I bought a Taiwanese BLT about two months ago. It was built up by Velo Classique in Purcellville, VA so it doesn't have the same build kit that has been advertised by Bruce Gordon. I don't have many miles on the bike yet and I can't talk about how it rides loaded, but so far I'm loving it. I was looking for a bike that would be more versatile and comfortable than my road bike and the BLT has delivered. I've got 38mm tires on it now and it has done very well on unpaved paths, and the pot-holed streets of Baltimore.
I had also taken a few very short test-rides on the Long Haul Trucker and the Trek 520. To me, I thought the BLT was somewhat similar to the 520 - a bit more "sporty" than the LHT. It is certainly more stable than my Specialized Allez, but it doesn't feel "sluggish". With racks included I found it to be relatively price-competitive, though this was a very nice build with Campy. I think the bike is finished very well, and it is very sharp looking with blue racks.
Unfortunately I can't compare it to the Sherpa, but so far I've really liked the bike and I'm looking forward to putting more miles on it.
peugeot p8 sturmey archer aw-3, schwinn world 10sp
Hi, I recently started working with Bruce. I really like the BLT. The geometry is very close to that of the US made Rock and Road, and I would agree with ronkieboy in that it is a more sporting geometry than other options for touring bikes. That is not to say the BLT is a sport-touring bike. It is very much so a bike designed for loaded touring and would be great for commuting. In my opinion, the design is better than most of what is out there. And considering you get the US made racks with the frame, fork, headset and stem, the package is a great value too.
Before working with Bruce, I worked at a shop that sells the Rocky Mountain Sherpa. For the price point it seems to be a decent off the shelf option. I don't much care for the geometry - its similar to the LHT with longer than needed chainstays but does have the advantage of a sloped top tube. Overall, I always felt too stretched out on the Sherpa and that is not a feeling I would want on a tour. The build kit that comes on the Sherpa is not my favorite, but I understand that components are often a personal preference.
Based on your interest in the Sherpa, I am assuming you are considering a 700c and not 26" wheeled BLT. Is that correct?
I hope this helps in making your decision. If you have any further questions, please ask! And feel free to email me as well at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronkieboy, thank you for your input. And please post more information about your BLT (with pictures!) as you get more miles in.
Can't find any independent (or otherwise) review of Bruce's Tiwanese BLT.
Nice looking rig. I rode a Ritchey Breakaway Cross bike in the Alps this summer. Comfortable bike for light loaded touring. I have wheel sets that allow me to go from touring to Road to Aggressive cross tires. A good touring bike can be the all purpose ride for all types of riding.
Geometry looks similar for the BLT 54cm. I have looked at the Bruce Gordon R&R for loaded touring. The only addition I would make to this is the S&S couplers which make it easier to go somewhere without adding any cost to the flight. This is the first time I have seen this new option and will investigate this option. I have ridden the R&R and found it a very responsive ride. A lot of touring bikes are a little cluncky and single purpose rides. This looks like there is a little more performance. Good luck.
All bikes can feel good but, you need to put at least 50 miles on any bike to really understand how it will be on a day in and day out ride. Also, make sure that you have your favorite saddle...that will make all the difference in the world.
After about a month of deliberation I decided to go with the BLT. I spoke some with Bruce Gordon on the phone and got the impression that he really cared about his product. Unlikely I could call and speak with Mr. Surly or Mrs. Raleigh and get their thought process regarding a product. I am sure if I have any questions during my build I will be able to talk to someone and get their input.
I must admit I did get a pretty good buy on it and considering the racks are included as well as stem and headset it seemed very reasonable. Regarding the geometry I felt it resembled my road bikes quite closely though my position will in the end be more upright. I liked the sloping top tube. I looked at some other frames and the slope angle was a little more that I liked. This is not to say they were bad because of it but coming from a road bike history I was just unfamiliar with it. I think if I was more a mountain biker this would not have been an issue for me. It can take probably the widest tires of any bike frame in its class, I may not need that but its nice to have options. Chainstay length was just a bit longer then some of the other frames I was considering, and the overall wheelbase was as well. If my thinking is correct it should be very stable loaded.
I very excited to begin building it up. I have been thinking about touring for several years and finally bit the bullet. I am thinking of it as my RV Camper. I have four or five bikes now (I loose count or am in denial) so it was hard to justify another. I got over it as I am sure many of you can identify with.