Author Topic: New Bike Dilemma  (Read 635 times)

IronMac

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New Bike Dilemma
« on: June 11, 2017, 04:28:37 AM »
Hi all, sorry if this seems a bit rambling but I need to make a decision.

I have a Rohloff equipped touring bike and I can no longer tour in the traditional sense of a week away hauling everything with me. At best, I can only now do 3-4 days.

So, I have been looking into bikepacking or, more specifically, fast long distance rides with a minimum of gear. Trips such as Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu or Pusan to Seoul or blitkrieg through the Ardennes.

The current bike rides like a tank and isn't comfortable for distances of greater than 70 kms per day or more. I know because late last year I completed a 9 week challenge where I could only manage 3700 kms on smooth, flat pavement. A couple of months back I changed the front tyre to a Durano and love the speed of it. The rear still has a Marathon Plus because I dread the thought of a flat.

I am now looking for a replacement and the philosophy behind the new Mason Bokeh bike seems up my alley. Unfortunately, they only come with a derailleur system.

Should I search out a frame builder with Rohloff experience to build a Bokeh clone or should I order in the new BokehTi and go back to a derailleur system?

P.S. Yes, I have been and will also be looking at the Thorn offerings. I'm enamoured by the idea of 650b but not wedded to it.

Thanks for listening and any and all input. No hurries since I still need to find the cash.

Danneaux

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 08:27:56 AM »
Hi Mac!

Well...you'll probably get the best advice here on Thorn bikes, not Bokehs.  ;)

If what you are after is a lightweight and fast adventure bike that accepts wide 650B tires and does so with an aluminum or Ti frame, that is not going to be a Thorn.

I'm a little confused about your trip time constraints. If a week away is out of the question but 3-4 days is okay, that's asking a lot of your body to complete such rides in only two days while jet lagged. Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu by the most direct route is only 291km, but would typically require at least a full day's air travel each way from Europe or North America (20 hours' flight time alone from Montreal, for example).

Or, is the problem one where the current bike is not comfortable for fully loaded week-long trips? Or not fast enough to complete the rides you'd like in the time allotted?

If you're looking to get into bikepacking with minimal gear and bike weight, perhaps something in the way of a lightweight Raven (Rohloff) or Sherpa (derailleur) build would do the job for you. They can be amazingly light if unemcumbered by racks and mudguards and equipped with optional forks and lightweight components. The default wheels would be 26in, of course.

At the other end there's the Audax, but it isn't really oriented toward this sort of all-road and off-road use. I suppose a Club Tour fitted with fairly wide tires might work to a degree, but it is more a general tourer in the traditional sense.

How is the present bike uncomfortable? Is it excessive weight of the bike as currently setup? Carrying too much? Perhaps peeling off racks and mudguards would help. Is it a matter of poor fit, or is it just not as fast as you'd prefer? Gearing or tires can account for much of that unless optimized for your needs. I recall you had a problem with uneven tire wear and mentioned it might be a Marathon Plus. If so, those are not very fast tires and a change might well make your present bike not only faster but more pleasant to ride. For comparison, my Nomad Mk2 weighs 20kg and uses Schwalbe Duremes and I find it good for riding unladen on 200m days on mixed surfaces with no problem. In comparison, when I tried Marathon Plus tires on a lightweight commuter bike, it felt like I was riding across mattresses...just a real slog.

650B wheels/tires are now an option for the Nomad, but it is a robust bicycle designed for carrying heavy loads (expedition work). It sounds like you are looking for a raid bicycle to do all-road riding with minimal loads as fast and light as possible?

Best,

Dan.

IronMac

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2017, 12:22:54 PM »
Wow Danneaux, that's some really insightful stuff there! Especially the last part about a raid bicycle (had to look that up again) and all road with a small 10 kg load in the shortest period of time.

Ok, some more detail so please bear with me. I currently live in SG and my wife's health is so poor that I cannot leave her for more than a few days. It's only going to become worse in the future. The biking has turned from touring to keeping in shape so that at least one of us is healthy enough to look after the other.

The bike is so heavy that the last person to try lifting it gave up and exclaimed that it weighs as much as an old school mountain bike. I ride with a rear rack and fenders. I have an Arkel Tailrider bag stuffed with first aid kit, snacks, tools, etc. Equipped with both dyno and 16850 battery lights because I ride almost solely at night while my wife sleeps.

I do about 250 kms a week and my average speed is about 18-19 kms/hr. Age 50 and I've been cycling for over 30 years now.

Not sure about the gearing but I totally agree with the bit about tires. Like I said, I changed the front tire from Marathon Plus to Durano and the effect was astounding. I can ride faster for longer distances now. It's a real change for the better!

As for uncomfortable, it may be the tires but it's a folding bike with 20-inch wheels so I suspect that may have something to do with it too. I think it's probably great for those who do short tours and commutes but consistent and constant long rides is not its forte.

Another reason for a change is that the bike is exhibiting great beausage as someone would say. It's showing a lot of wear after eight years; the left brake handle lever needs replacing, handlebar tape too, wheel rims are very worn, all the cabling needs changing, the SON is over halfway through its expected lifespan (although I hear conflicting stories about that), there's a nasty rust streak down the front fender from somewhere inside the frame, knobs and screws are all pitted with rust and that includes the Chris King headset, etc. I'm not too crazy about throwing in hundreds of dollars in repairs/replacements into a not so fast not so comfy bike. I do some maintenance but I have yet to find a trustworthy shop that can do all of the above work. The local Rohloff dealer doesn't even answer emails or else I wouldn't be fretting so much about getting a new wheel built or work done.

Sigh, sorry...just not a happy camper here.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 12:25:38 PM by IronMac »

Danneaux

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2017, 02:38:01 PM »
Hi 'Mac!

I can surely offer my empathy to your wife and yourself in dealing with her ill health. I once had a fatal prognosis of my own and bad as it was, it was far more difficult when beloved family members' health went bad. Really hard, so all support! You're doing well to cycle as you are, given the constraints.

Yes, I can better see your bicycle issues now and your geographic location makes it easier to better understand your travel and cycling goals. Perhaps we can find a solution for your needs.

If air travel will be a regular component in your brief tours, then S&S couplings could save you money when flying with a bike larger than your present Folder. A dynohub will again be essential for your nighttime rides between tours. Faster tires for sure....

I own a couple of small-wheel bicycles and have found while they fill a very useful niche, tire choice is very important and seems to make an even bigger difference than on my bikes with larger diameter wheels.

If possible, the easiest way to cut weight while touring is to go the credit-card route, buying meals and staying in lodging instead of cooking and camping. This can range from very expensive to remarkably cheap depending on exchange rates and locale. Another way, of course, is to go truly ultralight and it sounds like you're headed that direction with thoughts on ditching panniers in favor of lighter bikepacking bags and of course lightweight tent, cooking gear, bedding, and the lightest of everything.

Yes, with your current bike is facing a host of issues, it may well be time to look at starting fresh compared to pumping more money into comprehensive repairs.

Best,

Dan.

mickeg

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2017, 04:34:57 PM »
If it is discomfort from 20 inch wheels, perhaps Dan should elaborate on the Thud Buster.

Schwalbe Marathon tires (the ones with Green Guard) may be faster than the Marathon Plus, but would have slightly less flat protection.

pavel

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2017, 04:46:48 PM »
I only have one comment to make and that is on the 20" wheel bike - well not the wheels themselves but what I've experienced with the designs put into small wheel bikes.  As I've encountered it, 20" wheeled models come in two flavors. There is the Moulton and everything else.  The moulton has suspension and I found it to be supremely comfortable. It was "compliant", that's the best word I can come up with, in the same way a supple 2" wide tire is compared to a rock hard 25mm racing setup. 

The rest of that sort of bike are designed for portability and ease of folding. The Moulton folds up (mine did anyways) but it is such a pain to do, that I'd think people would only suffer the routine when flying, not day in and day out when entering and leaving an apartment.

When I rode a Bike Friday, and one other brand (can't remember who made it) I was stunned how different they rode.  It was nothing like the Moulton in feel, but rather just the opposite. It was a ride that I felt one had to endure by contrast.

I'm not plugging the virtues of a Moulton - I got rid of mine because of the too quick handling. It's virtues are a cushy comfortable ride, amazing acceleration and very responsive steering.  The Nomad with the right tires gets close enough to the comfort of my old moulton but has all the other virtues that I seek in a bike, so I found that the moulton wasn't for me.

But that is just a roundabout way of saying that there is a great likelihood that you are riding a bike with opposite virtues that you would now be happy with.  A change to a bike which allows  wide 650B's or 700's could be all the change you now need.  I've only ridden a bike designed for bikepacking once - and though the bike was so heavy that any less weight by shedding panniers was a complete illusion.  Perhaps they are great on grass and in mud, but on the road the 29+ even with relatively thin tires (I'd guess about 2.15 wide) the bike was ponderous and slow on pavement.  No wonder you don't see them on Audax rides ever.

That is the thing that I feel you may need.  An Audax bike.  Lithesome, able to carry a larger load still than can be done with a bikepacking setup and there is nothing to stop you from going minimalist andputting  bikebags on it - well except a few odd looks perhaps from those more in line with trends than I.  :)  You really seem like the perfect candidate for an Audax bike as far as I see it. Comfortable, fast and able to carry moderate to low loads.  Their only downside is riding on sand, grass,  snow or other such conditions and the inability to take two kitchen sinks. 

I recommend taking out you credit card - right away.  :)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 04:50:47 PM by pavel »

IronMac

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2017, 10:07:31 AM »
Hi 'Mac!

I can surely offer my empathy to your wife and yourself in dealing with her ill health. I once had a fatal prognosis of my own and bad as it was, it was far more difficult when beloved family members' health went bad. Really hard, so all support! You're doing well to cycle as you are, given the constraints.

Yes, I can better see your bicycle issues now and your geographic location makes it easier to better understand your travel and cycling goals. Perhaps we can find a solution for your needs.

If air travel will be a regular component in your brief tours, then S&S couplings could save you money when flying with a bike larger than your present Folder. A dynohub will again be essential for your nighttime rides between tours. Faster tires for sure....

I own a couple of small-wheel bicycles and have found while they fill a very useful niche, tire choice is very important and seems to make an even bigger difference than on my bikes with larger diameter wheels.

If possible, the easiest way to cut weight while touring is to go the credit-card route, buying meals and staying in lodging instead of cooking and camping. This can range from very expensive to remarkably cheap depending on exchange rates and locale. Another way, of course, is to go truly ultralight and it sounds like you're headed that direction with thoughts on ditching panniers in favor of lighter bikepacking bags and of course lightweight tent, cooking gear, bedding, and the lightest of everything.

Yes, with your current bike is facing a host of issues, it may well be time to look at starting fresh compared to pumping more money into comprehensive repairs.

Best,

Dan.

Thanks Dan! My wife's ailment(s) are not terminal but chronic and will worsen over time. I can say all I want about air travel but that's really a pipe dream I think. I couldn't even see my father before he passed away in April and decided that the funeral was not worth the travel time.

Still will seriously consider S&S couplers if only because one spends less time trying to find a cardboard box. Idea is to get in and get out with the least amount of hassle.

Looks like bikepacking is the best option now.

Thanks again for your insights and hope your own health improves. 

IronMac

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2017, 10:15:51 AM »
There is the Moulton and everything else. 

When I rode a Bike Friday,


That is the thing that I feel you may need.  An Audax bike.  Lithesome, able to carry a larger load still than can be done with a bikepacking setup and there is nothing to stop you from going minimalist andputting  bikebags on it - well except a few odd looks perhaps from those more in line with trends than I.  :)  You really seem like the perfect candidate for an Audax bike as far as I see it. Comfortable, fast and able to carry moderate to low loads.  Their only downside is riding on sand, grass,  snow or other such conditions and the inability to take two kitchen sinks. 

I recommend taking out you credit card - right away.  :)

I ride a Bike Friday NWT. Loved hearing your perspective on the Moulton because I did consider that a few years back.

Audax: yeah, everything is pointing that way. I love touring bikes; being able to go for weeks on end with whatever you need on hand. Going minimalist is a bit scary! It just seems to be a bit more on the end. LOL!

mickeg

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2017, 03:45:23 PM »
...
Still will seriously consider S&S couplers if only because one spends less time trying to find a cardboard box. Idea is to get in and get out with the least amount of hassle.
...

My Nomad Mk II has S&S couplers.  Takes me a couple hours to disassemble and a couple more hours to reassemble the bike on the other end.

I use the S&S backpack case.  And I have to worry about finding a place to store it

The 26 inch wheels pack easier than 700c due to their size.

One significant advantage of S&S in my opinion is that none of the taxi companies in my community have a vehicle big enough to carry a bike in a bike box.  But, i can put the S&S case in the trunk (or boot) of the taxi.  Thus, getting to and from the airport is much easier with S&S.

A luggage scale is your best friend.  I shifted a few things around to just barely make my weight limit in each bag. 

First photo, my stuff for a month in Iceland last summer.  They yellow bag and handlebar bag were my carry ons, along with wearing the helmet onto the plane to avoid packing it somewhere.  The black bag is the S&S case which was checked along with the other large bag.

Second photo, most of the bike in the case, but the photo was taken before I added center supports to keep the airline handlers from crushing the stuff in the middle of the bag.  I could not fit fenders (mudguards), they stayed home and the rack and a few other parts were in the other checked bag.  At the last minute while packing I discovered that my rack did not fit in the bag I planned to put it in but fortunately I had that green bag and found that the rack fit fine in that so I could easily adjust my plans for luggage.

I am not trying to talk you out of S&S, I am just trying to add some reality.  If you have the time to deal with disassembly and assembly and you do not mind using a wrench, it works out.  But I would be hesitant to spend that much time for a bike trip that is only half a week long.  You might be better off renting a bike where ever you go instead.  Or a folding bike that packs faster.

energyman

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2017, 09:53:10 PM »
My (Splitable) Moulton is the most comfortable bike to ride and boy can you load it up !

martinf

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2017, 07:30:14 AM »
My (Splitable) Moulton is the most comfortable bike to ride and boy can you load it up !

My Moulton TSR was very comfortable, but not much more so than my old mountain bike with high quality wide tyres (Schwalbe Supreme 50 mm) run at fairly low pressures.

The Moulton TSR was also a very stable load platform, with front panniers fixed solidly to the frame rather than to the fork. More stable than my old mountain bike with it's old Karrimor solid-wire front and rear racks. But I couldn't load the TSR with as much volume.

My current Raven Tour heavy tourer with the tubular steel Thorn front and rear racks is a much more stable load carrier than my old mountain bike and seems as good as the TSR in this aspect, with much more volmue capacity when needed.

26 inch wide tyres also work better than the Moulton 20" tyres on rough tracks and paths.

IronMac

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2017, 12:11:20 AM »
Thanks for the additional input, guys!

A bit of news...a week after I last posted here, my wife had to go in to the hospital. She's been there almost constantly (4th stay right now) and it's anyone's guess as to what the future holds right now.

I've been down with the flu (picked up during her 3rd hospital stay) for the past month and that along with chores, hospital visits, catsitting for a friend, has meant that cycling has been out of the question.

Thank the Internet for bike porn!!!

JimK

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2017, 05:31:57 PM »
ah, best of luck managing all those health issues! What can you do but slow down and take it day by day. Yeah bike porn helps!

IronMac

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Re: New Bike Dilemma
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2017, 08:24:39 AM »
Thanks JimK...just got more bad health news this morning and it was for myself. Wow...when it rains...