Hello all, I've been going through the touring section and threads like a madman over the past few days trying to figure out what kind of bike I should buy. I've been riding a junker over the past year to commute to school (on 2 miles round trip) so it hasn't really been an issue. But now I feel as if it limits me from traveling further because of its low quality. Ideally what I'd like to do is take some short tours over the course of this year and eventually (summer '10 or '11) tour across the U.S. At the time being I haven't done any long or even moderately distant rides but I don't think fitness will be an issue as I can build up over the course of the year. I will say my budget for the bike is around $1,000 but I'd rather pay more and get the better part than use sub par gear if it comes to that. I also plan to gradually acquire the more touring related gear as needed.
Now for the questions. I've been looking at the LHT as it seems many in this forum use and recommend it. However people usually end up replacing at least the saddle, tires (my bike knowledge is limited for now so it's harder for me to recognize the other changes people have made) and likely a good bit more. So I was wondering if it is more economical to piece together a bike with nicer parts vs the stock surly components. From what I've read a brooks saddle is a must have and the schwalbe marathon tires are pretty highly recommended.
I'm sure I'll have more questions as I get closer to purchasing and touring. So far this forum has been a great resource so thanks.