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Improve my Bike?

Old 07-06-21, 09:12 AM
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MidLife50
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Improve my Bike?

Just completed 7 day tour 350 miles on GAP / C&O. Had a great time and already looking for next couple of outings. Have a long weekend already booked and doing preliminary planning for another 7 day ride in the Fall.

My question is what, if anything, could/should I do to improve my current bike for touring? Likely crushed gravel rail trail and paved riding mostly. Some gravel back roads.

Buying a new bike just set up for touring is probably not in the cards, but perhaps some upgrades to my current (Trek FX2) would be a good next step. Here's what's on it now (all stock, except I've added the MIK rack in the back and a set of Ortlieb Back Roller Classics):

Stock details per Trek archives


Any suggestions for good value-added upgrades? Or do I save my pennies and wait for that next N+1?
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Old 07-06-21, 09:37 AM
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Unless something is broken or worn, or causing you discomfort or worry, I wouldn't bother trying to change anything.

If you've got money burning a hole in your pocket, maybe some new tires. Fatter tires will allow you to run a bit lower pressure and float over rough surfaces.

Also, check for wear on wear items like brake pads, grips, chain, and replace if starting to wear.

Other options:

Fenders
Lights
New helmet
Low-rider front rack
Clip-in pedals and shoes
Handlebar bag
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Old 07-06-21, 09:47 AM
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Cobble Gobbler seatpost for increased comfort on the long bumpy stuff works for me (Cobl Gobl-R) https://road.cc/content/review/25025...arbon-seatpost
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Old 07-06-21, 09:48 AM
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Generally, the one upgrade you can make to a bike that gives you the most bang for your buck is high-quality tires. It's also an easy upgrade to make in isolation from everything else. But if you're satisfied with these tires, no need to change them. Similarly, there might be a different saddle that would be more comfortable, although that takes experimentation. I'm not a fan of flat bars for anything beyond in-town riding, but changing to drop bars would get expensive because you'd also need to change your brake/shift levers. You could add bar-ends to give yourself a second hand position. The bars on this bike are pretty wide for riding on roads or groomed trails—on my wife's town bike, we've cut 5" off the bars to put her hands closer together.

I would not make other changes.
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Old 07-06-21, 09:48 AM
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Wow!!! Long Great ride!!!

Apart from inspecting and reconditioning the parts on your bike that have received wear I have found the biggest change in the comfort of my ridding to be Tires and Gears.
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Old 07-06-21, 10:08 AM
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New, nicer tires. Search here..there's lots of discussion on tires.

I've purchased and updated a couple Trek 7.x FX bikes for friends. Those hardcase tires are similar to riding on beef jerky.
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Old 07-06-21, 01:09 PM
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Don't know what type of pedals you have, but if they are what shipped with the bike you might want to get something a little sturdier.
As others have pointed out, if you like the bike as it is why bother changing anything?
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Old 07-06-21, 01:59 PM
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I hate to be a buzz kill, but... Tourists on this site are going to have their opinion, but what really counts is that you do not like about your bike. I have a number of touring bikes. When I get back from riding one, I take note of what could improve/ what I didn't like and tape it to the handlebars, and than I do something about it.
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Old 07-06-21, 03:04 PM
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Did you think anything was lacking?

Not sure what you are using for shoes, but many of us use bike shoes that use SPD cleats that are easily attached or unattached from the pedals. And pedals that one side connects to SPD cleats, the other side is for use with regular shoes.

I like a handlebar bag, all my valuables are in it, and things like granola bars, my phone, multi-tool, etc. It goes in restaurants and grocery stores with me.

On roads I like a flashing taillight, but not needed on rail trails.

As noted above, fenders. On a wet day you will really appreciate them. The photo below was a friends bike on the GAP and C&O on a rainy day, this was the last tour he did without fenders.

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Old 07-06-21, 06:24 PM
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Do shifting and braking work well enough? Are hubs and bottom bracket smooth? You can get better performance for more money, and only you'll know if that's worth it. Personally, I wouldn't.
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Old 07-06-21, 07:15 PM
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Russ Roth
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I never really liked those tires and would want better all around tires that are lighter and still puncture resistant. As others mentioned, some form of bar end. Past that a nicer, lighter set of wheels can be nice but before doing that you need to decide if this is a bike you'll keep using long term that it's worth putting the cost into. I always thought the FX series would make for excellent tourers so you may find it worthwhile to make the upgrade but with any of the parts upgrading might be best left till they need to be.
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Old 07-07-21, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by MidLife50 View Post
Just completed...Had a great time....doing preliminary planning...

My question is what, if anything, could/should I do to improve my current bike for touring? .....
Any suggestions for good value-added upgrades? ....

what do you think needs an upgrade?
why are you not satisfied with the current setup?
what's the problem?
what is not comfortable?
what isn't working as well as expected?
what improvements do you want or need?


if you have no answers to any of these questions..........then it ain't broke.


don't fix it.
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Old 07-07-21, 05:54 AM
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I didn't like the bars on my FX1 Disc, and replaced them with butterfly bars. More hand positions for avoiding fatigue, but uses the original brake levers. And the seat is pretty basic---I changed mine immediately. Other than that and tires, I don't know what else you'd do.

You say the Trek archive says fork is steel, but I think it's supposed to be aluminum this year. That's one reason I bought an FX1, that and the mechanical disc brakes as opposed to hydraulic (so that I can maintain them myself easily).
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Old 07-07-21, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Riveting View Post
Cobble Gobbler seatpost for increased comfort on the long bumpy stuff works for me (Cobl Gobl-R) https://road.cc/content/review/25025...arbon-seatpost
I have something similar that Nashbar offered probably 35 years ago... Haven't seen another one like it. Aluminum seatpost with a nuckle 'hinge' and an elastomer puck to absorb road vibration/bumps.


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Old 07-07-21, 05:08 PM
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Aluminum seatpost with a nuckle 'hinge' and an elastomer puck to absorb road vibration/bumps.
Cane Creek makes several suspension seatposts that are fancier (and very expensive), but a similar idea.
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Old 07-08-21, 08:00 AM
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As mentioned, fenders will keep drivetrain and you less dirty, but you will see that you most likely will touch the front fender with your toes at times. Careful not to fall or damage the fender.

better brake pads, ie Kool-Stop salmon colour, orange colour, will give better braking.

better tires are nice.
Re your flats, it's common for people not used to riding with weight is that they don't slow for bumps, potholes etc and do not un weight the wheel, so WHACK and can cause a pinch flat.
un weight meaning getting your behind off seat and for a fraction of second, unweighting the rear wheel a bit.
Makes a real difference to the weight and force going into the rear wheel.

PS, get bike store to retension your spokes
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Old 07-09-21, 11:01 AM
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Headwind and Saddlesores said it all. You were on the bike, on the ride, you know more about it than we can guess. If some of the suggestions strike a chord, the posters suggestions seem like good starts on upgrades.
That, and anodized aluminum valve caps in cool colors.
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Old 07-09-21, 11:30 AM
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Journal of a guy who rode VA to OR on a Trek FX: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/sambike2019
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Old 07-10-21, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by adamrice View Post
Cane Creek makes several suspension seatposts that are fancier (and very expensive), but a similar idea.
IIRC, my seatpost was probably around $19 35 years ago.. I've only replaced the puck once in that time. That is a whole 'nuther story -- The stiffness of the puck (1" diameter, 1" long cylinder) can be 'adjusted' by getting a different durometer polymer rod. A post of this nature doesn't take all of the bumps out of the ride like a true suspension seatpost would, but it does take out the 'buzziness' if riding on chip/seal - the prevalent form of pavement surface out here in the sticks where I live...

OK, now the 'nuther story':: Of course, I don't know who made the seatpost for Nashbar - but when I bought it, I also got a replacement puck set containing three different stiffnesses. Naturally, those got lost sometime during the past 35 years. Anyway, back when I bought the seatpost, I weighed in somewhere near 145 pounds. Today I weigh fifty pounds more. Between that and the age of the polymer, the original puck kinda disintegrated. That put me on the hunt for a replacement. From a plastics supply company, I was able to source three 1-foot long rods (minimum length to order), each a different stiffness. I cut an inch off each rod to make my new pucks... and now I have enough extra material to last me several lifetimes. I'm using the stiffness that allows my weight to compress the puck around a sixteenth of an inch. The design of this knuckle-type setpost allows the angle of the seat to change as the puck compresses, but I just took that into consideration when I adjusted the seat.

Anyway, I like it. If I could find another seapost like it in the right size for my touring bike (26.8mm), I'd jump on it in a heartbeat!
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Old 07-10-21, 11:26 AM
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Is there anything about your bike you are not happy with?
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