Mick F wrote:
patricktaylor wrote:...... and I want a bike that handles properly.
My Mercian has no TO and when I used panniers, my heels didn't hit catch.
My Mercian handles beautifully, (73deg parallel - 1020mm wheelbase - Size 9 shoes) so I don't see why you need to have TO for good handling.
But what size are you and your frame? That Overbury's Tourer I had last year had modest toe overlap. It was the perfect frame for me, at 52cm seat tube and 55cm top tube, but I am 5'6" with short legs. I understand its not possible to cater for all extremes, but the average woman is only 5'4" and for men 5'6" is about the 10th percentile, i.e. 1 in 10 men are as short as me or shorter. I can get off-the-peg bikes and frames to fit, no problem, but some toe overlap is virtually guaranteed for 700c wheels with 170mm cranks and size 7.5 shoes. My road bike also has toe overlap, and with mudguards its quite bad (but to be fair its not designed to be fitted with guards, no eyelets on the front forks).
The solution that has been proposed is to go to 26" wheels, which gives about 3cm extra clearance in theory, but I have some concerns about the dual effects of small frames and small wheels on ride quality. I.e. it would seem likely that a small frame is going to be stiffer than a large one made with the same tubing, added to the fact that short people are on average lighter than tall people, so actually require less stiffness. Then add in the detrimental effect on ride of the smaller radius wheels, plus what rims and tyres are available suitable for light touring/audax in 26"?
Other possible sizes that are in between 700c (622mm) and MTB 26" (559mm) include:
650C (571mm), a time trial and small/youths road bike size, for which road bike tyres and rims are presumably available, so might work for an audax small frame size option? Gives about 2.5cm extra clearance.
650B (584mm), has some sort of following already as an alternative for touring and utility bikes, so presumably tyres and rims available for those sort of uses? Gives about 2cm extra clearance.
26 x 1 3/8" (590mm) the old 3-speed utility size, still in use on some Pashleys' etc., not sure it is small enough to make a real difference, nor whether there are suitable rims and tyres for touring or audax? Gives about 1.5cm extra clearance.