Tag Archives: choosing a touring bike

Bianchi Valle Review for 2009

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I was searching around for some new touring bike models, looking for upgraded 2009 bicycles, and generally anything else I could get my hands on, and I stumbled across the Bianchi Valle.  Bianchi also offers their ‘specialized’ touring bike the Volpe, a pretty nice touring bike with good features and a mid-range price tag.  But when I looked through the specs for the two bikes, I found the Valle to be a decent option for shorter-range tours.  It offers the same frame as the Volpe, CroMo steel frame and fork, and also has braze-ons to mount fenders and racks.  Actually, the Valle comes with front and rear fenders.  Another interesting difference between the two bikes is the Valle’s power-generating front dynamo hub.  Both bikes have 32 spoke rims which aren’t going to be too reliable with extremely heavy loads, which is why this bike is a decent possibility for shorter tours or commuters.

Bianchi Valle

I don’t like the flat handlebars on the Valle, the drop bars on the Volpe are much more my style.  I prefer the drop bars with the bar-end shifters.  The short chainstay length of 425mm might cause a bit of a problem when loading racks and panniers on the rear of the bike, if you’ve had any experience with doing that on this bike let us know.  I know the Surly Nice Rack offers enough clearance for this frame size with a properly adjusted rear Ortlieb pannier, I checked the pannier/rack combo on a lot of different bikes before I bought my racks.

I think this bike is worth checking out if you are in the market for a commuter or a short haul bike.  It’s another bike to add to your comparison list before making the big purchase.

Don’t forget to visit http://www.theultimatetrek.com to learn more about the upcoming Long Haul for Hunger Bicycling Trek.  Over 8,500 miles across 2 continents.  We’re recruiting riders and would love to have you join for all or part of the ride.

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Blog Layout Updated

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Just wanted to state the obvious and mention we’ve completely overhauled the blog.  New logo, new layout, new pages, and new inspiration!  Expect more posts, 2009 touring bike model reviews, and more.  Make sure to check out our dedicated website over at theultimatetrek.com

Let us know what you think of the new design.

2009 Surly Long Haul Trucker

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Last minute shoppers head to REI.com for your bicycle touring fanatic, they’ve got everything!

REI.com for Cycling

The new 2009 Surly Long Haul Trucker’s are hitting the shelves as I write this post.  With the holidays approaching, I’m sure some of you are in the market for a new purchase.  The new models mean a couple of things to us.  First, we get new colors.  Check out the new Truckachino frame color!  Nice, and would look great with some brown handlebar wrap, a nice brown leater seat, and me sitting on top.

truckaccino

What else does this new model mean to us?  Well, for those of us looking for a deal, head to your local LBS and look for 08′ models.  My LBS is selling them at $250 off to make room for the new models.

It also means that for those of you who couldn’t find your ideal frame size in an 08′ model, the whole set is being put out and you should be able to get what you want.  I know that during the last half of the year, it was hard to find 54cm and 56 cm models.  Shouldn’t be a problem soon.

One last thing to look at are the changes to this year’s model.  There are a couple.

1. PMT handlebars.  No big difference here.

2.Andel Crank

3.WTB SST saddle. Anyone tried this saddle yet?

That’s about it, mostly just a new color.

My Surly long haul trucker, post 2.

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Day Two:  10KM.  I got my Surly equipped with some clipless Shimano pedals today and picked up my shoes.  I got cleats put in them and also had my shop put an odometer (speed computer).  Had a bit of rain yesterday to put the fenders to test, but other than that I got about 10km in.  Had a ride down the cheongyecheon and was averaging about 35km/h with a head wind.  Not too bad, but I had nothing loading on my racks.  I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at the clipless pedals, this is my first time riding on something other than platforms, and my pedal power has increased immensely.  Pedaling un-attached I averaged about 28km/h, clipped in I was at 35.

Have a look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker’s numerous brazeons for connecting my racks and fenders.  Four used and 2 more leftover!

The front fork of my LHT

The front fork of my LHT

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

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I’m happy to announce that my Surly Long Haul Trucker has finally arrived from home.  If you don’t know already, I have been living in Seoul, South Korea for the last three years.  It is quite difficult to get touring bikes here as the population is generally obsessed with mountain biking.   Nonetheless, I got my Surly LHT here and am going to put up some posts here to keep you all up to date.

My model is a 58cm olive frame.  I got the bike completely packaged by Surly with a couple of upgrades (the crankset) and some accessories.  If you don’t yet know about Surly, click here to head over to their website, and then go check out the review here on this blog.  Here is a look at the stock bike…

Blue Surly long haul trucker

Blue Surly long haul trucker

And now here’s the first look at my 58cm olive Surly Long Haul Trucker…not gonna see the whole bike until I cover all the parts first.

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

Day One:  5KM.  Used the Surly today to/from work to get a feel for it.  Though I don’t have clipless shoes yet, I had to get a ride in.  First impressions are great.  Super smooth ride, took bumps and holes with ease.  Saddle is comfortable thus far and the 58cm seems to fit me perfectly.  I am almost 6 feet tall and am happy with the adjustable seat post.  Also was surprised by the weight of the bike.  I was under the impression that this was gonna be a load of a bike, but it is actually lighter than my last mountain bike I had.  No problem carrying it up 5 flights of stairs.  More to come tomorrow…

Bicycle geometry. A brief look into how it effects your ride.

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Bicycle geometry.  A brief look into how it effects your ride.

Ok, since I started blabbering about and ripping on the Jamis Aurora, I felt I needed to explain the geometry of a bike a little more in detail.  So after some work in Photoshop, I’ve got a graphic and some more information to help in a touring bicycle search.

Definitions first…

Head-tube angle- the angle between the floor behind the front wheel and the steering axis.

Trail- the distance between the front wheel’s center on contact point and the point where the extending steering axis line reaches the ground.

Fork Offset (rake)- the distance that the hub preceeds or follows the steering axis.

Let’s look at the graphic to put it all together.

Bicycle Geometry

Bicycle Geometry

The shaded green thing is the fork.  Remember, the bigger the trail, the more stability.  Small variations in any of these angles can have a serious impact on your ride.  Larger trail figures will give you more stability, but steering precision is compromised.  Longer wheelbases make turning more difficult than shorter wheelbases.  Your touring bike will have a long wheelbases, so don’t expect precise turning.  Your ideal touring bike should also come with a low bottom bracket, which keeps your weight closer to the ground, making it take less effort to move your body from side to side.

Plug all your specs into this website calculator…check the ACTUAL TRAIL CALCULATOR

http://www.wisil.recumbents.com/wisil/trail.asp

Unless I hear otherwise, use 12.25 as the tire radius, that is for a 700 c tire.