I am looking at getting a touring bike for both touring and commuting. I currently commute to work on a 1988 Raleigh Technium, wearing a backpack. I enjoy going on longer rides by myself at times but have never done any touring. But, I am ready to take the plunge. I am very interested in doing both shorter and longer (heavily loaded) tours. By the way, I am 6'4", 220 lbs and measured my pubic bone height at 91 cm.
This is my first post to bikeforums after lurking for a couple of months.
I am really interested in a bike with the S&S couplers for transport and am leaning toward one with 26" wheels ( I have had a tendency for my 700c wheels to get out of true and like the idea that they would be a little easier to pack away for travel). I know that some ppl love the S&S couplers and others say they aren't worth the cost, but I am VERY interested in them on the bike. So far there are a few options I can see that fit this:
1. Get a LHT Deluxe frame (LHT with S&S Couplers). LBS said they'd be available for order on Mar 15. Basically get the frame add my own components. The appeal here is that I can build it out, adding really good components on the bike and probably still be cheaper than other options. The bad part is trying to get a set of components that work well given that I no bike building experience. But, I do have a LBS that could support me in this.
2. Rodriguez W2 UTB with the travel option (S&S couplers). Appears to be a quality product with many sizing options. It is made in the USA (which is a plus in my book). I haven't seen too much posted information from owners of these bikes. Price will be higher than the Surly obviously but for a frame made in the US, the prices seem very reasonable. This bike wheel also accept larger tires so if I decided to do some tours that were more off road, I could change out the wheels/tires.
3. Thorn Nomad. I haven't researched this bike as much as the others, but it is available with S&S couplers, 26" wheels , etc. This bike does appear to be more of a heavy duty expedition bike. But for the price, it looks like a really good quality product and I know a lot of folks speak highly of Thorn.
Any opinions on these or other options would be appreciated...