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Need new touring bike

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Old 12-11-12, 04:17 PM
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madsen
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Need new touring bike

Hey I did a 10 day tour last year of 550 miles. I weigh 240 lbs and carried about 70 to 80 lbs on the bike of extra weight. I had a great time and want to ride a 1000 miles this summer down the West coast. My problems with my current bike a Giant Excursion 1991 model were that the hubs broke down and the real issue was a fairly constant wiggle. When I loader the panniers with 55 to 60 pounds and road the bike it was solid as a rock but when i put the extra 25 lbs on no amount of rearranging the weight would get rid of the wiggle completely. What I added was tent sleeping bag and pad in a dry bag and a kit with my CPAP machine which weighed about 23 lbs with the machine, inverter, battery, and cord.
So my question is what kind of bike can I buy/build/re purpose that will put up with my weight and the weight I carry and not wiggle ?

I have a budget of 1500 but if i could do it for less i would. I have seen a few " heavy duty touring bikes " in that price range but not my size. like a Koga miyata world touring bike or a co-motion americano.
But I am reading here about people making heavy duty touring bike out of old 80s mountain bikes like a schwinn sierra.

What do people here think about what my choices are.
JOHN
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Old 12-11-12, 04:36 PM
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pacificcyclist
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Originally Posted by madsen View Post
Hey I did a 10 day tour last year of 550 miles. I weigh 240 lbs and carried about 70 to 80 lbs on the bike of extra weight. I had a great time and want to ride a 1000 miles this summer down the West coast. My problems with my current bike a Giant Excursion 1991 model were that the hubs broke down and the real issue was a fairly constant wiggle. When I loader the panniers with 55 to 60 pounds and road the bike it was solid as a rock but when i put the extra 25 lbs on no amount of rearranging the weight would get rid of the wiggle completely. What I added was tent sleeping bag and pad in a dry bag and a kit with my CPAP machine which weighed about 23 lbs with the machine, inverter, battery, and cord.
So my question is what kind of bike can I buy/build/re purpose that will put up with my weight and the weight I carry and not wiggle ?

I have a budget of 1500 but if i could do it for less i would. I have seen a few " heavy duty touring bikes " in that price range but not my size. like a Koga miyata world touring bike or a co-motion americano.
But I am reading here about people making heavy duty touring bike out of old 80s mountain bikes like a schwinn sierra.

What do people here think about what my choices are.
JOHN
The cause of this wiggling comes from uneven pedal stroke which caused the side to side motion. The motion is intensified by the weight of the panniers -- the more weight the stronger the oscillation.

The only workaround is to reduce the weight or get used to the wiggling. Or tow a 2 wheel Burley Nomad trailer which then is not influenced by your uneven pedal strokes.

Or best yet, train yourself to have Tour De France style smooth pedal strokes which is doable, but obviously the trailer or a lighter load would solve problem wise.
If you are able to load 55-60lbs without the wiggling effect, then your bike frame is stiff enough to dampen the minor frame oscillation generated by the side to side pannier movement which will always exist. Buying a more expensive bike will not solve the problem.
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Old 12-11-12, 05:07 PM
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John, I like the answer from pacificcyclist.

For you: There are many experianced tourers here that can help with load placement and distribution to lessen the wiggle. Practice your spinning skills and have someone observe whether your hips are rocking while under torque (as if loaded). If they are you'll need to adjust your fitment.

For the bike: A touring wheelset is much cheaper than a new bike, even custom made. A short steering stem and/or narrow handlebars can contribute to the problem by amplifying your movements. You have a good bike worthy of some fine tuning.

Brad
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Old 12-11-12, 05:36 PM
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I have a Surly Long Haul Trucker and it will easily carry your 240lbs of weight along with a lot of touring gear. The Surly rack bought separately is rated for 80lbs. I have one since 09 and have had no problems with the bike. Probably a new one would be around $1350.00 for a 2012 model.
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Old 12-11-12, 06:15 PM
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Shimmy isn't a function of pedaling technique. It's a flexible frame resonating. Get a LHT and try to reduce your load by 15 lbs.
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Old 12-11-12, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
Shimmy isn't a function of pedaling technique.
Biggest bang for the touring buck Bruce Gordon BLT comes with Shimano SLX and Bruce Gordon Racks for $1750.
http://www.bgcycles.com/blt.html
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Old 12-11-12, 06:55 PM
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^^^
Yeah, it is possible that your bike was not proportionately loaded after you started adding the additional weight, meaning that maybe you were putting too much weight in the back of your bike vs the front. Also, it is possible that this bike frame wasn't designed for those kind of loads (315 lbs is a lot to ask.) All these things combined produced "shimmy". It's hard to tell! People have gone nuts trying to pinpoint the cause of shimmy on their bikes sometimes to no avail: by changing forks, trying different tires, adding more weight to the front of the bikes, etc.

At your budget, try both the Surly LHT or Surly Troll - both w/ 26"-wheels. They will resist torsional forces better for the kind of loads you run. Hopefully, the bike shop will let you load 'em up before buying. I believe the Troll might be a sturdier frame. If you want better wheels/components, you can buy the frameset and build it from there. As mentioned before, you need some good wheels (good rim + 36h hub + double/triple butted spokes.)

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Old 12-11-12, 07:02 PM
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I too felt a oscillation, of the load leveraging the top tube. my Frame Design solution was Custom,
with the help of The Cargo Bike Maker at Human Powered Machines,
twin side by side top tubes of .75" .049" wall 4130 tubing were also forming the rear triangle.

Having them work against each other that frame was solid as a rock uphills and descending.

Perhaps a Thinner wall tube would work, He had these Bent for his work bikes ,
only raised the slope to fit the 700c Wheel front Fork.

a oval-ized HorizontalTube say 30 by 60mm, up top, and using the same materials
oriented vertically, for the downtube .. seems another approach.

of course Going to Bruce Gordon, not for the Taiwan Sub contracted BLT,
but the frames He Himself makes, in California,
would get you a tube set selected for your size and weight,
maybe further Oversized from the 1.125 and 1.25 inch tubes
normally considered oversize,
to say 1.25: top and 1.5" down tube ,
would make the frame handle the load in the bags and on the saddle.


I jumped on a Used Buy of a Koga Miyata World Tour , Rohloff.

you will have to double your budget to get similar.
But the Signature Line process is menu based and so You can Pick and chose
from the various parts offered..
though in the US there Is only 1 dealer, in So Cal,
but a Fly and Ride to NL can be arrainged.

I think some shops just a short Bus ride from AMS Shiphol airport ,
makes a fly with your bags, and ride away from the shop , do able.

Getting the paperwork stamped at the departure gate,
should get the VAT refunded as an Export, mailing it back from Home..

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Old 12-12-12, 12:58 AM
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Since the bike seems to handle fine with less weight, I'd use the money to buy nice lightweight camping gear instead of a new bike. There have been plenty of recent threads about touring with lighter loads. 70-90lbs of gear is a lot, especially if you'll be doing fair weather traveling along the west coast. Maybe you could post what you carried on your last tour and some of us can offer suggestions how to reduce the cargo. I bet you could easily halve the weight with no loss in creature comforts.
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Old 12-12-12, 09:48 AM
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madsen
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Well Thanks for the responses to my post. I am quite comfortable that my wiggle / oscillation was not my pedaling motion.
I have ruled out the use of a trailer for other reasons. I have actually talked directly to Bruce Gordon about a BLT and he will sell me one but tells me because of my weight and load it will likely wiggle. I have identified a KOGA MIYATA frame to but just not sure I want to build a bike cause it is a bare frame with a head bracket and a fork but nothing else. I also found a Gary Hale built touring frame that Gary says will hold my weight but it is even more bare in that it has been stripped of paint. I am really not interested in going that route although I am sure that the bike would not wiggle.

So what about the 80s model mountain bike rebuilds ? Any thoughts on that ?
JOHN
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Old 12-12-12, 10:24 AM
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So how is Gary these days?

mid 70's I bought a tubeset, and used a pedal powered Mitering rig He had put together.
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Old 12-12-12, 10:33 AM
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Old pre suspension fork MTBs could be good, tire clearance , and the older Cruiser inspired ones had slack angles
in the 68 ~ 70 degree range , and long chainstays .. climbing in the Dirt that was not so great, unlaiden,
[the sweet spot between wheelies and wheel slip ]
but putting weight on racks makes them solid and comfortable on those fat tires..

not a choice for impressing others with speed and high miles per day data, but a good rig.

Conservative tube wall specs result in a heavy frame, but that sounds like it may suit well.
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Old 12-12-12, 10:53 AM
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madsen
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Gary and I talked on the phone for a few minutes and we traded e mails sharing pictures and information. He seemed good and said he was only making fun bikes for himself.
JOHN
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Old 12-12-12, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by madsen View Post

So what about the 80s model mountain bike rebuilds ? Any thoughts on that ?
JOHN
Only reason I can think of for using a 25yr old mtn bike and parts is because you have them laying around and can't spend $600 for an acceptable new bike.

http://www.rei.com/product/837487/novara-buzz-bike-2013
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Old 12-12-12, 12:33 PM
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Sure sounds like shimmy, and though frame flex is one cause, it's not the only one. Loose bearings also sound possible, since you ended up destroying the hubs. I've heard uneven loading of front panniers can cause it, although I've never experienced it (even though I'm guilty sometimes).

Basically, I'd expect any of the bikes sold as "loaded touring" bikes to have a frame stiff enough to damp out shimmy, if that's the cause of your problem. Mass-produced touring bikes are now relatively plentiful under / about $1500, including the Trek 520, Surly LHT, REI Novara Randonee (which hauled my load, approximately equal to your load, across the US), Salsa Vaya, and Bruce Gordon's BLT, which I don't think will shimmy because of the load.

Make sure you've got a decent rack; Tubus brand or equivalent. Make double sure your front rack has a hoop over the wheel to stabilize it. You don't want anythig to flex and induce more shimmy.
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Old 12-13-12, 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
Only reason I can think of for using a 25yr old mtn bike and parts is because you have them laying around and can't spend $600 for an acceptable new bike.

http://www.rei.com/product/837487/novara-buzz-bike-2013
I disagree completely. I recently toured across the country on a 198(5?) Schwinn High Sierra, not because it was insanely cheap to find a frame (which is always nice right before a tour), but because it was the perfect bike. I tried out some more modern touring specific bikes and found then to be lacking. None of them seemed sturdy enough that I would feel 100% comfortable putting them through the fully loaded hell I put my beloved Schwinn High Sierra through. I'm not a small man, ~220 lbs, and toured with front and rear panniers, which ended up weighing about 70 lbs (I toured with my girlfriend who had a Novara something or other and only had rear panniers so only carried her own stuff, none of the stuff that we both used like food, tools, etc). It never once gave me issues. The steering was compromised, obviously, because of the panniers on the front, but I rode that bike through washboards, dirt roads, up and down curbs, and anything else I threw at it with aplomb.

I do agree about parts, though. I built myself an indestructible wheelset and used a modern 8 speed drivetrain with indexing barend shifters and modern cantilever brakes. I don't think I would use parts from the same era as the frame.

I know people swear by many of the modern touring offerings, but any time I ride by Schwinn I feel like I'm riding something indestructible, which is just not the feeling I get from any other bike.
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Old 12-13-12, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by niknak View Post
Since the bike seems to handle fine with less weight, I'd use the money to buy nice lightweight camping gear instead of a new bike. There have been plenty of recent threads about touring with lighter loads. 70-90lbs of gear is a lot, especially if you'll be doing fair weather traveling along the west coast. Maybe you could post what you carried on your last tour and some of us can offer suggestions how to reduce the cargo. I bet you could easily halve the weight with no loss in creature comforts.
I agree. Even with the 23 pound CPAP machine it should be possible to get the weight down to something like the the 50-60 pounds the OP has already said was OK. The fact that it is the Pacific Coast should make that even easier since the weather is moderate there and services frequently available. Getting the remainder of the gear to 37 pounds should be pretty easy. I carried 22 pounds on the Pacific Coast and wasn't using any high dollar fancy gear. The only expensive lightweight item I carried was a NeoAir pad. I was very comfortable and didn't want for any gear items or clothing. My list was pretty minimal, but with an additional 15 pounds you should really be well equipped if you plan your packing list well.

I personally would rather stay home or do a car trip than carry 80 pounds of stuff on my bike. That said if you really must carry that much I'd suggest using panniers and a trailer.
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Old 12-13-12, 06:46 AM
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John, What size frame are you using? The larger the frame, the less rigid it'll be (thinking about Bruce Gordon's remark). Larger frames used to use a double top tube arrangement for rigidity, not seen in modern frames that I'm aware of. A modern expedition level tourer with over sized tubing might help as possibly would a trailer.

Brad
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Old 12-18-12, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by rockpilex View Post
Biggest bang for the touring buck Bruce Gordon BLT comes with Shimano SLX and Bruce Gordon Racks for $1750.
http://www.bgcycles.com/blt.html
I have gotten a better pricing on Shimano parts - The remaining Taiwanese BLT's are now Shimano XT 10 speed equipped for the same price that the SLX ones were. The 10 speed XT equipped BLT's are now $1725 + shipping and handling and assembly at your end.
Check out the particulars on our blog at - http://brucegordoncycles.blogspot.com/
That includes our racks front and rear
Regards,
Bruce Gordon
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Old 12-18-12, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by madsen View Post
Well Thanks for the responses to my post. I am quite comfortable that my wiggle / oscillation was not my pedaling motion.
I have ruled out the use of a trailer for other reasons. I have actually talked directly to Bruce Gordon about a BLT and he will sell me one but tells me because of my weight and load it will likely wiggle. I have identified a KOGA MIYATA frame to but just not sure I want to build a bike cause it is a bare frame with a head bracket and a fork but nothing else. I also found a Gary Hale built touring frame that Gary says will hold my weight but it is even more bare in that it has been stripped of paint. I am really not interested in going that route although I am sure that the bike would not wiggle.

So what about the 80s model mountain bike rebuilds ? Any thoughts on that ?
JOHN
Madsen,

You'll be surprised how much an uneven pedal motion can cause the bike to oscillate, because what would cause it if you have so much weight. If you have an electric motor on the wheel, I can tell you that your bike won't wiggle. It's like a motorbike which can also carry the same or even more load. Why wouldn't a motorcycle wiggle when the bike does? Take a note on all the modern bikes with oversized BB and the bottom bracket area being stiffened immensely for what purpose? Looks? Or is there something sinister or useful in having them oversized and stiffened? So obviously pedal motions have something to do with flexing on older road and MTB frames.

Having said that, the only way to dampen this wiggle effect is to employ an oversized tubing especially on the "top tube" and the only bike I knew that was stiff enough to carry a huge massive load was the Cannondale T series. It's super stiff and so it is stable with a huge load with one downside. It's harsher riding compared to a comparable steel tubing bike which was the reason why Cannondale and the rest of the industry stopped making aluminum touring bikes in the first place. Funny thing was that aluminum bikes came to the scene to solve the problem steel bikes had, which was it wasn't stiff enough to handle a huge load like the infamous Miyata 1000GT which was flexy and oscillates like heck. When I switched to a Norco Alteres (a Cannondale T800 clone made for the Canadian market), the oscillation and wiggling effect went away. Since then, I had improved my spinning technique and today, my Masi Speciale CX rides like an arrow and is WAY more compliant compared to my former stiff Norco Alteres.

But I am just telling you that the solution to this problem isn't getting the most expensive bike, but rather understanding why it is causing this and find a work around to solve it.
Unless a bike is designed specifically for touring with an oversized top tube, then you are just going to be wasting money trying to find one that doesn't wiggle that much. Mind you, your load is lot heavier than mine. I started with just about your load and today had paired it down to 35lbs for luxury camping which means I don't suffer from any oscillation problem with most bikes. I even toured with my carbon bike that Lance used to ride to win his first TDF. The best money you can spend on is to invest in lighter camping and cooking gear. They will serve you better on the road with less wiggle plus makes life easier going up steep hills. A lighter load beats a heavier one for sure.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 12-18-12 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 12-18-12, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
^^^
Yeah, it is possible that your bike was not proportionately loaded after you started adding the additional weight, meaning that maybe you were putting too much weight in the back of your bike vs the front. Also, it is possible that this bike frame wasn't designed for those kind of loads (315 lbs is a lot to ask.) All these things combined produced "shimmy". It's hard to tell! People have gone nuts trying to pinpoint the cause of shimmy on their bikes sometimes to no avail: by changing forks, trying different tires, adding more weight to the front of the bikes, etc.

At your budget, try both the Surly LHT or Surly Troll - both w/ 26"-wheels. They will resist torsional forces better for the kind of loads you run. Hopefully, the bike shop will let you load 'em up before buying. I believe the Troll might be a sturdier frame. If you want better wheels/components, you can buy the frameset and build it from there. As mentioned before, you need some good wheels (good rim + 36h hub + double/triple butted spokes.)
Most of you had forgotten that Cannondale used to make fine touring bikes out of aluminum and when there was a time that aluminum touring bikes were mostly the norm and steel was relegated to the minority, custom or specialty market.

Light weight and stiff to resist torsional loads because these bikes were made way way stiffer to ensure the aluminum tubes don't prematurely fail. I think the Cannondale T series if can be bought used will work for the OP if he wants to carry a huge load, but the reason aluminum bikes gone by the do-do birds was because they can ride harsher than a comparable steel bike.

There is always a compromise between being super stiff and having vertical compliance. You can't have both being super stiff and super comfortable on a frame, so there's always some trade-offs.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 12-18-12 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 12-18-12, 02:40 PM
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I love the enthusiasm and congratulate you on the tour success. I might suggest starting by carrying less. I've been doing week-long-plus rides for more than 40 years and never, ever carried 80 lbs of gear. This is what I look at for a weekend or month long tour. It amounts to 25 lbs spread between a saddlebag and two front bags.
As far as bikes go, there are plenty of good ones, I had a Surly LHT and when I could afford to I upgraded the frame with a Riv Hunqapillar I can't imagine changing that now but who knows, this touring obsession just keeps going, and going and....

Marc

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Old 12-18-12, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Sure sounds like shimmy, and though frame flex is one cause, it's not the only one. Loose bearings also sound possible, since you ended up destroying the hubs. I've heard uneven loading of front panniers can cause it, although I've never experienced it (even though I'm guilty sometimes).

Basically, I'd expect any of the bikes sold as "loaded touring" bikes to have a frame stiff enough to damp out shimmy, if that's the cause of your problem. Mass-produced touring bikes are now relatively plentiful under / about $1500, including the Trek 520, Surly LHT, REI Novara Randonee (which hauled my load, approximately equal to your load, across the US), Salsa Vaya, and Bruce Gordon's BLT, which I don't think will shimmy because of the load.

Make sure you've got a decent rack; Tubus brand or equivalent. Make double sure your front rack has a hoop over the wheel to stabilize it. You don't want anythig to flex and induce more shimmy.
Be careful with modern touring bikes, especially with the Surly LHT. They employ really thin chainstays and the BB area so they can flex and provide a more comfortable ride. They couldn't even weld a kickstand plate down under. The material is that thin. Unfortunately, some people did not know this or may have come from a bike with a thicker chainstay and over tighten their kickstand thus compressing those stays and destroying the whole frame in the process.

The problem with modern touring bikes is the same. Ultimately, the design of the bike has to balance stiffness with riding comfort and riding comfort is what people want, hence the reason why steel bikes win over aluminum today. The topic is to stop the wiggle with a huge load and to do that, you need to stop all parts of the frame from flexing and as you can see, a super stiff bike is going to ride like crap, but a flexy comfortable bike is ultimately going to flex and wiggle with a heavier load.

The solution is to off-load some of this weight onto a 2 wheel trailer.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 12-18-12 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 12-18-12, 03:05 PM
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WOW. 70~80 lbs.?
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Old 12-18-12, 03:29 PM
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bgcycles 
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Originally Posted by pacificcyclist View Post
They couldn't even weld a kickstand plate down under. The material is that thin.
I would say that you need to find a better person to do the welding. We use heavier tubing throughout our touring frames. They are plenty strong. I would advise a bigger cross section tire to give a more comfortable ride.
Regards,
Bruce Gordon
www.bgcycles.com
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