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Affordable touring framesets?

Old 03-09-12, 05:34 PM
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Spld cyclist
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Affordable touring framesets?

Unfortunately, I had a mishap with my beloved Bianchi Volpe, which left it with a messed-up fork and a small dent in the down tube. It's currently at a LBS, which is checking into appropriate replacement forks. They're kind of lukewarm on the dent in the downtube. It may be fine or maybe not. My first instinct is to replace the fork and ride it, if I become convinced that the down tube isn't a danger. If that doesn't prove to be possible, I will have to look at buying another frameset and transfer over whatever components I can. In this thread, I'm really trying to find out about my options if that doesn't work out.

I've been doing a little searching and I'm not coming up with very many affordable true touring framesets (I'm defining that as less than $500). So far I've got the Surly LHT, Soma Saga, and Nashbar aluminum touring frame. The Nashbar would have to be paired with a different fork, because the steel fork the matches the frame is backordered until June (or I could wait until June before doing this).

I would also consider a frame that isn't necessarily marketed as a touring frame, but that works well for touring. However, I did just buy a steel cross bike (Motobecane Fantom CXX) and don't really want to duplicate that. Therefore, I leaning toward a true touring frame, but I'm open to suggestions.

The Volpe has 700C wheels, cantilever brakes, and drop bars that I will want to transfer. I envision using this mainly on the road.
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Old 03-09-12, 06:08 PM
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Since you have a Motobecane Fantom CXX, you might as well go for a touring frame. I would pair the Nashbar touring frame with a Surly Long Haul Trucker fork for mostly paved-road touring.

The Double drivetrain on the Motobecane Fantom CXX and the triple drivetrain from the Volpe along with the ability to carry heavier loads on the Nashbar Touring frame will make for a complementary set of bikes.
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Old 03-09-12, 06:16 PM
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This seems like what you're looking for!

https://www.bgcycles.com/blt.html

The Basic Loaded Touring (BLT) from Bruce Gordon Cycles
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Old 03-09-12, 06:44 PM
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I'd recommend the LHT because I owned one and really liked it.

Marc
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Old 03-09-12, 06:48 PM
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OP - you could probably fit a Surly CC or LHT fork to your Volpe, and you'd have a "touring" bike for <$100.

A small dent in a main triangle tube doesn't usually dictate retirement of the frame. The dent can be filled with automotive body filler, sanded and painted. All the materials can be found at your local Walmart.

Unless I've overlooked something, your list of touring framesets for <$500 is already complete. Salsa has a couple offerings for $600. BikesDirect has a couple complete bikes for $600-800. Also, there are usually some Novara bikes for sale on Craigslist - unfortunately many sellers are unwilling to deal with the hassle of shipping.

https://www.allofcraigs.com/

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/road_bikes.htm

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Old 03-09-12, 07:14 PM
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The choices in forks with 1" steerers (which the Volpe has) are pretty limited. If you add in the requirement to take reasonably large tires and provide canti pivots, I haven't found many at all. Surly does make the Cross Check fork with a 1" steerer, but not the LHT. The Cross Check has a little less rake than the Volpe fork, 44 mm vs 50 mm. That would increase my toe overlap a little bit, but it might be acceptable. I don't know if that makes a difference in handling, but that's another factor to consider. I took the bike to the bike shop before I measured the length of the fork, so I'm not sure if the Surly fork is the same length. Dimension makes a "hybrid" fork with canti pivots, 50 mm rake, fender eyelets, and a 1" steerer, but again I don't know if the length is right. The LBS may come up with other choices.

As far as the dent goes, it's probably ok. I want to do some more research on where and how big a dent has to be before it weakens the frame too much. If I become convinced that the frame is ok, I won't care all that much about the aesthetics. I would definitely touch up the paint so that it doesn't rust, but probably won't bother to fill the dent with Bondo. I don't mind the bike having some "battle scars."

All in all, if the choices are: (1) accept a fork that isn't quite the right size/geometry and accept having a dent in the frame that may or may not weaken it, vs. (2) start over with a new frame, I may go with the new frame. If I find a fork that's a really good match, I may go with the first choice. I'm just trying to understand my options at this point.
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Old 03-09-12, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rjmn View Post
This seems like what you're looking for!

https://www.bgcycles.com/blt.html

The Basic Loaded Touring (BLT) from Bruce Gordon Cycles
This is another good option. Unfortunately, they haven't provided much in the way of build requirements (unless I'm missing something).
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Old 03-09-12, 07:27 PM
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Have the frame checked for proper alignment, also just how small is the dent? If it is relatively small, and the frame alignment is good, I would replace the fork and roll on.

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Old 03-09-12, 07:47 PM
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The Bruce Gordon BLT is a great bike, but it's been discontinued and he's only got three sizes available now. If one of those fits you, I'm incredibly jealous!
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Old 03-09-12, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by rjmn View Post
This seems like what you're looking for!

https://www.bgcycles.com/blt.html

The Basic Loaded Touring (BLT) from Bruce Gordon Cycles
I'd jump at this in a heartbeat if your size.

Brad
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Old 03-09-12, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
The Nashbar would have to be paired with a different fork, because the steel fork the matches the frame is backordered until June (or I could wait until June before doing this).
I wouldn't count on the Nashbar fork being made of steel. Mine was made of aluminum! I'm currently using the Nashbar touring frame with their Carbon Fiber cyclocross fork. It works well, but I don't use a front rack. The Nashbar Disc/V-Brake Compatible Road Fork might also work, though I'd want to know the rake and axle to crown race distance before buying. As others have mentioned, the LHT fork may also work.

If you buy the Nashbar frame, you could probably have a custom fork built and still spend less than any of the other options would cost...
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Old 03-09-12, 10:53 PM
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Why gamble on the unknown if you still love the Bianchi? You could fill the dent with ~45 silver brazing wire using a cheap MAPP torch or have a pro do it with brass.
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Old 03-10-12, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
Why gamble on the unknown if you still love the Bianchi? You could fill the dent with ~45 silver brazing wire using a cheap MAPP torch or have a pro do it with brass.
Play-doh would add just as much structural integrity and be a whole lot cheaper... If the dent doesn't compromise the structure, you might as well leave it alone. If it does compromise the structure, you either need to toss the frame or take it to a frame builder for repair. I own an AC/DC TIG welder and I've built a custom frame: this is one instance where I would not try a DIY repair...
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Old 03-10-12, 01:56 PM
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I bought my LHT frame here. Good prices and good service.

https://www.modernbike.com/search.asp...04831&SCPK=607
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Old 03-10-12, 04:23 PM
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Thanks for all the responses! If you're interested, I have posted some pictures of the dent in the mechanics forum: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...bout-this-dent
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Old 03-10-12, 07:15 PM
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That's a bad dent - in a bad location. I think I'd also be looking for a new frameset.

This is very similar to the Volpe:

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm
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Old 03-10-12, 09:53 PM
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Spld cyclist...Personally I wouldn't ride that dented frame with a touring load. It might be ok to ride unloaded but why chance it with a load?
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Old 03-10-12, 10:42 PM
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I've built a dozen or so frames, so am not exactly a pro, but do have some experience. IMO, filling that dent with silver will add quite a bit of strength and will also allow the frame to be powdercoated should the OP decide to go that route. Lower temperature fillers and Bondo won't add much if any strength and also require wet paint, at a significantly higher coast.

Beyond that, I have ridden frames with significantly worse damage than shown by the OP, and never had any problems. This includes a steel cyclocross frame that had been folded up at the HT/DT and TT/HT joints to the point that the front tire touched the bottom bracket shell. It was repaired by pulling it back out under extreme force, and I then "painted" the damaged areas with fingernail polish. I used it for three full cyclocross seasons before giving it away.

So I suspect the OP's frame could be repaired and used with complete confidence.
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Old 03-10-12, 10:42 PM
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I'm not feeling at all good about the dent. The more I look at it, the more I think that the downtube was starting to buckle as the headtube was trying to rotate back. It probably wouldn't take much to make it give way. I'm guessing that light-duty riding might be ok, but running under load is not something I want to do.

I keep going back and looking at the Soma Saga pictures. It's a really nice-looking bike.
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Old 03-11-12, 10:20 PM
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The saga is an awesome frameset. It is super stable with a load and without. The lht gets all the recognition on this forum. The saga deserves more props.
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Old 03-13-12, 07:13 AM
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Check with Bianchi USA to see if they have a crash replacement policy. Some bike manufacturers will sell you a replacement frame for reduced price if involved in a crash. It's worth a try.

That said, I would get a Soma Saga if you decide to get a new frame on a limited budget. For me, its geometry is much more favorable than the Surly LHT, but that is a personal fit issue. Surlys have longer top tubes and shorter head tubes than I prefer.
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Old 03-13-12, 06:40 PM
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Spld cyclist,
If you want to try out an LHT before you make your decision, pm me. I'm over in Longmeadow.
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Old 03-15-12, 11:44 AM
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What year is your Volpe? Mine is a 2006 and it has an 1 1/8" steerer tube. I hope you have better luck getting a OE replacement fork than I did. The Bianchi rep was in the LBS, and he could not even track one down.
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Old 03-15-12, 12:02 PM
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... haven't provided much in the way of build requirements (unless I'm missing something).
there is a circular back ground bruce with the current BLT went to Taiwan
to try and get a piece of the LHT price niche,
But LHT is following the long established design specs developed by people like Bruce
who developed the touring frame design decades before QBP was started..

so if you have novel build requirements, contact Bruce, the marketing of the Asian
frames just held its own in cost, sounds like the contract is not getting renewed,
the framesets that BG builds himself in Petaluma, continue.
And as the is the hands on builder he can add the details that you wish.
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Old 03-15-12, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
I'm not feeling at all good about the dent. The more I look at it, the more I think that the downtube was starting to buckle as the headtube was trying to rotate back. It probably wouldn't take much to make it give way. I'm guessing that light-duty riding might be ok, but running under load is not something I want to do.

I keep going back and looking at the Soma Saga pictures. It's a really nice-looking bike.
The Saga is a good choice, although the LHT is a bit cheaper if money is a concern. The Nashbar touring frame is even cheaper.

I'm glad to see that you reconsidering and that the advice given here in the touring forums is much more sensible than those given you in the Mechanics forum. You can see my comment there in more detail but the overall thrust is that your frame is broken. Don't ride it.
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