I plan on doing some touring through SE Asia in 2010 and am looking to get myself a custom built touring frame/complete. I would ideally like to be able to go to the shop and get the bike fitted so something on the east coast would be ideal. I am in North Carolina, but don't mind driving. Looking for something for touring, that will still be exciting when not weighted, and has s&s couplers. Bilenky was the only one I could find, anybody have any good experience with any other builders? TIA
I am not sure your expectations are realistic. Touring bikes are heavy and a bit slow. That's on purpose. They are rugged, and if you are going to be in the saddle 6-12 hours, you want something stable and comfy.
A performance oriented bike frame will weigh 2 or 3 pounds less. It will be shorter, turn faster, and is a quite different animal.
I suggest getting two bikes. Spend a bunch on the one that matters most. And then get a solid mass produced bike for the other. With more rugged wheels, the Surly LHT would make a good 3rd world tourer.
One thing to keep in mind about your tour is that for the most part, there isn't much camping in most of SE Asia. It really isn't done, it's even unsafe in many areas (due to unexploded ordinance) and the guest houses are incredibly cheap. As a result, you should plan for this as a credit card tour -- i.e. bring the minimal amount of stuff.
Even if you do plan to do some camping tours, you have many options:
• Salsa Casseroll
• Surly Cross Check
• Surly Traveler's Check (a CC with S&S couplers)
• Ritchey Break-Away (another separatable bike)
• Jamis Aurora Elite
• Kona Jake series
• on the higher end, Co-Motion, Bilenky, Mercian
• on the "throwing away money" higher end , Seven and Waterford
• if you are interested in folding bikes, Bike Friday
If you do a heavily loaded tour, you can easily use any of these bikes with a trailer. Most of them are rugged and have clearances for wide tires and fenders. (Plenty of people have had fun tours without needing the Ultimate Touring Machine.)
What you may want to do is have two sets of wheels, one heavy-duty for touring and one for performance. You may also want two stems or stem positions; one relaxed for touring, one lower / longer / more aggressive.
That said, I do agree with late in that these bikes will be more responsive than a true touring bike, but won't feel as snappy as a typical road bike. This should be acceptable as long as you don't plan to do fast group rides.
I was just about to ask the exact same question (well, except for the SE Asia part). I'm in the DC area and also looking for custom touring bike w/couplers. I only have room for one road bike in the house, so the touring bike will have to act as my normal, everyday bike as well. I'm not sure about your case, but I'm actually looking for a more upright riding position and am fully prepared to ride slower if necessary.
So far the only framebuilders that I've found are as follows:
Spectrum is known for producing an amazing bike, but they're more expensive. I haven't been able to find much information on Havnoonian, but their bikes are much cheaper. They're more known for their track bikes.
To add to your question, can anyone offer any opinions as to the quality and fitting of Bilenky vs Spectrum? Is Spectrum worth the extra money? My biggest goal is to get a frame that fits me as perfectly as possible
I actually grew up in Asia and am very familiar with the area I will be touring, just from inside the confines of a plane or car. I'd rather see it from a saddle.
I plan on doing a light-weight/faster type of touring. Hammock and tarp for emergencies and coastal rides but mainly cheap inns. I know I won't be able to do fast group rides on a touring bike, but I'd like the frame to be an aggressive-geometry touring-bike, if that makes sense. In that the geometry be of acceptable touring dimensions, but on the aggressive side. I tend to enjoy a more hunched over posture anyway.
Please keep the suggestions coming. I will try and find out more about Coho and also like the traveler's check.