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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 12-17-04, 11:49 AM   #1
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New to Touring.

Hi all,

Quick question: can someone tell the me the basic differences between a standard touring bike and a road bike? (specifically an old 10 speed) Could I modify my road bike to be a suitable touring bike? Thanks.....

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Old 12-17-04, 12:47 PM   #2
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Standard Tourer- Usually 700c wheelset (with perhaps a greater spoke count too), wider tires, canti-brakes, clearance for mudguards, longer chainstays, braze on's for a 3rd bottle cage/racks as well as a more relaxed geometry on the headtube and seat tube. Other things can include- a triple crankset with fewer teeth and barcons as standard equipment.

Road Cycle- 700c wheelset, narrow tires, sidepull brakes, no clearance for mudguards, shorter chainstays, braze on's for a couple cages, no racks and very 'tight' geometry... upright seat tube and headtube angles for agility and responsiveness. Double crankset with a greater amount of teeth.

That would sum up a few of the basic differences.
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Old 12-17-04, 02:14 PM   #3
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You can tour with almost anything. The bike type tends to get more specific depending on the load you will carry with you and/or the type of terrain that you intend to ride on.

As an example if you were simply going to ride with a group from one place to another and all of your clothing and gear was going to be carried by a SAG wagon then virtually any reliable feeling bicycle will work fine.

The load gets a bit higher for light touring where you carry bike repair tools and minimal clothing, snacks etc on the bike with the intention of sleeping in motels along the way. Again a road bike would be fine in most cases.

When you get to carrying everything that you need with you then you need a bicycle that can handle your body weight + the weight of the gear + the bike's weight. Some bikes can't handle that kind of load without becoming very squirmy/difficult/flexy to ride. Everyone has a different tolerance level for what's acceptable.

Terrain plays a role too. While I can ride a fully loaded/self-contained touring bike on technical singletrack the bike is not as comfortable to ride on that terrain as is a mountain bike with different handlebars, wider tires etc.

Your original question was about touring with an old ten speed and I haven't forgotten it. The answer is yes you can tour on it depending on the type of tour and your comfort level.

In terms of differences there were a lot of different types of bikes called ten-speeds back then. It's not really a meaningful description. Some 10 speeds were even sport and full-on touring bikes.

What you need to look at are things like the following if you plan to try a fully loaded/self-contained tour:

1) Are there braze-ons to allow you to easily mount rear racks? Some racks have alternatives for bikes without braze-ons but it usually limits the maximum weight that you can carry.

2) Is there enough space between the tire and the frame so that you can mount fenders on the bike? Are there eyelets near the front and rear forks to allow fenders to be mounted?

3) How well does the bike handle when you add weight to it?

4) If you mount a rear rack on the back and place a saddlebag/pannier on it do the heels of your shoes constantly rub on the bags?

I hope that helps.

~Jamie N
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Old 12-17-04, 10:35 PM   #4
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Bikes designed for heavy touring tend to be rather expensive. No bargains to be found. However, I have noticed that some "entry level" mountain bikes have the longer chainstay length, wheelbase, and headtube angle needed for a "loaded" touring bike. If someone was going to "modify" a non-touring bike for touring, a less expensive mountain bike might be the way to go.

I have seen Trek mountain bikes from the 1990's (top grade steel frames and steel forks) selling on E-Bay for around $100 or so. With light weight "slick" tires, such bikes could be modified into useful touring bikes.
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Old 12-18-04, 05:37 AM   #5
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There are "touring bikes" and there are bikes that you can use for touring. The specs for the latter include:
Clearance for tyres that are wide enough.
Gears that are low enough.
Ability to carry enough luggage on the bike (usually by a luggage rack).

I have done some touring on an old 5 speed sport bike in fairly flat country and its possible to upgrade a 10 speed for touring.

A good way to breakdown touring styes might be:
-weekend ultralight road tours
-1-3 week hostel tours
-1-3 week camping tours
-expedition touring.
You could probably modify your bike for the first 2 with no problems.
What is the widest tyre size you can fit?
Can your chainset accept smaller rings?
Do you have braze-ons for rack and fenders?
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Old 12-18-04, 01:45 PM   #6
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Trek models to look for are the 520, 620 and 720, as those were purpose built tourers. They had 45cm chainstays and the extra bosses along with cantilever brakes.
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