touring on a mtb

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
mick skinner
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touring on a mtb

Postby mick skinner » 21 Dec 2007, 10:50pm

having put the question; "really, what's the difference between a racing frame and a proper touring bike", or something like that, to the forum, i've taken on board all the advice and realised that it won't be a good idea to go gallervanting accross europe on my racing bike again.

a couple of people have told me that a mountain bike with slick tyres would be a better option for the sake of durability a versatiliy i.e. trails, bridle paths etc.

has anyone done an epic tour on a mountain bike and were glad about their choice of machine? any opinions on moutain bike suitability?

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braz
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Postby braz » 21 Dec 2007, 11:05pm

Well - I don't know if you would call it 'epic' but the year before last I did the LE - JOG on my 1980 Holdsworth MTB, with semi-slicks on. Never again! - the gearing is all wrong for this sort of riding, and I never seemed to get anywhere very fast! Back onto the 'proper' touring bikes again since then. Ah! - that's better!

regards to all, Braz

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horizon
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Postby horizon » 22 Dec 2007, 12:26am

Not exactly epic but I did do half of France (lots of steep valleys) and a small chunk of Spain with a fully loaded mountain bike. No problems either time, and especially useful on a couple of unmade roads in Spain. Mountain bikes make good tourers unless you want to get the road distances in. I was more concerned about getting my camping gear up the hills and less about mileage. I would have had even lower gears by choice (was 34t Megarange rear, 26tF)! But don't forget that there are mtbs and mtbs and you will, in my view, want to forget about front or back suspension and look fora fairly normal frame, hopefully with braze ons for the panniers at the back at least. The problem is that mtbs have gone off onto a planet of their own so the overlap isn't so great these days.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

andymiller
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Postby andymiller » 22 Dec 2007, 6:15am

I've done off-road/on-road touring in both Sardinia and Corsica. As always there are trade-offs to be made, depending on whether you want to maximise off-road or on-road performance. Personally I've kept front suspension and grippier tyres at the expense of on-road speed - but probably I could have been OK without.

I'd highly recommend On-One frames:either a 456 or Inbred. A tough steel frame with pannier mounts, the option of v-brakes, and On-One also do suspension corrected rigid frames to go with.

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Paul Smith SRCC
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Re: touring on a mtb

Postby Paul Smith SRCC » 22 Dec 2007, 2:57pm

In very general terms as there are of course varitiations of each type, frame materials also play a part in how a bike feels for example, here are some general guidelines regarding frame geometry between the various styles of bikes, well I say general but I have gradually built this post up to give more and more information so it is now quite detailed, I have used a 56cm frame as a guideline as frame geometry varies with size:

Race bike:
73 degree seat, 73 degree head tube with tight clearances, will feel stiff, lively and fast, least comfortable and stable when compaired to those below; many use a full on race bike for fast day rides, especially when the owner is feeling feeling a little bit frisky in the speed department (as I get older this happens less, normally one week in May and one in August, except of course when I have a tail wind), plus it can be rather pleasing to sit with your mates remembering how good you once was and how super your bike is; no harm in that, it's what cycling is all about :lol: Often not especiially robust for touring with narrow section tyres and often using a frame material that although stiffer will be more delicate, if you are prepaired to compromise it can be done of course, providing you can weather proof it sufficently to meet your requirements and get what you need luggage wise on it then if you find it comfortable enough then it is your call. Most prefer a bike with guards, luggage carrying capacity, a more comfortable geometry and lower gearing like the two examples below for touring though.

Audax and fast day ride bikes, I have listed both in same catergory as they often share similar geometry::
73 degree Seat, 72 degree head with slighty larger clearances for slightly larger tyres than a race bike with space for mudguards, as you can see the seat tube angles are similar to what you would find on a full-on race bike, whereas the head tube will have a slightly shallower angle to give a bit more comfort, yet still provide a fast ride, I only notice a difference over a race bike when sprinting/climbing out of the saddle, cruising in the saddle it will feel much closer. Some Audax frames will be same 73/73 geometry as a race bike but again with larger clearances, a traditional steel frame builder will still often build like that, although most modern manufacturers have a bike along the lines of 73/72 to cater for the fast day ride bike sector, which is why I have listed that geometry first, it is indeed for many manufacturers this sector that we have seen the largest growth interms of sales. From the larger manufacturers we have, for example, the fair weather Specialized 'Roubaix' range, sales for which have indeed grown to the extent that it out sells their similar priced flagship race bike ’Tarmac’ range, Trek currently have their Pilot range and most other leading manufacturers also have a similar styed bike. Many are set up more for fast days rides than Audax though, Roubaix will not take full guards for example, where as Van Nicholas Yukon and Enigma Etape are aimed more specifically at the European market so can take guards and pannier rack as well. This style of bike is also very often used as a touring bike, all the tours I have listed at the bottom of this page are on such a bike, most can carry rear panniers/luggage with ease, a pair of panniers being sufficent for most tours.

You will be surprised just how you can reduce the packing size, a trial run packing before you go is always a good idea. Modern clothing also helps as will dry overnight, aTravel Towel is very compact. Obvious things like clothing that packs up small and will dry overnight are also available, take enough tooth paste and soap for tour only etc, it is the little obvious things that really make a difference. I actually use small panniers front and rear, even for camping, for B & B or hotel tours front panniers on the rear is sufficient.

Touring:
72 degree Seat, 72 degree head with even larger clearances, longer fork rake and overall wheel base than Audax, they will often be fitted with even larger tyres and mudguards, most common for load carrying and as such need to be set up to be more robust than the two catergories above, not only with larger tyres but more heavy duty wheels and more often than not more robust frames as well, bikes like the Dawes Galaxy range for example, very stable, very comfortable but will feel less lively for out of the saddle effort. Still popluar with those who like a traditional mile eating comfortable bike, although to an extent the Audax, fast day ride bikes have taken over for many, as apart from heavy load carrying and rougher terrain they will do the majority of the tasks that a tourer will do, yet quicker and just as comfortable, such is the impact that modern materials have had, no longer do you need relaxed frame geometry like a full on touring bike to achieve comfort. This shift in demand is reflected in what is available of course, where as the Audax, fast day ride styles are ever increasing so the choice of traditional tourers is diminishing.

Atb: Hardtail with slick tyres and rigid forks makes for a robust expedition bike, especially if you can fit panniers and guards of course. Although slower than all the above providing you are not riding long distances in a group with fitter riders on faster bikes then in reality many could use such a bike for touring and be perfectly happy with their choice. You can of course do other things than simply fit guards, racks and slick tyres. Most atb bikes have a short upright position, a longer stem positioned flat as apposed to raised along with straight as apposed to riser bars will also make a difference, I have seen this is done quite often.

Paul Smith
www.bikeplus.co.uk

mick skinner wrote:having put the question; "really, what's the difference between a racing frame and a proper touring bike", or something like that, to the forum, i've taken on board all the advice and realised that it won't be a good idea to go gallervanting accross europe on my racing bike again.

a couple of people have told me that a mountain bike with slick tyres would be a better option for the sake of durability a versatiliy i.e. trails, bridle paths etc.

has anyone done an epic tour on a mountain bike and were glad about their choice of machine? any opinions on moutain bike suitability?

Lawrie9
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Postby Lawrie9 » 22 Dec 2007, 3:24pm

You can do everything on a mountain bike that you can with a racing bike and you have thousands of miles of rough roads and dirt tracks that a racing bike is no good for. If you have a 48 large chain ring on your mtb the performance is comparable to a racer and the more rugged build and larger tyres and suspension means you will have a more comfortable ride and not suffer the damaged rims so common on racers. I would go so far to say that your old trad stlyle racer is becoming virtually obsolete and rarer than hens teeth. The like of Tesco and Argos only stock one or two racers but dozens of mountain bikes which tells us all we need to know.

Jack
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Postby Jack » 22 Dec 2007, 3:33pm

I tour on a 15 year old fairly cheap so called 'mtb'. No suspension. Added slicks (or sometimes semi slicks), brookes saddle. Lowered gears from original 26 inch bottom to 16 inch. I mainly tour in mountain areas and I'm usually heavy laden (camping and cooking stuff - and I've been known to carry a bottle of wine and plenty of food up to 2500 metres in case I can't find a shop - I was stuck without wine once andt it left an indelible memory!).

Suits my type of touring perfectly.

Jack

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Paul Smith SRCC
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Postby Paul Smith SRCC » 22 Dec 2007, 3:35pm

Tesco and Argos cater for the budget end only, in fact race bikes and fast day ride Audax/light touring bikes in the mid range and upwards market remain popular and for good reason.

Although you can tour on a mountain bike many prefer to use a bike that is designed and set up specifically for longer mile eating tours.

Paul Smith
www.bikeplus.co.uk


Lawrie9 wrote:You can do everything on a mountain bike that you can with a racing bike and you have thousands of miles of rough roads and dirt tracks that a racing bike is no good for. If you have a 48 large chain ring on your mtb the performance is comparable to a racer and the more rugged build and larger tyres and suspension means you will have a more comfortable ride and not suffer the damaged rims so common on racers. I would go so far to say that your old trad stlyle racer is becoming virtually obsolete and rarer than hens teeth. The like of Tesco and Argos only stock one or two racers but dozens of mountain bikes which tells us all we need to know.

Asdace

Postby Asdace » 22 Dec 2007, 4:04pm

I've done the Coast to Coast (Wheelwrights) across the North of England on a cheap MTB and found it ok. Although I was averaging only 40 miles a day. I nowsdays much prefer my Kara-Kum, due the fact I can get longer mileage out of it being 700cc

HarryD
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Postby HarryD » 22 Dec 2007, 4:33pm

I used a hardtail MTB to do the Camino from Merida to Santiago. 90% off road on semi-slicks. Ideal bike type. Kept the front suspension & the disc brakes.

In Sept did 11 days in mountains of northern Spain on slicks followed by several rides in Sardinia also on slicks. 28mm Gatorskins.

Last Thurs did ride round parts of Pennine bridleway with the same slicks. Lost some speed compared with those on knobblies but stuffed them on the road.

Overall find MTB with slicks to be preferable for touring over my Cannondale R1000 road bike which I save for Audaxes & other long rides. I find the position comfortable & better for admiring the scenery (spotted wild bear in Picos!). It is also good for load carrying although I never go over the two panier limit I set. It is also OK for most off road I'll ever come across. For me touring is not about covering distance but exploring & enjoying the area.

The only disadvantage todate: I've not changed the gearing so on a winding descent in Sardinia the gearing was too low to allow me to overtake the cars & lorries that I caught up.

mick skinner
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Postby mick skinner » 22 Dec 2007, 5:58pm

i agree HarryD, if i wanted to do as many miles as possible every day i'd go touring on a motor bike. the touring i'm planning for next summer will be fully laden with camping gear etc for a few months of relaxed riding around spain, it's all good.

videoman
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Postby videoman » 22 Dec 2007, 8:39pm

Hi Mick
I too do all of my cycling on a mountain bike and everyone appears to use road/touring bikes. Whereabouts in Spain do you intend on touring on your mountain bike next summer?

lisap
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Postby lisap » 23 Dec 2007, 8:27am

I did the Continental Divide which is 95% offroad on my Santa Cruz Superlight. It is a full XTR bike which I had built for the ride and I don't regret the outlay at all. I didn't have to change the chain, the gears worked perfectly every time and my only outlay was a new set of tyres after 1500 miles.

It was comfortable and towed Bob and all my kit without doing any damage to the pivots or swingarm. Other people on hardtails suffered back ache but nobody rode steel which is far more forgiving.

I have used the bike for all my tours since just changing to semi slicks for road use. Next year we are going to Vancouver in June or September and San Diego for the YHA Christmas ride.

mick skinner
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Postby mick skinner » 23 Dec 2007, 9:05am

hey videoman, at the monent i do all my riding on a racing machine because up until recently i've been hardcore into racing. i'm thinking of getting a hardtail titanium or steel mtb and as for where abouts in spain, i was just going to get off the ferry and randomly expore for a few months over summer. i'm also still wondering weather it's worth going for an expensive one for the sake of ride quality and durability or a cheaper one so it's less likely to get stolen and if it does go it won't be as expensive to replace. but i do want to get a bob trailer so, lisap, what do you think; how much stress does a heavily loaded trailer put onto the bike?

Ron
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Postby Ron » 23 Dec 2007, 9:38am

Lawrie9 wrote: The like of Tesco and Argos only stock one or two racers but dozens of mountain bikes which tells us all we need to know.

It tells us that Tesco and Argos cater for people who do not think before they buy, that follow fashions rather than buy product most suited to their needs.