Monday, July 14, 2008

Touring Frame Details

I've gotten some very interesting comments on my bicycle post. I'd like to take a few moments to discuss a few of the interesting and challenging ones.

First, I'd like to address what Mikesee is doing. Mikesee is a category breaker. He's obviously doing expedition touring, but I also see him doing ultra lite off road touring. Just enough stuff for a few days. I don't know how he can stay out for 3 days with that little of food and water. That guy is a camel. I really respect what he is doing. He's certainly an influencer in each of these areas.

Second, I want to address the poster that appears to be from Australia or New Zealand. In his comments on the touring bike post, he mentions the Salsa El Mariachi, the Surly Karate Monkey and Surly Pugsley. I'll start my comments with the El Mariachi. It has many of the attributes I want, but one big one I don't on a tour, the EBB. I've ridden the Bushnell EBB all over the country and its good, but I don't want that on my tour bike. It is just another thing to potentially creak. On my 3 month tour, the SIS shifting went out on about day 3 or 4 due to rain, mud, & dust. Throw in snow a few weeks later and you can see why SIS shifting may not be the best for a tour. I always remember this and simply don't want to deal with an EBB. Besides, it's an extra 150 grams I don't need. 150 grams is a small bottle of good cooking oil and some good spices! Regarding the KM and Pugsley, both are great bikes, but for me they have little issues in the details. The Pugsley is an amazing expedition bike, especially when thinking about both sand and snow. What don't I like about these proven steel designs? Well, I don't like the rear dropouts on either model. They get the job done, but when you have to change a flat, and you will on a tour, there is too much fiddling. I know there are ways to work around this issue, but I don't like work around solutions. The drop out also requires you to adapt a rack to it because the disc brake is in the way. The KM is an awesome choice and had it not been for the drop out issue, it would have been higher up on my list of bikes. I just can't get over that issue. It also has a BB height that isn't perfect for me for longer luxury or expedition touring.

Trailers. I don't know why, but I don't like trailers. I still remember pulling a trailer in a 100 mile charity ride I did where I was a rolling mechanic that helped people on the ride. I just don't like them. I don't want to worry about working on a trailer. That said, I've seen a couple of sand type tours where I certainly think trailers would be better as you can spread your weight over more surface area. That said, I think trailer design still has some room for improvement and development. Its still very early in the design phase/cycle. The one big advantage I see with trailers is that if you are off road riding, you can simply remove the trailer and ride your regular bike. That is a huge bonus.

Now....remember, I am a bike guy. These bikes called out above are great bikes, just not right for me. That is why I quickly move to a wanting to build custom one off machines for most of the touring categories.

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