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Expedition bike choices

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Expedition bike choices

Old 10-13-13, 07:30 PM
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Expedition bike choices

My son and I are shopping for an expedition touring bike for him. Salsa Fargo is the general first choice but we thought we should gather some opinions. Any suggestions?
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Old 10-13-13, 07:39 PM
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Depends on the expedition.

For other countries like South America, a 26" wheel size is better because of a lack of 700c wheels. They're also slightly stronger, but if you get good wheels you probably won't need to worry about that.

You also need to decide how much is on-road and how much is off-road. The Fargo is an awesome off-roader, but if you're on trails and dirt roads the whole time, you might want even wider tires.

Check out Thorn bicycles. It's a very well-regarded expedition bike with the 26" wheel size.
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Old 10-14-13, 07:13 AM
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What is an expedition in your opinion? To some people, an expedition is anything more arduous than going to the grocery store, I think an expedition is not really an expedition if you are always within 50 miles of help or are mostly on pavement.

Some expedition bikes use internally geared hub, other derailleur. Do you have a preference?

And, some frames are designed more for drop bars and others for flat bars, which is your preference?

You need to know the answers to the above before you can really do detail shopping.

Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
... ...
Check out Thorn bicycles. It's a very well-regarded expedition bike with the 26" wheel size.
I have the Thorn Sherpa (older version), quite happy with it. And recently built up a Thorn Nomad (Mk II version) with Rohloff, it is a heavy duty bike but is quite heavy. I bought both as frames, not complete bikes. Both are 26 inch wheel size, but Thorn also has some 700c bikes.

My LHT is 700c from first year of frame production. I think the tubing is a bit light for what I would define as an expedition, but the 26 inch (wheel size, not frame size) LHT could be a good expedition bike if you pack light or buy a smaller sized frame. Again - what do you define as an expedition?

Thorn has an unusual sizing method, they have frames with shorter top tubes for drop bars and longer top tubes for flat bars. I do not know of any other company that does this.
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Old 10-14-13, 11:52 AM
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Tourist-- My son will tour on every surface from smooth pavement to remote single track...maybe in the same tour. We are planning a tour that will include pavement and the Continental Divide Trail.

Mdilthey--Fargos are good for 2.3" tires, that is wide enough for anything I think.
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Old 10-14-13, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
Tourist-- My son will tour on every surface from smooth pavement to remote single track...maybe in the same tour. We are planning a tour that will include pavement and the Continental Divide Trail.
...
For the complete range of single track to pavement, the Thorn Sherpa or Nomad models are good. Co-Motion, I have never owned one but from what I hear they are also good bikes. But as mentioned by someone above, I would suggest the 26 inch wheel size. If you are looking at smaller sized frames, LHT may be robust enough. I think my LHT being a larger size would feel a bit like a wet noodle. There really are quite a few very good bikes out there that could work very well for something like this.

My Thorn Sherpa will not take a wider tire than 50mm (2.0 inch) since I have fenders, the fork crown is the limiting factor. My Thorn Nomad will take 57mm (2.25 inch) in front. I think any place that needs a wider tire than these is a place where I would rather not have a bike loaded down with camping gear.

Take a look at the bikes at this link, that will give you an idea of some of what is out there, but note that some of these photos are several years old. The background of the photos should give you an idea what type of terrain they are traveling thru with each type of bike.
http://www.pbase.com/canyonlands/fullyloaded
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Old 10-14-13, 04:14 PM
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26" wheel rigid fork hardtail bikes . in general..

Co Motion made for You , all the custom features you can ask for.., OR.
similar from Rodriquez, R&E in Seattle , Bruce Gordon in Petaluma Cal.

If you are in their dealer service area [out of the US) Koga Signature line, Rohloff hub, (36 hole shell) Schmidt front hub
trekking bars, Thudbuster ST seat post Mavic ex721 rims.. disc or rim brakes your choice..

Tubus Racks, Ortlieb panniers ..


You also have some Custom builders in Colorado.. Moots, building In Titanium , one.
BoulderBikes another ..

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Old 10-14-13, 10:22 PM
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Theres a bike for every budget although like all things, the lower your budget the more likely there will be compromises in the end result.
Thought as your looking at Fargos I'd suggest you consider looking at some of Surly's offerings like their Troll and Ogre.
http://surlybikes.com/bikes/ogre
http://surlybikes.com/bikes/troll
If worried about their ability to expedition tour I think you should peruse:
http://whileoutriding.com/
as Cass Gilbert has extensively toured on many of the above mentioned bikes and talks about their different strengths and weakness's from his view point.
I've read a few criticisms of the Fargo in that it doesn't like to be heavily laden.
Comments about shimmy abound (again heavily laden) though I've no opinion on this myself having never ridden one.
(You could start your research with the Crazy Guy On A Bike site:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/ )
I've been building up a custom Surly Ogre myself for exploring Western Australia conditions both on road and off.
Nearly finished


Good luck with the agonizing decision process OP
Happy Spinning

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Old 10-15-13, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by rifraf View Post
Theres a bike for every budget although like all things, the lower your budget the more likely there will be compromises in the end result.
Thought as your looking at Fargos I'd suggest you consider looking at some of Surly's offerings like their Troll and Ogre.
http://surlybikes.com/bikes/ogre
http://surlybikes.com/bikes/troll
If worried about their ability to expedition tour I think you should peruse:
http://whileoutriding.com/
as Cass Gilbert has extensively toured on many of the above mentioned bikes and talks about their different strengths and weakness's from his view point.
I've read a few criticisms of the Fargo in that it doesn't like to be heavily laden.
Comments about shimmy abound (again heavily laden) though I've no opinion on this myself having never ridden one.
(You could start your research with the Crazy Guy On A Bike site:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/ )
I've been building up a custom Surly Ogre myself for exploring Western Australia conditions both on road and off.
Nearly finished


Good luck with the agonizing decision process OP
Happy Spinning
Thanks for the advice. I have done quite a bit of shopping and research and I find a Fargo to be a desirable choice because there are many good used for sale, they're versitle and high quality plus a Salsa dealer nearby where I live. Also, I don't find the process of bike shopping too agonizing
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Old 10-15-13, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
Tourist-- My son will tour on every surface from smooth pavement to remote single track...maybe in the same tour. We are planning a tour that will include pavement and the Continental Divide Trail.

Mdilthey--Fargos are good for 2.3" tires, that is wide enough for anything I think.
You may want to rethink your choices. I've done some mountain bike touring on fully rigid bikes here in Colorado and it's not pleasant even on wide tires. I would suggest you buy (or borrow) an old rigid bike and take it up something like Coffee Pot Road or some other local road around Gypsum to see how you like it. Then think about how that would work over 3 or 4 days or even a couple of weeks.

Most people come towards off-road touring from the road side. I would approach it from the mountain bike side first. Yes, a road bike will handle the paved bits better than a mountain bike but that's the easy part. A mountain bike may be slow on pavement but a rigid road bike is even slower and harder to ride off-pavement. You can get forks that can be locked out so that they are nearly rigid for on-road use (Fox forks are the best at that) but once things get gnarly, suspension offers not just comfort but control. Bouncing around on rocks with a rigid fork requires far more skill and effort than suspension does.

Mostly it depends on whether you want to do mostly road riding with some dirt road links or mostly dirt road/off-road with some paved links. It sounds like your sone wants to the the latter. My personal preference for that type of touring is a Moots YBB. I have one with a Fox fork. It's very nice for off-road while having a very simple...and lockable...rear suspension. They aren't cheap new but occasionally you can find a used one. Here's mine



I've used it with a trailer and with Relevate bags. The Relevate bags are a better choice in my opinion.

A hardtail with a suspension fork would be a good (and cheaper) second choice.
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Old 10-15-13, 09:45 AM
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What spec of forks are best for exped touring?
Air/spring
what travel?
The Magura Odur used to be favoured for touring, being a 100mm spring fork.
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Old 10-15-13, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
My personal preference for that type of touring is a Moots YBB. I have one with a Fox fork. It's very nice for off-road while having a very simple...and lockable...rear suspension. They aren't cheap new but occasionally you can find a used one. Here's mine



I've used it with a trailer and with Relevate bags. The Relevate bags are a better choice in my opinion.

A hardtail with a suspension fork would be a good (and cheaper) second choice.

I love that bike... How much was it?

Do you know of any companies making a similar soft-tail bike that uses a steel frame instead of a titanium one?

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Old 10-15-13, 10:05 AM
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What spec of forks are best for exped touring?
Air/spring
what travel?
The Magura Odur used to be favoured for touring, being a 100mm spring fork.
I'm thinking None .. K.I.S.S. a regular fork will not have air/oil seal failures, and such, to worry about ..


Though Tout Terrain Panamerica http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/bicycles/panamericana/
may be your Idea of All single track Touring ..

Most stick to Paved or Dirt roads then something like the Silk Road Makes more sense.
http://www.en.tout-terrain.de/bicycl...d-silkroad-gt/
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Old 10-15-13, 10:20 AM
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@OP: There's a reason all the expedition bikes have 26" wheels. I wouldn't go with the fargo even though it's marketed as an off-road touring bike, for this purpose.
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Old 10-15-13, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
@OP: There's a reason all the expedition bikes have 26" wheels. I wouldn't go with the fargo even though it's marketed as an off-road touring bike, for this purpose.
Please expand on this bias
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Old 10-15-13, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by rifraf View Post
Please expand on this bias
Ok, if you're touring in the United States, and you crash and break your wheel on your 700c/29er Fargo, you can go to a bike shop in any state and get a new wheel made or shipped overnight. Done deal.

"Expedition" bikes are called that because they're designed to travel over any terrain, in any country. In South America, a 700c wheel is very rare and hard to have shipped. If you break a wheel, you need to be running 26's to replace it.

Additionally, since a 26" wheel has a tighter circumference, it resists deformation more than a 700c/29er wheel. It won't dent or taco as easily; it's stronger. A stronger wheel is better for rough-stuff expedition touring where reliability and durability are critical. A 700c wheel will roll a bit better, but you sacrifice strength. Most riders won't notice the sacrifice, but someone on an expedition will.
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Old 10-15-13, 10:59 AM
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Hi Mdilthey
Did you happen to peruse the link to Cass Gilberts site I left a link too above?
He's one of a growing number of bike packing tourists utilising 29ers.
Visits to South America take up most but not all of his blogging.

It is accurate that wheel repairs are problematic for catastrophic failures in some countries for non 26 wheels as far as spare parts go - I'll certainly concede that.

Actually I've edited this post as perhaps your statement is more accurate than I gave it credit for.
Thorn rate their 26er Nomad as an "Expediton" build whist their Sterling (29) as a touring mountainbike.

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Old 10-15-13, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
You may want to rethink your choices. I've done some mountain bike touring on fully rigid bikes here in Colorado and it's not pleasant even on wide tires. I would suggest you buy (or borrow) an old rigid bike and take it up something like Coffee Pot Road or some other local road around Gypsum to see how you like it. Then think about how that would work over 3 or 4 days or even a couple of weeks.

Most people come towards off-road touring from the road side. I would approach it from the mountain bike side first. Yes, a road bike will handle the paved bits better than a mountain bike but that's the easy part. A mountain bike may be slow on pavement but a rigid road bike is even slower and harder to ride off-pavement. You can get forks that can be locked out so that they are nearly rigid for on-road use (Fox forks are the best at that) but once things get gnarly, suspension offers not just comfort but control. Bouncing around on rocks with a rigid fork requires far more skill and effort than suspension does.

Mostly it depends on whether you want to do mostly road riding with some dirt road links or mostly dirt road/off-road with some paved links. It sounds like your sone wants to the the latter. My personal preference for that type of touring is a Moots YBB. I have one with a Fox fork. It's very nice for off-road while having a very simple...and lockable...rear suspension. They aren't cheap new but occasionally you can find a used one. Here's mine



I've used it with a trailer and with Relevate bags. The Relevate bags are a better choice in my opinion.

A hardtail with a suspension fork would be a good (and cheaper) second choice.
Some good points. My son is 16 and I'm footing the bill for this bike so a Moots is probably out of the question. I am considering buying a suspension for for a Fargo (if we end up with that) for the rougher trips, as I am considering a rigid fork for my mountain/touring bike that is currently equipped with a suspension fork. Also, I started mt. biking before suspension forks existed so I can say to my son, "when I was a boy...."! Thanks!
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Old 10-15-13, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
...but a rigid road bike is even slower and harder to ride off-pavement. You can get forks that can be locked out so that they are nearly rigid for on-road use (Fox forks are the best at that) but once things get gnarly, suspension offers not just comfort but control. Bouncing around on rocks with a rigid fork requires far more skill and effort than suspension does.
Not to be understated. I don't mountain bike. In '11 we did a tour in MT that had some unpaved sections. One was 20 miles and part of it was very rough. Some of it was even bare rock. Trying to control my loaded LHT was a chore at times. Did an 62 mile event last year that was mostly on unpaved roads. A lot of rough sections. Gullies from runoff. Downhill sections with stones larger than railroad ballast. Rocks imbeded in the ground. Not fun at all with a rigid fork and I wasn't even carryung gear on that ride.
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Old 10-15-13, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
What spec of forks are best for exped touring?
Air/spring
what travel?
The Magura Odur used to be favoured for touring, being a 100mm spring fork.
I'd go with a Fox Float. Rugged, good lockout and very reliable. I've tried Rock Shox and Manitou. Rock Shox forks don't have a real good lock out so the bobbing drove me crazy. Manitou forks have a better lockout but they aren't quite as rugged as the Fox.

Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
I love that bike... How much was it?

Do you know of any companies making a similar soft-tail bike that uses a steel frame instead of a titanium one?
The frame is a 1998 that I got for ~$900. It's a bit different now...I tinker with my bikes all the time...with some higher end stuff on it now and would go around $3 K.

There are a few people making steel soft tails out there. Moots and Dean make expensive ones in titanium. Curtlo makes one for $1100 for the frame. Wiley Canine makes a titanium one which they don't give the price for but their titanium mountain bikes are very reasonably priced for titanium. Siren made one for a while but have stopped because they can't get the shock any more. KHS made some and Salsa made the Dos Niner for a while but both have stopped production. There may be a few others out there.

Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
Some good points. My son is 16 and I'm footing the bill for this bike so a Moots is probably out of the question. I am considering buying a suspension for for a Fargo (if we end up with that) for the rougher trips, as I am considering a rigid fork for my mountain/touring bike that is currently equipped with a suspension fork. Also, I started mt. biking before suspension forks existed so I can say to my son, "when I was a boy...."! Thanks!
Trek 4 series mountain bikes and Specialized Rockhoppers have rack mounts on the rear. They aren't horribly expensive and would make serviceable off-road expedition bikes. There are a few other mountain bikes that would work without breaking the bank.
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Old 10-15-13, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post


The frame is a 1998 that I got for ~$900. It's a bit different now...I tinker with my bikes all the time...with some higher end stuff on it now and would go around $3 K.
At the risk of thread drift... where can I keep my eyes open for this specific frame other than ebay?
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Old 10-15-13, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
My son and I are shopping for an expedition touring bike for him. Salsa Fargo is the general first choice but we thought we should gather some opinions. Any suggestions?
There are mint-condition or little-used bikes out there that would be more than enough.

I bought a Trek 930 last summer for a song, and have done some light and ultralight touring with it. It could easily do the Great Divide. It handles very well, and the frame is made in the USA from a very strong OX tubing. I really like this bike. I have other quality mountain bikes from the 80s and 90s that are just fine for years on end of expedition touring.

Some of the air-hardening or exotic steels are excellent, They are extremely durable, and I like the feel and the ride qualities. You can definitely find them in some of the older bikes. (Standard 4130s would work too, but to me these other steels have advantages that are worth having.)

There are guys over in the Classic and Vintage Forum (here on bikeforums.net) who really know the field. There are threads on specific models. They would have some good recommendations.

Many of the higher-end used bikes would work just fine. There are many models and vintages that are perfectly expedition capable.

Keeping the touring loads' weight down will help a lot in the mountains and on trails. It will help with the handling, and with reducing fatigue. Portaging is much easier, along with more technical riding.

A good suspension seatpost (Thudbuster for example) might be worth having. And there are some suspension stems that are viable alternatives or additions to front suspension. (The bike I use the most for heavy-duty trips has all three, and I like it. Not only for the comfort, but also for the extra degree of safety -- it has saved me from some very nasty accidents in extreme situations.)
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Old 10-15-13, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
At the risk of thread drift... where can I keep my eyes open for this specific frame other than ebay?
They show up on Craiglist here in Denver occasionally.
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Old 10-16-13, 09:02 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
@OP: There's a reason all the expedition bikes have 26" wheels. I wouldn't go with the fargo even though it's marketed as an off-road touring bike, for this purpose.
Originally Posted by rifraf View Post
Please expand on this bias
Another reason: Expedition usually means a wider tire. And expedition also usually means you will be buying tires along the way. Even in USA where 700c tires are readily available, you might not be able to find a 47mm or 50mm or 55mm or 57mm width 700c tire when you need it and you may have to substitute something else. Or, wait for one to be shipped. While tires of virtually any width and quality are available and can be shipped to you, they may not be immediately available in the store you walked into.
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Old 10-16-13, 09:43 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Another reason: Expedition usually means a wider tire. And expedition also usually means you will be buying tires along the way. Even in USA where 700c tires are readily available, you might not be able to find a 47mm or 50mm or 55mm or 57mm width 700c tire when you need it and you may have to substitute something else. Or, wait for one to be shipped. While tires of virtually any width and quality are available and can be shipped to you, they may not be immediately available in the store you walked into.
I hear you.
We even have that issue in Australia.

When I do an extended tour, I take spare folding tyres just for this eventuality.
Try finding 20 x 1.75 Marathon Plus's in here abouts (for my Moulton APB) in a hurry would bring tears to a saint.
Luckily here in Australia, shipping from Wiggle is generally around a week.
Any 28 x 2.00 Schwalbe tyres tend to have to come from Germany for good pricing so I tend to buy spares in advance (bike24.net and/starbike.com).
The Ogre will be shod with 2 inch folding Supremes for long tarmac stretches and 2 inch folding Mondials for extended off tarmac duty.

I've got a lot of faith in my Ogres wheels.
I've had them built by a wheel builder utilising Dyad rims and CX-Ray spokes.
36H Rohloff on the rear is dishless so builds a stable wheel platform and my Son28 disk hub (again 36H) only has a small dish and uses the same 286mm spoke lengths for both sides of the hub.
Any extended trips would see them into the wheelbuilders for a tune up prior to leaving.

Last edited by rifraf; 10-16-13 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 10-17-13, 06:27 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by mtn.cyclist View Post
...we thought we should gather some opinions. Any suggestions?
Tout Terrain Silk Road? Bruce Gordon Rock&Road Tour? Alex Moulton TSR27?
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