Tag Archives: how to choose a touring bicycle

Choosing a touring bicycle; Kona Sutra

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REI.com for Cycling

Choosing a touring bicycle; Kona Sutra 2009.

Now that I’m back from Hong Kong, even though I didn’t actually get to go, I’ve got another touring bike for you all.

Next up is the Sutra from Kona.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition @ gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

2009 Kona Sutra

2009 Kona Sutra

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations I will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Let’s have a look at the Long Haul Trucker’s spec sheet.

Frame- CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 440mm or 17.3 inches

Brakes- Avid BB7 Road Disc

Tires- Continental Contact 700x32C

Hubs- Shimano Disc 36 spokes

Components-Mostly entry-level Shimano Deore components with an XT rear derailleur.

Price- $1200

First off, the 2009 paint job is much improved over the drag colors on previous model years.  I love colorful frames. The Kona sutra is a dedicated touring bike and comes with front and rear racks for your heavy loads.  Although our initial review stated the bike only had 32 spoke wheels, further review and helpful comments from our visitors have led us to the conclusion that there are actually 36 spokes. Thanks for the input! Expect this bike to be heavy, disc brakes, racks, fenders, etc are really gonna load this bike down.  Even though it is heavy, from what I’ve heard, the frame is super rigid and actually handles the weight well. There has been a set of complaints about rear-wheel spoke breaking being quite frequent.

There are also disc brakes on the bike, which are good for poor weather, but not necessarily good for bike tours.  Looking past the brakes and spokes, there is a bit of an issue here with foot clearance.  Just looking at the photo of this bike with racks hints at a possible problem.  They look mighty close to the pedals, especially that front rack mounted at such an angle.  There have been numerous issues with lack of foot clearance with the Sutra.  If you’ve experience otherwise, please let me know.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Kona Sutra:

Value:  3.6/5

Quality: 4.2/5

Compliance: 4/5

Overall: 11.8/15

Let’s look at the ratings a little more in detail.

Value:  This bike retails for about $1,200. This price is too high for the package.  You’re getting basic components, and a steel frame.  Sure, you’re getting two racks, but is that worth $300?

Quality: I don’t think there are any problems specific to this bike frame, but the wheels have caused problems to numerous customers.

Compliance: Disc brakes and a short chainstay (lack of foot clearance) are the main issues here.

I didn’t think think bike would score so low but looking at it closely I think the rating is justified.  I’d love to hear otherwise, so let me know if you’ve owned this one before.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Koga-Miyata Traveler

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Koga-Miyata Traveler

We’re going to start out look into the high-end touring bicycles with the Koga Miyata Traveler.  This company offers numerous options for touring, but we’re going to look at their lowest price tourer first.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Koga-Miyata Traveler

Koga-Miyata Traveler

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by clicking here…Bike Journey

Frame- Triple butted aluminum frame.

Chainstay Length- 17.71 inches 450mm

Brakes- Shimano Deore LX

Tires- Maxxis Overdrive 37-622 with reflection

Hubs- Shimano Deore LX rear, Shimano Sports hub dynamo DH-3N71 6V/3W (Oooh!)

Components-Complete set of Shimano Deore LX components

Weight- Nearly 38 pounds, loaded with accessories though.

Price- $2,100

Let’s have a look at this impressive bike.

What you get:

  • SKS p-50 fenders
  • 2 Aluminum Bottles/Holders
  • Front/Rear lights (powered by front hub, no batteries required)
  • Pump
  • Tubus LOGO Blackon the rear, and Tubus ERGO Black on the front
  • Saddlebag
  • Integrated kickstand

That is quite a package.  The components are good, the gears have a great low range, it is ready to tour on almost all terrains.  This is a serious bike.  But is it worth the price? Check the ratings.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Koga-Miyata Traveler:

Value:  3.8/5

Quality: 4.6/5

Compliance: 5/5

Overall: 13.5/15

Value.  Although the price is much higher than the other models we’ve look at up to now, this bike is fully equipped and has a dynamo hub on the front.  Figuring in the lack of upgrades needed, it is conceivable that this bike, without all the accessories would be worth about $1,600 saying there are about $500 dollars worth of accessories on the bike.  Now we can compare that figure with what you get on the basic bike.  Compared to other bikes in the $1500-1800 range gives us our value rating.  I like the dedicated line of Deore LX components, but wonder if they are worth that extra money.  A LX build kit can be had for about $700, while an XT is about $950.  A regular low-end Deore kit is $625.  That makes the difference in equiptment about 75 dollars between just about every bike we’ve reviewed and this one.  The total price difference is much more than that, making the value rating low. Granted, this is a high quality, hand-crafted frame, but does that matter to you?

Quality.  High quality frame, lifetime warranty as long as it isn’t used professionally.

Compliance.  This bike is a truly dedicate touring bike.  Everything you need to tour is built into the frame, ready to load up and go.  You can see it in the picture, read it in the specs, and feel it on the road.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Option 8 with the Cannondale Touring 1 & 2

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Option 8

I’m pretty excited to start moving out of the lower-priced models as they were starting to look very similar.  This is our first look at the mid-level bikes.

At NUMBER 7 is the Touring 1 & 2 from Cannondale.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Cannondale Touring 1

Cannondale Touring 1

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

We’re going to take care of both of Cannondale’s touring models, starting off with the Cannondale Touring 1.

Frame- Aluminum……hmmm.

Chainstay Length- 18 inches (good)

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Schwalbe Marathon Racer, 700 x 32c

Hubs- Shimano LX, 36h

Trail- 2.5″ (the larger models)

Components- I’m going to make note of this now because the Cannondale Touring 1 takes us into a new level of components.  This bike comes equipped with higher-grade Shimano 105/Ultegra components.  These are mid-high grade components that are reliable, smooth, and pretty lightweight.  Check out the components post here to learn more.

Price- $1800

I’m excited to move onto the more expensive bikes so let’s discuss the first issue with the Cannondale.  The aluminum frame.  There are so many discussions about steel vs. aluminum that it gets a bit sickening.  We’ll keep it simple here.

Aluminum frame- We can argue about the ease of repairing an aluminum frame all day, but from what I’ve heard and experienced with Cannondale, it probably won’t be much of an issue.  The frame has a lifetime warranty, so if it goes, you can always ship it to Cannondale and wait for it in a nice cafe on the Mekong or something.  The aluminum frame will also give you a stiffer ride, which will probably be uncomfortable on long rides (touring) because it doesn’t give as easily to bumps as steel does.

Geometry- I like the geometry of the Cannondale, nice wheelbase, chainstay, and trail.

Extras- No pedals here, basic clipless models are going to run you around 40 dollars and you’re going to have to buy some.  Touring 1 comes with a rear rack which is a nice addition, could end up saving you 60-100 dollars.

Components- The Touring 1 comes with a nice mix of Shimano components, Ultegra, XT, and 105.  Check out the  components post below for more information.

Moving on to the Touring 2

Cannondale Touring 2

Cannondale Touring 2

Frame- Aluminum (Fork is Cro-Moly)

Chainstay Length- 18 inches (good)

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Schwalbe Marathon Racer, 700 x 32c

Hubs- Shimano LX, 36h

Trail- 2.5″ (the larger models)

Components- Shimano Tiagra

Price- $1300

Let’s look at some of the differences between the Cannondale Touring 1 ($1800) and the Cannondale Touring 2 ($1300).

Components- The Touring 1 comes with a nice mix of Shimano components, Ultegra, XT, and 105.  These are entry-level professional components.   The Touring 2 on the other hand, comes with Tiagra components.  Tiagra are the higher-end beginner components.

The only other issue with the Cannondale touring bikes are a little board noise about rear-wheel failure.  Mostly broken spokes and rim failures.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Touring 1:

Value:  3.8/5

Quality: 4.2/5

Compliance: 4.8/5

Overall: 12.8/15

Touring 2:

Value:  3.9/5

Quality: 4.2/5

Compliance: 4.8/5

Overall: 12.9/15

Notes.  I like the value of the Touring 2 and have given it a high rating because of the components and low price.  Also, the lifetime frame warranty is boosting the quality rating on both bikes.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Fuji Tourer

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Fuji Tourer

For our 6th touring bike option we have for you the Fuji Tourer.  This is our last look at the lower end of the price spectrum before we head up into the mid-range and high priced models.

At NUMBER 6… the Touring from Fuji.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Fuji Touring

Fuji Touring

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Frame- Steel.  Fuji Elios 2 custom butted Cro-Moly

Chainstay Length- 440mm or 17.32 inches

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Kenda Eurotrek, 700 x 32c

Hubs- Fuji Sealed Alloy Road, 36H

Weight- 27.75 pounds

Price- $900

Hmmm….this bike is eerily similar in specs to the Jamis Aurora.  Same size, same tires, same brakes, same weight, similar trail.  So I’m not going to harp on the same issues, if you didn’t see them, just click back and check over the Aurora review.  Some other things to add which I forgot on the Aurora post is the issue with these brakes.  It’s quite easy to find bad reviews of them and seems like they require replacement.  Keep that in mind when considering the price of the bike.  I think overall this is more of a commuting and light touring bike than a real cross-country tourer.  Not so say it isn’t possible to use for that purpose.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Fuji Touring:

Value:  4/5

Quality: 3.8/5

Compliance: 4.6/5

Overall: 12.4/15

Notes.  I’ve heard some talk about Fuji Touring frames cracking, not many, but enough to lower the quality rating a bit.  Also a lot of broken rear spokes when under load as well as front brake failures.  Again, not a lot of them, but enough to raise a little concern.  The price is pretty low but the quality of components are as well.  As far as compliance, the bike comes equipped with a rear rack but the gearing is a little higher than I like, so that accounts for the low rating.  The compliance rating is a bit low because of the bike’s shorter wheelbase and gearing issues.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

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.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Jamis Aurora

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Jamis Aurora

For our 5th touring bike option we have for you the Jamis Aurora.  The 2008 model is surprisingly cheap, and this bike comes in at lower portion of the bottom price bracket and has some great features worth checking out.

At NUMBER 5… the Aurora from Jamis.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Jamis Aurora

Jamis Aurora

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Frame- Reynolds 520 Steel

Chainstay Length- 440mm or 17.32 inches

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Vittoria Randonneur 700×32c

Hubs- Shimano Tiagra 36h

Weight- 27 pounds

Price- $865

The Jamis Aurora is a pretty bike, I love the paint job.  But upon further investigation we’ve found some less than attractive things appearing.  A lot of these issues all combine and hinder the bikes ability to handle well under heavy loads.  We will put a post up to explain this in more detail later, but basically, the geometry of the Aurora differs from a lot of the other bikes you’re going to find on the market.  Now for some, this might not be a major noticeable difference, but for others it might be.  Take the bike out and test ride it with other bikes and see if the handling is good for you.  The issue with the Aurora is its front-end geometry and short wheelbase.  Rake and Trail are fork/wheel measurements that are involved with the headtube angle, wheel and bike stability.  I will post diagrams later, but here is the idea; more rake=less trail=less stability.  So let’s look at the numbers of some large bikes that are popular and compare.
Trail Measurements based on stock wheels:
Jamis Aurora—–  2.19″
Surly Long Haul Trucker—- 2.37″
Trek 520—- 2.3″
Cannondale Touring 1—-2.31″
May or may not be an issue for you.  As I said, test ride, test ride, test ride.  This combined with the shorter wheelbase/chainstay might be enough to knock this down to the bottom of my favorites list. A shorter wheelbase would improve handling, but this is a touring bike, and we are looking for foot clearance.
Compare the price of the Aurora to other models in this range, such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker, and I wouldn’t recommend it.  There have been some issues with frame construction quality, especially threading issues and from reviews I’ve read and word from the LBS.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Jamis Aurora:

Value:  4/5

Quality: 3.6/5

Compliance: 4.2/5

Overall: 11.8/15

Notes.  Value rating is a little low because of necessary upgrades, which are similar to those I would make on the Long Haul Trucker.  The quality of the bike has come under some questions regarding the quality of the steel frame, especially the braze-ons and threads.  The Aurora does come pretty ready to tour with braze-ons for fenders and racks.  The gearing is a little high, but not horrible.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Trek 520

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Trek 520

For our 4th touring bike option I’m going to go with a very well-known touring bicycle, the Trek 520 from Trek Bicycles.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Trek 520

Trek 520

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Frame– Steel

Chainstay Length– 450mm or 17.7 inches

Brakes– Cantilever

Tires– Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase, 700x32c

Components- Deore LX

Weight– 27 pounds

Price– $1,300

The Trek 520 is a very well-known touring bike with a great reputation in the middle area of the price range.  This bike is often used when comparing the lower-end and higher-end models and is a great place to start when looking for a quality bike.    I’ve ridden a Trek 4800 and a Trek 7.2 on tours before and was more than happy with their performance.  I’ve heard the 520 more than lives up to its reputation as a quality, strong, and reliable touring bike.

The issues with this bike include an uncomfortable stock saddle that is far too hard for many riders and slightly sub-par racks and fenders (mud-guards) that can’t support big weight.  The strengths of the bike include it’s stability, strength, and smooth ride.

I suggest comparing this bike to the Cannondale Touring 2, as the price is right on.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Trek 520:

Value:  4/5

Quality: 4.8/5

Compliance: 4.9/5

Overall: 13.7/15

I’m giving the Trek 520 a low value rating because I don’t really like what you get for this price.  $1,300 and you’re still only getting entry-level Deore LX components. It comes in slightly ahead of the Cannondale Touring 2 because the Trek has a complete LX line, whereas the Cannondale swaps in some cheaper components with the LX.

Quality. There aren’t many complaints about the Trek 520.

Compliance. This bike is a truly dedicate touring bike.  It is basically ready to go.

Check out the complete ratings here.