11-10, 02:43 PM
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Ok fellas I've found four bikes that I'm looking further into (mainly by doing a back search for those models). Anyway, the bike shop I went to suggested a Bianchi Volpe, but I couldn't find much for it in the touring section and it has 32 spoke wheels and I think being heavy and loaded need 36.

Anyway, I have the

Surly LHT-nearest dealer is 175 miles away
Novara Randonee-nearest dealer is 380 miles away
Jamis Aurora- dealer right down the street basically
Raleigh Sojourn-dealer just less than 100 miles away, but I'm right by there 5 times a week on business.


Are the local bikes good or should I risk the loss of a bike shop and get a better bike, since the LHT is supposed to be IT for touring. I would like to learn everything there is about a bike since when touring all you have is whats on you and whats in your head, but it would still be nice to have a bike shop for guidance and maybe they'll show you how to true wheels or something while on the road.
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Old 04-11-10, 03:53 PM
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I don't have a volpe, but I have test ridden a friends and it's a really nice bike. I would tour on it, and many people do. The other bikes have longer chainstays, which is nice for carrying gear.

If having a relationship with a local dealer is important to you, I would test ride each of the bikes that are local and buy the one you like best. They are all good bikes, and will all work for touring.
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Old 04-11-10, 08:53 PM
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mjoeking, those are all fine touring bikes, and frankly any one of them would probably suit your needs. The biggest thing would be fit, so I would go check out all 4 of them and test ride them if possible. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions at the bike shop, and tell them what you want in a bike.

The LHT is a great bike and is remarkably popular with touring folks in the US. I tour a lot on mine and enjoy it immensely. The volpe isn't really a touring bike anymore. 15 years ago it was, but now they've sort of gone in the direction of a commuter with the Volpe name. It doesn't have enough braze-ons and has short chainstays. If you're going to spend money on a new bike, get exactly what you want. The only thing I have to say about the Sojourn is that I met a guy once who loved his. Although we did spend half an hour adjusting his disk brakes, and he said he'd rather have cantis.

Having a relationship with a bike shop can be nice, but don't make your decision based on that. I won't be the last to say it; the most important this is to get a bike that fits comfortably! You're going to spend a lot of time on top of it.
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Old 04-12-10, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Weasel9
Having a relationship with a bike shop can be nice, but don't make your decision based on that. I won't be the last to say it; the most important this is to get a bike that fits comfortably! You're going to spend a lot of time on top of it.
+1. I would also add that it is rather unlikely that any of the bike mentioned in this thread so far are actually going to be really comfortable until you spend a fair bit of time (over the course of a month or so) fine tuning things like saddle position, bar position, etc. The thing is: can you sit on the bike at the LBS and be reasonably sure that you can get to that comfortable position with that particular bike? I've seen way too many people casually disregard great bikes that would fit perfectly, except that they weren't immediately comfortable on the trainer in the first 90 seconds, so they start looking at another model. It took me over 2 months of little millimeter and 1/2 degree adjustments to get my bike to where it was comfortable to ride for 60 miles at a time. Read up on bike fit and get to where you can make the small adjustments yourself. The shops that rely too heavily on levels, plumb bobs, and rules of thumb cannot inform your individual anatomy/riding style.
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Old 04-15-10, 05:10 AM
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One more thing since you've all been so helpful.

Like I said earlier, "Im 5' 11" 225lbs" and loaded down with panniers, water, food and such has me wondering about spokes and wheels. Surly says " Smaller wheels are also stronger than their 700c counterparts, so they’ll stand up better to rough roads and heavy loads."

I don't intend on remaining fat, but would one wheel or another be better for me? 26" or a 700c(/25.4=27.56), so does an inch and a half mean anything or a factor.
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Old 04-15-10, 05:11 AM
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700c vs 26"

Ok, I think the LHT is going to be the one, but now 2 to decide from.



edit: sorry for the double-post

Last edited by mjoekingz28; 04-15-10 at 05:12 AM. Reason: 2 posts
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Old 04-15-10, 07:19 AM
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26" vs 700c strength on a touring bike is a non issue. All else being equal, a 26" wheel is slightly stronger than a 700c wheel, but not enough to matter. Most ppl tour on 700c because that's what their touring bike came with, they are a tiny bit faster, and a little more nimble.

OTOH, if you think the GDMTBR may be in your future, go 26" for the available wider tires. Also, 26" for touring in third world countries for parts availability.

LHT may be the only touring specific bike that offers a 26" thru the size range.
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Old 04-15-10, 07:32 AM
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I'm pretty sure that 700c tires with enough spokes would be good enough, but will bow to the experience of others.
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Old 04-15-10, 07:49 AM
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steel frame, bar ends or downtube shifters (not stis...cuz if they break you're stuck), triple crankset, 11/34 cassette, comfortable drop bars, relaxed stem height, brooks saddle...hmm.. surly Long haul trucker maybe??

I think I read somewhere that with all of the gear, you can expect your ride to weigh upwards of 90lbs??? I could be wrong.
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