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First Tour: Older bike vs. New Help

Old 06-07-14, 05:37 PM
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First Tour: Older bike vs. New Help

Hey All,
I have spent a lot of time online and in the forums but could use some direct help/opinions. My girlfriend and I are heading out on a long tour, my first, her second. We are leaving in 3 weeks She has done a 6 week tour in france on a Surly Long Haul Trucker. I used to ride a cross check, but both of our bikes were stolen, along with all my backpacking/camping gear, so i'm facing having to get completely re-equipped in 3 weeks. BUT i'm unemployed now, so i have nothing but time and some savings!

So here is my main question: I am trying to pick a bike and would like to hear some opinions on older/vintage touring frames vs. a new frame. Some bikes i'm looking at:

Centurion Pro Tour 15 - really clean on craigstlist, guy is asking 300 for it.
Surly Disc Trucker - Looking at one on craigslist for $1000
Novara Randonee - see one on craigslist right now for $500
Salsa Vaya
Salsa Fargo
Specialized AWOL
Anything else I should be looking at?

Would an older frame/components cause me unnecessary headache on the road. I have read good things about the Centurion Pro Tour 15, and there are also a number of older touring frames on craigslist in the SF bay area that look to be in good shape for fractions of a newer touring bike. Does anybody here still tour/has fairly recently toured on a frame thats 20+ or even 30 years old?

I test rode the surly LHT and it felt like a heavy boat. Also the LHT in 54 cm and below comes with 26" wheels, which other than aesthetically I don't have anything against. I have been reading, however, that this bike really shines when its loaded, and since I will be doing my first tour I figure i'll appreciate a touring specific bike. My girlfriend liked touring on the LHT but didn't like it as a commuter much and felt the same thing - it was heavy and kind of unwieldy around town. She is right now building up an old cannondale t600 that she had thats pretty beat up and will probably be touring on this. What attracts me to some of the other frames (fargo, vaya, awol) is how versatile they seem to be - they could be my all around bike ( a little light mountain biking, zippier around town, hauling some stuff) after the tour, whereas I don't think i'd enjoy having the long haul around town. I also like the idea of trying to take some of the tour off road (fire road mainly) and am wondering if the long haul could handle it. On the other hand, a lot if not most of the tour will be on road and it seems like the surly/randonee/road touring bike has a big advantage over these other cross/off road oriented setups. Just an aside, but the fargo seems like one badass bicycle. I test rode it and I just felt like I was on a smooth, easy to ride tank.

So - should I bite the bullet and get a newer touring bike or are these older touring frames totally sufficient for mondern day touring? Also, and opinions on the LHT vs. Randonee. I was kind of under the impression that the Randonee was a cheaper/not as good version, but spending some more time looking at it people seem to have lots of good things to say, and that its a tried and true touring rig (not to mention half the price of the LHT i'm looking at used). Another consideration, though not necessarily heavily weighed - the surly's seem to hold their value really well. Seems like I could more easily resell the LHT after the tour if I wanted a road/zippier commuter. We haven't picked a route yet, but it will probably be at least several months on the road. I appreciate any feedback and advice. THanks,
Jacob
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Old 06-07-14, 06:01 PM
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Watching this thread. I've been getting the itch for a bike along the lines of many of those you mention in your list. Or, throwing some upgrades at my old steel Spec Hardrock. Either way, I'd like to do the Katy Trail here in Missouri sometime in the not too distant future. So very interested in replies to this one.
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Old 06-07-14, 06:24 PM
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You don't specify your load or budget but a three week departure date. It appears $1000 is the upper range. I wouldn't pick an old bike if you're willing to spend $1000. 30yr old wheels could mean anything.

if your load is substantial get the LHT. If your load is light-medium get anything you like that fits right. Can't beat something that fits right and is cheap enough to not care about. If you're not heavy another CrossCheck with front low riders and rear rack load would be nice. Given three weeks I'd want to get something this week and have a couple weeks to shake out. I wouldn't bother with old 126mm rear wheel bikes.
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Old 06-07-14, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by santacruising22
and there are also a number of older touring frames on craigslist in the SF bay area that look to be in good shape for fractions of a newer touring bike.

I test rode the surly LHT and it felt like a heavy boat.
. THanks,
Jacob
Yes, an old frame is cheaper than a new bike. An old frame is cheaper than a new frame. An old frame with new components costs as much or more than a new bike.

a bike to carry heavy loads is heavier than a bike designed to carry just the rider.

My two cents is that getting the bike and rig dialed in soon is more important than the bike.
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Old 06-07-14, 06:43 PM
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If money doesn't matter, get a modern touring bike.

If money matters, get a vintage touring bike or a rigid mtb and use a trekking bar.

If you are comfortable working on a bike, an older bike will save you some money and it will do a tour just fine.
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Old 06-07-14, 10:33 PM
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Get something modern... at least something made within the last 14 years if you are going to do some significant touring. The most important quality in a touring bike after durability is ease of replacement when crap hits the fan. The more recent the build, the easier it will be to get parts on the road if it comes to that.

Adventure Cycling puts together a touring-cyclists buyer's guide every year that lists all the current options... I think the guide goes back a good twenty years too. It will basically tell you that a touring bike is a touring bike, so get what fits. If I were you, I'd pick up that Novara if it fits and spend the other $500 bringing it up to what works best for you. Anyways, a google search will pull that buyer's guide right up so I won't bother to copy/paste the link.

My touring bike is a Trek 520, 2002 model. It apparently sat in a shop for a while because the guy I bought it off of from craigslist told me it was a 2004. I bought it about two years ago for roughly 1/3 of it's original price. It still had the original tires on it with little wear, next to no wear on the brake track, minimal wear on the chain/cogs... in other words, practically brand new. I saved a boat load of money which I invested in a bunch of personal preferences (Campy Ergo shifters, new handlebars and stem, mini-v brakes to work with the road shifters, saddle, seat post). You could spend that money more functionally than I did and buy a new front wheel with a dynamo hub, or any number of things. The only reason not to go that way, is fit. ...and, we are talking about a touring bike here so spend the extra money to get a professional fit and make sure you have the crank/pedals/saddle/stem/bars and everything all dialed in before you are in pain a few hundred miles into a tour.

*edit to add* sorry to hear about your bikes, thieves suck. At least you clearly have an amazing girlfriend! Also, I agree about the LHT being a tank. The 520 is my daily ride and fortunately doesn't just sit in a corner until it's time for touring. It's not the fastest bike from a stop, and it lacks the fun of a light front end cross bike that I can hop curbs and play around on, but it's quite functional (and fun!) on roads and even some single track if it doesn't get too technical. There are a ton of good options out there. I love the Vaya! Kona Rove is a good option too, it's a "gravel" bike but it now shares a frame with the Kona Sutra, their touring rig. Fuji makes another good budget option. Older Salsa Casseroll is good (especially the yellow one, different geo than the blue one), All City Space Horse, even a Surly Straggler... plenty of QBP options besides the LHT. Bianchi Volpe has been around a while too... make a list, watch craigslist, although I suppose you are running out of time.

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Old 06-07-14, 10:47 PM
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I like my LHT, loaded or light. I've no experience with the other bikes you've listed. Ride and be happy with what you ride, if the fit is good, IMO you'll be happy.
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Old 06-07-14, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by headloss
Get something modern... at least something made within the last 14 years if you are going to do some significant touring. The most important quality in a touring bike after durability is ease of replacement when crap hits the fan. The more recent the build, the easier it will be to get parts on the road if it comes to that.

. . . .
There is nothing hard about getting parts for an older touring bike. Touring bikes, compared to racing bikes, have changed comparatively little.
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Old 06-07-14, 10:58 PM
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Thanks everybody - I think thats what I needed to hear....running out of time so definitely going to make a decision quickly here. Have appointments to see the LHT Disc for 1000 tomorrow and the 2009 Novara Randonee for 500. At half the price it's going to be hard to pass up the randonee but im going to test ride both at a bike shop in the morning before checking out the ones on craigslist. And yes, Headloss, she is great!
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Old 06-07-14, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
There is nothing hard about getting parts for an older touring bike. Touring bikes, compared to racing bikes, have changed comparatively little.
Fair enough... it's not like finding a square taper bb, cantis, or another quill stem is going to delay a tour. I just prefer to ride within modern standards (130-135mm hub, 31.8 stem/handlebars, threadless) but it's definitely a personal thing and not a tour-ending thing.
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Old 06-08-14, 09:06 AM
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Overhaul an older bike so you know all the parts are in good condition, before you start..

New bike you can assume all the parts are new , though the final assembly may benefit from attention in the shop.

I go thru even a new bike of my own. grease dry screw threads , stem and seatpost , and so forth

get a couple spare spokes of each length in the wheels.
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Old 06-08-14, 11:42 AM
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Given the options, if it were me, I would go with the Randondee for the best price/touring. This kills me because I have a '84 Centurion Pro Tour and it is an excellent bike. However, you have not mentioned how much you are taking with you, and it will get rubbery above 40-lbs. The LHT is always a safe bet, despite it's un-laden lack-luster, but is twice the cost of the Novara.
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