Deciding on a cheap (approx $1200) touring bike.



Strelok

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Apr 12, 2011
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Right now i'm looking at this REI novara randonee and i have to say i'm fairly impressed with it. Do any of you know if the fork is cromoloy or hi-ten?

http://www.rei.com/product/816068/novara-randonee-bike-2012

the parts list seems good.

are the mavic rims any better than alex?

then there's always the Surly LHT.

there's trek 520 as well but it seems a bit high in price for the parts listed. how good are those bontrager rims?

there's also the rocky mountain sherpa 30 but they've craped out on the parts for that thing pretty badly.

whether or not the bike comes with a rack is pretty pointless to me as i intend to us a tubus cargo anyway. I doubt there are any other racks that can handle as much weight and i don't want to end up with my groceries all over the road.
 

kdelong

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Dec 14, 2006
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The Novara Randonee is a good bike. A bit heavy but its a touring bike, not a racing bike. It has decent components for the cost, but it is definitely a mix of components. The fork is Reynolds Chromoly. I personally prefer Mavic rims over Alex rims, but both are quality rims. The Bontrager rims are good rims too, but I agree that the Trek 520 is a bit over priced compared to other bikes in the touring market.

Most of the Randonee owners that I have talked to said that the only changes that they would make is to have a little lower gearing which is easily accomplished by replacing the cassette with one that has a 34 or 36 tooth cog. Most have also replaced the saddle but this is normal for almost any bike.

If I was in your posistion though, I would definitely go with the Surly LHT. There is a reason that it is the most popular loaded touring bicycle, and its not due to advertising. It will probably cost you a little more but I feel that it is worth it.
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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I don't like the Novaro, I think it's inexpensive department store design. There are other bikes out there that are better built for the same or similar price, and right now you may find one at an LBS for lower end of the season closeout sales.

The Trek 520: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/road/touring/520/520

The Jamis Aurora: http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/road/aurora/12_aurora.html
Or Aurora Elite: http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/road/aurora/12_auroraelite.html

Fuji Touring: http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/touring5

Any of those above highly recognized and high quality brands can be found at a lot of LBS's for under $1500 and right now probably most under $1200.

If you want the Novaro quality you can do it for half the cost with this bike and be just as good: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/gran_turismo.htm
 

Strelok

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Apr 12, 2011
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Have you looked at the new Randonee? The parts list is very good, plus it has name reynolds steel.
 

Froze

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Originally Posted by Strelok .

Have you looked at the new Randonee? The parts list is very good, plus it has name reynolds steel.

As does the Trek, and the Jamis, the Fuji uses their own Elios tubing and the Motebecane uses 4130 CroMoly...there isn't any difference between the 3 and all have been used on touring bikes for years without problems.
 

swampy1970

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Feb 3, 2008
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Surly Long Haul Trucker.

It has everything a touring bike needs and then some. Nothing fancy or flash but very functional.

A very well thought out parts list with options that change with various sizes - little details like different size brake levers, wheels, cranks, stem length etc that can help when you get the bike straight out of the box and if you want a matching tubus rack for the front, the fork already has a mid-blade rack eyelet.

Best of all - you can pick one up for the price you're looking to spend.
 

Strelok

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Apr 12, 2011
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but the randonee has the best parts list now (surly has gone to LX starting this year.)
 

swampy1970

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There's much more to a bike than just a tubeset. If it was my 'hard earned..." being spent on a touring bike under $2000, it'd be the long haul trucker - no questions. I'd change the saddle and bars and that'd be it.


Originally Posted by Froze .

The Surly Long Haul Trucker uses the same tubeset that Motobecane uses, the 4130 cromoly.
 

An old Guy

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Feb 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by Strelok .

Right now i'm looking at this REI novara randonee and i have to say i'm fairly impressed with it. Do any of you know if the fork is cromoloy or hi-ten?

http://www.rei.com/product/816068/novara-randonee-bike-2012

the parts list seems good.

are the mavic rims any better than alex?

then there's always the Surly LHT.

there's trek 520 as well but it seems a bit high in price for the parts listed. how good are those bontrager rims?

there's also the rocky mountain sherpa 30 but they've craped out on the parts for that thing pretty badly.

whether or not the bike comes with a rack is pretty pointless to me as i intend to us a tubus cargo anyway. I doubt there are any other racks that can handle as much weight and i don't want to end up with my groceries all over the road.
What sort of touring are you going to do?

Any road bike (20 pounds) can be fitted for the tubus cargo rack. And 8 pounds of weight savings is a lot of gear.

A road bike, a light weight rack to carry a couple changes of clothes, a bit of food, and a bivy sack (hotels are easier; the bivy is for emergencies), and a credit card lets you travel well at under 30 pounds total.
 

Strelok

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Apr 12, 2011
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This i mostly going to be for commuting/getting around (in ALL kinda of whether. snow, ice, but no lightening) and for those times when I might have to go to a grocery store that's about 60 miles from my house. I would be returning with 2-4 weeks of groceries if i did that. Right now I have a full rigid mountain bike and now I'm seriously considering just getting that cheap leader frame (or some other cheap mountain frame) and building it up real nice with a rigid fork. I figure i'll end up with some old man mountain racks and some lone peak panniers first. It would be nice to just be able to switch that stuff between bikes.

The problem I have with most stock bikes are that they usually have **** wheels and they cheap out on the parts.

right now the parts list i'm looking at is

avid bb7 brakes (now sure what diameter)
avid speed dial 7 levers
Thompson seat post (i probably will cheap out here and change this
Thompson stem (probably gonna cheap out and change this too)
FSA after burner 386 cranks (double)
cheap light bars
not sure pedals
peter white wheels (whatever he talks me into for less than $300)
Schwalbe marathon tires
oury lock on grips
sram x.7 10 speed shifters
shimano xt front derailleur
sram x.9 rear derailleur (and why is this cheaper than the x.7 version on universal cycles?)

and then some frame and rigid fork.

thinking of cheap nashbar frames, the leader 516h, and the sette rekken

probably an IRD steel fork.

I talled this up at a bit less than $1400. It would be less If i could find a better deal on a shifter and rear derailleur combo and if I go to v brakes, which i may if he will build me some of those carbide rimed wheels.

and do you have to use a special shifter for those double cranks?

also, do these new sram rear derailleurs really explode like they say on mtbr.com? I have an old one (one of the first x.7's i think) and it has done fine, but i think its cage is all metal.
 

An old Guy

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Feb 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by Strelok .

This is mostly going to be for commuting/getting around (in ALL kinda of whether. snow, ice, but no lightening) and for those times when I might have to go to a grocery store that's about 60 miles from my house. I would be returning with 2-4 weeks of groceries if i did that. Right now I have a full rigid mountain bike and now I'm seriously considering just getting that cheap leader frame (or some other cheap mountain frame) and building it up real nice with a rigid fork. I figure i'll end up with some old man mountain racks and some lone peak panniers first. It would be nice to just be able to switch that stuff between bikes.

The problem I have with most stock bikes are that they usually have **** wheels and they cheap out on the parts.
I will bow out of this discussion. I don't need to deal with people who badmouth "stock" bikes.

Have fun hauling 4 weeks worth of groceries 60 miles back home.
 

Strelok

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Apr 12, 2011
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what's wrong with bad mouthing stock bikes? such a view point is not uncommon. why else would they sell frame sets?
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Originally Posted by Strelok .

what's wrong with bad mouthing stock bikes? such a view point is not uncommon. why else would they sell frame sets?
It's hard for some when they get old and stuck in their ways of thinking. It can frightening for them to be confronted with stuff in which they don't believe.

There are many reasons for selling frame sets, and many of those reasons have nothing at all to do with "**** wheels" and cheeping out parts:
  • Some folks just want to build things their own way so their bike can be just what they want it to be
  • Some folks already have the components and don't need to buy new components
  • Some folks have to replace a frame that's been damaged
  • Race teams (from amateur on up) might have separate sponsorship deals for frames and components
  • A bike company may have found it cheaper to just sell frames than to have to not only buy components for the bike but to have the overhead from maintaining a stock of components
  • (fill in blank)

The idea that pre-built bikes have **** components is almost entirely without merit.
  • Bike Direct is known for putting high quality kit on their bikes and providing bikes at a very reasonable cost (bikes that have good to excellent frames.....and no, I neither work for them or own one of their bikes)
  • If there's a weak spot in prebuilt bikes, it might be wheels but certainly not always. Wheels can be sold and replaced easily.
  • All those components you don't want? Why, you can quite often sell them for more than they added to the cost of your prebuilt bike. It is quite common for folks to buy prebuilt bikes just for the frame and to sell the components. The bike makers get deals from the component manufacturers such that the component's portion of the cost of a prebuilt bike is less than when purchased in the after market and can be much less than said after market cost.
  • Those wheels? Why, quite often the biggest problem with those wheels is that they're not tensioned evenly and/or at the right tension. That's über easy to correct.
  • Those wheels? Sure they might be relatively heavy, but the physical reality is that for a great number of riders, that extra weight doesn't make any big difference. Analysis of physical laws used with constraints appropriate to riding on our planet show this. Most people aren't sprinting for the finish or the prime, so finishing a handful of parts of a second or a handful of seconds behind someone else is not one of their big concerns.
  • (fill in blank)

From a logic point of view, it's just stupid to make blanket statements about "**** wheels" and "cheaped out" parts since it's because it burns very few calories to investigate the different components of that prebuilt bike and evaluate each of said components on its own terms and in terms of the user's needs.
 

Strelok

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Apr 12, 2011
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I have evaluated the components of many prebuilts and the wheels are usually the biggest problem. a lot of bike makers are using formula hubs even on their mid end bikes. specialized is using it's own brand to cheap out.

reliability is the issue, not weight.


what do y'all think of that surly troll? how well will those horizontal dopouts work? i keep thinking the wheel will go flying out the back and ripping off the rear derailleur.
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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Originally Posted by swampy1970 .

There's much more to a bike than just a tubeset. If it was my 'hard earned..." being spent on a touring bike under $2000, it'd be the long haul trucker - no questions. I'd change the saddle and bars and that'd be it.
Of course there's more to a tubeset, but a poster was mentioning tubesets, so I was just mentioning they were the same.

Personally I don't think though that the Long Haul Trucker is any better then the Jamis or the Trek or the Fuji. In fact the Jamis Aurora Elite, and the Fuji Touring, and the Trek 520 all spec out better for the same or a little less money.

I have never ridden either, and you've ridden only the one you have, so to say which will be better for touring is absurd for either one of us to say!!

Personally I like my 1985 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe the best, it's lugged steel frame instead of welded, it has easy to repair and longer lasting older technology, it rides like a Cadillac...for a bike, it was made in America, it will outlast any new touring bike without question. Personally if I was putting my hard earned money being spent on a touring bike I would find a older 80's low miles vintage touring bike like mine or Schwinn Voyager series or the Passage; or Trek 720 or 620; Bridgestone T-700; Fuji American Touring Series; Panasonic Pro Touring; or the Miyata Grand Touring, or the 1000 touring bikes. All of those touring bikes are world renown for being the best touring bikes ever built and a lot of them are still used to tour on today. And the advantage with buying an older bike is you won't get hit hard on the depreciation, in fact they will probably appreciate. I just saw a used Long Haul Trucker for $350 on Craigslist that was 5 years old and was updated, so much for the appreciation. There are plenty of these bikes around that never saw more then a 1000 miles and never went touring and are in fantastic shape. The frames on the older bikes were built more stout then modern bikes too.

I bought my Schwinn about 9 months ago, the guy put 250 miles on it after he bought it brand new then injured his back at home, he stored it with layers of blankets on it. About 2 weeks before he sold it he took it down to an LBS to have it relubed and new tires and tubes put thinking he could ride it now that his back hadn't bothered him in a while. He rode it 5 miles and his back started to hurt so he sold. The bike looks like it came off the show room floor brand new in 85. This type of thing does happen and their out there, but you may have to search a bit. I gave you a list of the best vintage touring bikes so you know what to look for.
 

An old Guy

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Feb 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by Strelok .

I have evaluated the components of many prebuilts and the wheels are usually the biggest problem. a lot of bike makers are using formula hubs even on their mid end bikes. specialized is using it's own brand to cheap out.

reliability is the issue, not weight.


what do y'all think of that surly troll? how well will those horizontal dopouts work? i keep thinking the wheel will go flying out the back and ripping off the rear derailleur.
Reliability is determined by how poorly you ride. If you ride downhill fast on potholed roads or push big gears on uphills, you will destroy any bike. If you ride the downhills slower and spin on the climbs, any bike will last longer.

4 weeks of food is about 56 pounds - 4000cal/day. I can haul that on my "racing" bike with lightweight wheels - 20 pounds plus a 1 pound rack. The bike you buy; the wheels you buy don't really matter. It is all about how you want to ride.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Originally Posted by Strelok .

I have evaluated the components of many prebuilts and the wheels are usually the biggest problem. a lot of bike makers are using formula hubs even on their mid end bikes. specialized is using it's own brand to cheap out.

reliability is the issue, not weight.


what do y'all think of that surly troll? how well will those horizontal dopouts work? i keep thinking the wheel will go flying out the back and ripping off the rear derailleur.
I don't know how you are evaluating components on prebuilt bikes, but the reliability on most components today is very good. Likewise, the reliability of even factory built wheels can be good once it's insured that tensions are correct and even. If you want parts that aren't reliable then buy a department store bike or buy wheels that don't have a sufficient number of spokes and the correct rim for the weight you'll be carrying.

The only issue with a rear facing horizontal dropout is that there isn't one. How is the wheel going to fly out of the back of the dropout? The forces you apply to the chain when pedaling exert a force that tends to pull the wheel forward in the dropout. Every single track bike in any velodrome has rear facing dropouts, and no one applies as much power to the pedals as the strongest track racers.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Originally Posted by An old Guy .



Reliability is determined by how poorly you ride. If you ride downhill fast on potholed roads or push big gears on uphills, you will destroy any bike. If you ride the downhills slower and spin on the climbs, any bike will last longer.

4 weeks of food is about 56 pounds - 4000cal/day. I can haul that on my "racing" bike with lightweight wheels - 20 pounds plus a 1 pound rack. The bike you buy; the wheels you buy don't really matter. It is all about how you want to ride.
Uhm, wheels can matter, and it's a bit reckless to say they don't. If I were buying a bike to haul a week's worth of food, I certainly wouldn't buy a wheel set laced 20f, 24r with my 175-180lbs pounds adding to the mix. No matter how ride, the probability of avoiding every single hazard or instance that might break a spoke, a rim, and etc is virtually zero.

The OP is looking for help, and simplistic blanket statements aren't helpful.
 

Strelok

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Apr 12, 2011
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that and the chance of being stuck 40 miles from home with all those groceries is not appealing. I am of course going to want the bike a bit over built for that reason.

as as for the drop outs, going down rough dirt roads is a bit different from a track, so that's why i was curious.