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I am planning to get a new bike specifically for touring purposes. Though there are special one out there (like TREK 920), I was wondering if anyone has experience of using cyclocross bike for this purpose. I am looking on TREK Crossrip 3 which has mounts for rear and front racks. I have doubts, though, that those mounts will not be strong enough for the good racks (I am currently riding a tweaked MTB with rear Topeak rack which holds up to 25 kg of weight.) Thanks in advance. Alex

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    @paparazzi are you referring to the length of the whole bike, or the length of the chainstays? The latter is an issue for me with big feet, but many people are fine. Touring covers a range of situations from credit card touring on trails to fully loaded on long straight roads. – Chris H Sep 9 '17 at 15:07
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    I'd be very surprised if Trek used under-engineered mounts on some bikes but not others. Rack mounts don't need extreme engineering to be able to support a heavy load. As for chainstay length, the Crossrip has stays 1.5 cm shorter than the 520, which is Trek's standard tourer—manageable. The only aspects of the CrossRip that might give me pause would be the internal cable routing and hydraulic brakes, which would be harder to fix in the middle of nowhere if there's a problem. Depending on where you're touring, those might not be deal-breakers. – Adam Rice Sep 9 '17 at 15:55
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    Can you explain why you think you might prefer a CX bike for touring? If you say that you are getting a new bike specifically for touring, then what do you not like about touring bikes? – kmm Sep 9 '17 at 21:57
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    Well, specifically in TREK920 - gearing. My current bike (TREK4500) chainrings are 22/32/44 with 9 speeds (11/34) while 920 is 28/42 at 11/36. My biggest issue with 4500 is speed on the flat roads which I have noticed have been my major part of my previous tours. So, I started looking at CrossRip - it is lighter, speedier (34/50) and just looks slim. I was not specifically referring to CX; as a commenter below mentioned CRossRIP is not exactly a CX bike. – AlexShevyakov Sep 10 '17 at 8:48
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    I've got about 7,000 all weather commuter miles on a 2015 Crossrip, it's been lovely. The only complaint I've got is that water gets into the rear brake cable and will freeze... However it looks like the Crossrip 3 is full hydro so no issue there. So then the only question is how much repairabilty do you value? A Surly LHT has much simpler components which will be easier to fix in the middle of nowhere... – Ross Sep 11 '17 at 14:03
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I have used a Surly Cross Check for touring and it worked fine, for short tours (2 nights) with just rear panniers up to 3 weeks with front and rear panniers, mostly on dirt roads and some rough trails. While it is ostensibly a cyclocross bike, it does have a bunch of features suited to touring compared to a more modern high performance cx bike (e.g. steel frame, rack mounts, strong wheels, bar end shifters). Since it doesn't have the spoke holder feature of the Long Haul Trucker, I taped some spare spokes to the seat stay. With size EUR43 shoes I didn't have to mount the rear panniers too far back to get clearance despite the shorter chain stays of a cx frame.

Loaded cyclocross frame on 3 week tour

The stock gearing on the a cyclocross bike is nowhere near low enough for touring. I replaced most of the drivetrain, converting to a triple (24/36/48) and the widest range cassette that would work with the stock derailleur (though the derailleur did explode mid-tour, luckily the frame has horizontal dropouts allowing me to run the bike as a singlespeed for a couple of days until I reached a bike shop where I replaced it with a Deore mtb derailleur). EDIT: I note the OP is looking at a bike with 28/42 at 11/36 gear range, much lower than standard road or cx gearing, which should be okay for touring if you're not dealing with steep climbs.

Apart from gearing the other big thing is tyre choice. Get good tyres suited to the kind of surface you will be riding on. Stock tyres are unlikely to offer the comfort and durability you want for touring. A cx frame should have enough clearance to run quite wide tyres (e.g. 700x35 or 40) which will make a huge difference on dirt roads.

The Cross Check specifications say it can carry a max of 25 kg luggage and I exceeded that at times when extra carrying food and water but it was ok (and I'm less than half the max rider weight). Even with ~20 kg luggage you can feel the frame flex but it still handles ok and being steel it's not likely to break. As others have said though, if you want a bike specifically for touring then a touring bike is going to be better than a cx bike, especially if carrying heavy loads, and you won't have to make any (or many) modifications. The appeal of the cx bike for me was the versatility of a bike that I can use (mostly) for commuting and overnight trips.

  • What's the advantage of bar-end shifters? Simpler and more robust? – David Richerby Mar 23 '18 at 8:12
  • @DavidRicherby Yes, simple and robust. Surly have a lengthy explanation. This squillion dollar Tour Divide winning machine uses bar end shifters for this reason. In my experience they suck for riding in traffic but good on the open road. – nicfit Mar 25 '18 at 0:43
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    What did your rear derailer suffer from? – aspseka Mar 25 '18 at 0:59
  • @aspseka "explosion" he said :) – Criggie Mar 25 '18 at 3:21
  • @aspseka It seems like something jammed while pedalling. The derailleur cage twisted and ended up in the spokes, jockey wheels came out, the derailleur hanger (which is part of the frame, not a separate replaceable unit) bent and the chain was twisted. All happened very quickly and ended up in a mess :) Derailleur had been working fine with that cassette for a few hundred kms so I doubt it was a compatibility issue. – nicfit Mar 26 '18 at 2:56
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The Crossrip line isn't quite a cyclocross bike; its designed somewhere between a commuter bike and a cyclocross bike (more relaxed and heavier than most cyclocross bikes; also, rack+fender mounts). FWIW, I do know people who have used the Crossrip for light touring and a day to day basis and were happy. But if you'll be happy is a highly personal decision.

People tour on everything, from BSO's (e.g. what you find in Walmart) to touring bikes to old mountain bikes to cyclocross bikes to full suspension mountain bikes or modern hardtails to fat bikes.

The main characteristics you need to look for are:

  • Comfort (Don't want to be uncomfortable on long rides)
  • Stability/Load Capacity/Handling (You can carry the loads required without issue)
  • Repairability and reliability (Depends on what kind of touring you're doing)
  • Terrain (Can the bike deal with the terrain? An off road tourer may not be ideal for on road and vice versa)

The frame design (i.e. the geometry and materials), tires, saddle, handlebars all come into play for a particular rider for comfort. The frame design and riding position also come into play for stability; tourers often have long wheelbases. Also, where you can mount your loads (front rack, back rack, fork, etc.) come into play with stability and handling.

Repairability and reliability depends on what you want to do. Some tourers like the Surly Long Haul Trucker have things like spoke holders to hold spokes that you can replace broken spokes and what not. If that's your thing, you should look for bikes with that. Also, wheel sizes depending on where you go (700c vs 26"), brake types (disc vs rim; poorer areas probably will make disc (esp. hydraulic disc) repair harder if anything goes wrong) and drivetrain (can you repair it if necessary or is it something thats not going to fail or whatever).

There are secondary concerns as well, such as if you have to ship the bike around or whatever (where S&S couplers or similar may be useful).

The canonical example of a touring bike for the road is something like the Trek 520 or Surly Long Haul Trucker. It's comfy and stable when loaded due to the geometry, uses bar end shifters which are basically indestructible (unlike brifters, which can go in 1 crash), uses a reliable drive train and has beefy wheels so they can carry high loads reliably for long distances. The gearing is also chosen so that you have a low enough gear to lug heavy stuff up an incline, for example (lower than most road bikes). You have either rim brakes or mechanical disc brakes, which should be reliable and hopefully serviceable. Most are made from steel.

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    Thank you, Batman, for an extensive response. My previous touring experience showed that I mostly travel around good roads, off road sometimes but not heavily offroad. While comparing the two (CrossRip3 and 920) I noticed that gearing on CrossRip is better for the paved road where the speedy ride can be expected. The 920 has similar gearing to wehat I have now (28/42 with 10 speeds 11/36) which is ok since 920 is a tweaked MTB, as they say )))). Also I heard that CrossRip is a "light" touring version, which pauses me a bit since I am afraid it will not hold the loaded racks. – AlexShevyakov Sep 9 '17 at 20:47
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    @Alexander "light" touring bike mainly refers to the bike's handling under a load. A light touring bike will flex more under heavier loads and not be as stable as a dedicated tourer. Light refers to the intended load. The racks themselves will stay just fine on the bike if attached properly. – Rider_X Sep 11 '17 at 4:31
  • How long of tours do you intend to take, and with what kind of luggage? – Alan Gerber Sep 11 '17 at 21:41
  • @Alan Gerber The ones I currently planning are around a week and two respectively. Not a "credit card" tours - typically take two full panniers 35 ltr each, + tent/sleeping bag on top. Small (20 ltr) rucksack. Also planning front panniers as well since crossrip has mounts for them. – AlexShevyakov Sep 12 '17 at 9:49

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