Hi! Long time lurker here, looking for advice on choosing a touring bike. I currently have a converted 1991 trek multitrack 700 hybrid that has served me well on a 700 mile tour and lots of commuting, but I don't trust it for a big trip, for several reasons. I do like the way it rides both loaded and unloaded.
Sorry for the awful picture, I could get a better one on request.
I'm currently planning a 2 month tour in New Zealand in April-May, and want a solid bike I can trust to be reliable. I'm primarily looking to buy a new frame and transfer components from my current tourer, but I'm also open to buying used bikes on craigslist. I would like to spend under $1000 for a frame and a nice wheelset, but I don't have a set limit. The less money I spend on the bike, the more I can spend in New Zealand.
This bike will be seriously used as a heavily loaded tourer, with front and rear panniers. It will also be used for year-round commuting in Minnesota, cyclocross-style off-road and gravel riding, and lots of unloaded road riding. If I get a 29er touring bike I will definitely do some off-road tours at some point. It has to be lively enough for me to enjoy riding it unloaded in these other situations.
I guess I'm looking for an adventure-touring/trekking type bike, somewhere between road touring and off-road touring.
-I need stable geometry for 40+ pounds of gear (plus 200 pounds of me).
-I need drop-bar geometry that I can set up via stem/steerer tube changes from relatively relaxed touring to a more aggressive road position. I'll tour with around 1-2" of saddle to bar drop, and up to 3" when not touring.
-I want as many braze-ons as possible. Pump peg, spoke holders etc. would be nice. Along with good rack and fender options.
-My first choice is disc brakes, mostly because they won't chew through nice rims in the winter. I've dealt with awful brakes in bad weather my whole life, but If I'm spending over 4 times more on this bike than any bike I've had before, I might as well get nice brakes, right? The price of disc brakes is not something I’m worried about. I'd like to hear some opinions on rim vs disc.
-I want the largest tire clearances possible to increase its versatility. I'll tour on it with 32s most likely, but I'll need more clearance for winter riding with fenders.
-I will be happy with a garden variety chro-moly frame, but I really want to explore more choices with nicer tube sets.
-If I can find a frame that fits my criteria and also has s&s couplers, I may be willing to pay up for them. To those of you who have them, does the money saved in shipping make them worth it? Do they decrease the frame stiffness and durability at all?
-I would like more stand over clearance than a traditional frame. I ride a 58cm road bike, and a level top tube 58cm frame has too little stand over height for technical riding. I could live with it though.
-If possible I would like a higher bottom bracket height than a classic road touring bike. My current trek has mountain bike-like bottom bracket clearance, and I like it for the off-road and cornering advantages.
-This will be a geared bike, but horizontal dropouts are a bonus.
Here are a few of the options I'm considering. This is absolutely not the only bikes I'll buy, just the ones I'm familiar with.
Surly LHT/disc trucker
I could order a new frame, get a complete 56cm disc trucker on craigslist ($1200), a 58cm LHT with full touring gear (panniers, handlebar and trunk bags) ($1800, I'd try to get that lower)
-pros: has all the braze-ons and features, good price, good enough tire clearance
-cons: sub-optimal tubing, might be sluggish for everyday road riding, high stand over height (could get a 56 instead of a 58 to help with this), everyone and their mother has a surly
I could get a new frame or a 58cm vaya 3 on cl for 950
-pros: good stand over height,
-cons: minimal braze ons, suboptimal tubing, average tire clearance
I could get a new frameset or get a 22 in. Fargo 3 for $1020 on cl
-pros: incredible tire clearance, good bottom bracket and stand over clearance
-cons: being a mountain bike, it probably isn't too nice to ride it as a road bike, right? I also may not be able to set the bars low enough.
Same thoughts as the Fargo. If it rides nicely on the road, it would be perfect.
Is it strong enough and stable enough for loaded touring?
What other options are there?
I'm planning to have a wheelset built somewhere locally. If I go with rim brakes, I'll use 36 hole velocity dyad rims, whatever butted spokes the builder recommends, and some shimano 6-bolt disc hubs. Will 36 hole be good enough for me or should I go with 40 in the rear? What I need help with is which level of hubs to get (lx? xt?) and what rims to use if I go with disc brakes. Is it worth getting disc- specific rims for strength and weight, or just use the dyads for a wheelset compatible with both brakes? I've heard good things about the dyads, are there better rims out there for the money? Aesthetics wise, I only want silver wheel components.
I'm sorry that this post is so long, I may be over thinking this. I appreciate any information or suggestions, especially if you have personal experience with a bike that fits my criteria.