This user is a pipebomb
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Bikes: Bianchi Volpe 2001, GT ZR3000 2001, Raleigh One Way 2007
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I don't know if swapping out the crankset is really necessary. I would definitely get the bottom bracket checked out, but cranks can go a good long time before breaking. You might consider different gear rings, but I'd bet that your cranks are still good.
A new saddle might be a good idea, especially if you don't like the one that you have right now. If you haven't had any problems with your current saddle there may not be any need to replace it. Nowhere is it written that every touring cyclist has to have a Brooks B17. I've done a lot of touring on fairly crappy saddles and I've gotten on alright, although saddle sores have been an issue at times.
Definitely get a new cassette and a new chain before you start. Or if you depart with an old cassette and chain you should make sure to stop at bike shops periodically to keep track of the rate at which you chain is wearing, so that you can swap it with a new one when the old chain/cassette combo wears out.
I would strongly recommend new cables and tires. And it might be a good idea to carry a foldup tire with you. I've had two tires fail on extended tours, and let me tell you, it isn't fun to get stranded with a shredded tire.
A new wheel is an absolute must! Some people tour on 32 spoke wheels, but that's just plain silly if you ask me. And you are going to be converting to an xtracycle, which indicates to me that you intend to carry a whole lot of weight on the back of your bike. I would look to get a double eyeletted, 36 spoke touring rim for your rear wheel. Mavic makes good rims, but there are other good companies out there too. If you tell your LBS what you are looking for in a wheel, namely great load bearing capacity, they should be able to show you a few good options in a catalog.
I don't see any reason why most of the other components on your bike shouldn't work for touring. I prefer road handlebars myself, but you see a lot of people out there touring with flat handlebars. That's just a matter of personal comfort. Make sure to get your bike throughly inspected and tuned up by your LBS before heading out on the road.
Winter touring sounds pretty hardcore man. If you are going to be touring in sub-freezing temperatures make sure that you have lots of good equipment. Cold weather shoes and gloves could be the most important items, but good, warm biking clothes, a good tent and a very good sleeping bag are important too. If you make it across the country in February in the northern United States you will earn my undying admiration.