First off, I'm a pretty heavy guy. Down to 285lbs right now from 360lbs when I weighed myself at the heaviest, but I was likely 20lbs heavier than that when I first starting losing weight, anyhow. I've been talking to my wife about how I'd love to do a tour of the Lake Huron coast one day in the future. Something about bicycle touring/camping is just no interesting to me and combines two of my favorite activities. When I finally get down to my goal weight of 230lbs I will be rewarding myself with a new bike for commuting and I have decided to get a touring bike so that I can do a few small tours before taking off on the Lake Huron tour that I'd love to do. But touring bikes are so much more expensive than the bikes I am used to riding (my current commuter was built for less than $300). I'd love something like the Surly LHT but it is way out of my price range. The Fuji Tourer looks sweet but everywhere that sells them around here wants about $850 for them and they never seem to have older stock to offer discounts on.
I found somehting called the Windsor Tourist for less than $600 online which fits my price range perfectly but have read many many mixed reviews of both bikesdirect and this bike on here.
so I'm asking you guys, are there any decent new "touring" bikes for around $600? Or must I caugh up the extra $200 or $300 and get a Fuji or somehting similar?