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Suggestions on a First Road/Touring Bike(25 posts)

Suggestions on a First Road/Touring BikeRuss1
Mar 25, 2003 5:33 PM
Hi Everyone,
I'm sure there are a lot of posts like this on this site, forgive me. This is my first time here.
I have been riding for over ten years, but have never owned a road bike. I have a 1990 Raleigh Technium Chill mtb with slicks which I ride around on. I did the FL Aids Ride a couple of years ago on it, I do some rides up to thirty or so miles every week or so.
I'm looking to get a road or touring bike (if that's properly an or, I'm not sure) and I'm looking for recommendations.
The reason I say touring is I foresee myself doing some touring with panniers (or perhaps a trailer, I'm not sure), and continue doing some road riding of up to forty or fifty miles pretty frequently. Also, I plan to do the CA Aids Ride in a year or two.
I'd like to spend about $1000, no more than $1200, and I'd be happy to buy a used bike if it meets my needs.

My questions:
Should I get a road or a touring bike? Road bikes seem harsh to me comfort wise, and touring bikes feel more comfy, have braze-ons for bags, etc.
Frame material? Aluminum too stiff? I think Ti is out of my $$$ range.
Brands I should look at? Thoughts generally? I don't expect anyone to be able to hit all these thoughts, but the more of your knowledge, thoughts and experience you can share the more I'd appreciate it. I plan to print out the responses and keep it in my research file on my bike buying project. (I'm a hopelessly organized person. :)

Thanks in advance.
re: Suggestions on a First Road/Touring Bikegeeker
Mar 25, 2003 8:35 PM
"Should I get a road or a touring bike? Road bikes seem harsh to me comfort wise, and touring bikes feel more comfy, have braze-ons for bags, etc."

By touring, do you mean loaded touring (big panniers) or light/sport touring (moderate loads)? If you're not going to be carrying monster loads, sport touring could be a good compromise.

"Frame material?"

Really doesn't matter that much. Tire pressure and saddle are most important to perceived comfort.

"Brands I should look at?"

Cannondale and Trek have models for loaded touring. Bruce Gordon might be worth a look, not sure if it's in your price range. Sport touring: Jamis (Quest?), Bianchi has a model or two. For sport touring framesets, take a look at the Jeff Lyon frames at Rivendell site is worth a look, also Heron (Todd posts here sometimes). Gunnar has a Sport model. Independent Fabrications ( is outside your price range, but they list features of loaded and sport touring frames.
Toured North West Vietnam on mtb.....tandemania
Mar 25, 2003 9:18 PM
and I never regretted it. The road condition varies from sealed to unsealed and it would have been really hard to tour Vietnam on a road bike.

There are also more gears to play around with if you are using a mountain bike. Mountain bike gear ratios are useful if you need to climb those monster hills and lug along a 20kg panniers.

I think the question you should also ask yourself is whether you will be bike touring in a third world country in the near future. Most of the 3rd world road condition can be really bad. And if the answer is yes, you will be better off with a mountain bike.


here is the correct link
Mar 25, 2003 9:47 PM
A few recommedations.dzrider
Mar 26, 2003 5:47 AM
Sport touring bikes will do anything short of a tour through remote areas where you have to carry enough food for days of riding and a means to cook it. The better ones will work fine for anything short of serious racing.

Frame material is a matter of personal choice. What a bike is made of is less of an issue than how it feels to you.

Brands, see previous answer. Most companies produce a model with eyelets and enough chain stay and brake clearance to mount a larger, touring tire. I don't know that any one is better than another. For riding omfort I'd recommend a bike with a low bottom bracket and a long chain stay which also makes more room for panniers. This lets out a few models that are essentially cyclo-cross bikes with eyelets.

Bruce Gordon and Rivendell have interesting web-sites and I suspect League of American Cyclists does as well.

Have fun.
suggestionsJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 7:28 AM
Russell, at your price point, consider the Surly Cross-Check. bad weather road riding, winter trainer use, loaded touring, cyclocross, and all-around/everyday riding were my constraints for a frame when i purchased a Cross-Check last July.

Purchased from, I paid about $1300 for the Cross-Check with their Ultegra cyclocross kit, a triple on the front, and an XT rear derailleur & cassette, plus black Open Pro rims (all "upgrades" to the stock $1199 price). That price included a saddle upgrade (had Excel remove the saddle from the kit and from the bill, and I ordered a Brooks from

The same bike online at the Excel site is now $1249 plus shipping--when I bought it last year, it was on sale for the upcoming 'cross season ($50 less).

The thing is like a swiss army knife or functional multi-tool: it can be a 'cross bike with just a change of tires, a long-distance touring bike (frame has eyelets front & rear for fenders and a rack, or rack & panniers), a single-speed or fixed gear bike (has horizontal rear dropouts), and always doubles (or serves primarily) as a all-around road bike.

It's not the lightest frame on the road, but will feel featherweight compared to your Raleigh MTB. I have no complaints so far (just the opposite), and compare the ride feel favorably to my steel Eddy Merckx (Columbus Brain).

I also have a Surly Steamroller--a singlespeed / fixed-gerar bike--purchased 2 years ago, and have nothing but praise for that one, too. Surly customer support has been great with questions pre- and post-sale (via e-mail).

I'm happy to answer any questions you might have. I'll include a couple pics of the Cross-Check.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

pic 1--loaded for long, self-supported rides in bad weatherJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 7:28 AM
What's that message on the chainstay protector?geeker
Mar 26, 2003 7:58 AM
Can't read it, but looks like it might be "Your bike sucks". Cool!
yep. nmJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 8:14 AM
pic 2--being cyclo-crossedJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 7:30 AM
pic 3--ridden on the highest (probably steepest) road in GeorgiaJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 7:33 AM
pic 4--on the trainerJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 7:35 AM
I went to the Haiku Shop and I bought a ....Frith
Mar 26, 2003 9:03 AM
Surly Cross-check.
Dude you just sold me on your bike. I have been looking for a swiss army bike. Something to serve primarily as everyday commuter and then do double/triple/quad... duty as a tourer or winter trainer or whatever. The wonderfull thing about the surly is that It isn't flashy. When your touring in 3rd world countries the last thing you want is a flashy paint job. When your locking your bike in the inner-city... same thing. The price is right and I've been meaning to try out this cx business anyway.
It'll be a little while because this month I bought a giant tcr composite and a classic steel marinoni frame. But if it fits (doubt it won't) then the Surly cross-check will be my next purchase. Thanks. This is for you...

all purpose machine
a tool like swiss army knife
in baby poo green
another smiling customer!JS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 9:14 AM
highly pleased am i
helping fellow ride junkie
decide upon bike

here: disappointment
baby poo green hard to find
options: red and black

third world country ride
or water stop in the 'hood
pick color wisely

perhaps black, with dirt
salt from bad road conditions
will disguise the frame

be advised my friend
a 56 works for me
that's center to top

'nother story: merckx
the C to C measurement
is 57

surly BB height
surely it must be higher
to serve its purpose

and not to mention
note small head tube extension
less spacers needed

had i the option
again would i purchase it
with zero remorse


Of all your bikes, this seems to have become your favoriteKristin
Mar 26, 2003 9:35 AM
Are the expensive ones brooding in the shop?
there's a purpose for everythingJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 9:55 AM
fortunately, the cross-check was built for every purpose. :)

the steel merckx comes out for supported rides of 100 miles or more. with chorus 10 and a pearl white paint job, i prefer to keep it well housed and fed, and let it run when it *really* wants to get out.

surprisingly, i'm really enjoying fixed gear riding (see my blubbering love story on the fixed board). MB1 set me up with a 14t track cog and a lockring and i've been riding mostly fixed for the last couple weeks. what a liberating experience!

while visiting my fav LBS recently (gasp), i encouraged the shop manager & wrench take it around the parking lot out back. one of the comments was, "you really have to think about what you're doing when you're riding this." on the contrary, after a couple hours learning the ins-'n-outs of fixed riding, i think even less when riding no-shift/no-coast than at any other time. it's the ultimate zenlike state i've approached on a bike.

that xt rear d?Frith
Mar 26, 2003 10:29 AM
What was the thinking there? You have a triple so you shouldn't be at a loss for high gearing options. Or are you?
that xt rear d?JS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 10:35 AM

triple and xt 11-32 cassette. can go slow up hills and fast down them. can also get home after long rides. can also face steep soft grassy or muddy hills in 'cross races.

even if not for 'cross, i'd have bought it with triple/12-32 or 34.
Current colors of the Cross-Check are...Nater
Mar 26, 2003 11:23 AM
Blood Red and Jet Black. Sorry to disappoint you! I really like my Split-Pea Green Cross-Check too.
ps: this was a $0.66 per mile ride report nmJS Haiku Shop
Mar 26, 2003 1:18 PM
If you decide on a road bikemakalu
Mar 26, 2003 7:42 AM
Check out the Bianchi Eros, Cannondale Allez Sport, Trek 1200, Fuji Roubaix, Giant OCR1or2. These are jsut some options. All of these are within your price range. Many offerings int he $1000-$1200 price range are out there for you.

I bought the Trek a few weeks back, and am very pleased with my decision.
Mar 26, 2003 9:50 AM
The Surley mentioned by JS Haiku is hard to beat for the price. However, you might also want to check out the Lyon custom frames at You can find a few of these frames at, but you can order a custom direct from Lyon for about the same price -- with extra features like braze-ons for fenders, racks, extra water bottles, etc. You can buy a custom Lyon frame made of very high quality, light weight steel (such as Reynolds 853 or Deda 0.1) for about $800 and get it painted in any color you want. I came very close to ordering a frame from Jeff Lyon last fall, and the only thing keeping me from owning one was my impatience. Ordering a custom generally takes at least 8 weeks and often longer, plus you need to know what size and geometry you prefer.
Thanks Everyone - More Comments are Welcome, TooRuss1
Mar 26, 2003 10:16 AM
Thank you to everyone who responded. I'll keep checking back for more feedback, so please feel free to add your thoughts if you haven't already.
Thanks a bunch!
Thanks Everyone - More Comments are Welcome, Tooabelson
Mar 26, 2003 10:53 AM
I just got a Gunnar Sport and I love it. Like the Surly it is a great all around bike. It has braze ons for a rear rack, is set up for wide reach brakes can accept wider tires and fenders and it is one great looking ride ( I got mine in Tusk- feb. color of the month). The frame and steel fork was under $800
re: Suggestions on a First Road/Touring BikeThe Walrus
Mar 26, 2003 1:05 PM
If you make up your mind to go for a touring rig and you're near an REI store, go check the Novara Randonee. It's about $750, has a Reynolds 520 frame, Mavic touring wheelset, full braze-ons. I have a 12 yr. old Randonee that's served me very well, and if I were replacing it, I'd give the new one serious consideration. The one caveat that I'd apply to the Novara, like most big brand touring bikes, is that you'll need to work on the gearing if you ever do loaded touring. A 52/42/30 triple is way too big for climbing with 50 lbs. of gear.