All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
I am just about to start the joyous/painful experience of choosing new touring bikes and would appreciate some feedback on a weight concern.
About our touring
I usually tour with my wife but sometimes solo. We are middled aged recreational cyclists with the last of the kids about to leave the nest.
We don't tour "fully" loaded as we choose to stay in B&B's or cabins etc. I will usually just run rear panniers. However I am starting to think about camping for maybe a solo trip.
Our riding is mainly sealed roads with the occasional gravel road.
We will go for up to 2 weeks for a trip but a 100km day would be a big day for us. It is more about taking our time to take in the world than setting records.
We combine our touring with a bit of train travel (both local and overseas)
I'm not going to build a bike like some of the clever people on this forum but will buy through our LBS.
We currently tour on old MTB's with just some Schwalbe Marathon tires, Brooks saddles, bar ends and standard Trek racks. We find this set up very comfortable but the bikes need some componentry upgrades so we thought we would splash out on some tourers that we would keep for many years.
I am keen on Surly LHT's as;
The geometry is the most similar I have seen to our MTB's which we are comfortable on. We really like this relaxed geometry and while we don't cover lots of k's we do seem to spend long days on them taking in the world.
We can maintain a similar gearing to our MTB's and can build them up with the desired componentry.
They look fairly clean and simple, not like others I have looked at with fenders, dynamo's and various other gizmos that I don't think we need as we have never had them on the MTB's.
They also can come in 26' wheels which I like as they can pack up just a bit smaller into our Ground Effect bags and make it easier to get on trains.
We can add wider tires if required.
However, my desire is to try and get something a bit lighter for my wife who is quite petite, on our carbon racers she is actually a stronger rider than me but on the heavy MTB's she struggles up the hills. This has not been an issue as the MTB's have excellent gearing and we just slow down and take our time, but if we are going new, why not try to get something lighter. Maybe we could cover a few more km's in a day. I'm also looking to the future when we age a bit and maybe won't be as strong. I have also read a few reviews on the LHT were smaller females did not like them.
So I would appreciate some feedback on how to make a touring bike lighter while still maintaining the relaxed geometry and 26' wheels? ATM my thoughts are;
Contact a titanium frame builder like Baum to see if they can make a LHT clone in titanium but not sure if this will blow the cost out (Our budget is $5k for both bikes).
Stick with a LHT frame but option up with light componentry like titanium bars/post, quality tubus racks and a lighter wheel set.
Many Thanks !!!!
Doubt that Baum would light up their MIG-torches for less than $5k (per bike)
For the sort of touring you describe (B&B, medium distance, train shuttle) I would strongly recommend you consider the Bike Friday. It will happily carry two panniers, is lighter than a MTB and will fold down for easy transport on planes and trains.
Last edited by il padrone on Tue Jul 23, 2013 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Mandatory helmet law?
"An unjustified and unethical imposition on a healthy activity."
I think you'll find Ti, though a great choice, will be beyond your budget. It won't hurt to ask though.
My first thought would be to chat with Thorn by email and/or by phone and explain your requirements.
Their Audax would be good for the 'light and affordable' criteria, but it is 700c wheeled. May be they can do it in 26". Once again, worth an ask. See if you can talk to Andy Blance.
The Thorn Sherpa (my bike) is 26" but is fairly heavy. It can be lightened considerably with different wheelset and tyres.
My wife and I have Bike Fridays for the type of touring you are talking about. Can't fault them.
If you want to save weight, the Surly LHT is not going to do it for you. I got rid of mine for exactly that reason - it was a heavy slug of a ride.
But it is probably as good as you'll get on your budget, although the Vivente World Randonneur is much better value just not 26". But the reality that 26" is not really going to make that much difference to your packing. Read this thread and the one it's linked with.
Alternatively you could spend the kids inheritance - smash open the piggy bank and splash out on some titanium like my Sabbath Silk Route or Van Nicholas Pioneer. Either will save a couple of kilograms over a comparable steel frame bike.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
posted this in the spot a bargain thread, if you think BF's may be the go
Bike fridays are selling at pushies for just under $2000 AUD. Considering that they sell for just under $2000 US (+ gst , import duty etc) from the manufacturer, this is probably as cheap as you are ever likely to find them (unless you find one that has fallen off the back of an airplane).
They are not displayed on their website, but rather bike exchange
http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bikes/li ... omens%5D=1
Mandatory helmet law?
"An unjustified and unethical imposition on a healthy activity."
Thanks all for the quick replies.
I didn't realise that titanium frames were THAT expensive. The budget is not set in stone but doubling the cost is a bit of a stretch.
I hadn't really considered a folding bike option before. Thanks CW for taking the time to write a review. The concept of the folder makes a lot of practical sense but I had never considered these before as I don't picture them as a bike to comfortably ride a tour on (even one where we only cover 70km a day). I know there are lots of writes up on them but I am struggling with a concept that they ride as well as a 26" or 29" bike. Also as a person that likes to keep things simple, how do they manage the fold of the rear derailleur cable without needing constant adjustment? I will research some more, Epic Cycles here in Bris is a distributor so will call in to see them.
Cheeswheel, do you have other tourers as well and only use the BF's for shorter trips where a lot of travelling is involved?
Thanks again, I am going to continue my research and report back with some findings.
Hi Ron, I had actually got the idea of a titanium touring bike from your posts so thanks for that. I had a look at your link and I still think there is potential for us for 1 titanium framed tourer so will see how much it is to land a Ti frame in OZ. More to research.
The cable outer maintains the same length, same issues on dual suspension mountain bikes and they work fine. Think about how it works when you turn your handlebars.
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.
Yes, they are expensive, but the Sabbaths offer pretty good value in Ti. I've done a lot of research on the subject and have not found better other than ordering direct from the XACD factory in China.
I'm sure SWMBO would absolutely love a Sabbath Silk Route.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
Ti is only that expensive if you want it welded together by a boutique local manufacturer like Baum. You won't get much cheaper from them in steel.
A custom Ti frame from China (XACD, Titan Product etc.) can be had for <$1000. To put that in context, it's comparable with the price of a non-custom Ti frame from the lower-tier brands such as http://www.habcycles.com/ (and others), who are generally understood to be getting their frames built at the same Chinese factories as we can now approach directly.
The downside of a Chitanium custom is that you have to know exactly what you want, to the smallest detail, because they only take responsibility for drawing and building what you tell them.
A better option might be Triton Frames, in Russia. They're a little more expensive, but are more involved in the design process. But their reputation is exceeding their capacity, and there's a bit of a wait list.
The frame of a bike is a relatively small part of its total weight... especially for loaded touring.
A Long Haul Trucker frame is a bit over 2kg. The fork is about 1kg. So that's 3kg of, what, a 13kg bike? There's 10kg of bike that isn't Long Haul Trucker.
You'd be hard pressed to get a custom Ti touring frame much under 1500g. Add another 700g (?) for a fork. You're only going to save about 800g. Sure, that's a fair bit just for the frameset... but build it up with the same components as the hypothetical 13kg LHT, and you'll still have a nearly 12kg bike.
Add on your 20kg of touring kit, and you might wonder whether that <1 kg of frame weight savings is even noticeable... and if so, whether it might have been cheaper and easier to take that weight out of somewhere else instead.
who sold his LHT because he had no opportunity to tour on it... and replaced it with a custom Ti frame from XACD. The difference was more about the geometry than the weight.
I test rode the BF's at epic cycles when i was considering getting one. They don't have any proper BF touring models (the llama or NWT) but you do get a feel for the geometry, which is (or can be, if you get it made and adjusted properly) practically identical to any bicycle set up you are familiar with .
Take a look at this moulton bike link (also apparently a good touring bike, albeit expensive) to compare the geometries to see what I mean
BTW here is also an old thread that discusses a few options
With the small wheels its more of an issue if you are bouncing in and out of potholes and the like since the rolling surface of the wheel is reduced or have a stretch that requires technical steering (the smaller wheels give a more "squirrelly" feel on the steering ... which can be an issue if you are carrying a bit of extra weight and going fast downhill or something. Tourers tend to prefer to throw more weight on the front pannier to alleviate this issue). You can get comparable gear ratios etc to not radically offer a different feel in terms of speed.
The other important thing to consider is that small wheels spin a lot faster, so its easier to overheat or otherwise damage the rims going downhill. IMHO disc brakes on a 20" are a must (unless you are just cruising around on the flats)
WHen you ride the BF's you feel an element of flex on the steering column, but apparently it is not a structural issue since there is no info on the net about people snapping their bikes.
I read this guys review of the llama (my prefered touring option, although the new world tourer is probably a more popular one) which I found helpful
http://gbleakney.blogspot.com.au/2009/1 ... -with.html
I was looking at getting a BF llama with a couple of racks. The final bill was about $3000 after import duty etc so i didn't pursue it any further.
I ended up going with a dahon http://dahon.com/mainnav/folding-bikes/ ... s20-1.html for less than a third of the price
There are also 26" wheel folders out there, although, as it is with bikes, they tend to work really well in one sort of situation and hybridizing simply lessens their overall effectiveness.
I was looking at the montague folding bike ... apparently used by paratroopers, handy if you wanted to include base jumping in your touring,
(The serious downhill MTB experience)
but as far as pannier racks and the like go, requires a bit of improvisation
http://www.montaguebikes.com/paratroope ... -bike.html
Airnimal have a few interesting options on 24" wheels
If I had my time again, I would go for one of these instead of a LHT
I guess, with folding bikes, you have to ask yourself how rough the terrain is you plan on negotiating and also why you especially need a folding bike and how often will you require to fold and unfold it. General consensus is that they are good for negotiating the problem of airplanes/public transport, but if these things aren't major players, you are better off with a standard framed bike.
As far as comfort and travelling comfort on a bike goes, I prefer to default to recumbents.
I have a bachetta corsair ( http://www.flyingfurniture.com.au/shop/ ... 00c-wheels ) and an ice trike ( http://www.flyingfurniture.com.au/shop/ ... ding-trike ). Two wheel recumbents work really well on sealed roads but require a bit of extra concentration in rough terrain (eg dirt road) or negotiating a climb .. more so if you are carrying a bit of extra weight when touring.
This however isn't an issue with a trike since you can go as slow as you want up a hill and can pack it up with as much gear as you want.
If I had my time again, I would skip on the corsair and go for something that can take wider tyres.
Recumbents also tend to be a more popular option amongst aging cycling tourers. The long wheel base ones offer more stability. There is a thread in the touring section that goes over this.
There are even folding recumbents if you want to add the public transport issue to the equation.
http://www.flyingfurniture.com.au/shop/ ... es/folding
anyway plenty of things to think about
My wife and I have BF NWT's and they've been good for us, but I've shifted back to non-folding touring bikes now. There is nothing wrong with folding touring bikes at all, and we've ridden them on plenty of gravel roads and carried significant loads without issue. There are occasions where being able to fold the bike is handy, but I think it would be more handy with a bike that folds more easily. The NWT is often described as a "touring bike that folds" as opposed to a folding bicycle. The Bike Friday Tikit on the other hand is more of a folding bike that rides very well. The point is that folding the NWT is clumsy and not that easy to handle when folded, while the Tikit folds in seconds and is easily handled when folded. The guy I met years ago that inspired me first to look at Bike Fridays and secondly to cycle tour was riding a Tikit, and he loved it. He'd ridden it all over the place, most recently in Java, riding up mountains with a touring load.
The NWT certainly rides well. I really like it, but I'm touring on either a 30yr old steel roadie or a custom 26" expedition bike these days. I've lost my old concern for taking a full sized bike on planes these days; yes, it can be a bit anxiety provoking, but it's not that hard. I'm using the Ground Effect Tardis and it's a good system. Boxes are a good system too. Even wrapping it in a whole roll of cling film and cutting it off when you arrive is a good system. although a bit wasteful. The advantage of wheeling the BF in the suitcase a few metres here and there is good, but not really worth it to me these days. The issue of what to do with the suitcase when you get to your destination is also a big problem. One solution might actually be to "quick fold" the Bike Friday (not dismantle things like the racks, fenders, bars etc) and transport it in the Tardis. I've done this on a bus before, and it worked very well. It was my wife's bike and she was ready to ride in minutes after getting off the bus, where I took half an our or so to reassemble my full sized bike.
LHT's are well proven bikes for touring and you'd probably be happy with them, particularly if you're so keen on 26" wheels. To me, they lack a bit of character when riding though; they just seem a bit dull. I've only ever test rode them a couple of times though. I'd suggest Thorn are definitely worth a look, they're also well proven and have plenty of 26" wheel options. Co-motion is another brand that builds 26" tourers, but they might be a bit expensive. Velosmith is an Australian custom builder that builds touring bikes and would probably build what you want, but custom is costs.
The other option might be to stick with what you have and spend the money on the upgrades they need. If they're comfortable and tick all the boxes, maybe a new set of wheels and running gear would be a good investment. I'm sure a LBS would be able to help with that, although it would cost more that way than doing it yourself.
(sorry for the babble; I've just finished night shift and am a bit hazy)
I note Graham that you have excellent taste in colours and components on your Bike Fridays. Here are ours:
A Thorn Mercury might fit your bill. They are light and fast but still designed as a full tourer, and then you could put some S&S couplers in the frame to make them 'breakable'.
http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/tech/bik ... ptest.html
Mandatory helmet law?
"An unjustified and unethical imposition on a healthy activity."
Just had a look on the Surly site;
Frame Weight 58cm = 2340g (5.15 lbs) Fork - uncut = 1020g (2.25 lbs) (3.33kgs)
From the Habane website;
57cm Frame 3.5 lbs (1.59kgs).
So that's about 4lbs difference or 1.8kgs
I could probably lose that in a good week of dieting and riding, but not my wife. Even still I think your comment about the weight of everything else on the bike is very relevant.
...unless you plan to put a fork on your Ti frame, which will eat into the weight savings a bit
A light carbon fork is 450g. Something suitable for touring, CrMo with braze-ons for low-rider racks etc., is going to be quite a bit heavier than that.
So... call it a kilo difference.
Now, are you running with two or three water bottles? Same difference...
As a left field option, have a look at the Salsa Vaya. Has lots of good write-ups of being a sporty bike that many have moved to when they no longer needed the globetrotter attributes of the LHT.
Smaller frame sizes are 26", but with disc's any frame could just run a set of MTB 26" disc wheels.
Can be bought locally for around $2,800 complete bike.
I've only come across one person who has a Montague, but he wouldn't shut up about it, thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread .
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
Given that you ride on paved roads mostly, i can't figure out why you'd want to stick with 26 inch wheels. I'm a 49year old woman, was overweight and quite unfit when i started out on my last two month trip around france that included a few mountain cols as well as smaller hills. I took a tent and sleeping bag as well as cooking gear and clothing for various situations.
I also had my mountain bike stolen in paris and took the opportunity to upgrade. I had wanted a bike with bigger wheels since they are faster and therefore you can do more miles more easily. My mtb was a giant and this one is also a giant. It has 9 rings on the back cassette. I think so long as i dont get this one stolen it should last quite a long time. I wonder if most people don't over invest in their bikes given how far my $500 giant got me before i lost it. I don't know how much my new bike weighs but the first thing to do when trying to lighten the bike is take less gear and the thing to do regarding getting up hills more easily is practicing riding them.
It was not until about week 7 of this trip that i finally figured out how to improve hill my climbing ability. Until then i had been pushing my bike up all the cols and a few other spots as well. I had noticed that by this stage my cardiac fitness was good and obviously my knees were somewhat stronger but it wasn't until i took a different approach that everything changed. Here's what i did and what i think your wife should do when she is on a tour. I think it will make the hills more manageable much faster and her fitness will probably also improve more quickly.
Don't push the bike up hills. Just ride as far as you can. when you can't go any further, get off and recover - just wait until your breath comes back. Then get on again and go again as far as you can. Don't overstrain your legs because you don't want to cause an injury. Be willing to take whatever time it takes to get up the hill. The next time you do a hill if that first one was a big one, you will probably notice a significant difference if you already have decent fitness as i did. Otherwise it might take a few attempts.
I think better handling on the hills will be more around this strategy than buying a lighter bike because its is more about knee strength than bike weight. On my trip i met another couple, both on mountain bikes and with knobbly tyres. They were doing the route de cols in the Pyrenees. The girl was handling all the cols almost as well as her partner - doing about three a day. She wasn't very big either and granted they didn't have as much gear as me and weren't as old as me but still it goes to show its not just about the bike. I'm not very tall either.
The considerations of weight are relative to how long you can stay on station. The lighter you travel the more you have to travel.
Travelling light-weight, relative to the conditions that I like to ride in, is most wise. Being unsupported off-road, on the Great Divide, is what I like doing. The extra weight in supplies that I hauled on the BNT last month, allowed me to sit-out several flooded creeks and rivers, when I had no other options. One delay was for 12 days when Waiborough Creek and the Abercrombie River and then the Tarlo River flooded and another delay was 4 days when several low level crossings flooded.
All up, the bike, trailer, camping gear and supplies, counting water and camera gear was 75kg on the day that I began the tour. I hiked the bike a lot. I got to see a lot of nice things when push-biking. When descending with a touring weight, it happens far too quickly. I don't want to miss out on seeing everything in sharp detail, hiking the bike can be enjoyable.
When I want to ride up slopes without weight, I day-trip in the hills around home prior to a tour. There are no shortages of good hills and slopes here in the Northern Alps and on the Southern Tablelands to practice on. I rode from Hickory Hill to Rossi and back a fortnight ago and to the Yass Valley over the Murrumbidgee a few days ago and along the Queanbeyan River Fire Trail last week. The steep hills are never ending on the BNT ... you will hike at times with only 1kg or 75.
Enjoy a few hills ... in this Winter's light.
The Queanbeyan River Firetrail can be very nice, and very lumpy.
In the Yass Valley to the smoky Brindabella Ranges.
The next image is at the summit of Swallowtail Crossing looking towards Big Hill (far right), on the old historic goat track between Goulburn and Sydney. The locals say that no one has ridden to Bannaby from the Tarlo River up Swallowtail (in living memory). An interesting prospect.
This slope on Mount Thurralilly doesn't look like much, from the bottom. At the crest looking down ... it is stimulating. On the Rossi ride.
Hopping for it at Hogans Flat.
Last edited by WarrenH on Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:46 pm, edited 4 times in total.
"But on steep descending...Larson TT have bad effect on the mind of a rider" - MadRider from Suji, Korea 2001.
"Paved roads ... another fine example of wasteful government spending." - a bumper sticker.
Hi Westcost Pete, I like the look of the Ground Effect Tardis but just wondering how you go with your racks went packing your bike?
Thanks all, we are still researching.
We test rode the Bike Fridays. The concept is quite appealing. The steering was "twitchy" with the small wheels and I felt the stem had some movement when going up a hill. Not sure how we would go riding them all day as it is a bit hard to know from a test ride.
Otherwise, we are starting to go away from 26" wheels to 700cc wheels as it widens the scope a fair bit. I'm now revising the budget so Ti may still be an option for my wife and maybe a Vivente for myself.
I am planning a short solo trip in Sept but will probably stick with the MTB for that.
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