Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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I'm less skeptical about touring with this bike. The main important criterion for a touring bike is that it makes you happy to sit on it all day, and it sounds like you're alreay pretty happy with its fit and comfort.
Why not give it a whirl on a couple of short, not-so-ambitious tours before making any modifications at all? Just pick a motel 40-50 miles away and do an overnight. See what you think. Then do it again, maybe this time with a rear rack and a pair of panniers. If you find that your hands are wearing out on these handlebars or that your low gear isn't getting you up hills, then you'll know what to change. (Plenty of people tour on upright bars, and your gears look fine to me for a lot of Southern California terrain.) Or maybe your handlebars and gearing are fine, but you'll discover you can't stand the dang seat for more than a couple of hours.
Customizing, upgrading, and modifying a bike is great fun, but it's especially satisfying when you do it to meet real defined, experienced needs. There's no strict formula for what's a successful touring bike except it's got to make you happy -- and that's something the two of you have to work out together.