Buying a Touring Bike

A bike ride of 1500+ miles over a month and a half requires a solid sturdy bike to haul over 40 pounds of equipment plus one rider. My estimate is that we will be weighing in at about 215 pounds with everything included. And the kicker was I was greedy. I wanted a bike I could use for more than just touring – one that would fit my new retired lifestyle and be a backup road bike for group rides. One that was sturdy, light and fast. Was I asking too much?

I look carefully at Surly’s Long Haul Disc Trucker, which rabid Surly fans swear by. But I could not find a retailer nearby to see and ride it. It seemed that Surly had some compromises too in standards such as only steel which would add weight to this type of bike. Also, they only offered a 26″ wheelbase for my size which is a 54cm bike. I’m used to a 700c (larger diameter) road standard which is faster and makes parts and repair easier. There are pros & cons for each,

I looked at the Trek line which has the 520 920 and now the 1120 this year. At the time I was looking in last half of 2017 the models just didn’t seem inspiring although the models were steel and aluminum and offered the 700 wheel size. One shop said to come back after New Years for more options. Here’s another thing about the bike shops. I got the impression that they just wanted to sell a bike and did not understand what I wanted.

A Custom Bike Solution

I was ready to go with the Surly but the testing and comparison would be tough. I visited my son Ethan in Lexington MA in September and went to a bike cafe/shop in town called the Ride Studio Cafe and had a conversation with Cal Goodhouse, a young approachable guy who seemed to understand where I was on this. He pointed out that I should consider building a bike from the frame up to suit my purposes. What he suggested was not only carefully choosing the right components vs factory standards but to start with building a custom frame that fit me and my purposes.

Cal took the initiative a few days later and started emailing me ideas and asking a lot of questions about how I ride and what were my priorities. At last, someone was listening. He was knowledgeable and discussed many options. He addressed concerns mostly be email and phone. In the end, I worked with Cal/Ride Studio to design a custom bike and had the frame built by Seven Cycles in the neighboring town of Watertown MA to my specifications. Long story short, I spent more than twice I dreamed I would have. But now own the bike I was hoping for. Kudos to Cal.

The bike is a classified as a titanium touring bike the model name is Expat S. As a test, I rode the bike at least a dozen times in various states (stripped, racks & fenders, packs and full packs) as a test prior to the big Epic bike ride in April-May 2018. It held up well and weighed in about 22.5 lbs or 4 lbs heavier than my standard Cervelo RS road bike. I felt much of the added weight was in the wheels

I have details to provide on the configuration of the bike and the cost which I laid out in a video but I’m having a hard time rendering the video to a MP4 file. Will need to provide at a later date. Not only is age catching up to me, but also to my old Mac and forcing me to consider a new upgrade.