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Insight from some people that have built their own touring bike?

Old 09-02-10, 09:50 PM
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Insight from some people that have built their own touring bike?

Hello, I currently ride a 90s Ross Professional Gran Tour bike. It's an older steel bike, pretty fun. However, I wouldn't trust it on the tours I want to go on. At the same time, I've fallen in love with my dad's new bike. Bought it on craigslist, Shimano 105 components, 30 speed, Spicer frame, 700c wheels, awesome bike.

I don't necessarily want to tour with that thing, but I'm kinda wanting something more...robust, so I can use it on rides that aren't touring. But still tour-able. Ideally, I'd like a bike where, after an hour in the garage, it can go from a credit card touring bike to a college campus commuter bike to a hill-killing road bike. And under $600 if possible. :/

I'm thinking that I might sacrifice some of the ruggedness for some weight and agility. I'd love to pack on 50 pounds and just tackle the wilderness, but I don't want to ride a minivan either. I'm thinking I could pack 20 pounds or less, consisting of clothes, a little food, bike repair stuff, toiletries, first aid kit, map and electronics.

Anyone have any tips on building a light touring bike? Starting with the frame, I'm thinking of getting the Nashbar Cyclocross frame. Some stuff like the saddle, the tires, the stem, the headset, I can take from my Ross. It's got Shimano components already that work great so I can definitely make some use of those.

What do you think? Crazy talk? Realistic? Better off buying a bike instead? Better off restoring my steel one?

By the way, here's a rough idea of what tours I'd be going on, just some brainstorming.

-Tennessee, East to West
-Texas, East to West
-RAGBRAI
-New York-DC
-Nashville-Chicago

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Old 09-02-10, 10:01 PM
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Texas? Do you have any idea how big and boring Texas, East to West really is?
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Old 09-02-10, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by xizangstan
Texas? Do you have any idea how big and boring Texas, East to West really is?
Yeah, I'd follow I-20 roughly from Dallas to Odessa. That might actually be a camping tour though. Not sure how many motels there are out that way. But hey, the challenge would be killer.
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Old 09-02-10, 10:16 PM
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You want a challenge, try Texas from El Paso to Houston
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Old 09-02-10, 10:30 PM
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Ooh, I like! South Texas is best Texas. That would be killer. 10 days, Louisiana border to Mexico border! Definitely something I will look into.
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Old 09-03-10, 07:37 AM
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The headset and stem won't work on the Nashbar (1" threaded vs. 1.125" threadless). Are the wheels in like new or good condition, or have they seen better days? The Shimano components may be good, but how low does the gearing go?

I think that you'll have better success in keeping within your $600 budget by looking for a good used bike (garage sales, eBay). There's good stuff out there, you just need to spend some time to look for it.
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Old 09-03-10, 07:43 AM
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For 600.00 I would just rebuild my old steel bicycle and have money left over.My 2 cents on this matter.
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Old 09-03-10, 08:00 AM
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For $600 I'd upgrade the components of your current bike, buy some racks and some bags and go! Is there anything really wrong with your current frame that would make you want to get a new one? I toured on a Nashbar frame and although it worked well I didn't think it was anything special.

And remember, with bikes (as with so many things) you have three choices: light, cheap and durable... You only get to pick two.
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Old 09-03-10, 08:10 AM
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I'm reasonably certain that we're talking about a department store bike made of high tensile steel. The frame would hold up, sure, it would just be heavy. So yes, that is another option.

I would still patrol the garage sales, eBay, etc. if for no other purpose than to build up knowledge. And you just might luck into a diamond in the rough.
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Old 09-03-10, 08:13 AM
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People do successful tours on just about any kind of bike. If your current bike is mechanically sound then there's no reason why you couldn't use it for touring. I'd save your budget to 1) get some good touring gear (easier to save weight in sleeping bag/tent/etc. than in a new bike frame), and 2) replacing any components that are questionable (esp. check over the wheels since those tend to cause problems on tours).
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Old 09-03-10, 11:26 AM
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it's not clear to me whether you're touring with 50lbs or 20lbs
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Old 09-03-10, 11:46 AM
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Well unfortunately $600 is not a substantial amount of money. I would not invest that much in a frame that old unless it was a very good frame when it was originally made. I don't recall Ross making really good frames though I could be wrong. If you have time you can see what is available on craigslist or ebay maybe find a decent Miyata at a reasonable price. Old bikes are like old cars things break on them. When my Raleigh Super Course broke I had no idea it was rusting from the inside out. It looked fine from the outside. I was only 10 miles from home so rode it in. If your 500 miles from home and on vacation your kind of hosed.
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Old 09-03-10, 12:07 PM
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I don't recall Ross making really good frames though I could be wrong
I didn't think so either, until I found a campy-equiped ~80's Ross road bike a few months ago!

To OP: I don't know what your Dad's 700c bike is like - but a 650b wheel conversion can make an otherwise puerly "race" bike into a great tourer.....for the cost of the wheels and possibly longer reach brakes -- less than $600 most likely.
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Old 09-03-10, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG
it's not clear to me whether you're touring with 50lbs or 20lbs
From how I read the OP, OP is looking for a sport touring bike. OP would rather have a snappy bike that can haul 20lbs reasonably well than a bike that handles 50lbs but rides like a truck.
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Old 09-03-10, 02:19 PM
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Depends on what your actually have there.Are there any stickers for the frame on it still?Hi-ten steel,cro-mo,butted.Stamped/forged dropouts.Some of the 70's and 80's frames are real nice things.I'm not so sure about the 90's.

If it has decent stuff,I'd rebuild it.

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Old 09-03-10, 02:24 PM
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That model of Ross is Hi-ten steel, but overall is a step above a department store bike. I think it would likely work -- If it were mine and money were tight, I would work with that bike and perhaps set it up with a good set of 700c touring wheels. You might need to re-space (cold set) the rear dropouts, but the wheels could get moved to a better frame should one come along.
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Old 09-03-10, 02:42 PM
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I bought one of these in 1976,still ride it.021 butted tubing and stamped dropouts.It's gone from L.A. - S.F.and back about a 10 times,no problems.I used to have to keep an eye on the rear axle before I learned how to pack lighter.

Notice the wonderful Avocet leather saddle!
De-barb it(remove chainguards,reflectors,stem shifters funky brakes;install aero brakes,bar ends) and I think you have a pretty decent bike.


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Old 09-04-10, 09:27 AM
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I've built several bikes up from frames. There are some choices. You can buy new parts and get exactly what you want, or you can look for deals on Ebay or Craigslist. When you buy new, you know what you're getting. When you buy used you're taking a chance on the condition of the parts. Also, there are plenty of other cyclists looking for deals, so you often don't save much money. However, if you're patient and keep looking you can find excellent deals on good-condition parts.

I've used Ebay parts on several of my family's bikes, and gotten some good deals. I've also bought new products on sale from Nashbar, Performance, etc. that were really good deals. Patience is the key; you often have to wait months until the part you want comes on sale, or a component comes up on Ebay and people don't push the price over what would be a good deal for you.

On my touring bike, an LHT, I didn't skimp. Most of the parts are new, and I ended up spending considerably more than if I'd bought the complete bike. (I bought my frame a few months before they started offering the complete.) That's okay. When I'm out in the middle of nowhere alone, I want to avoid mechanical problems. So far, so good.
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Old 09-04-10, 01:14 PM
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I was amazed to see a new-condition GT Xizang titanium framed mountain bike, with updated components and wheels, go for only $1,110 on eBay last week! If I had the money, I would have gladly paid as much as $3,000 for this bike. ... And I wouldn't have been surprised to see the thing go for as much as $4,000 or more. It was in brand new condition. Even the original stickers were mint. I couldn't believe such a solid, vintage and perfect titanium mountain bike could sell for so little money in a public auction.

A bike like this is solid and tough enough to stand up to not only serious mountain biking but to touring as well.

So be aware: This recession is bringing around some fantastic deals. Just have your cash ready to pounce when the opportunity comes around.
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Old 09-04-10, 07:05 PM
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Last tour bike I built up from scratch I also got help building the frame itself ..
The touring load on the road is much more manageable with a top tube that is laterally stiff
Oversize tube is one way to do that ..
down and top tubes 1.25" diameter.

Getting a too light a bike means the frame will bend with every pedal stroke with the load on the rack acting as a Lever.

downhills can be un nerving..
Pack tight and avoid bungee secured panniers as they will be too bouncy.
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Old 09-06-10, 07:20 AM
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Here you go

I found this on the local craigslist.
Ross bike like the one in the old ad
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