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Old 03-05-07, 05:14 PM   #1
tzuoworldtour07
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Randonee vs LHT vs 520

Hey guys,
I'm graduating college in May and want to take time off and tour instead of doing what I should do and get a job. But whatever, work can wait. Saved up a year to do this anyway.

Anyway, I want to spend about 1500 on Bike and gear. No SAG. Easy trip, 60miles or so a day and maybe continue in Europe and Asia if the touring bug catches me and I'm not broke by then.

Did my research and I'm down to 3 bikes. The Randonee, 520 and the Surly Long Haul Trucker coming out April 2nd. I put together a comparison chart (attached) for what I think matters most. I'm inclined with the LHT as of now. I like the gearing, bar ends shifters, MTB components and the bad ass Surlyness.

Any ideas? Comments?

I'm 5" 9.5' I ride a 56cm Fuji but am wondering if I should go a tiny bit smaller for touring to get a more upright position.

Thanks!

Rear wheel in Pacific June 1st, Front Wheel in Atlantic ???
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Old 03-05-07, 05:22 PM   #2
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They're all good bikes from what I've heard, but I leant towards the 520. My order arrives very soon!
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Old 03-05-07, 06:43 PM   #3
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First, congrats on delaying the "real world" experience, something I regret not having done way back when. Second, a smaller bike would likely have a lower position as the head tube would usually be shorter. I have a cross check and would recommend surly. Also, you can get the steerer tube left long and get higher handlebars if you would like. Generally the 520 comes with a cut steerer.
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Old 03-05-07, 06:53 PM   #4
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Bike Sizing

Rivendell goes crazy telling people not to go too small, but too big is alright. Is this true for other bikes too? Or its something specific to Rivendells?

Second, I think bar ends make more sense since they don't get in the way in the case of a crash, which is the main reason I'm staying away from the Randonee. Any good sense here?

I like everything on the 520 except the gearing which I would like to have lowered some like the LHT and the Randonee. The LHT trucker components are comparable (if not slightly better) to the 520 components... yes?

How much does BIKE WEIGHT matter?
Or can I more than make up for it by packing light?

Does anyone know the weight of the 520?

Thanks
Tzuo
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Old 03-05-07, 07:34 PM   #5
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Size depends a lot on the geometry. If a big bike has a top tube that's too long for you, it doesn't matter how high the bars are, you'll still be stretched out. A small bike will necessitate more seat post extension which means that there'll be more drop to the bars which also causes a lot of forward lean. So, neither smaller nor bigger necessarily means more upright.

Bike weight does matter, but it is only part of your total load weight which obviously matters more. Don't ignore it, but don't obsess over it either. It's all about trade-offs in durability, function and weight.
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Old 03-05-07, 10:20 PM   #6
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Besides a bike, what gear are you including in your $1500 budget?
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Old 03-05-07, 10:42 PM   #7
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It's a toss up between the LHT and 520. They are both true touring bikes. If I remember correctly, the Randonee comes with STI shifters (which I prefer) but still, I'd still go LHT or 520. If you get one of the smaller frames for the LHT, realize that it'll come with 650c wheels instead of 700c if that makes a difference to you.
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Old 03-05-07, 11:04 PM   #8
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I say Long Haul Trucker!

But then again, I'm a Surly fan

It's spec'ed out really nice considering the price.
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Old 03-05-07, 11:50 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tzuoworldtour07
Rivendell goes crazy telling people not to go too small, but too big is alright. Is this true for other bikes too? Or its something specific to Rivendells?

Second, I think bar ends make more sense since they don't get in the way in the case of a crash, which is the main reason I'm staying away from the Randonee. Any good sense here?

I like everything on the 520 except the gearing which I would like to have lowered some like the LHT and the Randonee. The LHT trucker components are comparable (if not slightly better) to the 520 components... yes?

How much does BIKE WEIGHT matter?
Or can I more than make up for it by packing light?

Does anyone know the weight of the 520?

Thanks
Tzuo
I wouldn't go too big or too small. Too big and you don't have room to get off the bike in a hurry if you have to. You also will be more stretched out than would be comfortable for all day riding. Too small and you'll feel hunched up and that isn't comfortable either. Think Goldilocks when you fit the bike. You want one that is just right.

About the only shifter that won't get damaged in a crash are downtube shifters. Quite possibly the worst place to have shifters if you want to keep them from damage in a fall would be on the end of the bars. The end of my bars have usually taken the brunt of any crashes where the bars hit the ground. Brake levers seldom get damaged because of their location...it's pretty tough to get the bars down on the ground where an STI could be severely damaged and the bike still be ridable afterwards.

Don't worry too much about bicycle weight. You want strength from the frame. Weight is really secondary. No, you won't get a 20 lb bike but a 20 lb bike won't stand up to the rigors of loaded touring either.

Gearing: Lots of people have a problem with the 520 gearing. Although it's not the best, it's not that bad either. I spent many, many years riding a 52/40/24 crank. It was all that you could get. Of course we didn't have 11-34 cassettes but if you change the cassette to a 12-34, you'd lower the top gear slightly. Alternatively, you can change the chainrings to a 48/38/24 or buy a Shimano LX trekking crank which is a pretty good investment (Nashbar has an Octalink version for $70). It's basically a Shimano LX mountain bike crank with a 48/36/24 ring set. You can even change the inner ring to as low as a 22. I'd recommend that you keep a pretty good range on the bike since you'll likely be riding it more between tours than on tour and you'll want a bit higher gear for that.

Finally, for what you a looking at spending, give the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 a look. And the Cannondale T800 is a worthy touring bike too. Yes it's aluminum but it has a proven track record as a well designed and built touring bike.
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Old 03-06-07, 07:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trace22clawson
If you get one of the smaller frames for the LHT, realize that it'll come with 650c wheels instead of 700c if that makes a difference to you.
Want to check that?
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Old 03-06-07, 07:45 AM   #11
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The 56cm should be fine. If you went smaller, you would have a less upright position as you will have more saddle to handlebar drop unless you use a ton of spacers.

The LHT comes in 26inch wheels in sizes 54 and smaller.
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Old 03-06-07, 08:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute
I wouldn't go too big or too small. Too big and you don't have room to get off the bike in a hurry if you have to. You also will be more stretched out than would be comfortable for all day riding. Too small and you'll feel hunched up and that isn't comfortable either. Think Goldilocks when you fit the bike. You want one that is just right.

About the only shifter that won't get damaged in a crash are downtube shifters. Quite possibly the worst place to have shifters if you want to keep them from damage in a fall would be on the end of the bars. The end of my bars have usually taken the brunt of any crashes where the bars hit the ground. Brake levers seldom get damaged because of their location...it's pretty tough to get the bars down on the ground where an STI could be severely damaged and the bike still be ridable afterwards.

Don't worry too much about bicycle weight. You want strength from the frame. Weight is really secondary. No, you won't get a 20 lb bike but a 20 lb bike won't stand up to the rigors of loaded touring either.

Gearing: Lots of people have a problem with the 520 gearing. Although it's not the best, it's not that bad either. I spent many, many years riding a 52/40/24 crank. It was all that you could get. Of course we didn't have 11-34 cassettes but if you change the cassette to a 12-34, you'd lower the top gear slightly. Alternatively, you can change the chainrings to a 48/38/24 or buy a Shimano LX trekking crank which is a pretty good investment (Nashbar has an Octalink version for $70). It's basically a Shimano LX mountain bike crank with a 48/36/24 ring set. You can even change the inner ring to as low as a 22. I'd recommend that you keep a pretty good range on the bike since you'll likely be riding it more between tours than on tour and you'll want a bit higher gear for that.

Finally, for what you a looking at spending, give the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 a look. And the Cannondale T800 is a worthy touring bike too. Yes it's aluminum but it has a proven track record as a well designed and built touring bike.
+1 on the RM Sherpa 30. cyccommute gave me some very compelling arguments of this bike over the 520.
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Old 03-06-07, 09:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tzuoworldtour07
Hey guys,
I'm graduating college in May and want to take time off and tour instead of doing what I should do and get a job. But whatever, work can wait. Saved up a year to do this anyway.

Anyway, I want to spend about 1500 on Bike and gear. No SAG. Easy trip, 60miles or so a day and maybe continue in Europe and Asia if the touring bug catches me and I'm not broke by then.

Did my research and I'm down to 3 bikes. The Randonee, 520 and the Surly Long Haul Trucker coming out April 2nd. I put together a comparison chart (attached) for what I think matters most. I'm inclined with the LHT as of now. I like the gearing, bar ends shifters, MTB components and the bad ass Surlyness.

Any ideas? Comments?

I'm 5" 9.5' I ride a 56cm Fuji but am wondering if I should go a tiny bit smaller for touring to get a more upright position.

Thanks!

Rear wheel in Pacific June 1st, Front Wheel in Atlantic ???
+1 for the LHT, nice gearing and good solid components. I'm not sure how going smaller in bike size would
get you more upright. I'd go with the 56cm
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Old 03-06-07, 09:51 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by GJD
+1 on the RM Sherpa 30. cyccommute gave me some very compelling arguments of this bike over the 520.
+1 on the Sherpa 30 here too! cyccocommute turned me on to this bike and it's the one I bought. I'm extremely happy with this bike. Really strong frame made from Reynolds 853 steel. I did my research and test rides. I picked it over the following bikes: Jamis Aurora, Novara Randonee, Trek 520, Fuji Touring, Cannondale T800, & Surly LHT (I wasn't able to test ride the Cannondale or the Surly.)

They were all good bikes. You won't go wrong with any of them. For me, the deciding factors were:

1) STI shifters
2) 700c wheels (not on the LHT in my size)
3) I love the Reynolds 853 steel

Those are all just personal preferences. Yours might be different.
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Old 03-06-07, 11:21 AM   #15
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I am 5'9", and I ride a custom 54cm LHT. I suppose I could have gone with a 56 which might have been a tad on the bigger side for me but I really wanted the 26" wheels of the 54cm (56 has 700c). I love my Trucker, so that's a +1 LHT from me.
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Old 03-06-07, 12:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebach
I am 5'9", and I ride a custom 54cm LHT. I suppose I could have gone with a 56 which might have been a tad on the bigger side for me but I really wanted the 26" wheels of the 54cm (56 has 700c). I love my Trucker, so that's a +1 LHT from me.
Aha! Just as I figured. I'm about your height, and guessed that a 54cm LHT would be appropriate for me too
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Old 03-06-07, 01:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trace22clawson
+1 on the Sherpa 30 here too! cyccocommute turned me on to this bike and it's the one I bought. I'm extremely happy with this bike. Really strong frame made from Reynolds 853 steel. I did my research and test rides. I picked it over the following bikes: Jamis Aurora, Novara Randonee, Trek 520, Fuji Touring, Cannondale T800, & Surly LHT (I wasn't able to test ride the Cannondale or the Surly.)

They were all good bikes. You won't go wrong with any of them. For me, the deciding factors were:

1) STI shifters
2) 700c wheels (not on the LHT in my size)
3) I love the Reynolds 853 steel

Those are all just personal preferences. Yours might be different.
Ya hear that Rocky Mountain! I've sold two of your bikes now. I want stock!
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Old 03-06-07, 04:09 PM   #18
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I've got the 520 but fitted brifters to it - bar ends seem vulnerable to me (as discussed above) and ensure that you always have to move your hand to a non-used part of the bike to change gears whereas brifters are usually under your fingers. But then again, I don't use a handlebar bag either and my bike is used as an allrounder, not purely as a tourer.

Gearing? Top gear is higher than needed, so you can afford to go down there. Bottom gear is too high and there is too much overlap between the middle ring and the bottom ring. Middle ring is perfect for me and my riding though, so an overall change (eg, put on an mtb set of rings like many do) would be counter productive for me. I'm looking at putting a 26 tooth ring on her which will give an extra bottom end gear and give a more sensible overlap between the middle ring and the granny. But, if touring with loads (like you are), I'd seriously consider swapping for an mtb crank and lower all three rings as part of the purchase ... and fitting brifters.

Richard
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Old 03-06-07, 07:43 PM   #19
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How long are your legs ?

I would say the LHT and 520 are two interesting options, but I haven't seen specs on the Randonnée. Whichever is the best depends on personal taste and exact configuration/customisation done at the shop.

Factors to consider:

– Geometry seems about the same.

The LHT has more appropriate gearing. If it were mine, I would have the 26 replaced by a 24-tooth granny (cost 25 $ retail), but I would not loose any sleep about it.
The 520 is seriously overgeared, so at the minimum I would swap the 30 for a 26 (24 would not fit with the two other existing rings, and I would end up with a 18-speed bike), and I would preferably swap all three rings or crankset. Indeed, mine was configured from the start with an XT crankset and 44-34-22 chainrings.

You might also decide to use the chainrings as they are, but replace them when they are worn out. The 520 uses a 130/74 mm crankset, which means the smallest rings you can install are 48-38-24. On the other hand the LHT uses a 110/74 mm crankset which means the smallest rings are 46 (or 44)-34-24. In other words, more flexibility for the LHT.

– My 520 comes from the threaded-headset era. Nowadays, it has a threadless headset and I hear that most often (always?) the steerer tube is cut before the bike hits the store. If you want a "more upright" position, don't go on a too small frame and make sure you have an uncut steerer tube. I think the LHT has a slight advantage here (at least, if their bikes come with an uncut steerer).

– I prefer high bars so I ride on the drops and bar-end shifters. Besides, contrary to what Europa said, bar-end shifters are actually less fragile than STI shifters. Bar-end shifters have a few advantages : it's possible to shift all the way from one end to the other, it can work in friction, and you can fit any kind of chainrings and derailleurs without problems. They have one problem, however: if you like to stand, you might hit the shifters with your legs (yet some folks stand all the time and never hit their bar-end shifters).

– If you were to prefer STI (which I would not recommend, especially for third-world countries), the LHT is easier to adapt. With the LHT, all you need are briefters. With the 520, you need briefters and either Travel Agents or new cantilever brakes and stoppers, which adds 40-50 $ to the bill.

I think tire clearance is better on the LHT. With fenders, the 520 accepts 700x40-42 on the rear wheel, but only 700x32-35 on the front wheel. I think that the LHT goes to at least 700x37 with fenders on both wheels. Neither is a problem for riding or touring in North America. But if you want to ride in winter, studded tires are only available in 700x37 or more. And if you want to travel off road, you will prefer wider tires.
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Old 03-06-07, 08:16 PM   #20
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Does it have to be new? I would start NOW searching the online outlets (craigslist, ebay etc) for a used 520. That bike hasn't changed significantly in the last XX years and holds up great. You would get a ride every bit as good as a new one for a good bit less than any of those 3 new. More budget for the ride and other gear.

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Old 03-06-07, 11:05 PM   #21
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I've noticed that threads mushroom when they spin off into topics such as "don't use [cantilever/V-/disk] brakes", or "[STI/brifters/bar-ends] are better and they're less fragile", etc. So here I am.

I'm surprised at some of the above comments about vulnerability of bar-end shifters. To the OP, I suggest searching this board for these endless discussions -- there are real-world stories about broken STIs from falls (not even crashes). I haven't read any about broken bar-end shifters (except for the indexing, which boils down to a non-issue).

For the OP, and others balancing a decision between STIs and bar-ends, you need to decide based on your preference. Most of the "XXX are better" postings will also offer advantages (naturally...), so use these to make up your own list. But the claims that "you can't do YYY with XXX shifters" are mostly rationalizations; in practice, you end up loving what you have. However, IMO, there is an obvious difference in ruggedness; this may be important to you.

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Old 03-07-07, 12:04 AM   #22
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Wow, this is great! Thanks! Lots of great info.
Anyway, I spent my day testing out the 520 and the Randonee.

Just to summarize it up some...

- The stock rack on the 520 is wimpy compared to the one on the Randonee. Does anyone have experience with the stock 520 rack? will it hold up when the bike get rocked size to size going uphill with a heavy load?

- $1500 is hopefully everything I need to hit the road. Main items remaining include the test (180), sleeping bag (keeping south which will be warm, so I'll just get mom to sew together a fleece, $10), shoes, panniers, locks, computer, lights, spare parts, etc ~ $300. if i can make dad believe that i won't be going back for at least 6 months, maybe he'll get me a gps, but im not counting on it.

- i got sized up right today on the randonnee and the 520, so i'll just figure out what the correct LHT size is from the geometry. barefoot, to the pelvis bone, its 33" for me. and the right sized randonee was 55cm and 21" for the 520, if that helps anyone who's looking at the same bikes. im 5"9".

- randonee is 29.5lbs, the 520 is 26.5 lbs with similar components. the randonee had a more solid rack and clips while the 520 had the wimpy rack and stock clipless pedals. but still, thats 1 lb at most, i wonder where the other 2lbs came from. but from what halfspeed and cyccommute said, that probably won't matter. 2lbs is like a can of beans and a couple beers... thats nothing.

- i heard the LHT is a TANK tho... does anyone know their LHT weight with rank and pedals? what components?

- is the rocky mountain tires a little narrow at 28mm?

- got to try bar ends today, yes, i agree that its pretty hard to mess up STI's i fell real bad and got my handlebar folded into a half pretzel, with the sti on the inside, but the sti was fine, prolly fall less if got 2 hands on all the time instead of shifting... but still, bar ends or down tubes would be less prone to hurt, i think...

talked to the REI dude today, and he suggested (challenged rather, coz he was so sure of the randonee being awesome) that i take the randonnee and try it for a few weeks, and return it if i didn't like it...
its $760 with the REI discount, and gives me lots more to gear up.

anyway, thanks a lot...
- is 2 lbs a big deal? im not sure what siginificant weight is
- anyone with a loaded LHT knows the weight?
- dad needs to get a bike and start cycling. i hope he's reading this.

Last edited by tzuoworldtour07; 03-07-07 at 03:58 AM.
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Old 03-07-07, 12:36 AM   #23
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Wow, this is great! Thanks! Lots of great info.
Anyway, I spent my day testing out the 520 and the Randonee.

Just to summarize it up some...

- The stock rack on the 520 is wimpy compared to the one on the Randonee. Does anyone have experience with the stock 520 rack? will it hold up when the bike get rocked size to size going uphill with a heavy load?

- $1500 is hopefully everything I need to hit the road. Main items remaining include the test (180), sleeping bag (keeping south which will be warm, so I'll just get mom to sew together a fleece, $10), shoes, panniers, locks, computer, lights, spare parts, etc ~ $300. if i can make dad believe that i won't be going back for at least 6 months, maybe he'll get me a gps, but im not counting on it.

- i got sized up right today on the randonnee and the 520, so i'll just figure out what the correct LHT size is from the geometry. barefoot, to the pubic bone, its 33" for me. and the right sized randonee was 55cm and 21" for the 520, if that helps anyone who's looking at the same bikes. im 5"9".

- randonee is 29.5lbs, the 520 is 26.5 lbs with similar components. the randonee had a more solid rack and clips while the 520 had the wimpy rack and stock clipless pedals. but still, thats 1 lb at most, i wonder where the other 2lbs came from. but from what halfspeed and cyccommute said, that probably won't matter. 2lbs is like a can of beans and a couple beers... thats nothing.

- i heard the LHT is a TANK tho... does anyone know their LHT weight with rank and pedals? what components?

- is the rocky mountain tires a little narrow at 28mm?

- got to try bar ends today, yes, i agree that its pretty hard to mess up STI's i fell real bad and got my handlebar folded into a half pretzel, with the sti on the inside, but the sti was fine, prolly fall less if got 2 hands on all the time instead of shifting... but still, bar ends or down tubes would be less prone to hurt, i think...

talked to the REI dude today, and he suggested (challenged rather, coz he was so sure of the randonee being awesome) that i take the randonnee and try it for a few weeks, and return it if i didn't like it...
its $760 with the REI discount, and gives me lots more to gear up.

anyway, thanks a lot...
- is 2 lbs a big deal? im not sure what siginificant weight is
- anyone with a loaded LHT knows the weight?
- dad needs to get a bike and start cycling. i hope he's reading this.

2 lbs is nothing! You're after a touring bike, right? You load it up with all your stuff - 40, 50, 60... 90 lbs? I believe that if you are going to do some serious touring, you'll lose that two pounds off your gut in the first 3 days. The Randonee is a good bike and a good value. If you really believe the REI guy about letting you bring it back after you have ridden it in the rain, through muck, the rear derailer and chain packed with road grime... I say go for it! Otherwise, if you like the bike and it fits.. just buy it. The main thing is the frame - alot of the other stuff can be changed if you don't care for it.

If it's a toss up between the bikes you are looking for... then make your list of preferences, and choose based on that. If a two pound weight difference is huge for you on a touring bike and you're deciding based on that, you're going to spend a crapload of money on trying to find the best light weight touring equipment (tents, sleeping bags, stoves, etc.)

For alot of people, budget is huge. When I decided on my bike, I was considering a bike that cost $850 and one that was $1500. But, I figured, "this bike is going to be with me for the next 20-30 years... $650 divided by 30 years comes out to about 6 cents a day... I'm convinced I can afford it"... so, I got what I wanted, with the frame I thought was best, and the components that provided me with the most comfort. This is your bike! You're supposed to fall in love with the thing! But, even if there are things you want to change, realize that you can do that also... you just can't do much about changing the frame.
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Old 03-07-07, 01:03 AM   #24
tzuoworldtour07
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Originally Posted by trace22clawson
This is your bike! You're supposed to fall in love with the thing!
Yeah, I guess. Got a 2001 Fuji with my first college paycheck and I wouldn't trade that piece of junk for anything...

Yup, enough thinking. I'll get the Randonee for $760 tomorrow. Throw in the pedals for another $40 bucks. I can switch up the brifters to barends for $150 later on. No big deal there. Its a sturdy bike with decent components and it'll do its job.

$800 for the bike, and $700 to spend on the rest and I guess I'll be ready to start weekend tours and get ready for the long haul.

Who needs a job anyway..., but I figure I can get an Atlantis or something with a job... but that can wait.

Thanks!

Hittin' the road!
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Old 03-07-07, 03:43 AM   #25
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I don't own a 520 myself, but on my cross-Canada tour I met 4 other cross-Canadians on 520's and 3 of them had their stock rear rack break on them at some point. I don't know about the stability of the rack, but from what I've seen, the durability makes me worry. Maybe those people I met were just unlucky?

If you want Bar Ends, you can also check out Paul Comp Thumbies. I personally think they're a little expensive but well worth it.
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