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Touring with a road bike

Old 07-19-10, 08:20 AM
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The3rdMan
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Touring with a road bike

Just wanted to get some opinions out there. I have a nice road bike with 23c tires (can only go one up to 25c) and a modified pannier set-up. Am planning a trip along Maine-MA coast and am staying in hotels and am packing extremely light.....is this a crazy idea?
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Old 07-19-10, 08:25 AM
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no
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Old 07-19-10, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
no
+1
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Old 07-19-10, 08:37 AM
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Anybody out there with some personal experience? Im planning a 3 week trip.....
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Old 07-19-10, 08:45 AM
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Probably not. Depends on your definition of "packing extremely light" and what you mean by "modified pannier setup."

Most road bikes frames have shorter chainstays which result in heel strike on your panniers. This could be a problem if your modified setup doesn't take this into account.

Road wheels and 23c tires are not designed to carry weight other than the rider. Also, the fewer the number of spokes, the higher the risk and the greater the consequences of breaking a spoke. Some of the people I know that attempted touring on such equipment came back complaining about all the flat tires they had while on tour. But they were definitely not traveling light.

Just pointing out some of the more obvious downsides of touring with a road bike. If your tour is short and you're truly traveling light, you may be able to get away with it. Just be aware you're asking a race horse to perform a task usually done by a mule.
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Old 07-19-10, 08:50 AM
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Here's the rig I used for 300 miles of gravel trails and camping. You can probably fit bigger than 25's on your bike. My caad 9 fit 27's without issue. I did bring a 23mm tire just in case I tweaked a rim as the 27's have very little room in the stays if a rim gets a wobble. I figured if this happened, I could slap the 23 on to get to the next campsite and then worry about truing the wheel.

Now that the bug has bitten I am building a dedicated touring bike, but to see if I liked it the same bike I train on and race on worked great. It was nice having a bike I knew and trusted on a new adventure. One less thing to worry about.

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Old 07-19-10, 08:53 AM
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PurpleK - Yes, I got a setup that accounts for all that. And Im only 185 and plan on carrying maybe 15 to 20 extra pounds. I just really didnt want to go out and buy a >$1000 bike to use it only once a year or two.
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Old 07-19-10, 08:56 AM
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I almost bought the CAAD 9. I have a Felt Z85 and I had the bike measured and supposedly it can barely fit a 25, let alone a 27.
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Old 07-19-10, 09:01 AM
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not crazy.
you can do it, just be smart about what / how you pack.
and i'd run the 25s or maybe find out just how big a tire you could fit in there... my conti gp 4 seasons measure 26.6 on mavic open pros.
and use the wheelset you feel is strongest.

i used pannier / tubus fly rack on a lemond carbon / steel frame.

this is my current lite weight setup... if i planned on hotels i'd have more room for clothes and such.

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Old 07-19-10, 09:18 AM
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For a 3 week tour, I'd do the following.

Gears! Even with a light load, you'll be better off with the lowest gearing you can get on the bike, unless you know you're picking a very flat route.
Use a trailer. Should be compatible with just about any road bike, no heel strike issues, carry as little or as much as you want.
Get a stem that will raise your bars as high as possible.
Use 25's, or 28's if the bike can take it. Maybe use tires with a little bit lower PSI, e.g. 80-90.
Make sure your saddle is comfortable for day-after-day long rides.
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Old 07-19-10, 09:22 AM
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Yes I have used my Cannondale crit bike for camping down the Ca coast. 23mm tires worked fine and Pclips work well for using a regular rack and panniers.
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Old 07-19-10, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by The3rdMan View Post
Anybody out there with some personal experience? Im planning a 3 week trip.....
my experience is 30yrs old but I was touring without a tent carrying only an Army surplus poncho for ground cloth/emergency weather protection with ensolite or thermarest pad and sleeping bag. No panniers needed. Front bag carrying a couple lbs of accessible stuff and windbreaker. On rack is poncho/thermarest/sleeping bag , 2lb down bag in stuff sack slid into medium sized dry bag with spare clothes. Just keep washing your face and dig the bugs out of your teeth. Rinse out that polypro undershirt so it doesn't get funky.
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Old 07-19-10, 09:46 AM
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A friend of mine has toured on his $5000+ Pinarello Prince racing bike by using a BOB trailer. A bit twitchy according to him, but otherwise it worked ok.

Put the fattest tires you can find on to protect your wheels. If you have low-spoke count wheels, consider investing some $$ in a set of traditional spoked wheels with 32 or 36 spokes. Nothing fancy is needed, but it might be a good investment to keep your "good" wheels in good shape by not subjecting them to touring stresses. You can probably get a used set on Ebay with 105 or Ultegra hubs for $100-$150.
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Old 07-21-10, 12:26 PM
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After I have gotten into backpacking and learned how to pack the way a standard backpacker does, I think you can tour on almost any bike. Even more so if you plan to stay in hotels. Actually now I think touring bike are over kill at least for cargo capacity.
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Old 07-21-10, 01:21 PM
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I wouldn't say that a touring bike is overkill even when touring light. It's comfortable, forgiving, reliable. There's no overkill in reliablity or comfort when you're touring and don't have any further resources than what you have with you. If you pop a spoke on a 40 spoke wheel it's inconvenient, if you do it on a 24 or 32, it could be disasterous.

But in keeping with the OP; light touring on a road bike, especially the way you're doing it is not difficult. Did you have problems the last century you did? It's just a string of rides when you're credit card touring.

Camping and cycling though the packing style is similar, touring can take you from beach to mountains in one day whereas hiking might take you across the county line. So what you pack may be completely and utterly dfferent.

Last edited by Ruffinit; 07-21-10 at 03:29 PM.
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Old 07-21-10, 06:53 PM
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I did a weeklong with a setup similar to bmike. It worked fine. I was able to use 28's for tires, but had no problems and I'm an uberclyde.
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Old 07-23-10, 09:47 AM
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I agree. Should not be a problem. However, I would recommend getting Kevlar belted tires to minimize the chances for flats.
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Old 07-23-10, 09:56 AM
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For 3 weeks, I'd give serious consideration to the Bob trailer. That allows you to pack pretty much anything you want. And it gives you the luxury of taking the trailer off, and riding unencumbered if you're staying more than one night in a location.

Without, the trailer the amount you can reasonably pack and carry is going be somewhat limited, definitely doable, but limited.

The Trailer costs less than $300, and is also useful for going to Grocery store, running errands, so not a bad thing to have.
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