I also cross-posted this on the "commuting" forum, as I plan to use the bike for both touring and commuting. Sorry for the cross-post!
I'm strongly leaning towards buying a Cannondale Touring 2 bike, which I hope to use for a mix of urban commuting, weekend leisure rides and more extended touring/"bike-camping" trips. Would love to get your advice/input!
Here is my dilemma. I'm in Paris at the moment (poor me! ), and relocating to London. The Cannondale touring bikes are not sold in Europe. (Cannondale sells other "touring" bikes exclusively in Europe, but they're extremely expensive and don't seem to be as good for my purposes.) Also, bike shops in the USA don't seem to have the Cannondale touring bikes available in the store. I plan to be in Florida for a few days, so my plan is to pre-order the Cannondale Touring 2 over the phone with a LBS there in Florida a few weeks before I arrive, then pick up in person and fly back to London with the bike.
The 2 issues are therefore: is this right bike for me? and which size should I buy? I realize it's generally ill-advised to buy a bike without test-riding it, but given my particular constraints, I'm willing to take a chance on this. If I don't do it this way, I'll probably pay 3- or 4-fold for a bike the UK that is not as appealing to me based on the website, and I can't afford to that. The Cannondale T2 is about $1300 plus tax. The T1 is about $1800 plus tax. They share the same frame, but the T1 has better components, apparently. I looked a bit at the Trek bikes, but I'm leaning heavily towards the Cannondale T1.
As for size, the T1 comes in S, M, L, XL and Jumbo. I'm trying to decide between the M and L. (I have to ask the LBS order the correct size for me.) I'm about 5'9.5" tall, weigh 150 lbs, have a 32" inseam. According to Cannondale's website, the M has a 21.5" Top Tube Length and 30.1" Standover at Top Tube Midpoint, and the L has a 22" TTL and a 31.5" Standover. I have spoken with several bike shops on the phone and they seem to be divided equally as to whether I should get a M or a L. Any advice for me?
I'm totally new here (though I've read lots of threads!), so if I'm making a fool of myself, please be gentle!