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Giant Defy 5- sport bike conversion

Old 06-03-12, 12:47 AM
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Giant Defy 5- sport bike conversion

Dear Friends,

I just bought my Giant Defy 5. It is a compact frame design and is a dream to ride. I am wanting to use it for fitness but in addition and more importantly, I would like to use it for touring.

The questions I have are-

If I have caliper brakes and 25c's on my bike, can I get larger volume tires to allow me some off pavement and increased load capacity?

Will the compact frame be acceptable geometry for touring?

I am comfortable on it an would like to load some front and rear racks. What set up would you suggest? I am assuming low riders in the front... but would a trailer be better?

What other tips do you have for an aspiring, road bike owner who wants to some serious touring?

Blessings,

D
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Old 06-03-12, 02:51 AM
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Originally Posted by dalhopgood
If I have caliper brakes and 25c's on my bike, can I get larger volume tires to allow me some off pavement and increased load capacity?
Probably not. If you're lucky, you might be able to squeeze a 700x28 past the brake pads. For me, a 28 isn't large enough to be acceptable for off-pavement use; I'd want 700x32 at a minimum and preferably 700x35 or larger.

Will the compact frame be acceptable geometry for touring?
It depends on what you're willing to put up with. I mounted a Carradice Nelson Longflap saddle bag and a handlebar bag to my Cervelo RS, which has geometry similar to your Defy. I hated the way the bike handled; it was way too nervous for an extended trip!

I am comfortable on it an would like to load some front and rear racks. What set up would you suggest? I am assuming low riders in the front... but would a trailer be better?
I doubt your Defy has the mounting points necessary for low-rider racks in the front. I tend to think that a trailer is the best way to haul gear with a regular road bike, but trailers entail their own set of compromises.

What other tips do you have for an aspiring, road bike owner who wants to some serious touring?
If you want to do some serious touring, you should probably buy a dedicated touring bike...
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Old 06-03-12, 03:58 AM
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The Defy 5 can take a rear rack but not a front none.
Compact style frames have the seatstay eyelets mounted low. The rack stays have to be longer and angled down, reducing triangulation and stiffness.
The chainstays are a bit short but OK if you pay attention.
This means a rear rack that fits the bike well, with very stiff stays that dont interfere with the brakes. You will need small-med panniers with a good heel-cutout profile to allow forward mounting without clipping your heel. It is very easy to hang loads too far to the rear, past the rear axle. This makes the bike very tippy and hard to handle.

Med panniers and a front bar bag will be sufficient space for lightweight camping. People take this kind of bike on serious expeditions across Asia. Not normal people I grant you.
25mm tyres will be fine for lightweight touring; 28mm is better but at that size there is big variation in actual width so select with care. If you have to ride on trails, just go a bit slower and pick your way carefully. Some trails are well groomed and are no problem. A typical forest fire road will be bumpy and rocky in places but passable.
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Old 06-03-12, 07:12 AM
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IMO the bike will be OK for light-weight touring with 28mm tires and sticking to paved roads. I'd keep the overall weight of rider, gear, & supplies under 200 pounds OR LESS. Avoid the front rack.

In actuality it sounds like a touring or cross bike would better suit your needs. Wider brakes & tires, lower gearing, and tougher wheels for off-road.
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Old 06-03-12, 08:07 AM
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A lot depends on how you want to tour. The bike is probably great for really light touring. That can still allow camping and cooking and longer tours. When it comes right down to it you can tour with surprisingly little gear. I find that I am pretty comfortable for a multi-month tour with <15 pounds of stuff.

On the other hand, if you want to take a lot of stuff, a trailer may be the way to go. Where is the break point? Not sure, but I would guess it is in the 25-30 pounds of gear and bags range.

As far as going off pavement, I think there is a good chance that 28mm gatorskins might fit. If you stick to good dirt roads you may be OK with them.
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Old 06-03-12, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by dalhopgood
Dear Friends,

I just bought my Giant Defy 5. It is a compact frame design and is a dream to ride. I am wanting to use it for fitness but in addition and more importantly, I would like to use it for touring.

The questions I have are-

If I have caliper brakes and 25c's on my bike, can I get larger volume tires to allow me some off pavement and increased load capacity?

Will the compact frame be acceptable geometry for touring?

I am comfortable on it an would like to load some front and rear racks. What set up would you suggest? I am assuming low riders in the front... but would a trailer be better?

What other tips do you have for an aspiring, road bike owner who wants to some serious touring?

Blessings,

D
Giant Defy bikes are basically designed as a light touring bike with a higher headtube and a longer wheelbase than normal road bikes. Having said that, it is not designed to do well with loads more than 30lbs as the frame is not stiff enough to counteract frame twisting from the side to side movement of the panniers like a traditional toruing bike. Your best bet is to go with a 2 wheel trailer like the Burley Nomad or the controversial Burley Travoy and then you don't have to worry about panniers and racks and frame twisting. In regards to 25c tires; they are fine for touring on the road or gravel trails as long as you are towing a trailer.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-03-12, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by BigAura
I'd keep the overall weight of rider, gear, & supplies under 200 pounds OR LESS.
I would be a good bit less conservative about the total weight. At 210 pounds of me and 14 or 15 pounds of gear. I wouldn't hesitate to ride that bike on tour.

Originally Posted by BigAura
Avoid the front rack.
Or maybe use only front panniers and the tent on the rear rack. I did that with a moderately light load (22 pounds of gear and bags) and found it worked OK.


Originally Posted by BigAura
In actuality it sounds like a touring or cross bike would better suit your needs. Wider brakes & tires, lower gearing, and tougher wheels for off-road.
I agree if the OP really wants to do much off road or very bad dirt road touring.
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Old 06-04-12, 12:23 AM
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What is considered light touring? If I put on Continental TourRide tires in 28c will that help beef up my weight capacity. And is thirty pounds of gear the regular for long distance touring?

D
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Old 06-04-12, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by dalhopgood
What is considered light touring? If I put on Continental TourRide tires in 28c will that help beef up my weight capacity. And is thirty pounds of gear the regular for long distance touring?

D
Answers to what is normal are always all over the chart. I would think 30 pounds is an easily attainable load goal, but I think it is probably well below average compared to what I have most often seen on the road.
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Old 06-04-12, 11:36 AM
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I just dont want to have a blowout.

Last edited by dalhopgood; 06-04-12 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 06-04-12, 12:15 PM
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How would I find out my bikes weight capacity?
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Old 06-04-12, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by dalhopgood
How would I find out my bikes weight capacity?
Typically, you would ask the bike store how heavy a rider could the bike support. If the bike supports up to 250lbs, that means if you weight less than 250lbs, then you'll be fine if you weight 200lbs and carry 30lbs of gear = 230lbs total weight. Light weight bikes obviously will have lesser weight restrictions than a full touring bike. 30lbs is probably the max you'll want to carry as most race and light touring bikes do not have the necessary material density to resist side torsional loads (side panniers wiggling due to pedal movements which most riders do anyhow). If you want to resist those fish tailing effect, you need to stiffen those top and down tubes, but that means adding materials which equals to more weight.
Most people use light weight bikes because they know they are carrying less stuff and don't need the stiffness of a heavy touring bike. Typically application of light weight bikes would be sag wagon trips or hotel/motel overnight trips, though very experienced tourist like myself can do a full camping trip with only 20lbs load (that's with food and water). You may not be comfortable with that!
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Old 06-05-12, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by pacificcyclist
Typically, you would ask the bike store how heavy a rider could the bike support. If the bike supports up to 250lbs, that means if you weight less than 250lbs, then you'll be fine if you weight 200lbs and carry 30lbs of gear = 230lbs total weight. Light weight bikes obviously will have lesser weight restrictions than a full touring bike. 30lbs is probably the max you'll want to carry as most race and light touring bikes do not have the necessary material density to resist side torsional loads (side panniers wiggling due to pedal movements which most riders do anyhow). If you want to resist those fish tailing effect, you need to stiffen those top and down tubes, but that means adding materials which equals to more weight.
Most people use light weight bikes because they know they are carrying less stuff and don't need the stiffness of a heavy touring bike. Typically application of light weight bikes would be sag wagon trips or hotel/motel overnight trips, though very experienced tourist like myself can do a full camping trip with only 20lbs load (that's with food and water). You may not be comfortable with that!
I agree with most of that. I do not quite subscribe to the "very experienced tourist" part. I do not think that packing light requires that someone is a very experienced tourist. I carried under 15 pounds of gear and bags on my last tour (San Diego to Sarasota). That is roughly equivalent to your 20 pounds if you count water and the small amount of food carried. I didn't need to do anything especially skillful. Anyone given the same load and briefly shown how the gear works should be able to manage it.

BTW, for those who haven't tried it I will say that it is actually quite a comfortable to travel. I never quite got how more stuff or more space equates to comfort for many folks. For me having the stuff I need to sleep well, ride comfortably, and eat well is all that is really necessary. When it comes right down to it that is a pretty minimal amount of stuff. I do like to document the trip so I take a fairly heavy camera and sometimes a tiny tripod. I will grant that it is not for everyone, but it requires no great level of skill beyond a desire and willingness to take only what is required for comfort and not much more.
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Old 06-05-12, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I agree with most of that. I do not quite subscribe to the "very experienced tourist" part. I do not think that packing light requires that someone is a very experienced tourist. I carried under 15 pounds of gear and bags on my last tour (San Diego to Sarasota). That is roughly equivalent to your 20 pounds if you count water and the small amount of food carried. I didn't need to do anything especially skillful. Anyone given the same load and briefly shown how the gear works should be able to manage it.

BTW, for those who haven't tried it I will say that it is actually quite a comfortable to travel. I never quite got how more stuff or more space equates to comfort for many folks. For me having the stuff I need to sleep well, ride comfortably, and eat well is all that is really necessary. When it comes right down to it that is a pretty minimal amount of stuff. I do like to document the trip so I take a fairly heavy camera and sometimes a tiny tripod. I will grant that it is not for everyone, but it requires no great level of skill beyond a desire and willingness to take only what is required for comfort and not much more.
Experience hmm. If you are being told not to touch a hot kettle because you can get burned and so, you dare not touch it for 20 years as opposed to someone who didn't listen, touched it and got burned. The person may not be wise, but at least the person can claim the experience as opposed to someone who got the experience by word of mouth. However, it's probably not a good idea to stand in a middle of a highway just to find out if you're going to survive being hit from a moving truck. Life's a trade off with acceptable risks, but what we make of it and the experiences we gain by trying make us somewhat wiser.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 06-05-12 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 06-06-12, 02:25 AM
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You know, I am about 5'9.5" and I am riding a M/L because my torso is so long. I compared the geometry of the Surly LHT and my bike and they are actually very similar however my bike is a stiffer aluminum. Anyhow, for my first trip, I am not going to go all too far and will instead be a bit conservative on my loading. Will avoid over-packing.

Its really frustrating because I bought this bike and then started getting excited about touring... naturally I now will probably need to buy a dedicated rando bike.

How do cyclocross bikes fare and how about the Marin Muirwoods 29er with some mods?
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Old 06-06-12, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by dalhopgood
Its really frustrating because I bought this bike and then started getting excited about touring... naturally I now will probably need to buy a dedicated rando bike.
It doesn't look like a bad bike to tour on as long as you keep the load light. I'd be happy to ride a bike like that even on multi month road tours in the US or Europe. My advice is to try some minimal packing tours. By minimal packing I mean taking cooking and camping gear, but only what you need.

I know that my "touring bike" stayed home for my last long tour and will stay home for my upcoming one. I am riding something that is in many ways quite similar to your bike. It would be a shame to buy a loaded touring bike and then decide that you really want to do more lightly loaded touring on a sportier bike. Why not give it a try?

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight

BTW a lot of folks use a similar bike with a trailer and carry pretty heavy loads. That isn't my preferred method, but is something to consider.
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Old 06-07-12, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by dalhopgood
You know, I am about 5'9.5" and I am riding a M/L because my torso is so long. I compared the geometry of the Surly LHT and my bike and they are actually very similar however my bike is a stiffer aluminum. Anyhow, for my first trip, I am not going to go all too far and will instead be a bit conservative on my loading. Will avoid over-packing.

Its really frustrating because I bought this bike and then started getting excited about touring... naturally I now will probably need to buy a dedicated rando bike.

How do cyclocross bikes fare and how about the Marin Muirwoods 29er with some mods?
There is no such thing as a perfect touring bike. It really doesn't exist, so please don't get too frustrated. Now, we can discuss certain functions of each bike design to illustrate their strengths. Take a cyclocross for instance, because purely on design stand point a crossbike is an off-road race bike with a higher BB and twitchy fast handling which in paper makes it unsuited for touring. But people had taken cross bikes on tours just the same that you can eat a bowl of noddle soup with a fork and spoon,whereas asians use chopsticks which is of course more ideal and traditional.

But traditional touring bikes like the Fuji tour, Windsor Tourist, Raleigh Sojourn, Trek 520 and the Surly LHT are dedicated machines designed to perform a dedicated and delicate job. It can be an all rounder, but definitely not as responsive or racy as a sport touring or cyclocross bike. I would just tell you to use your bike. Nothing wrong with stiff aluminum -- tour with fatter tires like 700x32 or 35 and that give you natural cushioning if your bike allows it. Of course, if you want to use fat tires, then the clearance and length of chainstays have a lot to do with how fat a tire it can take. Event, rando and sports touring bikes may not be able to take something like 700x32c or 38c without taking away the fenders. Sometimes even 700x35 is a question due to the use of questionable length caliper brakes (perhaps short). There are always compromises in any choice you make. When you tour enough on your bike, you'll find what tours you like and then you can sell your current bike to buy the one that's more appropriate. I currently have 2 distinct tour specific bikes (one for loaded touring and one for light road) and I'm looking to replace my lost off-road tourer rig with a cyclocross. This is fine to own a few bikes. No professional golfer golf with just 1 club! But people always want to find a perfect 1 bike in their life and be done with it. You may find it, or may not.

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Old 06-07-12, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificcyclist
Nothing wrong with stiff aluminum -- tour with fatter tires like 700x32 or 35 and that give you natural cushioning if your bike allows it.
Will his bike take them?
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Old 06-07-12, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Will his bike take them?
Not a chance. You'd be lucky to squeeze a 700x28 past the brake pads of his standard-reach caliper brakes.
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Old 06-08-12, 12:11 AM
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Yep, Can only do 28s.
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