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Need Bike Choosing Advice.....

Old 01-27-12, 04:38 PM
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Need Bike Choosing Advice.....

Hello, I want to get into road biking and have been riding my hybrid bike these past months. I've lost 50 pounds and am working to lose 25 more (which will get me to my high school weight). I want to ride across Iowa (they have a huge ride each year called RAIGBRAII) and want to get a road bike that can do that. I'm looking for a good road/touring bike but have no idea of where to start or how much to spend or what it should be made out of. I don't need to spend a fortune.......wanting to keep the price under $800 or so.

So.......steel? Carbon? Aluminum?
What brand do you like?
Can I go older? I really like the Schwinns and Trek's from the mid-80's.....would something like that work for this sort of trip? We also have Surly bikes in my town...made here. Are they a good choice for touring?

I live in Minnesota now, and I know they have a big week long ride like the one in Iowa. My touring will most likely be with large organized rides like that. I don't think I will trek out on my own. But, I may......in the future, so maybe a bike that can haul gear (rather than the rides that simply transport your gear for you).

I need advice. And....is there a good book or website to talk about how to train up for longer touring? Thanks so much.
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Old 01-27-12, 04:51 PM
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A wide range of road bikes will work well. The range, from heavier to lighter, include: Touring bikes, Cyclocross bikes, and race inspired road bikes.

Touring and Cyclocross bikes offer versatility. They can be fitted with larger tires and most will accept racks and bags. The RAIGBRAI is a supported event. Having a bike for loaded touring will work well at the event, but is not strictly needed.

I'll be the first to say it: buy what fits.

Here are a few models to research;

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/long_haul_trucker

https://salsacycles.com/bikes/casseroll/

https://www.rei.com/category/4500922

https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...2_10000_202613
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Old 01-27-12, 05:23 PM
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By "touring" do you mean carrying your own stuff to live for days-weeks-months of your bike while travelling?
Or do you mean riding in RAGBRAII with your camping stuff being carried in a vehicle?

the answer makes a big difference about what bike to buy. If #1, you need a tour bike, you are in the right forum. If #2 you need a road bike, go to the road forum.
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Old 01-27-12, 11:49 PM
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Yes, you can use an older steel bike for rides like RAGBRAI, loaded touring or even as a road bike. I tour on a 1982 Trek 720 that I only recently upgraded to modern components. I once did a double century in less than 8 hours on the same bike, so there is nothing inherently wrong with using a touring bike for faster riding. A touring bike can be made to do it all, with the caveat that it will be heavier than a dedicated road bike and you will want a second set of wheels if you want to use it as a road bike. However, if you are only going to have one bike, it's a good place to start (at least until you are afflicted with n+1 disease).
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Old 01-28-12, 06:52 AM
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Wow. 25mph+ for 8 hours. They don't make em like the used to.

Originally Posted by B. Carfree
I once did a double century in less than 8 hours on the same bike
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Old 01-28-12, 10:27 AM
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I've ridden RAGBRAI and I do a self-supported, fully-loaded tour every summer. If I had to choose a bike specific to those two pursuits, they would be two very different bikes. If I could only buy one bike for both, I'd go one of two ways - either a dedicated tourer (which I could also ride in the RAGBRAI) or a compromise bike that would be okay at both.

Self-supporting touring isn't for everyone, but lots of people (like me) who think it sounds fun and try it get hooked and want to have the best touring rig our not-unlimited money can buy.

If I had to buy a bike specific to RAGBRAI and had $800 to spare I'd buy a lightweight road bike with an aluminum frame, carbon fork, and as good components as I could find. The aluminum-frame-carbon-fork combo seems to be what most companies use for their entry-level, under-$1,000 road bikes. I have one (a Specialized Allez) and I like it very much. If you buy new the folks at the bike shop will tell you about various component choices. I'd recommend a compact double or a triple for most, non-racer types. Iowa does have some hills. You don't need to carry much because baggage service is part of the entry fee. However you might want a rear rack and trunk bag to carry rain gear, snacks, etc. If a road bike doesn't have eyelets for a rack you can use one that suspends from the seatpost. They work great for small loads. I wouldn't use on with my carbon seatpost, however, so I'd suggest an aluminum seatpost if you go that route. (Admittedly, this is based on zero data - just my seat of the pants assessment.)

If you think you'll be doing a bunch of fully-loaded tours you should consider a full-on tourer. You can ride one on the RAGBRAI just fine. That's what I used for my only RAGBRAI. However, you won't be able to buy a new one for $800. A Surly LHT is more like $1100, and you'll still need to buy a lot of other stuff: racks, panniers, handlebar bag, maybe fenders. You'll probably spend a bunch of money on lightweight camping gear - you don't want to carry an ounce more than necessary. Other tourers like the Trek 520 are more.

If you want to get a full-on tourer for $800, keep checking Ebay and Craigslist. You won't save substantial amounts of money, but you might get it down to $800. My personal feeling is that I wouldn't recommend older, vintage equipment unless you're really into vintage and you know a lot about working on bikes. I don't think the potential savings is worth the extra hassle. I wouldn't buy anything older than maybe 5-6 years.

When you're out in the middle of nowhere on a tour you want reliable, quality stuff. It's worth spending some money. However, quality touring gear lasts a long time, so once you've got your stuff you'll be able to use it for many years without having to replace things. (Of course, if you get the bug you'll probably find yourself upgrading whether you really need to or not.)

You can ride the RAGBRAI on just about anything, and you can tour with most bikes too.
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Old 01-28-12, 12:18 PM
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Congrats on your goals and success so far! My experience has shown that it is very difficult to get the perfect bicycle on the first try. I'm a big fan of buying used, at least until you zero in on what you like and don't like. You don't mention how big you are so this may not fit, but here's a great example of a good all purpose bike for sale in Minnesota right now. https://minneapolis.craigslist.org/da...774984409.html

It would make a great Ragbrai bike and it should hold it's value very well should you decide to sell it later on. As far as websites, dig around on Crazyguyonabike.com.
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Old 01-28-12, 12:27 PM
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What about the Windsor Tourist, Barrettscv. I see you have one. I have both Windsor Tourist and Surly LHT and I like them both. Rims and hubs were replaced on the Windsor prior to use. Overall they are both good quality bikes. What is your take on the Windsor tourist for Stinkyjeff? The price is well within the range even if he feels wheels need to be upgraded.
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Old 01-28-12, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by nosloedone
What about the Windsor Tourist, Barrettscv. I see you have one. I have both Windsor Tourist and Surly LHT and I like them both. Rims and hubs were replaced on the Windsor prior to use. Overall they are both good quality bikes. What is your take on the Windsor tourist for Stinkyjeff? The price is well within the range even if he feels wheels need to be upgraded.
The Nashbar touring bike has the same made-by-Fuji-in-China frame as the Windsor Tourist. Considering that the the OP is planning to complete a supported touring event, I'm recommending the 3x10 speed Nashbar with 5703 Shimano 105 over the 3x9 speed Windsor with Shimano Tiagra.

However, either bike would be very good for the RAGBRA, commuting and touring.
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Old 01-31-12, 12:37 PM
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I agree that there are important differences between a touring and sport touring frame. As I read your needs - just getting into longer distance cycling, wanting a bike for supported touring, I'd try to find a vintage sport tourer on craigslist. With a sport touring frame you could do your supported rides, do club rides and century's, even do light (credit card touring). There are lots more vintage sport touring bikes, at better prices, out there than touring bikes. Id look for mid wheelbase models from Trek, Univega, Fuji, Centurian, Nishiki, etc. I like the Treks (cause they come in my size): 600/610/620/630, 500510, 400/410, 300/310 etc. I also like steel - cause it's steel (in my mind, more durable, classic, easily repaired, smoother ride - not everyone would agree). good luck.
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Old 01-31-12, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by StinkyJeff
Hello, I want to get into road biking and have been riding my hybrid bike these past months. I've lost 50 pounds and am working to lose 25 more (which will get me to my high school weight). I want to ride across Iowa (they have a huge ride each year called RAIGBRAII) and want to get a road bike that can do that. I'm looking for a good road/touring bike but have no idea of where to start or how much to spend or what it should be made out of. I don't need to spend a fortune.......wanting to keep the price under $800 or so.

So.......steel? Carbon? Aluminum?
What brand do you like?
Can I go older? I really like the Schwinns and Trek's from the mid-80's.....would something like that work for this sort of trip? We also have Surly bikes in my town...made here. Are they a good choice for touring?

I live in Minnesota now, and I know they have a big week long ride like the one in Iowa. My touring will most likely be with large organized rides like that. I don't think I will trek out on my own. But, I may......in the future, so maybe a bike that can haul gear (rather than the rides that simply transport your gear for you).

I need advice. And....is there a good book or website to talk about how to train up for longer touring? Thanks so much.
For a supported ride and a budget of $800, your best bet would be an aluminum road bike. Something similar to a Trek 1.1 would work quite well. A Jamis Ventura is in the same price range. A touring bike or cross bike would be overkill and weighty for your purposes.

Don't go all nostalgic about an old bike since they come with their own demons which are mostly related to the cost of replacement parts.
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Old 01-31-12, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Don't go all nostalgic about an old bike since they come with their own demons which are mostly related to the cost of replacement parts.
agreed, if stinky is willing to spend $800 and isn't operating from much knowledge of bikes he'd be much better off getting something new with a warranty.
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Old 01-31-12, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by StinkyJeff
I need advice. And....is there a good book or website to talk about how to train up for longer touring? Thanks so much.

You've already trained enough. Try to make a realistic assessment of your intended use. 80% unloaded, 80% light to heavily loaded, etc. If you're 325lbs and getting down to 250lbs that could be a different bike than if you're 225lbs getting down to 150lbs and thinking of carrying heavy loads.
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Old 01-31-12, 03:43 PM
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Not so sure if I agree with the new/warranty is better/less trouble than vintage argument. If you're going to ride a bike any distance from home - you need to know some basic repair skills. If you're going to own a bike - new or old - your'e going to have to learn some basic maintenance skills. If you're at all handy with tools - that's not hard to do.
You can take someone more knowledgeable than you are to help you shop - for a new or used bike.
Say you can find a descent bike for under $400 (not hard to do, here's an '83 Schwinn LeTour for $345: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/2826249082.html), that's a lot of money left over to get it set up for your needs.
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Old 01-31-12, 04:06 PM
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Cyclocross bikes might be a way to go too. Often they're amenable to being set up as light tourers for supported tours and short unsupported ones and might feel a bit more nimble than a full on tourer.
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Old 01-31-12, 04:12 PM
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The actual bike is not as important as the fit. Fit is First. You want a frame that fits you well. All else is components hung here and there and are replaceable. Get as close as possible to the right frame size for you. Pay particular attention to top tube length as that is the basis for how stretched out you'll be. As you gain experience on the bike, make those micro adjustments needed to dial it in just right.

I always encourage ppl to at least check out aerobars. Can make a big difference in comfort, speed, and hill pedaling power.

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Old 02-01-12, 04:26 PM
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Thank you all for the great advice. I swung by my LBS and the guy told me that a Specialized Tricross bike would work out really well. They had an overstock 2011 for around $1300, which is beyond my budget, but might be something I could stretch for if it was worth it. I sort of feel like it is a kind of do-it-all bike....was light, had the holes for adding racks, and was aluminum with carbon fork. I'm willing to stretch my budget to get a bike that I can grow with. That looks to be that type of bike. I don't know if supported touring like Ragbrai is really what I want to do....I think it is, but biking with thousands of other people has it's draw backs too. I tend to be more of a guy who runs from crowds. I have a feeling that I would really enjoy the more relaxed credit card type trips with hotel stays, but also the option to do camping too (I have all of the really small light stuff from backpacking days, so I'm set there).

I may save my pennies for the Tricross type bike. It seems like it would do a club-type ride pretty well, as well as a Ragbrai-type ride, as well as solo touring. I don't forsee that I will go out alone for more than a week (at least that is what I'm thinking now) so I think something like that would do the trick.
Yeah, it is more than my budget, but I also like that it comes from my LBS and something that I can build a relationship with them.
Does that sound like I'm on the right track in my thinking?
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Old 02-01-12, 08:32 PM
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Im like you in that I dont really go for those big event rides - to each their own. I've always liked Specialized and think the Tricross may be a good match for you. Much of a load may require new wheels- and make sure you get the triple - and as Cyclebum noted - make sure the fit's right. Good luck.
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Old 02-01-12, 08:47 PM
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I just got a Windsor tourist touring bike from bikes direct for $600... Very good option for lower budgets.. Just do a search on this site
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Old 02-01-12, 08:47 PM
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Not trying to talk you out of getting a new road bike, but you don't need a roadbike to do RAGBRAI. You'll be surprised at all the mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, homemade bikes, 3 person or more tandums, hand pedaled-bikes etc that do RAGBRAI each year. The key to long distance touring is comfort, comfort and more comfort. Why not just your current bike if it is comfortable to ride? The pace of RAGBRAI is fairly slow, so much that hard core roadies will do extra distance each day to challenge themselves.

Best wishes regardless and I hope it works out great...
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Old 02-02-12, 10:14 AM
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gpsblake......you know, that may be the best advice so far. What I ride right now is a 1990 Mt Shasta Capella hybrid bike that has a blackburn rack on back. The bike is in good condition and was my first "good" bike (and still remains that only bike that I've purchased in the past 20 years). I'm kind of a one-bike at a time guy.

It is a little heavy bikewise, but a solid bike. It has all new rubber tires and has been torn down and throughly cleaned, greased, and reassembled by my LBS. Probably what is the most wise thing to do is to continue to ride the snot out of that bike, but also see about taking it on a week long bike tour (maybe buy some panniers and handlebar bag which could always be moved to another bike down the road...right?)

Sometimes the lure of "wanting" something more/different just clouds what we already have.
Nothing says I can't do some recreational touring on an older, lower end hybrid bike for the time being. At least until I decide if I even will want to dive into bike touring more down the road.
Thank everyone.......I'll stay put for a while (plus, I really don't have $1,300 for a new bike at the moment anyways). There is a guy in my town selling a beautiful 1978 Schwinn Super Le Tour 12.2 that has me salivating a bit, but maybe not enough to pull the trigger at the moment.
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Old 02-02-12, 01:29 PM
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TriCross is a very nice bike but there's no reason to spend $1300 if your budget is $800 and a base 2013 Tricross is $990 https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...name=Multi+Use

How about this, instead of letting your budget get ratcheted up according to what's available at the shop go in the opposite direction and get something way under budget like the Schwinn or something real cheap from BikesDirect. Also stick to Cyclebums advice about fit. If your present bike has the handlebars 3" above seat height and you're looking at road/cyclocross bikes with bars at or below seat height you're making a BIG change in posture that could probably be done with less expense with your present bike.
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Old 02-02-12, 02:09 PM
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have you visited any of the near by Bike shops ?
what brand names are they carrying.. ?

other than the 'You are on your own' BD stuff, it will help
on what you can go test ride..


QBP ships to any dealer that has an account with them.
so that covers Surly Salsa Civia, and Ridley, ..
even if they don't stock anything but small parts..

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Old 02-02-12, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by StinkyJeff
gpsblake......you know, that may be the best advice so far. What I ride right now is a 1990 Mt Shasta Capella hybrid bike that has a blackburn rack on back. The bike is in good condition and was my first "good" bike (and still remains that only bike that I've purchased in the past 20 years). I'm kind of a one-bike at a time guy.

It is a little heavy bikewise, but a solid bike. It has all new rubber tires and has been torn down and throughly cleaned, greased, and reassembled by my LBS. Probably what is the most wise thing to do is to continue to ride the snot out of that bike, but also see about taking it on a week long bike tour (maybe buy some panniers and handlebar bag which could always be moved to another bike down the road...right?)

Sometimes the lure of "wanting" something more/different just clouds what we already have.
Nothing says I can't do some recreational touring on an older, lower end hybrid bike for the time being. At least until I decide if I even will want to dive into bike touring more down the road.
Thank everyone.......I'll stay put for a while (plus, I really don't have $1,300 for a new bike at the moment anyways). There is a guy in my town selling a beautiful 1978 Schwinn Super Le Tour 12.2 that has me salivating a bit, but maybe not enough to pull the trigger at the moment.
Hey Jeff,

I did a Google search and couldn't find out much about your current bike. Do you know the specs on it? Using the bike you have is a great idea. Knowing more about your current bike would enable people to know if you'd notice much of a difference by buying something else or adding upgrades. If your bike has flat bars, you might look into adding bar ends, trekking bars, or drop bars. Wheels, seat and components are other possible areas for upgrades.

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Old 02-02-12, 05:07 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Oregon
Posts: 96

Bikes: Trek 700, 630, 520, Peugeot PRN10E, Rivendell Redwood, Raleigh Super Course 12, Motobecane Grand Tour, Schwinn Voyageur

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At risk of coming across as a bike snob - if your Mt Shasta is a 'department store" bike - you'll be amazed by the improvement a "bike shop" bike delivers - be it used, vintage, bike shop new, or mail order new. Especially for riding across Iowa. Sure it can be done - on whatever - but I'd want my equipment to support my goal of making it fun.
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