Touring bike suppliers and fitting

Big foot

Well-Known Member
Where can I go to view and test touring bikes? I went to Evans in Bristol on Sunday but they only had 3 bikes that I could see. How can I see the whole range of touring bikes avaliable?
If I bought through wiggle how do I know I'm getting the right size and who would do the fitting for me?
Feeling frustrated already.
Cheers J
 
Spa Cycles in Harrogate ?
 

Brains

Legendary Member
Location
Greenwich
Touring bikes tend to be one of a kind, they are not really mass produced.

Even the shops that specialise in touring bikes such as Spa Cycles of Harrogate, Condor in London and your nearest local St Johns Street Cycles (Thorn) of Bridgewater only tend to stock a single supplier (themselves) and a the full range which is usually about 3 bikes.

What you need to look at, and test ride are the two 'benchmark' bikes, the Dawes Galaxy and the Surly Long Haul,

Personally I'd not buy either as brand new bikes, but I'd get a 2nd hand one, ride it for a few months, go on a tour with it, to then work out what I wanted in a touring bike.
You study other peoples bikes as you see them noting good bits and bad bits

You then go to someone like Spa, Condor or St Johns (there are a number of others) and get one of their 'standard' bikes made to your spec, or you go to one of the frame builders like Roberts, Mercian, Jackson, Yates (and many more) and have them make a bike for you.

Bottom line will not be much change from two grand by the time you have added the custom paint job, the panniers, the lights and all the trimmings. But done properly you'll have a bike for the rest of your life
 

tournut

Active Member
Location
altrincham
Where can I go to view and test touring bikes? I went to Evans in Bristol on Sunday but they only had 3 bikes that I could see. How can I see the whole range of touring bikes avaliable?
If I bought through wiggle how do I know I'm getting the right size and who would do the fitting for me?
Feeling frustrated already.
Cheers J
Only place ive gone to is evens, but if dont have bikes in thay can get them, but you have to put deposit down £50. Wot you get bk, you dont have to buy, as for fit thay should do that if you buy. Sorry carnt help more.
 

tournut

Active Member
Location
altrincham
Touring bikes tend to be one of a kind, they are not really mass produced.

Even the shops that specialise in touring bikes such as Spa Cycles of Harrogate, Condor in London and your nearest local St Johns Street Cycles (Thorn) of Bridgewater only tend to stock a single supplier (themselves) and a the full range which is usually about 3 bikes.

What you need to look at, and test ride are the two 'benchmark' bikes, the Dawes Galaxy and the Surly Long Haul,

Personally I'd not buy either as brand new bikes, but I'd get a 2nd hand one, ride it for a few months, go on a tour with it, to then work out what I wanted in a touring bike.
You study other peoples bikes as you see them noting good bits and bad bits

You then go to someone like Spa, Condor or St Johns (there are a number of others) and get one of their 'standard' bikes made to your spec, or you go to one of the frame builders like Roberts, Mercian, Jackson, Yates (and many more) and have them make a bike for you.

Bottom line will not be much change from two grand by the time you have added the custom paint job, the panniers, the lights and all the trimmings. But done properly you'll have a bike for the rest of your life
I bought second hand dawes and slowly over the winter got my touring gear tent and gear only cost 700. Still going strong after 4years . Paint job do it yourself. Dont forget touring is not a fashion show. Good luck.
 

22camels

Active Member
Evans should have a ridgeback expedition you can test ride (around the block) if you call them a week or two in advance.

There are a few places around the country that do touring bike hire, one is Drover cycles in Hay-on-Wye who have LHT's and possibly even a Thorn. Though the bike won't be exactly custom tuned to your spec, it seems like a good way to get a better idea. I was told the hire is free if you end up buying a bike from them. I've been to see LHT's in 3 other shops in urban areas where it seemed the best I could do was a test ride around the block.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
Touring bikes tend to be one of a kind, they are not really mass produced.

Even the shops that specialise in touring bikes such as Spa Cycles of Harrogate, Condor in London and your nearest local St Johns Street Cycles (Thorn) of Bridgewater only tend to stock a single supplier (themselves) and a the full range which is usually about 3 bikes.

What you need to look at, and test ride are the two 'benchmark' bikes, the Dawes Galaxy and the Surly Long Haul,

Personally I'd not buy either as brand new bikes, but I'd get a 2nd hand one, ride it for a few months, go on a tour with it, to then work out what I wanted in a touring bike.
You study other peoples bikes as you see them noting good bits and bad bits

You then go to someone like Spa, Condor or St Johns (there are a number of others) and get one of their 'standard' bikes made to your spec, or you go to one of the frame builders like Roberts, Mercian, Jackson, Yates (and many more) and have them make a bike for you.

Bottom line will not be much change from two grand by the time you have added the custom paint job, the panniers, the lights and all the trimmings. But done properly you'll have a bike for the rest of your life
Sound advice from @Brains, particularly to study other people's bikes in your chosen touring environment.

You will get decent and well-meaning advice on here - as I did when starting out - but I picked up more useful info by taking in what other riders in my group use and do.

Downside is that it probably means buying two bikes, because the first bike you buy will probably not be the one you want after you've done the on the road research.

You are fortunate in having one of the handful of touring specialists within striking distance.

All the above assumes you have a decent budget and are keen on speccing your ideal bike.

You could pick up a branded tourer from one of the chain stores and tour happily on it for years.

Many people do.
 

andym

Über Member
Do you already have a bike? If you do and it's comfortable then measure it and go from there.

Although bikes are generally sized by the length of the seat tube, with modern frame designs this distance is often not the most relevant and the most important distance is the length of the top tube: if you get one that's too long then it will be uncomfortable.

Evans have a useful page about bike sizing. It's not rocket science and really it's no harder than buying a suit - although, as with suits you can pay a fortune for a bespoke one, or for a fitting. But just as with a suit, unless you have an odd-shaped body then you are probably going to be perfectly happy with off-the-peg.

To be honest one touring bike looks pretty much like another, and the geometries tend to be fairly similar. I think it's probably more important to think about what sort of bike you want - eg are you looking for a bike to take out on day-rides as opposed to a dedicated tourer, something that's a heavy-duty workhorse or something a bit sportier. I wouldn't narrow your search to bikes that are specifically marketed as 'touring bikes' you may prefer one of the growing number of do-it-all bikes (eg Planet-X Kaffenback) - any bike you can put a rack on can be used as a touring bike, although wider wheels and lower gears always help.

It's also worth understanding the differences between the different Shimano kit ranges so you can interpret the technical specs - this is often what distinguishes the more expensive bikes from the cheaper ones.

Yeah you could buy from Thorn but, my advice would be to get something less expensive as a first bike and then, when you have a clearer idea of what you want, trade-up.

Out on the road I see people touring on all sorts of different bikes, and the choice of bike often says more about your nationality than anything else: many continental Europeans tour on 'trekking bikes' while if you see someone on a drop-handled 'touring bike' then there's a good chance they are from an English-speaking country. Both styles of tourer have their pros and cons - you pays your money etc.
 
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Geoff Crowther

"... travel far, not fast", Ted Simon
Plus one for Thorn ... aka St John Street Cycles, Bridgewater. Just noticed how close you are to them. Given that, why buy anything else (just my humble opinion).
Geoff
one VERY satisfied Thorn owner :okay:

PS I went down there from Derbyshire to be fitted, test ride and spec mine. Their service is excellent. Plus superb money back guarantee if yer just don't like it!
 

robgul

Guru
You've not really described the sort of touring you want to do ... credit card or the full 4 pannier camping - and where - and of course the budget.

That, to me, dictates the sort of bike to look at - and nobody has mentioned wheels ... there's a marked difference in riding a 26" wheel or 700c wheel bike - I find the latter preferable for a touring bike (2 x E2E, Calais to Mediterranean and loads more tours on a Galaxy) and requiring less effort.

As suggested "sizing" a bike is no longer a simple process with, in particular, sloping top tubes and differing frame geometry .. in the old days the standard measure was from the centre of the BB to the saddle-clamp bolt (with horizontal crossbar ... now called a toptube!) and you could relate that to your inside leg measurement.

Looks like you need to visit a number of cycling emporia to sit on different styles and sizes of machine.

Rob
 
OP
Big foot

Big foot

Well-Known Member
I currently ride a Marin Eldridge Grade, steel frame, 7 speed MTB with racks front and rear. She's an old girl from 93 and needs money spending on new gearing, bottom bracket etc. I was thinking of rebuilding her completely using the frame and upgrading everything to a full on expedition bike. Then I started looking at new touring bikes with 700c and drops. Probably not the best for me as I suffer lower back pain from an accident and operations.
I love my Marin known as "Meg" but the top tube is slightly to long causing me back pain on long rides. After Advice from this thread I went to St Johns yesterday to look at the Thorns, I'm also hoping to get to Oxford Bike Works as I really like the Model 1E for around £900 which is roughly around my budget and probably the same amount id spend on Megs upgrades. Thank you all for you thoughts, this is a great forum!
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andym

Über Member
...but the top tube is slightly to long causing me back pain on long rides.
I must admit I'm slightly puzzled by that because you have the handlebar and saddle so high - the top tube actually looks relatively short in comparison.

Before you go for a new bike it might be worth working out what's not working about the one you have.

Have you considered using a straight seatpost rather than one with layback? The layback post means that your seat is several centimetres further back than it would be with a straight post - that might make all the difference (also do you have any scope for moving the saddle forward?).

Butterfly bars might be worth considering - not only to give you a higher riding position without having to angle the stem so far up, but also because they will give you a hands position that's more inboard.
 
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