I'm in the process of looking for a touring bicycle. Not hardcore off road touring, but mostly on paved roads, and not necessarily fully loaded (but would like that to be an option later on down the line if I really get into it.) Anyway, I've been riding an aluminum frame Specialized Allez Elite triple with ultegra components and actually had fenders (real tight fit) and a rear rack installed so that I could use the bike as my commuter. This bike doesn't have all the necessary braze-ons for these things to be installed properly... and, my heal keeps hitting my panniers even though they are moved back as far as possible. Sometimes the panniers get "bounced" off if I hit a speed bump because they are sitting so far back on the rack.
Anyway, I want to do touring and commuting right. I've been looking at three bikes Trek 520, Bianchi Volpe, and Jamis Aurora. I had pretty much decided on the Volpe until, much to my surprise, the 2007 model doesn't have braze-ons on the front fork for low-riding panniers. The 2006 model has them, but doesn't have the newer Tiagra STI shifters and my LBS doesn't have the 2006 in the frame size I need. Is a bike without braze-ons on the front fork truly considered a "touring" bike? I'm thinking it's more cyclocross now.
I do like the trek 520 but it's a few hundred dollars more. Plus, I like the STI shifting vs. the bar end and I understand it's quite pricey to switch out some of the components to make the 520 work with STI. So, right now, the Jamis Aurora is my number one choice... unless you guys have some better suggestions.