Which Bike?
June 23, 2008 11:38 PM   Subscribe

Should I get a racer or a tourer?

Are there any particular advantages of a racing over a touring bicycle? I'm talking mainly in terms of differences between frame geometries, mudguard (fender) incompatibility etc.

Specifically, I'm trying to decide between Condor Cycles' Italia and Agio bikes.

Will be used mainly for commuting but also a little racing. This will be my first non-mountain bike; there is something nice about the single-mindedness of a pure racing bike, but will this end up being a bit much in potholed EC1?
posted by Kiwi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Go for the tourer, which will be more comfortable, more durable, more stable, and more versatile for racks, fenders, etc. You won't win any races on it but if you're strong you'll have a bit of fun. And it'll feel like a "racer" compared to a mountain-bike.

Once you're used to the tourer, you can eventually get the racer in order to experience a stiff/responsive (but jarring), light (but fragile) and agile (but twitchy) bike for fast rides.

The thing is that you need to have a fair amount of experience before you become attuned to the subtle differences in ride quality of different road bikes, especially if you're used to mountain bikes. So why waste your money on a racer when you can't truly "enjoy" it yet?
posted by randomstriker at 1:04 AM on June 24, 2008

I had the same question and ended up getting a hybrid. New touring bikes had become very hard to find when I looked a few years ago, and a Trek hybrid was the closest I could come. The geometry is similar to a touring bike - longer wheelbase, so more stability, but the components are more like a racing bike - high-pressure narrow tires, and a fairly steep high gear.
posted by zippy at 2:55 AM on June 24, 2008

Go for the tourer, its summer now but you'll appreciate the mudguards in winter. If you are commuting the bike will get quite hard wear and tear, so the sturdier the better. Having said that I used to ride a racing bike in London as a commuter and enjoyed it immensely, much edgier, and responsive in comparison to a mountain bike, especially at traffic lights (you can stop for the red, then sprint to catch up Boris Johnson as he cycles through the red light). It was a different style commute though, take work clothes in a bag and shower at work.

If you've got the budget I'd consider 2 bikes? Get a second hand tourer to ride to commute and save up for a racer. One bike is never enough...
posted by MrC at 3:24 AM on June 24, 2008

If the bulk of your mileage is commuting, then a touring style bike would be more appropriate. I love my racing bike, but I like having a more upright position (easier on my back while carrying a bag) and a steel frame for riding on bumpy NYC streets (of course, it would be nicer if it were a wee bit lighter, but you can't have everything). Make sure the components are of a quality that they will be able to withstand the heavier abuse of riding in all sorts of weather, and install slightly wider tires, like a 25 or 28.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:21 AM on June 24, 2008

What kind of racing? Do you hope to win these races, and are you a good enough rider that the bike might reasonably be the thing that makes the difference?
posted by box at 6:10 AM on June 24, 2008

get a sport tourer or audax bike (in your personal Coke vs. Pepsi, that would be the Agio) a dedicated touring bike, like the Trek 520 or a Bruce Gordon will be a heavy, durable steel tank that can take a heavy load and stay stable regardless of rider fatigue or conditions. That sort of bike is, imho, overkill for commuting, especially for an urban commuter who has pretensions towards racing.

A sport tourer is, essentially, a road bike with a more comfortable geometry, braze-ons for racks and brakes designed to accomodate fenders. It will be heavier than a dedicated racer, but not as beefy as full-on tourer. It will also be a little more agile, but won't be twitchy. It will also have braze-ons for a rack so that you can use panniers to have it haul groceries or gear; then take off the rack when you want to show up for a race (or leave the rack on as an extra bit of torment for the guys that you're passing)
posted by bl1nk at 6:54 AM on June 24, 2008

That Agio is very sporty looking for a tourer (and has sporty dimensions)—and they're actually selling it as an audax bike, which is a little different from what I (as an American) think of as touring.

Racing bikes are generally not delicate flowers that cannot be ridden hard over rough roads. If you choose the racer, you might want to put 25 mm or 27 mm tires on it (rather than the 20s or 23s it probably comes with) for street riding, but I would not make perceived sturdiness the deciding factor. In fact, that Agio as pictured has more gimmicky wheels on it.

If fenders and panniers are important to you, get the Agio. Otherwise get whichever one rides better.
posted by adamrice at 6:56 AM on June 24, 2008

racing are faster,aerodynamic and all that jazz but generally more fragile, costs more in terms of components

Tourer what I know of like trek 520 etc look different that the one you are showing( they both look very close to race bikes), touring are more laid back, handlebars are straighter( instead of the drop), cheaper than race bikes and generally more durable
posted by radsqd at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2008

Response by poster: Well thanks everyone for your advice, will probably be going for the Agio.

Whichever way I go, I'll probably need to change my riding style: I have become quite reliant on the upright riding position and disk brakes of my mountain bike (mainly) getting me out of trouble....
posted by Kiwi at 10:56 PM on June 24, 2008

I have become quite reliant on the upright riding position

I'm a big fan of the upright riding position when it comes to seeing and being seen. I've been riding more or less this bike for a couple of years and the combination of bar top and drop levers is fantastic, letting you have the best of both worlds. I see them quite commonly on touring bikes.
posted by primer_dimer at 2:49 AM on June 25, 2008

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