What type of bike?

Dawesboi
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What type of bike?

Postby Dawesboi » 25 Jul 2017, 4:23pm

This summer I've had a lot of fun towing around our wee boy in his trailer. Now my wife is looking to get in on the action and wants to upgrade from her cheap supermarket mtb to something slightly more serious, and take over some of the towing (hurray!)
The brief is:
- almost all road use, but a small amount of rougher stuff. No big bumps or drops, but we have some sections of track that are crushed stone rather than tarmac. None of it is anything that my Galaxy hasn't been able to handle.
- mostly going to be used to tow a load of about 20kg (boy + trailer) which is obviously going to gradually get heavier :D
- need a granny ring or otherwise good low gear because we have some painfully steep hills. And it needs to be stable enough at these low speeds, too.
- to my surprise, she wants to go for drop handlebars. It's pretty windy round here so it does help when battling a headwind. Even if you are towing a trailer that acts like a parachute!
- budget is, inevitably, not huge- we're hoping that we can do this for £350 with a bit of shopping around.

Rather than asking for specific makes/models, what general types of bike might be best for this? I'm trying to steer her in the direction of a tourer rather than a lightweight road bike, but maybe they're not as fragile as I think? Might end up going secondhand given the budget.

Thanks :)

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pjclinch
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby pjclinch » 26 Jul 2017, 9:51am

I'd avoid the light road bike, not because I think it'd fall to bits but because the gears won't be right for towing a load and the sort of tyres that will do gravel paths with said load may not fit so well. They also tend not to take mudguards well, which you want if not spraying your bairn with dirty water is a priority.

Regarding drops, some people aspire to them but don't really get on with them so much when push comes to shove, so I'd only go for them if she's got some experience of them and is sure. Also, once you're in to drop-bar tourer territory your choice goes significantly down and the price will start to go up. Flat bars open you up to the general hybrid market which is orders of magnitude bigger, and consequently significantly cheaper, and is a good match to what you want (tyre choice, takes mudgaurds/rack well, generally available with granneous gearing).
I don't want to put you off a drop-bar tourer, just to point out you'll have more choice and probably bang-per-buck with hybrids as there are so many more to choose from at that price point.

To start with you might just try changing the tyres on the supermarket MTB to something like Schwalbe Marathons and pump them up hard. Suddenly everything will be significantly easier! The other general problem with a cheap MTB is if it's recent(ish) it'll have so-so front suspension which adds significant weight and sucks out energy, particularly climbing. For a general purpose trailer tug I'd avoid suspension, there's all you need in the tyres.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

Bonefishblues
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Bonefishblues » 26 Jul 2017, 11:08am

Sturdy hybrid with low (mountain) gearing would be my suggestion. Agree with the comments above re drop handlebars.

LollyKat
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby LollyKat » 26 Jul 2017, 12:27pm

Keep an eye on the second-hand market. Something like this Galaxy for sale on the forum at £250 could be perfect.

Dawesboi
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Dawesboi » 26 Jul 2017, 1:23pm

The problem with upgrading the existing bike is that it's not really the right size to start with.
She's going to try out a few different options inc both flats and drops. I completely agree that there is far more choice out there in the mtb/hybrid end of the market. And also I think that having a good low gear is, in practise, going to go a long way to making up for a bike that's a couple of kg heavier.
Secondhand is only a problem because she's quite small and it's tedious wading through loads of adverts to find something in the 46-48cm range.

Vorpal
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Vorpal » 26 Jul 2017, 1:48pm

I think that due to the required frame size and low gear requirements, you probably either need to buy used some distance away, or buy something new and modify it (swap handlebars or gears). A touring bike or cyclocross are the most likely to meet requirements off the shelf, but of course, they are also more expnsive.

If I were looking to buy something like that, I would probably order from Islabikes, but that would be almost twice your stated budget. Have you called in at any bike shops? Maybe they know of something that they can order?
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Dawesboi
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Dawesboi » 26 Jul 2017, 5:42pm

We hadn't heard of islabikes- they look very nice, but definitely out of budget I'm afraid.

Edinburgh Bike Co don't seem to do their own brand tourer any more, but they do have a "Roux Etape 150" at £300 which must be the cheapest new tourer available. And they make it in a small enough size. Only concerns are a) I cannot find a weight for it anywhere, and b) it's not particularly low geared. 30T at the front, and 28T at the back. My own bike is 28/28. Is this actually a noticeable difference?

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pjclinch
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby pjclinch » 26 Jul 2017, 9:02pm

Gearing depends to some extent on the load and the engine. If your wife is small her power/weight will probably suffer more than yours with the extra of a loaded trailer so my guess is there's a fair chance she'll want lower gears than you have.

Pete.
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Tangled Metal
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Tangled Metal » 26 Jul 2017, 9:34pm

I'd look at a rigid fork hybrid. Perhaps a trek fx hybrid.

Bonefishblues
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Bonefishblues » 26 Jul 2017, 9:41pm

If we're talking specifics, then I was thinking of this as being the best exemplar of a mountain-geared hybrid. Sprightly enough when not towing, too:

https://www.evanscycles.com/pinnacle-li ... 7AEALw_wcB

Tangled Metal
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Tangled Metal » 26 Jul 2017, 10:03pm

Decent bike but when we took a look at that sort of bike the trek looked a better bike. The frame was a lot tidier and looked as though it was better made. You can pick up the base model trek fx for £350. Good frame that can be upgraded with better components as they need replacing.

They're both decent bikes. Take a look at carerra parva I think it's called at Halfords. Just hope you're lucky with a good store. Ours is reasonable but we could just be lucky. Also the voodoo brand is good for the £300 mark.

Dawesboi
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Dawesboi » 26 Jul 2017, 11:05pm

pjclinch wrote:Gearing depends to some extent on the load and the engine. If your wife is small her power/weight will probably suffer more than yours with the extra of a loaded trailer so my guess is there's a fair chance she'll want lower gears than you have.

Pete.


Agree with this. I think a c.11kg hybrid or flat bar road bike, with 24T/32T gearing for around £350 is a really compelling option. She's reminding me that she won't be towing the boy *all* the time and would like something that's going to be good as a general road bike too.
If we ended up going down the modified route, am I right in thinking it would be better to buy one of these hybrids and stick drops on it, rather than buy something with drops and change the rings/cassette?

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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Vorpal » 27 Jul 2017, 5:15am

Bonefishblues wrote:If we're talking specifics, then I was thinking of this as being the best exemplar of a mountain-geared hybrid. Sprightly enough when not towing, too:

https://www.evanscycles.com/pinnacle-li ... 7AEALw_wcB

The gearing on this seems suitable. If you want to compare other bikes, try using a gear calculator, like https://www.sheldonbrown.com/gear-calc.html I would look for something with under 22 gear inches.

It may be possible to swap gears on something with higher gear inches, but if you swap types (e.g. from a road set to MTB), you are likely to end up changing derrailleur(s) and maybe shifters, as well. Some mixing and matching is possible.
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Vorpal » 27 Jul 2017, 5:30am

Dawesboi wrote:If we ended up going down the modified route, am I right in thinking it would be better to buy one of these hybrids and stick drops on it, rather than buy something with drops and change the rings/cassette?

The frame sizing may not be correct going from flats to drops; just so you are aware. It would be best to discuss it with the shop when you buy, or size it for drops from the start (usually a shorter top tube than for flats). Some other alternatives are drop bar ends
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/handlebars/ ... nds-black/

or butterfly / trekking bars https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/handlebars/ ... ver-570mm/

Things to watch for when swapping are the handlebar clamp diameter, and that the brake levers and shifters can transfer or be swapped.

Sheldon Brown also has a page about that which is pretty good (though maybe a ltitle dated, now). https://www.sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html

It's not a horrible job, it just isn't as straightforward as it might be.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Dawesboi
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Re: What type of bike?

Postby Dawesboi » 27 Jul 2017, 8:41am

The £315 Pinnacle looks pick of the bunch at the moment. Tyres are a bit on the chunky side though, at 42. Are Evans likely to offer a swap to something skinnier instead?