Our son is thinking of using an older bike (with upgrades) to go across the USA next summer. I have some concerns about durability/performance even though I recognize that the set up is better than what I once used and better than what people used back in the day.
The bike is an early 70s Raleigh International (531 double butted frame) with changes made over the years to make it more practical. Instead of the original sew up rims, it now has Mavic Module E2 36 hole rims that take 700c x 32s -- the bike still has the original Campy New Record hubs. The drivetrain is a Biopace triple (28-38-48) with a 13-28 freewheel in back, and it has indexed bar end shifters. It has fenders and a Blackburn rear rack that is attached using the brake pivot bolt and the fender eyelets (there are no braze ons on the seat stays). Brakes are sidepulls -- Campy New Record in rear, no name generic in front. The bike has not had hard use.
Our son took the bike on a shakedown trip and had a great time! He went 250+ miles, including a 90 mile day. Most gear fit in our Arkel T-42 rear panniers, but he had to bungee the tent and sleeping bag to the top of the rear rack. He also used a handlebar bag.
He reported that the gearing was adequate but that a lower low would probably be a good idea, and a mountain triple would help with that, or a freewheel with a 34 tooth bailout gear. He found the brakes not great, but adequate. He shrugged off the handling, but I found the handling squirrely when I rode it fully loaded. It oscillated or jiggled constantly so that you had to pay attention to keep the bike going straight. I don't know if that was true due to the bungee corded tent, or the relatively light rack, or the handlebar bag, or because most of the weight was over the rear wheel, or some or all of the above.
I see the bike as fine for lightly loaded touring, but I'm concerned about a long trip. Is this wheelset strong enough for a long fully loaded trip? Is the handling going to be problematic due to the frame geometry, or the way the rear rack is attached? Or is that something that can be remedied with better loading?
Perhaps this is just a parent's concern, so I thought I'd see what others on this message board thought about the suitability of this set up for going across the USA.