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unkabin 06-09-10 01:49 PM

Windsor Tourist: first impressions
My first impression is that it is a good deal at $599. For those who don’t know, this is a bikesdirect bike, which comes boxed, shipped for free in the US. Some say it's a rebranded Fuji Touring with a few generic parts. It seems like it to me. It comes like this:

The next picture is stock, just after I put it together, minus the rack, which is actually okay for a light rack--it sits quite far back, so good heal clearance. The seat and peddles are not good, but for a chromoly touring frame, Deore and Tiagra drive train, STI shifters (good for my commuting/light touring), 36-spoke wheels and decent cantilever brakes, I think it’s a good deal. Hubs and BB are generic, sealed cartridge. Rims are generic, too. Gearing is on the high side, but better than the road bike I’d been riding. Weight seems right on par with what I felt in touring bikes at my LBS. All in all, it’s perfectly functional, and fairly homely, I think.

Now the (almost finished) after shot: I scrapped out the stem and bars, and replaced them with Nitto, technomic stem and noodle bars (which I just love). I added SKS fenders and a $30 Axiom rack, for a total of $200 in swapped parts and accessories, bringing the price up to $800 for my commuter, occasional tourer (pedals swapped from my road bike). Still a good hundred dollars cheaper than what I was finding at my LBS, and with all the trimmings and a nice stem and bars, so probably $300 or more off what I would pay for a fair equivalent (though the “equivalent” wouldn’t have the generic parts). I bought the extra parts and accessories at my LBS, so they did and will continue to get my business. I was simply on a very tight budget, and this bike made sense for me right now. As soon as my finances recover I’ll be adding a honey Brooks saddle and silver seatpost.
In the end, I like the looks, and the fit is great. And I don’t know where I’d get more bang for my buck in a new bike. I do want to add that I had no problems with bikesdirect, which means I can say they're legit, but I can't report on what you might experience if you have problems. Most people would probably do better to shell out the extra dough and go with the LBS, but if you're adventurous, broke, and this bike's specs fit your bill, you might think about it. I had a great time putting it together and decking it out just how I want it. Fun stuff. I’ll give a report after a short tour with my wife in Michigan over July 4th weekend. So far, very happy.

Thulsadoom 06-09-10 04:07 PM

Great post, thanks!

Looks like a nice bike, and a great deal.

JeanM 06-09-10 04:36 PM

Looks like an excellent bike. Learn to tension your spoke right and evenly and you'll be surprised how much service you can get out of very basic rims. Tiagra and Deore will get you anywhere and are extremely reliable. I like your choice of fenders and rack. :)

That fork looks like it has a lot of rake and the head tube quite a bit of angle: although it is hard to judge by the eye, the result seems to be a small trail direction. This is a geometry that I largely prefer for a tourer, but it seems out of fashion mostly nowadays. If I am right, your bicycle should behave quite aptly when loaded in the front only, porteur style. Nice.

stringbreaker 06-09-10 06:36 PM

I have the same bike I bought in April. I changed out the crappy brake pads for Kool-Stops and also changed the pedals. I also had my LBS guys true the wheels and after about 200 miles I had them adjust the brakes and the derailleurs. Check the preload on the bearings in the headset and axle bearings, mine were too tight and after I eased up on them the bike rolled and steered a lot easier. Oh yeah and its a good time while you are at it to makes sure they are properly greased.Here it is in full commute mode. I love this bike it rides like a charm and absorbs bumps like a champ. I wanted a LHT but couldn't swing it, I'm really happy with my purchase

unkabin 06-09-10 09:23 PM

stringbreaker: Nice to see another Windsor ready for duty. Looks great.

I did have my LBS check spoke tension and true the rims. Wheel truing and tension is something I hope to get competent at someday. I'm pretty comfortable with everything else in terms of maintenance, including packing hubs and BB, which I don't know if I'll do again, with all the sealed cartridges these days. It's almost a shame. I enjoy it.

drmweaver2 06-10-10 01:23 PM

Congrats on your purchases unkabin and stringbreaker.

Just bought this same model bike myself and am more than pleased with it out of the box. A mechanic I found on craigslist assembled the bike for me for $25 (hey, it's been 35 years since I have "wrenched" anything so I wanted it to at least "start off" correct... wink. Also, I've been off bikes so long, I didn't recognize the handlebar shifters and he showed me how they worked. doh). Brought the bike home not an hour ago and went for a 5 mile "break-in" already! The only bike part missing that I assumed would come with the bike was a kickstand. Easy fix for $10 from the local Sports Academy.

I got a lightweight front pannier rack off eBay for under $30 and am looking for fenders for about the same price. So, my total "ready to ride" price for the bike will probably be under $750.

Entry-level? Shrug. There are currently at least 3 active cross-country/long-distance (US) tour journals involving Windsor Tourists over on crazyguyonabike right now.

I'm hoping to go on a short tour right after Labor Day - probably 2 weeks, Louisiana to Florida or up the Natchez Trace Parkway. Til then, it'll be "break in the saddle" time (along with "break in my glutes!).

Enjoy guys1

rumrunn6 06-10-10 01:39 PM

nice job!

when I was test riding new bikes last year the Fuji Touring was the most comfortable for me.


stringbreaker 06-10-10 07:51 PM

Unkabin: I like how you did up your Windsor with the light aluminum bits it looks very good. I wanted to go with all dark stuff to give it a kinda stealthy look except those freakin red panniers which will get changed out to my black ones when and if we get out of our rainy season here. I have had some issues with the rear derailleur until the cable got good and stretched out and the guys at my LBS adjusted it for me for the second time since I bought the bike. I have ridden somewhere around 50 miles since then and its behaving itself quite nicely now. That rear rack on mine is a bit light but so far is holding up fine. If it dies on me I'll opt for a nicer one from either Axiom like yours or maybe even step up to the Surly nice rack.

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