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  1. #1
    Senior Member ZCow's Avatar
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    Carless - Looking for a bike for all my commuting/light touring needs!

    Hello all,

    Here's the deal. A few months back I got a job much closer to home (about 6.5 miles away). I am no newbie to commuting, as I commuted to my other job and school 3-4 days a week (40 miles round trip). I figured with the new job and all, I deserve to buy myself a new bike.

    I am going to be selling my car by the first of July and decided I wanted to use the money to buy myself a new bicycle.

    I currently ride an '87 or '88 Bianchi Strada LX. It's been a fantastic bike and has gotten well over 3000+ mile on it (all with 700x23 Gatorskins, nonetheless), however, the bike is showing some signs of rusting and some of the major parts will soon need replacing.

    I have scoured the forums and looked at numerous reviews, articles, testimonials, etc., but cannot for the life of me decide what to get next. My choices are as follows:

    Surly LHT
    Windsor Tourist
    Salsa Casseroll
    REI Randonnee
    Nashbar Steel Touring

    I have a Topeak Explorer Rack and matching Topeak Trunk bag with foldout panniers that have served me well, but don't hold up well in rain so I will be replacing both with something more suitable for all sorts of weather. As far as touring, I have no way of being able to tour across the US or anything like that, but I'd like to be able to do maybe weekend excursions or possible 1-2 week regional tours. My budget with everything would be under $1500. I already have lights, computer, clipless pedals/shoes. My front light is a 1/2 watt Planet Bike which is pretty bad, so if you could give some options for a new one, that would be greatly appreciated. I'm open to suggestions other than the Trek 520 (which I test rode and didn't quite connect with).

    As a side note, the only bike on that list I can buy from a local shop is the Surly.

    Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Look at the Surly Cross Check too...

    Aaron
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  3. #3
    Senior Member ZCow's Avatar
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    I have looked at the Cross-Check as well. I wasn't able to ride one, but I did see a lot of concerns as far as clearance and chainstay length. Unfortunately, the dealership nearby that sells Surly products do not currently have them in stock. Care to share your feelings on the CC?

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    i've commuted and done some light touring with a CC, one of the most versatile and adaptive framesets around. while CC is pretty popular, i think surly made a mistake with the geometry - top tube is too long and headtube too short to be optimal for utility use. Have ridden a lht, compared to CC, it felt sluggish - more like a 90's mtn bike. the CC is more road bike like, some even suggest the fork is a little flexy - pethaps that is what made the ride nice. My son in the army now has the CC, passed it on to him as it fit him better than me. sorry you were not taken by a 520, after i had the CC for a couple of years -wanted a touring bike - was sure the lht would be it. the i had a chance to ride them side by side on the same day. the 520 was better balanced as a utility bike - it spoke to me and had been for a thousands of km since.
    ride long & prosper

  5. #5
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    My issue with the LHT as a do all bike is that is not as quick and responsive when unloaded, which is why I suggested the CC. I have only ridden both bikes briefly, I don't own either one. I have a stable of older bikes that I have been riding for years. Soma Fab has some nice stuff too, but it would be all but impossible to find one to test ride. I have been riding for over 40 years so I know what I like and what will fit for the most part. What works for one person may not work for another. The Trek 520 is a good choice too. You want something in the Sport Touring/Randonneur class of bike, it will be responsive enough to use for everyday commuting, but you can still put a reasonable load on it for a short tour. My go to bike for a few years was my Giant Excursion which was a euro spec city/trekking bike. It originally came with flat bars, I did the conversion to drop bars. I actually have two of these now, one will probably end up with either butterfly bars or flat bars.

    One thing I would suggest you consider is more than one bike, especially if you are going to be commuting regularly. I used an old beat up Raleigh 3 speed as my commuter for 6-7 years and had a lighter weight "10 speed" for weekend rides and light touring. If something happened to the Raleigh I could ride the other bike to work.

    Aaron

    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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  6. #6
    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone View Post
    i've commuted and done some light touring with a CC, one of the most versatile and adaptive framesets around. while CC is pretty popular, i think surly made a mistake with the geometry - top tube is too long and headtube too short to be optimal for utility use. Have ridden a lht, compared to CC, it felt sluggish - more like a 90's mtn bike.
    That is an excellent assessment of the CC. I owned both the CC and LHT and the CC was so much more fun to ride but I always was wishing it didn't have as much reach and had a longer HT.

    Since you said you only plan on light touring, I would scratch the LHT off of the list. It's a fun bike to ride loaded but a tank of a bike otherwise.

    Since your LBS will sell you a Surly, they should also sell you a Salsa bike. You mentioned the Casseroll and that would be a good choice as would a Vaya. A lot of people use the latter as their do-all bike and are able to hang with their roadie friends with the right wheels and tires. It can also be used for fully loaded touring if you ever decided to go that route. You can also put some fairly larger tires on it and ride fire roads or rail to trails. If I was only able to own one bike, I think that would be the one.

    Have fun deciding.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ZCow's Avatar
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    The Vaya options only show disc brakes. I have worked on disc brakes and don't have a problem, but I would prefer the rim pads myself. I love the geometry and looks of the Vaya. I don't see an option for any dealers in 50 mile radius that sell Salsa bicycles and they seem to be a tad more expensive than the Surly options. I think I'm narrowing my options down to the Cross Check. The LHT may be too much bike, and I'd like the option of riding with my pals without the panniers. Does anyone know how well it will handle a BOB trailer if I decide to go that route later on down the road? Also, I've heard much debate on the 50/52 for a 5'7"/5'8" rider with about a 28/29 inseam? I'm sure the bike shop can figure it out for me, but if anyone has any input as to the better fit, please, I'd love some input. I run a size 9 shoe, if that matters.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    What brands Are in your local bike shop to test ride?

    many shops don't stock any of the offered list.
    Windsor Tourist, Nashbar Steel Touring, obviously will not be available to test ride..

    Salsa Casseroll/ Surly LHT/CC,, QBP brands .. often shops buy small parts,
    but will not be stocking their whole bikes, on the floor, on spec.
    REI Randonnee, .. only at their stores.

  9. #9
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    I don't see a lot of reason to replace the Topeak rack unless you have some reason why it's bad. To an extent, ditto on the Topeak trunk bag. We're a car free household, and we've got a trailer, 3 panniers, a messenger bag, a couple backpacks, various small bags, a couple seat bags and a bike basket. If you get around a lot on a bike, chances are you'll gradually end up with a lot of ways to carry stuff. The lack of trunk bags is not coz they're bad or useless, but more because I like baskets. For panniers, I don't think it really matters a lot which exact ones you buy. For grocery and around town use, I really like to have 40L. There are a lot of 40L pannier options that are sturdy, fairly lightweight, and will hold up well to touring use as well as daily in town use. (personally, I bought mine from REI on a steep discount)

    For a light, consider grabbing a camping headlamp rather than just replacing your Planet Bike light. $20 will pick up a reasonably light and small headlamp that's also bright enough to be useful. My partner uses a combo like that and is very pleased with it. It's not as bright as my generator powered Lumoteq but it works and is quite cheap.

    Some bike shops will let you do test rides with your panniers and even loaded test rides. If your local Surly shop is like that, I'd probably buy from them, whether you end up on a Surly or not.

  10. #10
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Agree that there is a trade-off between a full on touring bike and a bike that is responsive for commuting. I've owned a number of different touring bikes over the years that I loved when they were loaded with weight but not so much when just riding (or commuting). I really like my Soma double cross for just all around riding but it's tough buying a bike you can't try out first. You might want to consider the BD Fantom CX or Fantom CX both of which run around the same as the Windsor on your list. There is a lot to be said for a cross bike as a commuter and as a pretty fast road bike.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ZCow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    What brands Are in your local bike shop to test ride?

    many shops don't stock any of the offered list.
    Windsor Tourist, Nashbar Steel Touring, obviously will not be available to test ride..

    Salsa Casseroll/ Surly LHT/CC,, QBP brands .. often shops buy small parts,
    but will not be stocking their whole bikes, on the floor, on spec.
    REI Randonnee, .. only at their stores.
    There are many shops around my area. The main ones are Trek, Specialized, Surly, and Kona. No Soma/Salsa. There is a place that carry BD bikes, so I COULD test the Tourist if I wanted to.

    To the other posters, I like the idea of the $20 light, and will look into it. I have tons of taillights (I usually run 2-5 depending on time of day).

    I have no complaints with my rack/trunk bag, but I would want to use this as an occasional grocery shopping bike and the rack would be too frail to hold up (based on max load) and the panniers don't seem to be the best made due to cheap nylon/zippers. It's also a concern for riding in rain. Although, I have a cover for it, it is poorly designed and pools at the bottom of the panniers.

    Want I want out of this new bike is the following:

    Options for front rack, BOB trailer, full coverage fenders, multiple lighting mount options (I can be creative here), wide-ish tires (probably no more than say 32s), durability.

    Thanks for all the responses. I think the Surly Cross Check would make a fine bike, and it looks to be slightly cheaper than the LHT. Can anyone recommend a sturdy and great coverage fender set and a front/rear rack that works well with the CC? I think anything that has a max of 50-75 pounds or so would work just nicely. My idea is I could sell my Topeak rack/bag as a combo on CL or something to put towards updated rack/bag.

  12. #12
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    I think the narrowest snow tires available are 1.5"/37mm. For a car free bike, that means you want clearance for 47mm of fender, unless you're in a climate where it never snows. (don't quote me on this... if you think you might want snow capability, check for yourself before you commit to a max width) IIRC most brands sell fenders in 5mm increments, so that rounds up to 50mm.

    I'm not aware of any bike frame that doesn't have a wide range of light mount options. Fork, fork crown, and handlebars are the usual ones, and it may be someone is making mounts that will work on the sides of standard front racks as well as crown analogue types to go with front platform racks. This is unlikely to be a dealbreaker trait for you.

    Some frames with a carbon rear triangle may not be suitable for trailer use, but it looks like you're looking for all steel or aluminum/steel anyway, so that's not a deciding factor. If you can arrange a test drive of a BOB, I'd recommend it before you commit to it. Trailers change your bike's handling pretty radically, and you may not like the changes. You also might. But trailers are pretty expensive, so it makes good sense to research the practicalities as much as you can. (bought new, a bob is $350-500, so with a cap of $1500 for the bike+accessories, you're not buying one right away anyway)

    In general, I'd look at what features on a bike are expensive or can't be changed after purchase. Brake type is hard or impossible to change, depending on the frame. Going from integrated brake and shifter levers (brifters) to bar con or downtube shifters is cheap, but going the other way is very expensive. Cassettes are relatively cheap to change, if you're staying within your rear der's capacity. Cassette + a new rear derailleur is not so cheap. Swapping cranks often also means swapping your front derailleur, and thus is really not cheap. IIRC the Crosscheck is still specced with a crank/der combo where you can just add a ring to make it a triple, so it's pretty cheap to get lower gears on it. Take the list of expensive changes, and get in enough test rides with different gear that you can puzzle out what changes would be expensive dealbreakers for you. That should let you sort your list of bikes more effectively.

    The other thing to do is spend some quality time with Sheldon Brown's gear calculator and the bike you already have. Work out what gear range you use most, so you can use that as an additional filter on your bike list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZCow View Post
    Hello all,

    Here's the deal. A few months back I got a job much closer to home (about 6.5 miles away). I am no newbie to commuting, as I commuted to my other job and school 3-4 days a week (40 miles round trip). I figured with the new job and all, I deserve to buy myself a new bike.

    I am going to be selling my car by the first of July and decided I wanted to use the money to buy myself a new bicycle.

    I currently ride an '87 or '88 Bianchi Strada LX. It's been a fantastic bike and has gotten well over 3000+ mile on it (all with 700x23 Gatorskins, nonetheless), however, the bike is showing some signs of rusting and some of the major parts will soon need replacing.

    I have scoured the forums and looked at numerous reviews, articles, testimonials, etc., but cannot for the life of me decide what to get next. My choices are as follows:

    Surly LHT
    Windsor Tourist
    Salsa Casseroll
    REI Randonnee
    Nashbar Steel Touring

    I have a Topeak Explorer Rack and matching Topeak Trunk bag with foldout panniers that have served me well, but don't hold up well in rain so I will be replacing both with something more suitable for all sorts of weather. As far as touring, I have no way of being able to tour across the US or anything like that, but I'd like to be able to do maybe weekend excursions or possible 1-2 week regional tours. My budget with everything would be under $1500. I already have lights, computer, clipless pedals/shoes. My front light is a 1/2 watt Planet Bike which is pretty bad, so if you could give some options for a new one, that would be greatly appreciated. I'm open to suggestions other than the Trek 520 (which I test rode and didn't quite connect with).

    As a side note, the only bike on that list I can buy from a local shop is the Surly.

    Thanks everyone!
    I used to think the Windsor Tourist was a P.O.S until a person in our bike club came out riding with one! For $600, you're getting a pretty good deal of a bike and this guy is on his 3rd one -- he wore out his other 2 through my tens of thousands of miles of riding and touring in many countries and is one superbly reliable thanks to his testimony. If you can get to test ride one, see if the bike fits you or not. When buying a bike for the first time, it's best to try it out first as opposed to buying sight unseen. The new green color looks good too!

    Light.. The new LED lights are pretty bright and for less than $100, you can get those 400 lumens and up and they will help you light up the road very well. I think $1500 can buy you a nice complete bike package. And the Windsor Tourist does not ride all that slow either; well at least he could keep up with me on my carbon bike the other weekend at around 20mph.
    Trek 5000 carbon road bike
    Masi Speciale CX touring bike
    Dahon Mu SL (performance hybrid road bike)
    Dahon Speed Duo (slow poker shopper or coffee getter bike)

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Doing OK with my Bike Friday this year ,, but if $600 is the price target,
    Asian sourced bikes are what you have to pick from.

    If you don't know what bike size is your best fit ,
    from experience of riding them, that is a tough one to bypass..

    One savings over the long term is the compact packing
    of Bike Friday's travel bike design .
    But, when the likes of United Airlines nails you $100+ a pop,
    for the bike as a special handling fee,
    the extra cost of purchase evaporates.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-01-12 at 01:49 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    Cannondale has discontinued their touring bikes, the t1 and t2. However there are still a few old stock available in shops. The t2 is LX quality and geared lower than the t1. The t1 is Ultegra quality.

    I believe these bikes will become collector's items. Get one new, while you still can.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ZCow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pacificcyclist View Post
    I used to think the Windsor Tourist was a P.O.S until a person in our bike club came out riding with one! For $600, you're getting a pretty good deal of a bike and this guy is on his 3rd one -- he wore out his other 2 through my tens of thousands of miles of riding and touring in many countries and is one superbly reliable thanks to his testimony. If you can get to test ride one, see if the bike fits you or not. When buying a bike for the first time, it's best to try it out first as opposed to buying sight unseen. The new green color looks good too!

    Light.. The new LED lights are pretty bright and for less than $100, you can get those 400 lumens and up and they will help you light up the road very well. I think $1500 can buy you a nice complete bike package. And the Windsor Tourist does not ride all that slow either; well at least he could keep up with me on my carbon bike the other weekend at around 20mph.
    I was wondering about the Windsor Tourist. It's the cheapest of the lot and I can spend more money on quality panniers and equipment. The only problem I had was that I'd like the idea of backing a local shop for future repairs and guidance. I don't think any shop would turn me away (I plan on removing decals on the Windsor if I get it anyway). I will see if I can get one in to try out at the place that sells BD bikes. Thanks for the tip!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZCow View Post
    I was wondering about the Windsor Tourist. It's the cheapest of the lot and I can spend more money on quality panniers and equipment. The only problem I had was that I'd like the idea of backing a local shop for future repairs and guidance. I don't think any shop would turn me away (I plan on removing decals on the Windsor if I get it anyway). I will see if I can get one in to try out at the place that sells BD bikes. Thanks for the tip!
    Some shops are already accepting bikes you bought elsewhere and they will assemble it, tune it and warranty the work for a year for a price. Why not ask your local favourite shop if they are willing to do this for you for a fee? You don't even have to remove the decals either. With the economy in tough waters now, shops understand that people are shopping for price now and instead of ignoring the trend, the reality dictates that these people who shop cheap may need help from a shop to assemble their bikes properly. Still even with the fee, you're still saving. Spend more on quality panniers and equipment instead!
    Trek 5000 carbon road bike
    Masi Speciale CX touring bike
    Dahon Mu SL (performance hybrid road bike)
    Dahon Speed Duo (slow poker shopper or coffee getter bike)

  18. #18
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    I was just bike shopping.

    The surley line up Trucker is a full on touring bike. I test drive one. It's a pig for a special purpose full touring. I would pass on that unless your heavily loaded full baggage ect. Cross check is fun but has funky geometry. Bar end shifting is a pain. I would highly suggest the pacer. Relaxed geometry and perfect for your commute. It lacks a triple up front or I would have purchased one.

    Specialized tricross sport looks like a lot of fun for a commuter plus alum won't rust in the rain. consider one of these
    http://www.tredzblog.co.uk/2012/03/s...12-review.html


    The tourist is a really sweet deal if you can order the correct size and fit if accordingly. I would buy one if I wasn't so hard to fit myself.

    My choice when I was picking a bike was the Casseroll. I love it so far a few glitches with the LBS tune I have if running smooth now. None of these other bikes ride quite as well as the salsa.

  19. #19
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    ZCow, If there's a Raleigh dealer around look at the Sojourn. A Bianchi dealer? Look at the Volpe.

    Brad

  20. #20
    Kitten Legion Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZCow View Post
    Hello all,



    I am going to be selling my car by the first of July and decided I wanted to use the money to buy myself a new bicycle.



    Thanks everyone!

    No, Thank YOU!

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    did not read all posts but you should consider getting professionally fit by a competent bike shop and then have them pick out the frame that suits you best. you could end up on a soma because it fits better than any of the above.

  22. #22
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    I have owned a Salsa Casseroll for the past year or so, and it's a great bike for commuting and light touring. I got the Casseroll because the geometry fits me perfectly and it is perfectly designed for commuting. The bike handles and rides very nicely. The frame has room for larger tires, mounts for fenders and racks front and rear, and includes a front rack. Surly also makes nice bikes but the geometry is all wrong for me -- short head tubes and long top tubes.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    I really love my soma double cross dc. I replaced my trucker with it after a big tour. (future tours are all going to be off road, so I don't need a road touring bike anymore. It's more fun to ride unloaded. Much quicker, but still very stable. You could get the non disc fork if you want to run cantis.
    My 2010-2011 tour from Argentina to Ecuador:
    http://awesomebiketour.tumblr.com/

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    question for bianchi strada lx

    Quote Originally Posted by ZCow View Post
    Hello all,

    Here's the deal. A few months back I got a job much closer to home (about 6.5 miles away). I am no newbie to commuting, as I commuted to my other job and school 3-4 days a week (40 miles round trip). I figured with the new job and all, I deserve to buy myself a new bike.

    I am going to be selling my car by the first of July and decided I wanted to use the money to buy myself a new bicycle.

    I currently ride an '87 or '88 Bianchi Strada LX. It's been a fantastic bike and has gotten well over 3000+ mile on it (all with 700x23 Gatorskins, nonetheless), however, the bike is showing some signs of rusting and some of the major parts will soon need replacing.

    I have scoured the forums and looked at numerous reviews, articles, testimonials, etc., but cannot for the life of me decide what to get next. My choices are as follows:

    Surly LHT
    Windsor Tourist
    Salsa Casseroll
    REI Randonnee
    Nashbar Steel Touring

    I have a Topeak Explorer Rack and matching Topeak Trunk bag with foldout panniers that have served me well, but don't hold up well in rain so I will be replacing both with something more suitable for all sorts of weather. As far as touring, I have no way of being able to tour across the US or anything like that, but I'd like to be able to do maybe weekend excursions or possible 1-2 week regional tours. My budget with everything would be under $1500. I already have lights, computer, clipless pedals/shoes. My front light is a 1/2 watt Planet Bike which is pretty bad, so if you could give some options for a new one, that would be greatly appreciated. I'm open to suggestions other than the Trek 520 (which I test rode and didn't quite connect with).

    As a side note, the only bike on that list I can buy from a local shop is the Surly.

    Thanks everyone!
    Hello how are you. I have one bianchi strada lx i not have ride yet reason for that 4 times had blow the rear innertube i cant found why. I try found info for that bike year made where is made in italy or japan. I try found what type of frame is racing touring sports. General even is around 27 pounds is fast to ride that bike? I have put crank 53/39 and 9 speeds cassete 12-13 -14 -15-17-19-21-23-25. Wheels i have fulcrum racing 7. I have that parts from other bike and i see in the bianchi is fit good

  25. #25
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    How secure is the place you will be locking your bike at work? Touring bikes make good allarounders, but I wouldn't risk my new tourer being stolen at work. Especially if it was my only bike.

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