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Touring-curious

Old 12-15-21, 03:11 PM
  #1  
sdimattia
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Touring-curious

Definitely interested in doing some bike touring, on pavement first and then some off-road too. I'd like to work up to biking across the USA and eventually do a ride through Europe (and beyond). I currently have a 2021 Trek Domane AL and a '01 Trek 6700. Would either of these bikes be suitable touring rigs?

I have a lot of lightweight gear from backpacking so if it'd be better to get a more "touring oriented" bike, I could put that money towards a new bike. I was considering either the Bombtrack Beyond 1 or the Niner RLT 9 Steel. These are two of the few bikes that come in my size (44-48cm) which is why I'm considering them. I'm also vertically challenged which is a whole other thing, trying to find bags that'll fit and whatnot.

TLDR: Could the Domane AL or Trek 6700 be a usable touring bike for 3 day to 3 month excursions? Or should I consider getting a more touring oriented bike such as the Bombtrack Beyond 1 or the Niner RLT 9 Steel?

Also, please don't suggest I look at the Trek Checkpoint. I'm too short, otherwise it'd be a consideration.
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Old 12-15-21, 04:05 PM
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If you are comfortable riding the bikes for hours per day then there is no reason not to tour on them.

I am not too familiar with modern Trek road bikes, but it may lend itself to frame and seatpost packs rather than racks and panniers. Does it have rack mounts on the frame and fork?
Also, if the bike has lightweight low-spoke count wheels (like most modern road bikes) then it might be a good idea to get some more stout wheels built for it.

As for the 6700, it's likely good to go as-is. Bolt some racks to it and hit the road. The similar thought about wheels, though - if the 6700 has many many hard off-road miles on it, maybe re-spoke the wheels with new spoke, at least the rear which carries most of the load - spokes can suffer fatigue failure after long heavy use.
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Old 12-15-21, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ClydeClydeson View Post
If you are comfortable riding the bikes for hours per day then there is no reason not to tour on them.

I am not too familiar with modern Trek road bikes, but it may lend itself to frame and seatpost packs rather than racks and panniers. Does it have rack mounts on the frame and fork?
Also, if the bike has lightweight low-spoke count wheels (like most modern road bikes) then it might be a good idea to get some more stout wheels built for it.

As for the 6700, it's likely good to go as-is. Bolt some racks to it and hit the road. The similar thought about wheels, though - if the 6700 has many many hard off-road miles on it, maybe re-spoke the wheels with new spoke, at least the rear which carries most of the load - spokes can suffer fatigue failure after long heavy use.
I appreciate the insight. I upgraded the wheels on the Domane with a DT Swiss 24h wheelset so I will definitely invest in a 28h or 32h wheelset if I decide to go that route. There are rack/fender mounts front and rear but the fork is lacking those extra eyelets that are sometimes on the front (not a dealbreaker of course). Also, because it's a 44cm frame, there's only about 7.5inches between the saddle and the rear tire and the main triangle is pretty small which limits what bags I could use.

I'll start with the 6700, see how that does and definitely check those spokes as you suggested. At this point, it's probably the more tour-ready of the two.
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Old 12-15-21, 05:12 PM
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A lot will depend on how heavy or light you will pack, but if you are fairly light weight and pack light the wheels may be okay. You will want some lowish gears, not necessarily as low as some here will tell you, but you will be crossing mountain ranges if you ride across the country.

Choice of baggage can vary widely depending on how much you carry. If you will be carrying 40-50 pounds of stuff you will likely want 4 panniers. For 10-20 pounds of gear you can get by with some pretty minimmal baggage. And yes you can travel for months on that light of a gear load.

I suggest thinking about how what/how much you will carry first. Then decide how you will pack it and on what bike.
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Old 12-15-21, 05:19 PM
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My daughter is 4' 11", and rides a 42 cm Surly Long Haul Trucker. It is almost on the short side for her. If you go to new bike, the LHT would be another option. She toured thousands of mile on her's including 2 months in Europe.

She actually needs a little longer stem, but she likes it the way it is.

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Old 12-15-21, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
My daughter is 4' 11", and rides a 42 cm Surly Long Haul Trucker. It is almost on the short side for her. If you go to new bike, the LHT would be another option. She toured thousands of mile on her's including 2 months in Europe.
Nice, I have a 42cm Surly Pack Rat but I've heard great things about the LHT!

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
A lot will depend on how heavy or light you will pack, but if you are fairly light weight and pack light the wheels may be okay. You will want some lowish gears, not necessarily as low as some here will tell you, but you will be crossing mountain ranges if you ride across the country.

Choice of baggage can vary widely depending on how much you carry. If you will be carrying 40-50 pounds of stuff you will likely want 4 panniers. For 10-20 pounds of gear you can get by with some pretty minimmal baggage. And yes you can travel for months on that light of a gear load.

I suggest thinking about how what/how much you will carry first. Then decide how you will pack it and on what bike.
My weight and height would probably help . . . I'm 5'1", 120lbs. Probably will be carrying no more than 30lbs of gear at most. I'm thinking (and hoping) it'll be closer to 10-20lbs. I definitely do not want to weigh the bike down too much and seriously skewer the bike weight to person weight ratio more than usual.
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Old 12-15-21, 05:48 PM
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You have backpacked, so you have light weight camping gear and you know how to camp with it.

Some people on this forum carry less on their bike than a typical backpacker would carry. And some people carry a lot more.

The bike you want is one that can carry your gear, and you, and be comfortable for long days in the saddle, and can climb steep hills, and is extremely reliable. So, think about how much gear you want to carry. That will tell you what you need for a bike.

All that said, generally for touring you want lower gears than stock on most bikes. So, that is another factor to consider, sometimes increasing gear range on a bike is costly enough that a different bike might make sense. I did not research the bikes you cited, I have no idea what their gearing is like. Maybe they are good enough?

I know I did not answer your question, but I gave you a few other questions to ponder instead. A lot of people went out and bought what they thought would be the perfect bike, only to learn that it was deficient in one way or another. Think about the big picture, how much gear, how steep are the hills?

My light touring bike has 37mm wide tires and fenders. My medium touring bike is used with 40 to 50mm wide tires, and fenders. My heavy duty touring bike uses 57mm wide tires. My lowest gear on two of these three bikes is roughly 20 gear inches. That said, there are people that will tour on 32mm tires, and if extremely light weight maybe 28mm.

How big was your pack for backpacking? Were you one of the minimalists with a 25 liter pack or did you carry something more like a 60 liter pack? These are the kinds of things to consider when trying to consider how much gear you are putting on a bike.
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Old 12-15-21, 05:48 PM
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The Domane has rear rack mounts, but has a carbon fork, so I would not mount a front rack. I have done most of my touring with only a rear rack though, so that should be no problem. The only problem I see is the gearing. I believe it comes with a 34T chainwheel as the smallest up front, and a 32T as the largest in the back. I would want better than that. I have a 24T up front, and a 36T in the back. It is definitely nice when fully loaded on big hills. That being said, there is no reason you cannot tour on the Domane.
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Old 12-15-21, 05:56 PM
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JUST MY OPINION: I think that you should borrow some panniers/ racks and stuff and try out a short tour to find out if you even like bike touring. It isn't for everyone. A lot of people go out, buy all the gear, go out on their first tour to discover they don't even like it. Then the turn around and try to sell off all their "like new" gear.
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Old 12-15-21, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
You have backpacked, so you have light weight camping gear and you know how to camp with it.

Some people on this forum carry less on their bike than a typical backpacker would carry. And some people carry a lot more.

The bike you want is one that can carry your gear, and you, and be comfortable for long days in the saddle, and can climb steep hills, and is extremely reliable. So, think about how much gear you want to carry. That will tell you what you need for a bike.

All that said, generally for touring you want lower gears than stock on most bikes. So, that is another factor to consider, sometimes increasing gear range on a bike is costly enough that a different bike might make sense. I did not research the bikes you cited, I have no idea what their gearing is like. Maybe they are good enough?

I know I did not answer your question, but I gave you a few other questions to ponder instead. A lot of people went out and bought what they thought would be the perfect bike, only to learn that it was deficient in one way or another. Think about the big picture, how much gear, how steep are the hills?

My light touring bike has 37mm wide tires and fenders. My medium touring bike is used with 40 to 50mm wide tires, and fenders. My heavy duty touring bike uses 57mm wide tires. My lowest gear on two of these three bikes is roughly 20 gear inches. That said, there are people that will tour on 32mm tires, and if extremely light weight maybe 28mm.

How big was your pack for backpacking? Were you one of the minimalists with a 25 liter pack or did you carry something more like a 60 liter pack? These are the kinds of things to consider when trying to consider how much gear you are putting on a bike.
Backpacked with a 55L pack and 20-30lbs of weight. I've only ever backpacked with a group (or there was always a couple of packhorses when we went packtripping at which I carried very little) so I've never actually had to put all the gear soley on myself. Tire clearance is my other concern with the Domane. Trek says it can only take up to 35mm but I'd like to at least know that if I wanted to go wider, I could. Both the bikes I mentioned come with gravel gearing and I'd probably want a 2x just for the extra gears (such as my current set up on the Trek 6700).

Originally Posted by phughes View Post
The Domane has rear rack mounts, but has a carbon fork, so I would not mount a front rack. I have done most of my touring with only a rear rack though, so that should be no problem. The only problem I see is the gearing. I believe it comes with a 34T chainwheel as the smallest up front, and a 32T as the largest in the back. I would want better than that. I have a 24T up front, and a 36T in the back. It is definitely nice when fully loaded on big hills. That being said, there is no reason you cannot tour on the Domane.
I would definitely have to swap out the gearing on the Domane. Currently setup with 50/34 front and 11-32t back like you said. My 6700 at least has a 36/26 front and 11-42t cassette.

Thanks everybody so far for all the awesome points you all have raised. You've given me lots to think about!
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Old 12-15-21, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by headwind15 View Post
JUST MY OPINION: I think that you should borrow some panniers/ racks and stuff and try out a short tour to find out if you even like bike touring. It isn't for everyone. A lot of people go out, buy all the gear, go out on their first tour to discover they don't even like it. Then the turn around and try to sell off all their "like new" gear.
Very good point, I definitely am not planning to throw myself in the deep end here. I'm also not as fit as I'd like to be and will be doing many small 1-3 day excursions to build up my legs and to see how it goes before I decide whether or not to go longer. I already have a rear rack I can put on one of the bikes but I'll probably have to buy some kind of drybag to fit my stuff in. I've heard backpacks are not ideal.
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Old 12-15-21, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by sdimattia View Post
Backpacked with a 55L pack and 20-30lbs of weight. I've only ever backpacked with a group (or there was always a couple of packhorses when we went packtripping at which I carried very little) so I've never actually had to put all the gear soley on myself. ...
My backpack in Grand Canyon was about 50 liters. My backpack this past summer for longer trip was 70 liters. The grand canyon trip was with one other, the trip this past summer was solo.

If you could stick with 20 pounds not counting food or water, I would say two rear panniers is likely enough. If you are 30 pounds before you add food and water, I think you want four panniers.

There was a thread on this forum a month or two ago where someone cited some historical research that said four panniers was more stable.

That said in the first photo below, I have my light touring bike, four panniers and handlebar bag, no rack top bag but have tent poles on top of rear rack. The panniers add up to 65 liters.




This is a gal I met two years ago, she had already traveled over a thousand miles with this setup and it was adequate for her. Rear panniers and a handlebar harness.



I am guessing her panniers were in the 40 liter range for both. Handlebar harness, maybe 10 liters.

But the photo below, I had a couple weeks of food and enough gear to last quite a while without any support.



Front panniers, 25 liter, rear panniers were 40, the rack top bag (yellow) was 31 liters, the blue drybag behind the seatpost was overflow, maybe 10 liters. And handlebar bag.

My point is you need to figure out where you are in the range from minimalist to heavy packer.
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Old 12-15-21, 06:30 PM
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Tourist in MSN I've never actually ridden with panniers so that will be one thing I need to adjust to. Given my bike's size constraints, rack and panniers seems to be the best route for carrying all my stuff. I'd like to say I'm in the middle of minimalist and overpacker. I like those yellow bags you've got there, may I ask what brand they are?
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Old 12-15-21, 06:31 PM
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Is there a reason you are not considering your Surly?
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Old 12-15-21, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Is there a reason you are not considering your Surly?
I switched out the fork for a cycle rack conversion to tote my spoiled dog around. The headtube extension is pressfit like a regular headset but I'd prefer not to take the whole thing apart. It is the dog's bike after all . . . I do still have the original fork though. I'd also kind of prefer to have a disc brake, at least in the front (which the regular fork does not have) for a bit of extra stopping power.
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Old 12-15-21, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sdimattia View Post
Nice, I have a 42cm Surly Pack Rat but I've heard great things about the LHT!



My weight and height would probably help . . . I'm 5'1", 120lbs. Probably will be carrying no more than 30lbs of gear at most. I'm thinking (and hoping) it'll be closer to 10-20lbs. I definitely do not want to weigh the bike down too much and seriously skewer the bike weight to person weight ratio more than usual.
You mentioned lightweight backpacking gear. My base weight for backpacking is about 9 pounds. I weight 220. I crossed the USA with 15 pounds of gear riding on carbon rims, 20H front and 28H rear. I have 50K miles on those wheels and have never turned a spoke on them. At 120 pounds and 20 pounds of gear, you can ride anything to be honest. Ride what is most comfortable is my opinion
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Old 12-15-21, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
You mentioned lightweight backpacking gear. My base weight for backpacking is about 9 pounds. I weight 220. I crossed the USA with 15 pounds of gear riding on carbon rims, 20H front and 28H rear. I have 50K miles on those wheels and have never turned a spoke on them. At 120 pounds and 20 pounds of gear, you can ride anything to be honest. Ride what is most comfortable is my opinion
If I can get by with a 24h wheelset that'd be awesome. I have the stock wheelset which I can use instead of buying a different set of wheels.

I think I'll try the Domane, rack, and paniers for short on-road trips and see how it goes with that. I might change the GP5000s I have to a different tire too just in case I decide to do some light off-roading . . .

I was planning to eventually upgrade the groupset anyway (the model with the gruppo I wanted was backordered 6-8 months but my LBS gave me a good deal on the next model down) so I'll go from a 2x9 to either a 2x10 or 11. And I ran out of gears on an 11% grade 0.5 mile climb the other day so I'll definitely need an extra low gear or two.

Thanks again everybody!

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Old 12-16-21, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
The Domane has rear rack mounts, but has a carbon fork, so I would not mount a front rack. I have done most of my touring with only a rear rack though, so that should be no problem. The only problem I see is the gearing. I believe it comes with a 34T chainwheel as the smallest up front, and a 32T as the largest in the back. I would want better than that. I have a 24T up front, and a 36T in the back. It is definitely nice when fully loaded on big hills. That being said, there is no reason you cannot tour on the Domane.
a small frame bike may be too cramped for full size rear panniers.
possibly consider replacing the fork with one suitable for touring with front bags.
would that surley fork be correct geometry?
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Old 12-16-21, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by sdimattia View Post
If I can get by with a 24h wheelset that'd be awesome. I have the stock wheelset which I can use instead of buying a different set of wheels.
That likely will depend on how much you wind up carrying, but at 120 pounds you should be okay with a reasonable load. A light load should be just fine and an ultralight one will be less than the average rider with no load.
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Old 12-16-21, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
a small frame bike may be too cramped for full size rear panniers.
possibly consider replacing the fork with one suitable for touring with front bags.
would that surley fork be correct geometry?
True, but many folks get by with less than "full sized" panniers. Panniers intended to us used as front panniers may work well on the back and for some folks may be a good choice as a rear pannier.
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Old 12-16-21, 07:10 AM
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Re gearing , as you've never ridden with panniers, you'll need at least the equivalent of two or three downshifts lower from what it is, four better, than unloaded present gearing.
with touring, there never ever ever is a downside to low gearing, but as you haven't toured before with weight on the bike, you'll really have no idea of how it feels going up hills all day.
unfortunately a lot of bike store employees haven't toured, are young and or have non touring gearing attitudes , so it's hard to get good opinions on gearing changes.

my wife is about the same height as you, and rear panniers can work if the rack is set back enough, so keep this in mind when looking at rear racks. Some racks have longer horizontal attaching rods, helps on smaller frames like my wife's xs frame so that the rack remains level.

the idea to borrow some panniers and trying an overnighter is a great idea.
get back with more questions that come to mind, a lot of people here have a lot of touring experience and are very helpful.
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Old 12-16-21, 07:11 AM
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I came back to bike touring after years of extensive ultralight backpacking. I dropped more than half the weight I used to carry on the bike (that was over 40 pounds), but it was still nearly double what I carried on my UL hiking trips (eight pounds for three-season trips). I had to pack for two--me and the bike. The bike needs tools and spares, and the packs themselves are necessarily more durable and heavy. So if you're getting in to biking from hiking, and are being weight conscious, be aware of those issues.
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Old 12-16-21, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by sdimattia View Post
... I like those yellow bags you've got there, may I ask what brand they are?
Ortlieb Back Rollers and Front Rollers. And a 31 liter Rack Pack on top.

They are pricy, but they last forever. About once a year REI has them on sale. Sometimes Sierra Trading Post has them at a good price but with very limited color selection. And seeing how popular they are, several other companies also make similar ones with varying levels of quality.

There are several models of Ortliebs. The ones I have are basically a big dry bag that attaches to a rack.

Until a few years ago there were several choices of touring bikes with 26 inch wheels that could fit someone that needed a small size, but 26 inch wheels are falling out of favor as manufacturers are trying to push people to buy something different. If you watch the used market you might find some smaller sized 26 inch touring bikes, but they would be rare. Also some people have bought 1990s vintage mountain bikes with steel frames and 26 inch wheels and turned them into good touring bikes. Such bikes would typically have good low gears. About a decade ago I bought a 1994 Bridgestone MB-6 at a garage sale for $5 USD. It was in bad shape and took about $50 in parts to make it functional again. I use it as a errand bike, but a bike like that could make a good touring bike for someone that needs a smaller size frame.
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Old 12-16-21, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by sdimattia View Post
Tourist in MSN I've never actually ridden with panniers so that will be one thing I need to adjust to. ...
Rear panniers will just make your bike feel heavier and less responsive. Front panniers will initially feel like you can't steer the bike anymore because the extra weight that you have to move when you try to turn the handlebars. But with a few hours on a bike with panniers, you get used to them and can handle a bike well. But you do not want to try to go around fast corners with heavily loaded panniers, just like a semi-truck driver has to slow down for sharp turns.
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Old 12-16-21, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Rear panniers will just make your bike feel heavier and less responsive. Front panniers will initially feel like you can't steer the bike anymore because the extra weight that you have to move when you try to turn the handlebars. But with a few hours on a bike with panniers, you get used to them and can handle a bike well. But you do not want to try to go around fast corners with heavily loaded panniers, just like a semi-truck driver has to slow down for sharp turns.
Not everyone will like the feel of front only panniers, but I do. I don't find steering difficult even for tight turns, just different. I did a tour with front only and about 20 pounds of stuff and it was okay. Also did some with a similar load but a little weight on top of the rear rack, also okay.
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