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upgrading touring bike

Old 10-08-10, 05:57 AM
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upgrading touring bike

I'm looking for some feed back in regards to my idea of upgrading my touring bike. I was thinking of switching over to carbon in regards to my seat post handlebars and stem; as well as getting ceramic bearings. I know my touring bike is going to be heavy regardless of what I do to it. So please don't respond stating the obvious, that it's a waist of time. I like to know weather or not anyone has done this and what components they used.
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Old 10-08-10, 06:09 AM
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If your looking for help to justifying your "Want" for some high-tech goodies, you won't find it here. But you don't need us to justify, you want them, get them, but I bet there are many other upgrades that would make a lot more sense for touring.
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Old 10-08-10, 06:12 AM
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Dumb idea..
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Old 10-08-10, 06:49 AM
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In general, it sounds like ceramic bearings are pretty much pointless. The advantages are utterly minuscule and they're very expensive.

For most touring contexts, the main issue I'd see with carbon components is that you will need to carry a torque wrench with you. If you need to make any adjustments on the road, and you over-torque the bolts, you could crack the carbon. That whopping 30 grams you saved with a carbon bar will get lost to the torque wrench.

If you are seriously looking to drop weight in a touring context, these particular upgrades are among the worst in terms of "bang for the buck." You are much better off a) paring down your gear as much as humanly possible, b) ditching panniers in exchange for waterproof stuff sacks, or c) get a SAG and carry as little as possible on the bike.
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Old 10-08-10, 10:28 AM
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There's nothing really wrong with those new technologies. But in a touring environment, with the relative low speeds and high weights involved, they are probably not the best of your dollars. If you read the journals at crazyguyonabike.com you'll see that durability and dependability are the trumping factors. An extra bit of performance matters in race situation but not here. On the other hand, you have nothing to justify. If you have the income, the ability and the desire, make the decision you feel is right. If it were up to me though, I'd invest in the saddle, a proper fit and good tires instead of these things. YMMV.
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Old 10-08-10, 10:40 AM
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Even though I think I prefer my touring rig to be built burly, I think carbon bars do offer a little something in terms of comfort, so I won't call you crazy.

Something like this can make carrying a torque wrench a little less of a hassle:
https://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=30339
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Old 10-08-10, 11:26 AM
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Another factor to consider is the locations you tour in. In the US, Europe, Japan, OZ and parts of Asia and L. America you can have those technologies easily repaired or at least band-aid'ed. In Central America there's no such luck and I suspect Africa and other places it's the same. So that's a consideration.

If you are mostly touring in the states, it's a non-issue. A broken bearing just means hitching a ride to your nearest town that has a good LBS. Most people prioritize getting sturdier wheels, tires, racks, panniers, etc above these things precisely because they don't want to be stranded 100 miles from anywhere, especially abroad.
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Old 10-08-10, 11:31 AM
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The funny thing is that despite what Grant over at Riv says, in some fields carbon is the beefy, take a hit, technology, arrows come to mind. If you could find beefy carbon parts for your bike, and they made sense, like were more comfortable or lighter, then why not. I doubt you can do it.

I don't know much about ceramic bearings, but I like the idea, why not a near eternal, road serviceable, low reistance choice. Put them in a DT hub, and declare victory over some of the other choices like Phil, or in IGHs Rohloff. If one could get in there, what about ceramic in a Rohloff. Why not if one had the money.

I don't really get your question though. You don't tell us what you are currently riding, whether it is heavy, expedition, or credit card touring. It's obvious most tourers would splash out on conventional gear like Nitto rondo bars first.
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Old 10-08-10, 09:04 PM
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I think the original poster is on the right track. I think he could improve his touring bike even further by also adding a carbon fiber fork and pedals. Then to reduce weight further he should look into carbon shoes and a carbon helmet. But his biggest weight savings would be to ditch the panniers and all the stuff in them and just carry a credit card, then he would reduce his weight by 50 to 70 pounds! Can I get an amen?
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Old 10-08-10, 11:15 PM
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Instead of spending a lot on the bike , why not spend it on the trip?
Go someplace fascinating..

like the Southern hemisphere .. it's Spring, now.
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Old 10-09-10, 06:12 AM
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For touring I want durability and ease of replacement/repair above all else.

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Old 10-09-10, 07:06 AM
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Upgrade to what purpose? I could see wanting to put some money into the bike to make it fancier, the fetish factor, or function better. For fetish factor how about looking around for some kind of custom item? Maybe a custom rack? I had a lower bar brazed on a Tubus Cargo rack, looks slick, works and cost about $75. Custom frame bags or Son generator and headlight is nice. More than once I've had my battery powered headlight go out and the Son with LIghtOn headlight and tailight have saved the ride home. Here's one, how about configuring small dry bags instead of panniers for light touring. I bet you could take a lb off right there with four eight liter dry bags and some bungie cords. How about your wheels, are they in any way special? You could go the Fred route and add little reflective tape to the hubs and rims or look around for a new rear wheel, if you have a stock shimano hub wheel how about something fancier?

I could see a beefy carbon fork being worthwhile but not the other parts where you may need to adjust them or require a torque wrench.
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Old 10-09-10, 09:39 AM
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quite true ... consider the re assembly , perhaps near the oversize baggage door in the arrival section,
its not anything like .. the most fully equipped bike shop .. to put the bike back together .

designing to make that quick and reliable would be my idea of an upgrade.. not making it like a high tech F-1 racer.
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Old 10-09-10, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1

I don't know much about ceramic bearings, but I like the idea, why not a near eternal, road serviceable, low reistance choice.
Bikes come with them, already. They're called "steel". Bearing failures on bikes are nearly universally[1] caused by lubrication failure, which is usually caused by water. Water will destroy lubricants used for ceramic bearings, and then the bearings, too. Ceramic bearings make sense where they're operated at high speed, high temperature, or electric isolation is needed. None of those apply to bike bearings. But it's entirely possible to build well sealed bike bearings, and some people do. The seals are more of a drag than the bearing friction.

[1] a couple exceptions: threaded headset bearings fail from being the wrong sort of bearing for the loads they carry, and some bottom bracket bearings which are stupidly undersized wear out.
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Old 10-09-10, 10:43 AM
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Yeah, well that's the logical position, but it's just money so why not spend it on something that reduces the rolling resistence further. I don't doubt it's exceedingly marginal. So...at least that is one less thing to worry about.
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Old 10-09-10, 10:53 AM
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If you really want to lighten your bike, disassemble it and weigh every component. Then, rank all the components by weight, find the weight-weenie component you want to replace it with, and then calculate the dollars per gram you need to spend to lighten them.

I don't think you'd find that the upgrades you're considering are very cost efficient.

Probably one of the cheapest things you can do to lighten a touring bike is to put on some lighter weight tires and tubes vs. the heavy-weight stuff that tends to be recommended here. You'll have to risk having *many* more flats, which could take the fun out of the tour, but you can save a surprising amount of weight by going with lighter tires.

This is *not* a very practical suggestion, but your post suggest you are not interested in practicality.

All others, please ignore.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 10-09-10 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 10-09-10, 11:24 AM
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Going along with Bengeboy, if practicality is not the main driver and cost is not an issue, then the whole question of all materials carried opens up. In other words, if one is willing to exchange dollars for weight then one needs to be honest about where the cheapest dollars per lb ratios are at. Obviously you start with your own weight - that's the cheapest pounds, then you go to clothing, food, tools, spares and on down the line until you hit the place of diminishing returns you want to be at.

Early in the 20th century people toured on horrendously heavy machines which forced them to compromise a heck of a lot more than we do today. What was carried was always the first place people looked. Today, we are much luckier with very light machines relative to 100 years ago and we have fewer places to save significant weight left. What is carried is more important than ever. In part, the racers' mentality of getting an extra 28 grams / 1 ounce off for an extra 1/10th of a second at any cost has been promoted by cycling magazines because that's where advertising revenue comes from. It is a salve for manufacturers but an endless pit for the cyclist.

Nothing wrong with doing what makes you happy and if knowing you are encouraging the R&D of ceramic, carbon and composite materials makes a person happy, why not. At that point you are a patron of science and technology for future generations. The benefits to derive now will be very small.
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Old 10-09-10, 11:27 AM
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Ceramic bearing will only save you about 10th of 1 gram and will increase your net watts by 10th of 1 percent meaning your never ever ever going to notice it, but it will save some weight in your pocket book because ceramic bearings are way expensive. Also ceramic bearings are intended for elite racing not touring, racers are racing for 100 miles where 100th of a second could be the difference between coming in first or second...your not racing so 100th of a second at the end of a 100mile day is not important. Ceramic also may not like loads being placed on them nor like the dirt that is evident when touring. I've got Suntour steel bearings with over 100,000 miles on them and their still in very good shape, but I do keep the bearings maintained.

But it your dying to waste money then by all means waste it on Ceramic bearings and whatever else you can dream up that's useless. If you want, I can help you go crazy since money is no object for you, and you can give me a list of items and I can find the lightest most expensive part/component money can buy. Do be forewarned though, that uber light weight parts are intended for racing and not for touring thus they won't last long on a tour, but if that's what you want lets go have some fun!!

Personally I think your a troll, because no cyclist in their right mind talks the way you do.
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Old 10-09-10, 11:45 AM
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It's a good discussion to have anyway. The OP probably came from the Road cycling forums. That mentality is very common there because that's what cycling magazines promote. We don't want to have touring become a balkanized community. The more road racers that enjoy touring the better and this way others are encouraged to get out there and to build the market for touring products that make sense IMO.
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Old 10-09-10, 01:34 PM
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the discussion on the commuting section has some links to new Braking hardware,
a few cable operated master-cylinders for running hydraulic disc brakes
on bikes with drop bars and Brifters, as from all 3 manufacturers .

integrating the cable into a hydraulic top mount lever.
looks like the clean setup to my eye
but the double set to mount via a spacer on the steerer tube stack is decent.

Better brakes is one part that a heavily loaded touring rig can use..

way more benefit on tandem touring rigs..

Isn't going to make the uphill part any easier ,
but nobody has trouble stopping on the ascents.

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-09-10 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 10-09-10, 07:44 PM
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Yes, but those better brakes weigh more!! My god we can't have that.
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Old 10-10-10, 01:03 AM
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A rear wheel Propstand was my favorite upgrade, bike stands up straight,
access both sides and load and unload easily
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Old 10-10-10, 06:57 AM
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Ask yourself: Is there some problem you are trying to solve, or do you just want to spend some money?

That should help you decide.
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Old 10-10-10, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by safariofthemind
It's a good discussion to have anyway. The OP probably came from the Road cycling forums. That mentality is very common there because that's what cycling magazines promote. We don't want to have touring become a balkanized community. The more road racers that enjoy touring the better and this way others are encouraged to get out there and to build the market for touring products that make sense IMO.
I agree with you 100%, but we're a bit late to make the save I think. This forum has been Balkanized to the other extreme from the Road Forum. I find this to be Utilitarian heaven, where cheap is good and "ok" is the highest quality you will ever need. Desire for quality is hammered here. I find a forum full of Walmart Warriors to be more disheartening than the Road Forum intelligentsia. But I still stop by (less and less) to free my mind and stoke my imagination for the next tour. There is truly a great deal of knowledge here, but it becomes less and less worth the read.
For the OP's choices:
Carbon seatpost and stem: might be interesting and won't hurt anything but the wallet. Will definitely dampen the road vibration a bit. My road bike came with a carbon seatpost and I swapped it for an aluminum Thompson. There was a subtle but definite change in the ride; a bit more harsh. The Ritchey 4 Axis carbon components are high quality, light, and well priced.
Carbon handlebars: I wouldn't go there. They are a one and out piece. The weight of a loaded bike falling could kill them, and they can't be bent back into a usable shape like AL if you are many miles from a replacement.
Ceramic bearings: Nice bling factor. I've never used them, so I can't comment on whether or not there is a noticeable difference. Its your money. If you go with them, I'd love to hear the results.
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Old 10-10-10, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by surfjimc
I agree with you 100%, but we're a bit late to make the save I think. This forum has been Balkanized to the other extreme from the Road Forum. I find this to be Utilitarian heaven, where cheap is good and "ok" is the highest quality you will ever need. Desire for quality is hammered here. I find a forum full of Walmart Warriors to be more disheartening than the Road Forum intelligentsia. But I still stop by (less and less) to free my mind and stoke my imagination for the next tour. There is truly a great deal of knowledge here, but it becomes less and less worth the read.
That's a shame. Many rando and long distance road bikers would probably find the dependability and stability of touring rigs liberating. I did notice in reading past posts in this forum an unfortunate tendency to deride racers as "weight weenies". We ought to change that and be more welcoming. Not everyone is destined for a 1000 mile trip but the more people that take weekend tours, the more places will cater to those that do. Just look at Europe and New Zealand - touring there is a pleasure because no one cares what kind of cyclist you are, just that you have fun on the road. In France it is common to see people going from one estate to another, with just a little rondo bag and street clothes. Same in Holland and Denmark, and you see it elsewhere too. Classic.

BTW, desire for quality is not hammered IMO - certainly not by me. I just ordered a custom bike and that is no "Wal-Mart Warrior" special - believe me. It is more that choices made are different. Touring is expensive. A trip to Europe for a month, with airfare, and the whole 9 yards is in the thousands of dollars. And some folks do that regularly. It's more about how you apportion your budget between hardware and software than about necessarily being low budget.

In any case, I encourage road warriors to give touring a try. It's addictive in a way different from racing...
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