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Tourer or MTB?

Old 10-13-13, 06:13 PM
  #1  
garyinoz
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Tourer or MTB?

Hi All,

I'm looking at doing a bit of touring next year, starting off with a couple of weeks in Myanmar. I'm after some advice as to what type of bike I should buy (none of my current ones are suitable). I plan on doing more off road touring such as Munda Biddi Trail in Western Australia and the old Rail road of NZ over the next couple of years.

I've looked at the Surly Ogre and I'm hoping to look at the Salsa Fargo. I'm wondering if this is overkill for the amount of use the bike will see? I plan on touring light so just rear panniers and a bike bag or one on the bars. Would I be better off buying a cheaper 29er such as the Trek x-Caliber 8 and buying quality racks? Obviously the Fargo and Ogre are more versatile and bomb proof (almost) where as most MTB's are aluminum. The Trek has 32 spokes on double butted rims so hopefully they're fairly strong wheels.

Thoughts on this please? Also would a 2x10 setup be enough?
Many thanks.
Gary
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Old 10-13-13, 07:22 PM
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I haven't been in a "developing" country for over a decade, so maybe smeone could clarify this: go with a bicycle that has 26" tires, NOT 29" or 700c. You'll easily be able to find 26" tires almost anywhere in the world, but the other two can be hard to find in some places. Look at the Surly Troll instead of the Ogre, and see if Salsa offers a 26" model similar to the Fargo. 26" tires wil just make life easier while on the road.
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Old 10-13-13, 07:25 PM
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Just saw a Fargo at my LBS Saturday. Definitely looks bombproof.
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Old 10-15-13, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by skidder View Post
I haven't been in a "developing" country for over a decade, so maybe smeone could clarify this: go with a bicycle that has 26" tires, NOT 29" or 700c. You'll easily be able to find 26" tires almost anywhere in the world, but the other two can be hard to find in some places. Look at the Surly Troll instead of the Ogre, and see if Salsa offers a 26" model similar to the Fargo. 26" tires wil just make life easier while on the road.
+1

It sounds like you're going to be touring on some pretty rough terrain in less developed areas. 26" wheels are definitely preferable: more durable, easier to find replacement tubes and tires.

I would suggest you consider the Surly Troll; basically the 26" wheel version of the Ogre. It's tough as nails, versatile, and very reasonably priced.
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Old 10-15-13, 02:46 PM
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Oregon Coast sees all sorts of bikes on tour ..

Also would a 2x10 setup be enough?
depends on the tooth counts and gear ratios ,

and the sacrifices to get in that extra 2 cogs in the space formerly occupied
by 8 is thinner steel .

Have you considered a Rohloff Hub ? all 14 ratios are packed in an oil bath.
and have the range of most triple crank MTB drivetrains..

Australia has a Koga dealer or 2, they sell in their signature program a complete touring bile with racks mud guards and lights

factory, NL, assembled then shipped out to your dealer to take delivery.
http://www.koga-signature.com/en/?utm_source=koga.com

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-15-13 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 10-15-13, 04:52 PM
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Hi All,

Thanks for the replies, good to get some feedback.

Good points about 29er parts in developing, I guess I've had my 29er for a while so can get a little complacent. The troll is a good option but is still over 2k here in Aus. Could probably do it cheaper buying the frame and building it up. Just need to rope in some friends to help. I guess I'm trying to determine if a cheaper mountain bike will suffice or whether I should up the budget. I've seen the Koga before and whilst they look the part I don't think it's suited to my planned touring.

More suggestions welcome.
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Old 10-15-13, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by garyinoz View Post
...The troll is a good option but is still over 2k here in Aus. Could probably do it cheaper buying the frame and building it up. ...
Yeah, that's what I'd do anyway. While not a deal-breaker, I'd prefer rim brakes for expedition touring - easier to fix is something goes wrong. I'm just speculating, but you could build up the frame rim brakes and comparable comps for a little less than the stock disc build.
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Old 10-15-13, 09:17 PM
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You likely also have some pre suspension fork MTB's down there 90 era.

those are fine . relatively simple to rebuild into a stable rugged touring bike..
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Old 10-15-13, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by AlanK View Post
+1

It sounds like you're going to be touring on some pretty rough terrain in less developed areas. 26" wheels are definitely preferable: more durable, easier to find replacement tubes and tires.

I would suggest you consider the Surly Troll; basically the 26" wheel version of the Ogre. It's tough as nails, versatile, and very reasonably priced.
I hear this alot but also hear nothing of regular wheel failures.
Theres lots of (IMO) very good bicycle touring sites on the web and I've yet to read one story suggesting inherent problems touring off road with 700c/28/29er wheels.
This suggests to me the issues are overstated.

OP I see your in OZ so I offer you a local forum website where you can talk to people who ride the Munda Bindi as well as elsewhere in Australia
http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/
A rich resource of local knowledge and a great crowd (like here is).

Some favorite bikepacking/bike touring sites (for me) which include serious touring on 29ers would include Cass Gilberts:
http://whileoutriding.com/
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
and my all time favorite source of inspiration, GJ Coops:
http://www.cycletrailsaustralia.com/
More great reading available on Western Australia riding from fellow forum member here Aushiker (Andrew) http://aushiker.com/
Hope you enjoy.

Welcome to the forum and
Happy Spinning

Last edited by rifraf; 10-15-13 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 10-15-13, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by rifraf View Post
I hear this alot but also hear nothing of regular wheel failures.
Theres lots of (IMO) very good bicycle touring sites on the web and I've yet to read one story suggesting inherent problems touring off road with 700c/28/29er wheels.
This suggests to me the issues are overstated. [snip]
Nancy Sathre-Vogel, who posted here throughout her family's 3-year tour from Alaska to Argentina, deals extensively with the 700c v. 26" question here: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2011/0...nitive-answer/ , including exactly how much trouble her 700c wheels caused her and how much more convenient 26" wheels would have been for her.
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Old 10-15-13, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Nerdanel View Post
Nancy Sathre-Vogel, who posted here throughout her family's 3-year tour from Alaska to Argentina, deals extensively with the 700c v. 26" question here: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2011/0...nitive-answer/ , including exactly how much trouble her 700c wheels caused her and how much more convenient 26" wheels would have been for her.
Hi Nerdanel
thank you for the link.
Ok, I've now read of one person with a 700c wheel issue.
I wasnt seriously suggesting there wasnt any postings on the vast internet where someone hadnt had an issue with 700c/28/29er wheels.
I was suggesting that the issues were overstated in my opinion (just an opinion and worth no more than any other).
I happily acknowledge that a 26er wheel is inherently stronger than a 700c/28/29 - just so theres no confusion about what I'm saying.
Hell I rode a touring bike with 20 inch wheels for nearly 20 years happily in the knowledge that my wheels were stronger than most of the competitions.
I in no way needed the expense of my 36 Sapim CX-Ray spokes to ensure this as 32 straight gauge would still have been more than ample for the claim.
However, even in your link I'd suggest the aforementioned bike was shod with budget factory wheels with no mention of getting them checked for correct tension by a wheelbuilder.
Perfectly adaquate for local conditions but a little brave perhaps for touring in a country where 26" is de riqueur.
Even my Moultons strong 20' wheels with 36 CX-rays get checked and tensioned before any extended touring as being stranded out in the sticks isnt my idea of a fun way to spend my valuable (to me) spare time.
However, I've just built up a Surly Ogre and am comfortable that my wheels are suitably strong for off road touring.
I've hopefully built a set with a good balance of strength to weight ratio able to take me where I want to go, loaded and with no personal wheel building skills.
I've used rims that Co-motion happily use on some of their touring tandems and 36 stainless bladed spokes.
My off road endeavors are of a fairly sedate nature with no jumps or large drops the younger mountain bikers fill U-Tube with today.
I believe I'd happily tour overseas on my wheels taking some precautions like professional tension check of spokes, enough spare spokes for a complete rebuild, spare folding tyres and tubes and a little more careful than usual with my trail abuse.
I think a little mitigation goes a long way and well maintained bikes dont usually give a lot of grief.
Can failure still occur?
Undoubtedly but people can and do ride all sorts of bicycles in all sorts of places that would boggle the minds of those who think they know better.
Theres some great reading on those sites I left links to.
I encourage everyone who hasnt, to have a squiz.
You dont have to change your mind about your favorite wheel size as I believe it comes down to personal choice taking into consideration the various issues and compromises necessary to mitigate potential a holiday of riding joy becoming riding/walking or pushing misery.
Happy Spinning
[h=3][/h]
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Old 10-16-13, 05:49 AM
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whatever you have will be fine for myanmar. roads are generally in good condition
and you'll be very limited in the areas you can travel. not a lot of bike-able tracks, as
you're still required to stay in the very few foreigner-authorized guesthouses. modern
gear can be found in yangon and bagan. mandalay has one small shop with a very
small selection of parts. everywhere else has your basic knock-off chinese garbage.
low-quality 26" tires can be found in most areas, but tubes can have some strange valve-
stems. don't expect useable rims or spokes outside of yangon.
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Old 10-16-13, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Nerdanel View Post
Nancy Sathre-Vogel, who posted here throughout her family's 3-year tour from Alaska to Argentina, deals extensively with the 700c v. 26" question here: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2011/0...nitive-answer/ , including exactly how much trouble her 700c wheels caused her and how much more convenient 26" wheels would have been for her.
Many people who post their experiences are basically their own opinion and not necessarily the facts. Just because someone has problems with 700c wheels in 3rd world countries does not mean someone else will. Or someone else will know how to fix it. I know someone who toured the world with a Bike Direct Windsor touring bike with 700c and had no problems whatsoever with his wheels. If he needs parts, he can shop on the internet and have the parts shipped via Fedex or UPS to him almost anywhere in the world. In fact when I used to work for a company that sponsored 2 riders riding around the world with 26" bikes, they had their Bruce Gordon rack failed and can not be repaired -- we have to Fedex new racks to them as well as their steel frame due to crash and someone in China who tried welding it and somehow destroyed the frame in the process. They had to ride a Chinese made 26" bikes with stickers of the brand of their sponsors. In a away, they were NOT even riding the sponsored bikes in those times and yet, they never divuldge these information. Why? It would be bad marketing and it would remove the mystique about 26" bikes. Why bad mouth a bike when they can sell more on hype. In regards to 26" wheels. Yes, they are more abundant, but they are not necessarily carrying the same quality unless you are in big cities.

People should use bikes based on their needs, not on FEAR of whatifs or maybe(s). Life is unpredictable already. What is important if you tour outside of America is that you do not want to get sick, because you have more chances of getting sick or ill than your bike breaking down.

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Old 10-16-13, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Nerdanel View Post
Nancy Sathre-Vogel, who posted here throughout her family's 3-year tour from Alaska to Argentina, deals extensively with the 700c v. 26" question here: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2011/0...nitive-answer/ , including exactly how much trouble her 700c wheels caused her and how much more convenient 26" wheels would have been for her.
In fairness I think it should be pointed out that the lovely Nancy was describing a tour that took place back in 2008.
I'm sure I dont need to mention that we're only a couple of months shy of 2014 making her recollections upward of 5 years ago.
Reading the many posts and scrolling down her page I come across a message from Mike:

"
Mike March 10, 2013 at 11:56 pm #
I am currently touring through Central America. I think I would have gambled with a 700c/29er knowing what I know now. While not very widespread I have seen a fair share of 700c tubes and tires. If you get a set of quality hand built wheels you should not experience any broken spokes. I have been riding on very rough terrain for nearly 6 months and have had zero flats, maybe I am just lucky. In many parts of South America road cycling is very popular and the 29er popularity has spread down this way. It seems to me you should be ok going 700c with quality wheels, tubes, tires and spares. Now Africa, from my experience, would pose a different problem but i have read of people pulling it off."

Another reason I have a fair amount of faith in my 622 wheels is utilising a 36 spoke IGH my rear wheel is dishless and my front 36 spoke dynamo hub isnt far off it. The disk braked Son28 has a minor dish due to the disk but utilises the same size spokes (286mm) for each side.

Last edited by rifraf; 10-16-13 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 10-16-13, 03:35 PM
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For some riders in some situations I think there are 2 crucial reasons to consider 26" wheels over 700c:

1) Smaller riders. Frames for riders shorter than about 5'8" generally work better with 26" wheels - less toe/front wheel overlap, more stable, etc.

2) Durability is paramount. While generally not a major issue, all other things being equal, since 26" wheels have shorter spokes and an overall smaller diameter they are more durable; again, assuming all other things are equal.

That said, in most situations 700c wheels have better riding characteristics and are plenty durable when built by a skilled builder with quality comps. This is probably the best article I've read comparing 26" v 700c for touring. While there are many schools of thought, this makes the most sense of any article I've read:

http://cyclingabout.com/index.php/20...e-for-touring/
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Old 10-16-13, 08:00 PM
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I have a 29er hard tail that is my mt. bike/touring bike. In all honesty I would take off on an around the world tour and not have a huge wheel concern. IMHO good 29" mt. bike wheels are up to the task of touring.
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Old 10-16-13, 08:31 PM
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Thanks all for the comments - some good discussion on wheel size. I would personally favour a 29er and I guess if I did buy one for touring be it off the shelf or DIY I would probably look at getting a 36 hole wheel built for the rear.

Thanks for the links rifraf, some good and inspiring stuff. Like the Ogre by the way, how did the DIY build compare to buying the generic complete bike +/-?

I see Jamis do a Steel 29er which is fairly reasonable on price.
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Old 10-16-13, 09:10 PM
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I don't worry too much about 700 C wheels breaking, but getting tires in a touring range anywhere but online is a fool's errant. If I was worried about that, I would just carry some spares.
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Old 10-16-13, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by garyinoz View Post
Thanks all for the comments - some good discussion on wheel size. I would personally favour a 29er and I guess if I did buy one for touring be it off the shelf or DIY I would probably look at getting a 36 hole wheel built for the rear.

Thanks for the links rifraf, some good and inspiring stuff. Like the Ogre by the way, how did the DIY build compare to buying the generic complete bike +/-?

I see Jamis do a Steel 29er which is fairly reasonable on price.
Hi Garyinoz,
glad you liked the links.
Buying the Ogre frame from Jensonusa was cheaper than buying local and I think I was able to get the frame/fork combo with two rims and a bottom bracket with shipping for $70 under the frame/fork local price.
Buying everything online from starbike.com, bike24.net and wiggle.com meant all my parts were around half the price of buying local.
The cost was still substantial (for my limited funds) but way cheaper than buying a complete bike and then slowly customising it.
No one offered a off the shelf bike locally with the spec I wanted (that I could find).
I guess I've spent a bit more than a local priced off the shelf Ogre but my bikes spec is way beyond that
for not a large amount more money.
I found getting jobs done that I couldnt do myself like wheel building was the time consuming and most frustrating part of the build.
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Old 10-16-13, 11:44 PM
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you may not need to worry too much about well-built wheels breaking on
those rough roads and trails, but if you're traveling in developing countries,
you're likely to be using public transportation occasionally. baggage handling
is also developing.

if you're not there to supervise the loading, your bike could be laid down flat
with a couple sacks of cement and a bag of live chickens stacked on top, or
squeezed/forced into spots not large enough or unsuitable. wheels and
derailleurs particularly vulnerable.
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Old 10-21-13, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
you may not need to worry too much about well-built wheels breaking on
those rough roads and trails, but if you're traveling in developing countries,
you're likely to be using public transportation occasionally. baggage handling
is also developing.

if you're not there to supervise the loading, your bike could be laid down flat
with a couple sacks of cement and a bag of live chickens stacked on top, or
squeezed/forced into spots not large enough or unsuitable. wheels and
derailleurs particularly vulnerable.
Also with that in mind, would a steel frame be a better choice over modern aluminum frames?
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Old 10-21-13, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by garyinoz View Post
Also with that in mind, would a steel frame be a better choice over modern aluminum frames?
Yes.

Also, non-disc brake in the context that saddlesores discusses. The discs themselves have to be coddled when travelling by air to ensure they aren't bent (ie, removing them from the hub when packing is a good idea).

In addition, spokes are what will take the brunt of any bad treatment. If you can. get 36H wheels as a bent spoke is less like to cause issues with trueness (as I have found on several trips). I am a convert to Mavic 719 700C rims which we use on the tandem (32H) and Thorn touring bikes (36H). But I also like Velocity Dyad rims.

I also probably would opt for the 29er so you can use wider, MTB tyres, but depending on how long you intend to tour, you may need to take a pair of new folding tyres, which adds quite a lot of bulk to your load.

Take on board what saddlesores says about the restrictions in Myanmar for foreign travellers. From what I understand, there has been enlightenment in the government in the past two years about the need for foreign income from tourism, but remember the country has just come out of an extended period of totalitarian rule that closed it off from the rest of the world, and the rules about foreign travel may well still be very, very restrictive.
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Old 10-21-13, 05:01 PM
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Also in the context of what saddlesores said, derailleur hangers become vulnerable. Steel ones that are part of the frame can be bent back into place. Aluminium ones cannot more than once.

Usually alloy frames have separate hangers, and if you find yourself with a bike having one, buy a replacement or two to take with you, making sure they do actually fit the frame (there are about as many different sorts of derailleur hangers out there as saddles).

A bent hanger can cause catastrophic damage to derailleur, chain and wheel, and in worst-case scenarios, the frame.
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Old 10-21-13, 05:18 PM
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Thanks for the comments Rowan. I have been looking at Mavic 719 rims with 36 holes so nice to hear you recommend them. I've broken rear derailleur's in the past, so would definitely pack a spare.

From the research I've done and continue to do, Myanmar is changing very rapidly and opening up to tourists, that said there are still plenty of no go areas but I'm working out a route based on what people have traveled before.
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Old 10-21-13, 05:28 PM
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Just as a by and by, look at chainreactioncycles, Wiggle and St John St Cyclery in the UK for sourcing something different from the usual spread of US-centric bikes.

We imported Thorn Club Tour frames for our touring bike directly from SJS. I think the all up cost for each frame was around $700.

They are a good platform to build a 700C tourer. They aren't expedition frames (and from Thorn, expedition frames are pretty well locked into 26" and IGH).

I sourced most of the add-ons from Wiggle and CRC and I think the total build cost was around $1200 each (it was around 18 months ago, and I don't have the receipts handy).

The distinct advantage is that you can import into Australia stuff worth under $1,000 with having to pay GST or VAT, and the freight costs are very, very reasonable on the frames, and nothing if you buy above certain threshholds with the other two suppliers.

(Just note, that there are restrictions on importing some item from CRC and Wiggle because of certain agreements in the EU and elsewhere. As I recall, Mavic rims were among those, and I had to source those from Cecil Walker in Melbourne.)

Last edited by Rowan; 10-21-13 at 05:32 PM.
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