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Light Tour Bike?

Old 10-31-13, 07:32 AM
  #1  
rcousineau
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Light Tour Bike?

I currently have a Novara Randonee touring bike which I use for touring and commuting. It is a great tour bike but not the greatest bike for commuting because how heavy it is. I have been interested in a steel bike made by a new bike company called Volagi. It is a steel bike with disc brakes and only weighs 21.75 pounds which would be awesome for commuting and winter rides! I know it is not an ideal bike for long tours with heavy loads but do you think it would be suitable for lighter 1000 mile bike tours? Is the chainstay long enough for panniers? Any advice would be great!

http://volagi.com/bikes/viaje-xl-shimano-105
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Old 10-31-13, 08:09 AM
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I'd assemble the gear you intend to bring, then figure what carrying system would work, then lastly determine whether the bike you're looking for would work out.

IMHO, for any sort of a non-lightweight setup, this bike's chain rings are too big. A 26 or smaller ring is essential. I don't think that even a 12-36 cassette will be enough with 34-50 up front. But again, it depends on how much stuff you plan to bring. And that's the question you need to settle first.

Especially with a light load, disc brakes are not necessary.

The size of your feet, the placement of your cleats (if used), the fit of your rack, and the width of your panniers determine whether a given chainstay length is adequate. This bike does not have the 45 cm of many touring bikes, so you'll have to bear this in mind while considering shoes, brand of rack, and brand of pannier.

Last edited by Cyclesafe; 10-31-13 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 10-31-13, 11:17 AM
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Thsoe chainstay are very short. (For comparison, a Surly LHT has 46cm chainstays. Your Randonee probably has 43.5cm schainstays.) If you don't have big dogs like I do, the difference might not be a factor. It also appears from the photo that the seat stay brazeons are below the top of front wheel. You might need some seriously long rack stays.
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Old 10-31-13, 12:14 PM
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Is the chainstay long enough for panniers?
They, As I see, even curved the seat tube because the chainstays are so short.

How about a big Old style saddle bag?, or a beam rack, and rack-top bag ,
maybe with "Spaniel Ears" hanging down, but still high enough to clear your feet.



to do light tours bring money , stay in motels every night, eat out.

carry minimal stuff.

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-24-13 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 10-31-13, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by rcousineau View Post
do you think it would be suitable for lighter 1000 mile bike tours?
How light is lighter? That is likely to be a key factor.

Originally Posted by rcousineau View Post
do you think it would be suitable for lighter 1000 mile bike tours? Is the chainstay long enough for panniers?
How big and what shape the panniers are and how big your feet are is likely to also be a key factor.

It is possible to camp and cook with very little gear, so it is possible, but most riders prefer to carry more than I would want to carry on that bike.

If you are going light enough it definitely can work. I figure that at about 25 pounds and under of gear (not counting food or water), small front panniers are the way to go. Put the tent on the back on a very light rack. No rear panniers required.

If you go really light you can get by with a few pounds in a dray bag on the rear rack, a couple pounds on the handlebar, and maybe 3 pounds on your back. I did that for a ST from San Diego to Florida and it worked very well for me. I think my base gear weight was 14 pounds on that trip and I was fully outfitted for camping and cooking. I have gone even lighter since then.

The thing is that packing that light is not for everyone. If it works for you the bike might be fine.

BTW: If you are not willing to go that light another option might be a trailer.
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Old 11-14-13, 02:25 PM
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Regarding the chainstay question, one suggestion is to attach the panniers back as far as you can on the rack. I have big feet and have had no problems with heel strike by doing this.

On many racks you can install the mounting hardware in such a way that the rack is as far back from the seat stays as possible. The center support strut might not be exactly vertical, but it shouldn't pose a problem if you are traveling light. Also, some racks might be longer than others along the top, which will give you even more room.

I foolishly did two tours on an old Centurion racing bike with chainstays that weren't much longer than my finger and using the above tricks I had plenty of heel clearance.
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Old 11-14-13, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by rcousineau View Post
I currently have a Novara Randonee touring bike which I use for touring and commuting. It is a great tour bike but not the greatest bike for commuting because how heavy it is. I have been interested in a steel bike made by a new bike company called Volagi. It is a steel bike with disc brakes and only weighs 21.75 pounds which would be awesome for commuting and winter rides! I know it is not an ideal bike for long tours with heavy loads but do you think it would be suitable for lighter 1000 mile bike tours? Is the chainstay long enough for panniers? Any advice would be great!

http://volagi.com/bikes/viaje-xl-shimano-105
The bike you've picked is an endurance-class road bike. It's in the same category as the Specialized Roubaix, Specialized Secteur, Giant Defy, Cannondale Synapse, Felt Z-series, etc. Some people think that these bikes are fine for touring, especially if you can limit yourself to 10-15lbs of gear. With a heavier load, you'll be begging for longer chain stays and a longer wheelbase. I tried riding my endurance bike (a Cervelo RS) with a light (~15lbs) load and wasn't happy with the way the bike handled. If you've managed to find a tour that's dead-flat for 1000 miles, the stock gearing might be OK. If you need to climb hills with anything more than 10-15lbs of gear, you'll likely want lower gearing.

In your situation, I built a touring bike around Nashbar's double-butted aluminum touring frame. It's cheap, light and stiff, but rides like a dream on 700x35 tires. The bike is setup for cantilever brakes, but you can do what I did and swap the front fork for one with a disc brake mount. Not counting the weight of water bottles, racks, or luggage, the bike weighs 22-23lbs. That's probably 7-10lbs lighter than most steel touring bikes.
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Old 11-21-13, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
In your situation, I built a touring bike around Nashbar's double-butted aluminum touring frame. It's cheap, light and stiff, but rides like a dream on 700x35 tires. The bike is setup for cantilever brakes, but you can do what I did and swap the front fork for one with a disc brake mount. Not counting the weight of water bottles, racks, or luggage, the bike weighs 22-23lbs. That's probably 7-10lbs lighter than most steel touring bikes.
Information like this is really useful. I've been looking for possibilities for a touring bike that runs a lot lighter than the usual suspects, as most of them are vastly overbuilt for the load I'd put on them (self plus touring gear probably wouldn't exceed 150 pounds.)
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Old 11-21-13, 01:54 AM
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Frame features of touring bikes can be done in light weight materials , Ideally you bring a good credit line
in plastic, along .. so most kit stays home..

how do you want to carry your Gear ? rear panniers 18" chainstays are beneficial.

there are premium heat treated steel tube-sets to build frames from,

that cost more than many decent bikes ..
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Old 11-21-13, 03:54 AM
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I'd think that by the time you add up the weight of you, bike, water, food, and sufficient gear to safely and comfortably do a 1000-mile self-supported tour (even hoteling) the difference between the weight of your current Randonee and this bike you're considering would be almost inconsequential. Run what you brung.

- Mark
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Old 11-21-13, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by pataspen View Post
Regarding the chainstay question, one suggestion is to attach the panniers back as far as you can on the rack. I have big feet and have had no problems with heel strike by doing this.

On many racks you can install the mounting hardware in such a way that the rack is as far back from the seat stays as possible. The center support strut might not be exactly vertical, but it shouldn't pose a problem if you are traveling light. Also, some racks might be longer than others along the top, which will give you even more room.

I foolishly did two tours on an old Centurion racing bike with chainstays that weren't much longer than my finger and using the above tricks I had plenty of heel clearance.
Cantilevering the load off the back of a short wheel base bike raise other issues than heel clearance. You end up with the tail wagging the dog. On a short wheelbase bike like the Volagi, the tail would wag the dog even more. The bike is probably a wonderful go-fast bike. That would make it a terrible touring bike.
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Old 11-21-13, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
Not counting the weight of water bottles, racks, or luggage, the bike weighs 22-23lbs. That's probably 7-10lbs lighter than most steel touring bikes.
Your Nashbar aluminum frame is probably about a pound lighter than a Long Haul Trucker frame. Assuming you have a slightly lighter fork, your bike is 1-2 pounds lighter than a steel touring bike, not 7-10.
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Old 11-21-13, 10:27 AM
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Cantilevering the load off the back of a short wheel base bike raise other issues than heel clearance.
You end up with the tail wagging the dog.
thats where adding weight to the bike frame helps.. oversize, thicker tube wall, frame material.
Rigid rack fitting.

Touring , JRA, most of the time, it becomes just another over-thought data point..
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Old 11-21-13, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
I'd think that by the time you add up the weight of you, bike, water, food, and sufficient gear to safely and comfortably do a 1000-mile self-supported tour (even hoteling) the difference between the weight of your current Randonee and this bike you're considering would be almost inconsequential. Run what you brung.

- Mark
Exactly. But if you just want a sexy new bike, then get one.
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Old 11-21-13, 11:35 AM
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As far as commuting goes... I have a 17.25 pound racing bike and a 27 pound Soma Saga with heavy wheels. Between the 2 bikes the difference in time over a 10 mile climb isn't all that great.
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Old 11-21-13, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rcousineau View Post
do you think it would be suitable for lighter 1000 mile bike tours? Is the chainstay long enough for panniers? Any advice would be great!

http://volagi.com/bikes/viaje-xl-shimano-105
Sure it's suitable. Hook up a trailer, load it up, pedal off. You ARE allowed a bar bag.
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Old 11-21-13, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ham View Post
Your Nashbar aluminum frame is probably about a pound lighter than a Long Haul Trucker frame. Assuming you have a slightly lighter fork, your bike is 1-2 pounds lighter than a steel touring bike, not 7-10.
All the weights I've seen published for the LHT complete bike are in the 30+lb range. That's a 7+lb difference over 22-23lb bike that I built... Granted, that weight difference is spread across the frame, wheels, components, etc.
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Old 11-21-13, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
All the weights I've seen published for the LHT complete bike are in the 30+lb range. That's a 7+lb difference over 22-23lb bike that I built... Granted, that weight difference is spread across the frame, wheels, components, etc.
A bare LHT (no racks, fenders, etc.) weighs around 25-26 pounds, and according to Surly a medium frame weighs 2340g. A heavy bike is usually due to heavy components, not a heavy frame.
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Old 11-22-13, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
thats where adding weight to the bike frame helps.. oversize, thicker tube wall, frame material.
Rigid rack fitting.
Which is the exact opposite of the direction that Volagi went on this road bike. They went as light as possible with the frame for a fast bike. And it's not like you can add strength to the frame after the frame has been built.
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Old 11-22-13, 09:19 AM
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My 60cm LHT "naked" weighs more than 25-26 lbs. More like what sstorkel says.
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Old 11-22-13, 09:48 AM
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well their bike is just not a good camp-tour bike , Centuries and brevets may be considered day tours..
that may be the application .. fully supported rides, not carrying squat.

OP , pick a different bike , post it, an we can pick that one apart , too.

Last edited by fietsbob; 11-22-13 at 09:51 AM.
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Old 11-22-13, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by ham View Post
A bare LHT (no racks, fenders, etc.) weighs around 25-26 pounds, and according to Surly a medium frame weighs 2340g. A heavy bike is usually due to heavy components, not a heavy frame.
I'd love to know where you got 25-26 pound number. Surly doesn't publish weights on complete bikes and all of the posts and reviews I've read seem to quote numbers in the 30-33lb range. Other steel touring bikes seem to have similar weights according to their owners, regardless of what the manufacturer may claim.

In any event my point remains: it's possible to build a capable touring bike that's significantly lighter than the OP's current Novara Randonee. The Nashbar aluminum touring frame was the route I chose, and it's worked well for me, but it isn't the only option available.
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Old 11-22-13, 12:10 PM
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this is my bike...

62cm, brooks saddle (mid 500 grams), titec jones H bar (400+grams), 200gram grips, mostly shimano deore group with hydro discs (aka not lightweight), 11-34 cassette, deore lvl hubs on 28mm wide rims and 32c steel bead tires, and super heavy old shimano SPD pedals... it comes out to right over 30 lbs... nothing is light weight on this built (and it's still only 10% of the riders weight ;-)

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Old 11-22-13, 12:37 PM
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Have you considered owning two bikes? My recommendation would be to keep your Randonee and buy another lightweight bike for what you have in mind. If you keep your eyes open on Craigslist, you should be able to find a killer deal if you are patient and willing to buy something that is older. I just sold my 20 lb 1980 Trek road bike for $200 on CL. It was upgraded to a 9sp rear cluster and Shimano 105 components.

I currently have 3 bikes and many people on this forum have a full stable of bikes.
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Old 11-22-13, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnbud View Post
Have you considered owning two bikes?

*NODS* yes N+1 is the real answer
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