Author Topic: Touring or road bike?  (Read 3379 times)

Ricky

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Touring or road bike?
« on: March 19, 2016, 01:18:18 PM »
I already have a hybrid bike from Trek - an 8.5DS. It's great. I use it for little trips around the house and riding the greenway nearby. I mostly consider it an < 30 miles type of bike. Any more than that and it just gets uncomfortable and my butt hurts too bad.

I love biking and want to bike longer and farther, and also want the best of both worlds, so I'm considering purchasing a touring or road bike. The only differences I can really see is that the touring bike may be set up with slightly larger tires steel frame vs aluminum. It looks sturdier overall, which makes sense, when you're carrying weight. Having the extra range of gears makes sense too. I guess my question is - is a road bike good enough for touring? I'm a minimalist and will only be carrying the bare minimum anyway on long trips - maybe a tent/hammock, change of clothes, emergency gear, etc.

Also, whichever route I go, what should I look out for when buying used? I bought my 8.5DS new and already know I'm not going to again because I now live in an even smaller space than I did and I'm not going to be thoroughly maintaining it every ride.

frompa

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2016, 04:53:12 PM »
"The only differences I can really see is that the touring bike may be set up with slightly larger tires steel frame vs aluminum. It looks sturdier overall, which makes sense, when you're carrying weight. Having the extra range of gears makes sense too. I guess my question is - is a road bike good enough for touring?" ......

Yes, it's good enough for touring, but touring (long distance + carrying stuff) will not be a simple thing, depending not only on how much weight you carry but also HOW you carry your stuff.  A touring bike has a longer wheel base so it handles weight and is not likely to do the crazy (and dangerous) shaking and other contortions that often happen with a road bike when you try to carry weight, whether you go with panniers affixed to your bike or with a trailer.  When touring, you COULD try carrying your stuff in a back pack, but -- whooee - you want to talk about setting yourself up for some long term discomfort?!  So if you really are going to tour, get a touring bike, even though it's slower than a road bike. 

That being said, I admit, I have BOTH a touring bike and a road bike.  The touring bike I use for tours as well as my day to day around town biking, as in getting groceries, going to the library, commuting to work, going to the local watering hole, ETC..  It fits me, it's equipped with a built-in lighting system, all my bags fit it -- I love it.  My road bike I use only when I'm out cycling with the weekend warriors and competitive cyclists, for whom cycling life is all about speed.   It's not my thing, though it's a BLAST to go fast.  And all that functional cycling makes speed easy-peasy.  But I get the trade off between the two, and so should you. 

"Also, whichever route I go, what should I look out for when buying used? I bought my 8.5DS new and already know I'm not going to again because I now live in an even smaller space than I did and I'm not going to be thoroughly maintaining it every ride."

Personally, I think the most crucial things in buying used are FIT and a good quality frame that suits your needs, because the rest of it will wear out and can be easily replaced.  Best of luck!!  I've never regretted getting my touring bike, and it's seen heavy use for 20+ years. 

hyla

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2016, 01:17:12 PM »
I already have a hybrid bike from Trek - an 8.5DS. It's great. I use it for little trips around the house and riding the greenway nearby. I mostly consider it an < 30 miles type of bike. Any more than that and it just gets uncomfortable and my butt hurts too bad.
When you get a new bike, you may want to get a new saddle if the saddle it comes with doesn't work for you.  Saddles can make a world of difference in how comfy your butt stays on long rides.  I can't really make a specific recommendation because fit is so personal, but generally harder saddles are more comfy on long rides than soft smooshy ones.  Make sure the weight is mostly on your sitbones, not on soft tissue. 

is a road bike good enough for touring? I'm a minimalist and will only be carrying the bare minimum anyway on long trips - maybe a tent/hammock, change of clothes, emergency gear, etc.

Some road bikes are suitable for touring.  A super aggressive carbon road bike meant for racing is not useful for touring.  A steel framed road bike with relaxed geometry, wider tire clearance, and eyelets to mount racks would be fine for light touring.  Many cyclocross or gravel bikes would also fit your needs, I use a cyclocross bike for road riding and light touring, just change out the tires depending on what I'm doing.  For new bikes, surly, kona, and jamis are several brands that come to mind for making comfortable steel framed bikes that could bridge the gap between road riding and touring.  A used road or touring bike would also be a good option if you can find one locally that fits you.

What will you be doing most often?  If most of your rides will be day trips, I would buy a road bike that is capable of light touring.  If touring is your priority, buy a touring bike and deal with it being a bit more sluggish on your day road rides.


Ocelot

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2016, 06:31:38 AM »
I'll echo previous comments that it really depends on the type of touring you're doing. I've done/used both, and lately I much prefer a light, fast road bike with a minimal bag setup and a lightweight backpack to a sluggish, loaded traditional touring bike. Obviously this restricts how much you can carry, but so long as you're staying in accommodation rather than camping I find it perfectly sufficient. Thanks to the recent bikepacking movement you can get great saddle/frame/bar bags that are lightweight and can take a minimalist camp setup too, check out Revelate Designs for examples. Traditional tourers have their place but IMO that place is months-long trips through remote areas globally, not domestic touring or going town-to-town in first world countries.


Ricky

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2016, 08:42:26 AM »
I'm leaning more towards a road bike I guess, since my 8.5DS already does most things I'd want it to do, and I think a touring bike wouldn't complement it as good as a bike designed to go faster. I am definitely in the minimal gear camp so I would only need a rack and a small bag in the back coupled with a backpack. My ultimate goal is to traverse the US from East to West, and would prefer speed over being able to carry everything. I realize this would be more expensive as I'd have to stop more often, but I'd prefer it I think. Plus I have some really awesome roads around me for biking that I'd probably do more often.

I'm assuming the less "aggressive" the road bike, the cheaper, which is good for me. Any particular models I should be on the lookout for? I may end up buying something from REI or another LBS since I live in a fairly small city. While there are a fair share of bikers, it's nothing like being in DC or New York so my pickings for something used are going to be limited unless I drive somewhere with options (which I guess could be worthwhile).

I don't know - maybe my 8.5DS is plenty good enough for road/tour use. It's a hybrid though, so it's obviously not the "best" at anything. It just sounds painful trying to ride that long without drop bars though (they just look more comfortable for long distance, even though I've never had them).
« Last Edit: March 21, 2016, 09:49:48 AM by Ricky »

acroy

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2016, 09:11:37 AM »
LOVE me a an old-school-style steel road bike!!
Actually just bought one of these
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/gran_premio_elite.htm
It would be PERFECT for light touring, in fact I plan to do exactly that in the future.
This thing rides like a dream. It has eyelets on the back for a rack. No true 'granny' gear but the 34x32 tooth combination is plenty low, it'll tractor.
I searched high & low for something similar, used, for a better price, and could not come up with anything.

onlykelsey

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2016, 09:21:00 AM »
I have a surly cross check, which I love.  It's a steel cyclo-cross bike that's not quite a touring bike, but has eyelets in front and back.  If you don't do well with road noise, I'd push for a steel frame, despite the weight.  It's been a savior for my butt.

GuitarStv

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2016, 09:39:38 AM »
I have a Nashbar TR-1 steel touring bike.  It's great for commuting and very comfortable for riding long distances.  It's heavier and less aerodynamic than a road bike, but I have no problems keeping up with others on fast group rides.

If you generally like your 8.5 DS, you could always convert it to a drop bar bike.  It's not terribly hard to do.  You need some brake levers (Tektro RL520), bar end shifters (microshift and shimano make these), and a handlebar.  I converted my Giant Escape to a drop bar bike for about 120$, and it would make an excellent touring bike now . . .

frompa

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Re: Touring or road bike?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2016, 07:01:17 PM »
Hey Ricky, seems to me your goal of cycling cross country is a little more than "light touring."  Even traveling domestically, long distance cycling can be funexpectedly vigorous. YMMV (literally)