First, some information on me. I have toured before (about 2500 miles in New Zealand ten years ago on a mountain bike). I've not owned a road bike since I was in high school and had an old ten speed bike. I mostly mountain bike now but I want to get into more road riding and, eventually, touring.
So ... I've been educating myself on road bikes. I'm looking to spend UNDER $1300 USD. Intially I just starting looking a performance road bikes (as opposed to dedicated racing) but realized that I should consider that I could tour again and would need the bike to handle this. Immediately choices began dropping out due to limits in frame material (e.g., carbon fiber forks not suitable for touring; concerns over long distance rides on aluminum frames, etc); geometry (shorter wheel base and chain stay length; ride position) ... you get the idea.
Basically, I'm looking for a bike that will give me some reasonable performance for blasting around for fun and training but will be suitable for the occasional tour (which might be very occasional but could be rather long and demanding as well). After using my mountain bike for this for years, I was sure excited about the light and fast road bikes and so my enthusiasm was dampened when I considered I might be on a dedicated touring bike in order to leave that door open for future touring.
One thought that has just come to me is the possibility of the cyclocross bike. There's still limited information on these and virtually nothing on their use as touring bikes. My understanding is that they may have some touring capability as a group given that they can have the necessary braze-ons (for panniers and fenders); can have similar component choices, e.g., mixing road and MTB groups; are intended for handling rough conditions and presumably could handle some weight. K2 is new to the bike scene but they, for example, are promoting their cyclocross bike, the Enemy (yeah, what's up with the name?), as a choice for touring interested riders. K2's frame is aluminum.
Essential Question: Can cyclocross bikes be a good choice for touring bikes that might give a wider range of use and performance than the dedicated touring bike? What considerations might I be leaving out?
NOTE: K2 specs include a wheel base of 1042 mm versus 1052 on a Trek 520 (for comparision a typical performance road might have somewhere around 1000). The K2's chainstay is 435 while Trek 520's is 450 (performance road maybe 415 or so). So based on these figures and others ... it DOES appear that the cyclocross bike here (the K2) is approaching touring specs in geometry (in addition to the component mixes).
>>>OKAY ... that was my intented post from when I joined but found I couldn't post right off the bat (delay in activation and then cookie problems). Since then, I've been doing MORE thinking/learning. Right now I'm seriously considering a Jamis Quest. http://www.jamisbikes.com/bikes/quest02.html
Sounds like it could be a decent touring bike (for not extended, super duty touring). I'm not too excited about riding a dedicated touring bike on a daily basis. I'm tired of riding lumbering MTB's on the road for fun and exercise when I'm not on the trails. I'm hoping for something with some performance ... my reason for straying from the dedicated touring bikes.
Questions I'm now sweating:
1. How necessary are the MTB style brakes on a bike for touring? Seems bikes like the Trek 520 or Bianchi San Remos all have these. The Quest, for example, does not. Cyclocross do.
2. Bar end shifters. Is this a maintenance thing? Seems like these are used on some tourers.
3. How important are the number of spokes/rim. Tourers seem to be 36h. The road performance may be much less. The Quest, for example, has Mavic Cosmos wheelset. Sweet stuff but only 24 front, 28 rear. They're pretty hefty though overall. Not cheap.
4. What is the significance of Fork Rake/Offset? Again, touring bikes seem distinct here compared with road performance.
5. Is having an upright stem important? I've seen bikes (touring, road, cyclocross) go either way. Generally, touring seem to be 90 degrees but I've seen some more upright stems too. Some road performance may be same or even -10 degrees. Seems to me that you'd want some degree of upright position possible to save your back over many miles. Being strectched out all day will kill me. (Again, I toured on a MTB).
6. I'm going nuts comparing geometries. The Quest is highly rated by a November issue Bicycling Magazine review as being a very stable, versatile bike. It only has a wheelbase of 1002 mm compared with as much as 1066 mm for the Fuji touring bike or 1052 for the Trek 520. It's chainstay is only 415 mm compared with 450 mm for the tourers. Yet, it seems to work. Am I just being too wedded to the numbers here?
Looking for your knowledge, experience ... and patience!