I am a newbie to touring so please forgive any ignorance any seasoned vets might find common knowledge.
I don't yet have a touring bike but would like to do a month long tour of Japan, where I'm currently living. All the research I've done on American bikes doesn't really apply because those bikes are not offered in my part of Japan (Kyushu).
Many sites I've read recommend the Trek 520 for newbies. Except Japan doesn't carry the Trek 520, any Trek touring bikes they carry out here are out of my price range.
The bike my nearest shop recommended is a Louis Garneau. I realize that it is probably not the best bike, but realizing that this will be my first tour & I will probably sell the bike once I leave Japan, will this bike be sufficient? The bike is about $950 U.S. I'm not really schooled in gear information so any advice on gears would be greatly appreciated.
Bike info (in English) is at: http://www.louisgarneausports.com/bike/cyclo-gmt.htm
Also if anyone else is in Kyushu, send me a note.
I was in this Tokyo shop <http://www.jitensya.co.jp/y/shop.html#anchor11> about a week ago and they had a Trek 520. They were sold in Japan up to at least 2005 but I don't know about 2006. I didn't notice the size or price. You could have a Japanese speaking friend call (I'm assuming you don't speak Japanese) and they would probably ship it to you in Kumamoto if you wanted.
Is your one month trip a ride around Kyushu? You might not need a bike designed for heavy loads if that's the case because everything is so available. There's a vending machine with drinks every few miles and you can live off 7-11 bentos.
Thanks to all who posted a reply. Nihronic your right, I don't need a heavy duty bike since I don't plan on packing too much during the tour. Also, I don't think the Fuji is sold here in Japan. Not 100% sure though. I plan to head up to the big city, Fukuoka, to search for bikes. I may need your sage advice again in the near future.
I'm a newbie myself to this forum. I live up in Nagano and did a tour a few years back from Thailand up to Chengdu in South Western China. It was about 6000 kilometers in all over six months though six weeks was spent on the beach. At the time I picked up a Giant Great Journey which I believe is a Giant model only sold in Japan or at least I haven't seen it on their English Web sites. It is basically a mountain bike set up for touring and it comes coomplete with racks and bags for about 80 000 yen. (700 dollars) All the components are pretty cheap and the bags are held on with two hooks and velcro straps which can be a bit of a pain taking them on and off everyday. That said it was cheap and it lasted the whole trip which surprised me at the time. I have used it for two one week long trips since then, one up in Tohoku and the other from Nagano down to Sado island and back. If you are really planning on getting rid of the bike and don't want to spend too much money it might be a good option assuming they still have them. A lot of the bike shops can order a variety of bikes for you even if they don't currenltly have them sitting on the store floor. You just have to ask for the pamphlets. As someone else mentioned panasonic sells a couple of nice touring bikes but they are fairly pricey if you are thinking of getting rid of it.
Oh and though it might be sacrilage to say this my friend rode the whole trip on a 25 000 yen (200 dollars) bike with a cheap rack that he picked up at Alpen sport and some MEC bags (from Canada).
If you are not a very big guy and are not carrying a lot of weight a cheap bike can go a long way. That said they are certainly not as convenient or as comfortable as a proper set up and I envied every nice bike I saw on my trip.