I read the newbie's guide to touring thread, and while there are recommendations for the 520 in there, I am also finding threads on these forums through google saying the Trek is mediocre and requires too many adjustments off the bat. Some information I am finding on the Trek, is, also, outdated by several years and I'm not sure if maybe they have changed the build quality lately or whatever.
The closest competitor I seem to be finding is the Surly LHT, however again I find people saying things such as the Trek parts are of higher quality.
The price range I'd like to stay in is hopefully about $1000-$1200 just for the bike, I am fine with spending more on panniers etc.
That said, is the Trek still my best shot? I am seeing it in the online store of my local Trek dealer for $1,239, and oddly enough I can't seem to find many places to buy new Trek 520s online in order to compare prices. Is this what I should expect? I saw on another bike review site that a reviewer purchased it for about $800, however I'm not sure what year this was in.
I basically have a lot of these questions because I'm currently in a small town in the mountains and won't be back in San Diego to where I can physically go check out these places for a little while.