I've been riding an old heavy rebuilt 80's schwinn world sport for a while. I've been getting into doing longer distance rides on the weekend and i'm planning on going on a 4 or 5 day tour (~50 miles each day) at the end of next month, and I need a new bike for it.
I've ridden the jamis aurora, fuji touring, trek 520, long haul trucker, and the cross check. I've enjoyed riding the trek 520 and the cross check the most. I'm pretty set on a cross check as it felt slightly faster and zippier than the trek 520 and seems more appropriate for my use -- an 'everything' bike for commuting in the city, weekly 60ish mile rides, and the occasional few day tour.
I'm looking at two options -- having my LBS modify a '08 build up they have, or buying parts from a '06 buildup someone has on craigslist and having my LBS build up the rest. I've got a few questions about the configuration though which people may be able to help out, as I've seen some people describing touring on a cross check on this forum.
I'm planning on swapping out (at least the rear wheel) with a 36 spoke wheel that can handle a load. I'm planning on touring with a tent and sleeping bag and a decent amount of provisions. It seems necessary to have a better rear wheel than the stock one, correct?
Also, I realize that the stock buildup doesn't seem to have enough gear options for riding loaded with stuff. I plan on having my LBS add a third chain ring to the crank and a new bottom bracket and front derailler to accommodate it. My question is -- could I get away with just adding the 3rd chain ring, or to be able to carry a load comfortably do I need to get a wider rear gear cluster (which I think means a new rear derailler as well?)
Also, with the 06 cross check setup I'm looking at buying parts from on craigslist, I have the option of either getting it with a CC fork or a LHT fork. I kinda want the LHT for the front eyelids, but would it make the handling/ride feel less quick and zippy like the LHT is? Anyone ridden with this setup?
Has anyone on here modified their cross check to handle what I'm describing, and have any thoughts on this stuff, as well as any other thoughts on things I may have missed?