Touring Bike Photos: My Windsor Tourist

Windsor Tourist bicycleI have recently purchased an addition to my fleet of bikesdirect.com bicycles: the Windsor Tourist.  This is a touring style bicycle that currently sells for $599.99 at bikesdirect.com, however I hear that price will be going up soon.  Compared to other touring bicycles (Jamis Aurora, Surly Long Haul Trucker, Raleigh Sojourn, etc.) this bike is hundreds of dollars cheaper, but still features good quality parts and frame.

The reason I bought this bike was to have a bike I could take anywhere, yet was fast enough to get me where I wanted to go in good time on the road.  I already own a couple of road bikes, but those do poorly on dirt and gravel trails.  And the mountain bike that I own just won’t keep up with a touring bike on road ways.  Thus, the touring bicycle is the perfect solution.  The tires and rims are medium width, it has drop bars for a more aerodynamic riding position, and it has tire/frame clearance for fenders to keep yourself from getting mucked up.

After I assembled the bike, I put on some mountain bike sized fenders (60 mm x 26″, SKS brand) that I stole from a different bike of mine and they seemed to fit fine.  I had trimmed the stays of the front fender to fit my mountain bike which was too short to reach the fork on this bike.  As you can see in the photos, I used a bit of hardware to make this reach (I know, I’m such a cheap-o).  Next, I put on some SPD/flat combination pedals, which I think are perfect for a touring bike since I want SPD for road riding, but I don’t want to be clipped in on rugged trails.

I have ridden this bike for about 2 months now, mostly as a commuter bike.  Here’s my review so far:

Windsor Tourist bicyclePros

  • Very comfy ride.  Fat tires and the 4130 steel frame is nice and soft.  Speeding right over railroad tracks is pleasant.
  • Pretty fast bike.  Much faster than a mountain bike, but not as fast as a roadie.
  • The Tiagra STI shifters are very nice and effortless to use.
  • The forest green paint on mine is quite handsome.  :-)
  • The easy-to-turn derailleur adjusters on the cables near the handlebars are nifty and come in handy when you’re hearing derailleur or chain noise that you want to fix while riding.  It’s a feature you don’t find on many bicycles nowadays.

Cons

  • The rear derailleur adjustments took a bit of tweaking to get it to stop making noise.  This was probably due to my own incompetance.
  • The seat was pretty uncomfortable for the first couple of rides, but now it feels like it has “broken in”.
  • This bike could use a bit more clearance on the fork and seat stay for tires and fenders.  I’m used to seeing more clearance on some other touring bikes I’ve seen (especially the Surly LHT).
  • You can’t adjust cantilever brakes after you’ve had a few beers.  ;-)  They can be tricky, but this is the case for all cantilever brakes.
  • The chain-stays could stand to be longer.  My heels brush against my saddle bags a bit.  Of course, I wear size 12 shoes, too. I’ll probably rig my saddle bags so that they hang back further.

Windsor Tourist bicycleOverall, this is a good purchase, especially if you aren’t looking to spend $1000 on a touring bike.  I will be riding this bike on a 100 mile round trip, partially off-road cycle-camping trip over Memorial Day weekend.  I’ll be sure to post the results of that expedition here!  Stay tuned!

And for your viewing pleasure, here is a photo gallery of this bicycle.  As you can see, I didn’t have time to clean the bike before hand.  Ah, well, all the dirt spots make it look more like a well-used bicycle.  :-)

Update, June 21, 2009 - I have encountered my first problem with this bicycle.  When I loaded it up with about 25 pounds of camping gear for a 100 mile cycle camp, I broke a spoke on the rear wheel.  After the spoke was replaced by a professional bike shop, I loaded the bike up again and broke another spoke on the same wheel.  Evidently, this was a machine built wheel and was not tensioned properly or something.  I am going to have the wheel completely rebuilt with new spokes by a wheel builder friend of mine.  Also note that this is a very common thing among many brands of bicycles and most often happens on the rear wheel.  Most bicycles nowadays come stock with machine built wheels and may require a wheel rebuild if a wheel wasn’t properly put together.

Update, July 20, 2009 – My rear wheel has been rebuilt (all new Wheelsmith spokes) by a bike mechanic friend of mine.  As I was attempting to put the rear wheel back into place, I noticed it just wouldn’t go in.  This has always been a tight spot on this bike.  I had drank a few beers beforehand, so I began beating on the tire like a caveman and making ape-like shrieks in an attempt to seat the wheel into the dropouts (not recommended).  Then it dawned on me that if I just pull the chain-stays outward a little (the frame is chromoly steel and very supple), the wheel might go in.  With just a little pulling on chain-stays, the wheel fell right into place.  Ah, well, I hope this tip helps some of your Windsor Tourist owners.  Oh, and next weekend, I will load up this bike with my camping gear and give it a good 20 mile test.  Stay tuned.

Update, August 20, 2009 – Yesterday, I grabbed the chance to test out my newly rebuilt rear wheel.  I loaded my panniers up with canned food to simulate the weight of the water and camping supplies that usually occupy the panniers.  Then I strapped on my mattress, tent, mattress pump, and sleeping bag, and off I cycled with my friend and bicycle mechanic, John Bickelhaupt, on an approximately 20 mile ride.  I went with John because he wanted to get out on a medium sized ride on this fine Saturday, and I wanted him along since I had previously broken 2 spokes on my rear wheel.  Not that I was doubting his wheel building skills or anything.  ;-)  As you’ve read earlier in this article, a spoke breaks in my rear wheel at around the 10 to 15 mile mark in the previous 2 rides to this one; however, this ride was perfect with no problems at all except for a pinch flat (folks, make sure your tires are properly inflated before you ride!).  I did some hard torquing, some bouncing around, sharps turns, and some offroading on a rocky trail and the rear wheel was fine under the approximately 25 pounds of luggage and my 200 pound ass.  Success!   Thanks to John Bickelhaupt!  By the way, John is interested in doing some part time bike repair work, so we’ll be putting up a web site for him soon.  Stay tuned for all those looking for a “personal bike mechanic” like I have!  :-)

38 comments to Touring Bike Photos: My Windsor Tourist

  • Aires

    Hi Korey.
    I am thinking about buying one of those bikes.
    I like to ride in the up right position.
    I want to know about the stem: Can you adjust the stem to rise the handlebar?
    I am thinking in change for an adjustable stem. Do you think it is necessary or you can adjust the standart original stem?
    Which is the handlebar gauge if I want ot buy a new stem?
    I also think in use top mount cyclocross inline brake levers.
    For that I also need to know the handlebar gauge.
    Where did you find the fenders?
    Do regular road fenders fit this bike?
    Thank you!
    Aires

  • Hi Aires. For a more upright riding position, you certainly can raise the stem up a few inches and you can also tilt the handlebars up to bring the hooks of the drop bars closer to you. However, this is a road bike and it really isn’t designed for riding very upright. If you prefer a much more upright position, I would suggest you get a mountain bike. I have done some long rides on my mountain bike (see http://cycling.peltonweb.com/2009/06/three-day-cycle-camp-in-lava-hot-springs/) and I enjoy it very much. I bought this Windsor Tourist to give me a more aerodynamic (lower) riding position for greater speed on the road and to allow me to go off-road as well. The bar clamp diameter looks close to 25 mm on this bike, but most stems can adjust to accommodate several different handlebar thicknesses. You can find fenders at nashbar.com, performancebike.com, and many other bike part sites (I would consult froogle.com). This bike would best fit 700×45 mm road bike fenders, but I just had some mountain bike fenders that I had lying around, so I just used those.

  • Aires

    Hi Korey.
    Thank you for your answers!
    I was in doubt about buying this bike.
    In fact I like it too.
    I was looking for a speed bike, since I already have a full suspention mountain bike, even that I ride it mostly in town, but I drop some stairs, and my city is pretty much hilly, so I need the shorter gears to go strength upward.
    Thats is the main reason I am choosing the Windsor Tourist, becouse it has short and long gears, in a way I can go either fast or strong.
    And I am also beggining to like bether the chromium molibdenium steel frame instead of aluminium.
    It’s kind of vintage look seems classy to me.
    I like those classic british bikes.
    And I think the Windsor whould greatly fit a set of Brooks leather saddle and handlebar tape.
    The stem I might change, becouse I want it to be adjustable, I want to use the low ride position but also have alterative drive ways to rest or relax, that why I also want to use a pair of cyclocross up mount brake levers.
    It seems to me that you like your Tourist bike, is that true?
    How does it perform?
    Did you like its quality and look?
    Bye.
    Aires

  • Yes, my Windsor Tourist has been a good bike except for the poorly built rear wheel and the flimsy rear rack. However, after the rear wheel gets rebuilt and I get a better quality rack, I believe it will hold up well as a touring bike. I’m planning on taking it on some long, fully-loaded rides to test this out, though. I will post the results of that at the end of my Windsor Tourist article, so stay tuned! I have been very pleased with the performance of the bike. It’s not as quick as my road racing bike, but it is tons faster than my mountain bike, so its performance is right where it should be, I think. A local friend of mine who is a long-time bicycle mechanic said the bike looks very well put together and the frame appears to be good quality. He was impressed that such a bike could be purchased at such a low cost.

  • Aires

    Hi Korey.
    I live in Brazil, here a bike like that would cost at least U$1,500.00
    But for U$15.00 I can get all the spokes changed.
    I am going to US next september to visit a friend and will buy the bike.
    I thank you for the information and hope you a good time in your bike trip.

  • Aires

    Korey, I will order the bike together with a top mount cyclocross brake lever, like those http://www.tektro.com/02products/11ql.php
    As you can see, they have one that fits 26mm OD handlebars and another that fits 24mm OD handlebars.
    Can you help me, watch in your bike wich diameter would fit the brake lever in the flat up part of the handlebar?
    Thank you.
    Aires

  • Yes, touring bikes in the USA are about that much as well. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is about $1000 and other brands of touring bikes go up in price from there. Most brands of bicycles all have machine-built wheels, so every now and then you’re going to get a crappy wheel no matter what brand of bike you buy.

  • I am about 90% sure that the handlebar clamp diameter is 24 mm on the Tourist that I bought. However, I would email Bikes Direct to verify this. Also, they are also known for using different components in the bikes that they produce depending on part availability, so your Tourist may come with different handlebars than mine. I would contact them for verification of part dimensions. They may tell you to just wait until you get your bike since they may not know the dimensions of the parts your bike is going to be fitted with. Good luck, Aires!

  • Matt Parks

    Korey
    Very nice review. I’m looking to purchase a touring bike and the Windsor has popped up as one to consider. One thing I’ve read in other reviews, is that people did n;t like the gearing of this bike, especially the crankset. Have you found this to be a problem?
    Matt

  • The gearing on this bike is definitely road bike-ish (30/42/52 crank set and 11-32 cog set). It has worked fine for some pretty steep climbs and fully loaded touring. I suppose if you were going to do a ton of steep climbing while fully loaded, you might opt for a bike with lower gearing such as the Surly LHT. My friend Travis has an LHT and it has some crazy low gearing. I think it has lower gearing than my mountain bike, hehe. Anyway, it all depends on what kind of riding you’re expecting to do. I’m actually rather new to cycling (been at it for only about 3 years), so I wasn’t planning on spending too much on my very first touring bike; and in that respect, the Windsor Tourist beats the competition.

  • Matt Parks

    Thanks Korey. The wife and I are planning a week long tour next spring/summer. We just haven’t picked the route yet! It will be a fully loader tour, so at this point I’m probably more concerned about breaking spokes then the gearing.
    Many years ago, we did the Pacific Coast route from Vancouver, BC south. I did that on an old Raleigh road bike and I could not even begin to tell you what the gearing was for that and we did fine. This bike is looking more and more like the one I’ll get. Inexpensive, good components, and plenty of good reviews.
    Thanks again

  • Tim Miller

    Bought Windsor Tourist from BikesDirect in april 2009. Had local bike mechanic set up the bike including spinning the wheel. I broke 3 spokes in the first 300 miles on the back wheel. I had him relace the wheel with DT Swiss double butted spokes. I rode 1200 miles more without a problem. This is my first road/touring bike. I love it. It’s very comfortable to ride. The kenda tires that came with it lasted for 800 miles on the drive wheel and i rotated them. I was on what turned out to be my last ride before cold weather/hunting season and i had my first flat tire at 1497 miles….7 miles from home..or it would have been a flat free summer! Highly recommend the bike.

  • Korey, your blog on the Windsor helped me decide on my purchase. Weather has not permitted me to ride much. One question on the assembly of my Tourist if you would allow. The silver bracket that holds the front brake cable, I know fits on the handlebar stem. I wrapped some of the rubber strip with adhesive back around the stem but the bracket doesn’t tighten enough. Would the bracket possibly fit under the seal nut on top of the treaded portion of the stem? Thank you. Don

  • Hi Don, glad my article helped you out! I believe you are correct; the cantilever brake cable guide goes right underneath the top nut of the head tube. Here’s an awful looking picture on Wikipedia that sort of illustrates it:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Quill_stem_4.JPG

    You can search around online for how a quill stem and steering column is assembled for more details. Also, I remember my steering column clunking and jiggling around after assembling my Tourist and having to re-tighten everything down firmly, so keep that in mind.

    Good luck!

  • Thank you again. I’m hoping to have some milder weather soon but Illinois probably won’t cooperate. Yes your blog was very useful in my decision. I’m within a few hours drive to the Katy trail in Missouri and that will be my springtime venture. Don

  • Austen Holland

    Hi Korey. Interesting and helpful blog here. I am looking for a commuter bike in Austin, TX (lots of hills). I’m fairly new to serious cycling, and totally new to commuting in a big city with hills. I was looking also at bikes direct’s fantom cross cyclocross bike. It is about 50 dollars cheaper. On the upside it comes already with brake leavers on top of the bars as well as brifters. On the downside it has worse components. I was hoping you could answer a few questions to help me decide which one I should get.

    First you stated that you have taken this thing offroad, so, I was wondering how does the cro-moly frame handle the bumps and bangs? Also is this bike very heavy?

    I notice your frame is a 58cm which is what I think I need, but i’m not positive. I am very nearly 6′ 2″ and I am fairly average proportionally. I know the standover height will be perfect for me with the 58, but what I’m unsure about is the top tube length. I’m new to drop bars and when I was test riding a bike at my LBS with drops, I felt really stretched out, and almost uncomfortable, especially when down in the aero position and not on the hoods. I am told that as long as I get the stand over height correct then the distance to the handlebars can be fixed by flipping the stem or getting a shorter stem.

    Anyway, if you could maybe respond with your height, distance from groin to center of your collar bones, and the length from your shoulder joint to center of palm, that would really help me decide if this would be a good fit.

    Hope you are enjoying your bike and thanks for the time to respond to my post!
    -Austen

  • Hi Austen! Yeah, the Motobecane Fantom CX is definitely designed more for being in the saddle for an hour, giving it all you’ve got on a cyclocross course. Its cog-set is geared higher, it has a stiff aluminum frame, and I’m not sure how well it lends itself to fenders and racks. The Windsor Tourist’s Cro-Moly frame will feel a lot better if your butt is in the saddle for an 8 hour touring ride, and it has eyelets for front and rear racks and fenders :-) Oh, and the Windsor Tourist has Tiagra brifters that are similar (slightly different downshifting) to the Fantom’s Sora brifters, by the way.

    The cro-moly frame handles bumps well since cro-moly flexes well. Aluminum frames, however, are quite rigid and you’ll feel the bumps a lot more. Is the bike heavy? Yes, cro-moly does weigh more than aluminum. Then again, weight isn’t a very high priority issue with touring and commuting bikes, since they’re meant to carry groceries, camping gear, etc. and their meant to keep the rider comfortable. You aren’t going to set any speed records on a touring bike :-)

    If you’re new to drop bars, you will definitely feel stretched out until you get used to them! But after 100 miles of riding on drop bars, riding a mountain bike will feel like you’re riding a tricycle. :-) I really don’t worry too much about body geometry (even though some cyclists would stone me for saying such a thing). I have 4 bikes that I bought online (a 20 inch MTB, 2 58 cm road bikes, and a 62 cm road bike). The 62 cm road bike gave me knee pain big time when I road it 100 miles in a day, but that bike is definitely too big for me (I’m 6 feet tall). I have an evenly proportioned body (my legs and torso are pretty average). If you buy a bike that has a frame that you know is close to what you need, you can fudge the geometry by adjusting your saddle height and your stem. That takes care of 90% of the adjustments you’ll need. If I were you, I would hop on a few bikes at my local bike shop and think about your body proportions (do you have long legs or a long torso?). That kind of decision has worked for me.

    Yeah, that big 62 cm bike was my first bikesdirect.com purchase, back when I was a n00b. That bike still makes a fine commuter bike, though. I just don’t ride it for more than 10 miles at a time, hehe.

  • Travis Poppe

    Just to hopefully save others from the hassle I went through (buying a Surly Long Haul Trucker that was too big, riding it for thousands of miles, selling it, and getting a smaller one), I think choosing a road frame with the correct top tube length is critical. Don’t worry so much about stand-over height; so long as you can comfortably stand over the frame, at least for on-road use, you’re good to go. Instead, try to get the effective top tube length figured out for the type of bars/posture you’d like.

    For example, with drop bars, you typically place your hands on the brake hoods most of the time, and you want to make sure you can comfortably do so for quick access to the brakes. This would probably require a shorter top tube than if you had, say, “cruiser” bars that are closer to you. There are many variables that affect reach, but top tube length is the most critical, since bike frames aren’t cheap.

    Like Korey pointed out, you can dial in the fit by adjusting the stem length/spacers/angle and saddle height, but that should only be used for fine-tuning. You can make a bike that’s too big or too small work, but you’d be better off getting a proper frame to begin with.

    My two cents. Most of my ideology comes from Peter White, Sheldon Brown, Rivendell, and like-minded cyclists; go check them out if you’d like to know more.

  • John H Wolfe

    Greetings Korey!

    I have been following you comments on the Windsor Tourist. I currently ride a Fuji Absolute 1.0 and am looking to start some touring – light touring, no camping gear.

    Considering the LHT, Trek 520, Raleigh Sojourner and Windsor. Of course the Windsor wins hands down on price but I know if I have problems out in the middle of Montana that I will wish I spent the extra to get the LHT or 520. Also, will probably use this bike in my around town riding which is mostly of the 30 mile pleasure type on paved trails.

    My biggest concern with the Windsor is the strength of rims / spokes, the Tiagra STI vs bar end shifters on the LHT / 520 and the Deore as it does not specify if it is LT or XT or else.

    Any comments by yourself and others who view this would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • The rear derailleur on my Tourist is the same, silver derailleur you see when you search http://www.google.com/products/ for “shimano deore rear derailleur”. The name on the derailleur simply says “Shimano Deore”. I’m assuming it’s the basic, lowest cost model of Deore. :-)

    Maybe some of the more experienced/knowledgeable commentors can give some insight on your other questions! Good luck!

  • Ted

    Thanks for such an informative review. I’ve been looking for solid info, as I was thinking about buying the Windsor.

  • Lee

    Hi Korey. I came across your review, and have an unusual question. I’m looking for a road touring frame to build with a Nexus internally geared hub, which requires some movement of the rear wheel in order to take up some chain slack. The photos on Bikesdirect.com aren’t much help here. Your photos did a better job of showing the dropout, but I wanted to ask the pro!

    Would you say there is about 1/2 inch of movement of the axle in the dropout? (While still allowing the bolts/quick release to grab securely?) I think this would be enough for my purposes. I don’t want to create work for you, but a photo directly from the side of the axle, or a photo of the dropout without the wheel installed would be fantastic! Thanks, and happy trails!

  • I eyeballed it and it looks like the dropouts are horizontal and 1/2 inch on both sides, similar to this photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rear_dropout.JPG . I would definitely contact Bikesdirect to verify that the bike you order has the features you need. Bikesdirect does change components in their product lines over time.

  • Korey, good review and responses. I understand your concern for the back wheel and all, but I must say, today’s rims/wheels/spokes are so much better than ever, sorry you had a bad experience; I mean 1-2 spokes broken is nothing to completely bent over rims that I remember……back in the day……..

    Cheers!

    tk

  • Yeah, that’s a good point. I’ve heard of people complaining about broken spokes even on somewhat high end bicycles. The best way to avoid broken spokes is to have a wheel professionally built by someone who knows what their doing. I haven’t had a problem with my wheel ever since it was rebuilt by my good friend John Bickelhaupt! Then again, I have had plenty of bikes with factory built wheels that have never had a broken spoke. I guess it just depends, as they say.

  • Harvey

    I bought my Windsor Tourist in 2006 and have since then about 20,000 miles on the odometer. Still the first chain and gear set! Used up two sets of tires. It is very reliable bike, a real “work horse”, and I have transported 50 pound parcels on the carrier without problems. It has always been a good and reliable companion.

    The spoke problem is not unique to the Windsor. Before the Windsor, I had many spoke problems with two other bikes as well, until I rebuilt the wheels withe regular and a little bit thicker spokes. I have a very good bike shop and the owner told me that the “stainless” is the problem. Stainless steel is harder, stiffer and less elastic than “regular” spokes. So even if they tend to rust, regular steel spokes are more durable than stainless.

    My Windsor is now almost at the end of its service life with the gears worn out and the rims with some wobble due to my rough riding. Replacing the parts and rebuilding the bike would most probably cost me more here in Japan than buying a new one. I will hand carry one on the plane (yes, you can!) during my next visit to the US.

  • Patrick Burns

    I am currently looking into buying a new bike, and your website really helped me figure out that the Windsor will be a great fit for me. Thanks a bunch for the insights. Happy trails!

  • Cory Smetana

    Hi there. My brother is biking the whole Eurasian land mass this year and I have the pleasure of joining him for a couple months. He has a Surly LHT, but also has a much higher income than I do. I just purchased the Windsor Tourist because of the price, of course, as well as the decent parts. After reading many forums/blogs on the bike I’ve come to the conclusion that I absolutely NEED to do something about the back wheel before I’m ride nearly 2,000 miles. I’m thinking about replacing all the spokes on the back wheel. When I do this, what brand should I choose? Also, should I do the same for the front wheel? I will have around 25 lbs on the back panniers and I weigh 200 lbs myself. On top of the spokes, should I be worried about the hubs, nipples, or tires for the distance that I’m riding? Thank you in advance. Please respond soon as I am leaving towards the end of June.

  • Wow, that sounds so awesome, I wish I could join you! Yes, having your wheel professionally built is quite a good idea before going on such a long distance ride. My rear wheel was rebuilt by a long-time wheel builder friend of mine. I used DT spokes because that was what the bike shop sold me and they said they were good spokes. My wheel-builder friend of mine says Wheelsmith spokes are what he recommends. On the other hand, he says that building a wheel properly by someone who has been professionally trained to build wheels is more important than the brand of spokes. I personally don’t know much about wheel-building, so I would consult your local wheel-builder for more info. Peter White is the world-renown bicycle wheel builder, and I have a friend of mine who has ordered wheels from him. See http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/wheels.asp. Good luck and have fun on your journey! Oh, and you probably don’t have to be worried about the hubs and tires. The hubs that come with the Tourist are fine. You might want to invest in some high quality, durable tires. I use cheap tires, but I also install tire liners which prevent flats very well. But, as I have said, I would go talk to your local wheel-builder or bicycle mechanic and they’ll fill you in on what you need to do.

  • Cory Smetana

    Korey,

    Thanks for the super fast response! That was really helpful. I’m thinking of possibly ordering some Schwalbe Marathon Dureme tires and using the tires on the Windsor as back ups. I also had a couple more questions on the wheels. I know you had your buddy put in your spokes, but my close friend who works at the local bike shop isn’t able to replace mine. I called the shop and asked for a price and they said I’d be better buying a whole new wheel. I’m not sure if they completely understood that I just wanted the spokes changed. I’ll have to recheck, but I was going to ask how much changing the spokes will run me. Also, most of my weight will be on my back wheel, so should I not worry about my front wheel or change those spokes just to be safe as well? Thank you in advance!

  • Yeah, I have a cycling friend of mine who swears by Schwalbe Marathon tires, so he’d probably agree with you 100% on your tire selection. :-) Buying a whole new wheel right off the shelf is a good idea if it was built by hand, but you’re right back to square one if it was a machine built wheel (which most wheels are). A wheel that’s going to stay strong and true is one that is built by hand by a professional wheel builder, because they’ve got a lot of good tricks to making the wheel stronger such as “tensioning”. Ever since my rear wheel was rebuilt (I’ve put about 2500 miles on it since then), it has been perfectly true and I haven’t had a single problem. Since you are going to be traveling across Europe and Asia, you might consider having both wheels rebuilt since if you break spokes in some random country, you may have trouble finding a shop, speaking the language, and so on. That and you probably want to spend your vacation time seeing the sites instead of wandering around some city looking for a bike shop! :-)

  • Cory Smetana

    Thanks Korey, you have a great point there. So the main problem with the wheel seems to be that it is machine built and not that the spokes are weak? Or is it a combination of the two? I’m asking because its seems silly a bike made for touring would have spokes breaking right off the bat when it should be made to last for miles even with added weight. If the spokes are good quality and the reason they’re breaking is because they were put together by machine, then I’m thinking of just taking it in to get a tension test/ have them true the wheel. Also, if I do decide to have them rebuild it what length spokes should I look for? I’d rather buy my own because the shop charges $1.50/spoke which adds up. Thanks again.

  • That’s correct. Even if a wheel is built with lower quality spokes, if it is built by hand by someone who has been trained in the “art” of wheel building, it will last a long time and probably will not even need to be trued for years. All wheels nowadays are machine built and I’ve had friends with bikes from Raleigh, Trek, and so on break spokes. The only thing I know about spokes is that “butted” spokes are good to use since they are nice and thick on the ends (where thickness matters) and thinner in the middle to conserve weight. Other than that feature, there’s nothing much else to worry about spokes. In my article above, I first took my wheel with a broken spoke to a professional bike shop and they replaced the spoke, and then I just ended up breaking another spoke. So, if you’re going to take your wheels to a professional, make sure they do a thorough job even if it costs you more money in labor :-) Whoever rebuilds the wheel will tell you what lengths of spokes you need, which will most likely be the lengths of spokes the wheel is currently built with. Also note that the lengths of all the spokes on the front wheel are all equal, whereas half the spokes are the rear wheel are shorter than the other half due to one side (or flange) of the rear hub having a greater diameter than the other side. But like I said, your wheel builder will tell you what you need. Oh, I also highly recommend that you load up your bike with a bunch of weight (camping gear, cans of food, whatever) and go for a 10 or 20 mile bike ride one or two weeks before you go on your trip. Wobble around, bounce around, and do some heavy cranking to verify that your wheels and all other parts are working well!

  • Glen H.

    Hey Korey,

    “I already own a couple of road bikes, but those do poorly on dirt and gravel trails. And the mountain bike that I own just won’t keep up with a touring bike on road ways. Thus, the touring bicycle is the perfect solution. The tires and rims are medium width, it has drop bars for a more aerodynamic riding position, and it has tire/frame clearance for fenders to keep yourself from getting mucked up.” That my situation out here in Virginia.

    I am a heavy rider (over 250 pounds) and currently ride a Trek 100 comfort bike which is a sled. The terrain I ride is like yours and a touring bike makes sense because of its larger tires, durability and speed. Gonna buy from Bike Direct and they have quite a few brands offered. Based on what’s out there, would you still stick with the Windsor and why?

    Thanks,

    Glen H.

  • Hi Glen. I really haven’t researched the latest line up of touring bikes since I bought the Windsor Tourist, but I highly recommend that you look around locally and online just to make sure your chosen purchase is the very best bang for your buck. The bicycle market is very competitive in the last few years and this is a good thing for consumers! I did notice recently that Bikes Direct has added the Motobecane Gran Tourismo to their touring bike section. It looks as though they’ve modeled it after the Surly LHT, and it’s got some nicer components and lower gearing than the Windsor Tourist, which is nice. Anyway, deciding on the touring bike that best fits your needs requires quite a bit of searching and comparing, but it is very worth it. Almost every major bicycle company makes some kind of touring bike, and it is good to compare all of them. Good luck and happy riding!

  • costin

    i’m about to buy this bike. it is a mid-2000′s bianchi volpe in disguise. my beloved volpe was stolen recently, and had been with me throughout switzerland, austria, italy, germany, slovenia, and three trips to france. i promise it is the same bike–maybe the bianchi came with better wheels–but it’s the same exact bike otherwise. i am overjoyed to have stumbled upon it at bikesdierct. check out old pics of the bianchi volpe, you’ll see!

  • You have a good eye, Costin! Yes, bikesdirect probably modeled the Tourist after the Volpe design. Sorry your bike got stolen, but I hope you find many more travels with your new bike. Come back and comment on what you think of the Tourist after you’ve put a few miles on it!

  • Craig Dillon

    Regarding Cro-Moly: I have read that for serious touring a steel bike is much superior to anything else for one simple reason.
    If you get in an accident, you can bend a steel frame back to being usable. An aluminum bike is trashed. I suspect that carbon frames would be toast too, in a serious accident — like a truck rolling over it.
    Plus, when touring, weight is not much of an issue, since you are going at a steady rate.

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