The Chainlink

I'm in search of some advice on an entry level touring bike. I currently only have a single speed Pake Rum Runner but I want to start going on longer rides, possibly camping as well. My problem is I don't have the budget to drop $1,500 on a bike right now. I've been diligently searching craigslist to find something ideally around $600 or less. More or less in that range but does anyone have any recommendations on some good entry level touring bikes to be on the look out for. 

Additionally would using a steel road bike work as a makeshift touring bike? I know touring bikes are designed to hold more weight than a road bike and also to give more room for panniers and such. Just curious what other people may think about that option as well. 

Appreciate any insight!!

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I think its a tad too small for me

I don't know your current transportation situation, but my wife and I went to SwitchBack Gear in Grand Rapids (approx 2.5 hours away). They had a solid Cannondale bike (Ironman 800) for $650. Most of their bikes are online and heck, I'd be game for a day trip to Grand Rapids if you don't have a ride. :) 

There's also Blackstone (Woodlawn), Boulevard (Logan), Irvs (Pilsen), Working Bikes (Pilsen), Recyclery (Rogers Park), West Town (Uki), Nearly New (Uptown), & Cycle (South Loop) that sells used goods. 

Samuel, this may be over budget for you, but there's an awfully nice 58cm Soma Smoothie ES on sale at Boulevard Bikes right now for $850, half of its original list price. 

In vintage rides there are so many choices for that price.  After that, your imagination is limited by your budget.  If you venture on Ebay, there is a 1984 Lotus Odyssey selling for $449 (ships from Atlanta for $100) which looks ready to ride.  It has front low rider mounts and a rear rack mount, cantilever brakes, and new wheels.

Hi Samuel,

I've got this Fuji available for $300.  It's a 58cm, which is very likely to big for you, but feel free to contact me for a test ride.  A little to big is better than a little to small IMHO, but if you are going to spend countless hours sitting on it, you should look for a proper fit.

While you can tour on anything, touring bikes are specifically designed to be more robust and handle heavy loads.  A traditional cyclocross bike is sturdy, but actually has a high bottom bracket for clearance and responsiveness, while a touring bike has low bottom bracket for stability under loads.  Vintage steel racing bikes are closer, but might require new gearing.

Fuji touring bikes are very solid.  I'm sure this will capably handle heavier loads much better than an 80's tourer.  I have a very good friend who has brought his Fuji Touring everywhere for 10 years, including his own version of RAAM.  They are built like tanks, much like Surly builds the LHT.  My 80's touring bike takes me on commutes and long rides superbly, however, and it forces me to slim down my gear.  A Fuji like this practically allows you to bring your house with you, whereas a light 80's touring bike (modeled on steel racing bikes) are slightly lighter.  Of course a newer Fuji automatically has 700C wheels.  For someone who is serious about spending 3000 miles in the saddle from coast to coast or riding Europe from Scandinavia to the boot of Italy, a recent model Fuji Touring bicycle is the better choice.  One needn't break the bank buying one, either.

One thing I regret from my update from a 25+ year old Trek to a new touring bike is the chain. I learned that a six speed chain lasts a lot longer than a 10 speed chain. I'd still be on the Trek, but even steel has limits.

7 speed Shimano freehub bodies are still available...

I've been out of the country for a couple of days so I haven't checked this thread in a while but before I left I ended up purchasing a Bianchi road bike that I think will suit my needs fine. Appreciate everyone's suggestions and recommendations though!


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