Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Portland, Oregon and SE Asia
Bikes: Waterford ST-22, Jamis Quest Elite, Jamis Dragon Pro
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It will be fine, espec if it is a rigid fork, although the 850 is a bit heavy. I have started weekend touring on a Trek 970 that I modified to be more roadworthy, but the intent is to still be able to do a fair amount of dirt roads and mild singletrack eventually. It is a bit lighter than your 850, but basically the same bike. I use Continental Town and Country tires (26 x 1.9) at 65 psi, raised the stem/bars, and added racks. With a Jandd Extreme in the rear I have excellent heel clearance and no interference with the panniers. It rolls along fine, but i do notice a difference compared to my 520, which is similar weight but more in the road format and with 700 x 32mm tires. It would be much more roadworthy with 1.5 tires, and in fact I once rode my Stumpjumper from SF to LA (500 miles) with Avocet Cross K in a 1.5 and it rolled along just fine, even with front suspension. Almost anything will work, just make sure it is in good condition.
Then again, having said all that, you could also pick up a used Trek 520 or other touring bike, use it for the trip, then sell it for the same price, or close. Almost no cost. If you're going for one week use your 850, if it is a 2 week trip or longer I might consider the latter suggestion, just for the increased comfort, speed and enjoyment.