I'm a year-round fixed gear commuter, and I'm looking into getting into the exciting world of touring.
I'm a college student without a lot of money, but my girlfriend and I both work at shops, and can get our bike gear at cost. So my big question is, what do I need to look for when building a touring bike?
I'm set on a Surly LHT frame, 50cm, with 26' wheels. I want drop bars, I'm not a fan of STI brifters, and I've got a beautiful green Brooks B17 to top it off with as soon as it's built. I'm planning the components out right now, so my questions - -
1. What shifters are most suggested? The frame has downtube brazes, but I could also use bar ends. I've never used bar ends, and I'm wondering if many of your prefer them over downtubes.
2. Are road levers compatible with V-brakes? I'm not too keen on the idea of fitting my bike with a rollamajig. If this is the case, do many of you use cantilever brakes, and do they work well for you? I have some canti's on an old MTB, and I feel they aren't grabby enough to really slow my bike well enough on steep descents. (could be the rock hard pads?)
3. From my previous experiences, I want to stay away from Shimano gear if possible. I like Campy components, but even at cost, they'll be out of my price range for the most part. So as far as the drive train goes, have any of you tried SRAM, and if so, what SRAM groupset would you suggest for my LHT? (5.0? 4.0? X-7?) Otherwise, what's the semi-typical Shimano rig for touring? (105, Tiagra, Deore? Combo?) Can I expect the SRAM stuff to work fine with index bar-ends or index downtube shifters? (I know SRAM sells specific grip shifts and rapid fires.)
4. I know that many tourists prefer wide, ergonomic, shallow drop bars. What bars are touring specific? I've heard of the 3T Morphe, and the Nitto Radoneur, but I'd like more suggestions before I choose.
5. I'm accustomed to 700x23 tires. I want the most slender 26" tires I can get, while still being stable. Any suggestions on width, or possibly a specific tire recommendation? I'm sure I'll be using thorn resistant tubes as well.
6. Any other advice is great. I want good solid front and rear racks. I've also heard that Jandd makes great panniers, but I'm open to other brand suggestions. What should I stay away from?
My plan is to start small, with 30 mile rides, working up to a 90 mile this summer, and then working up to a bigger 725 mile tour next summer. By then, I should have all the stuff I need for a fully loaded tour. Thanks in advance for all of your help!