touring bike for the desert?

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regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
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950
My mountain bike is some sort of not-remotely top-of-the-line Trek from the 90s, I doubt it's worth $100. I mostly like it just fine, and I don't want a suspension, and I have zero interest in riding aggressively. I will never compete against another human being while riding a bike.

On the other hand, I would like wider tires and some newer components like disk brakes. My main interest looking forward is longish rides in the desert: so lots of rocks, gravel, and sand. Perhaps some bikepacking. I'm not convinced that the weight and awkwardness of a true fat tire bike is worth it. Anyone know what it is that I actually want here? I was sort of looking at the Surly Krampus:

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/krampus

Anyone have good opinions about this one, or suggestions for other places to look? Thanks!!
 

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blueeyes

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I own and love my 3.8 tire fully rigid Salsa Mukluk. I have zero issue riding that bike unloaded or loaded with 35-40 lbs of gear.

Yes it rolls slower than my full suspension but I have never regreted taking it on a trip or a ride. It does take the switchbacks a little bit different than a smaller tire bike.

That being said I would love a plus bike. I have only ridden a full squishy plus bike but loved it!

I would say with what you are describing you would love a plus bike. Best thing is to test ride a few bikes.

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regehr

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That being said I would love a plus bike. I have only ridden a full squishy plus bike but loved it!

I would say with what you are describing you would love a plus bike. Best thing is to test ride a few bikes.
Thanks!
 

b.stark

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Surly makes good stuff. I ride a Santa Cruz Chameleon with 27.5+ and like it. Have yet to try bike packing but that was part of the reason I went with plus tires. The plus tires do help in loose sand/soft soil but they won't magically float over stuff. Certainly better than skinny tires. I do mostly trail riding with mine and it does plenty well there for me.

Hydraulic disc brakes are awesome.

Definitely try to ride a few bikes. Especially coming from a 90s mtb, the new ones are completely different machines. Way more capable, but it may take a bit to get used to. I've had my chameleon not quite a year and am still getting used to what it can do compared to my previous mtb, which was a decent (more xc-oriented) bike from the mid 2000s.
 

blueeyes

ephemeral excursionist
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Hydraulic brakes are great. I run mechanical on my Mukluk easier to fix out on the trail if you run into issues on a long trek away from home. I am a fan of my Sprye brakes.

Just something to think about if you plan to get serious with the bike trips. Stay away from Avid brakes.

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b.stark

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I was traumatized by avid bb5 mechanical disc brakes in the past. Still have scars...
 

SteveR

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Sep 22, 2016
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Yes- sounds like a b plus (commonly known as 27.5 although it's really 27") hardtail is what you need. Disclosure- I'm a fan of hardtails and despite owning a fully, I ride my "all mountain" Chromag steel 29'er about 90% of the time. Bikes have changed a lot (for the better!) over the last decade but one thing has remained constant- make the rounds and find a bike shop that you feel good about, test ride a bunch and get the bike that fits and works best for you. The Santa Cruz Chameleon that is mentioned above gets good reviews as a versatile all-rounder, but being a Santa Cruz you may pay a bit more. I'm sure there are some similar options out there. You probably don't need to fuss TOO much about the components on your potential bike- but pay attention to the tires. For desert riding in sand etc- the wider the better- at least 2.8-3", however the downside to wider tires is often weaker sidewalls resulting from Mfg's trying to keep the weight down. A good bike shop should be willing to do some swapping in that regard, as well as for seat, stem etc if needed to fine tune. Personally- I would get one that could also be set up to run 29" x 2.4 wheels/tires if desired- faster and more fun for "trail" riding if you get bitten by the mtb bug and take up mtb more seriously. In my opinion. Include an accurate pump / tire gauge in your budget- wider tires and rims call for closer attention to air pressure- a psi or two either way can make a huge difference in traction and handling.
 

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