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What touring bike to buy?

rego81rego81 Posts: 3
edited May 2012 in Tour & expedition
Hi all,

This is my first time posting on the site and I am very new to the biking world so forgive my ignorance.

So anyway here's the story. A few of my buddys have planned a cycling tour this summer in Spain from Barcelona to Madrid and they have asked me to come along. Problem is I am starting from scratch and dont own a decent bike yet.

They all went last year for their first long tour from Paris to Munich and bought new bikes. Two of them bought Trek 1.2 with a granny cog, rear bags and handle bar bags. One had a heavier touring bike. I am leaning towards the Trek 1.2 type bike with a similiar setup becasue I feel I would get more day to day use out of the lighter bike when i return from the trip.

So basically I am looking for some advice on what to buy. A few things I would need is the ability to carry bags on the back and handlebars aswell as a tent and a few camping bits. I also need to be able to keep up with the more experienced bikers!!!! hahaha but i suppose that is more down to my fitness than the bike. The cheaper the bike the better but the max I can afford to spend on bike plus bags and bits is 900 euro (800 pounds).

Any suggestions would be a great help.

Thanks

Posts

  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    My g/f tours on a Trek 1.2 triple with a rear rack and panniers and a bar bag, and mudguards fitted. The bike has been brilliant as an all rounder. For touring I upgraded the 8 speed sora shifters (she didn't like the thumb button) to a 9 speed set of Ultegras for £30 secondhand, and I fitted an 11-32 cassette with a long cage mtb mech, so she can tackle any hill fully loaded.

    I also extended the gear cable outers so they don't interfere with her bar bag.

    The bike seems pretty stable with a pannier load of about 10kg-12kg, I wouldn't want to go much more than that. When we tour I take the tent and heavy stuff.

    For general road riding when not touring, I fitted some Planet-X model B wheels and some lighter tyres and tubes - saved about 1kg on wheel weight and the bike flies!

    If you need to take a heavier load I would go for a proper tourer that has front rack ability and space for fatter tyres with mudguards, and which has 36 spoke wheels, but if you travel light-ish the Trek should be great.

    If you want a dedicated tourer then Edinburgh Cycles Country Traveller and Country Explorer are probably the best budget options, otherwise look at Spa Cycles for good prices on Dawes models like Karakum, Horizon and Galaxy.
  • I was in a similar situation 3 years ago and went for a road bike that could take rear panniers on a rack. One of the guys went for Dawes tourer which he liked but as soon as it went on the scales at the airport you could see he wished it was lighter. Not all road bikes have the bolt holes in the frame for the rack; you can get round this with clip on ones but I didn’t like the idea of that. I went for a Specialized Allez and have no regrets, I know of at least one other person on here who has toured using one without any problems. Also like you say take the rack off and you have a great bike for day to day use.

    Get the lightest rack you can get and I’d recommend waterproof panniers, saves you having to stop and pull over the cover every time you get caught in a shower. Also get the lightest tent possible and a sleeping bag you can make as small as possible, we got most of our gear from Decathlon great quality and reasonably priced. You won’t find a French campsite that isn’t full Decathlon tents.

    As for gears I ended up with a double cog at the front but would recommend a triple had a couple of times where I wish I could have dropped into a lower gear especially in the Alps and Pyrenees.

    The other thing I would look out for is the strength of the wheels and quality of the parts. My mates went for Giant FCR’s and went through loads of spokes and a bottom bracket each, only reason I can think of is poorly built wheels and low quality parts. I’m still to break a spoke or replace any major parts on my Specialized after three long tours. Always carry spare spokes and a spoke key even if you get to a bike shop you’re not guaranteed they’ll have the right ones.

    Hope that helps, Jonny.
  • vernonlevyvernonlevy Posts: 969
    rego81 wrote:
    So anyway here's the story. A few of my buddys have planned a cycling tour this summer in Spain from Barcelona to Madrid and they have asked me to come along. Problem is I am starting from scratch and dont own a decent bike yet.

    They all went last year for their first long tour from Paris to Munich and bought new bikes. Two of them bought Trek 1.2 with a granny cog, rear bags and handle bar bags. One had a heavier touring bike. I am leaning towards the Trek 1.2 type bike with a similiar setup becasue I feel I would get more day to day use out of the lighter bike when i return from the trip.

    So basically I am looking for some advice on what to buy. A few things I would need is the ability to carry bags on the back and handlebars aswell as a tent and a few camping bits. I also need to be able to keep up with the more experienced bikers!!!! hahaha but i suppose that is more down to my fitness than the bike. The cheaper the bike the better but the max I can afford to spend on bike plus bags and bits is 900 euro (800 pounds).

    Any suggestions would be a great help.

    Thanks

    Several things to bear in mind:

    Only the Brits seem to be fixated on drop barred touring bikes. Most of the tourers I see in France are flat barred. Don't exclude them from your considerations.

    Having a triple ring does not in itself make a good tourer, the size of the granny ring and the largest rear sprocket on the cassette determines the ease of making it up hills with minimal effort. The Trek will probably need a change of rear mech, cassette and granny ring to add to the cost.

    Lightweight gear would be helpful but this comes at a price.

    A good starting place would be to look at Spa Cycles www.spacycles.co.uk

    A Dawes Vantage costs £600 there. Has everything apart from lighting.

    Decathlon sell the Riverside tourer - well appointed including racks mudguards and hub dynamo lighting for £600. I have a close relative of the bike which I bought in France when my Dawes Galaxy snapped its frame. I have been pleasantly surprised by its comfort and versatility. I ride 100km Audaxes on it as well as tour.

    Edinburgh Bike Co-operative sell the Revolution Country traveller at £500. Has everything apart from lighting.

    Fitting a bar bag can be problematic on drop bar bikes because they can get in the way of cables.

    After the bike you only have £200-£300 left for the panniers, tent and sleeping bag. Decathlon could be your friend as they have a decent two man tent - (always buy one man's worth more than you need for comfort) Quechua T2 for £80

    Panniers - have a look around I still have some cheap Halfords ones that served me well for three tours. They are tatty but would do another tour.. I now use Carradice canvas ones but they cost £100+. Decathlon are likely to have some and you might get a sleeping bag while you are at it.

    Lightweight bikes can let you down through broken spokes and a feeling of unease when the frame flexes - I've been there. Getting something to meet your primary need i.e. touring is a better bet than compromising on durabilty and comfort by buying a road bike.
  • tim wandtim wand Posts: 2,945
    Personally I use my Planet X kaffenbach . Built up from a frame (when they were on offer) with 9 speed 105 and Pro lite como's, total cost to me around £500 and it does the job brilliantly.

    However I have been on group tours with someone riding a Trek 1.2 triple with P Clips and a seat post conversion to take a rack ( about a fiver for the P clips on the seatstays and £10 for the seat post rack converter / from wiggle I think) and it did the business and as you say gave him a nice training/ fitness bike for other days.

    There is a poster on here somewhere called iIPETE who I think as got the neatest solution I ve seen for touring using an Allez. Looks great, I m sure if you PM'd him he would give you some good advice. ( I ve pointed others in his direction through my Way of the Roses C2C post and he's always responded positively)

    Sounds like a great tour. Have you got any route advice, wouldn't mind giving it a go myself and the Wifes got mates in Getafe/ Madrid and might stomach a pass if she gets some time out there.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    tim wand wrote:
    However I have been on group tours with someone riding a Trek 1.2 triple with P Clips and a seat post conversion to take a rack ( about a fiver for the P clips on the seatstays and £10 for the seat post rack converter / from wiggle I think) and it did the business and as you say gave him a nice training/ fitness bike for other days.
    The 1.2 does have rack and mudguard mounts so it is fine for fitting a rack straight on without P-Clips, this makes it a brilliant all-rounder! I got a Tortec Ultralight rack for my g/f's 1.2, it works a treat and is a reasonable weight. Takes loads up to 25kg (though I wouldn't put that much on the bike). The frames higher up the Trek range (2 series) don't have rack mounts but all the 1 series do (1.1, 1.2, 1.5).
  • tim wandtim wand Posts: 2,945
    Mate was on an older Trek 1200. Thought they were basically the same frame just different graphics. Any how most road frames can take a rack using P clips and an adapted seatpost collar.

    Alphablue is right though. You wouldnt want too much (20 KG Plus) Weight on the back as it will really affect handling.

    Might think about a higher count spoke pattern wheel as well or at least a change to a 28 mm tyre if you have the clearance.
  • popularnamepopularname Posts: 173
    I use a a ridgeback voyage for touring - very good, with a triple chainring. The advantage of a tourer is that it is already specced as a touring bike so that if you are new to cycling you don't need to get anxious about upgrades, weight, wheels etc etc.

    Personally I don't think the bike weight is that big a deal for touring - it's a different style of riding and you are carrying a lot anyway. But I guess you need to think about other uses. I also use the Ridgeback for commuting or travelling about town. Really good and the touring wheels absorb a lot of nonsense on road surface and the weight doesn't bothr me at all.

    Echo the comments above about Edinburgh Bicycle bikes and also about flat bars - but I personally like the drops because of the variety in positions. But then I'm a roadie anyway :D

    As always, go try a few.
    __________________________________________
    >> Domane Four Series > Ridgeback Voyage
  • popularnamepopularname Posts: 173
    I use a a ridgeback voyage for touring - very good, with a triple chainring. The advantage of a tourer is that it is already specced as a touring bike so that if you are new to cycling you don't need to get anxious about upgrades, weight, wheels etc etc.

    Personally I don't think the bike weight is that big a deal for touring - it's a different style of riding and you are carrying a lot anyway. But I guess you need to think about other uses. I also use the Ridgeback for commuting or travelling about town. Really good and the touring wheels absorb a lot of nonsense on road surface and the weight doesn't bothr me at all.

    Echo the comments above about Edinburgh Bicycle bikes and also about flat bars - but I personally like the drops because of the variety in positions. But then I'm a roadie anyway :D

    As always, go try a few.
    __________________________________________
    >> Domane Four Series > Ridgeback Voyage
  • Todd SweeneyTodd Sweeney Posts: 117
    An alternative to a rack and panniers is a large saddlebag, which can essentially be fitted to any bike, which could widen your options somewhat in terms of what bike to purchase. I have a Specialized Allez which I have used for credit card touring in the past. It doesn't have fittings for a rack so I use a Carradice Super C saddlebag, attached to the seatpost with the Carradice SQR system. It works really well and the bag holds a large amount (I think around 24 litres); plenty of room if you are not camping.

    As per the previous poster, I can also highly recommend the Ridgeback Voyage, if you do want a full touring bike. I purchased one last year to use for touring when I want to camp, and in fact I will be using this for a Way of the Roses trip this weekend. It is very comfortable, and has very low gears fitted; this means any hill is fine, even when fully loaded.
  • rego81rego81 Posts: 3
    thanks for all the advice people, it is a real help. I need to go out and try a few as you say and to get a feel for them myself. I am def leaning towards the trek at the moment though.

    Is it worth buying a second hand bike or would the price difference be minimial?
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    rego81 wrote:
    Is it worth buying a second hand bike or would the price difference be minimial?
    If you know what you're buying and do your research I think you could get a worthwhile saving secondhand. As the Trek is an entry level bike its possible that those that get the bug will upgrade early and good condition bikes can be found. Also, a 2008 Trek 1.2 was £200 cheaper than the current model, same frame, same quality components, just 8 speed rather than 9 speed, but one of that vintage may go for a lot less than the current model. The bike is worthy of upgrades and you can do this reasonably cheaply buying secondhand, for instance I changed the shifters on g/f bike to 9 speed Ultegra for £30 for secondhand ones from the classifieds on this forum, and got a 9 speed cassette for £20.

    Try asking on the road classifieds here, and also look on eBay, but don't get in a bidding war on eBay as a lot of items sell well over the odds. Personally I think the classifieds here is a nicer place to buy, if the seller has a good posting history here (i.e. they have been around some time, posted a fair bit and haven't disgraced themselves) they are likely to be sound.
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    Decide what tyre width you want to run.
    If you are doing ultralight camping you can use 28mm. Some people get away with 25mm but you need to ride more carefully over bumps. My choice of tyre would be 32mm.

    This makes a difference because tyre width is limitted by clearance at the frame, forks and brakes. If you want a lightweight road-style I would advise one with long-drop callipers rather than racing style standard drop.
    Most touring bikes use cantilever brakes because they offer more tyre clearance and can just about work with road brake levers. They are not more powerful.

    Make sure you can use a bolt-on luggage rack , they are stronger and lighter than clamp-on racks.

    The suggestion to consider flat bars is a useful one. It is difficult to get road bars to work with the smallest gears (just about possible but difficult) or with good modern brakes. Moving to flat bars solves all the integration problems and you can still use clip-on aerobars.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Good advice from Michael, I would just add that on g/f's Trek 1.2 in touring trim I run it with an 11-34 cassette using an SLX long mech, with the triple up front it offers appropriately low touring gears. It runs faultlessly. Tyres probably would be limited to 28's wiith mudguards though.
  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    Edinburgh Bicycles own brand range as superb value (they have branches in many parts of the UK and will do mail order):
    http://www.edinburghbicycle.com/ebwPNLq ... 155c018343

    I bought one almost ten years ago and it's been superb, have done about 8k miles on it trouble free. Back in the UK it makes a great commuter or winter bike. It has a nice high 48x11 top gear (I've done over 40mph on mine a few times) and a good low granny gear for big hills with a load. It's well built but not too heavy for what it does. The saddle on mine is marvellous. There's no need to spend more on this kind of bike.

    In particular I like Shimano Sora for this style of bike. You'll spend most of your time on the hoods and it's perfect for that. I've never had to adjust or fiddle with the gears in all the years I've had the bike and it's been used in all weathers. Only change I'd make is to fit lighter, thinner tyres (I use 28mm) when the originals wear out.
    http://www.strathspey.co.uk - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • heatonriderheatonrider Posts: 109
    Paul Hewitt's bikes receive a consistenty reviews - i have an audax steel lightweight tourer and i have friends with heavier tourers - all brilliant and tailored to your size.
  • RonLRonL Posts: 90
    I have toured with two mates over several years recently, one has an Edinburgh County tourer the other a Ridgeback Voyager. For long miles, a bike fully set-up for touring purchased at these prices, rack, mudguards, correct wheelbase, angles, gear ratios on a triple all as an entry level bicycle and something you could easily sell if you lose interest, either of these are very worthwhile options. In the last four years we will have cycled well over 5,500 miles and both bikes are still using original wheels and the Ridgeback the original chain-set.
    Both bought these similar to your own needs, as starter bikes for touring. I myself have a Thorn XTC for touring which is comparable to the Hewitt, another superb bike but it depends how much you are willing to invest.

    Best wishes whatever you choose.
    Pedaling spans generations.
  • tbshootertbshooter Posts: 16
    The Ridgeback Voyager is a superb bicycle. I have used mine on many long distance journeys including two Lands End to John O'Groats, the Pembrokeshire Coast, the length of Croatia and many more adventures. It's still going strong and is a sturdy, reliable tourer that I would thoroughly recommend.
    http://www.moreadventure.co.uk/ | Supported Cycling Events with More Adventure
    http://amzn.to/1IGXmUg Cycle Touring: Your Guide to Everything Bike Touring
  • danm99danm99 Posts: 22
    Another vote for the Ridgeback! Solid no nonsense bike very reliable, feels weighty which gives you confidence if you have a lot of gear. Looks good as well, especially the 2011 version with the brown saddle and drops, very retro!
  • holiverholiver Posts: 800
    Would I be alone in liking discs on a touring bike? Like this one...

    http://www.ridgeback.co.uk/bike/cerium/features
  • danm99danm99 Posts: 22
    Never used them myself but some people swear by them
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