New to touring which bike?

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by honestyguru, 25 Apr 2010.

  1. honestyguru

    honestyguru New Member


    I'm after a bit of advice. I'm going to start touring with my partner who is an experienced cyclist, but the only bikes I have bought have been cheap mountain bikes to cycle to rowing and down tow paths etc! We intend to do some light camping touring (mostly tarmac) and will have two bikes to spread the load. I also want to be able to use the bike every weekend for day trips and long rides, possibly just with a bar bag.

    I have been reading all the forums and reviews, but I would like some opinions on my options.

    Initially I looked at some entry level tourers, such as the Dawes Horizon or Karakum.

    These are great budget wise, especially as I am not guaranteed to love touring. However, I am concerned about the long term investment value of such an entry level bike.

    I have started looking at more expensive bikes and am quite keen on the Hewitt cheviot/cheviot se. Considering the aim is to use the bike every weekend and also to do a months tour eventually, do you think it is worth spending double the money on a bike like these?

    I have also looked at audax style bikes, but am not sure they could cope with the loads for camping.

    Am I right in thinking that even if I spent the money on the cheviot I would still need a different bike to do expedition touring? Would an expedition tourer be good to ride unloaded at the weekends?

    Any advice/opinions much appreciated, sorry for the long post.
  2. HelenD123

    HelenD123 Veteran

    Hi honestyguru and welcome to the forum. By expedition touring, what do you mean? This is usually over rougher roads and dirt tracks rather than tarmac roads so will need a tougher bike, although you'd be surprised by what something like a Hewitt Cheviot can handle.

    As you've only ever ridden cheap mountain bikes I'd be nervous about spending a large amount of money straight off until you know what you're comfortable riding. Do you know whether you want drops, straight bars or trekking bars? I tried drops and couldn't get on with them. Could you get something second hand to start with? Probably the best thing you could do would be to go and test ride a few bikes.

    BTW a lot of people love their Dawes Horizons and don't feel the need to upgrade. This season they've gone back to a steel frame which is good news. You could also look at the touring bikes from Edinburgh Bicycle Coop. They are great value.

    If you definitely know you want to tour, I would definitely get a touring bike rather than an audax one. Touring bikes are great all rounders and will be good for weekend rides. I've even done a sportif on mine!
  3. OP

    honestyguru New Member

    Thanks Helen. With the expedition touring its just a long term idea to do some tours in some more far flung places where the roads aren't so good. So I was just thinking that even if I spent a lot of money on say the cheviot I might still need to upgrade my bike to do these kind of tours.

    I'm pretty sure I don't want drop bars, I have tried cycling fiends road bikes with drops and I don't enjoy the sensation. I like the option to have butterfly or vario on the cheviot. The Karakum also has trekking bars, but the frame is aluminium. It does seem to have a fairly good spec for the price though.
  4. HelenD123

    HelenD123 Veteran

    For far flung places a lot of people recommend having 26" wheels as parts are more easy to find for them. The Cheviots come with 700cc wheels I think. They do look very good value though and if you can afford it it's probably a good option for your current needs. You'll be able to get it made up to your spec and fitted for you.
  5. From what I have read you can get cheviots in 26" and 700c. I think the beauty of them is that they're custom made - I secretly lust after one! Another thing to consider about expedition riding is tyre clearance. Quite often you'll need much wider tyres and beefier rims to cope with what the world has to offer, so to speak - this also means wider stays and forks which is where things can get complicated.

    From what you have said I would go for a standard tourer such as the ones you have mentioned but I would also suggest that you test ride them. That way you know what you're most comfortable on.
  6. aberal

    aberal Senior Member

    I'd recommend you do some serious research including test riding several bikes - you'll be surprised by how much bikes will differ and what is great for one person is not so great for another. I wouldn't discount drop bars too easily though, they will give you 5-6 different riding positions on the drops, hoods and tops and you will find that you will use them all, often changing constantly depending on the terrain. A racing bike is built for speed and has a quite different frame geometry from a touring bike which is much more comfortable and relaxed. The two bikes mentioned by Helen are both excellent bikes and would last years or could sold on for a good price if you chose to upgrade at a later date.
  7. OP

    honestyguru New Member

    I have read that also, but I can't seem to see that on their site. The problem with the cheviot is that I can afford it, but I still have to buy the panniers and some new gear as I have previosly just cycled in normal clothing. I also need a new helmet as mine is ancient and has received some knocks.

    I am going up to Manchester on business next weekend so I was thinking of booking a session with Paul to get fitted and try the bikes.
  8. Bandini

    Bandini Guest

    I am very pleased with my Karakum. Well specced for the money and the butterfly bars are very comfortable, and more positions if you factor in that lots of people rarely use their drops!
  9. willem

    willem Über Member

    My personal preference is for 26 inch drop bar tourers (drop bar just above saddle height, i.e. much higher than on racing bikes). Fit them with 26x1.75 Panaracer Pasela TG tyres and you have a pretty fast but still very comfortable bike. The same tyres or something slightly wider and sturdier such as the 50 mm Schwalbe Big Apple will be fine for lightly loaded camping tours in much of Europe. For that you need some 15 kg of luggage at most, so no front rack or front panniers are necessary. If you want to rough it, you can fit 50 mm wide tyres with more tread up to real mtb ones, or expedition touring tyres like the Schwalbe Marathon Extreme. I have just ordered a set of Extremes for my upcoming off road tour in Norway (still only rear panniers, even with all the gear for wet and freezing weather).
    I like wider 26 inch tyres because they greatly extend your range into gravel road and mild off road territory. Since the main roads are increasingly crowded with ever faster cars, I find myself prefering smaller and smaller roads, and inevitably that means worse road surfaces. But it brings me closer to nature. I must confess I also greatly appreciate the comfort of these wider fast tyres. My old bones and sore back don't like narrow tyres anymore (or a very upright riding position for that matter).
    p.s. If you want to experiment, get a decent second hand Dawes Galaxy, and use it for a few years. Fit the widest possible tyres. And as I said, you only need a set of 40 litre rear panniers such as the no frills Ortlieb City Line rear panniers (cheaper and lighter than their regular line).
  10. P.H

    P.H Über Member

    It's a tough one. I did my first few tours on a £200 hybrid, I've now had a Cheviot SE for 5 years and still rate it as my best bike despite having two dearer ones. As long as your bike is reliable and comfortable you won't come back from a tour wishing you'd had a better bike, that's not what touring is about. On the other hand a fitting session from Paul Hewitt could in the long term save lots of money, get it right buy it once. And his hand built wheels are likly to be more reliable than the machine built ones from the likes of Dawes (Though you can get that sorted for a few quid) The level of components will also probably last you a lot longer.
    I'm not sure which way I'd go. Maybe if you're sure of what you want get the best you can afford, it'll probably prove better value in the long run. If you're a bit undecided, get the cheapest thing that will do the job and expect you might want to upgrade shortly.
    Expedition Vs traditional tourer - it's a compromise either way, but people have been round the world on all sorts of bikes. I wouldn't base my purchase on the possibility of a one off tour sometime in the future. I'd base it on what it's going to be used for most.
  11. OP

    honestyguru New Member

    Thanks everyone for your advice. I have booked a fitting session with Paul Hewitt. I went out at the weekend on my boyfriend's road bike and although it's too big for me and not a tourer, I had so much fun I convinced myself to buy a more expensive bike. I think it will be a good investment. I'll let your know what I order.
  12. Shut Up Legs

    Shut Up Legs Down Under Member

    For what it's worth, I have the following tourer myself; the Vivente World Randonneur. A bit of a grandiose name, I know, but it's quite a nice ride. It weighs about 15kgs, has CrMo alloy frame, drop bars, a very good range of gear ratios (32/30 up to 53/11), and I've currently got 28mm tyres on it, which seem to handle most road surfaces, even unsurfaced if not too rough. See here for a better description than the above: It cost me about $2400 Australian*.


    --- Victor.

    * That was BEFORE I added all the bits and pieces and got infected with upgraditus!
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