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Advice on potentially purchasing a touring bike in Japan (188cm / 6'2" rider)

Sudz

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Nov 23, 2022
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I currently have a Giant Content 2 road bike, though am considering getting something a bit more sturdy for some extended touring. My current road bike has been fine for credit card touring inside of Japan (staying at hostels/hotels rather than camping) though I plan to use my bike for an extended tour outside of the country in the next year or so (likely encouring some fairly rough roads).

One possible issue is my height. I'm 6'2" / 188 cm, and actually my current bike frame (the biggest that was available for my size) is advertised to a max height of 185 (it's been fine, though does feel like it could be a touch bigger).

I wonder if anyone has any suggestions for purchasing touring bikes here in Japan - or if it would be better to buy something overseas? One advantage of buying it here would be the ability to get accustomed to it before setting out on any extended trip (and customizing accordingly). Based on my online searches, most of the advertised bikes that pop up seem to be for smaller people (no surprises there).

Cheers.
 

OreoCookie

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That is tough. Many makes and models are imported only up to a certain size. Some brands only import less popular models in sizes XS and S, others up until M. (I was thinking of getting a BMC mountain bike, but the largest size it was available in was M, and I need L. I reckon you’d at least need size XL. So that’ll be slim pickings.

Probably you will have more luck importing a bike from abroad.
 

jdd

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If you can get to a Trek store, the shop will be able to see their japan inventory online for any model. I'm not sure what Specialized offers for touring, but an authorized dealer should be able to check. There might be a deal on something unsold.

One compromise, depending on how loaded/heavy your touring will be, might be a gravel bike.
 

hat and beard

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Apr 3, 2012
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I'm a hair or two taller than you, and yes, it's difficult to find a bike.

I've always bought "sports-touring" bikes from the 70s and 80s because:
1) I don't need anything racy. I like touring and need fenders and wider tires. They tend to have good clearances.
2) It's easy to do your own maintenance / repairs
3) They're cheap.
And importantly for you...
4) It is much easier to find them in large sizes. Have a look at Yahoo Auction. 60cm+ frames of this type pop up relatively frequently (if I don't snatch them up first 😇)
 

OreoCookie

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Stupid question, but are they really that cheap? AFAIK pricing is shaped like a bathtub, i. e. prices drop when new, then they are constant and low, and if you have something worth keeping and that something is in good condition, prices eventually go up.

Bikes from the 1970s and 1980s are vintage and they can be quite valuable for the vintage community.

I think something more modern has advantages, e. g. mounting points for bags and accessories.
 

kiwisimon

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Places like Wiggle or such stock brands like Cube, Fuji, Kona that make solid tourers.
If you are going touring you'd obviously be competent enough to assemble a bike out of a box.
If it were me I'd not be going disc. Just because anyone/ anywhere can fix cantilevers.
 

hat and beard

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Stupid question, but are they really that cheap? AFAIK pricing is shaped like a bathtub, i. e. prices drop when new, then they are constant and low, and if you have something worth keeping and that something is in good condition, prices eventually go up.

Bikes from the 1970s and 1980s are vintage and they can be quite valuable for the vintage community.
Of course a vintage Rene Herse or something will be expensive, but generally. no.

I've scored some quite nice frames (Schwinn Paramount I bought on this forum for example) for the price of a few nice meals. It cost way less than something comparable and modern, like say a Surly, would.

Of course if you want modern stuff like disc brakes and through axles an old bike probably won't cut it, but I think it's worth consideration.
 

OreoCookie

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Places like Wiggle or such stock brands like Cube, Fuji, Kona that make solid tourers.
If you are going touring you'd obviously be competent enough to assemble a bike out of a box.
If it were me I'd not be going disc. Just because anyone/ anywhere can fix cantilevers.
I think your advice is spot-on — with the exception of disc brakes, they just aren't a big deal.

Cube makes good bikes with very good value. Whether you want to go with a dedicated tourer or you build up what they call a “cross bike” in Japan is mostly a question of taste and what you want to optimize for.

The latter solution will be lighter and you'd have to add fenders and the like. (Although there are models that come with fenders as stock.) My mom had a bike like that and loved it. It weighed only 12.3 kg in size small with fenders and a light-weight rack. It was super cheap and came with hydraulic rim brakes (that was about 15 years ago). She loved that thing, and it still works, it just needs a service. (My mom stopped using it when she got sick, so it has been sitting for a few years. Who knows how old those tires are. Plus, I am not sure whether the brakes have ever been bled. )

Ditto for the question of whether you want flat bars or drop bars. Personally, I am a flat bar person, but you do you, choices are out there. If you go for drop bars, keep an eye on the gearing, some manufacturers put on harder gearing, which is not necessarily ideal.

Otherwise, I'd look for a bike with a suspension fork (like the ones @kiwisimon chose) that uses a spring rather than air. They aren't as good, but they require much less maintenance.

If I were to design a touring bike from scratch, I'd probably go 1x, though.
I've scored some quite nice frames (Schwinn Paramount I bought on this forum for example) for the price of a few nice meals. It cost way less than something comparable and modern, like say a Surly, would.
Yeah, but what about all the other parts? If you add all of that up, aren't you more or less spending as much as an entry-level bike then? Plus, you'd have to build it up yourself. If you like that sort of stuff and/or have a parts collection going, then this becomes a much more appealing option.

(I'm just playing devil's advocate. The option of getting something used is definitely worth thinking about.)
 

hat and beard

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Yeah, but what about all the other parts? If you add all of that up, aren't you more or less spending as much as an entry-level bike then? Plus, you'd have to build it up yourself. If you like that sort of stuff and/or have a parts collection going, then this becomes a much more appealing option.

(I'm just playing devil's advocate. The option of getting something used is definitely worth thinking about.)
Of course. That's all true. I think if you pick parts wisely you can still get a pretty nice vintage bike a bit cheaper than a new entry level bike, though. Just because you have a vintage bike doesn't mean it necessarily needs vintage bling, especially it it's just a run of the mill sports touring bike. The cool thing about bikes from that era is that they used standards that are still widely used today, and that were very widely used 10 or so years ago. There's nothing stopping anyone from throwing a 10 year old Shimano Sora groupset on a 40 year old bike... except good taste maybe.

It's not for everyone, of course, but it is one way to find larger bikes if you don't mind all the little caveats that come with it. Just throwing the idea out there in case the OP hadn't considered it.
 

OreoCookie

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Of course. That's all true. I think if you pick parts wisely you can still get a pretty nice vintage bike a bit cheaper than a new entry level bike, though. Just because you have a vintage bike doesn't mean it necessarily needs vintage bling, especially it it's just a run of the mill sports touring bike. The cool thing about bikes from that era is that they used standards that are still widely used today, and that were very widely used 10 or so years ago. There's nothing stopping anyone from throwing a 10 year old Shimano Sora groupset on a 40 year old bike... except good taste maybe.
Completely agreed, especially if you like the looks or the vibe. (Although I'd probably go with a mountain bike groupset for a touring bike.)
 

kiwisimon

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If I were to design a touring bike from scratch, I'd probably go 1x, though.
for touring I'd be going regular old school 2 or 3 X. 1X requires tighter tolerances and narrow chains that may not be serviceable out in the boondocks.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
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My touring bike runs MTB 2x 11 speed setup.
A loaded bike climbing a mountain is not gonna happen enjoyably with just a 40t ring up front.
My road bike will spin right up on Yabitsu with a 1x, but that is 20kg lighter than a loaded touring rig.
 

OreoCookie

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for touring I'd be going regular old school 2 or 3 X. 1X requires tighter tolerances and narrow chains that may not be serviceable out in the boondocks.
On the other hand, less can go wrong. 1x MTB drivetrains have been out for about a decade, so I don’t think servicing it will be a problem. I reckon it also depends on the load. If you really need a super easy gear, because of the load you are carrying, you might need a 2x setup, that’s true. A lot of serious tourers run a Rohloff gear hub or a Pinion gear box coupled with a carbon belt drive. But then we are talking about serious money.

I was reminded of that when I went for a 3-hour ride with my kids in tow. The trailer with said two kids and assorted doo-dads weighed 35–40 kg. I definitely felt that on some of the forest roads, they were a bit steeper than I remembered and had to go above threshold for some sections (which wasn’t my intention that day).
My touring bike runs MTB 2x 11 speed setup.
What gearing do you run?
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
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What gearing do you run?
38/28 x 11x40
I give up little to my 1x gravel on the flats, but I can climb straight up a wall. Also - I have a better shot of finding the magic gear - which loaded and on an upgrade is pretty important to me.

Gravel:
40x11/46 7.3, 6.2, 5.3, 4.7, 4.2, 3.8, 3.3, 2.9, 2.5, 2.2, 1.7

Touring
38x11/40 6.9, 5.9, 5.1, 4.5, 4.0, 3.6, 3.2, 2.8, 2.5, 2.2, 1.9
28x11/40 5.1, 4.3, 3.7, 3.3, 3.0, 2.7, 2.3, 2.1, 1.8, 1.6, 1.4
 

OreoCookie

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With a 11-50 cassette you'd get essentially the same easiest gear. Although I do understand why you'd want more closely spaced gears, the 11-40 cassette is probably the most tightly spaced mountain bike cassette I know of.
 
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