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Advice on building or purchasing a touring bike for long tours?

Old 04-17-14, 10:20 PM
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Advice on building or purchasing a touring bike for long tours?

Hello all,

I'm looking to bike from Tucson, AZ to Vancouver, BC in late May or early June. This will be my first tour. I hope to take around two months to leave some extra time for exploring the northwestern cities. I'd like to either purchase a complete touring bike or build one myself. My budget is around $1,300. I'm leaning on wanting to build the bike from scratch. I don't know very much about bike componentry or repairs, so this would allow me to learn a lot before I leave. It would also be much more rewarding and would psyche me up even more for the trip. We have a local co-op bike repair shop that offers classes on how to dismantle, repair, and reassemble bikes, so I will be taking that before I leave or build or purchase my bike.

Here are some things that might influence what bike to build/purchase:
  • I'm male, 5'9", 30" inseam, and 130 lbs. I ride a 56cm road bike right now, but it's a little big so I think I should be riding a 54cm.
  • I strongly prefer drop down handle bars with three hand positions.
  • I will be camping when not in a major city. Preferably I'd like to stealth camp as I really do not like camping in campgrounds. Therefore I will be hauling the usual amount of summer camping gear.
  • If I'm stealth camping, I might want to go off-road onto unpaved roads or maintained trails. I don't intend on using 700c wheels.
  • I'd like to average about 50 miles a day.
  • I would like to cook for myself as much as possible. I'm vegan and find it difficult to find food worth buying at restaurants in small towns.
  • I don't want to ride something that is extremely slow and uncomfortable, nor do I care much about the weight of the bike or going really fast. I just want to be able to keep a steady cruising speed when able. I weigh only 130 pounds, so some of what I lack in body weight can be transferred to the bike if it is more cost effective or improves the performance/reliability of the bike.
  • I like climbing hills and eventually would like to tour the Rockies. It would be nice if the bike handled steep climbs well. I have pretty scrawny legs so being able to gear low will probably help a lot. I don't have too hard of a time climbing with my Trek 1400 with 105s, but being on a fully loaded bike days on end will be another story.
  • I plan to do more long tours in the future. Eventually I'd like to tour southeast Asia or western Europe. So, it would be nice if the bike components are easily fixable, though this isn't crucially important this summer as I will be cycling through the pacific coast with a fair amount of modern bike shops along the way. But I would like to have the possibility of swapping out components that are more easily fixed in case I ever tour somewhere with limited mechanical resources/shops.
  • I'm not very savvy with repairing bicycles, so it would be nice if repairs were minimal and straightforward.
  • While I want a bike that can be loaded with a lot of weight, I don't need overkill. It seems that a lot of the bikes people buy out there are excessive and unlikely to ever be loaded to capacity.

Basically, I want a bike that's going to last me a while, can go on tours lasting a few months, can be upgraded to suit my tour but ready for most situations as is, and is comfortable. I guess the normal desires for people looking for a touring bike.

I test rode a 54cm Trek 520 at the local Trek store. I was really impressed. It handled well and felt very comfortable--not different from my unloaded Trek 1400. I then went to another bike store and test rode a 52cm and 56cm Surly Long Haul Trucker. They did not have a 54cm frame so maybe the ride wasn't very accurate of how the bike should handle, but I really did not like the feel. It did not feel very stable and was slower at turns than the 520--it definitely rode like a "truck." The 52cm was definitely too small and the 56cm too big, so maybe that was it, but it does not seem like a fun bike to ride. The brake levers on the 520 also felt stronger and better built and the shifting seemed very smooth.

I heard that the Trek 520 generally handles better than the LHT when unloaded, but that the LHT handles significantly better than the 520 when fully loaded. I'm not sure how I can test this out unless the bike shop wants to let me put a couple panniers on them before I test them again. Supposing I can't test them out this way, is it true that the LHT generally handles better when loaded?

There aren't many more touring bikes in town that I can test ride with the exception of REI's Novara bikes. If I buy online or build my own bike, is it going to be a shot in the dark in getting a comfortable bike without test riding it?

So... Do you all recommend building a bike or buying a complete? Is $1,300 enough to build a decent bike? I don't mind buying some used equipment.

Any tips regarding which bike components to buy would be helpful. Should I mix mountain components with road? I of course will research more of this as I get closer to buying, buy any tips are appreciated.

Also, what are some good sites to find bike frames? Ebay doesn't' seem to have much. I can't find many Trek 520 frames online. My local bike store sells Surly LHT frames, but they are around $450 which seems like too much.

Thanks for any advice. I apologize that a lot of these questions have been asked in other threads, but from what I've seen the answers received depend on what type of tours the person is looking to do, and a lot of the threads out there are for credit-card tourers.

Last edited by Plexus; 04-17-14 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 04-17-14, 11:00 PM
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Welcome to the forum!!

Just a heads up: building a bike from the frame up is generally more expensive than buying a stock bike. Granted, it will expose you to bike mechanics, but working on a pre-built bike and taking some classes will do the same thing.

IMO- All things being equal, you will get more bike by buying a new bike for $1,300 than building one up for $1300;unless you already have some parts or are lucky on Craigslist or e-bay.

Since you are thinking about SE Asia, something that uses 26" wheels might be worth considering, eliminating the 520 from contention. For western Europe and a lot of other places either 700c or 26" wheels will both work fine. If you go with the 54 cm LHT, which is a great bike, you can only get 26" wheels. My daughter rides a little 50 cm, 26", LHT, and she has no trouble keeping up or passing the big wheeled bikes

I have a LHT, and IMO it rides about the same loaded as it does empty. It is a good, dependable, stable bike. It is named "trucker" for a reason. I am fortunate enough to have access to other bikes I prefer to tour on when going on the "light" side, and will use one of them unless I know it is going to be a fully loaded ride that will be hard on equipment.

You should get a lot of input.

Last edited by Doug64; 04-18-14 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 04-17-14, 11:31 PM
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Since you're planning on leaving in a month and a half, I'd get the Trek 520 assemble your gear, do some test runs, and go. Building up a bike from a frame and sourcing new parts will cost more, especially without tools, experience, and an extra parts bin.
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Old 04-17-14, 11:46 PM
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A vintage rigid mtb is another option. Not so easy to add drop bars but doable; butterfly or trekking bars are easier to install. I'm in the process of converting a rigid mtb to drops for touring both road and offroad. Over your budget but the salsa fargo is designed for offroad touring. I'd keep an eye out for the velo orange camargue as well. You might just want to go the vintage rigid mtb route for this tour. It's inexpensive and will work well when you go off road. You'll be able to learn how to work on a bike getting it up to speed. By the time you finish your tour, you'll know what you like about it and what you don't. That way, you'll know what you want for your ultimate touring bike.
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Old 04-18-14, 02:21 AM
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Another option would be a Raleigh Sojourn Touring bike (course I'm partial to them). New Model runs $ 1200-1300, you could probably pick up a 2012 or 2013 for possibly less. Comes stock with a great rack, disc brakes, nice metal fenders, pedals (which some don't), and a brooks saddle and brooks leather bar tape. You really wouldn't have to add much more than panniers and lights, plus your own gear. The bike is what some would consider a heavier one (33 lbs), but hey, if you have to add a back and/or a front rack, fenders, and some water, it all equals out. The Vittoria Cross tires it comes with are Excellent for puncture resistance also. And you're not in a race anyway. Folks have toured cross country on these and really liked them. I use mine for my daily work commute and couldn't be happier. The Trek 520 are great bikes, from what I've read. I understand folks like the Novara Randonee bikes as well, and I'm sure there are many others

Last edited by LordMarv; 04-18-14 at 02:33 AM.
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Old 04-18-14, 03:29 AM
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Thats my choice for a rando/touring bike. It almost has the speed of a road bike, has plenty of gear options (28-38-48, 11-32 9 speed), Has a lockable, height adjustable front fork, can take any tire I care to put on it. Works as an mtb, tourer, rando, or plain commuter. Built her for about $1500. Had a bit of luck finding good second hand parts though. Drop bars and discs would be tricky, but it would be easy enough to put v brakes and travel agents in if that was the build you wanted. Really happy with this one.
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Old 04-18-14, 06:10 AM
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Plexus, Welcome to the forum.

With you current bicycle repair knowledge and budget, I suggest purchasing a complete bike rather than building up from a frame. REI has moved up lately with the Randonee through how it is equipped and it has an attractive price. The 520 has been considered an excellent touring bike for quite a long time so any comment that it is significantly less capable than any other touring bike is suspect.

All bicycles built for loaded touring are going to be more sluggish than your 1400. A bicycle made for loaded touring has a heavier wheel set and tires, more relaxed geometry and a longer wheelbase than a roadie to maintain a stable ride when carrying 40+ lb. of baggage. Aside from the obvious lack of weight, my touring bikes ride much the same whether loaded or not.

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Old 04-18-14, 07:32 AM
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You're right to let the co-op to be your first stop, before you make your bike purchase. Otherwise, just find an old bike. Take it apart and reassemble it, over and over again using the INTERNET (YOUTUBE), Park Tool, and the library as reference sources for bike assembly and repair.

Usually, co-ops can either start you with a used frame, or it can help you to obtain and install parts on the frame that you bring in on your own. Sometimes, a co-op can do it all!


$450 is a good price for a Surly frame of any type...
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Old 04-18-14, 09:06 AM
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Do yourself a favor and buy a complete bike. Building up a bike is generally more expensive unless maybe you already have a lot of the parts. I think most folks who build up their own do so because they enjoy the process. That or for misguided reasons. From what I have observed they most often spend more and often don't even wind up with a better bike.

It really isn't about the bike to the extent that you might think from reading these forums.. As long as it meets some minimal standards of acceptability and fits, the bike you choose will not change the overall touring experience much if at all

If the goal is to have a bike to tour on, buy a complete bike. If the goal is to build up a bike because you want to then do it, but don't do it because you think you need to or because you think you will save money.

Regarding your comments on stealth camping... It is possible to camp for free with no need for stealth. On the route you propose, you could camp for free a large percentage of the time and never stealth camp. I personally only use stealth seldom and as a last resort and I seldom stay in expensive campgrounds. I stay in plain sight in town parks, roadside picnic areas, and other impromptu sites. Many other options are possible for camping.

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Old 04-19-14, 07:03 AM
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Building a bike from scratch is both good and bad. I built my Surly LHT from scratch for $2400. You can actually buy a Surly LHT for about $1400 with stock parts. The nice thing about my bike is that custom built it with high quality parts, hence the extra money. I used the higher end components. Best thing to do is what most people here said. Buy a stock bike. $1300 is the lower end limit for a touring bike.

Also look online for used touring bikes. You'll be surprised what you can buy 2nd hand.
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Old 04-19-14, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by B200Pilot
Buy a stock bike. $1300 is the lower end limit for a touring bike.
The LHT may be a good choice for those who like it, but $1300 is definitely not the lower limit. Three of us did the Trans America and a number of subsequent tours on a Windsor Touring. It is still $599 delivered and we found it perfectly adequate for loaded touring. I can afford to ride a more expensive bike, but saw no reason to. I had no regrets on the choice.

The only reason I have not been using it for my recent tours is that these days I have been packing so light as to prefer to not ride a dedicated touring bike. I found the Windsor Touring to be a good choice for fairly heavy loaded touring and only started preferring something else when my base gear weight dropped below 20 pounds or so. Travelling with ultralight camping gear and everything chosen in a minimalist fashion touring bikes become overkill IMO.
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Old 04-19-14, 07:57 AM
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I'm not in love with some of the equipment choices made by Bikes Direct with the Windsor Tourist (such as brifters and particularly the triple which runs 50-39-30) but the price is good and you get a very serviceable chrome-moly frame. Also Nashbar has a touring bike which you should be able to pick up at a decent sale if you are patient. Given how expensive used touring bikes can be, these bikes may be a better choice price wise than used.
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Old 04-19-14, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
I'm not in love with some of the equipment choices made by Bikes Direct with the Windsor Tourist (such as brifters and particularly the triple which runs 50-39-30) but the price is good and you get a very serviceable chrome-moly frame. Also Nashbar has a touring bike which you should be able to pick up at a decent sale if you are patient. Given how expensive used touring bikes can be, these bikes may be a better choice price wise than used.
I agree that the crank isn't the best choice, but it is easy to upgrade and that is the one thing that I did upgrade.

To me the brifters are a plus.

That being said they also have the Motobecane Gran Turismo at $699. It comes with a more sensible crank and bar end shifters. I personally hate bar end shifters and much prefer brifters. I would probably still pick the Windsor touring for that very reason. That or buy the Motobecane Gran Turismo and take the bar end shifters off. The problem with that is that brifters are a fairly expensive upgrade. So if I went with the Motobecane Gran Turismo I'd probably fit some clamp on down tube shifters unless I found some brifters for a good price.

I did the Southern tier with down tube shifters and they were OK, but I do prefer brifters.

When I have used bar end shifters I found they got bumped out of gear when the bike was leaned against something, I banged my knee on them, and I didn't find the location any more convenient than down tube shifters.
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Old 04-19-14, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I agree that the crank isn't the best choice, but it is easy to upgrade and that is the one thing that I did upgrade......................................

To me the brifters are a plus.

I did the Southern tier with down tube shifters and they were OK, but I do prefer brifters.

When I have used bar end shifters I found they got bumped out of gear when the bike was leaned against something, I banged my knee on them, and I didn't find the location any more convenient than down tube shifters.
+1

Between my bike and my wife's brifter equipped touring bikes we probably have about 40,000 miles on them of trouble free shifting. If you add our brifter equipped road bikes that figure will probably more than double.

I have a hard time buying into the fragility of STI shifters. I believe the manufacturers use bar ends on their stock bikes more out of economic considerations than function or durability.

I purchased a lower end road bike to commute on in the winter, trying to "save" my good road bike. It had decent components (STI shifters), but I thought I'd be replacing some of them in a year or two of hard use. It turned out that I liked riding it better than my other road bike, and rode it year around. I rode it almost every working day, club rides, recreational rides, and centuries, etc. for 9 years. I'm still waiting for those "lower" end components to wear out. That included at least 4 major crashes; I'm talking new fork and emergency room visits. The brifter are still fine!

I used downtube shifters for years, and would prefer them over bar-end shifters because I can double shift, shifting both front and back almost simultaneously, with one hand. However, once a friend convinced me to try brifters, there was no contest. I find them a lot more convenient than downtube or bar-end shifters.

Ironically, the only shifter problems we have had on a tour is with the bar-end shifters on my daughter's LHT. I have a set of brifters in my parts box waiting to go on her bike as an early birthday present

Last edited by Doug64; 04-19-14 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 04-19-14, 11:54 AM
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One bike that doesn't get much love here is the Fuji touring bike but at $889, it's worth taking a look at esp. if you want to buy a touring bike from an LBS and don't want to spring for the Surly LHT touring bike or the Trek 520: Fuji Bikes | LIFESTYLE | PAVEMENT - ALL-TERRAIN | TOURING

As for brifters versus bar ends, this debate can (and probably will) go on forever. Both work and both have their fans. I really like brifters but personally I am not a fan of indexing for a triple crankset. I like friction for the front 3 Plus as far as I'm concerned, simplest is best when it comes to touring.
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Old 04-19-14, 12:19 PM
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Work with your Trek dealer , once the bike is there a swap of the Granny gear on the crank to smallest will be simple ..

IDK about the current bikes other than Surly/QBP ** and Trek , but out here where hundreds of touring cyclist pass thru town every summer

you don't NEED a special 'touring bike' to go on a bike tour .. the tour is the trip the bike just a tool ..

all sorts of bikes head down the Oregon coast ..

** any shop with a QBP account can order the bikes , but the Dealer will get Trek's bikes on Credit , and pay for them in future sales ..

QBP sends your shop stuff after their credit card is charged..

so the odds of an LHT being in stock, and ready to ride, is a lot lower . ask and they will order one when demand is there .. IE you ..


another 5'9" guy .. I use the top tube length more than size, as the angled top tubes
can make the Size/seat tube length Shorter , but that just means more seat post is extended ..

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Old 04-20-14, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1;16684721

[B
To me the brifters are a plus.[/B]

That being said they also have the Motobecane Gran Turismo at $699. It comes with a more sensible crank and bar end shifters. I personally hate bar end shifters and much prefer brifters. The problem with that is that brifters are a fairly expensive upgrade.
I did the Southern tier with down tube shifters and they were OK, but I do prefer brifters.

When I have used bar end shifters I found they got bumped out of gear when the bike was leaned against something, I banged my knee on them, and I didn't find the location any more convenient than down tube shifters.
Originally Posted by Doug64
+1

Between my bike and my wife's brifter equipped touring bikes we probably have about 40,000 miles on them of trouble free shifting. If you add our brifter equipped road bikes that figure will probably more than double.

I have a hard time buying into the fragility of STI shifters. I believe the manufacturers use bar ends on their stock bikes more out of economic considerations than function or durability.

I purchased a lower end road bike to commute on in the winter, trying to "save" my good road bike. It had decent components (STI shifters), but I thought I'd be replacing some of them in a year or two of hard use. It turned out that I liked riding it better than my other road bike, and rode it year around. I rode it almost every working day, club rides, recreational rides, and centuries, etc. for 9 years. I'm still waiting for those "lower" end components to wear out. That included at least 4 major crashes; I'm talking new fork and emergency room visits. The brifter are still fine!

I used downtube shifters for years, and would prefer them over bar-end shifters because I can double shift, shifting both front and back almost simultaneously, with one hand. However, once a friend convinced me to try brifters, there was no contest. I find them a lot more convenient than downtube or bar-end shifters.

Ironically, the only shifter problems we have had on a tour is with the bar-end shifters on my daughter's LHT. I have a set of brifters in my parts box waiting to go on her bike as an early birthday present
+1for both above posts. Brifters are the real deal.

Last edited by wheelinthai; 04-20-14 at 07:18 AM. Reason: Double quotes
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Old 04-21-14, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by wheelinthai
+1for both above posts. Brifters are the real deal.
Same here, I bought my bike used with Shimano Acera, integrated gear shifters (brifters) in 2005 and never had any isues what so ever.
I've never used any other kind but why would I when they work perfect.
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Old 04-21-14, 03:46 AM
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Thank you everyone for the replies!

I test rode the Novara Randonee and really loved it. So far it's tied with the Trek 520. I prefer the look of it to the 520. But the REI in my city did not have the proper size. It said a medium and that it should fit people 5'5 to 5'9", but I'm about 5'9" and the frame felt as big as my 56cm Trek 1400 road bike. I'm going to try to ride a smaller version in Phoenix where they have one in stock to see how that feels. Either way, it rode beautifully. The REI bike employee was really friendly, but didn't seem to know much about bikes as he was just agreeing with whatever I said (and I hardly know anything about bikes).

I think I still slightly prefer the ride of the 520. I went back to the Trek store and had them load the 54cm I rode the day before with two panniers and whatever heavy weight they had in the shop that would fit. It felt heavy enough as it was difficult to pick up the bike with one hand after they loaded it. To my surprise, the bike road almost exactly how it had the day before when I rode it unloaded. The 520 consistently feels like more of a road bike than a touring bike, even when loaded. I really like this. I want a bike that is fun to ride.

I would like to ride the Randonee again while loaded. I remember it being very smooth with a tight turning radius, but it didn't really feel like a road bike in the way the 520 did. I can't really explain why it didn't.

At a $100 difference, I think I prefer the Trek, but we'll see if I can get any in-store deals or find a good used deal on either bike.

I realized that both bikes use 700c tires which concerned me. I want a touring bike that I can hold on to for a long time and ride in my different locations. I don't think I'd be able to ride either bike outside of the country as (to my knowledge) most countries don't carry a lot of 700c equipment, if any. The employee at the bike store told me that it isn't a big deal and most bike shops in the world carry 27" tires rather than 26", but I don't know if he was just trying to sell me. I told him I also want to be able to take the bike off road sometimes for when I want to camp off a well-maintained trail, and he said this wouldn't be the problem if I got the right tires. Is this true?

Are the 700c wheels a deal breaker if I want to travel outside of the country at some point (say, southeast asia or south america)? I'd consider the Surly LHT for the sake of getting 26" tires, but I really did not like the ride when I test rode it, and wouldn't feel comfortable purchasing a bike that I don't have a good gut feeling about. Plus, I don't really like their use of Sora parts.

Also: the Randonee uses a SRAM X7 rear derailleur and the 520 uses a Shimano Deore. Which is a better rear derailleur? I've heard the Shimano is more durable, but the X7 easier to maintain.

Also, in regards to stealth camping, I'd like to camp legally as much as possible and I don't plan on camping on private property if possible (primarily out of possible confrontations with landowners that I'd like to avoid), but I don't have any problem camping in national forests outside of camp grounds as I know I will respect the land.
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Old 04-21-14, 04:58 AM
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Plexus, Bottom line, in my opinion, is that either bike is a viable option. If I were taking a 700C equipped touring bike to a remote region of the Earth I'd bring a couple of spare tires. SRAM has been around for awhile and I wouldn't dismiss a bicycle simply because it's equipped with SRAM parts.

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Old 04-21-14, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Plexus
Thank you everyone for the replies!


Are the 700c wheels a deal breaker if I want to travel outside of the country at some point (say, southeast asia or south america)? I'd consider the Surly LHT for the sake of getting 26" tires, but I really did not like the ride when I test rode it, and wouldn't feel comfortable purchasing a bike that I don't have a good gut feeling about. Plus, I don't really like their use of Sora parts.

Also, in regards to stealth camping, I'd like to camp legally as much as possible and I don't plan on camping on private property if possible (primarily out of possible confrontations with landowners that I'd like to avoid), but I don't have any problem camping in national forests outside of camp grounds as I know I will respect the land.
If you were leaving on your very first big tour and heading to remote south america or buying a folding touring bike I would say deal breaker. Since you will have more than a few shake down days loaded and unloaded before SE Asia or South America, meh.

For on road riding I prefer 700c on my large sized bikes.
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Old 04-21-14, 02:12 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Plexus

Also: the Randonee uses a SRAM X7 rear derailleur and the 520 uses a Shimano Deore. Which is a better rear derailleur? I've heard the Shimano is more durable, but the X7 easier to maintain.
IMO-the Randonee is the only bike of the three, LHT, 520, Navara, that comes stock with gearing suitable for touring. SRAM components are on a par with Shimano. Checkout the crankset gearing, and you can see the difference.
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Old 04-21-14, 07:23 PM
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For what it is worth - 700c bikes, with the right tires, can perform pretty well off road. I just changed out the stock tires my my Surly LHT (disk trucker, so DT?) with some bigger/better off road tires. I don't have a whole lot of miles on it yet, but part of my ride yesterday was through the woods and swampy trails.

As you are considering tire sizes also take in to account the tire clearance. That thought never crossed my mind when I was looking at bikes. I just went off of others' reports and experiences. Like you, its hard to go to a store and ride a few bikes and know what they are going to be like after long rides - and with a load. I just picked a bike that had a good reputation, that and one of my riding buddies has one so I could test ride it with a full load.

What I came to realize when I started riding (just this season) is the roads and trails here really stink. The bad winter we had last year didn't help, either. That put a pretty good emphasis on tires for me = the stock ones just were not cut for my riding - 622x37 continental contact's. I swapped them for 622x42 continental tour ride's and so far so good. I will ride on them for a little while and make up my mind when I get to do some miles on the local trail (will have to be a weekend, maybe this Sunday if it is dry/nice weather).

The point I guess I'm trying to make is from a terrain/off-road perspective - do not discount the 700c tries. Thin ones will cut through soft ground, but you can get beefier tires to handle any routine off-road'ing on a tour, unless it is all off road. For a touring bike it is a great size. Just be aware of the bike frame clearance (or lack-there-of) for wider tires. For a road bike the Surly LHT's (and DT's) have decent clearance, but it is no where near a mountain bike. Just be aware of it.

Some people don't like 26" wheels because they look too small. I wouldn't steer away from them for aesthetics. If you are wanting to see the world it would be a better size for you in the end, unless you carry spare tires (tires can roll up pretty small...).

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Old 04-21-14, 08:47 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by LordMarv
Another option would be a Raleigh Sojourn Touring bike (course I'm partial to them). New Model runs $ 1200-1300, you could probably pick up a 2012 or 2013 for possibly less. Comes stock with a great rack, disc brakes, nice metal fenders, pedals (which some don't), and a brooks saddle and brooks leather bar tape. You really wouldn't have to add much more than panniers and lights, plus your own gear. The bike is what some would consider a heavier one (33 lbs), but hey, if you have to add a back and/or a front rack, fenders, and some water, it all equals out. The Vittoria Cross tires it comes with are Excellent for puncture resistance also. And you're not in a race anyway. Folks have toured cross country on these and really liked them. I use mine for my daily work commute and couldn't be happier. The Trek 520 are great bikes, from what I've read. I understand folks like the Novara Randonee bikes as well, and I'm sure there are many others
It might be worthwhile to check a LBS that sells Raleighs. Last month I bought a Sojourn for $700. It was last year's model but at $500 less than the $1200 that REI is asking for the current model I couldn't pass it up. BTW I ride a Trek 529, this new bike is for my wife who will use it for commuting and some touring. She finds it very comfortable though has not resolved the Brooks saddle. But that's another thread.
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Old 04-22-14, 12:06 PM
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Plexus, welcome to the forum! I test rode the same bikes you did, and felt the same way about them as you do. I was able to get a 520 frame only thru my LBS. and build the bike the way I wanted it. However, it was far from cheaper to do it this way, FAR! The 520 off the rack will do you exceptionally well. Mine rides like a dream, and I couldn't be happier with it. Although I've not "toured" with it yet, it is a daily commuter and it is lightly loaded everyday, and on the weekends when I go out, handles great, has good speed and agility. Stock, I prefer the Root beer color, or Bronze, definitely not white-but that's me. Enjoy your tour. I'm sure you will fine with whatever you choose!
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