What bike to buy

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Cmmjames, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. Cmmjames

    Cmmjames New Member

    Jan 16, 2020
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    Hello,my first time on this forum. I'm turning 65 and retired. I would like to do bike packing this summer going to provincial parks. Right now I have a 7 year old bike which I use for trails. I like this bike because it fits me well. I am short 5ft 4in with an inseam of 25in.I prefer a step thru bike.
    Which bike would you recommend which can hold panniers for 5 to 7 days trip?

  2. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

    Jul 13, 2004
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    I'm glad you asked because I wrapped up about 4 months of shopping to replace my crashed vintage touring bike, I haven't bought the bike yet but I have decided on the Masi Giramondo 700c version, they do make a more rugged one designed for trail adventures as well called the Giramondo 27.5 but I won't be doing off road adventures so I'll be getting the 700c version.

    So why did I select this particular bike over a flock of others I looked at? Because it checked all my boxes. First off it came with a sloping top bar which I prefer when touring with weighted panners vs my old vintage bike.

    Also the lowest gearing of any bike I read, though you can change gearing on any bike to make that happen as well but at least this one was already done for you.

    It also came with 5 water bottle mounts, 3 on the frame and two on the fork, for me that was extremely important because on tours of just 2 days I would run out of water with just 3 bottles (my old bike could carry 2 21 ounce bottles and 1 12 ounce bottle) and would have to buy bottled water someplace, but on longer tours it was sort of a headache to try to find a place to get water depending on where a person would be going of course, but at least with 5 bottles of water you have a little leeway before you need to find water. Don't forget you'll need water to cook with and to make coffee if you're into that. As you know having water is very important. I did after my first short touring bike cheat a bit with the water, I put 2 16 ounce plastic water bottles in my handlebar bag, not idea for a handlebar bag to be doing but it worked, but being able to put the water on the forks instead will also free up a bit of space in the handlebar bag for longer tours.

    Also for the price the 700c came with very high end Tubus chromoly pannier racks instead of none or cheap aluminum ones. Racks are important, aluminum racks are known to snap with loads of 40 pounds and up; as the bike bounces down the road the panniers are jumping even more than the bike is, combined with all the weight of the pannier pounding on the rack eventually will break a weld, and you don't want a broken pannier on a tour because you may not be near a place that sells racks.

    The other thing I liked about the bike was the TRP Spyre-C Dual Piston Mechanical Disc, 180mm Front, 160mm Rear Rotors brake system. I read quite a bit about brakes and there are some controversy about mechanical vs hydraulic, but I found out that touring mechanical has an advantage due to the less complexity then the fluid system has. Masi also upgraded to those brakes from a lower end TRP system so the new system uses dual pistons instead of just one. If you notice too that the front has a larger rotor, this is important because most of your stopping power is on the front and thus more heat going to the rotors, all the other bikes I looked into used the same 160mm rotor all the way around.

    The Masi comes with 700c x 45 tires with fenders attached, my vintage bike could only go to 32 mm wide. So with 32's and a load I had no real problems riding on gravel or trails! While I wasn't setting any speed records nor forging creeks or mud or sand, it did well enough on hardpack dirt and gravel, so going with 45 would be find for just about any type of riding, plus with the 45 you can use less psi for more comfortable ride.

    One bike in particular, the Surly Long Haul Trucker, or Disk Trucker (depending if you want rim or disk brakes) does have one advantage over the Masi and that is it has a longer trail which makes touring more comfortable and it can handle loads supposedly better, but I dismissed it because it lacked the sloping top bar, but it is a bike to consider so at least read about it and see if it fits your needs better than the Masi. I'm the same age as you too so you would think the bit more comfort would appeal to me, but not really, I want to be able to mount and dismount a loaded touring bike easier. The Masi trail is right in the middle of the road for touring bikes, it's not longer like the Surly but it's also not too short like others I've read about. Also with a shorter trail you will have a bit quicker handling, which may or may not be important to you; I'm use to riding race style frames so the wee bit quicker handling is more to my liking. The Surly will only go to 42 mm tire size with fenders attached, so not quite as wide as the Masi but still very capable but you would have to use a tad more PSI in the narrower tires. But the big thing that turned me off about the Surly was that it did not have provision on the fork for mounting water bottle cages, not sure why Surly did that and then call their touring bikes expedition bikes, that makes no sense to me.

    I try to tour a bit on the lighter side, not ultralight though, but all I use is rear panniers and no front panniers, I do use a large handlebar bag, along with the typical but larger seat bag, and I add a top tube bag for small stuff. I carry between 25 to 30 pounds of gear depending on how long I'll be out, but I have enough space in the rear panniers that I could do a cross country tour and carry 35 to 40 pounds of gear and be fine without adding a front pannier.

    I also looked at the Salsa Marrakesh, nice looking bike but you have to buy Salsa racks due to the Alternator dropout, no other racks will work on it, it's also a bit heavier than the Masi or the Surly. The Alternator dropout is so you could convert the bike to a fixed gear bike without using any chain tensioners or adapters other than the dropout adapter which is easy to install. You can also get an adapter for that frame so that you can put on mountain bike wheels, and another adapter to convert for use to a Rohloff used in combination with the fixed adapter. So that bike does have some interesting things you can convert it too that other bikes cannot due, but none of the conversion stuff it does interest me, but it might to someone else so it's a bike to consider.

    Trek 520 while popular is too heavy, I think it's the heaviest touring bike you can buy, not something I want to lug up mountain roads though people have done it. Another great bike that was high on my list was the Kona Sutra, a high quality frame but I would have to put money into it to get it to my specs whereas with the Masi the only thing I need to change is the seat and pedals (which is typical of any bike), but the Kona does come with Brooks B17 which I would keep, but the cost to spec it out to match the Masi would be too expensive so why bother when the Masi is already spec'd out the way I want it. The only things I would change on the Masi is the seat, pedals, tires (which I would use the original tires to commute on, but go with Schwalbe Marathon Greenguard tires for touring), remove the front rack, seriously consider swapping the headset to Cane Creek 110 which I would have to do on any other touring bike, and possibly change the Deore T6000 rear derailleur to XT 8000 but I have to wait till I get the bike to see if that's necessary. So overall the Masi has a lot less stuff I have to spend money to replace initially for my needs then other bikes I looked at.

    Of course you can buy much more expensive touring bikes but why? Touring bikes get a lot of wear and tear and I don't want a $2,500 plus touring bike getting beat up like that.