I have limited experience in the lower end of long distance riding, being able to ride 200 km quite routinely but having never exceeded 300 km. I am presently riding with either a 2001 Bianchi road bike, or a home tuned touring bike, depending on the weather.
The Bianchi is a fast bike, I quite like it, but it has absolutely no way to accomodate any kind of fenders, and fenders, to me, are a must if I am to start doing long brevets in sometimes difficult weather conditions. Also, there are no fittings for a rack; I use a Topeak rack clamped to the seatpost, but my thighs tend to bump into the quick release and this is not very comfortable (I forgot to mention that I hate backpacks). Finally, this bike is quite touchy in fast downhills, a bit too much for my taste.
The tourer has all what is required including good dynamo light, but is really heavy (16-18 kg). It is also old (frame is probably close to 15 years of age, and it shows), and although most parts are newer, I am not sure it is worth investing in anymore. Its geometry is a bit weird, with a very tilted saddle tube (~68-69° ?), which makes it difficult to get the perfect fit: I have to play tricks with a special seat post to manage to bring the saddle forward enough. Overall, this bike is 10-15% slower than the Bianchi. 10% might not seem a lot and I am not obsessed about speed, but it still represents one hour rest in a day ride.
So it seems that I will get a new bike... but which one ? I was at Eurobike in Friedrichshafen last week-end. I've seen four bikes that I could consider (and find for sale in a reasonable radius around where I live), and I'd appreciate any advice, keeping in mind a randonneuring application, with a series of brevets as next year's goal.
1) Gilles Berthoud. Beautiful french hand-made classical Audax type bicycle: http://www.gillesberthoud.fr/velos_tandems/index3.php, look for instance for model "Escapade". I have talked with the boss in person, and he admitted that his web site not being really up to date, the bike he was showing was much more expensive than I had expected (approx 4500 Euro !), which brings it out of my reach.
2) Trek 1200. http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...id=1422000&f=4
The 2007 version of this simple road bike has fittings and very minimal space for fenders and rack, so it could theoretically be upgraded to my needs.
3) Stevens Gran Turismo. Stevens is a german brand, even though its name doesn't sound like it. http://www.stevensbikes.de/2007/inde...ion&lang=en_US
It is described as a "light touring bike", 10.8 kg including fenders and rack, 3x10 Shimano 105. I might consider replacing the A319 touring rims with narrower road rims and 700x23C.
4) MTB Cycletech Andale Touring. Small swiss brand.
A strange bike with drop bars and 26" wheels. It's the only one of the four I had a chance to try (its big brother Papalagi, actually, but basically the same geometry), and I positively loved its behavior, stable but responsive. It would definitely be my choice for heavy touring or everyday commute, but I suspect it won't be any faster than my present tourer/commuter.
I would be glad if more experienced long distance riders could share comments.
Thanks a lot