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Type of Bike???

I’m looking to get a new bike (mine is 20+ years old) before the ride. Any recommendations on a good touring type bike under $1k? I’m so stoked for this ride…

26 Replies

Jboz, January 31, 2020 at 6:43 am

This will totally vary from person to person based on your body, your riding style and your budget. Long days in the saddle and a more touring oriented pace rather than a speed pace, you may want to consider a bike with a more relaxed geometry (bars slightly higher than the seat). Some options that weren’t available 20 years ago…road bikes with disc brakes & thru-axle come to mind. Also, if you plan to use a rack or if you anticipate self-supported touring down the road, look for a bike with rear eyelets…not all road bikes have them. Look at gravel bikes too, they look and ride similar to road bikes, but can accommodate fatter tires. Carbon has come a long way and is less expensive than 20 years ago, but unless you buy used it will be hard to keep it under $1k.

But this is a YMMV thing.


klkoopman, January 31, 2020 at 9:23 am

Cannondale has a budget line of bikes called “Quick”. The “Topstone” series are also nice bikes as are a couple of low-end Synapses in this price range. Buying used is also an excellent way to go.


Dusty Ayers, January 31, 2020 at 10:40 am

What is your budget?


Cory Hedin, January 31, 2020 at 1:12 pm

Going used will limit your choices, but it is the best bang for your buck if you want better components and decent frame. I’d also recommend going with something other than a touring bike. I’ve rode my gravel bike the past 4 RAGBRAIs, and I wouldn’t ride any of my other bikes. Reason being you can do gravel loop, and some of the roads we ride are of poor quality, potholes, train tracks, scattered debris, etc, plus handle better when it’s wet. Wider tires and more grip is a good thing. Good luck!


KenH, January 31, 2020 at 1:12 pm

You might want to look at local bike shops to see what they may have or know of as “trade-ins”. Some of the bikes people are going to mention here will be well above your $1k budget (because they won’t notice that you said that) but some of them would be under your limit if you can find a used one.

The roads of RAGBRAI are in generally good condition but there will cracks, potholes, super aggressive rumble strips, what have you along the route. I’m strongly in favor of wide tires because they deal gracefully with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Gravel bikes, touring bikes, “adventure touring” (or whatever they call them these days) bikes will all have the capability to accept generously wide tires. Set up properly they will be comfortable for the long haul. Some of them are quite fast, all of them are fast enough. I bought a new bike for RAGBRAI and all my other riding a year and a half ago. It’s a Trek 920 and it is nearly twice your budget, new, but you might find one used and if you can it is worth a look over. It is an adventure touring bike. I love mine!


NYC Highwheeler, January 31, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Having been adjacent to the bike industry for over twenty five years, I’ll let you in on a little secret – Most bikes are kind of all the same. Not in the sense that the super-racer roadie bike is the same as a MTB, but if you compare one brand to another, there is almost no difference in similarly priced models. This is because almost all brands use the same Shimano and/or SRAM components, and most of their frames are almost identical – often they literally come from the same factory in Taiwan, and the only difference is color and decals.

Note: Department store bikes are usually completely Chinese made, and very high-end bikes can have US made frames, although there seem to be fewer every year.

This means, don’t worry about brand, and just focus on finding a good bike shop you like. Work with them to select a bike that fits your body and personality. Save about 10-20% of the purchase price to select a stem, saddle, and perhaps most important tires specific to you. High quality, light weight tires matched to the type of riding you plan on doing is going to have 10X more impact on the feel of the bike than any brand or frame material.

Finally, now that your bike is 20 years old, it’s time to upgrade to a 25-30 year old bike! I have done RAGBRAI on a 1993 Specialized Stumpjumper twice now, and it is the perfect bike. Upright riding position, full range of gears, and nigh indestructible! It has all the rack, fender, and waterbottle mounts, fits any kind of tire (I like 1.5″front, 2.0″rear slicks) and I never worry about it getting scratched, dented, or cracking. If it got lost in transit, or stolen (I honestly almost never bother even locking it), it would be sad, but I got my monies worth out of it like 20 years ago.


Dusty Ayers, January 31, 2020 at 2:57 pm

I have an old bike I take on Ragbrai too! I’m a big fan of not bringing something new and shiny on Ragbrai. Strictly for peace of mind. Things happen, theft, though rare, exists and crashes or other dings occur during transport or in towns. I’m also a fan of buying Used unless I’m going to actually build a bike up how I want it (personal preference). I would look at Craigslist or whatever in your local area. If you know what to look for you can find some amazing deals. You can probably message folks on this board for opinions as well.

I’ve done Ragbrai on skinny tires several times and next time I’m going fatter. I’ve seen enough wrecks that I want to be able to roll safely off the road if necessary. Also, if you’re in even half way decent shape from 25-28mm to 38-40mm won’t impact you that much. I also will be doing it with disc brakes for the inevitable wet day/s.

Most important though is fit. If the bike doesn’t fit you there’s no way a fancy make and model will make up for a lot of miserable miles. A more relaxed geometry is going to benefit all but the most serious roadie over the course of all that saddle time.

If I were in your boots I’d check out something like this:

Good luck!


Eric Strobel, February 1, 2020 at 11:10 am

So I’m hoping I can get something under $1,000. Preferably one that is more comfortable than a racing type bike. I’m not in this for the speed but the journey:)


Eric Strobel, February 1, 2020 at 11:13 am

Great tips and thank you. Yes, geometry and as comfortable I can get a bike is important to me. I won’t be breaking any speed records. Just enjoy the ride, meet great folks and create memories is the goal. I like your tip for the fatter tires and I will definitely check that out as well.


NYC Highwheeler, February 1, 2020 at 3:03 pm

That Fuji is an amazing deal, and a perfect RAGBRAI bike in almost every way (I prefer MTB Handlebars, but some prefer road.) If it were my size, and not 1500 miles away, I would grab that Fuji quick


Craig Engstrom, February 2, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Based on your price point, and likely needs, take a look at the Kona Rove or the Salsa Journeyman (this one is available at REI). Both are excellent all-purpose bikes for touring, off road, and more. The Journeyman comes with more mounting points. Of course, others have already noted you may also find a deal at a LBS on a used bike, and you should consider geometry for your body type. But, for what it’s worth, I am a fan of both the bikes mentioned and gives you a more specific answer. Cheers!


ESchiers, February 3, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Hi Eric- If you can find one, a Long Haul Trucker (or Disc Trucker) made by Surly is fabulous; there’s almost a cult following behind this touring bike. If you can’t tell, I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. It retails new at $1325 which is a bit over your budget- but if you start looking now, you’re likely to find one used.


KenH, February 3, 2020 at 3:10 pm

Here’s a collection of bikes I was looking at when I was looking in 2018. I thought they were all worth looking at. They are all over your budget because I had a different budget but you should easily find them under your budget either used or as new/old, unsold stock at a dealer if you are so lucky. Some of them (like the Fuji’s) may have sister models at lower price points even today. My budget started at $1500 and it crept up to $2000 but then a late season Trek sale brought my purchase in at $1700….

Brand Model Price (2018)
Marin Four Corners $1039
Salsa Journeyman $1099
Fuji Jari 1.7 $1099
KHS TR101 $1099
REI CO-OP ADV 3.1 $1199
Jamis Renegade Expat $1199
Specialized AWOL $1200
Surly Bridge Club $1200
Giant Toughroad SLR 1 $1275
Fuji Jari 1.5 $1299
Masi Giramondo $1299
Fuji Touring Disc $1299
REI CO-OP ADV 1.1 $1299


mootsman, February 3, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Check the used bike market. You can get some deals there on bikes that would cost thousands new. And of course you’ll need at least $400 for shoes, cloths, a helmet, floor pump and tire repair kit. Might want to make any bike sale contingent on the bike passing inspection at a bike shop you trust. Checking for cracked carbon, wheels that are true (un-dented rims) and such. And a good owner of a used bike would have it spotless to show to buyers. Test ride also listening for creaks. Most are just dirt in some threads or the headset bearing surface that can be cleaned out.


Eric Strobel, February 3, 2020 at 7:41 pm

Thanks everyone. Lots of great tips…keeping me busy in my research:) Has anyone heard of the Tomasso line of bikes? Also, I used to ride on 25c tires. Is there much of a difference to go to 28C? More comfortable ride? Effect your pace much?


Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 26 total)

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