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
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.
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.
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.