The Chainlink

Hey Yall, 

I just posted about a Seattle-SanFran trip that I'm taking in the fall and wanted to create a separate post about touring bikes....

If anyone can provide any advice on what kind of brand of bicycle is best, any requirements, musts, do's and don'ts about buying and riding a touring bike for long 1000+ mile trips. Thanks so much. 

Ride on. 

Jakki

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Muchos Gracias amigo!

All of the above points are good ones, but I feel it's worth pointing out that you don't have to have the ideal bike, whatever that is, to enjoy yourself. An acquaintance of mine who lives in Santa FE, NM came across a young Japanese guy who was riding across the country on his full-carbon Fuji road bike with 25mm tires and something like 53-39 & 12-26 gearing, a Clik-Fix style front bar bag and a seatpost-mounted rack with panniers way up there. Not what I'd pick (and I wouldn't want to cross the divide with that gearing!), but he seemed to be having a blast. For sure the most important point mentioned above is to make sure that whatever you're riding, you're really ocmfortable on it.

Exactly! As I've probably mentioned several hundred times here already, I rode from Chicago to Vermont and back on a rigid Ross Mt Rushmore MTB. It too was a blast! I also did a couple of trips to the Twin Cities and back and the GIT on a Raleigh hybrid.

Sadly/stupidly, now that I have actual touring bikes I don't have/make time to tour.   

David P. said:

All of the above points are good ones, but I feel it's worth pointing out that you don't have to have the ideal bike, whatever that is, to enjoy yourself. An acquaintance of mine who lives in Santa FE, NM came across a young Japanese guy who was riding across the country on his full-carbon Fuji road bike with 25mm tires and something like 53-39 & 12-26 gearing, a Clik-Fix style front bar bag and a seatpost-mounted rack with panniers way up there. Not what I'd pick (and I wouldn't want to cross the divide with that gearing!), but he seemed to be having a blast. For sure the most important point mentioned above is to make sure that whatever you're riding, you're really ocmfortable on it.

Some day I'll own a long haul trucker. I've tested out a few and they are great bikes, bare, loaded down with gear, and everywhere in between. Are you planning on 26 or 700c size wheels? Each has their pros/cons
Gosh... I'm not sure. I was recently informed a long haul trucker may not be ideal for a little gal like myself. I'm 5'3 115lbs....perhaps the surly crosscheck? I'm still learning so much about bicycles and have never been on a long, hilly excursion. Any and all advice, experience is appreciated!!


Thedutchtouch said:
Some day I'll own a long haul trucker. I've tested out a few and they are great bikes, bare, loaded down with gear, and everywhere in between. Are you planning on 26 or 700c size wheels? Each has their pros/cons

Being 4'11 and interested in the LHT, I rode the 42 cm at Comrade Cycles a couple of weeks ago.  It only comes with 26 wheels in that frame size.  That frame size is good for me.  The 46--next size up--is just a teeny bit too big.  I can stand over it, but barely.  You have to be able to get up to a 56, I think, to put 700 wheels on it.  There are several Surly stocking dealers in Chicago.  Check around and go test ride them and see what size is right for you.  It is a sweet bike.

Jakki Cafarelli said:

Gosh... I'm not sure. I was recently informed a long haul trucker may not be ideal for a little gal like myself. I'm 5'3 115lbs....perhaps the surly crosscheck? I'm still learning so much about bicycles and have never been on a long, hilly excursion. Any and all advice, experience is appreciated!!


Thedutchtouch said:
Some day I'll own a long haul trucker. I've tested out a few and they are great bikes, bare, loaded down with gear, and everywhere in between. Are you planning on 26 or 700c size wheels? Each has their pros/cons

I have an LHT and love it.  It actually feels better fully loaded.  Its the very long chain stays and low bottom bracket shell that give it so much stability.  You can spend more but you won't get a better touring bike than the LHT.

That Velo orange campuer is another awesome option, frameset is about 500 and you can have it built without bar end shifters.

The LHT is made down to 42 cm, and its geometry is better suited to loaded touring than the CrossCheck.  You will probably fall in the 26" wheel LHT frame size range. 

Are you buying new or used?  If used, you could add Cannondale to the list of possibles (I don't think they make a touring frame anymore).  Look for any with a T in the model.  I'm pretty sure they made T400, T500, T900, T2000; there are probably others. 

I agree with most of the comments above, but would point out that bar end shifters are a good choice for touring.  Shimano's indexed rear bar shifter can easily be switched to friction in the unlikely event that the indexing fails, or something gets bent in the derailleur area.   

 

I was very close to ordering one (even waiting for them to come back in stock, which they now are) but chickened out at $500 plus shipping plus a new threaded headset and a threadless adapter compared to $470 for an LHT frame sent to my door.  The VO's a beautiful looking bike, though.


Michael A said:

That Velo orange campuer is another awesome option, frameset is about 500 and you can have it built without bar end shifters.

Best value in frames right now and a very pretty bike as well.

Michael A said:

That Velo orange campuer is another awesome option, frameset is about 500 and you can have it built without bar end shifters.

The most important feature is to find one that fits well ... as if it was made for you.  Long hours in the saddle will exaggerate any fit issues over time and might end up being pretty painful.

 

In terms of bikes, I think there are several tried and true options which take some of the guesswork out of it:

 

Trek 520

Surly Troll (yes, you can definitely use a flat bar bike)

Novara Randonee

Salsa Vaya Travel

... probably others

 

What they all feature are: braze-ons (screw mounts) for racks and fenders, comfortable riding position, proper gearing for long distance touring, clearance for wider/softer tires.  In your case, the gearing is especially crucial since you'll be doing some serious climbs out West and need the right setup.  The bikes mentioned above are good out of the box.

 

While the right setup will let you carry quite a bit, try not to carry more than the absolute minimum ... clothes, food, water, travel necessities.  You'll have more fun if you don't feel like you're pedaling a motorcycle up a mountain.

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