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Newb Needs a Touring Bike.. Nashbar Sale, Surly LHT, Randonee?

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Newb Needs a Touring Bike.. Nashbar Sale, Surly LHT, Randonee?

Old 09-10-13, 07:46 PM
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Newb Needs a Touring Bike.. Nashbar Sale, Surly LHT, Randonee?

I apologize in advance for the state of my newbness at this point with road bikes. Been voraciously reading these forums and lots of touring bike stuff that last week or two and need some input at this point. A little background, I'm an ultralight hiker that is looking to do a 10-13 day tour across Denmark next year. I might do some more touring after that, but then again I might not and need some advice on getting a rig to train on and use for this trip next summer. I've done enough reading at this point to really make my head spin so I'm looking for some friendly advice. In terms of my need, I'm fine with purchasing a bike made for touring rather than adapting another bike, but I don't have the knowledge at this point to start with a frame. I don't want to get much over $1200-1300 for the initial bike purchase, and would love to save a little if I can, but getting lower from that range is not the biggest priority. I'm 6'1 and about 190, and in terms of backpacking carry about as light a load as anyone. So I don't see myself pushing the limits with panniers on this trip. I have pretty limited options as far as test-riding a touring bike here in South Dakota, so I may have to extend myself a little in selecting the right bike or size. So in terms of my browsing and reading, I've narrowed down the search some, and could use some technical opinions:

1) Surly Long Haul Trucker. I might have an opportunity to test ride one hopefully close to my size but this seems to be the popular standard. Might be pretty hard for me to find one to buy at this point, hopefully there will be a sale or new model released in the near future?

2) Novara Randonee. This is an interesting bike, and I should definitely have an opportunity to test ride this at an REI in Wisconsin next week. Style is a fair different from the LHT, but who knows I might like it when I see it.

and finally

3) The intermittent sale at Nashbar for their TR1 touring bike. This of course is interesting if I can indeed pick it up for roughly half of the price of the other bikes. Would be interested in your take on this dealer and the specs for this bike in terms of a long tour, which is my weak area at this point in terms of knowledge. Obviously I would have room to do some upgrading if needed, but I'd love to hear from you on your take for this option.

https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...24_-1___202613

Ultimately I know the old adage, you get what you pay for. But in terms of planning for an initial single tour, it might be worth it to save a little cash if there aren't any real big red flags. Any input is appreciated.

Last edited by Amarony; 09-10-13 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 09-10-13, 08:30 PM
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What is a 10-13 tour?
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Old 09-10-13, 08:36 PM
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Sorry, 10-13 days.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:48 PM
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Hi, and welcome to the Forum.

Advice: take all advice with a grain of salt, including mine

I presently have a LHT, have looked very closely at the Novara Randonee, and have never seen a Nashbar touring bike.

IMO- The Rondonee is the best bike right out of the box for touring.

It has lower gearing than the stock LHT and much lower gearing than the Nashbar. This might not seem a big thing, but depending on where you are in Denmark low gears might be highly desireable.

I built my LHT up from the frame and run a 44/32/22 crankset with a 11-34 rear cassette. This is the same as on the Rondenee. The stock LHT has a 26/36/48 crankset, and the Nashbar has a typical 50/39/30 with a 11-32 rear cassette. The Nashbar's drivetrain is almost a "typical" road bike setup, and not really useful for a touring bike.

The Nasdhbar has STI shifter vs. bar end shifters on the other 2 bikes. I think this is a plus, but does not outweigh the other driveline deficiencies.

The Nashbar and the Novara come with a rear rack. I dont' know what the Nashbar rack looks like, but the Novara looks like a good sturdy rack. This could save some money over the LHT.

One advantage to the LHT is that the steerer tube usually comes uncut on new bikes the dealers receive. This allows more flexibilty on bar height at initial fitting. I am 6' and ride a 58 cm LHT. I have long legs in proportion to my body. The top tube on the LHT is relatively long and it stretches me out a litlle more than I like. I recently rode a 5 week tour on another brand of bike which fits my body build better. Fit really makes a lot of difference in comfort. I highly recommend riding the bike you are considering before you buy it, if at all possible.

I still have not got around to cutting the steeting tube on this bike, and I built it up 3 years ago. This picture probably makes an ultra litght enthusiast shudder. There is about 35-40 lbs of gear including the panniers' weight.


I believe that the Novara Rondenee is the best value for an out of the box, ready to go touring bike. It is a well equipped bike with good components, and you can't beat REI's return policy. Install some pedals and a set of fenders, and it would be ready to go.

Having said all that, these bikes might be overkill for an ultra light enthusiast. If your feet are not too large you might get away with a cyclocross bike. This would give you a little lighter bike and a more nimble ride. The chinstays are shorter which could cause heel strike on the rear panniers if you have large feet.

This is a Bianchi Volpe a cyclocross/touring bike. I also converted it to a 44/32/22 crank with an 11-34 cassette. It was ridden across the U.S. and on many other shorter tours. Unlike the LHT it handles well either loaded or bare. It is my all around bike right now. I have size 10 feet and clear the panniers easily.


Good luck!

Last edited by Doug64; 09-11-13 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 09-11-13, 04:15 AM
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You might also consider a Surly Cross Check. It's a little more versatile than the LHT. Since you already know how to travel light, the extra weight and extended geometry of the LHT probably won't be necessary, the Cross Check can handle what you are planning and would be a lot more fun to ride when your are not touring.

Marc
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Old 09-11-13, 05:46 AM
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Amarony, Not knowing whether you'll continue bicycle touring would steer me towards the Nashbar TR1. Bikes Direct also sells a couple of "value" touring bikes, BTW.

The value bikes have proven their worth for several forum members, but there are a couple of cravats. First is final assembly is the purchaser's responsibility, second is there is no opportunity to test ride one for fit and often the wheels need to be retensioned and retrued which is just due to their price point allure. None are deal breakers if you know what size you need and have a friend or a bike shop take care of the mechanical items as cash outlay is still far less than a name brand.

Whether you continue to tour or not you'll still end up with a good bike.

Brad

Last edited by bradtx; 09-11-13 at 08:49 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 09-11-13, 05:48 AM
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BD Motobecane Gran Turismo is an option. But if I had an REI anywhere around me, it would have been the Novara.
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Old 09-11-13, 07:12 AM
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The Nashbar bike doesn't look too bad, maybe will just need a new crankset for lower gearing. If you can take care of that, I'd say stick to it, unless you're certain about making a larger investment. Otherwise, the Novara Randonee looks pretty neat to me.
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Old 09-11-13, 08:35 AM
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OP, You didn't mention a trek 520. You should have read about this bike as directly comparable to the LHT. I find the 520 to be a bit lighter than the LHT, and way more nimble-but it's still a "touring" bike. Go for a 59-60 for your height with this bike. I don't know the terrain of where you are going, but if you are travelling pretty light as you do when you are hiking, then alot of really low gears isn't going to be that helpful really.
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Old 09-11-13, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Amarony
...
and finally

3) The intermittent sale at Nashbar for their TR1 touring bike. This of course is interesting if I can indeed pick it up for roughly half of the price of the other bikes. Would be interested in your take on this dealer and the specs for this bike in terms of a long tour, which is my weak area at this point in terms of knowledge. Obviously I would have room to do some upgrading if needed, but I'd love to hear from you on your take for this option.

https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...24_-1___202613

Ultimately I know the old adage, you get what you pay for. But in terms of planning for an initial single tour, it might be worth it to save a little cash if there aren't any real big red flags. Any input is appreciated.
I like Nashbar and have always been pleased with their products. I haven't purchased a bike from them but I have their road frame, fork and miscellaneous parts. It looks like their touring frame which is well thought of, but it's not the same so that's something to find out about. Maybe a step up.

note: I'm not a touring enthusiast like most of the guys in this forum, so I'm biased to the Nashbar because I'd like to have it for just riding around.
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Old 09-11-13, 09:53 AM
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10-13 days hiking in Denmark, right? the country is not big , north to south , the longways ..

on the bike , you may want to do lots of side trips , and hanging out, to enjoy the place.

Just another thought .. getting on airplanes , BikeFriday designs touring bikes to fit in a Suitcase..
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Old 09-11-13, 11:31 AM
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Some less expensive options (it's easy to spend money on upgrades, like a proper saddle, pedals, etcetera): I've got the Novara Safari and love it. Might be more of a tank than you need but we're talking marginal differences here. To put in in perspective, I'm about 20% faster on my road race bike than I am on my Safari unloaded. Windsor Tourist is also viable at $600 delivered.
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Old 09-11-13, 12:16 PM
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I built up Nashbars' rigid mnt bike frame as a touring bike awhile ago,does what it's suppose to do.....No complaints after 1 1/2 years......so far I like it.
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Old 09-11-13, 07:45 PM
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Thanks for all the responses, they have been very helpful. I think really what it's going to come down for me is comfort level with the gearing, and possibly changing the crankset for lower gearing as mentioned above. I'm still a little torn but really I guess I need to figure out how easy it would be to change the gearing on the Nashbar for example. I did stop by my LBS today for a quick chat and they were suggesting the Salsa Vaya, which looks like a decent bike of course, but the 2014 they showed me was $1500 and comes with 30/42/52 as a crankset. I like the idea of a more nimble bike as they were pushing maybe but I guess as a newb figuring out what I can swap for what in terms of the crankset scares me a little, especially with the Nashbar. I'm fairly methodical and mechanical but I'm sure I'd have to have the LBS do any kind of swapping at least early on. So I'm thinking for now I'll test ride the Novara, which indeed looks like a good ride. But I think I'm at 50/50 right now with that purchase versus a more nimble bike and dealing with getting a lower gear crankset to swap in. That way I could use the nimble bike for more purposes, and perhaps if I go on a longer tour again I can swap the lower crankset back in.

I guess I've got a lot of reading to do on gearing. In the short term, if I were to pick up the Nashbar, I'm curious if anyone can recommend a lower crank but maybe not something full fledged heavy touring designed? Maybe a 26/36/48 would be a good compromise? Good lord this is getting confusing, but hey I guess it will give me something to do. This gearing stuff is all very new to me at this point. Will probably delay my purchase a bit but better to know more beforehand I guess. In any case, I appreciate the input!
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Old 09-11-13, 08:40 PM
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Amarony, Gearing is going to depend on how much you plan to load the bike with and the expected terrain. Expedition level tourers are often geared low for a wide range of conditions. If you continue your lightweight packing habit and from looking at a topography map of Denmark I suspect you may well be able to use the OEM gearing of the Nashbar.

Brad
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Old 09-11-13, 08:52 PM
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I wouldn't sweat the gearing too much. The problem in Denmark, if anything, will be the wind, not the hills in any case. The crank on the LHT can go as low as 24 and that's fine paired with a 32 on the rear. Gearing used to be more of an issue back when bikes had 5 or 6 on the rear and each of those gears really had to some work. Now with 9 or 10, who cares as long as the low is low enough.

The real question you have is how much weight you think you are going to bring. The LHT and the REI Randonee are full on touring bikes designed to carry a lot of weight. If you are going light, you could use something like a cross bike (like the Surly Cross Check for example).

I could be wrong but I've checked out the Bikes Direct Motobecane Gran Turismo and from the pics, it doesn't look like it has front eyelets. Here's one pic: https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/.../gran_turismo/. I'd check with Bikes Direct but I wouldn't buy it if it lacks eyelets.

Honestly I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep on this. If your budget can take it, buy the Surly LHT or the REI Randonee. They're both great bikes. Good touring bikes are hard to find used for a reason. It will be a bike that will last you for a lifetime of adventures.
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Old 09-11-13, 09:24 PM
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I met a guy in Colombia that was doing a two week tour on a Surly Traveller's check, a play off the aforementioned Cross Check. By the way, where in South Dakota are you from? I bought my LHT through Harlan's in Sioux Falls which got me from Argentina back to SD with zero problems. Might be a bit overkill but if you find out you love touring Surly's LHT is where the money's at.
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Old 09-12-13, 10:17 AM
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Amarony, don't get fixated on gearing. Ride as many bikes as you can and get the one that fits 80% of the riding you intend to do.
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Old 09-12-13, 12:46 PM
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Op, I picked up a nashbar bike, and was amazed what came in the mail. Like others have said you will have to finish the install, and the wheels need to be touched up. I have replaced my old Jasper with it, and while this is not a touring bike, the quality was good, and I will purchase again.

(Sorry for blinding white house in back ground)

After the nashbar bike introduced me to steel, I replaced my dead car with a LHT and love it. Very comfortable ride to have, and am using as a primary while the weather is good. I can not speak about the quality of the ride unloaded, since I am always a loaded tour at my charming 290. With two pitties in tow on trailer.


And no one can dis on REI, so their also still a contender.
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Old 09-12-13, 01:41 PM
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total Noobs need to test ride bikes at bike shops to get them well sized.

one you know more then you can buy blind over the web.


QBP , Surly/Salsa sell thru retailers , some shops order the bikes when requested

they may not sit them on the floor before anyone asks for them.

because some other brands supply their bikes on credit. QBP does not../

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Old 09-12-13, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Vacilando
I met a guy in Colombia that was doing a two week tour on a Surly Traveller's check, a play off the aforementioned Cross Check. By the way, where in South Dakota are you from? I bought my LHT through Harlan's in Sioux Falls which got me from Argentina back to SD with zero problems. Might be a bit overkill but if you find out you love touring Surly's LHT is where the money's at.
I do actually live in Sioux Falls. And interesting enough I did stop at Harlan's and they were the ones pushing the Salsa Vaya as an option for me. I'll probably test ride that one at some point in addition to the Randonee and we'll see from there I guess.
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Old 09-12-13, 08:58 PM
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A guy with an ultralight credo is not going to find the LHT edifying. People love it, and it is well regarded for heavy loaded touring, but it is undeniably a pig weightwise.
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Old 09-12-13, 09:40 PM
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Hello Amarony,

In 2006 I was new to touring, and did a 500 mile 10 self sustained tour on a $50 garage sale bike. It handled the ride however uncomfortably. Somewhere around mile 350, I elected to get a new wheel, and life was good again. Don't worry -not recommending it.



You're a little taller than me, but we weigh about the same.

Ultra light hiking sounds a lot like what I was doing on glaciers, so you surely know about therma-rest pads, and what to bring. Yea bikes! you can carry a lot more, so you really wont have to worry about that. Sounds like you have the experience to know that you can get by with much less.

Here's my three suggestions:

1. Don't skimp on the wheel build. Get double wall wheels with super heavy spokes. Do this, and you are very unlikely to have any problems with any decent bike even if you beat it as I do.

2. On the front wheel get a Shimano Dynamo Hub and a GPS, Some find the challenge "enjoyable" but I just assume spend my time looking around and occasionally glancing down to see I am "on track"

3. Get a cloud nine seat -the one that has springs in the back and along the gel pads underneath.

4. No patch kit -carry tubes. You can't patch a tear. oops ok four suggestions.

If you were looking to spend 1200 now you just have to figure backwards:
1200
- 250-300 for the wheels -one built with a Shimano 6 volt 3 watt generator (high side)
- 50-100 for the electronics between the hub and the GPS (or build yourself for around $25)
- 150-300 for the GPS (Mine's a Magellan Triton 500)
- 40 for the seat
$500-750

Get a decent $500-600 hybrid -you should be able to "wheel" and deal since you're going to redo the wheels anyway.

Puts you right at your budget WITH excellent navigation.

Maybe you'd like to do a "check ride" and the Grand Illinois Trail Ride before you go to Denmark?
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Old 09-12-13, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Amarony
I do actually live in Sioux Falls. And interesting enough I did stop at Harlan's and they were the ones pushing the Salsa Vaya as an option for me. I'll probably test ride that one at some point in addition to the Randonee and we'll see from there I guess.
While on a tour this summer I met 4 people riding Vayas. A couple that were riding across Canada, a guy riding across the U.S. (he will probably finish his ride this week), and a women heading to Montana. They all had really good things to say about it. They were all fully loaded and it did look very much like a full on touring bike.

You can check out the cross country rider's CGOAB Journal and get a feeling of how he felt about the bike.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=337557&v=7J

P.S. I can tell you from expereince gearing is important!

Last edited by Doug64; 09-12-13 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 09-12-13, 10:05 PM
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My opinion FWIW: the Randonee isn't a real tourer and the Safari weighs more than it should.
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