Hello all. I'm looking to get a relatively inexpensive custom bike. I will have the work done, after bike repair & sales slow down (I'm in New England, so that should be sometime in November.) I'll ask the owners of three bicycle shops in the area to submit a proposal, itemizing the parts and cost of each; then I'll decide which shop will build the bike. In the meantime, I'd like to get some ideas and advice from people on this forum. Firstly, I need to make a choice for a frame. The LBS in the area offer Surly and Soma. Btw, I want to keep the price around $800.
I'm looking for:
1. 'bang for buck' in a smooth riding functional bike, w/ 700c wheels, that can carry my size and weight (6'2" 250 lbs) plus, occassionally, up to 30 lbs of additional weight. By "utility", I mean that it will be used to commute, to carry groceries, and to travel distances of up to 37 miles. I ride on paved roads (only!) much of which is level, but, there are some hills... nothing real steep. (Well, one of them is, but I avoid it ) The tires could be as wide as 700x 35, so the frame should be able to accommodate that.
2. I want "upright riding." I've don't like road bikes w/ drop handlebars; I've never been able to ride them comfortably. So, "No thanks"! -- bar ends (and the like) are fine, as my hands do get plenty numb on longer rides. I average 7 -17 miles per day. Occasionally, I do longer rides (up to 40 miles), but rarely.
4. I do not want an aluminum frame, as I don't like "the ride" on longer distances. I own a aluminum framed Fuji and just sold my Specialized Expedition (also an aluminum frame), so I speak from personal experience when I say "no" to aluminum.
5. I don't want any suspension, preferring to keep the bike as light as possible.
6. I'd like to NOT have Sora components, but I don't know if that will be possible given my dollar limit.
My first choice is to decide on a frame.. Soma and Surly is what is available at the LBS's around here... I'll look around though, maybe there are some other possibilities. I'm definitely looking for a modicum of comfort for the longer rides, so perhaps a roadbike frame would be better than a cross-check frame... I'm don't know, at this point in time.
I'll probably use a Brooks B-67 saddle (with the springs at the back.) Handlebars should be at least as high as the seat (but I don't like the big heavy "adjustables" as seen on the so called "comfort bikes". Another thing I'd like to know more about is the differences in steel (4130 cro-molly vs. 853 Reynolds vs. 520 Reynolds chromoly vs. 631 air hardened steel etc. I haven't been successful at learning the distinctions by doing a Google search. The sites mention them but don't explaining what's better and why. If you prefer to point me to a URL, that would be fine. Right now all I really need to focus on is the frame and fork, but feel free to comment on any part of what I have written here. I hope to see some feedback.