I'm going to apologetically crosslink here.. after all, a major issue i've got is specifically one that touring bikers would know about.
My fiancee and daughter are going to be getting bikes. The main pondering is here. The issue that worries me most is that the fiancee (5'2", 28" inseam, Athena) wants to do touring on the bike as the main goal I hear stated, and she is interested in a Redline R510 stepthrough comfort bike... which does not strike me as something that is well suited to long touring trips. I don't exactly know how to put that apprehension into words that can be understood by someone who's previous biking experience was commuting on $80 Walmart specials.
I ride a recumbent so i'm fine; the daughter is young and thus indestructible and her preferred cross bike seems like it would do fine on a long trip, but I don't want to sink my budget into a bike that won't do what my girl wants to do with it. Any advice that I can pass on?