Crickey; I don't know s**t about touring bikes...

PrettyboyTim

New Member
Location
Brighton
Okay, so all of a sudden I'm eligible for the cycle-to-work scheme at work, which would get me up to £1000 to spend at Evans Cycles. They've also separately negotiated a 10% deal with our local Evans, so I guess the actual budget is something like £1111. Apparently you can get away with topping up the cost as well, so the budget isn't absolutely set in stone, but having said that, I don't really want to spend more than necessary just because I can get away with it :biggrin:.

Aaaanyway... I'm thinking of getting a touring bike - although my commute is minuscule since I moved house (about a mile each way :wacko:) I've now got the potential for lots of lovely rides close by in the south downs and along the coast. I like having a practical, versatile bike - I like to be able to carry a lot of stuff on it, tow a trailer, ride it in all weathers etc. You never know, I might eventually tour on it :biggrin:.

My problem is, I don't really know much about what differentiates one tourer from another; all the different types of reynolds steel, fork chromoly, chainsets, derailleurs, shifters etc are something of a mystery to me. What's the actual practical difference?

Also, what are people's opinion on bar-end shifters? I understand bar-end shifters are meant to be easier to keep working well on a long tour, but it seems to me a pain in the butt in this modern world to have to change your hand position to change gear. I mean, I used to have downtube shifters as a teenager, but things have moved on, no?

My local Evans doesn't tend to have tourers in stock, but they said they can get two or three of my choice in so that I can try them out, but I'd like to make a good choice of those three in the first place.

Any advice?

Cheers,

Tim
 

MacB

Lover of things that come in 3's
Hmmm, the answers are myriad, as you know, but there are certain show stoppers you need to decide upon. These would be clearance for tyres and fitting for guards/racks. Deciding these things will point you to the OTP frames you can go for. Then you need to decide on frame material, at the ballpark pricerange you're looking then I'd have thought steel was the No1 choice. You could even consider a custom frame and then you can specify the braze ons and clearances required. If you're thinking fully loaded touring then I hear nothing but good about the Surly LHT and the Ridgeback Panorama. As for difference in material properties, I have a Surly Xcheck steel frame which I find very comfy. I have a Giant carbon and alu mix which I find very comfy, not as smooth as the steel on rougher ground. But I also have an old Dawes 501 steel frame which is also comfy. All 3 bikes run 700x32 tyres or bigger, the Giant did run 700x23 tyres and that was the least comfortable for me.

However I noted you also mentioned trailers and versatility, two points I've considered in some detail. For example you could get a Carry Freedom Y frame two wheel trailer that comes with 3 hitch mounts. This appeals to me as I don't find the hitch mounts obtrusive and could then use any bike to transport stuff. Of the single wheel trailers the Bob Yak seems to get the best press. If going for bike luggage only then a lot of folks claim that front and rear panniers make for a more stable ride. But you then need the bike to cope with potential loads. Whereas going the trailer route means that you can have a lighter weight bike. You can still get bigger tyre clearance and a rack, you just don't need a frame that will suport full on touring loads.

I suppose what bike/s you have already will also be an influence. I'm actually interested in a trailer for shopping/utility, rather than touring, purposes. Messing about with panniers, and loading them correctly, can be a faff, I've also overdone the weight and that was a bit wobbly:biggrin:. Being able to just hook on the trailer, to a choice of bikes, seems much easier to me. The trailers are also lockable to the bike which makes it that little bit harder to steal when shopping etc. The added beauty of a trailer is, unlike luggage, you don't have to consider whether future bikes will accept it, almost any bike will take a trailer hitch.

Transmission, Rohloff might be nice but rather ups the price range:ohmy:, so what else? From a maintenance perspective then I'd say derailler just because parts and repairs are more readily available. There doesn't seem to be much wrong with Shimano MTB hubs, assuming your rear spacing would take 135mm. Stronglight seem to do reasonable touring chainsets and are popular. In converting my hybrid I started with MTB shifter pods, tried shimano Sora STI's, MTB STI's and MTB pod and brake combos. Admittedly this was all around different bars as well, but I've now settled on Dura Ace bar end shifters. I was concerned about the shifter position and looked at alternative mounts. You can get 'thumby' mounts in various guises that allow you to mount barend shifters anywhere on the bars, even one bracket that allows you to put them to the inside of the hoods. However since using the barends I'm quite happy with them where they are, though I don't tend to change gear as much as others I ride with. A big plus is the front shifting, it's been better than any of the other shifters and I don't get the same chain rub issues.

One configuration I'm thinking of trying at some point are bullhorn style bars, barend shifters, aero brake levers and cross tops.
 

PpPete

Guru
Location
Chandler's Ford
Just had a look at the Evans touring bike section.
Claud Butler Dalesman looks pretty well spec'd to me (and better value than the current Dawes Galaxy at Evans' prices): Dalesman has Tiagra STI shifters and Deore mechs, good choice of gearing too IMO. - although with a slight question mark over the brakes.... I'd be putting cyclocross cantis on if it were me, just that bit more stopping power if fully loaded.
Alternatively Kona Sutra has disc brakes, but bar end shifters rather than STIs, and the 50-39-30 rings are too big for a tourer (again IMO). Friend of mine just bought one - for a ride to Gibraltar. Must ask him how he's getting on with it, because he's a MTBer and has never really got on with road bikes in the past.
 

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
Also, what are people's opinion on bar-end shifters? I understand bar-end shifters are meant to be easier to keep working well on a long tour, but it seems to me a pain in the butt in this modern world to have to change your hand position to change gear. I mean, I used to have downtube shifters as a teenager, but things have moved on, no?
The plus of barcons is that they're less mechanically complex than STi. If you're expedition touring, and the indexing breaks, they'll work happily in friction mode too. My personal opinion is that this is overstated, usually by the sort of people who'll tell you that you need 26" wheels because you can't get 700c tubes in Kuala Lumpur.

I have STi on my tourer (Surly Long Haul Trucker) but my tours are going to be in mainland europe, for the foreseeable future. (Also, if you were really worried about STi, you could stick a pair of DT shifters in your pannier anyway, I guess).
 

frank9755

Cyclist
Location
West London
The South Downs can be a bit hilly, so do think about gearing.

Essentially you need a triple on the front (smallest ring 28 or fewer teeth) and a mountain bike set-up at the back (ie Deore or LX mech with probably an 11-32 or 11-34 cassette)

A Ridgeback Panorama has this, as do the Dawes bikes (eg the Super Galaxy which is their equivalent bike) I imagine the Dalesman would too, but not checked it. Some of the other brands will have a road rear mech which limits you to 27 teeth at the back. I don't think that is enough for a tourer, especially if you want to pull a trailer.

FWIW I have 24-36-48 chainrings and an 11-34 on the back which gives me a low gear of 19", which I regularly use to get up steep hills slowly. That's lower than most people have, but I wouldn't be without it!

I have STIs on all my drop-bar bikes and, having got used to them, I wouldn't consider anything else. One might break on tour in Mongolia, but I would have to deal with it when happens. I don't want to compromise the 99% of my riding in UK/W Europe to make that problem easier to fix.

Other things to look at are:
- clearance - as MacB says you need to have space for comfortable tyres (32 or bigger) and mudguards
- frame fittings for mudguards + rack + at least 2 bottle cages
- frame not too 'aggressive' ie not too low at the front
- decent strength wheels

Good luck!
 

andrew_s

Guru
Location
Gloucester
A bent dropout from a simple fall will put out indexing enough that you can't use all your gears properly. With bar-end levers you just switch to friction - with STI or ergo it's more likely that you'd have to spend time getting it put right and maybe miss a booked hotel or ferry.

Not having to change your hand position can be a disadvantage as well as an advantage. Because you don't have to, you don't, and next thing you notice you are getting problems with numb fingers or something (admittedly more of a problem for long distance audax type rides than touring).
 

Sh4rkyBloke

Jaffa Cake monster
Location
Manchester, UK
I know even less than you, PBT... just popped in to say "Nice to see you back on the boards, seems like some time since I last saw you in here (virtually)". :evil:
 

GrumpyGregry

Here for rides.
don't worry, neither do most touring cyclists. they know about their bikes, and based on what suits them they know everything about yours is just 'wrong'... *runs*
 

Plax

Veteran
Location
Wales
GregCollins said:
don't worry, neither do most touring cyclists. they know about their bikes, and based on what suits them they know everything about yours is just 'wrong'... *runs*
Aye, you could be right there. I personally can't understand why anyone would buy a touring bike that isn't a Dawes Galaxy........:biggrin:
 

TrevorM

New Member
Location
Belfast
OK this is just my personal opinion as I think everyone should use the kit that suits them best; except I really can't understand why anyone thinks bar-end shifters on a touring bike is a good idea. First, most touring cyclists I know ride on the tops or sides of the bars and only use the drops occasionally; so for most of the time your hands are nowhere near the shifters anyway. Second, its not always easy to find the bar-end shifter when you need it quickly - because the bars are always moving as you ride, the shifters change position relative to the frame - unlike downtube shifters that are always in the same place. Last - applying a force to the bar end as you shift is the easiest way to cause a wobble especially at high speed.

My Galaxy came with bar end shifters and I tried for 2 years to like them. I took them off last week and put them onto the down tube (just like my old Galaxy). Don't know why I waited.
 
OP
PrettyboyTim

PrettyboyTim

New Member
Location
Brighton
Thanks for the input, all! I think I may have overstressed the touring / load carrying aspects of the bike - I do already have a trailer and although I get perverse enjoyment from strapping large loads to the back of my bike, I'm not actually planning on doing any heavy touring. I was mainly looking at tourers because I thought they'd be most likely to provide me with a comfortable bike; my current hybrid, while fine in the stop-start traffic of London, doesn't seem as well suited for a ride in the south downs. Someone else suggested I might want to look at some kind of audaxing bike, but I don't really know what to look for.
 

dobo

northern monkey
Location
selby
take a look at the surly l.h.trucker i got one on the b.w.scheme fantastic bike very good spec for the money.......

regards alan
 

MacB

Lover of things that come in 3's
PrettyboyTim said:
Thanks for the input, all! I think I may have overstressed the touring / load carrying aspects of the bike - I do already have a trailer and although I get perverse enjoyment from strapping large loads to the back of my bike, I'm not actually planning on doing any heavy touring. I was mainly looking at tourers because I thought they'd be most likely to provide me with a comfortable bike; my current hybrid, while fine in the stop-start traffic of London, doesn't seem as well suited for a ride in the south downs. Someone else suggested I might want to look at some kind of audaxing bike, but I don't really know what to look for.
Ok, well that makes it easier and brings carbon in to the mix, thus making it harder again:biggrin:

Do you have any definite yeas or nays? How you stand on handlebars, mudguards, brazeons and tyre sizes will narrow the options quite a lot, as will pricepoints. You could get a Burls custom Ti frame for about £1k, they do complete bikes as well, £2k could get you something rather nice in carbon or titanium. I'd also include high end steel in that as well. Planet X always seem to have some great deals on.

How versatile do you want the bike to be? If you're happy with the idea of trailer over loaded panniers then the next biggie is clearance. Nothing, barring aesthetics, to stop you running narrower tyres/wheels in a larger clearance frame, obviously the reverse isn't possible. For example:-

I have a Surly Xcheck - more an all rounder than a cross bike, traditional geometry and can take up to 45mmish tyres with mudguards. If you're not planning on laden pannier touring then a better choice than the LHT.

Unless you're having custom made then your options change with tyre size. Up to 25mm then nearly any race/audax/light tourer/cross will cover it. 28mm and you're more limited, over that and the choices reduce further.

I guess that tyre size might be a deal maker/breaker here:biggrin:
 
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