Yesterday I tuned up a neighbor's bike for him--- a Fuji Touring bike, 3-4 years old. He thought that he might want to go on a bike tour when he bought the bike, but he has never got around to it yet. However, he does ride the bike quite a bit around the 'hood and has done 3 organized century rides this summer.
He loves his bike and rides it, so I guess that's all that matters.
After changing the cables and lubing everything, I took the Fuji out for a little test ride of 5 miles or so. The bike has a road triple (52-42-30?) and shorter chain stays than many touring bikes. the Fuji Touring seems kind of stuck in the 80's-- this bike isn't the the dedicated touring bike some newer designs are-- not that isn't a good thing. They bike handles really well unloaded-- much better than some touring models. And the gearing is great for commuting/century riding/friendly club rides.
For a long tour, with big climbs, and weeks in the saddle-- I'd rather have a Surly LHT or even a Bruce Gordon-- bikes made for big classic tours. But the Fuji would totally smoke those bikes on a club ride and would be great for a short tour without major climbs. And it handles in city traffic very well, something that's really needed for commuting.
In full disclosure, I owned several *light touring* bikes in the 80's (Panasonic and Univega) and rode/loved them to death. I see way too much specialization in the bike industry today--- downhill MTBs, ultralight racers, dedicated touring. For many riders, and all newbies, I see a classic all arounder-- a old school light touring bike, as the best choice.
I'd like to hear from owners of the all-arounder class-- like the Surly Crosscheck, Bianchi Volpe, Cannondale RS bikes, Kogswell, ect... What do you like about your bikes? What problems have you had on tour? Why did you pick your bike over the the others?
I'd like nothing more than to drop out of the rat race, buy a full boat touring bike, and ride for the next couple years, but real life is kind of getting in the way. To me, the light touring bike is the real life bike. Something I can use all year AND manage to get out an tour with a couple of weeks.