• 02-27-2011
    Touring mtb vs touring bike
    Hi folks. Looking for a little advice from the people out there touring. I'm planning on a tour across northern vietnam into laos then maybe a tiny bit of cambodia. Anyway, trying to decide between a hardtail mountain bike and a touring bike like the Surly crosscheck/LHT or Novara safari/randonee. The main question is...does anyone think there would be much difference in the miles I'd be able to put under the tires on a daily basis? I'll be biking for about 21 days...and I think they would all hold up about the same...what are your thoughts?
  • 02-28-2011
    You might want to try the touring section of bikeforums.net as there are a lot of experienced tourers there.

    I've toured a bit, though generally not in Asia. I've traveled by car in rural Asia. I've spoken with friends who've toured Laos/Thailand/China.

    My 2 cents: It's not going to matter all that much for a short 21 day trip. You're going to be limited more by the nature of the roads than the bike itself. If you are sticking to backcountry roads, some of the will be heavily corrugated dirt affairs where the main concern is having comfortably wide tyres rather than skinnies designed for nicely paved Western roads.

    If you decide to stick with the mountain bike and want to play it safe, then you might want to throw on a cheap rigid fork (which would also give you the option to easily mount front panniers). But again, the risks of a big mechanical failure on a suspension fork is pretty low for a 21 day trip.

    Overall, if you've already got one bike, just stick with that save the cash.
  • 02-28-2011
    I wouldn't want to be committed to no larger than a 38mm tire for a long day on dirt or gravel roads. I also wouldn't want to be committed to flat bars for long days in the saddle if I was riding roads, even fairly bad ones. So, to me, a lot of it would have to do with the quality of the roads you'll be on. The LHT is supposed to accept some very large tires, even with fenders installed, so that's a big advantage. Salsa's Fargo is a purpose-built off-road tourer - so you can have really fat tires if you need them and the geometry's built to work with drop bars. It's a disc frame, though, and it would make me nervous to tour with a brake for which I couldn't find maintenance parts if I needed them. Gunnar does some rough-road touring bikes as well, but I think they're more expensive than a Salsa, and certainly more than a Surly, if you're just looking at frames. I have no saddle time on a bar configuration like the Novara Safari, but Sheldon Brown thought that kind of bar worked well - they seem to have a following. So it might be an acceptable alternative to drop bars.

    Some people on the commuting forum also tour, and many have touring bikes. The touring forum on roadbikereview has some experienced posters. So you might find more information there.
  • 04-30-2011
    bob arnold
    Personal experiece I only loose @ 2 mph on knobby cross tires. I have been touring a cycle cross bike on lite 20 day tours. I'm switching to a mt bike mainly to open my terrain & more for peice of mind. 1 tip pack lite
  • 05-02-2011
    I've done tons of tours, all over the world, from long weekends to 10 months and everything in between. I've used a variety of bikes. A couple of thoughts. Keep the equipment as simple as possible, especially if traveling in an area where parts may be hard to get and/or you don't speak the language. Use handle bars that allow multiple hand positions. Use the narrowest tire that you feel comfortable with on the road surfaces that you will spend most of your time on. I have a surley LHT, did a 6 week euro tour with 1.25 road tires and took the same set up with fatties 2.0s on a 4 day sierra mtns ride that was mostly on fire roads and a little pavement. I like drop bars, but a bit tough on rough down hills. Flat bars with barends work great as well. Change tire pressure to suit conditions. A fat tire pumped up solid will roll pretty good on pavement, but a skinny tire will not work in the rough stuff. If I was expecting half gravel half pavement, I'd go with a 1.5 with little knobs. My LHT is a small, so I can run 26ers which gives me a large choice of tires. And like others have said pack light, then get rid of some more. 21 days, you'll do fine on what ever you ride and you'll learn for the next time. Best way to see the world.