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Renaissance of the touring bike?

Old 07-01-13, 10:29 AM
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Renaissance of the touring bike?

I got into bikes in the early 70's when everybody who didn't have a Chopper seemed to ride 10 speed "racers" (massively overgeared with centre or side pull brakes and shorty mudguards (fenders)).

The pinnacle of cycling at that time seemed to be the touring bike, generally a Dawes Galaxy, Claud Butler Dalesman or the like or one of the custom builders, and when you went cycling, you would see a lot of touring bikes. I envied those on lovely tourers when I was out for the day on my orange gas-pipe BSA "Tour de France" and, when I could afford it, I based my own custom built 531c fast touring frame on Galaxy geometry.

Then MTBs came in in the mid 80's and for years I saw mostly fat tyred bikes with straight bars. They got a lot of folk cycling.

More recently, in the UK at least, I've noticed huge numbers of road bikes (the post Bradley Wiggins boom) some ridden by people who don't look too confident or at ease (it seems to me it will be a good time to buy a second hand road bike in a year or so!), but generally folk seem to be enjoying them, even if a lot seem to have "all the gear and no idea"

Anything that gets folk on two wheels is great as far as I'm concerned.

The last few times I've been out, though, I've noticed more and more touring bikes. Not only down to it being summer and tourists being over here travelling (as many of them aren't loaded up), but more people seem to be using them for leisure and fitness.

I wonder if there is a renaissance? It would make sense.

MTBs made cycling fun - those who got into cycling through them realised that MTBs aren't that efficient on the road so swap to (or use) smooth tyred MTBs, flat bar roadies etc, but then work out that a full out road bike is efficient and sexy.

However for travelling and staying away it isn't ideal, or comfy. (I'm just back from a quick 20 miles on my Supercorsa and my bum feels like I've been at public school) (I think that may be the saddle though)

When they use a road bike and start covering distance, I wonder if those folk start to think about how much fun it would be to do longer trips, staying away, which leads them to the touring bike.


I hope tourers are making a real comeback - to me there is nothing in the biking world more attractive than a fully loaded rig, covered in road dust, showing signs of miles covered.

I see more manufacturers have tourers in their range.

I'd get rid of all my other bikes if need be, but you'd need to pull the GB bars of my fast tourer from my cold dead hands, and prise the Brooks from my cold dead buttocks
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Old 07-01-13, 11:16 AM
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chewa, A good question and topic.

Not much of a touring renaissance in my area as the numbers remain low.

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Old 07-01-13, 11:21 AM
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Personally, I don't think they ever went away.
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Old 07-01-13, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by chewa
I hope tourers are making a real comeback - to me there is nothing in the biking world more attractive than a fully loaded rig, covered in road dust, showing signs of miles covered.
I totally agree with the attractiveness of a fully loaded bike.

I think people are discovering how practical a good touring bike can be. The good quality lighter ones from the 1980's are fast enough for the non-racer type, are excellent for commuting and transporting things, offer a more relaxed and comfortable ride than most road bikes, and as a plus you can load it up and go see the world.

The increasing popularity in the US shows by the premium prices a good tourer will bring on eBay or Craigslist.

I'm a sucker for a good deal on a touring bike and have been fortunate to acquire 4 very nice ones. Even though I really only need one I just can't seem to part with the others and for sure one of them will be the last 2 wheel bike I'll be able to balance on and wobble down the road before I leave this earth.
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Old 07-01-13, 12:20 PM
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I have Jamis Aurora Elite and an '85 Trek 620. These are the only two bikes I would never consider selling.
I've had all carbon road bikes and aluminum MTB's and they didn't stay around long.
My tourers will do everything I want to do, in style and comfort.

Anyone want to buy a Cannondale Caffeine MTB?
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Old 07-01-13, 02:01 PM
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Just bought a Novara Randonee for everyday riding. Old bike was a typical aluminum road bike with shimano 105. Owned it for 7 years. I've been pretty happy with it even did some s240's with a backpack and bigger than normal saddle bag. But recently started noticing more discomfort when riding longer distances or routes with a lot of climbing. Wanted to try out fatter tires, wanted to try out a more upright position, wanted some eyelets...

Test rode the randonee and loved it, even liked the bar end shifters more than I thought I would. Took it out for what I told them was going to be a quick test ride to try out the shifters. Ended up going on a 1.5 hour ride and buying it. Loved the comfort and stability compared to my old scott s30.
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Old 07-01-13, 02:38 PM
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It's been said, "Once you start looking, it's amazing what you notice"..
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Old 07-01-13, 03:43 PM
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I must agree a loaded touring bike is a thing of beauty. One of the many things I like about my LHT is how it just feels right loaded down with gear and if I had to have only one bike the Trucker stays the rest can go if need be.
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Old 07-01-13, 04:16 PM
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I've been riding a loaded touring bike around San Francisco since Mid-March. First, it was to train for my 2 week trip in West Texas. When I got back, I continued training for my upcoming trip to Jasper. In that time, many people on road bikes have ridden and asked where I was going. I'd ask back if they ever toured. Some had. Most expressed a desire to do it "someday."

Certainly as more people ride, more people tour.
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Old 07-01-13, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Flog00
I have Jamis Aurora Elite and an '85 Trek 620. These are the only two bikes I would never consider selling. I've had all carbon road bikes and aluminum MTB's and they didn't stay around long. My tourers will do everything I want to do, in style and comfort.
Anyone want to buy a Cannondale Caffeine MTB?
Hey, Scott!

I agree; I have a '83 620, and it's definitely a bike that can do it all; from grocery getter to long tour it always feels the same. The majority of my 'daily riders' are now all comfort oriented and can interchange roles easily.

There's an allure about touring by bike that gets deep in your soul once you've experienced it.
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Old 07-01-13, 05:35 PM
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No touring renaissance in my area, NC on east coast of USA. You never see touring bikes for sale in bike shops and rarely ever see loader tourers on the road. I've tried to interest some of my cycling buddies to try a loaded tour with me, but so far no takers -- not even nibbles.

However, supported tours are very popular and typically attract several thousand riders on large organized tours such as Bike Virginia and Cycle North Carolina. It makes sense in many ways. You don't need a special bike or gear. Someone else carries your gear, so you are free to travel largely unencumbered with bags and extra weight. The organizers plan the routes, with various options often available for riders of different fitness and skills. You can camp out or stay in hotels. You don't have to worry about cooking and carrying food. You don't have to worry about finding a free camp site.

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Old 07-01-13, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by oldskoolwrench
Hey, Scott!


There's an allure about touring by bike that gets deep in your soul once you've experienced it.
So true, once you do a tour it becomes an addiction.
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Old 07-01-13, 08:10 PM
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Bicycle touring never went away. When I use to do credit card touring I would run the California HWY 1 from San Francisco to Santa Barbara or further pass that depending on things, and you would see some on that route who were the camping type of touring (loaded touring) people, and this was back in the 70's. Today places like Adventure Cycling and the such have tours they lead and they get booked full well before departure date. I don't think it ever died, in fact it has probably grown. And when you consider the fact that the baby boomers are retiring and some of them are still physically active that should indicate more people doing things like that then ever before; and on top of that people who would have never considered doing such trips in the old days with just 10 speed bikes are now considering it with bikes that offer 30 speeds with lighter bikes and lighter camping gear, and a lot of baby boomers are retiring with quite a bit of money and may opt to do inn to inn touring or supported touring.

The other proof of evidence is factual instead of conjecture, Adventure Cycling has shown a 19% increase in memberships over the last 10 years and map sales are up 48%, so someone is taking an interest in touring here in America (those percentages include Americans and foreign citizens). There was a 2.7% decline this last year in memberships but that is to be expected with the economic difficulties America and other countries are experiencing. But over all there has been a healthy increase in touring.

This may be of further interest to some of you; see: https://www.bicycletournetwork.com/ne...ing&news_id=12
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Old 07-02-13, 09:19 AM
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I think touring bikes are harder for people to discover. They are not heavily promoted by the manufacturers. Most manufacturers seem to offer only one model. Once found, people fall in love with their comfort and practicality. I see many touring-style bicycles in my area of the world. They are used as commuters and touring cycles.
Renaissance? Not yet. But the revolution is coming !

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Old 07-02-13, 09:47 AM
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I think demographics are playing a big role. Those of us who grew up in the 70's may have had time but no money to tour, or vice versa. The bike boom kids are now in their 50's and touring is a great way to get in shape.

I remember the first bike I got when the frames started going from relaxed touring geometry to steep angles and road geometry. I hated that bike. I was too dumb to figure out that a road bike was not a touring bike per se. My restored Fuji Gran Tourer SE has been a joy. My cheap Raleigh R300 is a very comfy commuter and OK when loaded as well. My chrome Voyageur 11.8 is also quite a fun ride. No new bikes needed for me. I have a Fuji s12s LTD in the pipeline now....
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Old 07-02-13, 09:55 AM
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I've just decided to take my touring bike out for tomorrow night's group ride. It's been a while since I've ridden it.
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Old 07-02-13, 10:00 AM
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I don't know if I'd call it a touring renaissance but in my neck of the woods, touring bikes are popular. You see them being sold in the local bike shops and you see them being ridden on the local bike trails. If you are not racing, a fat tire road bike makes a lot of sense.

Oh and my N+1 is another touring bike.
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Old 07-03-13, 05:53 AM
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I had the same discussion at a rally in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. Just a few years ago it was hard to find an LBS who knew what you were talking about. The consensus seems to be that Surly's LHT became wildly successful and all brands are putting touring models into shops. I hope it keeps up, they are certainly more comfortable and useful than the CF crotch rockets everybody is riding around here.

Marc
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Old 07-03-13, 06:38 AM
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Although people who post here love touring, the number of people touring has steadily decreased in the U.S. since the 1980s.
I remember the cover of the Bikecentennial magazine - maybe the first one in 1980 - with a stylized outline of a touring bike and the caption "The RV of the 1980s." Such was not to be the case. RVs kept getting bigger and bigger - national parks paved new parking lots to accommodate them.

My experience has been that there are fewer and fewer tourers out there. ACA has half the number of unsupported x-USA tours that they had two decades ago. On a recent bike tour that included Grand Teton and Yellowstone NPs I saw only two tourers and did not camp with any - hiker/biker campsites had only the stray person who probably had parked his car in a lot and walked over.

I admire your enthusiasm, but on the ground in the U.S. the evidence is not there. I regret that the RV of the 2010s seems to be the $300,000 rig with satellite dish and mini jacuzzi. Meanwhile, Yellowstone will continue to hand out a sheet warning touring cyclists of the dangers of riding in the park - of narrow roads and heavy traffic and cloverleaf interchanges at Old Faithful so that tourists can zoom away as soon as the show is over.
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Old 07-03-13, 07:03 AM
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Marc, I agree that Surly's LHT brought more awareness of the touring style bicycle in recent years through good advertising, a catchy name and an attractive price point. Other than in brochures there was usually little publication by many, if not most of the manufacturers. Bikes Direct usually sells out of the popular sizes of the Windsor Tourist early in the year, which could point to a greater awareness of the touring bicycle, if not a full blown renaissance.

One problem for the manufacturers is the sheer variety of the touring market, we're a moving target that's hard to hit. We range from ultra light trans continental roadie riders to day trippers using expedition level bikes. Flat bar or drop bar bikes and so on. There is no shortage of touring riders, that's for sure.

Brad
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Old 07-03-13, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by bradtx
One problem for the manufacturers is the sheer variety of the touring market, we're a moving target that's hard to hit.
+1. Very few of us have the same rig on this site. Sure there are lots of LHTs but all seem to be built, customized, or at least tweaked differently. Personally I love my LHT for touring but rarely ride it any other time. I think the trend is for more specific niches for bicycles rather than a single do-all. Of course the manufactures love this. For me n=5 and I ride them all.
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Old 07-03-13, 11:53 AM
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A few years ago, I was speaking to a fellow who was an industry insider and he felt that a lot of retiring baby boomers were likely to take up touring and hence the small proliferation of touring bikes. Spoke to him more recently and I guess it still hasn't happened in any big way. Recreational riding has increased but not so much touring.
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Old 07-03-13, 02:41 PM
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What truly is the definition of touring now? In 2013, a touring bike isn't always a Surly LHT or a Trek 520. Usually, it's a MTB, a Brompton used by Laura Crawford and Russ Roca who also toured with a Surly before and now with a pair of Salsa Vaya, a Dahon or cross bikes. It can be anything.

I know that being nostalgic is fine for a time, but nowadays people do not necessarily do loaded touring like they used to in the past. Advancement in sleeping bags, tents (Tarp tent by Henry Shires) and pads cut down on weight and size; easy enough to carry even on a carbon bike. There seemed to be a fast set rule, usually set about by touring Luddites, that you must tour on a touring bike to be considered the truest of cycle tourist. If that's the case, then no wonder you're not seeing a lot of cycle tourists on the road. Cause they aren't touring like they used to in the 1970s.

Besides, a lot of people op for credit card or sag wagon touring. Again, some Luddites may ridicule them as being weak and untrue and unfit to become a true cycle tourist. But then, that's just an opinion of a few old timers who are still clinging to the past.

These days however, Grand Fondo is a big thing plus triathlons take away a huge majority of people who may otherwise consider touring loaded and doing long miles. There are more glory and medals to carry on your neck rather than touring which was great and cool then in the 70s, but not going to generate the kudos as you would after doing a Grand Fondo or an Ironman.
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Old 07-03-13, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by robow
A few years ago, I was speaking to a fellow who was an industry insider and he felt that a lot of retiring baby boomers were likely to take up touring and hence the small proliferation of touring bikes. Spoke to him more recently and I guess it still hasn't happened in any big way. Recreational riding has increased but not so much touring.
People usually go and pursue an interest where they can magnify their guts and glory; namely a sport that's endurance based with a lot of notoriety. Which is why Boston Marathon and Triathlons don't seem to die of a quick death. There's always fresh new blood to replace the old and there will always be an audience. Why is that? It provides an avenue for them to express their glory after training. Most people who participate in these endurance sports only want to finish and get the finish medals, but the thrill and lure is that association for which you gain acknowledgement in this century. Old boomers and young people go for what's the fad nowadays and it seemed that Grand Fondo is picking up and selling out. Sure you can do a free Grand Fondo with panniers, but that's not going to win you some brownie points over a pint of beer especially your friends did it. If people need Grand Fondo or an Ironman to prove themselves and raise self-esteem then I guess the bike industry will do their best to peddle their wares on them for which they do.
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Old 07-03-13, 04:00 PM
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I've seen one or two people touring on those Dahon folding bikes, and after seeing them doing that I would never be caught dead on one! They both looked like adults riding children bikes! Even though they seemed to have the leg room, it just didn't look very comfortable to me, but I guess looks can be deceiving.
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