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touring on a mtb?

howsmyriding27howsmyriding27 Posts: 266
edited September 2008 in Tour & expedition
I have a specialized hardrock, customised with hydraulic discs, rockshox tora forks and mavic rims, but I was wondering if it would be any goo for touring? The frame has pannier mounts, so that's ok. The forks have no mounts though...

It is quite a heavy bike but I don't know if that's a big problem. I am planning on doing LEJoG next summer, but I don't really have enough money to get a proper touring bike.

Also, is there anything else I can add to it to make it better for touring - bar-ends/clip pedals etc...?

With slick tyres it is not too bad on road, but I was wondering if anyone had any experience of touring on a mountain bike...

any replies greatly appreciated.

Hardtails aren't called hardcore for no reason

Giant STP:
Spesh Hardrock:


  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I tour on a Rock Lobster Titanium mtb. It has v brakes, I swapped the Rock Shox SID SL forks for rigid Kona Project II triple butted (suspension corrected), and use Schwalbe Marathon 26x1.5 tyres for touring (slick Specialized All Conditions Pro 26x1 for commuting). My bike had no rack mounts so I fitted a Tubus Cosmo with the Quick Release skewer accessory fitting and the Tubus p-clip accessory for the upper mounts, making for a very solid and rigid rack. I also fitted SKS mudguards (a must for touring I think).

    Whilst your bike does have rack mounts you may find the dic brake interferes with conventional rack mounting, you could use the Tubus QR setup, or get a rack for disc mounts such as the Lifeline Disc Brake rear rack which is excellent and only £25, or the Topeak Disc rear rack (I prefer the lifeline).

    Sometimes heel clearance for panniers can be a problem with mtb geometry, in which case the Tubus rack (Logo or pricier Cosmo) with its lower, more rearward rail and the QR accessory, gives a coupe of inches more space.

    I have some long bar ends which I have covered with bar tape for more comfort - I really like the extra hand positions.

    I have a DHB Marsden bar bag which is roomy, fully waterproof, and has a useful map pocket integrated in the lid.

    I use Shimano XTR SPD pedals (even the cheapet M520's would be fine), I wouldn't cycle with conventional pedals any more. I also use Shimano MT90 boots for touring, they are fully waterproof Gore-Tex lined boots that alkso double as light weight hiking boots and are excellent on and off the bike, and are the only shoes I take touring.

    This setup works very well, though the handling is not quite as good, fully loaded, as dedicated touring bikes I have tried (steering is slightly more twitchy), but it is an acceptable compromise without spending £700 to £1000 on a Dawes Galaxy/Super Galaxy/Condor Heritage, which would be my weapons of choice if money were no object.

    As you have disc brakes I would take a spare set of pads because you are likely to wear them out on long descents with the added weight and replacements may not be as easily available as v brake pads, depending on where you tour.

    Many people tour very successfully on mtb's.
  • I've regularly road toured with a rigid mtn bike, originally a GT Karakoram steel frame and more recently with second hand Kona Cinder Cone again steel. Both had pannier mounts.

    I've always fitted slicks usually 1.5's. I'd say bar ends are essential to provide the variety of positions if using regularly bars. Suspension forks are extra weight and energy lost on the road for the most part, so I'd try to get some rigid forks.

    The advantage of the 26 inch against road wheels is if you're travelling off beat outside Europe/US you'll find the availability of spares widely available.
    Also gearing is pretty much ideal when loaded up touring.

    It's all about opinions, but I''d disagree about mud guards being essential, if you've got a rear pannier rack fitted they are pretty much superfluous, it keeps most off.

    I'd agree rear spd's, I'd never bothered before touring prefering to manage with one bit of footwear, but I found the them very beneficial on my last tour. I still took a pair of lightweight trainers as I wanted to some serious walking too (a few volcanoes) so even the most comfortable cycling shoes wouldn't have been up to the job.
  • thanks for the replies - really useful info :-)
    Hardtails aren't called hardcore for no reason

    Giant STP:
    Spesh Hardrock:
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I see the point about rear rack /no need for mudguards (though my rear rack has no top plate), but ones toes and lower legs get absolutely soaked without a front mudguard, even if it is just wet roads after the rain - touring in the UK you can more or less guarantee plenty of rain (at least this year!). As for the boots I use, they are Vibram soled Gore-Tex waterproof walking boots with SPD compatibility, I have even used them to walk up Snowdon, they work so well.
  • batch78batch78 Posts: 1,320
    Ah, if only I'd read this thread first! :roll:

    I'd agree with most of the above, spd's essential, maybe some with platform and clip? Barends essential, for the variety of hand positions, as for mudguards I use overshoes and a crud catcher, that said, I only do single day long distance rides, not multiple day tours, worth considering but not essential I'd say.
  • I did 700k's in France last year on a FS mountain bike with road tyres. It was fine, especially on rutty canal tow paths where a touring bike would have been difficult. Towards the end of the ride I started to get a sore bum, whether this would have been lessened on a tourer, with a less upright posture and the opportunity to change hand positions, i don't know. No problems with handling on fast downhills.
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