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Friend is looking to do light touring 20 -50 miles in a day and also be able to ride unpaved rail trails and packed dirt roads. What would be better - touring bike with wider tires or a cyclocross bike.

Friend wants to be able to carry bags - already has a carbon c'dale for road riding

I've actually ridden dirt roads with open pro mavics and 25s on as cyclocross frame -

what sayeth the forum? don't think the friend wants to change wheel sets

thanks
 

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the cyclocross bike will be much faster than an upright touring bike with flat handlebars.

check out the tricross for a very strong frame that u can ride on dirt and get some small knobbies for it to keep you safe on the dirt.

my tricross has all the fender/rack mounts that you can imagine, but that was a 2009 model
 

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this is a "super-touring" bike built on a cyclocross frame.

It is great, fast and light by touring standards, I use it to commute all year/all weather/all conditions. Have it on a 50/39/28 Shimano 105 triple groupset and Schwalbe Marathons 700x28c for regular commuting. I put on Ritchey Speedmax cross tyres for the Autumn/Winter and have another set of wheels with Schwalbe Snow Spikes for the snowy/icy days.

 

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I like your bike. Can you post some of the build details?
 

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It is an Aluminum Cyclocross frameset of a local brand called "Price" but I guess it is sourced from Taiwan and then branded here ( Switzerland )

i got the frame to build me a Cyclocross bike, got it at a good price ( some $350 ) , but at the same time I could buy a frameset Ridley for Cross and then I decided to build this bike as a commuter/touring bike.

It has a full triple Shimano 105 group, with wheels made with 105 hubs and Mavic A319 rims.

I got a chainguard from my LBS that has a mount for Shimano outboard bottom bracket and I installed the kickstand, rack and SKS fenders using P-clamps as the frame doesn't have eyelets. ( the fork has them it is a Kuota Fork BTW )

The bike is light and fast with its 700x28c Marathons. I have done some light medium distance touring on it too. great bike.

I guess you could do the same with any resonable priced cyclocross frameset.
 

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some more pics



 

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For your friend's situation, a cyclocross bike would likely be able to pull the double duty he's asking of it. Just look for a brand that includes at least fender eyelets front and rear. Some will also provide rack eyelets.

A sport touring bike like I have will be a little bit more limited in permitted tire sizes. My bike supposedly should fit 28mm tires with fenders but it looks tight.

The Gunnar Crosshairs is an ideal choice. Just be sure the fork that you pair with this frame has eyelets if you'll be using fenders.
 

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Cross bike will be more versatile in the future, although for this limited use, either would do. I have a Kona Jake the Snake and it can easily be fitted for cross, touring, commuting or road duties. I have to admit for long distance touring, it would not be my first choice.
 

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The tire choice drives everything with this question.

Does he/she want 32mm or larger, semi knobby tread to get better traction and flotation on dirt and gravel ?.

Or smaller - 28mm or so for road use as well. And are the local dirt roads hard packed enough that 28mm's would be OK ?. Note that I comfortably rode the gravel carriageways (Hard dirt surface with some gravel) at Acadia National Park in Maine on 28mm tires with no knobs. I went a bit slower in turns on downhills, and had lowered the air pressure to 80, but they were fine for the conditions.

20 miles on 32mm and larger tires at 80psi is OK, 50 gets tiring and sluggish

50 miles on 28mm slicks or touring tread at 90-100 psi is very comfortable and you don't really notice the larger size as compared to a 23mm.

So choosing the tire drives the bike choice. Cross bikes and/or tourers use V brakes (or sometimes disc) and can take big tires 32 and up. Sport/Randonneur bikes using 57mm long reach dual pivot road-bike type brakes can also take UP TO a 32 tire or so, sometimes with fenders.

Then there's attachment points. Not all cross bikes have eyelets for fenders or a rear rack. Cross bikes also tend to have higher bottom brackets so handling can sometimes feel less stable then a tourer or randonneur, though you might have to have had decades of riding experience to notice. Tourers and Randonners usually have at least fender eyelets, some have rear rack eyelets as well.

Sport Touring/Randonneur Manufacturers:

Gunnar, Soma, Surly, Salsa, Rivendell, Velo Orange, Miele, Kona

Most of these make cross bikes as well, some make touring. Then there are a lot more companies making cross.

FWIW a buddy rides a Specialized TriCross Comp. V brakes, fender and rack eyelets. Great bike, great value.

SB
 

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many cyclocross bikes have a high bottom bracket. This puts your seat up higher from the ground and raises your center of gravity. I'm tall with long legs and prefer a sports touring bike with a lower bottom bracket (more bottom bracket drop).
 

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Surly Cross Check. It's the best of all worlds.

Steel frame, can take any size tire, downtube reliable shifters, etc. Can be a commuter, touring, cyclocross, road bike, whatever you want.

I'm getting one to augment my CAAD9 for night rides with a bunch of lights and a rear rack.

$1000 brand new.
 

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Which ever gets him in the position he wants to do these rides in. Is he looking for casual or a little aggression?

I would have said cyclocross for dirt roads.......but when I was in Germany I rented a touring bike, because that's all they had, and rode it all week on dirt paths and it worked like a charm. It was great. But had I been looking to go for speed instead of sight seeing a CX bike would have been better.

In summary I think the best choice depend on his riding style for the rides he's going to take it on.
 

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Reynolds531 said:
many cyclocross bikes have a high bottom bracket. This puts your seat up higher from the ground and raises your center of gravity. I'm tall with long legs and prefer a sports touring bike with a lower bottom bracket (more bottom bracket drop).
+1
You'll have to lean a Cross bike over more to put your foot on the ground. Not always ideal when you have a load on the bike. If touring is the main goal, a touring bike is the way to go. Surly makes a Long Haul Trucker that has the ability to accept very wide tires, all the braze ons and the lower BB.
 

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Soma Double Cross. It's inexpensive and you could throw something like Sram Apex, Shimano 105 or Campy Veloce on it. I like it better than the Surly, but the differences are very slight between the two.
You can get frame and fork for uner $400 quite easily. I bought mine at bikemainia.biz and built it up myself.
It's got double eyelets in the rear so you can use both racks and fenders at the same time, for an inexpensive fork, look into the Kona Project 1( or 2??) I bought my fork for $60 from bikeman.com
It'll take either 130mm or 135mm hubs (like the Surly) has an extended headtube.
I think the best selling point for it though is the price. Surly would be my second choice. If he's looking for a complete build, check out the new Gary Fisher stell cyclocross bikes.
I would not get a cyclcross "race" bike like a Redline or Felt. Your friend would be probably be better off with a more stable platform.
The Surly Long Haul Trucker or Soma Saga or Trek 520 are all good options too. The Salsa Vaya would be the killer choice, but at around $1500 is is almost $500 more than a LHT.
 

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Vayinafash said:
thanks for all the replies - keep 'em coming - but very helpful information so far
As additional thought.

A full blown, well made and put together - in terms of parts package touring bike, may cost a good bit more as the good ones tend to be pricey - Bruce Gordon comes to mind. Tourers are going to be heavier as the frame and fork need to be beefier to be stable with heavy loads, thus they are going to weigh more to begin with. In general, the tourers designed well for self-supported touring also have drop handle-bars, though it's a Euro thing to use flat bars which IMO (and most opinions) are nowhere near as comfortable for long distance riding. They really are go anywhere bikes and usually have the tire clearance for about any size and type of tire you want on it. You could go mt. biking on my Miyata tourer with 40mm knobbies. You can also put 23 or 25mm road tires on it and do a multi-day supported tour (RAGBRAI type) and be perfectly happy except that the bike weighs 25 lbs, basic

Cross bikes are generally lighter as they are *supposed* to be designed for racing, but in truth I'd guess that the vast majority of cross bikes sold in the past 10 year are to folks not racing and just wanting all-around bikes. Usually the gearing is a double, but that's on the pedigreed racers. The cross bikes sold to the masses, such as the Specialized TriCross family usually all have triples, where as the CruX series have double rings, as example.

The Randonneur bikes are a mid-way point between Cross/Tourers and a road racing bike, and is whose major difference is using dual pivot brakes, with the 57mm version dualies generally allowing tires up to 32mm, sometimes with fenders if the frame design allows it (location of the brake mounting point that uses every mm of brake shoe travel in the brake slots). Randonners are also called "Sport/Touring" bikes by many manufacturers and there are actually a lot of these out there. Some are really well designed for going really long distances on roads (sometimes gravel and dirt), with truly more relaxed geometry, fender and rack eyelets, clearance for 32mm tires, longer headtubes to make it easy to get the h-bar level with the seat, etc... while some so-called Sport -Touring are little more then a racing bike with wider tires and a triple. Surly Pacer, Rivendell Rodeo, Gunnar Sport, Soma Smoothie ES, are among the examples of true Randonneur type and good design. These bikes are usually lighter still (but not by much if it's steel), then a cross bike (many of those being aluminum), especially if it's a production bike.

My own choice was to get a road racing bike first and way back when. Then I acquired a Miyata tourer and use it for commuting plus keeping tires that allow me to ride dirt roads. I recently acquired a Soma Smoothie that's a road racer with a triple, that can take 28mm tires. I use this kind of bike for occasional dirt, long rides, multi-day tours, etc...

My $.02

SB
 

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Reynolds531 said:
many cyclocross bikes have a high bottom bracket. This puts your seat up higher from the ground and raises your center of gravity. I'm tall with long legs and prefer a sports touring bike with a lower bottom bracket (more bottom bracket drop).
true, but some "modern" Cyclocross frames ( that I wouldn't call real Cyclocross frames ) have now sloping top tubes, low bottom brackets and even under the BB cable routing.

those "modern" framesets are less good for racing CX but would be good for light tourers/commuters.

my "Price" frame is one of those
 

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I'd go more "touring" or "long reach road" frame than cross for this. Cross bikes typically have a more aggressive geometry (which does not mean they will be "faster" as someone said earlier) which over the long haul on jarring terrain could become an issue. Also, dirt road to me doesn't really need a cross frame. Unless your friend will be riding those roads in all conditions, the need for additional tire tread and mud clearance probably isn't necessary. I'd stick with something more designed to handle additional payloads comfortably.
 
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