Having recently lost a bike (and close friend) to theft I'm considering a restructure of my bike corral.
I'm now down to 6 bikes and thinking that my current philosophy of having a specific bike for a specific application might be in need of an adjustment to downsize the overall number of bikes. Garage isn't getting any larger.
For example, I currently have a Surly Long Haul Trucker for doing what's amounted to a few self supported bike/camping trips per year, a Brodie Romax CX bike for kicking it on off road riding occasionally (I have no real aspirations for racing cx), and an older Raleigh Technium that I use for my crappy weather commuting.
I'm contemplating replacing these three with a bike along the lines of a Kona Rove . This would seem to be a very good multi-use rig that can cover the needs I have for the 3 bikes mentioned, in some cases even better, e.g., Brodie can't take racks or "normal" fenders, and while it's no lightweight, it is less hefty then the LHT and probably more then adequate to handle my touring needs.
Are there other like bikes in this category that I can compare/consider?
I just recently bought the Rove and so far I love it. My previous bike was a Redline Metro Classic which I liked as well but I felt a little too stretched out on the Redline. Test rode the Trek Crossrip, Crossrip Elite, the Raleigh Roper and the Kona Jake, but kept going back to the Rove. The Rove just felt like the all round bike I was looking for. Since the purchase, I've logged 120 miles and haven't experienced any of the discomfort I experienced on the Redline.
I have the Rove set up for commuting with an Axiom Journey rack, and XLC fenders. There are only one set of eyelets on the rear to mount the rack so the fender struts are mounted to the same eyelets as the rack, where as on the Redline it had rack and fender eyelets on the rear. I also swapped out the 700x35's for some 700x32 Vittoria Randoneer Pro's, as I felt that the 35's were a little sluggish for general commuting.
The SRAM Apex group is great, although its taken a while to get used to the double tap of the SRAM vs the dual shift levers of Shimano, but the shifts are smoother than the tiagra groupo and the drivetrain is very quiet. I have absolutely no complaints about the CC gear ratio of the compact double. I hardly ever shift into the small chain ring and I have some pretty decent climbs out of Portland and across the 205 bridge into Vancouver.
I like the Hayes CX5 disc brakes on the Rove but don't think they are any better or worse than the Avid BB5's that were on the Redline, although they do have more adjustment capability on the fixed brake pad than the Avids did. I do like the Avids no tool adjustment knob, and the fact that they were 160mm rotors, the Hayes on the Rove are 140mm. I have ordered the caliper adapters and V6 rotors to upgrade to 160mm rotors or I can put on the brand new BB7's that I bought for the RL before I purchased the Rove. The 2014 Rove gets an upgrade to a newer Hayes disc brake caliper and 160mm rotors.
I can't say that the Rove is the perfect bike, because I haven't ridden many drop bar bikes, although this is my third new bike in less than a year, but as far as comfort goes, I'm very happy with my decision to have bought the Rove. Just wish I would have done a little more homework and been a little more patient when purchasing the first two. I may have ended up with the Rove to start with.
A couple of years ago I scored a Gravity Zilla frame and fork set for $135 delivered.
The frame is very light but the steel fork is heavy-ish and overly stiff. It's definitely a firm ride but it smooths out when it's loaded up for touring. The upside to it's stiffness is that it's very responsive, fast.
No complaints about the quality of the Zilla, it's excellent.
I'm running BB5 road calipers with Shimano XT mtb brake levers on an upside down Wald #8095 handlebar, similar to a Nitto North Road but costing $13.65. I tried every combination of integrated road shifters, Travel Agents, BB5 mtb calipers and the current setup works the best. The pads do not have to be set up super close to the rotors so there is no noise when not braking, the silence is nice. The BB5 road calipers are far stronger with mtb levers than with road levers, with or without a Travel Agent.
The next upgrade is Deore M596 hydraulic discs, they are unbelievable, makes any cable disc feel stone age.