Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Bikes: 84 Trek 660 Suntour Superbe; 87 Giant Rincon Shimano XT; 07 Mercian Vincitore Campy Veloce
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This is just a my personal opinion but really doesn't mean it's right...especially since I haven't done any cross country touring yet! So take this advice for what it's worth...less then 1 cent...that's why it's free!
Some people like to tow, others don't. A typical road bike on a long tour will not be anywhere near as comfortable as a touring bike due to the wheelbase. A road bike has a more compact (shorter) wheel base which means the wheels are pushed in so that they are very close to the seat tube and down tube leaving no room for wide tires and fenders plus makes the ride harsher, whereas the touring bike will have a longer wheelbase and room for fatter tires and fenders.
I have done a lot of research into touring bikes and the best one I could find that seemed to be far better then anyone elses bikes was Robert Beckman Designs and the Sakkit Expedition 26 at: http://www.coinet.com/~beckman/
Just browse and read everything. I think Robert Beckman thought out this bike as far as a person can go in touring. Note the 4 water bottle cages instead of the typical 3 you get with others. Even sets his bikes up with redundant generator/battery-powered lighting and shifting systems and half-step gearing which is more useable for touring then standard triple road gears others offer.
A complete bike including racks will run you $2200 to 2550 depending on which Shimano system you go with. I hear it takes him about 4 to 5 months to complete a bike, but you have to ask him about that if you get more interested.