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Best process for buying your last ever touring bike?

Old 09-15-23, 01:17 PM
  #26  
2WheelWilly
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Well, as I've said, I'm not fixated on any one material, but it's been really interesting to hear the various perspectives on that topic. As for a Rohloff, as far as I've seen, any sort of internal gearing system would push the bike setup well beyond my price range. I think the best I can do there is remain blissfully ignorant of the wonders of internal gearing so I won't know what I'm missing.

For maybe a different approach (just to hear a different sort of perspective) I'd be curious to hear what people would do for themselves (rather than recommending to me) if they were in roughly my situation. (Obviously I need to learn more to figure out--or for anyone else to figure out--exactly what the right decision is in my situation, but all the ideas above have been great help orienting me toward my options.) I.e.--suppose you didn't have the bikes you currently do (but you retain all of your current knowledge and skills--you aren't limited to mine), and you were looking to get one really excellent bike that you'd hopefully be able to really enjoy for the next couple of decades. You want to use the bike primarily for (1) an annual ~1-2 week week loaded touring trip with friends (mostly camping); (2) commuting with a briefcase (option to bring the bike inside office); and (3) some unloaded daylong recreational rides with friends. You'd like to be able to go fast on occasion but you're never going to race. Being able to go off-pavement very occasionally on tours or recreational rides is a plus but not a top priority. You have to carry the bike up and down a narrow flight of stairs anytime you want to use it.

Finally, suppose your budget is roughly $0-$2000, but you might, in the more distantly deranged versions of the multiverse, be convinced to go as high as $3000 for something perfect. Getting good value is better than getting bad value but, within the parameters of your budget, you care more about maximizing quality than economizing: e.g., a 10/10 bike that costs $2000 is preferable to a 9.5/10 bike that costs $500. What would you get yourself? (Or, roughly, what process would you use?) No need to answer--just if you find the exercise fun!
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Old 09-15-23, 02:58 PM
  #27  
indyfabz
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Iíd probably get two different bikes and not theorize so darn much. Assuming this thread is legit, paralysis by analysis.

Last edited by indyfabz; 09-15-23 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 09-15-23, 03:19 PM
  #28  
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I hate to say this but I'd get a gravel bike, such as the Giant Revolt Advanced.

Gravel bikes are a vanilla blend of do everything, master of none. I prefer to have multiple specialized bikes, but if you want to have just one, there it is. This Giant model is well reviewed and well priced.

It's carbon.
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Old 09-15-23, 06:21 PM
  #29  
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Iím just over here from the C&V sectionÖ
After years riding and trying different frames from different marks I now only have touring bikes left in my stable.
I have 80ís tourers from Trek, Miyata, and Cannondale plus a Raleigh International frame Iíve been dragging my feet building up.
Any of these bikes could be a ďlast bikeĒ for someone, but they do ride differently.
Iím not even sure my anecdotal experiences would be of any help, since I outweigh you by a good 60 lbs and ride 24Ē frames. My experience with these bikes would be completely different than someone your size.
So as much as Iíd like to talk about a Miyata 1000LT vs a Trek 720 vs the 620, or an ST series Cannondale, I think your best bet is to take some rides on them.
The Right Bike will find its way to you, but only if you start sifting through them, riding them, keeping what you like, passing on what you donít.
itís a process, and an enjoyable one.
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Old 09-16-23, 06:46 AM
  #30  
LeeG
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Originally Posted by 2WheelWilly
Well, as I've said, I'm not fixated on any one material, but it's been really interesting to hear the various perspectives on that topic. As for a Rohloff, as far as I've seen, any sort of internal gearing system would push the bike setup well beyond my price range. I think the best I can do there is remain blissfully ignorant of the wonders of internal gearing so I won't know what I'm missing.

For maybe a different approach (just to hear a different sort of perspective) I'd be curious to hear what people would do for themselves (rather than recommending to me) if they were in roughly my situation. (Obviously I need to learn more to figure out--or for anyone else to figure out--exactly what the right decision is in my situation, but all the ideas above have been great help orienting me toward my options.) I.e.--suppose you didn't have the bikes you currently do (but you retain all of your current knowledge and skills--you aren't limited to mine), and you were looking to get one really excellent bike that you'd hopefully be able to really enjoy for the next couple of decades. You want to use the bike primarily for (1) an annual ~1-2 week week loaded touring trip with friends (mostly camping); (2) commuting with a briefcase (option to bring the bike inside office); and (3) some unloaded daylong recreational rides with friends. You'd like to be able to go fast on occasion but you're never going to race. Being able to go off-pavement very occasionally on tours or recreational rides is a plus but not a top priority. You have to carry the bike up and down a narrow flight of stairs anytime you want to use it.

Finally, suppose your budget is roughly $0-$2000, but you might, in the more distantly deranged versions of the multiverse, be convinced to go as high as $3000 for something perfect. Getting good value is better than getting bad value but, within the parameters of your budget, you care more about maximizing quality than economizing: e.g., a 10/10 bike that costs $2000 is preferable to a 9.5/10 bike that costs $500. What would you get yourself? (Or, roughly, what process would you use?) No need to answer--just if you find the exercise fun!
$.02 when I hear commuting and briefcase I go straight to fender clearence and 18Ē chainstays. Not light.
Iíd go for two bikes eventually.
Bike 1 : 1984 Specialized Sequoia. Solid sport tourer road bike able to take 35 mm tires. Just a real nice handling road bike. Use front low riders and norear panniers for annual tour. Two sets of good cheapwheels.

Bike 2 : Surly LHT w 26Ē wheels for post apocalypse transportation. With 1.75Ē tires you can go just as fast as your Motobecane when loaded but w much better comfort, load carrying and wheel life.

or

The Learning Experience. $500 for used bike of the right size. Fiddle with it.
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Old 09-16-23, 06:50 AM
  #31  
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What Chromo said “The Right Bike will find its way to you, but only if you start sifting through them, riding them, keeping what you like, passing on what you don’t.

This isn’t much different than buying shoes. Looking at specs isn’t what you do when riding so looking at specs has limited utility in choosing. Yeah, I look at specs all the time but one adapts once riding.
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Old 09-17-23, 03:24 PM
  #32  
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Considering how long you've been on a wrong-sized bike, I'd get a pro fitting before I'd buy a bike. I did that early on when I was in a 'century training club' put on by a local racing team. I met one of their coaches, and he gave me a full fitting - with lasers and marks on my joints and all that. He diagnosed an issue that nobody else did, he found my pedals were too narrow because I have exceedingly wide hips. So, after his fitting, I got pedal spacers, and suddenly lingering leg and knee issues went away. I've since used those reference numbers when purchasing other bikes, so it's turned out to be a fantastic investment, bang-for-buck wise.

So, rather than going through a bike shop, I'd call a coach at a local racing team, and have them refer you. They're the ones helping actual athletes doing massive mileage on a regular basis.

I would also recommend breaking it out into 'a cheap commuter' and 'a capable fast touring bike'. A dedicated commuter is nice because it can be cheap enough to lock up somewhere for a few hours and not stress about it, something you don't want to do with a 'forever bike'. IMO that's where you can get an entry-level consumer bike, attach your lock mount, and just treat it like a pair of shoes. Then, on the touring bike, you can identify your 'ideal spec' and dial that in.

And that leads me to my last suggestion - basically, only the frame should be really considered 'last ever'. The rest is consumable. You'll wear out chains, gears, cables, and brakes, and may even crack a rim or break a crank. But, the one thing that will be most likely to stay for the long haul is that frame, so I'd spend the time to decide exactly what you want with braze-ons, rack mounts, cable routing (i.e. if you ever aspire to a dynamo hub), axle standards, stuff like that.
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Old 09-18-23, 04:56 PM
  #33  
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Thanks for this outstanding advice!
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Old 09-18-23, 05:20 PM
  #34  
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Best process for buying your last ever touring bike?

Answer - shell out your money and die tomorrow. Done. (AKA be careful what you ask for. )

Or, tour with a bunch of bikes. When you find the one that is "this is it except", have that bike copied as a custom and that or those issue(s) addressed.

The fix gear of my avatar happened approximately that way. I picked up a trashed frame for $20 as a fun summer fix gear. Threw on some parts and wheels. And from the first ride, it was as much fun as my old race bike I loved when I was 24. Several years later I had the frame geometry copied by a frame builder only with the BB raised to good fix gear height and dropouts designed for the task. Titanium. {ut on nice parts. It's a to-die-for ride for this fix gear lover. And I would not have found it without that "research".
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Old 09-18-23, 07:44 PM
  #35  
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Some very wise advice is being dispensed in this thread, from LeeG and others.

Originally Posted by indyfabz
Iíd probably get two different bikes and not theorize so darn much. Assuming this thread is legit, paralysis by analysis.
100% agree.

Itís not really possible to know what you want by thinking about it, especially without a base of experience to draw on. Not that experience necessarily helps a lot. Iíve been riding all kinds of bikes for about 20 years ago and mostly I develop prejudices that then need to be challenged. I think Iím getting a little better about it, but only a little.

In my opinion the advice to get a sensible commuting bike that fits you is on-point. For the zippy touring bike, trying different things is a good idea before dropping a lot of money on something fancy. I love expensive bikes but itís very hard to try different things with expensive bikes. When I was younger and had less cash to burn on bikes, I did this by buying used, older bikes and tinkering with them. A lot of those bikes were inexpensive in their day, so they really were turds in a few cases, but it was fun and I did learn a lot and get to try a lot of different things. You canít get a full picture this way, since the high end bikes really do ride differently and even the used high end bikes were out of reach for me at the time. But itís a lot better than just going in blind and the dirtbag bike rider lifestyle is pretty fun.
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Old 09-19-23, 04:25 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by 2WheelWilly
Thanks for this outstanding advice!
Okay, I'm not going to pull any punches here. You need to get over the BS idea that you can't afford the bike of your dreams that will go forever.
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Old 09-20-23, 09:38 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by venturi95
Okay, I'm not going to pull any punches here. You need to get over the BS idea that you can't afford the bike of your dreams that will go forever.
I think people often get so obsessed with the gear that they sacrifice the actual act of touring on that altar.
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Old 09-20-23, 10:45 AM
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Lots more fantastic advice, thank you. I think I'll follow the most common piece of advice--to start with something (or -things) inexpensive and wait on a more serious purchase for when I have a clearer idea of what I like and don't. (And, once I do make a bigger purchase, I'll def keep in mind the possibility of a build like the one described by Russ!) I might start by seeing if I can find an old Trek 520 on facebook or craigslist, just because it's a name I know and they seem relatively common.

I'm curious--other than frame material, what are some of the major differences between bikes that divide people's preferences? I know, for example, that geometry/fit is extremely (most?) important (and that this quality can be holistic and complex), but are there good rough-and-ready facets of geometry/fit to use as bases of comparison? And any other non-geometric categories that tend to be determinants of whether a person (according, of course, to her own preferences) likes or dislikes a bike? Shifter style? Type of wheel? etc.

Finally, just in case anyone is worried or frustrated that I'm overthinking the process, let me reassure you that I'm not obsessing over these questions and I don't imagine that reading bikeforum posts and analyzing things in my head will suffice for making a good decision. I just enjoy the learning process and appreciate the advice I'm receiving! In the meantime I enjoy riding my old bike out in the real world pretty much every day, just as I have for the last ~15 years.
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Old 09-20-23, 11:59 AM
  #39  
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Frame design, not just material, is at the top of my list. I've got a touring bike that is rock solid even with a load of over 60 pounds (plus rider!). When I head to bring a half bushel of apples home from the orchard, that's the one I reach for. But another touring bike is almost as solid, steel like the first, but somehow it feels better for less-lightly-loaded commuting and general road riding. Unfortunately, you can't tell what you're going to get from reading specs, but the difference is quickly noticed on a test ride.

As far as fit, saddle height and reach to the bars come first. Bar width has a couple drivers; shoulder width is the obvious one, but how much stuff sits on your bars is another factor. GPS, lights, bar bag, phone mount? Pretty soon you need an auxiliary bar to steer the bike!

Bars themselves are another factor. I prefer drop bars, although different people use some different things. (Jones H-bars, anyone?) I've had a couple bars I've loved, and one I despise. Reach, flare, and the bend shape all work together or conspire against you. If possible, find a shop or builder who has multiple bars in stock, fondle them and lean on them to try to guess what they'll be like after 8 hours in the saddle.

For loaded touring, I prefer 36 spokes, although I may drop down to 32 with a disc. IMHO, 20 or 24 spoke wheels are made for a race where you can catch a ride (perhaps from a passing helicopter in remote locations) if a spoke breaks. Touring or commuting, especially in rain, there's too much of a chance to miss the pothole you can't see and damage a lighter wheel.

All the bikes in my stable have different shifters. They all work. Supposedly bar-end shifters are least susceptible to damage, but I've had to replace two on my travel bike. So find a system you like and buy or specify it.
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Old 09-20-23, 02:20 PM
  #40  
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If money was no object I'd start by getting a very thorough bike fit to determine my "perfect" size. Then I'd either work with custom builders with a reputation of well reviewed touring bikes or I'd work with a high end shop and custom build a bike from a non-custom frame. Maybe have it custom painted or have some parts custom anodized/powdercoated/creokoated to make it extra personal. In all cases I'd pick a frame/parts that have a proven history of quality.
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Old 09-21-23, 03:02 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by 2WheelWilly
Lots more fantastic advice, thank you. I think I'll follow the most common piece of advice--to start with something (or -things) inexpensive and wait on a more serious purchase for when I have a clearer idea of what I like and don't. (And, once I do make a bigger purchase, I'll def keep in mind the possibility of a build like the one described by Russ!) I might start by seeing if I can find an old Trek 520 on facebook or craigslist, just because it's a name I know and they seem relatively common.
None of it needs to be supper expensive. My Raleigh Alyeska was $100, if I slapped in there a decent wheelset and racks I would call it a super capable tourer. Same thing with my stock Univega Gran tourismo.

Riding is more important than getting better gear.
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