Today I demoed REI's Novara Safari touring bike, mainly to try out the trekking bar. I was disappointed.
This bar has three hand positions. Sheldon Brown claims there are four, but I don't believe it. Only one of them corresponds to the natural angle of the wrist. The other two are straight positions that require rotating the wrist as on a mountain bike.
The one really useful position on the trekking bar is about the same as you have on the top part of a road bar in front of the hoods.
A further problem with the trekking bar is that it is excessively wide---58 cm---for no apparent reason. It felt very unwieldy.
So I'm resigning myself to sticking with my road bar.
As for the Novara Safari, I really disliked that as well. Very bulky. Terrible riding position---very stretched out; when I raised the seat to the standard height I was towering over the bars but could barely reach them even after the technician adjusted them as much as he could.
REI also has a standard touring bike ($950) that looked like a good bike, but I was unable to demo it because they didn't have it in my size. I noted that like many touring bikes the largest cog was 32 and the smallest chainring was 26, which I consider to be inadequate for steep hills. It was heavy.
Finally, both bikes had lousy seats.
So I guess I'm content with my totally customized Trek 1000 with mountain gears, $650 including modifications. I'll figure out how to attach fenders to it somehow and turn it into a touring bike against the odds.
Anyone else want to comment on the trekking bars or these bikes?