Looking for a tourer…

Now… my cycling bug continues and my new aim is to conquer long distances… I am reading “A ride in the neon sun” by Josie Dew (I love her and her writing!!! She’s so witty, funny, down to earth and really inspiring!) and she’s got a lot to do with this 😉 in a good way of course! I am gonna dedicate a post to the book once I’ve finished it…

And so I am looking to add a second bike to my family collection, plus I’ve got to keep up with PB who has three at the moment ; )

Pashley is great but her weight is noticeable on inclines, and when loaded up to the rim (which I would do if PB and I would go on cycling/camping trips etc) well she‘s hard work!

BUT finding something that feels right, comfortable and that I like is proving really difficult. I have a soft spot for mixte frames, and I keep scouring auctions sites and local ads for the right one to come along. But then all the techy bit of how many gears, the range of gearing (which I believe it’s more important than just simply how many gears), steel v aluminium frame, tires types, mudgards (which I want for sure) and rear rack etc come into play… well before I know it with all these questions swimming in my head, I am back to square one.

I have tested the Specialised Dolce racing bike, beautiful but not me.

I have tried the Trek FX WSD, but I like the Allen model more, but then is that too similar bike-type-wise to Pashley?!

FX WSD Trek

Allen Trek

Having tested both aluminium and steel frames I must admit I looove steel… what can I say, I find a steel frame gives me a very very comfy and steady ride, but then I know aluminium would give me advantage of lightness on inclines. But the Trek felt nothing special, I did not feel drawn to it. I know Pashley was ‘love at first sight’ (if PB reads this he’s gonna give me a funny look eheh!) but I know that I want a bike a feel affinity to it, especially as I want to start little by little but conquer distances, adventures and discovering my surroundings from a different point of view!

A decent brand new touring bike is nothing less than £500. I don’t want to spend this kind of money if I don’t feel convinced?!

And again I have a soft spot for second hand, vintage-y bikes… I like their elegant design, their history, I wonder what life they had before coming to me, who rode them, what adventures they had etc…

And then… then there’s the unexpected feeling of feeling like I am betraying Pashley if I get a second bike, feel like I have to reassure her that I won’t use her any less and she‘ll always be my No.1… how crazy uh?! But when you ride your bike everyday in all weather, in any road conditions, good times and scary times too, your bike becomes an extension of your body, a buddy of cycling adventures, an added family member.

So, I am thinking of getting measured up properly first… the other bad thing is that there just isn’t much choice for women, like me for example, I am petite, but my inseam is 32”, therefore petite frames like 17” feel incredibly small, but anything more than 19” (on fast bikes, my Pashley is 20”) and I feel I am too far/over stretching to get to the handlebars… now… I know someone may say get a custom built… but I don’t have that kind of money I’m afraid… one day perhaps…

So… to conclude I am little perplexed on what to do next… so I guess first stop is to get measured… then perhaps just keep on looking for a second bike that I could customise…

Any ideas/advice?

A part from a lot confusion, looking for a new bike is dead exciting!

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18 responses to “Looking for a tourer…

  1. Hi again. Funnily enough I have a ladies Dawes tourer from 1997 which I don’t use anymore and I’m looking to sell it. Dawes is a very good make and as a ladies frame; step – through with a short reach it’s quite sort after as you simply can’t buy them anymore. It’s also a steel frame but I can’t remember the size off the top of my head, but I’m 5’3″ with quite long legs for my height so the short reach fits me perfectly. It’s a retro bike with drop handle bars but I’ve also spent quite a bit of time and money on it recently so it’s in good condition. If you’d like to kmow more please e-mail me. I’m in Cheshire.

    Thanks Charlie

  2. Surly do their Long Haul Trucker with 26″ wheels & quite small frame sizes, although a new one costs a fair whack.

    Food for thought with ally vs steel frame – the few lbs of difference will pale into insignificance with your luggage aboard, and steel is far more rugged!

    Tourers tend to use mountain bike gearing to give a wide range – a triple front & however many at the back.

    Be aware though that a front dérailleur will only allow a handful of cogs at the rear to be used per chainring, which with an indexed shifter for the front mech, may well do your head in after a while. For example downshifting to the small chainring will give a big drop in gear ratio, and you may then end up changing up with the rear mech to compensate.

    Bar end shifters help a little in that the shifter for the front mech’ isn’t indexed anyway, so you can use more of the sprockets by slightly adjusting the front mech’.

    If I’ve just baffled you with BS, but if PBs bike has dérailleur’s he will be able to show you what I mean.
    These new fangled Rohloff hub gears with 14 speeds prob’ have as much gear range as a 3×9 dérailleur set up, all using one shifter (very clever & very expensive) – Josie Dew has one now.

    I’ve taken the front mech off my mtb, just to see how I went on, and am still dragging 20kg+ of shopping home up a hill near home with 2 lower gears to spare. As for the big chainring being lost – well, I’ve just had to chill out a bit LOL.

    I guess there are ‘hills’ & ‘HILLS’ though(!), and how many you will go up in one ride will determine what gearing you need.

    • hey Ian! Thanks for your comment… lots of food for thought! Well, I don’t intend to do land’s end to john o’ groats right away ; ) but I do intend to build up to it step by step… if even a years ago people would have said to me ‘you’ll be cycling every day come rain or shine’ I would have laughed it off and thought of it as impossible… instead… : )

  3. I wouldn’t worry too much about weight, the weight of the bike is nothing compared to the weight of the rider and luggage and the aerodynamic drag they both provide. You’d probably notice a bigger difference from having the perfect tyre pressure and from staying adequately hydrated. If you are unsure about the bikes available to you, you could try going further on the Pashley first. I’ve done 50 miles on the Tourist which is a very similar ride to your Pash (although with fewer gears) without weight being a problem. I just had to do a series of shorter rides first to let my body adapt and to become comfortable with the idea of covering longer distances. If you want to go really far then it is probably worth investing in something else but if that is the kind of distance you have in mind it may be worth giving the Pash a chance.

    One other thing I have experienced on lighter bikes is that the effect of blustery winds (very common in this part of the world) tend to be more pronounced, making riding in those conditions more depressing. On the Yuba, my heaviest bike, I can happily sail along in blustery conditions and the extra weight helps to reduce the effect of the wind and helps keep my motivation up.

    • I def want to try that with Pash, I was ‘saying’ this to Ian on another comment (reading about his holiday in Lincolnshire as Wendy took her Pashley) … but I am petite (at 5’3” and 7 stones lol!) and even small uphills bits leave me a little flustered, plus I still haven’t mastered cycling while standing off the saddle (I’m sure there’s a more technical word for it), to give me a little more power… but I don’t think that’s what Pash is made for ; ) but definitely want to try riding the Pashley further afield than just Manchester.

      The reason to look for a second bike for longer distances is also because PB and I were thinking of taking our bikes onto trains (and ferries) and travel around Europe (starting with the cycle friendly country of Holland)… but I know that there are inspiring ladies like Katie!!! =)

      • And chaps like Mick “and they said it couldn’t be done” Fairhurst. JOGLE on a Raleigh Chopper. Mad! ;>)

        I’ve read it on another blog about the front baskets creating a lot of wind resistance compared to panniers, which does make sense, although if you are only plodding along that may not be such an issue.

        It didn’t bother Wend so much on the flat – and neither did riding slower at a pace that suited her bother me – but then my mtb isn’t akin to a ‘coiled spring’ as sportier bikes can be & doesn’t need to be ‘ridden’.

        Best advice I’d give is take in a short trip as Mr C suggested, even just a night away – a ride out & a ride back. That way you will have ideas of what you would like to change with your bicycle & kit (if anything), and what you might do differently on future jaunts.

      • hey Ian, yes I took the front basket off my Pash, for my birthday the in-laws have given me a lovely rear basket, so I put the front basket on only when I need to do a big shop ; ) but I must admit I miss my flowery basket… but when it’s windy (which customary in Manchester) it really does slow me down.

        Will def take on board your and Mr C advice to try go farther afield with Pash, cheers!

  4. Definitely don’t feel bad about getting a second bike! The Pashley is so specific, having another option makes total sense. My advice is to invest in a bike that you know you will love. What is the use buying an “affordable” aluminum Trek hybrid if it’s not a good bike? I can highly recommend my Rivendell Betty Foy, but I imagine any high-quality steel mixte would do the job admirably. Good luck!

    • I adore your Betty Foy… have not seen it being sold in the UK though. I will def keep looking till I find something that I like and that feels right, for sure.

  5. Hi – good luck in choosing an appropriate bike to do long-distance biking – – I’m sure you’ll find something that will work for you. 🙂

    Also, I wanted to mention that I’ve read almost all of Josie Dew’s books, and think she’s a GREAT author also! What a riot she is! 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Charmaine! I love Josie’s style of writing, I am definitely going to read all her books… I’ve already put requests to my local library =)

  6. Hi- the weight difference between steel and aluminium is little more than a marketing gimmick really. Far better, for example, to find a bike (no matter what the material) that you are comfortable and happy with than one that is a few hundred grams lighter but makes your shoulders ache!.

    They have some kind of a Mixte (in white) in Evans cycles on Deansgate at the moment. I didnt look at it closely so can’t tell you anymore, but it might be of interest to you.

    Personally I have a Trek T35 Tourer, it’s a very comfortable to do long distances on (but not with the squishy Bontrager seat that came with it) and very good at cruising up hills. I think the closest ladies version available is this T30 hybrid –

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/trek/t30-2010-hybrid-bike-ec001494

    I’m in no doubt that something on offer from Dawes etc would be better – but mine was £180 off ebay with extras like 2x ortleib panniers. For a bike that is £350 new, thats excellent value for money as an alternative to your Pashley.

    Happy hunting!.

  7. Have you come across the Miss Mercian model? It’s a steel mixte touring bike, made in England (Derby I think). Mercian seems to have a great reputation. I am considering it along with the Rivendell Betty Foy (inspired by Dottie!) and an ANT mixte. Rivendell and ANT both ship to the UK but it’s expensive.

    • I didn’t know Mercian is made in England, thanks for the heads-up, I thought Pashley and Brompton were the only ones left made here. I came across it via the Lovely Bicycle blog but wrongly assumed it was a USA bike ; )

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