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Classic touring bike/frame recommendations on the cheap

Old 12-16-10, 09:57 AM
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Classic touring bike/frame recommendations on the cheap

First time posting in this sub-forum, so hello! And yet to do an unsupported tour, and I come to seek advice!

I am looking for a good, comfortable frame that could double as a touring and commuting bike. I own several bikes now (see below), none of which would work well, if at all, for an extened self supported tour. I would rather not spend the mad cash on a LHT, Fargo, etc. for my 1-2 times a year I plan on touring.

So I'm looking for an older, used frame or complete bike to refurbish that would work well for a tour. Ideally the bike would be 700c or 27" wheels, steel, and room for racks and fenders, and would be under $300 before replacement parts and accessories. Haven't really been looking too hard yet, but would like some recommendations on frames that would work well for this, if they exist? I don't need the bike built until spring, so I have time for one to show up on CL, Ebay, or elsewhere.

Yesterday I found a late 70s Soma Competition on CL complete with Shimano 600 for $125, looked like a great option but I emailed the seller, didn't get a response, and this morning the posting was taken down . So the Soma Competition and Trek 520 are two bikes that I think would work great for what I'm looking for... any other recommendations? Any reasons why I should not be looking at this style of bike? I have heard that ealier mountain bikes are good options too, but I'd rather have larger wheels to be more versatile for the rest of the year when I'm not on tour.
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Old 12-16-10, 10:04 AM
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Hi Alan,

You should have good luck with your search, but before you get started, tell us more about yourself.

Will you be "fully loaded" touring with 30+ lbs of camping gear, or are you considering ultra-light touring with a lighter load. If you can tour light, a wider range of road bikes will work for you. Also, how heavy are you? This will determine if you need super-strong wheels, or if more common 36 or 32 spoke road wheels will be good enough.

Michael
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Old 12-16-10, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv
Hi Alan,

You should have good luck with your search, but before you get started, tell us more about yourself.

Will you be "fully loaded" touring with 30+ lbs of camping gear, or are you considering ultra-light touring with a lighter load. If you can tour light, a wider range of road bikes will work for you. Also, how heavy are you? This will determine if you need super-strong wheels, or if more common 36 or 32 spoke road wheels will be good enough.

Michael
Hi Michael, thanks for the interest and quick response.

I will be carrying a decent amount of stuff - its going to be loaded touring with camping gear, and probably want the capacity to have enough room for a week of supplies, though I generally will be touring for 3-5 days at a time. With that said, I'm a pretty resourceful guy and can pack lightly as far as clothing, tools, and and additional gear is concerned (though I know gear can add up quick). I'll defintely need a rear rack with big panniers and room on the trunk, and ideally some kind of front rack or flat-bed. I'd like to stay away from a trailer.

I weight 145, so 32/36 3x wheels should do fine. I'd be all for building up a wheelset for this bike if it comes with junky steel wheels, and customizing and upgrading some other components is definitely part of the bill. Total I'd like to keep it under $500 if possible.
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Old 12-16-10, 10:29 AM
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Hi Alan,

Almost any eighties road bike with a triple crankset should work for you. Most of these bikes have sports/touring geometry that was common then, but rare today. So look for a 3x6 drivetrain from 1980 to 1995. Measure to see if the chainstays are at least 425mm in length, you will find ample room between the rear tire and the Bottom Bracket on a bike with long-enough chainstays. Also check for long-reach caliper brakes. Center-pull and cantilever brakes are good too, and will provide room for 700cx32 tires. Also check to see that the fork has attachment points for fenders & racks. The rear dropout should have "eyes" for racks and fenders, also.

I'm sure others here at BF will suggest specific models.

Michael

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Old 12-16-10, 10:52 AM
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This discussion over at C&V is helpful: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...hlight=touring

Horizontal drop-outs are way more common, the OP desire for vertical dropouts is without merit, IMO. 27 inch wheels are not a deal breaker, either.

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Old 12-16-10, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv
This discussion over at C&V is helpful: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...hlight=touring

Horizontal drop-outs are way more common, the OP desire for vertical dropouts is without merit, IMO. 27 inch wheels are not a deal breaker, either.
Cool, theres some great suggestions in that post. 27" and horiziontal is not a problem for me, I'll either convert it to 700c or build up replacement wheels with some good quality 27" rims. What I'm after is something classic (not a new Soma, Surly, etc.) due mostly to price, with eyelets for racks and fenders, and is not a clunker for non-touring applications.

Any other specific suggestions on particular frames would be very helpful.
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Old 12-16-10, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Alan@TreeFort
Hi Michael, thanks for the interest and quick response.

I will be carrying a decent amount of stuff - its going to be loaded touring with camping gear, and probably want the capacity to have enough room for a week of supplies, though I generally will be touring for 3-5 days at a time. With that said, I'm a pretty resourceful guy and can pack lightly as far as clothing, tools, and and additional gear is concerned (though I know gear can add up quick). I'll defintely need a rear rack with big panniers and room on the trunk, and ideally some kind of front rack or flat-bed. I'd like to stay away from a trailer.

I weight 145, so 32/36 3x wheels should do fine. I'd be all for building up a wheelset for this bike if it comes with junky steel wheels, and customizing and upgrading some other components is definitely part of the bill. Total I'd like to keep it under $500 if possible.
"decent amount of stuff" isn't very specific and "big panniers" aren't necessary for carrying what is needed as it commits you to a heavy rearwheel load on bikes that probably aren't designed for it. 145lbs leaves you with more options than heavier folks for a general sport/touring bike. A triple may not be necessary if you have a compact 74/110mm crank and aren't carrying lots of gear but a cheap triple could be cheaper than a compact and buying different cassettes/chainrings. You might consider borrowing one of the cranksets and saddle from your other bikes to stay in budget.

There are LOTS of bikes out there that can fit your criteria, you'll have more luck adapting a light 20lb load to an old steel sport road bike and retaining it's handling characteristics than turning it into a fully loaded touring bike with front/rear panniers. You can have a road bike carry a 150-200lb rider just fine but that doesn't mean it's optimum for a 145lb rider to plop 30lbs on the rear wheel.

What would be ideal is an old touring bike, what you're likely to find are old mtn bikes and hybrids with an occasional road bike.
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Old 12-16-10, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by LeeG
There are LOTS of bikes out there that can fit your criteria, you'll have more luck adapting a light 20lb load to an old steel sport road bike and retaining it's handling characteristics than turning it into a fully loaded touring bike with front/rear panniers. You can have a road bike carry a 150-200lb rider just fine but that doesn't mean it's optimum for a 145lb rider to plop 30lbs on the rear wheel.

What would be ideal is an old touring bike, what you're likely to find are old mtn bikes and hybrids with an occasional road bike.
Thanks LeeG. Any thoughts on specific old touring bikes? I'm very familiar with the current models, but am new to the vintage bike thing so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 12-16-10, 12:10 PM
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It's going to matter more what condition it is in than the specific model since a $250 deal that requires new wheels is no deal.
What size are you looking for? There were a lot of brands with similar models from cheap to high quality, Sekai, Miyata, Ross, Centurion, Nishiki, Schwinn, it goes on. One of the problems is that a lot of midpriced models used cadmium plated spokes and not stainless so you might have unworkable wheels because the nipples and spokes are corroded together. I'd just shy away from trying to load up a regular road bike with touring loads over 25lbs, lots of folks have done it, but it takes away from what the bike and wheels are made for. If I found something like an old road/sport/tour bike and I wanted panniers I'd be inclined to go with front low riders with the smallest panniers and the rest of the gear on the rear rack, maybe 10-15lbs worth.

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Old 12-16-10, 03:04 PM
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If you just really want an old bike and want to spritz it up, I fully understand. (I Still ride my 1982 Peugeot CFX-10 I built in college from time to time.)

But if you are just looking for a decent touring bike for slightly more than your budget, the Bikes Direct Windsor Tourist ($600 delivered) is a great deal. Pop it out of the box, true the wheels, pump the tires, stick the quill stem in the headset, and start riding. Even comes with a rack already on it.

I ride a LHT, so I'm not shilling for the BD Windsor; if the budget will allow I think the LHT is worth the extra dosh. But if you really want to stay in the $600 range (let's be honest; you won't REALLY limit yourself to $500, not once you change out the stuff you're gonna change and add a rear rack) The Windsor is without peer.

Best friend bought one this summer and has put 2000 miles on it, mostly riding next to me, and including a 300 mile fully-loaded New Mexico tour last month. Problems included 5 flats in NM to my zero (I use Schwalbe Marathons), and losing a rear rack lower mounting bolt (I don't know how tightly it was ever installed -- not the bike's fault.) Also, he broke 3 spokes over the summer -- but he weighs 230 lbs. The bike has 36 hole wheels.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 12-16-10, 03:41 PM
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Look for the Miyata 215ST touring bike. Won't be nearly as expensive as the more popular Miyata 1000. Looks like it only has mountings for one bottle cage, but you can always purchase aftermarket attachments for a second/third one.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/abonamici/750631189/
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Old 12-16-10, 03:51 PM
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1980's Specialized Sequoia. Now that would be the bike.
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Old 12-16-10, 04:05 PM
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Awesome, now thats what I'm looking for! Miyata defintely seems doable. Sequoia would be pretty sick, but don't see that one happening.
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Old 12-17-10, 01:58 PM
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Alan - I feel like I've seen quite a few nice 80's touring bikes for sale around the Ann Arbor/Metro Detroit area in the past year or so - I live in Chicago but have family in Detroit, so I'm always scouring CL in SE MI for good deals. I also feel like I've seen on this forum someone's pretty close to complete list of touring-specific or touring-appropriate frames, if you do a search. I ride a 1985 Bridgestone T-500 with 27" wheels and vertical dropouts, and it's done well for loaded touring for the 7-800 miles I've done this year on a few short trips. You'd do well to look out for the Miyata 1000/610, Schwinn Voyageur/Passage, Bridgestone T-500/T-700, Trek 520/620/720, etc. Most large bicycle makers had touring-capable bikes in the 1980's, just be on the lookout for canti posts, long chainstays, spoke holders, pump pegs, multiple water bottle braze-ons, low rider braze-ons - any of the standard touring bits that wouldn't necessarily make it onto your average ten-speed.

Now that I think of it, I actually have a 54cm-ish 1983 Miyata 1000 frame that isn't getting any use right now. I'm in Chicago, but if you're interested get in touch. Hadn't really thought of selling it, but it's just collecting dust right now...
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Old 12-17-10, 02:18 PM
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You have the specific designed touring bikes that others have mentioned. I bought a Trek 510 this fall for the specific task of light duty touring - 2-5 days. The cost was a whole lot more reasonable than the 520's that pop up on Craigslist. Check out the mtb thread here - there's a lot of options there too if you can find one to fit. Those bikes can be had very cheap in a lot of cases. A friend of mine's college age son did a cross country trip on an old 80's road bike with 27" wheels a couple of years back and averaged 70-80 miles a day on it with hardly any problems.

Sounds like you're at the beginning stages of touring like I am. I've gone the mtb route and the Trek 510 because they fit in my budget - combined price for the two bikes was less than $60. That doesn't mean I won't keep looking for a nice touring bike like a Raleigh, Miyata, Bianchi Volpe, etc. or even something newer when it fits in the budget (i.e. the kids are out of the house).
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Old 12-17-10, 02:22 PM
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when you say cheap, this is what I'm thinking, the 19" Gary Fisher hybrid frameset for $40. Learn how to do an eyeball test for frame being true and put on some sturdy 700c production wheels with 135mm rear spacing.

While all the nice old road bike frames look appealing they won't carry a load as well given their smaller diameter tubing and they'll require pricier caliper brakes and probably won't be able to carry anything bigger than 32mm tires with fenders.

With something like the zebrano you can put on some cheap and effective cantilevers or direct pull. I'm not familiar with the geometry but I'm guessing it's something normal and with that front fork you could feel confident carrying a load on low riders.


https://annarbor.craigslist.org/bik/2108279756.html

and this rear wheel

https://www.bikeman.com/WE7256.html

after that find a bike in the trash for brakes/parts.

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Old 12-17-10, 11:17 PM
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Look on eBay... you may score a vintage Trek 520 for around $700. I bought one with a cheap OEM rack but I've been very happy with the Tubus rear and front pannier racks I installed.
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Old 12-17-10, 11:59 PM
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I think the Trek 720, which someone else also mentioned, is a reasonable touring bike. I got mine in 1983 and still enjoy riding it.
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Old 12-18-10, 01:06 AM
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I lost track, what frame size? That could affect significantly your search.
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Old 12-18-10, 01:46 AM
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He didn't say what his height was. I have a 19" Trek 520 which translates into a 54 cm equivalent frame. That's the ballpark of what I like to ride.
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Old 12-18-10, 04:18 AM
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I got a great 60s British Eagle 501 audax frame off ebay - about 50 ($45?). It needed cleaning up and respraying. But i's a dream.

When looking at frames, in the flesh or on ebay - a general sign of quality (up to a point) is rear dropouts. If they are pressed steel, it's cheap. Also frame crowns that are solid, rather than pressed steel caps over a weld.
I'd also watch out for Peugeots. They often have French bottom brackets. Not a problem in itself, but should something go wrong with them, a nightmare to source.
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Old 12-18-10, 10:26 AM
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This is off-topic, but where are you planning on going that you'll need to carry 5 days of supplies? I backpack too, and one of the advantages of bike touring over backpacking is that you don't have to carry days worth of supplies because you can almost always find an adequate store during a day's ride. Often you can choose and pick the one that's closest to your destination, so you con't have to carry your food the whole day.

I usually carry one emergency meal when I tour (I live out west) in case I can't find adequate food during the day. (My emergency meal is usually a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly. I use it to make snacks as well.)

If I was heading up to Alaska, I guess I'd have to carry more food.
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Old 12-18-10, 03:33 PM
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Specialized expedition 82-85,
Specialized sequoia 198x
Miyata 1000 or 600
Trek 620 1984-85
Trek 720 1984-85
Kuwahara Caravan (sold mainly in canada)
Panasonic PT-3000 or PT-5000

univega
fuji
Lotus
(all made various models of sport tourer)

theres a start... happy hunting.
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Old 12-20-10, 03:20 PM
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Thanks everybody. Sorry for no responses, I've been out of town (up in northern Michigan doing some hiking and cc skiing for the past couple days).

This really gets at what I was looking for, some frame and bike suggestions and guidance based on experience. I'm 5'8", I'll most likely need a frame around a 54-55cm seat tube. I've got a lot of time until this bike will be needed, so I'll take my time and wait for something great and at a good price to come along. And of course will post pics when the build is done.

Sorry for maybe misguiding by saying "cheap" in the title - basically I'm not looking to spend $1500 like on a LHT or similar. Thanks for all your suggestions, if anything else comes to mind let me know!
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Old 12-20-10, 03:50 PM
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Don't forget the Nashbar touring frame and fork. I've seen them for 150 or less. Personally I like the mt bike conversion, a very good starter found almost everywhere.
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