Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Last week, a roadie named Daniel, who just got a magnificent vintage-style steel Bottecchia (photo) wrote with a question that caused me to do a double-take. I started banging out a reply and then hit the delete key and sent something completely different.
Have a look at Dan’s question and my response. It’ll be interesting for him and for me to hear if you agree with what I told him. Please share your take with a comment.
Hi Jim, my question is about touring with my new Bottecchia Leggendaria with Campagnolo components. Is there a way to give myself better gearing for touring with the bike?
It is a 50/34 up front and an 11-29 cassette for the rear cogs. I’ve been trying to read up and watch videos, but getting the compatibility down and figuring out what would work has been a bit complex. I figured it’d make riding a bit more enjoyable carrying panniers and bags.
My Double Thoughts
After reading Dan’s letter and checking out his bike online , my initial thought was to give him a list of options for changing his components to provide easier gearing. But then a wonderful memory came to me.
I recalled visiting the Carnielli factory in Italy in 1990, home of Bottecchia bicycles. It was only a year after Greg LeMond won his third Tour de France riding one of their time trial bikes. And, we American cycling journalists were treated like family. A company director proudly gave me one of their beautiful headbadges for my collection (on the left in the Bottecchia photo at the top of the page).
Thinking about Dan’s new ride being a tribute to classic Bottecchias and about LeMond, a grand champion from a bygone era, changed the way I was thinking about his touring gearing question. And instead of my first idea, I sent the following:
First of all, we used to tour with bags, panniers and everything else on more difficult gearing than you have on your new bike. When I was 28 years old and my wife was 22, we rode about 5,000 miles across America. We left New Hampshire in October a week after the first snowfall.
We rode to Florida first to find warmth and then headed west to Los Angeles. There we turned north following the awesome Pacific Coast Bike Route and stopped in Santa Cruz where we live today (in case you don’t know where that is, we’re right on the coast, 75 miles shy of San Francisco).
Because the weather was unpredictable on that winter crossing, we each carried 60-70 pounds of gear. We had front and rear panniers, handlebar bags plus the racks to support them with sleeping bags on top. And I toted a lovely Bill Moss tent that I recall weighed 7 pounds.
Old-school Alpine Gearing and New-school Compact Gearing
And, here’s the key thing. Back then, bicycles with wide-range double- and triple-chainring drivetrains were available for touring. But, a standard option on many bikes was what was called “alpine” gearing. It consisted of 10 gears with 42/52 chainrings and a 14-28 freewheel. That’s what our gearing was.
Your gearing has a lowest gear with a 34T chainring with a 29T cog, which is called “compact” gearing and is significantly easier to pedal than our 42 x 28 alpine lowest gear. Yet, even carrying all that gear we did perfectly fine. It was my wife’s first long ride too.
Give your Bike’s Stock Gearing a Go
So, I believe you can totally tour with the gearing on that bike already. If you head up super steep long climbs, yeah it’s going to be hard pedaling but you can choose easier roads and do fine.
If this sounds undoable – or unreasonable, maybe it’ll help to think of all the people over 100 years ago who biked all over the world on basic bikes with only a single gear. Yes, they had to walk when they couldn’t pedal. But, it didn’t stop them at all.
Fast forward to our XC ride in 1979 on alpine gearing and we only had to walk part way up one hill all the way across. I don’t remember more than it was somewhere in the hill country of Texas and a howling frigid headwind wore us down.
If fitness is an issue, you’ll want to plan your route accordingly. As long as you give your legs and lungs time to rest and recover after harder days, you will get stronger as you rack up the miles on your tour.
If you want to test what I’m saying, an easy way to do it, is to load up a backpack and go for a ride. Having the weight on your back is not as easy as using the bike as the mule. Still, I think with the gearing on your Bottecchia you’ll be fine.
My Current Gearing
For another comparison, I can point to my current gearing and how it has changed from when I did that USA crossing. Today, I am 67 years old and on my bike my easiest gear is 34-tooth chainring with a 28-tooth cog (compact gearing).
I climb the steepest hills around here. Not with packs. But by choosing routes carefully and carrying a lighter load, I could still tour with this gearing.
Summing up, give it a try, Dan. I think you’re going to like it.”
Now it’s your turn readers. Weigh in with a comment if you agree or disagree and why. Thanks!
Ride total: 9,744
David Frost says
Jim and Dan,
Those gearing thoughts make sense with the comments you include, Jim.
But an important note is that this Bottechia, while a gorgeous bike, is NOT intended for touring. The frame geometry (short chain stays, steeper angles) is clearly intended for unloaded race-type riding. How to carry even a minimal load for credit card touring (staying in hotels, eating in restaurants) will be a challenge.
Bike packing bags could be a solution (RBR has provided good shopping guides), but watch out for abrasion from the straps. There are methods to attach a rear rack without frame eyelets, but again, that lovely paint job will be at risk, and the load hanging off the back will create handling issues. A small front bag suspended from the bars, like those from Dill Pickle, Ruthworks, eoGear, Acorn and others, is certainly feasible. But going much bigger without a fork designed for a front load creates its own steering and handling concerns.
An expensive option might be a low trail fork that includes features for carrying panniers in front on a low-rider rack.. I’ve had a sporty bike converted as such. It works extremely well with a big randonneur bag, with or without panniers. Jeff Lyon in Oregon or similar randonneur-oriented frame builders might be a good source for such a fork.
I’d also suggest using the largest tires that will fit the frame and brakes calipers, at lower pressures suitable for the total load.
David Finlayson says
Our gear ranges are broader and lower now because we know more than we used to. Biodynamics have been applied to efficiency and we are supposed to spin more. As an older rider like you I sometimes find it hard to break old habits, however the science is right.
The Bottecchia is a racing bike replica. Tight wheelbase, no room for big tires, no bosses for racks or fenders. How well would such a bike ride loaded down? Would clamp-on racks scratch that beautiful frame? Even then will there be foot clearance problems or other issues? I would say it’s fair to mention there may be other challenges to his goal than gearing.
The original question is the easy part. The Campagnolo Potenza Groupset on his bike can accept an 11-32 cassette. If his derailleur is short cage, a medium cage can be swapped off a current year Centaur Rear derailleur. A fresh chain may be needed to get the correct length, but no other mods are needed.
pete lampley says
I am with David. There is a reason they make touring bikes. Greg LeMond didn’t ride his Bottechia in the Tour with camping gear attached and you shouldn’t either. Save this beautiful bike for club rides, centuries, and rides with like minded friends. Get yourself a proper touring bike…you won’t regret it.
Agree with the above comments. Touring can be done on this bike that was designed for racing but it’s not optimal.
Touring is not a race, it’s about enjoying seeing beautiful places in comfort.
Try this: Go on a weekend tour with this bike, then do the same thing on a Trek 520 or Surly LHT……then we’ll talk.
Johan Mokhtar says
I can’t agree or disagree with your ‘stick with the stock gearing’ suggestion without knowing more about Daniel.
Reading between the lines, I could assume that he is closer to 28 years old than 67. I would rather know for sure than make assumptions about Daniel’s age, ftness level etc.
Jeff Kessler says
I couldn’t disagree more with you regarding the gearing. Like you, I too could use the gear range you mention when I was in my 20’s, which was 30+ years ago. Now, even though I am plenty fit, I need to use what is essentially mountain bike gears to be able to climb even moderate length hills with a full load, let alone big hills or mountains. I think your recommendation is a recipe for disaster for either someone new to touring with a full load or someone who isn’t superfit, young, and possessing above-average talent.
My first thought, looking at gearing for touring, is, how often will he ever need, or use his 11 cog? He would be better off with a cassette with an additional larger cog.
For any touring bike, I would recommend the lowest gears you can put on the bike. I have never regretted low gears. My Salsa Marrakesh has a low of 22×34, and I use it. Saves your legs.
Brian Feltovich says
It’s a very pretty bike and my vote would be to leave the gearing alone. I’d also leave that bike at home. Find a used Surly LHT or Trek 520 (or any number of steel touring bikes) with better gearing, longer chainstays, and more appropriate geometry. He’d also have room for wider tires (more comfortable and less flat-prone) and better brakes. Honestly, I can’t think of a good reason to take that lovely Bottecchia on a tour.
Rick Oberle says
My first question is “What is ‘better gearing'”??? Better in what way? I rode many, MANY miles on a 42 or 45/52 with a five speed 14 -18 and had no trouble at all. My objective was to micro-dial my gear to my speed so I could pedal 100 RPM give or take. As I say that, I rarely shifted anyhow as I only went two speeds – 17 or 30 mph so I only ever needed two gears in the first place. I exaggerate to make the point but I am pretty sure both the 14 and the 18 were wasted on me. That was a long time ago and now I tour on my “racing” bike which has 39/53 13 -25 ten speed gearing, loaded with 25 pounds of stuff on the back rack panniers (only). I have ridden those gears in Vermont and the Laurentian Mountains but mostly in Michigan where the hills are not that long or steep. I usually climb in the 23 and save the 25 for the steeper/longer stuff which happens occasionally. Use the gears you have- they are all you need. As for the bike, there is always a better one no matter what you have so ride what you have and enjoy it. It’s all about the motor, not the machine!
Well put, Rick. Yes, not the ideal bike for touring, but heck, that’s what it’s meant for… to get from point A to B. I’m only taking about 25 pounds of stuff with me.
Leon Webster says
I was 21 when I got my first “ten speed” — a Peugeot PX-10 because that was the only bike the dealer (Prof. Scholz, at the N.D.S.U. had in stock. His sons are Hans and Alan who went on to be involved with Burley, and Bike Friday. Prof. Scholz shifted the bike into its lowest gear and told me I shouldn’t change the gear until I could pedal at least 80 RPM, even when going up hill. 11 years later I met Dan Henry, the legendary airline pilot. He seemed ancient at the time (probably about 60), but had ridden a century every other day during the previous month. He emphasized the value of spinning, and keeping one’s knees warm and supple.
50 years later I have followed their advice and routinely spin at 90 RPM while riding. my best guess is that I have 250,000 miles (much of it with panniers and full touring gear) on my knees and they are still going strong. this is compared to some of my compatriots who have had to retire from cycling or at least long rides. My touring bike has a low gear of about 19″ = 24 tooth chainring and 34 tooth large cog.
Not everyone is a spinner, and as Jim’s experience shows, some folks do fine with larger gears. But I wouldn’t take the beautiful Bottecchia on a loaded touring trip. I might put a seat pack on it and do some inn-to-inn touring, but my experience is that touring bikes tend to get scratched and dinged as you lean them up against picnic tables, store them overnight in outbuildings, etc. etc. Also, my touring days tend to be rather long, and I would much prefer a bike with long chainstays (to avoid heels hitting the panniers) and relaxed steering for that.
Robert Schofield says
I would like to add my experience. I am 69 years old and hve been riding racing “10 speeds” since 1963. I live in the foothills of the Easter sierras and ride every pass from Reno South to Lone Pine along highway 395. I can only still keep this up due to gearing changes over the years. Without lower gears I would only be riding the flats. With proper gearing I don’t see why I can’t continue riding mountain passes into my 90’s..
I have owned and modified the gearing on 3 Bottecchia’s over the years without difficulty or without changing their character too much.
With triple chainrings 48-34-24 (velo orange, sugino and ird) and wide range cassettes and freewheels, 13×32 (ird offers a wide range of choices in both cassette and freewheel) one can set up gearing that will make climbing fun. As an extra treat, Soma Fabrications offers longer cage Plates that fit old Campy Nuevo Record derailleurs so that one can maintain friction shifting if you want to go back to bikes that are real old,
I have a 1976 Raleigh Competion and a 1976 Motobecane Grand Record both set up as noted above and they can easily be returned to original condition, I ride them over 9000 foot passes often. I have also similarly modified more modern designs including Specialize S Works road bikes.
In closing, whatever makes riding pleasurable to each individual is the right way to go.
P.S. I should give credit to my LBS for their help in all of these projects. The Bike Smith, Carson City, NV.
Randall McCall says
In the summer of 1976 I departed from my home in Humboldt County, CA on my first ever long-distance cross country ride on my Stella Tour de France “race bike” (mix of Campy Nuovo Record, Tipo, and sew-up tires!). Within the first 30 miles of climbing coastal mountains with the rear rack piled high and the home-made front handelbar rack/bag I was questioning whether or not there was a future for that trip! The 52/42 chain rings and 14-28 (I think) 5-sp screw on freewheel were not my best choices, nor was the fact that I couldn’t afford a real touring bike, yet still chose to make this foray into the wilds with few clues about what touring actually involved. 1976 was the year of the Bike-Centennial, but the route I chose happened to be way off that set of routes, and I learned quite quickly how to make the best of not the best choices!
I eventually made it to my parents house in Utah after a couple of hard weeks and just under a thousand miles – I got really good at repairing sew up tires in camp, and reaching out to others I met for friendship and camaraderie. The gearing was always hard on passes, but it was what it was – I think I crossed the continental divide something like five times, and must have piled up the vertical, but my rudimentary equipment only told me how many miles I had traveled, and nothing else. Looking back that virgin trip was probably the highlight of my touring career which also included a lot of backroad trips with my best friend on our “see-food/pub” tours – if you see food (or beer), eat or drink it!
In contrast, more recent Cycle Oregon trips that were immaculately planned and supported were always great and way easier than that first trip (especially w/out the self-supported aspect), but I can only really recall details on the few CO weeklong trips that were especially hard, really miserable weather, or my favorite, hairball descents at ludicrous speeds!
That Stella still sits in the basement, but more as a car on blocks waiting for someone or something – its too narrow bars, kinda wrong size, and collection of mostly replaced components for a while became my go-to winter Computrainer bike. But I have to say riding that bike that summer that was purpose built for the exact opposite of what I did brings back vivid memories of the challenges, the hardships, and yes the successes that came from hitting the top of a pass with no-one to cheer you on. I did it in spite of the equipment I had.
Would I do that today as a 65 year old just starting out touring? Hell no – I’d get a bike that fit, was purpose built for the task, and use the internet to understand what I was up against on every mountain pass! But I sure as heck treasure that set of experiences.
As others have already noted, the Bottecchia Leggendaria is a beautiful steel road bike, but it’s certainly NOT a “Steel Touring Bike.” Steep 73.5/73 degree seat and headtube angles (in my size), short headtube, short 405mm chainstays, probably max tire clearance of 25mm. That’s a classic race bike, and perfect for centuries, fondos and other day-long rides.
If you want to go touring though, with “panniers and bags,” you need a touring bike. You need rack mounts, more relaxed geometry, more tire clearance, etc. I have a 2005 Cannondale Six13 road bike, with very similar geometry to the Leggendaria, but I also have a Surly Long Haul Trucker with a triple chainring, rear rack for panniers, etc.
I agree about the geometry of a road bike not being adequate for a tour. That’s why touring bikes are built differently.
A friend has a racing bike with similar geometry to the Botecchia, and he once tried putting a rear rack and panniers on the back to tour. He quickly changed his mind, saying that the bike handled “squirrelly” with all that weight back there. Much different handling than a touring bike (or a road bike without the racks).
So the geometry issue may lead to much more dangerous handling issues.
I’d avoid ruining the Botecchia, or your tour, and put your equipment on a touring bike instead.
Hi I have a 1986 Raleigh touring 14 Which I converted to a triple with hill climbing gears for western and central New York
I was 73 now 80
Best thing I ever did
Orlando Goveia says
If the photo is showing the actual velo – it is in mint condition and is an awesomely beautiful racing bike. To jerry-rig touring racks and bags on that steed would be a sacrilege. As so many have pointed out, the bike won’t handle well and will not be comfortable for the rider. It is simply NOT designed for touring. It would be like using a Corvette or Ferrari to pull a farm-wagon or a plow. Like using a thoroughbred to pull a cart. Please, don’t do it. Use the correct tool for the job.
Just taking 25 pounds of stuff with me. People carry more around their waist.
John Schubert says
Jim, I agree with those who disagree with you.
We went touring on poorly geared bikes back in the day. We also drove death-trap VWs, drank Boones Farm Apple Wine, and listened to The Carpenters.
Let us take the best from back in the day: We still enjoy touring. We drive safer cars, drink nicer wine, and listen to . . . classic Bob Dylan.
Climbing long hills with baggage with too-high gears is stupid for a 20-year-old, and even more stupid for . . . people who are some multiple of 20.
Regarding gearing, we should start by understanding what the numbers mean. It”s actually easy. Look here:
I recently built a gravel bike. The shifters and drivetrain consist of used Campy 10-speed components. The rear derailleur handles a max 29-tooth cog. So to get lower gearing with the Campy components I am using an FSA 46/30 crank. Hope that helps. Best of luck.
Shular Scudamore says
I am fascinated by your suggestion. My first take was changing the gearing. It is time consuming and expensive, if you don’t have a stash of parts and the skill to do it yourself. It is certainly worth a test with the backpack and maybe a handlebar bag. There a number of simple cages that can be attached to the forks of a bike without any braze-ons. Depending on the terrain and other factors people have mentioned already, it might work out fine.
In 2012 riding the Northern Tier, I met a young woman riding a classic Colnago pulling a B.O.B trailer about the time I reached the Erie Canal path. She had started at home in Wisconsin and was heading to school in Vermont. I was pulling a B.O.B also. It is another option and it is heavy. Bike packing handlebar rigs, framebags, and seatbags make since on a non-touring bike for bicycle travel.
Now I use a 22 chainring inner and a 34 or 36 rear cog. I am older than you and I need to spin when I can. In 2017 I did a lot of hike-a-bike on the great divide with the 22/36 and too much stuff. Recently, I have been riding with a fellow who just turned 30, on local roads and trails. He’s in the process of learning to do more riding. I’ve noticed he often shifts down when he could just push a little harder up a short incline without shifting. Going back to your suggestion, part of riding is what you are used to doing.. When there are no more gears, most people can get down to about 3.5mph before they have to walk. Again I say, Daniel should load up and give it a try.
Bruce Braley says
Back in the days of 52-42 chainrings and 13-21 thread-on clusters, I won in record time a 93-mile, very hilly (three major climbs, with one that included about a mile of 10-11 percent) race largely due to being the only top rider with a 24 cog. The race was a loop, so there was just as much descending as climbing, but I sacrificed the 13 for a 14 and gained the 24. Much more time and effort is spent climbing than descending–even more so when carrying heavy loads. While my competitors were muscling their 21’s, I got away alone on the second climb. I was able to keep my rpm’s high in the 24, keeping me fresher for descents and flats, as well as climbs. One rider eventually caught me on the third climb, but I easily beat him in the sprint, again due to the relative freshness of my lower-geared legs.
Now, forty years later, and with much better gearing available, I still use.the lowest gearing practical. You do have to be moving forward quickly enough to balance the bike and not topple over! But just like back in my racing days, loaded touring is far more enjoyable when legs are fresher. The slower, and therefore longer, climbing makes spinning much more pleasant than muscling each stroke. In fact, I am now geared so low that I have to shift to a higher gear to get out of the saddle for an occasional stretch of the legs.
Bottom line: the Bottecchia is not well suited to the task. A properly geared touring bike will weigh significantly more, but will be safer with better handling and better braking, especially if it is fitted with disk brakes. It will allow for wider, lower-pressure tires that reduce punctures, increase tire mileage, and smooth the ride–an important consideration for long hours in the saddle with a more upright position than racing. Lack of adequate heel clearance with rear panniers can ruin your trip, as well.
The fewer the bikes you own, the stronger the justification for n + 1!
Richard Watson says
I agree with most of the comments. Go for the lowest gear that you can, you won’t regret it! I happily rode a 52/42 with 13-21 as an 18yo in 1973, But I’m super happy to *race* on a 50/34 and 11-32 (thank you Campagnolo 12sp) as a 65yo masters rider. For touring/gravel: if you want to enjoy the ride, go low.
However I will qualify this, as others have done, but a caveat on rider characteristics. I’m tall, skinny, and light; I cannot muscle over climbs. If you are a big strong rider then YMMV.
Mitchell Hull says
In 1974 I climbed Going to the Sun Hwy in Glacier National Park with a camping load, using a 42-34 low gear. It was a cold morning heading west (the gradual side), I was in shorts and short sleeves. I had to stop every hundred yards or so to let my heart rate come down lest it burst out of my chest. I later ended my tour prematurely due to those too-high gears, whereas if I had used a TA Triple crank I could have continued.
It wasn’t good for my knees, either.
Jim Langley says
Thanks everyone for the most excellent feedback! Lots of great advice and helpful tips for Dan, thank you!!
I use to do credit card touring on a steel racing bike back in the 80’s, it’s completely doable. All he needs is a handlebar bag that’s large enough to handle his stuff like the Topeak TourGuide DX, that’s all I had, well not the Topeak bag they weren’t made yet, anyway that Topeak bag will hold 11 pounds of stuff; and then my usual seat bag with flat repair and some tools for other mechanical fixes. If he wants more space than a handlebar bag he can add a Topeak MTX BeamRack and a Topeak QuickTrack trunk bag that combined will hold up to 20 pounds of gear; that rack fastens onto the seatpost.
If he’s going to be doing a lot of hill climbing while touring he might want to look into a 34 teeth sprocket, or go with what he has, he may be strong enough that a 24 tooth sprocket maybe fine, he’s only going to carry at the most another 30 or so pounds so it’s not like carrying another 65 pounds! On the front his Potenza can handle a 16 tooth ring gear…good look in finding one, but if you can get a 18 or 20 tooth small ring gear combined with the 34 in the back you can pedal over anything.
Tire wise that bike should fit at least a 25 maybe a 28, but if it’s built to the old vintage geometry than 25 is a big of a tire that will fit it. The larger the tire you can get on it the better the ride will be over long days of touring.
Rich Allen says
It’s interesting to see how the sport and technology has changed since the 80s. I too did a 6500 mile tour on my racing bike, a Rossin with a Campy Super Record groupo, 42/53 x 12-28 cassette. My recommendation is to get a touring bike that’s made for the intended use. I met a guy who had a Cannondale touring bike and we switched bikes one day while riding together. I was impressed how much more comfortable and stable the tour bike was. When standing up to pedal on the Rossin the bottom bracket was soooo flexy. So, you can definitely tour on racing bike but why? Big tires make a big difference too.
I was considering not spending another thousand or two on a new bike. I am going for it on the Bottecchia. Jim’s advice made sense to me. I’m only going to cover 30 to 50 miles a day, carry 25#s, and I am a strong rider.
Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. I am going for it on the Bottecchia, though. Joe Cruz also wrote an article with similar advice to Jim’s… yes, you can tour on a road bike. A cross-country tour? Maybe not. But a few weeks going through a few states will work fine. Why I’m sticking with the set-up besides that? I’m only taking about 25#s of gear with me and I’m a strong rider. Last time I toured, even as I was touring I could feel myself getting in better shape. Physically, my endurance is good and improves well. Many people carry more weight in blubber, so I should be fine. As for the paint… can always get a new paint job… no biggie, as long as its not damaged structurally. (Champagne problem). Plus, I’m of Italian descent, so an Italian road bike is well-suited. ;-). Thanks, again, everyone, for the posts. Lots of food for thought.
John Klever says
I have always insisted on having the lowest gears available on my bikes. It is just so hard to predict when I will be fat, lame, out of shape, or extremely tired and that is when those low gears are most useful. And quite frankly, there are hills around Denver that I cannot nor ever could negotiate without low gears. I particularly like the idea of a triple crank: the two larger chainwheels are for just riding around; the smallest is for the steepest hills. and the stiffest of winds and only used once in a while.
I have two Specialized Roubaix road bikes (one to ride, the other to ride when the one to ride needs repair), a Trek 1700 mountain bike, and a Gangl set up for touring. All have 50/40/24 by 12/28 gearing and Speedplay Frog mountain bike pedals. I like the speed of the road bikes and the flexibility to ride on trails if I want to. At my advanced age I am glad to still have knees that work. I attribute this to selecting low gears early in my life..
I particularly like the trend in gravel bikes where the gears are low. If I had more miles left in me than I have left in my bikes, I would get one.
As for the Italian road bike, just ride that on sunny days in parades, or with your club, or with your grandkids to show them how things were in the days before the super-low gears on gravel grinders.
Gosh darn it, you said it can’t be done…. now I gotta try.
George M. says
Most touring bikes with drop bars are setup with the top of bars at the same height as the top of the saddle. The racing posture of that the bike might not be so comfortable for the long haul. And I tour on tires that are 37mm wide or wider. The more touring that you have done, the more likely you are to have fenders on the bike.
The goal here was touring with four panniers. I tour with four panniers and I know that a steel frame that was not designed for very much weight might feel like a wet noodle. Bottom line, I think that is the wrong bike for touring with a big enough load to require four panniers. I could be wrong, but I would suggest trying it with a load before investing in any gearing changes. A stiffer bike might be much more enjoyable if loaded down with four panniers of camping gear.
That said, when I had my heavy Rohloff steel touring bike in Iceland with four panniers, I met a young couple that were touring on Ritchey Break Away road bikes using bikepacking gear and no racks. With their minimalist camping gear, they were packed much lighter than I would have wanted to be. A frame bag, large bikepacking style saddle bag, and a handlebar harness was mostly it. (I do not recall if they had daypack size backpacks or not, many bikepackers carry a small backpack too.) And they were having a good time.
Without racks and using light weight gear, that bike might be a fun bike. Or use it for credit card touring.
My road bike has a Campy drivetrain, compact crank and 29T biggest sprocket, that gearing should be more than adequate for a minimalist bikepacking setup.
JOHN k RODEN says
Putting racks on that thing will be a mess and your heels may end up hitting the panniers. You can get into something like a surly trucker or crosscheck and bolt front and rear rack on quickly, fenders too. I’m 59 and tend to pack heavy and use a 34 x 32 in the hills, it works great with over 60 you ds of bike and hear. Keep that bike nice, it’s not a good touring option