Fast Touring

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Conabike
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Joined: 21 Nov 2018, 2:30pm

Fast Touring

Postby Conabike » 24 May 2020, 12:32pm

Hello everyone,

I have a pretty heavy (+15kg) steel framed touring bike, 35mm tyres, rear rack, essentially mountain bike gearing. It’s a Pinnacle Dacite, got it from Evans but haven’t heard much written on them, it doesn’t seem to be a popular bike. I like it very much and it’s perfect for loaded up round the world touring. I’m becoming more interested in a faster touring set up, and moving a bit quicker as most bikes whizz past me with ease when I’m out lockdown cycling. I’ve also been watching youtube videos of the Trans America, Trans Continental and other ultra endurance races, bit hardcore for me, but I would like to move a lot quicker on bike tours. I’ve been researching faster bike packing bikes but seem to be going around in circles. So what sort of bike is best for fast touring/bike packing - more of a bike frame, seat post + handlebar bag set up. I’d be mainly on roads (possibly with a 25mm marathon plus), but maybe with a tyre change some gravel road capability. It’s a bit of a maze, not sure if I’d be better with a sportive/cyclocross/adventure road or any other bike type? Are they even that different? Any recommendations would be gratefully received, oh and I’m skint so a budget/entry level would be good!

Secondly, although I look forward to zipping around Europe on short tours, some part of the motivation for moving quicker, (romantic arm-chair adventurer alert), I’d like to try and cycle to China. In short, studied Chinese, love that epic West to East journey overland and love cycling, which helps! I’m in a job that I hope to spend my entire working life at (35 years to go!) but in an industry that has been hit severely by Covid 19. If I’m lucky enough to get through this pandemic with my job there will be previously unavailable opportunities for unpaid leave over the next few years, and thus an opportunity to have a crack at cycling to China, something I’ve been eyeing up for over a decade. What’s the quickest time do you reckon I could get to the Chinese border? I’ve got a reasonable level of experience in cycle touring, all in Europe minus Carretera Austral. I’d need to cycle quickly, maybe 60-75% pace of these ultra endurance races, ie London-Istanbul in something like 21 days. Route would be across Caspian then through the Stans and into Xinjiang. I’m time limited by how much leave I might be able to take and loss of wages, with mortgage and bills to pay in a very settled life back home, oh and a fiancee’s patience :mrgreen:

Could well be that this would be totally unachievable, but just after some opinions. Most people take months over these amazing journeys but I simply can’t take that much time off work, thus I’m approaching it from an ultra-endurance race perspective. Understandably not much info on the web on such an idea.

Sorry for the life story, in summary , 1.) any recommendations for a quick bike for lightweight bike packing 2.) Any thoughts on cycling very fast to China. Hope I don’t come across as too much of a dreamer/mad. Obviously all this with the grand assumption that life/travel returns to normal in a year or so. Cheers!

rotavator
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby rotavator » 24 May 2020, 12:45pm

It sounds as if you need a (very fashionable) gravel bike and there are plenty of those to choose from. Long distance tourists tend to favour steel frames even if they are not the lightest. I suspect that after the Covid19 crisis is over and/or the weather turns cold, wet and windy again and things get back to normal there could be quite a few of these available secondhand.

I would check out the CGOAB site for tips on kit, routes and red tape.

Edit: The guy who runs this cycle touring site is not averse to Al alloy frames:
https://www.cyclingabout.com/

whoof
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby whoof » 24 May 2020, 3:33pm

If you want to ride faster then you need to
Get fitter, carry less weight, be more aerodynamic, have lower roller resistance tyres.
First one look at some structured training.
Second, you may be able to lose weight.Check out some adventure racers packing lists. Please note that they are racing and not necessarily enjoying the journey. What bike can depend on what roads you will be riding. If it's standard European roads then an aluminium road bike would fit the bill. There are plenty about second hand. If you are riding many unsurfaced roads which is likely on the way to China then frames that take wider tyres would be more suitable. As you don't have much money a second hand aluminium cyclo cross bike might do.An aluminium bike might break and you won't be able to get it welded.however this is extremely unlikely to happen and it is does get a bus.If you are short of money you probably won't be eating in cafes and restaurants so would either be needing to carry a stove and pans or eat stuff such as bread, cheese, fruit and sausage.When you far enough East eating out can be
As cheap as buying food from shops.
Bike packing saddle packs can be more aerodynamic than traditional panniers.Many adventure racers fit tri bars.
Marathon Plus are puncture resistant but slow rolling. you might want to fit some faster rolling road tyres for Europe and then arrange for some more mixed terrain tyres to be posted out to you when you get further East.

If you are going to be riding all day for many hours you want to be comfortable. This depends on your position on the bike but also a lot on you. A beer belly doesn't help getting low. Being flexible helps, do some stretching,as does core strength.Some off bike training can help, such as sits ups,squats and dead lifts.

As to China as recommended see crazy guy on a bike website.

djb
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Joined: 24 Mar 2013, 9:27pm

Re: Fast Touring

Postby djb » 24 May 2020, 3:52pm

I know this is all in the dreaming stage, but if you will want faster and nicer ride from having a lighter bike with less load, for goodness sake don't consider 25mm and certainly not marathon plus tires.
Wider tires will be easier on you, on your wheels, and faster on bumpy roads. I've toured heavily loaded a lot on bad roads and with complete success flat wise on schwalbe supreme tires, that roll and feel a heck of a lot nicer than stiff sidewall,stiff carcasses marathon pluses.

Simply put, 35,38s or whatever are a total advantage for comfort and speed. And a nice supple tire (don't like to use that trendy term, but it's true) is waay nicer to ride and fast.
If I could ride heavily loaded on three trips and not get a flat on the same set of tires, through central America, then half of Mexico, then across France on a lot of dirt paths etc, this is proof that its doable. I was on 45mm tires, 50mm that measure 45 on my rims.

I've done informal roll down tests with a friend on stiff 32s similar to marathon pluses, and he weighs 60lbs more than me, and our bikes roll the same down hill or I pull ahead a bit.

Your idea of doing an endurance thing is certainly different than my touring experience, but even more so, you want your bike to be as efficient as possible, and klunky tires ain't that.

Happy dreaming and good luck with covid reality issues, nothing to be sneezed at and with real concerns on many levels, including health of course.

PH
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby PH » 24 May 2020, 4:13pm

Those endurance races have a high drop out rate, However prepared you think you are there's a high possibility that it won't be enough. There's many ways to improve speed, partly about the bike, you'll notice that all the endurance racers are using tri bars, but mostly about the rider. There's one absolutely sure way to slow yourself down and that's by being uncomfortable. A lot of what you'll need to make all those hours on the bike comfortable will only be learnt by lots of hours on the bike.
I could write pages about why it's not the bike, or you could just read this
https://road.cc/content/news/143511-ste ... ecord-bike

The other thing is if you really need to be in race mode to cover the distance, some of the self supported Round the World records over the last couple of decades have been on touring setups at an average of 130 - 150 miles a day. Just what is your goal? There probably are better bikes, but as you're on a budget the bike would be well down the list. Kit wise, whatever ensures a good nights sleep will increase your speed and distance more than anything you can do to the bike. If you don't believe that, it's an easy one to demonstrate to yourself.
Essential reading, and very cheap if you look around - The Long Distance Cyclists' Handbook, it is just what the title suggests.
Last edited by PH on 24 May 2020, 4:27pm, edited 2 times in total.

whoof
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Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Fast Touring

Postby whoof » 24 May 2020, 4:16pm

Something came up and was unable to finish.If you want to do it in fewer days the other options is riding for a long time every day.When the around the world record was something like an advantage of a bit over a hundred miles a day someone did it doing 150 a day. His plan was that he couldn't ride very quickly but could ride at 12.5 mph for twelve hours a day.
A combination of riding faster and for longer will mean you can travel quite some distance.

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Cunobelin
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby Cunobelin » 24 May 2020, 7:16pm

Never seen the point.


Touring is as much about the journey as getting to the destination.

PH
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby PH » 24 May 2020, 7:28pm

Cunobelin wrote:Never seen the point.


Touring is as much about the journey as getting to the destination.

It's OK, no one is suggesting making it compulsory.
I'd have thought as cyclists we'd be used to others not seeing the point, without saying it to each other.

ossie
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Joined: 15 Apr 2011, 7:52pm

Re: Fast Touring

Postby ossie » 24 May 2020, 7:37pm

Agree about the getting fitter part. I have two touring bikes. One is a cyclocross bike, its my fast bike. Despite me thinking I'm fit I'm rarely 'touring fit' until a few weeks in. As a result I come across many cycle tourists who have been on the road for weeks / months who will effortlessly pass me on some quite heavily loaded bikes on 26" wheels and fat tyres. They have their touring legs.

I believe Gravel bikes are probably the latest incarnation of the old Cyclocross bikes, lighter frame 700cc wheels, probably a more relaxed geometry but you can make a CX bike relaxed.

As for the above post about not seeing the point, some people cycle to tour and others tour to cycle. If you want to make progress I guess you're in the latter, no harm in that, I quite often do it.

simonhill
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Location: Essex

Re: Fast Touring

Postby simonhill » 24 May 2020, 9:34pm

The first thing I would do is borrow a 'fast' bike and see how much faster you are. It may be lots, but it may not. Some people just cycle a bit slower regardless of bike.I'm one of the latter.

Obviously you can train to build up speed.

Secondly, as you are on an (undisclosed) budget, have you thought of using your current bike. Maybe not super light, but a good strong steel frame that could be modded to make it a lot lighter. Probably much cheaper than a new bike.

Finally, are you sure you want day after long day of head down cycling. I mean are you sure? If so OK, but its something worth thinking closely about, rather than just dreaming about.

Whatever, good luck.

Conabike
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Joined: 21 Nov 2018, 2:30pm

Re: Fast Touring

Postby Conabike » 25 May 2020, 11:39am

Thanks everyone for some great replies.

rotavator - thanks for your suggestion of a gravel bike. A friend has one I'll try and borrow it when restrictions permit. Great website link as well. CGOAB is essential reading for such a plan.

whoof - yes I would only attempt such an undertaking at the peak of my physical fitness, and I would try to go as light as possible. Thanks for info on tyres and cycle fitness tips, core strength and flexibility probably very important to prevent strain/injury.

djb - thanks, really opened my eyes to the world away from marathon plus's. I mainly just do touring so have never really steered away from the trusty marathon's but after a google search following your post seems rolling resistance can have a significant impact on speed. I think I'll look into the supremes or almotions, I'll grab a pair and see if they make my current bike speedier. Just to be clear, you are suggesting a 'supple' tyre but keep a degree of width for comfort ie 35-38mm?

PH - thanks, yes aware of the dropout rate of the endurance events - I wouldn't be looking to match quite the extremes of their speed/lack of sleep because it would definitely be unsustainable over the even longer distance I am proposing, but my aim is just to go a lot quicker than the traditional Europe-Asia cyclist more akin to an endurance event and a focus on the physical challenge rather than the travel/seeing the world aspect to some degree.

Cunobelin - don't necessarily disagree with your point of view. However, I'd like to try and cycle to China - a long held ambition, an opportunity to do so might possibly arise in the next year or so and its either by going quickly and focusing more on the physical/mental challenge or not going at all. I'm sure I'll still be able to appreciate the places I'm cycling through, nature and the changing environments.

Ossie - yes, would have to be mega fit and will have to have some decent practice mini-tours to see if proposed mileage and speed is remotely possible on my body over a length of time. At least I think I've finally got a saddle that doesn't feel like I've been punched in between my legs by a silver back gorilla - learnt that the hard way! :oops: Thanks for the clarification between gravel/cx.

simon - thanks, will try and get out on a mate's bike when possible. Definitely possible I might just be a bit slow! I have thought of using current bike now with advice on getting some zippier tyres - I will buy a pair for my current bike and see how I get on with them. Take your point about slogging it out. It's been frustrating on tours before where I've had to be somewhere at a specific time and have had my head down. I'll need to go on a proper multi-day test run to see how I get on practically/physically/mentally. My reasoning is it will be different because it is the endurance, head down day after day that is the challenge and also the real desire to get to Asia - China specifically - on a bike, as my justification for the expedition - but I'll have to prove to myself in reality that I'm up for the challenge through training etc.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 25 May 2020, 12:43pm

At the risk of being told to keep out of this, should the words 'fast' and 'touring' be in the same sentence?
John

PH
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby PH » 25 May 2020, 3:16pm

Oldjohnw wrote:At the risk of being told to keep out of this, should the words 'fast' and 'touring' be in the same sentence?

Maybe it's for another thread, but just what is the definition of touring? For generations "Fast Tourer" was commonly used to describe the sort of bikes now described as Audax, so the concept is certainly nothing new. I've been looking at a WWII program of events where the local CTC day rides (Of considerable distance) are described as touring rides, so maybe you don't even need to stay out overnight.
We're free to define it in a lot of different ways over a very broad spectrum, I hope no one is told to keep out of it, I also hope no one thinks they can define it for anyone else, it is what you want it to be.

Oldjohnw
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Location: Northumberland

Re: Fast Touring

Postby Oldjohnw » 25 May 2020, 3:27pm

PH wrote:
Oldjohnw wrote:At the risk of being told to keep out of this, should the words 'fast' and 'touring' be in the same sentence?

Maybe it's for another thread, but just what is the definition of touring? For generations "Fast Tourer" was commonly used to describe the sort of bikes now described as Audax, so the concept is certainly nothing new. I've been looking at a WWII program of events where the local CTC day rides (Of considerable distance) are described as touring rides, so maybe you don't even need to stay out overnight.
We're free to define it in a lot of different ways over a very broad spectrum, I hope no one is told to keep out of it, I also hope no one thinks they can define it for anyone else, it is what you want it to be.


Thanks; a useful comment.
John

djb
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Re: Fast Touring

Postby djb » 25 May 2020, 3:46pm

Re tire width.
In the real world, roads are often crappy. You guys in the UK have no idea what crappy is, here in Canada with -40c to +40c and freeze thaw freeze thaw freeze thaw, our roads take a fricken beating and always get bad, no exceptions.
I've toured in France a lot and roads are so much better, but you're talking about going to China, so eastern Europe etc

So yes, in real life wider tires will be easier on you over rough roads, but lets face it, you've got a lot of real world experimenting to do to see how all kinds of stuff work.
And the minutia of details for long distance endurance riding day after day after week.

A ton of minutia.

If really serious about this, you'll be able to get good info from the hard ass folks who do this stuff. I have no problem recognizing that probably 99% of us here are normal tourers, which is fine.
And then you'll be able to see what you're capable of and want to do.
Plus, your partner could get pregnant or who knows what, and everything changes.
But like I've said in talks about my trips,if you dream of doing something, be realistic but try to do it, we only have one life. Just have to be realistic and pragmatic about things.
But seriously, before kids is important with a dream this daunting. Easier anyway for 20 years or so in any case.