> I suppose a lot of this is a 26" vs. 700c discussion. Be warned...
> As is often the case, this thread aims mostly to help me get my head around my decisions. But replies are still welcome!
The background to this broad question is that I'm not especially wealthy, and, more importantly, I don't have the space or inclination to keep many different bicycles. Well, that's not true; I have the inclination to do so but I think it should not be indulged in my case. So I'm looking at the purchase of a single new bike.
My only current [complete] bicycle is a nice, light skinny old racer from the 80's (24" frame) and it does everything you'd expect that sort of bike to do. I would very much like a touring bike of some sort, and after well over a year of waiting and watching classified ads I'm prepared to just spend a lot of money and get one new. A few years ago I enjoyed a 24" Galaxy (from the '70s, I think) for UK road touring and inter-city rides, as well as commuting and general transport. It's this that I'd be replacing, and I'm now turning my attention towards 26" heavier-duty tourers, for two main reasons:
1) I have a nice bike that's light and speedy for anything not requiring panniers, so I don't necessarily need another one like that.
2) I have intentions to take the bike to regions where, I am reasonably convinced, 26" wheels are beneficial and sensible. But in today's world that doesn't strike me as very important - I feel that anywhere I could get 26" spares I could also order 700c gear online.
However, the vast majority of its use, realistically - both now and in years to come - would be in the UK on good roads, for short camping trips or longer tours - and probably winter commuting. I've never ridden a 26" tourer - I've read all about the supposed differences or similarities to a 700c ride, when the 26" is set up appropriately. But I will need to try it for myself.
Do we ever hear of people who for reasons other than being short and wanting a smaller bike (I'm about 6ft and slightly long legs) chose a 26" tourer along the lines of a Thorn Sherpa over something in the style of a 700c Galaxy, for intended good-roads touring? Would that be stupid?
If I had no ambitions to tour in harsher regions I wouldn't hesitate to stick to 700c, because it's what I know. I'm also quite sure that a 700c tourer would suit most of my purposes, most of the time, better than a 26" tourer (which will be slightly over-built in other aspects, no doubt). I may never even get around to taking it into rougher terrain, but the choice of bike will affect my later decision to do so. If I have a bike that can handle it, then I might. If I don't, then I probably won't.
One idea I have is to acquire a large mountain bike frame and try to make it a bit roadier, and see how I like the feel of it. That might cost me £200 or so but I can probably sell it for half that once I'm done with it.
Do you think that would give me a decent idea of what a good 26" tourer might feel like, or will it not be the same?