CTC Forum - Touring & Expedition

Syndicate content
Discussion boards hosted by CTC, the national cycling charity
Updated: 1 hour 25 min ago

Re: Touring frame differences

29 March 2015 - 4:54pm
200g is certainly not a big deal. And neither is the difference between 4130 and Thorn's version. Either of your front runners would serve you well for rough tracks. No bike can do everything, and if you want a fast, exciting ride you will sacrifice robustness, and I don't think you want to do that.

Touring frame differences

29 March 2015 - 4:41pm
Alright, I suspect there are going to be a lot of opinions on this.

I've been thinking about getting my first proper touring bike for well over a year now and this process will likely soon come to an end.

I've studied in detail the specs of a number of alternatives and test ridden a few, being mathematically inclined I recently made myself a spreadsheet comparing the geometries of different frames in my size, also looked at weights.. Some numbers were hard to find so I had to guess or imply them.. And the exercise got me wondering.

I looked solely at steel derailleur bikes, both in 26inch and 700c, some of them are generally known as heavy or expedition grade tourers (LHT, Thorn Sherpa) others are supposedly more light and sporty tourers mainly for road (Kona Sutra, Salsa Vaya, Surly Straggler/xCheck) then there are the ones that look more like mountain bikes (Surly Troll, Salsa Fargo, Specialized Awol maybe), and a few others (Ridgeback Expedition, Oxford Bike Works, Vivente) that are either medium or "expedition" tourers I guess, whatever those terms mean. I am being vague grouping them this way but that's not the point..

The gist of my question is: how much of the distinctions between these frames are based on solid, rock hard science, and how much of it is marketing (people following the use mode prescribed by the manufacturer) and fashion (people following the use mode set by other people)?

Firstly, weight. I know manufacturers don't like to publicise it but it's possible to get an idea, I looked at a few steel frames and they are all 2.1-2.5kg, then the fork is about 1kg. So all this stuff you hear about say the Thorn Sherpa being a tank, is to me a load of nonsense, sure if you put on bomb-proof rims and tyres and racks that will add a lot to the weight and high rolling resistance tyres will make it sluggish, but as far as just the frame goes, 200g difference between an expedition tourer such as the Sherpa and a supposedly sportier tourer like the Vaya is nothing.

Secondly, geometries. I know differences between bike geometries are already quite subtle for the non-experts and one degree of angle here or there can make a huge difference, but nonetheless here I have a number of bikes that the manufacturer says are good for road touring, with varying off-road capacities and luggage-handling characteristics. I condensed out the main numbers of interest: trail, wheelbase, bottom bracket height. They are all in the same ball park, with a few notable exceptions e.g. the Kona Sutra and the Salsa Fargo (which is really more MTB) seem to have a longer trail than most at over 70mm - though perhaps my trigonometry is wrong..!

I am not an engineer or a frame builder and I'm sure I'm being naive and a lot of thought goes into how wide to make each section of each tube and the types of steel and how they are joined up. But I wonder, when you only have 200-300g differences between the frames, and half a degree to play with here and there, how much can you really do to make one bike more an expedition tourer for 40kg loads (say the Thorn Sherpa) and another a more sporty all-surface "fun" tourer for max 20kg loads (take the Salsa Vaya)? How much of it is solid fact and how much is hype?

Clearly it's in the interest of the manufacturers to differentiate their products from the rest of the field (read a Thorn brochure say and the Surly spiel).. at least to some extent.. obviously saying a bike is good for everything is a good sales strategy.. consumers also contribute to the differentiation (maybe everybody wants to feel their bike is unique).. bike shops I've observed often like to blur the lines (one recently told me the Salsa Vaya and the Surly LHT are basically the same bike - they only had one of them in stock..).

I've been tossing it up between an LHT and a Sherpa (cos I want to do a long tour in countries where 26inch wheels are standard) and will probably end up going for the Sherpa, though I recently had a phase of seeing if there was something more 'fun' out there and I started looking at 700c options (cos they might be faster and you have so much more choice!) and in particular got intrigued by the Salsa Vaya cos you see people harp on about its lively and snappy feel etc, but then realised its frame weight is not really that different to the so-called tanks and the geometry is similar and what am I really buying into except what the marketing departments tell you the bikes should be used for? And what other owners have used them for? Where are the actual differences at? And is Thorn heat-treated chromoly really better than regular Surly 4130?

I realise that this may be a bit vague but hopefully you got a sense of what I am asking .

P.S. please note I am not looking for recommendations or help in choosing. I am just wondering what people think about where the differences are at. Is it in the distribution of weight across the tubes, the tube thicknesses/widths, the welds, the steel types, and how much of it is marketing and fashion driven?

Re: maps for the west of USA

29 March 2015 - 4:12pm
Vorpal wrote:I have to admit that I've only used USGS maps for hiking. I haven't ordered a custom map, but my brother uses them. I have had one reply on the ACA site to my query about USGS maps It doesn't seem too promising, perhaps Vorpal you could ask your brother about his experiences?

Re: maps for the west of USA

29 March 2015 - 3:59pm
I have to admit that I've only used USGS maps for hiking. I haven't ordered a custom map, but my brother uses them.

Re: maps for the west of USA

29 March 2015 - 3:40pm
Vorpal wrote:Vorpal wrote:http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod/

Is the equivalent of OS, and you can order custom maps from them. Hummm. This looks very good and is news to me. In the past I've bought paper USGS maps that were quite a large scale; good for hiking but not much use for roads. Presumably the USGS gets up to date, eventually. I think I'll ask on the ACA forum if anybody has experience of using them. The problem I can see is in picking the maps you need because the areas involved are so big and the divisions are along lines of lat & long and, except in Kansas perhaps, the roads aren't.To give you an idea of the size of things, the area of the state I live in Washington is 70,368 sq m. the area of England is 50,346 sq m..

Re: GPS or maps

29 March 2015 - 3:16pm
Thanks, that confirms my suspicions about the etrex.. I think I'll stick to phone app maps, and paper for now.. currently trying to get Nokia maps to work on an old phone with a very long battery life (C5). Wish I could just use my iPhone but it really does need recharging too often.

Re: Trangia in USA

29 March 2015 - 2:57pm
AndrewClark wrote:Heet (methanol) is widely available from garages.
I used mainly Heet on my tours with no ill effects.

10ml of methanol can cause permanent blindness, and 30ml is fatal. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol
adventuresinstoving wrote:Methanol fumes are toxic, and methanol absorbed through the skin is toxic. How toxic? If you're cooking out doors, I don't think fumes will be too bad if you're observant of wind direction and position yourself accordingly. I don't have a way to state a safe limit for skin absorption, but handling with care should be enough.
Definitely not for use inside a tent, or for people with shaky hands when pouring. This stuff is very seriously toxic, a whole different kettle of fish from using leaded petrol in your MSR.

Re: Alternative to Bike Route Toaster for touring in UK

29 March 2015 - 2:33pm
About 15 years ago I worked on a project to promote cycling on lanes in the Vale of Glamorgan. One of the first things to do was to rate all the available lanes (of which there are many) according to criteria such as traffic levels, hilliness (a bad thing, since we were aiming at newbies) and so forth. Four of us produced four surprisingly different maps. We each rated the same roads very differently. It is a complicated matter deciding which route best serves a particular rider.

Re: Alternative to Bike Route Toaster for touring in UK

29 March 2015 - 2:18pm
CJ wrote: <SNIP>
That said, Cycle Travel does a not bad job (GB only) and is the one I'd use if I didn't have time to plan a route manually.

But mostly - always abroad - I do plan routes manually, referring to paper maps as well as online sources, then plot them out on Bikehike and save as GPX tracks, to be followed by eye on my Etrex.

I'm sure cycle.travel works in just about all of Europe, certainly OK in France and DE/AT/CH around Lake Constance.
I use cycle.travel to sense check my plotted routes - I do my start/finish and any stops and most times we agree!

Re: Bordeaux to Narbonne

29 March 2015 - 2:01pm
HI Tina

As others have said the Canal Du Midi is a lovely ride although the towpath gets quite "rooty" and muddy on the Eastern section where i used the road which was lovely. I picked up a map from the TIC that showed the Canal Du Midi cycle route. it was great .
I went further south then Bordeaux to avoid the city and there were nice bike paths for miles. i met people that had gone through Bordeaux and they said it was very easy and nice.

my favorite campsite on the MIDI was at Meilhan sur Garonne which was Municipal(cheap and good) and had a gate keeper office where i could buy a few things use wifi and have a few beers. (it's day 21 of my blog below)

i also used the yellow michelin maps which had cycle paths on them but they are a little out of date. as stated above, i did find the TIC to be a good source of maps for cycling.

below is my blog and on it is a trip i did in 2013 from St Malo to Barcelona .

http://biker-waser.blogspot.co.uk/

enjoy !

Re: maps for the west of USA

29 March 2015 - 1:39pm
tatanab wrote: As noted by Peter Jack, you can get OS standard maps for few square miles in the mountains, but maps of scale and detail we are used to for cycling in Europe simply do not seem to exist.
Vorpal wrote:http://www.usgs.gov/pubprod/

Is the equivalent of OS, and you can order custom maps from them.

Re: Alternative to Bike Route Toaster for touring in UK

29 March 2015 - 1:17pm
It depends on what you expect the site to do for you. Some of the people responding to this enquiry apparently want something akin to a motoring satnav, that will plot the optimum cycling route for them, all the way from start to finish.

Auto-routing, i.e. satnav, works very well for motoring, because public roads are now very well recorded by Google and other enterprises, and because apart from certain restrictions on large vehicles, that are also well documented, the optimum route for any car driver will good for any other car driver.

The same does not go for cycling, because there is no universal agreement or documentation on the relative suitability for cycling of different roads - never mind the variously good, bad or indifferent off-road cycling facilities - and because cyclists vary too much in their response to the trinty of cycling evils: traffic danger, poor surfaces and hills! So even assuming a system does have all the necessary data, not only on all the roads and their traffic, but also every track and path and its surface condition, and also has the capability of combining all that data with a terrain model, to really plan the best route for a cyclist from A to B, the result may nevertheless be quite a bad route for some other cyclist.

No auto-routing program or website is as good as a skilled and experienced human brain at optimising routes for cycling. That said, the computers are getting better and the main problem is poor data on off-road cycling facilities. For the traffic tolerant 'road warrior' who doesn't want to use those facilities anyway, that is not a problem and that kind of cyclist (who generally also does not mind how many hills are in the way!) is often very content with the tweaked in favour of minor roads but otherwise motoring-style satnav route he gets from the Edge-whatever GPS unit on his handlebars.

Route planning websites on the other hand, generally err too far in the other direction when tasked with planning a cycling route, sending the hapless rider down filthy bridleways or on time-wasting 'around all the houses' cycleways, and often taking little or no account of hills. That said, Cycle Travel does a not bad job (GB only) and is the one I'd use if I didn't have time to plan a route manually.

But mostly - always abroad - I do plan routes manually, referring to paper maps as well as online sources, then plot them out on Bikehike and save as GPX tracks, to be followed by eye on my Etrex.

Re: maps for the west of USA

29 March 2015 - 1:08pm
Nigel Laverick wrote:Is there a cheap source in the UK for USA road atleses ? I buy my Europe road atlases from amazon and got some really good deals on out of date ones .You need individual state road atlases. If you look for Randy McNally in Amazon all you get is the whole country road atlas which would be an absolutely hopeless scale. The individual maps show up if you search for Delorme (which is in conjunction with McNally). http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/?ie=UTF8&keyw ... rmrsv6qh_b

I used these maps for a couple of driving trips from end to end of the country, but when I lived there I used local maps bought in book shops or supermarkets. I also used AAA (American Automobile Assoc) maps. These were all things that we would think of a street maps, of various scales, but some of the AAA ones were pretty good. As noted by Peter Jack, you can get OS standard maps for few square miles in the mountains, but maps of scale and detail we are used to for cycling in Europe simply do not seem to exist.

Re: Carrying currency on a tour in Europe

29 March 2015 - 12:02pm
bainbridge wrote:robing wrote:Get the Caxton fx euro traveller card. It's brilliant. You transfer money from your bank account. You get a really good rate in to euros, no commission. That's it! You then can withdraw euros from any atm with no charges or you can pay by card, it's visa.

Thanks for this suggestion, Martin Lewis says it's a good card and taking into account we leave a fortnight on Monday and this card takes 5-7 days to arrive it might be the way to go.

It's better than a credit card as there's no interest to pay. Once you've set it up you can top up via the app, it's so easy. Don't use your existing uk bank debit card though as you get stung for every transaction.

Re: maps for the west of USA

29 March 2015 - 12:01pm
Thanks for all the advice. I like the idea of cutting pages out of road atlases , I've done that for cycling in Europe. The problem with the ACA maps is as one person put it they give 'tunnel vision' but they do have a lot of useful advice on them.
Is there a cheap source in the UK for USA road atleses ? I buy my Europe road atlases from amazon and got some really good deals on out of date ones .

Ta NL

Re: Bordeaux to Narbonne

29 March 2015 - 11:33am
bohrsatom wrote:Last year we rode a stretch from Bordeaux to the med - although we avoided Narbonne we got as far as Lezignan-Corbieres which is quite close by.

If you're interested we covered it on days 1-11 of our Crazyguyblog: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=14010

The region is great for cycling and you'll have a fantastic time. The camping municipal at Carcassonne is definitely worth a visit!
I followed this blog with great pleasure, good photos and fun comments all along, Bravo.

I live 10kms out of Bordeaux on the start of the dedicated cycle path Roger Lapébie Bordeaux to Sauveterre ; its the link path from Bordeaux to the start of the Garonne canal.
If anyone wants a pitch in the garden and hot shower on their way down (or up) on this path, send me private message

Re: GPS or maps

29 March 2015 - 10:54am
22camels wrote:I've been looking at getting an eTrex for a while too. However, I am really not very interested in using it to plan a route in advance (either on the device itself or on the computer). I would just like to know where I am and look at the map to figure out where to go next on the fly. Same way as I use the maps.me or pocket earth apps at the moment. Do you think a garmin like an etrex is still useful to someone like me or is it mainly intended for people who want to follow routes? The long battery life and AA batteries is the main attraction I see in it..

(*) does the etrex have a good zoom out capability to be able to see your route for the next 20 or even 100km, not just the small scale? Guess it depends on the map you load into it?I tried an Etrex20 last year. Like you I do not preplan routes and I have a phobia of running out of batteries an so wanted AA. I took it on a month tour last year, with my normal paper maps. On the Etrex I had openvlietsmap. I found the Etrex did not do what I wanted. The screen was too small to see much unless zoomed well in, and it did not show enough for me to judge a route for more than a mile perhaps. Scrolling around with the little button was very tedious when trying to look at an area 50km away from present location, and I wanted to be able to find POI at that remote location which I could not make it do. I know that it is a fine instrument for hill walking where you can do everything by grid co-ordinates for example, and I am sure it works well if you want to follow a preset cycling route, but for my purposes it just did not do what I want. I sold that and bought an Edge 800. I can see much more (larger screen), scrolling is easier, and I can find remote POI. I have yet to use it on tour. Whatever GPS is used (on tour) a map is useful for the big picture. Indeed I mush prefer decent cycling scale maps to looking at a little screen. On my tour this year I intend to use my normal 1:100,000 maps and use the 800 to show me that I am correct in thinking that I am on the wrong forest track for example, or to show me POI even if that is only the nearest supermarket. I want to try to train myself to use larger scale maps like 1:200,000 and use the Garmin to fill in the detail but I am sure that will need a bit of route planning which I prefer not to do. I seem to have overcome my need for AA batteries having carried an e-reader last year and having no problems with recharging.

Re: Carrying currency on a tour in Europe

29 March 2015 - 10:18am
I split my cash up around the bike. Some in my toolkit, deep in a pannier or saddlebag. I wear lycra shorts on tour as I find them comfortable and easy to wash. Some of my cash and a CC goes in one of those small plastic envelopes the bank give you for change. Makes it waterproof. The bag then tucks up inside the leg of my shorts on the outside of my thigh. The elastication keeps it all secure and it's readily available.

Re: Carrying currency on a tour in Europe

29 March 2015 - 10:06am
Any thoughts on how the cash is carried?
On my last tour I had paper money in a body belt.
I found the money damp at the end of a week. Not from rain either!
Guess I could have wrapped the notes in plastic?

Also, where else to carry a reserve?
On/ in the bike? Inside handle bars and seat tube?
A back up stash in case luggage / gear is stolen.

Quite understand if folks don't want to share their secrets but a few hints would be handy.
I set off in late May for 60 days through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Plan to take dollars and a few Euros.

Matt

Re: Carrying currency on a tour in Europe

29 March 2015 - 8:48am
bigjim wrote:My expereince in Germany and Austria is that the small hotels, Zimmer, etc, is they will not accept a card. They have a heart attack when you show a credit card. France or Portugal no problem.
Wny their extreme aversion to cards?

I do know there is a certain preference for cash in italy - you don't have to think too hard to figure out why.

Archive

  • Patron: Her Majesty The Queen
  • President: Jon Snow
  • Chief Executive: Paul Tuohy
  • Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC): A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no.25185. Registered as a charity in England and Wales No 1147607 and in Scotland No SC042541

Copyright © CTC 2015

Terms and Conditions