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Buidling a decent tourer

heavymentalheavymental Posts: 2,024
edited August 2008 in Tour & expedition
What would be a good start for building a tourer suitable for a month long trip on reasonable roads? I saw a Surly Long Haul Trucker the other day and thought that would be nice to build into a nice bombproof tourer but then I thought you can probably just use any steel hardtail frame as a base. Reading suggestions elsewhere that mentioned Deore and Alivio as being good choices for the drivetrain made me think you could probably build a solid tourer for not too much money really.

What are peoples general thoughts on a touring build?


  • culverwoodculverwood Posts: 256
    I agree that a steel hard tail frame is a base for a 26" tourer, just make sure it has bosses for racks and mudguards. When I traded up from the Rockhopper based bike to a custom frame (Dave Yates) my priorities were firstly that the wheels to be as bombproof as possible - 36 spoke Mavic rim and LX hubs (XT may have been better), then brakes - to stop quickly with a load - Deore, and lastly drivetrain - reliable - Deore.

    I used a butterfly bar (one of those continental things) and get on well with it but that is down to taste I used some large bar ends before and was OK with them too, you do need to move your hands around on a long ride. My saddle was the same old Terry that had not given me pain on previous tours.
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Touring, hub gears all the way. Far simpler and easier. Just about any steel frame will do, but ideally something fairly light (for steel). I'd also stick to square taper cranks as they are easier to repair...
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    There's an interesting couple of pages in the Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook about buying an old-skool (1990s vintage) MTB as a very cheap and serviceable tourer. there's a lot to be said for say a 7-speed cassette, and thumby shifters.

    I think it's worth doing your sums carefully - building a bike from scratch is not necessarily going to be cheaper than buying a complete bike - especially if you have to buy tools. Set against that, it is good for learning how it all fits together, and of course you can build a bike to your own satisfaction/specification.

    A Deore square taper chainset is hard to beat in terms of value and durability. Personally, I'd always pay a bit extra to get XT-level components for derailleurs etc. That's probably just prejudice as I know Deore/Alivio level components can take a lot of abuse, but on the other hand the price difference is usually only a few quid if you shop around or buy secondhand.

    Definitely don't be a cheapskate when it comes to wheels - get them built by someone like Spa Cycles or a good local bike shop.
    Touring, hub gears all the way. Far simpler and easier. Just about any steel frame will do, but ideally something fairly light (for steel). I'd also stick to square taper cranks as they are easier to repair...

    Hub gears are only simpler and easier until they go wrong. Yes you have the theroetical advantages of a bigger chain and having all the mechanicals inside the hub, but if they go wrong you're stuffed. My personal philosophy is to prefer stuff that is more easily fixable - even if it requires more day-to-day maintenance. If you're going to get a hub gear you also need to get a slot 'drop-out' frame.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I like the idea of building from an old steel mtb frame, just two points, a very old frame or one that has had a hard life or maybe internal rust, may be susceptable to failure. Having said that, you will probably be fine, especially if you aren't going anywhere too remote, and they can be welded (my old GT Karakorum failed at the chainstay, but a crude welded repair kept it going for 2 more years).

    Second point is that the heel clearance to panniers can be less on mtb geometry. If this applies, it can be overcome by using a rack such as the Tubus Logo (or more expensive stainless steel Cosmo) or the cheap but excellent Tortec Expedition. These have a lower mountin rail that also allows the panniers to be mounted further back. I currently tour on a converted Rock Lobster Ti mtb and this works fine.
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