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First Touring Bike

Old 05-13-21, 12:24 PM
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carsonmc724
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First Touring Bike

I want to get into more tour-distance riding and currently have a 1997 aluminum Trek 1220 road bike. I've been reading about frame differences and am investigating a touring bike for myself.
There's a BTWIN Tiban 100 (aluminum) in my area for $200 that seems to have a more hybridized frame and components better suited for touring.
There's a vintage Takara Delux Touring (pretty sure steel) in my area for $200. Read reviews that's a lower model from the 80s era but can have a decent lifespan.
There's a 2014 REI Novara Randonee (steel) in my area for $450 (more than I'd like to spend). Newer bike but not a brand I know?

1) Would it be worth it to try and take my Trek 1220 and outfit it with more touring components (tires, etc.)? Or is the frame just too light and unstable?
2) Which starter bike for touring seems good?

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Old 05-13-21, 12:36 PM
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I toured on a Felt. The Frame Cracked
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Old 05-13-21, 12:46 PM
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Oh no so sorry to hear that! I definitely love my Trek and don't want her to crack so thanks for the input 10 Wheels
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Old 05-13-21, 01:11 PM
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The 2014 REI Novara Randonee will likely work for you quite well if the bike fits you properly. Sorry, I'm not familiar with the others.
Your 1220 will likely have fairly short chain stays and won't be able to accept a reasonably wide tire...but you might be able to make it work.
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Old 05-13-21, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
The 2014 REI Novara Randonee will likely work for you quite well if the bike fits you properly. Sorry, I'm not familiar with the others.
Your 1220 will likely have fairly short chain stays and won't be able to accept a reasonably wide tire...but you might be able to make it work.
Gearing on the 1220 might also be inadequate.

Buy once, cry once.
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Old 05-13-21, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by carsonmc724 View Post
I want to get into more tour-distance riding and......
not enough information.

makes a super big difference if you simply plan on longish day rides, doing a 3-4 day loop and staying in motels, where all you really need is a change of clothes and some toiletries........

vs. 6-weeks unsupported camping in the african bush.


for the first, a saddlebag and a handlebar bag would suffice on your current bike.
for the second...........get back to us.
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Old 05-13-21, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Gearing on the 1220 might also be inadequate.
How could I forget, duh ! The two greatest things that are often deal breakers for me when it comes to "Can I tour on this bike ?".....lack of low gearing and the inability to use wider tires (maybe a 3rd would be lack of braze ons, but even that can often be overcome)
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Old 05-13-21, 08:39 PM
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Haha I appreciate the clarification as each touring style definitely has different needs.
I currently do the long day rides (40+ miles) on my Trek so I'm good there. And I foresee myself starting with 2-3 day tours but camping rather than motel, so definitely need some saddle storage, and working my way up to longer trips.

Any recommendation between the ones I mentioned? Novara Randonee, Takara Deluxe, or BTWIN Tiban 100?
Thank you!
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Old 05-13-21, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by carsonmc724 View Post
Haha I appreciate the clarification as each touring style definitely has different needs.
I currently do the long day rides (40+ miles) on my Trek so I'm good there. And I foresee myself starting with 2-3 day tours but camping rather than motel, so definitely need some saddle storage, and working my way up to longer trips.

Any recommendation between the ones I mentioned? Novara Randonee, Takara Deluxe, or BTWIN Tiban 100?
Thank you!
Not enough information about how those bikes are equipped.
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Old 05-13-21, 08:59 PM
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The Novara Randonee has these components: Reynolds 520 Chromoly frame; Deore LX Crank (24/32/44); SRAM cogs (11-32, 10 speed); SRAM X7 rear derailleur; Shimano Deore LX front derailleur; SRAM bar end shifters; Tektro linear pull brakes; 700x35 Schwalbe Marathon Tires; fenders & rear rack.

The Takara Deluxe is 12 speed, but they don't have the specs listed and I'm struggling to find them online. That being said, probably better to go with the Novara out of these options.
Forget the BTWIN, it's only a 7-speed, which they noted isn't enough for touring.
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Old 05-13-21, 09:43 PM
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The Novara Randonee had been around for awhile. Was a contemporary to the Trek 520, Bianchi Volpe and Fuji Touring. Looks good to me, although you could make it better by replacing the cassette with a 11-36 (or even a 12-36 or 13-36). Give it a new chain as well. The Takara, being a 12-spd, doesn't sound like a touring bicycle. 12spd cogs are thin and delicate.
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Old 05-13-21, 10:22 PM
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Every Takara I've seen has been of '70s or so vintage; okay frame of hi-tensile tubing, double crank with 6-speed freewheel for 12 gears, caliper brakes, 27" wheels, etc. I rode across the Alps on such a machine but was wishing the whole time I had something more suitable, like the Novara Randonee you mention and which a friend of mine has, a bike built for touring. I don't think you'll regret the additional expenditure but there are plenty of other suitable machines out there if you know what to look for, so if you skip the Novara keep doing your research and saving your money for the right bike.

That said, you can tour on anything and people do, but you might like it more on a different machine. Your Trek is better than my old bike but it looks like a short-wheelbase machine with a road double crank and you probably want lower gears at least.

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Old 05-13-21, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
The Takara, being a 12-spd, doesn't sound like a touring bicycle. 12spd cogs are thin and delicate.
Nope, it'll have nice thick, chunky cogs; it's a 2x6 bike.


OP, at the end of the day touring isn't exactly the cheapest endeavor out there, it can be done cheap, I know, I've done it. Rode across Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and some of France on a similar vintage similar spec Giant about 20 years ago using a cheap tent, a cheap sleeping bag and eating what I could afford. The biggest hurdle to the fullest enjoyment of the whole experience was the bike which just wasn't designed for it. Problem is, touring bikes themselves aren't cheap, typically 1200.00 to start for a decent one new, and about what that REI Novara would have been. Although the price isn't ideal, if you can swing it or find something just like it, you'll have a much more enjoyable time. I still use a cheap, heavy tent and a cheap sleeping bag, but the bike is world's better, the air mattress was a huge improvement and a lot of other things have been improved and lightened making the experience much more enjoyable in the process. I'm hoping to get a new, lighter tent but either way the tours are nicer on a purpose built bike.
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Old 05-14-21, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by carsonmc724 View Post
That being said, probably better to go with the Novara out of these options.
Equipment-wise, hands down. Fit is another issue.
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Old 05-14-21, 09:30 AM
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Thankfully it's a size large, best built for 5'9 to 6' according to the size guide, and I'm 5'10". My Trek is 58 cm and fits me really well and I think the large is that size in cm as well. I'm thinking the only upgrade fit-wise I would really need to make is a better saddle, possibly one built more for women. Most of the Randonee reviews say saddle upgrade and fitting was crucial to comfortable touring.
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Old 05-14-21, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by carsonmc724 View Post
I want to get into more tour-distance riding and currently have a 1997 aluminum Trek 1220 road bike. I've been reading about frame differences and am investigating a touring bike for myself.
There's a BTWIN Tiban 100 (aluminum) in my area for $200 that seems to have a more hybridized frame and components better suited for touring.
There's a vintage Takara Delux Touring (pretty sure steel) in my area for $200. Read reviews that's a lower model from the 80s era but can have a decent lifespan.
There's a 2014 REI Novara Randonee (steel) in my area for $450 (more than I'd like to spend). Newer bike but not a brand I know?

1) Would it be worth it to try and take my Trek 1220 and outfit it with more touring components (tires, etc.)? Or is the frame just too light and unstable?
2) Which starter bike for touring seems good?
To throw one more bike into the mix to consider, look at the Trek Verve. Yes, itís a hybrid but the frame is long and stable. It has 18Ē chainstays...classic touring bike length...that allows you to put a load further back on the bike and still stay centered over the rear axle. More load further forward results in a much more stable ride. Itís also got a long wheel base like a classic touring bike. Additionally, it has all the rack mounts you need for touring racks. It will also take really wide tires which many older touring bikes canít handle.

It has some warts too. Gearing is okay but could be better. The high front end might be an issue. Flat bars arenít the best for long days in the saddle. Iím not a fan of threaded headsets but they do work well enough. It is also somewhat inexpensive compared to other new touring bike.


Originally Posted by robow View Post
How could I forget, duh ! The two greatest things that are often deal breakers for me when it comes to "Can I tour on this bike ?".....lack of low gearing and the inability to use wider tires (maybe a 3rd would be lack of braze ons, but even that can often be overcome)
Gearing can always be changed. Itís not cheap but it is fairly easy. The real issue with the 1220 is that is a race bike with 16.3Ē chainstays and no provisions for racks. Itís also a light frame which can be susceptible to speed wobble (AKA death wobble). Aluminum doesnít tend to have that problem as much as steel but with a light frame and a load, it could develop.

​​​
Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
for the first, a saddlebag and a handlebar bag would suffice on your current bike.
for the second...........get back to us.
I know that a lot of people are using bikepacking bags on road bikes but I really question that choice. I use bikepacking bags for off-road touring because the narrow profile and more secure attachment work better in that situation but carrying the load that high does have an impact on the handling of the bike. I have to be more careful on downhills and in corners because the way those bags work significantly raise the center of gravity of the bike. Add in a short bike with quick steering and the results are less than desirable.
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Old 05-14-21, 10:29 AM
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A used Novara Randonee is hard to beat, unless you find another used touring bike of similar quality for the money.

Another option is BikesDirect; they usually get mixed reviews. Part of the difficulty with their direct-to-customer model is you have to do the assembly yourself -- it really isn't much and it's good practice for touring -- you should be able to do most of the assembly with a multitool (which you should probably carry on tour). From BikesDirect, the Windsor Tourist, at $500, has actually gotten above-average reviews, and it has been updated recently to have a threadless stem, and almost too-many mounting points:

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ke-tourist.htm
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Old 05-14-21, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by carsonmc724 View Post
Haha I appreciate the clarification as each touring style definitely has different needs.
I currently do the long day rides (40+ miles) on my Trek so I'm good there. And I foresee myself starting with 2-3 day tours but camping rather than motel, so definitely need some saddle storage, and working my way up to longer trips.

Any recommendation between the ones I mentioned? Novara Randonee, Takara Deluxe, or BTWIN Tiban 100?
Thank you!
Yeah, the Novara, out of the ones you list.
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Old 05-14-21, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Gearing can always be changed. Itís not cheap but it is fairly easy.
Yea, but as you know, it can get costly very quickly. Potential new shifters, new crank, potential bottom bracket, chain, front and rear derailleurs, cassette, and unless it's an easy fix, just get a different bike.
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Old 05-14-21, 04:05 PM
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The further the distance you ride, and the longer you own the bike, the more you'd come to appreciate the Reynolds 520 frame of the Novara. That's actually a very respectable touring bike.

Last edited by Jeff Neese; 05-14-21 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 05-15-21, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Yea, but as you know, it can get costly very quickly. Potential new shifters, new crank, potential bottom bracket, chain, front and rear derailleurs, cassette, and unless it's an easy fix, just get a different bike.
Depends on what you want to do. I agree that it can get costly but if all you are changing is the range, thatís relatively cheap. And, as long as you donít need the latest and (supposedly) greatest, second hand can be a viable, cheaper option.
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Old 05-15-21, 01:52 PM
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Lots of excellent advice and evaluations above. Any, and all of the bikes you mentioned will be really good at one of the most important functions of a first touring bike. That is to educate and inform you so that you have a better idea what you want/need in a touring bike. Which ever bike you choose, you will learn about the bike, and about what you want in a bike. A quick look at the variety of bikes people use for touring indicates that bike choice is a very personal issue. Also, it may well be that the ideal touring bike is an unachievable goal; worthy, nonetheless.
Good luck.
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Old 05-15-21, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
T...I know that a lot of people are using bikepacking bags on road bikes but I really question that choice. I use bikepacking bags for off-road touring because the narrow profile and more secure attachment work better in that situation but carrying the load that high does have an impact on the handling of the bike. I have to be more careful on downhills and in corners because the way those bags work significantly raise the center of gravity of the bike. Add in a short bike with quick steering and the results are less than desirable.
in this situation, all depends on how much gear is being carried. for credit card touring - no tent, no cooking gear, no food or fuel, no sleeping bag, minimal clothing - just the bare minimum going boutique hotel to boutique hotel, most any road bike should do.

an extra 10-15 pounds attached at the seat and/or handlebars shouldn't make a bike top-heavy or unstable.

or course since our friend wants to go unsupported camping, then a design-specific touring bike will be appropriate.
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Old 05-16-21, 05:22 AM
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I will just say this... It isn't as simple as saying credit card vs camping or overnight vs multi month when determining how much you will be carrying. Folks can and do carry 20,30, 40, or more pounds when staying in motels. Folks also manage to camp with under 10 pounds of UL camping gear.

Length of trip is even less of a determining factor. I have always found that I carry pretty much the same stuff to go coast to coast as I would if I wanted to go for the weekend. Sure there may be some additional things for a given area that may be needed due to season or climate, but that would be true for that region on a short trip too and things can be mailed to and from home to adjust for regions and seasons during a multi month trip.

My point is that you should be careful in making assumptions about what choices you make based on touring style. Better to do the following in the following order if possible:
  1. Choose the gear for a normal trip. Carefully select items choosing only what is needed and picking lighter items where possible. Go over the list many times weeding out and replacing items where appropriate.
  2. After choosing the gear, consider what kind of baggage might best carry it.
  3. Then, decide what bike might suit the gear and baggage.
Obviously this isn't the only way to go. If you have a bike you want to use. Make it work to start with. Same for baggage. But if you are starting from scratch the steps listed above make some sense and are worth considering.

For me step one is an ongoing process over the years and I have spreadsheets where I can check and uncheck items. Checking and unchecking includes or removes them from the weight total. I do the same for backpacking and other activities. I have been over some version of the master spreadsheet probably thousands of times. As a result it is a highly functional and refined list.
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Old 05-16-21, 08:07 PM
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Since you are looking to dip your toes into the test waters that is bicycle touring, I would recommend starting with your 1220. A lot of cyclist buy all the gear and either find out they don't like it/ it's not really for them or simply don't have the time for it. I would recommend panniers that have the angle cut to increase heel clearance, since your Trek has 42 cm (short) chain stays. Your Trek should have tapped holes in the drop outs (I used to own Trek dealerships, and know that bike) 5 x.8 mm threads (waterbottle cage size) they likely will have paint in them. you will need to use plastic coated p-clips for the seat stay mounts. Make sure that you get a dedicated pannier rack that has the supports that stop the pannier from rubbing/ going into on the spokes. For instance; Do not use a Blackburn MTN rack.
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