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Touring Bike Setup(2 posts)

Touring Bike Setupbikenbo
Oct 23, 2002 6:45 AM
I'm looking to get a touring bike to do some light touring (some overnight, etc.) and some commuting. I want to put racks and fenders on it as well. Mostly road riding but maybe a little off road. What model/style/components do I look for? Do I get a good frame and and upgrade components later? New/used? I know there are some high end bikes out there but I dont want to spend more than about $1000.

Thanks in advance for the advice,
BO
Some general tips...Silverback
Oct 23, 2002 7:54 AM
I bought an Atlantis for just that purpose, and it's one of the best things I've ever owned, but it's a little out of your price range (mine, too, but I saved for it and it's probably the last bike I'll buy). Before that, though, I had a Trek 620, a steel touring bike I bought used for only $300 four or five years ago. If you live near a largish city, it's worth checking the classified ads in the newspapers--there are millions of those old sport-touring bikes in garages. Might take awhile for one to turn up, though.
I haven't kept track of what's available new since I got my Atlantis, but in general--new or used--fit is the first thing to check. You're going to be on the bike for hours at a time, and if it's not right, you'll never enjoy it. Get some good advice on that (from a shop or online) and be sure you don't buy too big or too small.
I'd recommend a triple chainring, and if you get one with the standard Shimano 30-tooth granny gear, see if you can swap it for something smaller, a 26 or 24. Never hurts to have a hill-crawler gear when you need it (ignore this if you live in Kansas). On the other end of the gear range, you'll never use the 53-11 or 53-12 most bikes come with, so don't be scared off if you find an old-time tourer with, say, a 48-tooth big chainring. That's plenty.
Eyelets on the dropouts make attaching fenders and racks easier, but they aren't absolutely necessary. If you find a bike you love otherwise, that stuff can be fastened on with clamps and zip ties. One place to see how is at www.rivendellbicycles.com.
A bigger problem, with many new bikes, is finding ROOM for fenders. Many don't have space for them even with skinny tires, and if you use bigger rubber (which you want, for touring; I run 35s), there's no hope. My Allez will barely fit 32mm tires WITHOUT fenders. That's another reason to consider buying used--if you could find an old touring bike with cantilever brakes, it opens up room for tires and fenders. Cantis are reputed to be hard to adjust, but I've never had any trouble--it's just a DIFFERENT job, not a HARDER job.
Finally, when you're setting it up, really, seriously consider using a stem that lets you position the bars level with the saddle. That's probably the single biggest improvement I've made on my bikes in the 30+ years I've been riding, is getting the bars out of that butt-up, head-down racing position.
Good luck, and have a good time...