Great North Trail - Which bike?

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JohnWL
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Joined: 17 Jul 2014, 8:44am

Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby JohnWL » 2 Apr 2020, 9:44am

I would appreciate members' advice. I am planning the Glasgow - Cape Wrath section of the above, which has been an off road route for some time - An Turas Mor. It is about 350 miles, 32,000 - 40,000 ft of ascent. The route is described as not a technical off road route as it is mainly hill tracks but with some severe climbs, remoteness and I would anticipate from walking in Scotland that special blend of weather namely 4 seasons in one day.

I mainly tour and commute. I have not cycled on a MTB for more than a few hours since I did the South Downs Way over 20 years ago. I still have the MTB I used - a Specialised which was fine. It has no suspension, 26 x 2.25" tyres, cantilever rim brakes, gearing is fine, and it fits me.

Technology has changed massively. I am tempted by something like a Calibre 2 Cubed or Decathlon Rockrider 540 for around £400, with lock out front suspension, disc brakes, 27.5" wheels/tyres, wide bars etc. I will not be camping and will carry my stuff in 2 panniers, and will train for the ride when the current emergency is over.

What do people think? I'd also appreciate any advice from those who have done this section.

Thanks all.

John

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Tinnishill
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Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby Tinnishill » 2 Apr 2020, 7:42pm

Rural cyclist in Scotland here. I regularly ride forest tracks with pretty standard "hybrid" bikes. I would go with the Specialzed. Give it a good service, keep the weight of kit as low as possible and expect a lower daily distance than if you were on tarmac. And enjoy yourself. Cheers.
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peetee
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Location: Cornwall

Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby peetee » 2 Apr 2020, 11:20pm

Think of the satisfaction you will get from riding it on ‘Old Faithful’.
I am 54 and returned to cycling after a 10 year absence. I regularly ride my 1990 steel, non suspension MTB on pretty unforgiving rocky paths with 1.75 tyres and wouldn’t swap it for a full-sus bike if you paid me.
Get some longer rides on the Specialized in first and see how you get on.
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

PT1029
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Joined: 16 Apr 2012, 9:20pm

Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby PT1029 » 3 Apr 2020, 7:23am

Re getting the bike serviced. Get it serviced well before you go. Some services result in a more serious problem being detected (probably not in your case as it is a decent bike) which might take time to decide/sort out. Also you will be able to check the bike out riding it post service. Occasionally services are not 100%, worth finding this out with time to spare.
Bike shops are currently allowed to be open, so you could get it serviced (and they'd probably appreciate the business...), and you are allowed out for exercise once per day (for what distance? - there is a thread on here about this, I think string, length of, was the answer...!).

Cowsham
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Joined: 4 Nov 2019, 1:33pm

Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby Cowsham » 3 Apr 2020, 8:06am

I got a cube acid hardtail and love it -- put a more hybrid type tyre on and use it for my 30mile round trip commute. The front suspension has remote lockout and it's decent air shock so fairly light. The whole bike is about 12.5kg(with hybrid tyres ).
The group set is decent too being XT -- very slick changes.
gearing is compact 26-36 tooth chainwheel and 11-- 42 cassette which will let you climb any hill -- in fact I now find it easier to pedal up the hills I used to get off and walk on my hybrid bike.

Used it to tour last year with the hybrid tyres it was great -- it has a good chainstay length so your heels don't hit the panniers as you pedal.

it was ideal on the isle of man which is nearly all hilly terrain ( except for around Jurby )

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Paulatic
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Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby Paulatic » 3 Apr 2020, 8:23am

Whichever bike you want. I understand the nostalgic good old 26” 90s rigid and held onto those feelings until last autumn. Succumbed to a Giant Toughroad, rigid with front and back racks, with the idea of doing some of the GNT with it. I’ve been riding it all winter and feel it’s a fairly good road and ruts machine.
I’ve done some planning setting off from Glasgow. My planning includes carrying a tent and there looks like a few really remote days.Is it possible to do the GNT without camping or going quite a lot off route at times?
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Cowsham
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Joined: 4 Nov 2019, 1:33pm

Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby Cowsham » 3 Apr 2020, 10:07am

I Think the front suspension is great for taking the chatter out of the terrible roads we have now. That makes for a more enjoyable journey which is why we cycle in the first place. It also gives some comfort to the rear of the bike since it too is moving a little with the front. Tyres and gearing are very important too -- the weight I found not as important but within reason. Keep the tyres light not too knobbly so they roll well on tarmac cos most of your journey is by road I find.

JohnWL
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Joined: 17 Jul 2014, 8:44am

Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby JohnWL » 3 Apr 2020, 12:17pm

Thanks all, that is helpful. I'll have the Specialised fully serviced and then do some off road trips locally leading up to 2 days loaded.

I usually cycle 50 - 80 miles a day road touring, unsupported, depending on the hills. I'm planning 30 - 40 miles a day as as Tinnishill says I want to enjoy it. I'm semi-retired and have no real time constraints. When I did LEJOG a few years ago I found I had some spare time so had a snooze most afternoons in the sun which was great.

As to accommodation Paulatic I have only planned the first 4 days - about 140 miles - and there are hotels/B&Bs so far. I will take a bivvy bag and sleep mat in case I get caught out but for me a good evening meal with wine is part of the holiday so I'm aiming to eat in and well every night!

I'll post again once I have planned the remainder. I appreciate my slow pace is not for everyone but as I doubt I'll be sunbathing if there is any spare time I'll climb some of the hills.

John

hamster
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Joined: 2 Feb 2007, 12:42pm

Re: Great North Trail - Which bike?

Postby hamster » 16 Apr 2020, 10:27am

Your Specialized looks like a great choice - people have ridden round the world on them. It is probably lighter than the alternatives you considered too!