Adapting a hybrid to ride the Leeds Liverpool canal

ianwilliams Posts: 257
edited April 2013 in Road general

I have a Specialized Sirrus at the mo. Alu frame, steel fork. The girlfriend has decided we should ride the Leeds-Liverpool canal in August. That's 127 miles, we're aiming for doing it in one day.

My sirrus can do parts of the track fine, but my main worries are:

1. Dealing with v.bad paths and mud - where it struggles
2. Comfort over the distance

My next bike is a road bike, so no real money to buy as CX or mountain bike.

So what upgrades would you recommend - if any - to make the sirrus more equipped for this type of trail?



  • YIMan
    YIMan Posts: 576
  • Cleat Eastwood
    Cleat Eastwood Posts: 7,508
    What you a new girlfriend :mrgreen:
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
  • me-109
    me-109 Posts: 1,915
    YIMan beat me to it. I was going to recommend water wings and paddles.
  • I've no idea whether you bike'll take them or not, but a set of MTB Crudcatchers (downtube mudguard, plus "whale tail" thingy at the back) might not be a bad move. Assuming you're going to put some mildly knobbly tyres on, you'll be surprised at how much stuff gets flicked up off the surface, and getting continually pelted with small stones and bits of mud may well get rather old over 127 miles. This applies in the dry as well. Eye protection may also be a good move, partly for any crap thrown up that the mudguards (if fitted) don't catch, and partly because of low branches, which you really don't want an eye full of!

    A note on off-road MTB tyres... they're remarkably good at puncturing, as they don't (in my experience anyway) have the armoured belt one finds in some road tyres, and instead really on the extra thickness of rubber provided by the, erm, knobs. They tend to shrug off stuff like small bits of glass quite happily, but long nasties such as thorns have a habit of going clean through (and also being impossible to spot in advance...), so I'd definitely recommend taking plenty of puncture repair gubbins with you.
  • Cleat Eastwood
    Cleat Eastwood Posts: 7,508
    Ignore the jokers they're just jealous :lol:

    What tyres have you got I'd run 25's - theres a few sections of the route you have to go off the route and ride on the road - good thing is there are quite a few pubs. :oops:
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
  • paulmon
    paulmon Posts: 315
    Tyres will be the deciding factor here. If there has been lots of rain before hand then you will need decent tyres to grip through the mud along with crud catchers. If its been dry then something that will give you enough grip but will roll pretty well is all you will need. Have both to hand so you can make the change at the last minute if needed.
  • PaulMon wrote:
    Have both to hand so you can make the change at the last minute if needed.
    Good plan, that.
  • ianwilliams
    ianwilliams Posts: 257

    Yeah I was thinking of running wider tyres, and maybe dropping down the pressure slightly. Not sure about taking two sets of tyres, but a mudguard will be a good idea. I'm hoping weather will be good for a few days beforehand, given that its August.

    I was also thinking of getting a carbon seatpost and/or bar. Definitely in budget. Waste of money or decent investment?
  • passout
    passout Posts: 4,425
    As wide tyres as your frame will take - I'd go for semi slicks. I'd also consider punture protection - maybe one of the variants of the marathon / Marathon plus tyres? Spa cycles have good prices on these tyres & offer good advice if you call them.

    Re mudgurds - full mudgurds work best but often mean narrower tyres and can rattle around off road. I'd go for the 'crud' mountain bike (clip on) type.

    I wouldn't bother with seatposts unless you go the whole hog & have a suspension one. I wouldn't though - weighty & unecessary IMO. Tyres are the main thing here.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • Guanajuato
    Guanajuato Posts: 399
    I've walked along various bits of the canal between Shipley and Gargrave. The towpath varies from decent tarmac (better than a lot of roads) through Shipley, well-packed gravel from Saltaire, hard packed ground from about the 5 rise locks at Bingley, with sections of each all the way to Gargrave. In places, the path can get a bit muddy (around silsden springs to mind). but nothing significant - remember the towpath was originally designed for heavy horses, so it generally drains well and has pretty solid foundations.

    I'd suggest tyres with some knobbles to give grip in mud, but that roll easily on tarmac. In other words, hybrid tyres :wink:. Decent puncture protection too - you don't want to be changing muddy tyres too often. Mudguards are definitely worth having. It might sound silly, but a bell is a good idea too.

    With the number of pedestrians around and the number of deliberate narrowing bits, you'll not be flying along at great speed. Hopefully, teaching you to suck eggs, but be considerate to other users of the path. When the path is narrow, don't ride side-by side if there's walkers - in fact, don't take up the whole path and expect walkers or dogs to move out of YOUR way. Give a little warning tinkle as you approach from behind, SLOW DOWN and be prepared to stop. Most cyclists I've come across are considerate, but its annoying when you do meet the odd arrogant group who move for no man. Bear in mind that some walkers will be similarly obstinate. :mrgreen:
  • Cleat Eastwood
    Cleat Eastwood Posts: 7,508
    Actually the idea of a bell might be an idea - I've walked along of the LL canal and ridden a very tiny fraction and when the wind is up its hard to hear cyclists behind - or you could get a megaphone :mrgreen:
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
  • ianwilliams
    ianwilliams Posts: 257
    Yeah, I walk to work down the canal and, much as I love the sport, cyclists without bells do my head in. Pedestrians have right of way and we just need to deal with that!