Friday, July 11, 2008

Bike Forums Question

I rec'd this question on Bike Forums, but for some reason can't get my posts to work there properly. With time running out I'm putting my response here so I can link to it and save myself the effort of what is going won't on that forum.

"Vic, thats the problem ... with world touring, especially in countries with unsealed roads, we are bound to run into some very bad weather and very bad touring conditions. We are also going to experience some extreme descents. That is why I wanted a disc braked, "rohloffed" Big Dummy (which Surly doesn't make in a small enough size). If I do go DF I still want the Xtracycle, rohloff and discs.

I'm not so concerned about cost, this will be my only vehicle, and I want it to be safe, comfortable and sturdy for 2 to 5 +, non stop, years of touring. I am also not concerned about speed, I want to take a few years and enjoy the ride!

So Vik, if I Xtracycled an LHT frame and used a more upright fork for discs, would I get a Big Dummy ride?"

Here are some options:

LHT + Xtracycle

If you want discs I'd just skip the LHT frame entirely. The main benefits [long wheelbase, geometry & fork] really aren't being utilized with discs + Xtracycle and the frame isn't suspension corrected for a taller front fork. Of course you could just forget the disc brakes and then adding an Xtracycle to a LHT would make loads of sense. I would suggest 90% of world traveling bikers are using rim brakes and doing just fine so I don't think that it's a show stopper. That's why Thorn, Surly, Trek, Koga Miyata, Cannondale, etc..are all selling rim brake touring bikes.

MTB + Xtracycle

If you are adding an Xtracycle to a bike I'd just make sure the donor frame was very strong..such as a Surly 1x1 or even better a Surly Instigator. Then use either the stock rigid fork or get a suspension fork. If you go the suspension fork route with some fat tires [say 26 x 2.0" Marathon XRs] you'd have a very comfortable touring rig....the tires, suspension & wheelbase would combine to make the equivalent of a touring Cadillac!

If you are touring for that long stuff will wear out so just plan for it and have stops scheduled en route in nice places where you can receive parts/supplies for maintenance. If you got a simple coil/oil fork you could overhaul it once a year and then replace it after 2 years....that wouldn't be a bad service life for hard use. You'd be able to run disc brakes on a suspension fork without issue.

Custom Bike

Given your requirements [small frame, Rohloff, discs, Xtracycle, long world bike trip] maybe you need to get a custom bike built??? Certainly seems like a trip worthy of one and then you could specify anything you liked. No reason you couldn't get a smaller Big Dummy made. If cost isn't an issue this would be the most satisfying option with the least compromises.

Big Dummy vs. Xtracycle

Although I think the Big Dummy has some advantages over a MTB + Xtracycle [stiffer/stronger integrated frame] the obvious downside is shipping/transport. The MTB + Xtracycle can be split into two pieces which will both fit into a normal bike box for travel. To get the same effect with the Big Dummy would require expensive S&S couplers.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Vik, that has given me a number of good options to consider.

Enjoy your tour! Look forward to the trip reports on your return.


Fritz said...

The Kona Ute has discs. If the rider still insists on Rohloff hubs there's some modification required (eccentric BB?) Of course, if they're spending $1400 on a Rohloff they might as well spring the extra few hundred for a custom frame build. Good luck getting a frame from an experienced builder anytime soon, though -- many of the better known names are now booked up for months.