shadwellrhino wrote:Thanks for the replies. I will use YHA, B&Bs and similar, so no camping gear but will have a couple of full panniers and maybe a bar or saddle bag. I'm reasonably fit, so more concerned about the bike than my legs, but like the idea of lower gears. Any thoughts on the ability of the wheels to carry the weight?
The Cannondale Synapse will struggle if loaded heavily, but if you are using YHA and B & Bs you do not need to carry much so I would suggest using front panniers as small rears. I would also recommend a bar bag over a saddle bag if rear panniers are being used, it will spread the load across the whole bike. I personally find a bar bag useful on tour, I keep a small camera
in mine for on the fly shots. A bar bag is useful for valuables as quickly detachable for cafe stops etc, most have a clear pocket on top for notes, route information and even GPS cases
Modern travel clothing and cycle kit packs small and drys quickly, I have done two week tours using front panniers as rears and that was when I needed to carry cold weather kit as was going over the high Alps. You will be surprised just how you can reduce the packing size, a trial run packing before you go is always a good idea, take enough tooth paste and soap for tour only etc, cut down toothbrush, it is the little obvious things that really make a difference.
The Cannondale Synapse is no load carrying tourer, but keep the load to a minimum and it would be ideal as it's not a million miles away from the Audax focused set up of the Enigma Etape that "mnichols
" uses as his "preferred bike for touring and long distances"; a valid and popular choice for Lejog style riding. Endurace-Sportive bikes can be quite close to Audax bikes. In an attempt to illustrate just how close, comparing the Etape (click on Geometry tab')
to the Synapse (click 'View Geometry')
in my 56cm size, the head and seat tube angles differ by only half a degree, yet overall the Synapse still has slightly
more focus as a bike set up for fast day rides. As is often the case it's down to the sum of the parts, yes the angles do not differ by much, but the Synapse is half a degree steeper each end with a shorter wheelbase. The chainstays are also shorter, 410mm versus the 425mm of the Etape, so heel clearance if large panniers are used maybe an issue and another reason I suggested using front panniers as small rears. I have focused the comparison on design and geometry, add to that the 3AL/2.5V Titanium Enigma is also in a different price point to the 6061 Alloy Synapse; frame material does play a part in the riding experience.
Interms of 'bike fit' again both are similar, the frame 'reach' at 384 v 383mm are near identical, although the Synapse actually offers a higher stack height at 597mm v 578mm and that's before you factor in that the Synapse will have a higher upper headset stack than the Enigma. As you can see on the BikeCAD drawings the drop to the bars is less on the Synapse, although the Etape is far from aggressive; I know many actually lower the height by removing spacers on the Cannondale as they find it a bit conservative on such a quick bike; although in Lejog tour set up the extra height maybe welcome. Have you ridden the bike enough already to be confident that you have the correct bike fit?
Interms of gear sizes, the 34t inner chainring and 30t rear sprocket actually offers a lower ratio than when I rode it
. Gear ratios are personal to us all and can take a while for each of us to work out what we actually need; potentially you may decide that lower than 34/30 is indeed what you require. The overall set up of the bike and personal fitness all play a part in the choice of gear ratios, but many focus the choices purely on the ability to conquer an ascent without stopping. I rode every climb on Lejog and the high Alps, which for many is the only box they need to tick, yet over time especially when on tour I now prefer to go slower, 'chill out'
not 'work out
' and simply enjoy the surroundings. When I rode Mont Ventoux
I stopped to take pictures and soak in the view, for me it's about seeing the sights and cherishing the moment. For others on that tour it was about the challenge of the climb, they wanted to do it without stopping as fast as they could and beat the mountain; "horses for courses" as the saying goes. So, be honest with the style of riding that you want to do on this bike, work out what ratios you need and then you can work out how to achieve them. On a Cannodale Synapse, with light luggage, for a reasonably fit rider then 34/50 chain set with a 30t sprocket for a standard LEJOG route for many riders should be low enough. This is also where a trial 'loaded' ride would be a good idea as this will help determine the ratios that will be desired.
You mentioned "I believe a 9sp MTB mech such as a Deore M591,will work with 10sp cassettes and STI's", yes the Deore M591 and 10 speed 105 STI 5700 will work so you can lower the gearing further if desired. This thread (click for link)
maybe of interest if you have not already seen it, as care is needed when the 10 v 9 speed mix and match is being chosen; they don't all work. Your other concern was wheels, disc wheels do not suffer with rim degradation like rim brake rims, so if you keep load carrying to a minimum and you have had no issues to date then providing you have not ridden so many miles that the spokes have fatigued and are starting to break then personally I would still considering using them; that said an upgrade to a pair if quality wheels is normally well worth the investment. On the same note always make sure the wear and tear items still have the tour mileage in them, so check transmission, brake pads and tyres etc.
It's a great tour and a life long memory in the making.