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  1. #1
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    What bikes should I be looking at?

    My wife's career is on the verve of a major bump in salary. While discussing the new income, I said, "can I get a new bike?" She paused for a second, smiled, and said "sure"!

    So now I might be in the market for a NEW bike.

    This bike will be primarily a commuter, but I have aspirations of touring also. It doesn't have to come with racks or fenders, but it has to have the attachment points. I'd like the wide range of gearing of a tourer, but I want a really tall high gear (52 front/11 rear, is there taller?). I'm still undecided on the bars, but I'm leaning towards something in between flat and drop bars. I'd also like disc brakes. I'd prefer hydraulic, but I would consider mechanical since it would allow for upgrade later on. I realize much of this is components that I can change, but might as well try to get what I want right from the start

    As for frame geometry... I'd prefer something a little more upright than a racing road bike, but not too much. I'm not interested in a "comfort" bike riding position. I'm 6' and feel my current bike (old VW Trek aluminum MTB converted with street tires, fender, etc) is too small, so I'm looking for a frame that will let me "stretch out" a bit.

    I guess the short list of things I want are:
    steel frame
    braze ons for racks (F&R) and fenders
    wide range of gears with fast top gear
    disc brakes

    My budget will probably be in the $1300-$1500 range. That would include the bike and needed accessories such as racks or fenders.

    I know there are a lot of similar threads, and I've read most or all of them I could find. While I found links to lots of bikes, none of the other posters seemed to be after this same set of features. Since most of the people on this forum know more about bikes than I do, I'm asking the experts to help narrow down my search.

    Thanks in advance for your advice and recommendations.

  2. #2
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Raleigh Clubman

    Or build it yourself, out of a vintage bike. It's more fun, and you get exactly what you want. Visit the Classic & Vintage section of bikeforums. The possibilities are endless!
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

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  3. #3
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Salsa Casseroll? I don't know if it has a disc option, but I think it does everything else you want.
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  4. #4
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    It sounds like you are leaning towards touring or cyclo cross bikes. Touring wise you have the Surly LHT, Cannondale T2, Trek 520, and Jamis Aurora. Cyclocross wise you have The Surly CrossCheck and Specialized Tricross. This is not an exhaustive list by any means and i'm sure other posters will come up with other manufacturers like Thorn and Kona. Either way I'd start my search by looking at those bikes. However, ride as many as you can before deciding. Also, make sure your wife gets the bump in salary before purchasing.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member m_yates's Avatar
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    Raleigh Sojourn.

    They listened to complaints I guess and the 2011 model has 36h hubs. Comes with racks and fenders.

  6. #6
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post

    Or build it yourself, out of a vintage bike.
    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    It sounds like you are leaning towards touring or cyclo cross bikes. Touring wise you have the Surly LHT, Cannondale T2, Trek 520, and Jamis Aurora. Cyclocross wise you have The Surly CrossCheck and Specialized Tricross.
    None of which qualify when he spec'd disc brakes.

    I'd look at something like a Soma Doublecross DC frame and build it up to suit.
    http://www.somafab.com/dcdc.html

    Or the Salsa Vaya
    http://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya/
    Last edited by CCrew; 07-29-10 at 05:58 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Raleigh Clubman

    Or build it yourself, out of a vintage bike. It's more fun, and you get exactly what you want. Visit the Classic & Vintage section of bikeforums. The possibilities are endless!
    The Clubman is missing a few of the things I'm looking for, notably disc brakes.

    I have been planning to build something from a vintage frame, but if I have an opportunity to buy a NEW bike, then I want disc brakes. At first I was gonna let that be optional, but the more I think about it, that's the biggest drawback to building from Vintage. Everything I want in a frame is available in older bikes except for disc brake mounts.

    I was looking at the Raleigh Sojourn though. It looks like it's pretty much what I want, but it might be a little beyond my budget. Of course the budget will depend on the wife's raise. We might be able to swing it. It's on the list, but not the top pick yet

    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    Salsa Casseroll? I don't know if it has a disc option, but I think it does everything else you want.
    I didn't know of Salsa! The Casseroll doesn't look like it offers what I'm looking for, but the Vaya on the other hand...

    Thanks for putting this brand on my list

    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    It sounds like you are leaning towards touring or cyclo cross bikes. Touring wise you have the Surly LHT, Cannondale T2, Trek 520, and Jamis Aurora. Cyclocross wise you have The Surly CrossCheck and Specialized Tricross. This is not an exhaustive list by any means and i'm sure other posters will come up with other manufacturers like Thorn and Kona. Either way I'd start my search by looking at those bikes. However, ride as many as you can before deciding. Also, make sure your wife gets the bump in salary before purchasing.
    Many of those are on my list too, but many are missing some of the criteria I'm looking for. I don't see any of Surly's offerings with disc brakes. If I'm missing it, please educate me! I really like the LHT and I've been watching the used market for one. Does Cannondale make a steel frame at all? The only Trek I can find made of steel is the 820 and it lacks rack and fender attachments. The Jamis Aurora is pretty much what I'm looking for, but it can't help to have as many options as possible I looked at the Tricross at the LBS a few weeks ago. I like that bike a lot, and they offered me a pretty good deal on a 2009. I actually prefer the 2009 as the gearing is better (11-32 cassette vs 12-25 with the same chain rings). It has 2 fatal flaws though, no discs and it's not steel.

    I had never heard of Thorn, but I don't see anything with discs. I've heard of Kona. I saw the Dew, but it's aluminum. Looking now I found the Sutra. That one looks pretty good too.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thanks for the replies everyone
    There are some bikes mentioned here that weren't on my radar.

    If I'm going to buy a new bike, I'm pretty determined to get a frame that can use disc brakes. Many of these don't have that. While they are excellent bikes, I'm unwilling to budge on this feature if I'm dropping $1000+. I'm willing to forgo discs with a used bike, but not if buying a new one.

    Thanks again for the model suggestions. So far I have:
    Releigh Sojourn
    Salsa Vaya
    Jamis Aurora
    Kona Sutra

    There has to be more options, no?

    It's looking like I want a touring bike to commute on

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by m_yates View Post
    Raleigh Sojourn.

    They listened to complaints I guess and the 2011 model has 36h hubs. Comes with racks and fenders.
    That one is on the list. I don't care if it comes outfitted with racks and fenders as long as there are mount points. I forgot to put 36h as a requirement, but I suspect whatever wheels come on the bike will work fine for commuting. When I actually get ready to do a heavy tour, I could upgrade the wheels.

    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    None of which qualify when he spec'd disc brakes.

    I'd look at something like a Soma Doublecross DC frame and build it up to suit.
    http://www.somafab.com/dcdc.html

    Or the Salsa Vaya
    http://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya/
    The Vaya I noticed earlier. Looks nice.

    What would it cost to build out a Soma Doublecross DC? I'm afraid to build a bike from scratch. I know I could do it and end up with a better bike, but my buddy just finished a custom 29er single speed MTB and it cost him a lot more than I want to spend. Also, I'm not as familiar with all the component models to know what would fit on what. I would have to spend many many hours studying specs. While loads of fun, I'd rather get a bike ready to go.

  9. #9
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    The problem with "off the shelf" bikes is that if you're looking for something specific.... and you're headed in that direction... you pretty much have to build it out yourself instead. Yes, it costs a bit more usually, but often not as much as buying that off the shelf one and modifying it to what you want.

    Let me ask if I may.. What's your preferred price point?

    As to the components, it's best to compare bikes in it's class, and combine with your needs to come up with something optimal. Loaded touring usually uses MTB parts - Usually Shimano LX 9 speed. and a triple front. Road bike/cross is usually 10 speed with a front double. Bar end shifters like on touring bikes save a lot of $$ over STI shifters like on road bikes.

    Building a bike isn't rocket science. It's pretty basic mechanicals and there's TONS of info on the web for help.

    There's any number of ways to buy the parts. Piece by piece by scouring sales/eBay, etc. Personal favorite of mine is finding a bike with a good component set getting dumped by a bike shop, Craigslist, or someplace like Bikes Direct and stripping the bike for it's components for your frame. Then Craigslist or eBay the bare frame you stripped for a couple of bucks back.

    Just some thoughts out loud.

    And I'm not surprised by your friends 29er, nice 29er frames are $$ and the front forks even more so. I want to build something like a Niner, Independent or OnOne but that frame fork costs just makes me flinch.

  10. #10
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    Wow, that Raleigh Sojourn looks fantastic. It's got everything!

    Now, why are you so set on disc brakes?
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
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  11. #11
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    I understand my list of bikes did not meet all your criteria. I was just pointing out bikes you may want to look at that would meet some of your criteria. I should have stated that in my original post.

    The Salsa and Soma that CCrew pointed out seem to fit your criteria. He also makes a good point about the conundrum faced with "off the shelf bikes". You sometimes have to weigh how heavily certain factors will play in your decision making.
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  12. #12
    Member lumpynose's Avatar
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    I've also wanted disc brakes and was discussing it with a bike mechanic and he pointed out that for a road bike they add definite complexity for not much of an advantage. Probably the main (only?) advantage for a road bike is that they provide better braking in the rain.

    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Wow, that Raleigh Sojourn looks fantastic. It's got everything!

    Now, why are you so set on disc brakes?

  13. #13
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I haven't used disc brakes, but I have a feeling the trend towards them is a little too strong, for that reason. They may be better for the rain, but many caliper brakes are definitely good enough.
    Please email me rather than sending me a private message. My address is noglider@pobox.com

    Tom Reingold
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    The problem with "off the shelf" bikes is that if you're looking for something specific.... and you're headed in that direction... you pretty much have to build it out yourself instead. Yes, it costs a bit more usually, but often not as much as buying that off the shelf one and modifying it to what you want.

    Let me ask if I may.. What's your preferred price point?

    As to the components, it's best to compare bikes in it's class, and combine with your needs to come up with something optimal. Loaded touring usually uses MTB parts - Usually Shimano LX 9 speed. and a triple front. Road bike/cross is usually 10 speed with a front double. Bar end shifters like on touring bikes save a lot of $$ over STI shifters like on road bikes.

    Building a bike isn't rocket science. It's pretty basic mechanicals and there's TONS of info on the web for help.

    There's any number of ways to buy the parts. Piece by piece by scouring sales/eBay, etc. Personal favorite of mine is finding a bike with a good component set getting dumped by a bike shop, Craigslist, or someplace like Bikes Direct and stripping the bike for it's components for your frame. Then Craigslist or eBay the bare frame you stripped for a couple of bucks back.

    Just some thoughts out loud.

    And I'm not surprised by your friends 29er, nice 29er frames are $$ and the front forks even more so. I want to build something like a Niner, Independent or OnOne but that frame fork costs just makes me flinch.
    I'm starting to think I might want a custom frame.

    My wife and I talked about it some more, and she was thinking about a budget of $2000. I was only thinking $1500ish, so that's good news!

    My buddy's 29er cost him ~$2500 total. I think he got a deal on the frame ($800)? He also watched eBay for several weeks buying parts. He put the deposit on the Frame in late fall, but didn't get the frame until around May.

    I'm curious about finding "bikes dumped by the LBS". That would make building a custom a lot cheaper/easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    Wow, that Raleigh Sojourn looks fantastic. It's got everything!

    Now, why are you so set on disc brakes?
    Quote Originally Posted by noglider View Post
    I haven't used disc brakes, but I have a feeling the trend towards them is a little too strong, for that reason. They may be better for the rain, but many caliper brakes are definitely good enough.
    Disc brakes stop better.

    I have a motto... "good enough, isn't"

    I haven't done my commute with discs, but I've done very short test rides and the stopping power is phenomenal. I like to go fast, so that's helpful if I'm going 25+mph.

    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    I understand my list of bikes did not meet all your criteria. I was just pointing out bikes you may want to look at that would meet some of your criteria. I should have stated that in my original post.

    The Salsa and Soma that CCrew pointed out seem to fit your criteria. He also makes a good point about the conundrum faced with "off the shelf bikes". You sometimes have to weigh how heavily certain factors will play in your decision making.
    Don't take it wrong. I still very much appreciate suggestions. My goal was to help me find which models of bikes are out there that have my requirements.

    Quote Originally Posted by lumpynose View Post
    I've also wanted disc brakes and was discussing it with a bike mechanic and he pointed out that for a road bike they add definite complexity for not much of an advantage. Probably the main (only?) advantage for a road bike is that they provide better braking in the rain.
    I plan to ride this bike in all weather. That's my main motivation for discs. I have V-brakes on my current bike, and they are kind of soft.

    Nobody ever debates that discs stop better. As far as I can tell, the objection must be weight? I'll take better performance for a little extra weight.

    This bike's primary role will be a commuter. That's why I posted in this forum. I would like to tour with it someday perhaps. While I want the braze-ons for it, I doubt I will have a front rack attached most of the time. For work and errands, I think a set of inexpensive panniers will be fine.

    I've been looking at lots of bikes the last couple nights and I'm starting to lean more towards a road bike, but I must have a rack and panniers. I tested backpack vs messenger bag vs rack, and it wasn't even close

    I commute on paved urban trail the entire way. I love to go fast (is 15mph average fast?), so that has me looking at road bikes. I'm not interested in something that could be raced. I have no interest in competitive riding, but I am interested in doing long rides on the weekends. There are are great places near Flagstaff I could ride to easily in a day for a quick overnight tour.

    Thank you to everyone that has participated on the thread. I value all of your thoughts. I still think my list of criteria are pretty firm:
    steel frame - I ride aluminum and don't like it
    braze-ons for both racks and fenders
    wide gear range
    - need high top gear to go fast on commute, but low gear for climbing hills with panniers
    disc brakes - I know this is controversial. Let's just agree to disagree. I originally thought this was optional, but I'm pretty determined about this if I buy a NEW bike.

  15. #15
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    My new bike has mechanical disc brakes and I was astounded at how much more quickly I could stop the bike compared to my other two bikes; one is a hybrid with v-brakes, and the other an old MTB with cantis. Keep in mind that if you want a drop-bar bike then, from what I understand, you are limited to mechanical disc brakes because no one has developed hydraulics for drop bars as of yet. My bike has Shimano brakes but from what I hear the Avid BB7's are great, too. I rode my v-braked hybrid through last winter and for the most part they worked just fine. There were a few days, however, that I had some scary moments and I found myself wishing for discs. There, that's my 2 cents on disc brakes.

    I too am impressed with the Jamis Aurora and the Raleigh Sojourn. I've had touring bikes on my radar for awhile now and both of those have caught my eye. Another set-up that you may want to consider, since your budget has increased due to your loving wife (buy her some flowers, BTW), is building up a bike with the Soma Double Cross DC. When I reach my next weight loss goal I am panning a build with this frameset myself, but with more road-oriented (Shimano 105) components. You, however, could set up this same bike with touring components and get exactly what you want.

    Another bike that I really like (on paper) is the GT Peace Tour. It's a more budget-oriented bike but still meets most, if not all of your stated criteria. Think of all the upgrades and accessories you could buy with all that extra money!

    Happy hunting!
    Gettin' my Fred on.

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    Thanks irclean. I did not realize hydraulic brakes would rule out drop bars.

    Couldn't mount the brake levers on the horizontal section?

    If I get drop bars, I'll want wider ones, and don't necessarily want/need the traditional brake levers located out in front (not sure the terminology). The bars are the thing probably most in the air, but I have been gravitating towards drops so that I could take it on long rides on the weekend.

    CCrew also recommended the Soma Doublecross. Do you know about how much that would run to build out? That's an area I'm not knowledgeable enough. I read lists of components and I know what they are, but I can't tell relative quality. ie I don't know what deore or 105 really means. How do I figure out the total cost for that bike?

    I like the Peace Tour. I'm adding it to my list

    We actually won't know about my wife's "promotion" for a couple months, but it's looking good. She works at a hotel that was sold last week, so she wasn't certain what was happening. The new owners love her, so it's looking real good for the bump in salary. The new boss is flying us out to his house in Kingman tomorrow, in his private plane, to see some of his other properties and "talk business". It's starting to sound like I might be able to land a consulting gig with them too, so the bike budget might even get bigger! woohoo!

    Thanks for all the advice everyone. You've all helped me learn a lot.

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    I just tried to build up a Soma Doublecross in their store, but I can't do it. I don't know what all the sizes refer to for things like bottom brackets, stems, forks etc

  18. #18
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    I'm not sure if hydraulic controls would fit on the "flat" section of a drop bar; I believe that drop and flat bars have different diameters. I don't own a drop bar bike so I'm not sure - others here can confirm or correct my assumption. While drop bars are traditionally great for touring there are alternatives. I have trekking bars on one of my bikes. The flat bar controls fit just fine but required a longer stem and some creative cable routing:

    SNC00227..jpgSNC00229..jpg

    Another option is using bar ends; they come in all shapes and sizes, even ones that mimic drop bars in their design. Personally I think trekking bars are the next best thing to drops and they will certainly allow fitting of hydraulic brake levers. That being said, many of today's mechanical disc brakes, like Shimano BR-M416 or Avid BB7, work very well, are easy to maintain, and will work with drop bar levers.

    As for the Soma build - I would have a reputable LBS build up your bike if you lack the knowledge (or cycling buddies who will work for beer). They would hopefully be able to source out the necessary parts more cheaply than you could, unless you're an Ebay wizard. The difference between 105 and Deore (both Shimano) components is that the former is for road bikes and the latter for MTBs. Road bike components typically have closer ratios so that riders can find the "sweet spot" that provides the most efficient propulsion. MTB components allow for climbing in the (numerically) low gears and speed in the high ones. That's why MTB components are great for touring; you can climb while fully loaded with panniers and gear. Check out Shimano's website at http://bike.shimano.com/. You will see a list of both road and MTB components ranging from best (and most expensive) down to entry-level components. As for cost of the build you will have to discuss that with your LBS; it will depend on their rates and the component level you choose. Be sure to shop around and try to get some word of mouth from other customers.
    Last edited by irclean; 07-31-10 at 09:42 PM.
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  19. #19
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    Hikelite,

    At $2k, you're temptingly close to HAVING IT ALL, BABY!



    That is, if scrounging another $800-$1k is do-able! How good is the wife's new job?!

    These Tout Terrain bikes from Germany, especially the Grande Route, are right up your alley! Peterwhitecycles.com is USA distributor. You'd better check 'em out before you compromise on something else.

    Oh yeah, and make sure you do something nice for your honey!
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  20. #20
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    ^^^ Yup, those Tout Terrain bikes are nice; I believe all of their models have the integrated racks. I agree that you should check out Peter White's site. There's some great info in there about touring bikes. He also offers a lifetime warranty on wheels that he builds.
    Last edited by irclean; 07-31-10 at 10:29 PM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member ratell's Avatar
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    Redline Conquest Classic
    http://www.redlinebicycles.com/bikes...nquest-classic
    You'll have plenty left on your 2k for showerspass gear and gadgets
    2010 Masi Speciale CX
    1993 Mt. Shasta Cappella

  22. #22
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratell View Post
    Redline Conquest Classic
    http://www.redlinebicycles.com/bikes...nquest-classic
    You'll have plenty left on your 2k for showerspass gear and gadgets
    I love this bike - I've lusted after it since I first saw a pic. Unfortunately, a pic is all I've ever seen; apparently Redline bikes aren't sold in Canada (at least around these parts). I especially like the caramel paint with the chromed lower forks and rear triangle. According to this article in Bicycle Times Magazine the paint treatment won't be available for the 2011 model.

    I considered listing this bike for the OP as well but alas, it has road gearing, and not his required touring cogs.
    Last edited by irclean; 07-31-10 at 10:30 PM.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

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    I like that Redline too!

    I looked at the Peter White site, again. I had not really considered that $2k could get me into that level of bike. There is now even a chance the budget will go up, so more option are opening perhaps?

    irclean, the gearing is less important. This bike will be a commuter first. If I can tour, great. My main goals are steel frame with disc brakes. I'm starting to think the front rack braze-ons are less important, but I'm not there yet

    My commute is on concrete urban trail. I only use the top 3-5 gears on my MTB turned commuter now, so I can live without hill gears until I can tour.

    I really like the bikes with the Rolhoff hubs. I also say a bike, Arvon?, that had a rear hub spacing that allowed for a flip flop with no dish? That sounded cool. I could have the faster road gear for commuting and weekend rides, but still get the granny gears for touring later on.

    This leads to a question...

    Is it cheaper to get that custom frame, with rear hub spacing wide enough for a flip flop, or have two sets of wheels?

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    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Another option ... save a thousand dollars

    Shimano 105, 18 Spd Cross +Disc 2010 Fantom Cross Outlaw $895

    Carbon Fork and Aluminum Frame, Powerful Avid BB5 Disc Brakes

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    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hikelite View Post

    Is it cheaper to get that custom frame, with rear hub spacing wide enough for a flip flop, or have two sets of wheels?
    I have to admit I'm not familiar with dual cassette hubs, but I gotta say that switching out a tightly spaced road cluster for a wider range touring cluster is a really easy job that only adds about three minutes to the time it takes to change a wheel.

    That said, I'd say having a second set of wheels/tires is a great idea, allowing not only specialized setups but also a nice little backup in case of (god forbid) an accident or a wheel goes in for servicing.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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