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touring, cross, or what(18 posts)

touring, cross, or whatJekyll
Nov 8, 2001 4:37 PM
Here's my dilemma: I have a decent road bike and a pair of decent MTBs.
I am looking to get something to use as my winter/crappy weather/commuter/maybe charity ride bike.
I don't want to trash my road bike and riding suspension of the road bothers me (even with lockouts).
I've been looking at both touring and cyclocross bikes and I'm at a loss as to the real differences between the two.
Every cyclocross bike I research seems to be "cross" marketed as a touring bike.
I have no intention of riding single track or racing cyclocross - I still feel that 4 inches of front and rear travel on my Jekyll is far a better solution for that.
I do want something that allows for tires wider than traditional road bikes and the possibility of adding a rear rack for light shopping trips, etc.
So am I looking for a touring bike or a cross bike? I'm at a loss.
Must be an age thing to want something that has a relaxed ride and a more relaxed riding position.
I will probably slap either Ultegra or D/A triple on this contraption but I have no clue as to what/who to look for in a frame and fork. I'm looking to spend $1500 or less on the frame/fork combo. I'm 32, 5'10" 175lbs (if that helps).
From reading this board its obvious that many of you have bikes that serve the type of applications I described above. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
Nov 8, 2001 4:56 PM
Both types would serve the purpose, and sometimes they are cross marketed. In your price range I'd have to suggest a Rivendell Atlantis $950 for Frame, Fork, and Headset.

Beautiful, bomber, and very good people that back their stuff.

Steelman is also good stuff. Somebody know offhand what Matt Chester prices run? Also bomber as hell.

You could go for a Surly Crosscheck and save the greenbacks for other things as well.

Wish I had your allowance! Heh heh heh!


Atlantis is terrific, but why not try used?cory
Nov 9, 2001 7:43 AM
I have an Atlantis, and it's my all-time favorite bike. Too nice for the slush and salt, though--for that I use an old Trek touring bike that I bought from the classified ads in the newspaper for a couple of hundred dollars. There are a lot of similar bikes around. Mine's pre-index shifting, and I kept the platform pedals and toe clips that came on it so I can ride in any shoes. It has canti brakes, so I can run tires up to 700x40 with room for fenders. Maintenance is easy, too--hose it off and lube the chain.
re: touring, cross, or whatMJ
Nov 9, 2001 2:26 AM
be careful when buying a cross bike - if you get one, like a Ritchey for example, it may be set up for cross racing and may not be up to double duty as a tourer - a true cross racer won't have pannier braze ons and that's pretty essential for a touring fest

there are a few general differences which will require you and/or the LBS to have some specific geometry/points in mind -

1. cross bikes often have a higher bottom bracket than road, tourers or even mtbs. - that may not be the best for a long loaded ride (a notable and worthy non-custom build exception is the Gunnar - which has a road low BB)
2. tourers often have a longer, more stretched out wheelbase - more stability than you very much
3. true tourers often have mtb. gearing for heavy loads up hills
4. you want to check heel clearance for rear panniers (with a riding shoe and a loaded pannier) as the more 'race' a cross bike is the shorter the chainstay length
5. alot of (steel) tourers are made out of 631/531 steel rather than 853 - I think it gives a softer ride and isn't as brittle as the 853 - a (steel) cross racer will almost always be made out of 853 and will be more responsive/stiff

anybody else to add to the list?

having said all that - most cross bikes will work perfectly fine as a touring bike (if they have the necessary braze-ons) - just make sure you've taken the time to have a ride on your intended steed and ask the right questions - I ended up ordering a custom cross bike to take everything into account - it has pannier rack and fender capability (it's a 631 custom steel frame)...

BTW like the above poster I've heard only good things about the Atlantis and Steelman - heard one bad thing about the Gunnar (on this site as well - do a search) from Cliff Oates I think(?) - but overall it sounds like a good option for your needs - it has braze ons, is in your price range, and you probably won't need a custom as you look to be an 'average' size

however you know that if you put Shimano stuff on it will probably not work - you should stick with Campy :-)
re: fork braze ons?cyclopathic
Nov 9, 2001 5:46 AM
for low riders and dynamo,

some differences in build:
touring saddles (Brooks still rules)
Schmidt hub generator (you appreciate it if you ever ridden a few nights in a row)
mtb cass/RD
32/36 x3 wheels
wide semi-slick tires vs knobbies
"foam" type grips vs tape

Using panniers puts additional stress most road and cyclocross frames are not designed for and they crack sometimes. If I were building true tourer I would stick with Atlantis, just because that's what they do for living

I have seen old MTB bikes converted for touring use, another option..

the other thing when you build a tourer you want to use standard easy accessible parts, which pretty much excludes Campy :-( I rode a brevet once with Campy guy. when he broke his chain noone had extra link, he had to borrow bike.

there're 2 types of touring bikes: "touring" and "light touring". Light touring is also known as "century" bike. It is designated for commuting or self-supported events like centuries, doubles, multi-day charity rides, short tours and brevets.

Even on longest randonee London-Edinburgh-London (1400km) you only 30-40mi away from nearest checkpoint. Whole event is limited to 118hr, pls you have several bag drops this pretty much eliminate need for carrying much stuff

Light tourers usually have road tires (25,26 or 28mm), huge saddlebags preferable to racks/panniers, aerobars. No, they are not suitable for riding dirt roads or carrying lotsa cargo, so don't build one for cross Kenya tour ;)

Zefal makes fenders compatible with road brakes so you can just take road bike and convert it to touring use.
re: get something funkydzrider
Nov 9, 2001 6:25 AM
Excellent summary! I did a similar search this summer and came to much the same conclusions about a cross, touring and sport-touring bikes.

For beating around, commuting, and riding in the winter I use a very old Trek sport-touring bike that I got used in 1989. I keep it alive with basement components. It works well to use a bike that requires a lot less tlc for these purposes. I'd feel foolish trying to carefully lock a Steelman to a parking meter or cleaning it 5 times in a rainy week.
Yep, that was meCliff Oates
Nov 9, 2001 9:07 AM
I think my complaint is more with the utter lack of customer service at Waterford/Gunnar. My bike is OK and ridable, although I suspect the ride would be improved if it were visibly in alignment. My Waterford 2200 is terrific.

Schwinn hasn't responded to the letter I sent him, so another is going out today via registered mail with a signature required. At least I'll know they received it then. If they want to blow off their customers, that's OK, but I want to know for certain I'm being blown off.

At some point I'll be in the market for a custom frame to replace my stock geometry Waterford, which though very nice, isn't perfect. Waterford is no longer on the list of builders I'll be considering for that project. Not because of their technical skills, but rather an apparent absence of customer skills.
Yep, that was meMJ
Nov 9, 2001 9:39 AM
have you emailed/posted them the link? - if I were them I wouldn't want to be deleted from regular board members lists of suggested rides...
Yep, that was meCliff Oates
Nov 9, 2001 10:26 AM
I sent them an email with pictures of my Waterford for inclusion in the customer photo section of their web site shortly after I received the bike. They never acknowledged the email, so I haven't bothered with that method of communication with them again.

No, I would think they'd have a clue about the dynamics of high end bikes (at $780 MSRP, the Crosshairs frameset isn't cheap) and realize it's their customers that sell the bikes and not the shops. But apparently not. That mistake is usually self-correcting.
another issuenee Spoke Wrench
Nov 9, 2001 6:05 AM
I just assembled a Fuji Cross bike that has Avid canty brakes. They reminded me of how much I like the v style brakes. Fooling with the straddle cable seemed to me to be old fashioned and clumsy.

I think that it's kind of important to have a good idea about what brakes you plan to use before you select a frame so that you can be sure to get the appropriate mounts.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a class of bikes that the component makers forgot. While not exactly into cross and touring bikes, I do quite a bit of tandem work and I think that the brake requirements are similar. Honestly, I'm not in love with any of the choices that are currently available.

My top picks today would be a V brake with a cable pull device like a "Travel Agent" and STI levers or Magura hydraulic rim brakes with bar end shifters. Both use conventional canty braze-on mounts. Maguras are truly wonderful once you get them set up properly and the bar end shifters, while less convenient than STIs, are often preferred by tourists for their reliability.
Airborne Carpe Diem makes a fine Cross/tourerChris Zeller
Nov 9, 2001 6:58 AM
I have to agree with the above poster that the primary tradeoffs between full touring and cyclocross frames are BB height and chainstay length--however these factors aren't an issue when you view these touring bikes as light tourers. If you are carying 20-30 lbs your panniers won't be too big to have to worry about heel clearance on 42.5 cm chainstays and the slightly higher BB won't make any difference in stability.

What you will get however is a much more responsive ride. The unloaded test rides that I did on real fully loaded touring bikes found them to be clunky heavy slow monsters that I wouldn't have enjoyed riding lightly loaded (which is how you will use it most of the time). Loaded down with 60 lbs would be a different matter. So for commuting and grocery shopping I think you will have a better time riding a light tourer/cyclocross bike than a fully loaded tourer like the Trek 520--unless you are planning to do your shopping at Cosco.

Plus, these light tourers typically come with higher quality components that are better for the road than the Tiagra, or MTB components that are typically on tourers that are marketed usually for the lower price bracket.

I looked at most of them and narrowed it down to the Airborne Carpe Diem and the Litespeed Blue Ridge. I went with the Carpe Diem because it was really exactly the same as the Blue Ridge (same geometry, same weight) for half the price. The Airborne is $899 frame only and the Blue Ridge around $1500 frame only. Fork options are up to you but they must be V-or Canti brake compatable. I chose wound up carbon forks since I won't need front racks for the added comfort. The Airborne can be configured with Dura Ace triples this year ~$2200 complete.

I use min as my only bike and at 19 lbs it keeps up just fine with the Trek OCLVs etc. Swap a few components and I'm ready for fully loaded touring or cross. Think versitility.
Lyon Excursiontarwheel
Nov 9, 2001 8:05 AM
Check out the Jeff Lyon Excursion at GVH bikes,

Seems like a very nice frame for the price ($725) with the sort of features you are looking for.
Or What!MB1
Nov 9, 2001 8:16 AM
I have a Bianchi Reparto Corsa Chromo Lite cyclo-crosser set up for commuting and such. I love to ride it in the dirt too. I set it up with a 600 triple, STI, XT rear derailleur and Paul Cantis but the real trick is to have 2 sets of wheels that will work with it. My normal road wheels are great for general riding and I built up a set of really heavy duty wheels with Ritchie Rock Pro and ORC Pro rims.

It has a nice road feel with my lite wheels and I can go anywhere with the rugged wheels and Avocet 700X38 Cross tires. It is nice to be able to do long rides that include dirt.

My bottom line is get a cyclo-crosser with 2 wheelsets and you will be a happy man.
Nov 9, 2001 2:04 PM
Thanks for the reply (actually all of them), I have poked around the Bianchi site and noticed the Reparto Corsa Chromo Lite.
Can you give me an idea of the price on the frame/fork?

BianchiCliff Oates
Nov 9, 2001 2:57 PM
It's a relatively heavy frame. I had one (Y2K model) before the Gunnar and prefer the Gunnar, alignment and customer service problems and all. The Bianchi web site says $800, but your LBS can charge whatever they want. When I bought mine, the official price was $600 and the dealer charged me $550. I have some pictures of my Bianchi here.
Nov 9, 2001 3:17 PM
There is something aesthetically pleasing about the Bianchi. I have looked at Steelman, Gunar, Ibis (great name on that one), C-Dale, Ritchey and even Surly. I keep coming back to the Bianchi.
I have never really had anything but hardcore road racing bikes (current is C-Dale team with D/A and Ksyriums which I do not feel bad about crashing in a crit but for some reason hate to take out in the rain and snow - figure that out) or XC/Free Ride MTB's (pretty obviously a Jekyll in this case, et al).
Do you know if anyone might list this frame on line? No local Bianchi dealers.
BianchiCliff Oates
Nov 9, 2001 3:27 PM
Sheldon Brown would probably sell you one, but you'd have to send him an email or call him. I bought mine at Pleasant Hill Cyclery and you could email or call him too. You might also want to have a look at Carl Strong who has a sale going on custom CX frames through the end of the year.
Novara Buzz--ignore at your own perilET
Nov 9, 2001 10:05 AM
I bought the Novara Buzz around 4 months ago to be used as my commuter bike, and have been using it regularly. Everyone might snicker, but this is the sleeper deal of the century. I have never been happier with my purchase. It's even on tremendous sale right now, for $399. It's available from REI (you get one free tuneup s part of the deal too). If none is near you, you can order by mail. Here is the link:

It looks like a stealth bomber in its burnt-out black. That 7005 aluminum frame is light but not harsh, and the bike flies, unbelievably. I'm effortlessly blowing away my commuting pal on his bikes costing more than double mine, and I couldn't before on my Trek hybrid. There's only one chainring in the front and 9 in the back, and yet you won't need more. I've never needed the 1 or the 9, and don't find the spacing in between too large. And it has the versatility (rack adding, tire-swapping) you seek.

I bought this bike expecting to change components soon as needed. The only thing I changed, though, were the stock pedals, which were neither clip- nor clipless-compatible. The bike is so fast that I don't really want to upgrade to lighter stuff; I really mean it. I would not want to replace it with bikes costing 5 times as much. Forget the cross, forget unnecessary triples on overpriced tourers. Save a bundle, get it and thank me later.