I donít know much about bicycles, but have been reading the forums and talking to LBS folks. Have done so much research that now I am totally confused.
I need to get a touring bike for my son, age 14 (5í 7Ē 135#), who will be riding from Seattle from San Francisco (1000 miles in 25 days) this summer. He will be part of a small group but carrying his own gear. In addition, his real goal is to go across the USA next summer or the one thereafter. Part of the challenge is he grew four inches this year and Iíd like to get a bike that fits him now but that can be used next year too.
I narrowed the search down to something like Trek 520 or the Cannondale T800. I also looked into the Jamis Aurora, Bianchi Volpe and the REI Randonee. Along the way I stumbled upon the Surly frame too. As I'm sure you are well aware, finding touring bikes in stores in the correct size is problematic. So we're taking a big gamble here.
Conventional wisdom is to stick with a steel frame. However, the T800 is Aluminum and seems to be considered a credible contender. Is a frame repair really something to worry about?
You experts talk about swapping out components, starting with lower gearing on the Trek 520. Others recommend cantilever brakes for better stopping power. My son wants a horizontal handlebar, so we have to switch that out. Presumably, the shifters then go too. And it seems that a Brooks B17 saddle is required for the long haul rider. 36 spoke wheels, Armadillo tires, etc, etc. Should I really just start with the Surly frame and add all the components?
Last year he rode an older, smaller bike for two weeks with just rear panniers. Do we need to add front panniers now too?
I know there is no one answer that works for everyone, but I need to stop researching and buy something so he can get used to the bike and break in the saddle.
Any specific advice is sincerely welcomed.