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Mountain Goat
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02 Jul 2019, 8:30 am

The sense of adventure at the thought of a bicycle tour or even a daytrip... It is a lovely feeling...
But before we set off on even a shorter ride, we need to have a bicycle. And we need this bicycle to be suitable for our cycling needs. To work with us rather then hinder us.
Bicycles come in many shapes and forms, but lets us explore what a decent bike for both day trips and touring needs to be. Well. First it goes without saying that if we are going to tour on roads and paths that the bike needs to be comfortable and strong. It needs to be strong enough to cope with both the terrain and the loads it may need to carry, but without being so heavy, draggy and inefficient that we don't want to ride it!
Most people's bikes are way too heavy duty for the tasks they put them to do. I have known people to use full suspension mountain bikes with heavy backpacks to tour when 95% or more of their cycling is on road! I would rather carry the bike the extra 5% over the really rough stuff then do that! Yes, I have successfully cycled a lightweight racing bike on tubalars following trails and paths that many would not consider without a heavy duty mountainbike. Why? Well. The main reason is, I was taught ways to look after the bike when I used to race offroad. It is all about using ones body rather then let the forces be absorbed by the bike. Don't forget, when I used to do mountainbike racing, very few people had front suspension and full suspension was rare and thought of as an unneccessary gimic.
So now we look more at a suitable bicycle. The one criteria I would suggest for a suitable bicycle more then any other is that it is one that is stable carrying weight, and what I mean by weight... I mean panniers. I use panniers almost wherever I go. I only don't use them when I have very short rides to look at the view, or in the past, when I was out time trialing. If I could take panniers with me on my racing bikes, I would! Now due to frame angles, racing bikes are not suitable for carrying heavy loads, but I would not be carrying heavynloads on a racing bike to begin with. I have touring bikes and a hybrid to do that with! Now for light loads for daytripping and cycling club runs, we do have a bicycle specifically designed for this use. The sports tourer. These days they are almost so rare they have been forgotton about. The closest example though it is not the same is an audax bike, though audax bikes in general are not suited to carry panniers as they are spacifically designed to be used for long distance competition events. The sports tourer was designed to carry panniers, but for a day trip rather then heavy touring panniers. A few decades ago, most bicycles said to be racing bikes were in fact sports tourers if one looks at their geometry. Racing bikes do not have space for mudguards, as the angles of the frame are designed to be steep for maximum acceleration and an efficient drivetrain (Which comes from using short chainstays and actually using a more direct chain angle... Why traditional time trial bikes used a single chainset and only around six carefully selected but close geared cogs on the back.. Usually with a freewheel to ensure the pawls could take the strain. (Six speed cassettes were generally found to not be up to the job)... On a hill the cyclist would simply strain up as hills on most time trial routes were kept to a minimum.
Now for long distances where one wants full camping gear one needs a touring bike. A hybrid will do it, but we need comfort here. Straight bars and long distances tend to give back ache And saddle soreness. Why? Because one is more fixed in one position. Traditional touring bars are similar to racing bars, in that they are dropped, but they are usually positioned an inch or two higher and they are wider. They are designed for comfort. The randoneur design became popular for touring. Many cyclists see a drop handlebar ad call it randonneur without knowing what randoneur bars look like! A proper randoneur bar will be wider at the bottom of the dropped part then the top, so if one is tucked in, ones hands come at a more natural angled slant... A racing bar is close to 90 degrees on the drop and narrower so that the riders hands are more tucked in against the flow of the air... If that makes sense! There has been a lot of confusion in recent years as they now fit wide racing style bars with more angular curves designed to make the best use of the modern STI gear/brake levers. I prefer old downtube ear levers for their long term reliability and they have less friction issues as they are closer to the gear mechanisms... Less friction means cables last longer... I do love the way STI's feel in operation, but when they fail, the huge prices to replace them... And to change cables they can be a pain... My Dawes tourer has its cables externally from the brake levers. The old way! So much easier to work on. No undoing handlebar tape to change outer cables!

Anyway.. A good touring bike for longer distance use is designed to be strong and stable carrying heavy loads. It doubles up to be a geat all rounder. About 90% of the jourrneys my touring bike has been used for in its life has been in commuting. Heavy panniers fullmof my lunch, tools incase I break down, sometimes up to two sets of spare clothes... The tourer is ideal!
For daytripping fun, a sports tourer is made for it, but a hybrid maybe right up your street. Flat bars are ok for shorter fun trips. Actually for shorter trips flat bars are ideal! During the early '90's, a form of lightweight hybrid bike came out called street bikes, which are probably even more suitable then a hybrid. A few modern bikes classed as hybrid are actually street bikes. Think of a bike with a sports touring frame (Ok, think of a racing bike...) and put flat bars with a better gear range and you have a street bike. Think of a hardtail mountain bike but made lightweight with or wirhout front suspension with beefed up 700C wheels with about 38 or wider mm tyres and you have a hybrid. Not to confuse things too much, but there are also touring bikes with flat bars which can be mistaken as hybrids which also bring confusion into the mix of things as they all have a similar look to them!


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domineekee
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02 Jul 2019, 9:26 am

What about brakes? Which sort do you favour? I had issues with my rear disk brake on tour it was no fun to try and mend that by the side of the road. A mechanical disk brake might have been ok but dealing with hydraulic brakes is messy and fiddley. I think that V brakes are a good option touring but wouldn't rule out using mechanical disk brakes for touring in developed countries.



Mountain Goat
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02 Jul 2019, 3:35 pm

domineekee wrote:
What about brakes? Which sort do you favour? I had issues with my rear disk brake on tour it was no fun to try and mend that by the side of the road. A mechanical disk brake might have been ok but dealing with hydraulic brakes is messy and fiddley. I think that V brakes are a good option touring but wouldn't rule out using mechanical disk brakes for touring in developed countries.

My preferred option is a decent cantilever. V brakes are ideal but unfortunately need different leverage then drop handlebar levers provide. Disc brakes have similar issues. Very few drop handlebar levers can be used with disc brakes. I have seen quite a few manufacturers get it wrong and the braking at its best is poor and that is with the pads constantly rubbing on the discs. I refused to sign the PDI sheets as they were not safe.
I really don't see the advantages of disc brakes on a road bike. Hydraulic rim brakes give much more leverage then a disc. I once had these on a tricycle (Magura) and I could lock all three wheels up using one finger on each lever, and that is something with two rear wheels shared by one lever.
Offroading discs come into their own, but they really need to be hydraulic to get the leverage. Some cable discs are ok like Tektro, but other makes like Clarks etc are not up to much. They work, but don't expect miriacles.
I always used rim brakes even offroad. My last mountain bike had Magnesium V brakes, ad they stopped well. Much better then mechanical disc brakes do, even in muddy wet conditions.
I can't remember the make now, but there was an imensly powerful cantilever brake on the market before V brakes came along and it could only be used as a rear brake. It had a cam action so when one pulled the rear brake it actually pulled itself further in to increase the power applied to the rim. A friend fitted these to his Dawes Hellcat, and I was riding behind him and there was such force applied to his rear wheel the seatstays were not only flexing but completely twisting! It was advisable to only use these brakes with the Reynolds magnum 531 or 501 tubing or something just as strong. The Hellcat aas Reynolds 500, and though it was of typical MTB thickness, it wasn't really enough.


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domineekee
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02 Jul 2019, 4:24 pm

Mountain Goat wrote:
Some cable discs are ok like Tektro, but other makes like Clarks etc are not up to much. They work, but don't expect miriacles.

Ha! I fitted a Clarks mechanical to my Cove Handjob MTB while waiting for new seals to arrive for my Hope hydraulic brake which is getting a complete overhaul. It took way too long to set up but I'm impressed with the braking.
I have an LX v brake on the front which has a kind of dual pivot thing and works like a pair of bolt croppers, it's superb.

I don't like using my rim brake much after having paid more than £200 for a rear wheel on the tourer. :lol:

Do you build your own wheels MG?



Mountain Goat
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02 Jul 2019, 4:28 pm

Yes, I build my own wheels.


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Raleigh
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02 Jul 2019, 4:36 pm

The hybrid Schwinn I have is a good, inexpensive touring bike.
Rugged enough for tracks but great on the road also, with excellent momentum.
Hardly feels like I need to pedal it sometimes.
Very comfortable too, no hunched over MTB posture which I don't like for distance.
The saddle is kind as well.


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domineekee
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02 Jul 2019, 4:37 pm

Raleigh wrote:
The hybrid Schwinn I have is a good, inexpensive touring bike.
Rugged enough for tracks but great on the road also, with excellent momentum.
Hardly feels like I need to pedal it sometimes.
Very comfortable too, no hunched over MTB posture which I don't like for distance.
The saddle is kind as well.

Where do ya go?



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02 Jul 2019, 4:51 pm

Don't go anywhere much now (have issues, long story)
Used to ride the beachfront and rail trails.
The rail trails are an ongoing project, getting more extensive each year.
I'd like to ride the national trail.
Maybe in another life?


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VegetableMan
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02 Jul 2019, 4:55 pm

I took a lot of short bike trips from the mid-80s through the mid-90s. The longest was ten days. I never camped; just stayed in cheap motels. Up until around '91, I used a touring bike for those trips. But the last four trips I used my Italian road bike, It worked fine, since I didn't carry that much gear.

I'm hoping to get back into cycling in the next couple of years. Now that's I've fallen in love with backpacking, I would definitely like to bikepack.


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Mountain Goat
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02 Jul 2019, 5:10 pm

I have two touring bikes. My Dawes and my Orbit... Both are good. The Orbit is more of a fast tourer. Almost an inbetween of a sports tourer and a tourer. The Dawes is a tourer.
I want to rebuild a Dawes sports tourer I also have. I currently have it set up with a Sachs Elan 12 speed hub gear with a TA chainset and a Tange adjustable bottom bracket. The problem is I want to use drop handlebars and go back to deraileur gears. The 12 speed hub works well, but it is a bit like a lorry with lots of inbetween gears one only uses if one has a heavy load. All 12 gears are on the same gear lever.


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domineekee
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02 Jul 2019, 5:28 pm

VegetableMan wrote:
Now that's I've fallen in love with backpacking, I would definitely like to bikepack.


Have you been watching bikepacking videos on YouTube?
My tours are usually fraught with more mishaps than I see on the YouTube videos. In January this year I went to India and had my panniers nicked on the train before I had started. The rack broke, the chain broke 3 times, the brake broke, tyre blew out on a hot road and I got eaten alive by sand flies. I'm usually pretty trashed by day 3 but keep on going.

My best tour so far was 4 days riding the North Coast 500 route around the Scottish highlands. Wild camping was a breeze and the scenery is exhilarating.



domineekee
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02 Jul 2019, 5:30 pm

Raleigh wrote:
Don't go anywhere much now (have issues, long story)
Used to ride the beachfront and rail trails.
The rail trails are an ongoing project, getting more extensive each year.
I'd like to ride the national trail.
Maybe in another life?

What is the national trail Raleigh?



Mountain Goat
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02 Jul 2019, 5:35 pm

I need to get back on my bikes again. :)


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domineekee
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02 Jul 2019, 5:41 pm

Mountain Goat wrote:
I need to get back on my bikes again. :)

Same, I've over done it this year on a big tour and a 300km Audax ride a couple of months ago. I'm avoiding cycling by fixing up bikes from the tip.



Mountain Goat
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02 Jul 2019, 5:48 pm

I almost stopped cycling because of not feeling too great, and also partial shutdowns. I didn't know what they were and I had a fear that one day I would not be able to get home if I had them. Now I understand what it is, I believe I have a chance to work around it if it happens. In other words, yes it would take longer to get home, but at least I can get home. :) The way back home is the toughest part of the ride for me. 2 mile climb including part of it being a 1 in 4. Many cyclists now use it for training purposes.


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