i've been looking for a touring bike (previous post titled "choices, choices...") and the dealer at my lbs was showing me a specialized sequoia, which he said wasn't a true touring bike, but the compact frame makes it ride like one. i test rode it, and loved the ride! it's aluminum, but has a nice suspension seatpost, and carbon fiber forks. which leads me to my question: he said i probably couldn't attach a front rack (even one that doesn't require braze-ons, like old-man-mountain racks) because the carbon fiber fork isn't designed to carry any loads. i always thought carbon fiber was a very strong material?? also, it's got 26c tires on it, and he said i probably couldn't put any bigger tires on it due to the type of brake-- i'm not sure what the type is called-- i'm a mountain bike rider new to road riding--- it's the type i saw on a lot of road bikes. but i've read in some forums that people put cross tires on road bikes... would i have to get different brakes? thanks, i really appreciate it.
A Heart Needs a Home
First, yes, never clamp anything to a carbon fork except maybe a computer sensor. There are a couple of CF touring forks on the market, but they're not common and not cheap.
Second, if the fork has no v=brake/cantilever bosses, you're stuck with the road calipers it comes with (and that seems likely to be the case). And yes, that will limit your tire size. On that particular bike, with long-reach calipers, I think you'd be OK with 700x28c tires, and there are some pretty decent touring tires available in that size. Also 'cross tires, like the Avocet Cross II K, which is pretty bullet-proof.
The Sequoia's gearing is a little high for loaded touring as well, unless you plan to ride only in the flatlands. And you'd have to figure out a way to get a fender on the front.
Center of the Universe
I own a sequoia circa 1989 and yes you can put 700x28 on them and there are many the ones I had Conti Top Touring 2000 and they were great I replaced them with some Continental Gator Skin 700x25 for more of a road tire since I will have a new commuter in a couple of weeks I want the Sequoia to be more of a road bike for my weekend riding. I will still keep my Bianch San Remo for the long tours. Have you looked at the Bianchi Eros by any chance it is a steel framed touring bike with a longer wheel base for more comfort it listed for $1100 I saw on at my dealer for $899 last fall. I have found that steel frames are much more comfortable for the long distance riding, and more forgiving to road conditions.
The tyre size/clearance is limited by the drop of the brake calipers, from the pivot bolt to the brake blocks. You can get caliper brakes with a longer drop (I use them, and they are very good), but your bike needs to be dimensioned for this gap between the brake mounting hole and the rims. You cant just swap brake designs.
The mounting holes for the rear pannier (those on the seat-stays of the frame) are quite low, it is below the level of the pannier, so you have to tilt the mounting struts down, and lose triangulation strength.
This model is a light touring bike, suitable for fun rides, commutes, weekend and hostel touring, centuries and supported rides. Its a good bike for its purpose, but it is not built for self supported camping style touring.
Carbon forks are quite strong, but their failure characteristics are catastrophic, you dont get much of a warning before they snap. Im sure you could build a set strong enough for touring, complete with pannier mounts, but they would weigh as much as lightweight steel ones and cost a whole lot more. There is no real advantage to the material for touring.
On the plus side, that is the first production carbon fork with a fender mount.
well, i bought a trek 520, which i love... but anyone interested in the sequoia, i would recomend, too.