Originally posted by L J Horton
I will start you off with a few questions: Suspension fork? Triple? Aero bars? Disc brakes? 7/8/9 or 10 speed?
Suspension fork? Not if you're riding mostly on pavement. And if you want front panniers, you'll want a cro-mo fork with low-rider lugs. And you need fender mounts.
Focus on getting the right saddle and getting its position absolutely dialled in before you leave on the tour.
Triple? Absolutely. For loaded touring, climbing is the biggest challenge.
Aeoro bars? Makes mounting your lights and handlebar bag a challenge. But they can be restful, and very useful crossing prairies against headwinds. Personal choice.
Disc brakes? You'd have to modify the frame. And on a touring bike, simpler is better.
I'd go with a 9-speed MTB gruppo, or possibly a road-front/MTB rear hybrid. Range and low ratios for climbing. I think if I were doing it I'd go with bar-end shifters, DiaComp brake levers, an Ultegra triple and an XT rear with a 12-34 cassette.
And find yourself a master wheelbuilder and get your wheels hand-built, with Mavic 520 (or whatever the model number is this year) 36-spoke rims, 15/14 spokes, and at least Ultegra hubs. ANd Continental TopTouring 2000 tires.
Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)