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I am about to go off on a 2,600km tour from Austia through Italy, finish in Malta. I originally planned to do this solo trip on my Giant Trance x2 full suspension but decided not to since it is too high maintenance.

So after a lot of searching (budget being the greatest restriction), I have chosen a Bianchi Hybrid camaleonte http://www.evanscycles.com/products/bianchi/camaleonte-iii-alfine-2009-hybrid-bike-ec019250. Now I'm confused, since it only seems to have 8 gears!

What are your thoughts on the bike? Would you recommend adding on new chain rings if it is possible?

Thanks

How many km per day are planning? 200km

Are you going to ride over the passes? Yes

What gear are you going to carry? Tent, clothes and cooking stuff

Will you have other riders with you? no

What level of riding and touring experience do you have? I've done 2,000 km in 9 days on a high-end mtb

...and it only has one chain ring, os it is a 1x8 setup..in the mountains :S

Should I look at another bike? It is looking like it! Or is it easy to add 2 other chain rings to the bike?

Thanks Ian

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How many km per day are planning? Are you going to ride over the passes? What gear are you going to carry? Will you have other riders with you? What level of riding and touring experience do you have? –  andy256 Jul 23 at 7:12
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@Papuass: You could actually count this as a benefit -- no need to clean the chain, fiddle with derailleur adjustments, bent hangers and broken parts on the roadside. Many, many touring bikes come with internally geared hubs like the alfine or even the Rohloff for just this reason. –  arne Jul 23 at 9:20
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I'd say 200km a day is overly ambitious. 100km would be more realistic. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 23 at 12:04
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If you look at another bike then consider a true touring bike. Look for front fork rack mounts, triple chain ring, and consider steal over aluminum. –  Blam Jul 23 at 12:44
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@Blam - Actually I think he should purchase it legitimately. ;) –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 23 at 16:29

4 Answers 4

The problem won't be the number of gears. Even 3 could be enough - if they were the right ones and you don't mind being slower. More important is the range, the difference between the lowest and the highest gear.

The range of the Alfine 8 speed hub is higher than what you would get of a traditional chain derailleur with only 8 gears (1 front, 8 rear). But its lower than the range of an Alfine 11 speed, a Rohloff hub or a common mtb setup.

I use an Alfine 8 speed on my commuter. I only really use gears 4 to 8. 4 or 5 are perfect to start from traffic lights, 8 is perfect on a slight descent.

The cog can be replaced to shift the gears in one direction (I plan to install a smaller one to get the used gears more to the middle, leaving the highest gear for faster descents or tail winds). That is not however something you can easily do on the road.

Whether the gear range fits your needs can be simulated with your other bike. There exist some gear ratio calculators online, most of them include the common internal gear hubs. Plug in the values of your Trance (wheel size, cassette sizes, ...) and find the ratios that correspond to the gears on the Bianchi (I think my Alfine came with a 20 teeth cog ... might be 22). Then try if those gears are right for what you expect on your trip.

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The Alfine 11 only has extra gears on the high end, the lowest ratios are the same. –  Rider_X Jul 24 at 2:25

I don't have experience running 2600 km tours but have ridden 800 km and similar long rides. On a 8-speed bicycle, by the way.

If the bicycle has only single chainring at the front I would recommend to take a bike with two or even three chainrings on the front for long climbs which are definitely present in Italy and Austria, otherwise the first serious climb (some 1000 meters above the sea, 7~9%) will destroy you.

Regarding this particular bicycle I would avoid Bianchi and avoid aluminium frames. There's nothing particularly wrong with both of them, but Bianchi recently got reputation of "not so reliable" bicycle maker and a decent steel (Cr-Mo) frame will be more sturdy and cheaper. Even used one is fine, since Cr-Mo runs quite long time without issues.

Second thing which concerns me is the "non-traditional" shifter. You won't get it back working if something happens.

What is good about this bicycle - it is light, which is important in long rides. So, I would suggest to look for this balance - lightness vs sturdiness.s

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Yes, the number of gears is not important, it's how low they go. –  andy256 Jul 24 at 0:28

For such a trip I strongly recommend a purpose built touring bike.

Because of the loads you'll carry and the climbs, it must have some quite low gears. Most people would need to able to stay seated on 5-7% grades with the bike fully loaded. Some of the passes have sections of over 10%, so the lower gears will definitely help there. Plenty of people use internal gear hubs for touring, sometimes with extra chain rings, so go your own way there. Just make sure you've got those low gears.

The bike should have drop bars to give you more variety in your riding position, and it should have relaxed geometry, so that it's nice and stable under the load.

For just one tour, I don't think it matters whether the frame is steel or aluminium. What matters more IMO is that you get a week or two of riding the bike you'll take for your body acclimatise to it's particular fit. Two well-fitted bikes still feel different and under load and long kms a new bike can cause aches, pains, and even injuries. So ride it before you go, starting with short rides and increasing to 100km.

The hardest thing to advise on is distance per day. On the one hand, planning to average 200km per day sounds huge. On the other hand you say you've done those distances before on a MTB. Are you as fit as you were then? Most serious cyclists would be happy with 100-150km per day, or less as we get older. So the strongest advise I would give is to plan conservatively, be flexible, and plan some rest days.

In that part of the world I would carry spare tubes, a puncture repair kit, and a few tools. But not too much; you are never far from assistance.

Sounds like a great adventure! Enjoy :-)

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For what it's worth I have toured on an Alfine 11 speed through some hilly areas across Norway. The lowest ratio is identical between the 8 and 11, the 11 only gets a few extra gears on the high end and slightly smaller jumps between gears.

When I toured with it my final ratio between the chain ring and cog was 1.8:1, which is slightly lower than Shimano's recommendation and may have contributed to an earlier demise.

I rode with four panniers, full gear and mainly on dirt roads. Overall I found it to be passable, but not ideal and really requires a strong rider. Under load I think there is is more inefficiency in the internal hub than a well kept chain drive. On short rides it is not too noticeable, but if you are trying to clear 200 km a day you will notice the difference. I was trying to clear the same distance and figure I was losing a hour a day due the the efficiency differences.

In short it should be doable, but not ideal.

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