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Commuting/touring bike options - Vaya or ?

Old 01-23-13, 07:14 PM
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Commuting/touring bike options - Vaya or ?

I'm looking to buy a more touring-friendly bike than the Giant OCR1 I've been using (pure road bike with a pretty aggressively compact frame... I actually just sold it yesterday so I "need" a bike now lol). I don't do a lot of touring but I'd like a bike that won't be too awkward with 30lbs of panniers hanging off the back of it when I do. I'm having some trouble narrowing down my choices because I'm not sure what to look for or how to weigh different options, especially considering the bike will be used for commuting and shorter recreational rides as well.

Things I know I'm looking for:
- Brifters, preferably at least Tiagra level Shimano (or any level SRAM)
- Rack and fender mounts (front rack as well)
- At least 32H rims (36H preferable)
- Triple crankset (preferably with a really low low gear)
- Steel or Aluminum
- Something that feels fast when not touring...

Things I think I'm looking for:
- Disc brakes

Based on the criteria above I've been looking for a good deal on a Salsa Vaya but I'm wondering what other options are out there that might fit my criteria? Also I'm not sure if I'm even on the right track with the above criteria? I'm keeping my eye out for a Surly LHT as well but I'm afraid it will feel too sluggish for commuting and riding around town.

Any thoughts?

Bike's I'm keeping an eye out for currently:
Salsa Vaya
Surly LHT or Disc Trucker
Salsa Casseroll
Jamis Aurora or Bosa Nova
Kona Jake (is there a version of this bike with disc brakes?)

Also my brother (who does quite a bit more touring than myself) suggested the Windsor Tourist or Nashbar Touring bike. Those look like good candidates and the price is right but I'm not sure if I can get over the negative stigma of the brands...
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Old 01-23-13, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by lennon_68
but I'm not sure if I can get over the negative stigma of the brands...
That'd be the least of my worries.
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Old 01-23-13, 07:55 PM
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Coming from a guy who likes more aggressive frames, I would go with the Vaya. Though, that is largely influenced by the Vaya 2 sitting at work right now that beckons me.

From a price standpoint, there is a review thread floating near the front page here about the Motobecane Fantom CXX, which would be close to the Vaya and has practically the same build for less than half the price. If you bought the bike, you could ride it for a while and if you decide you hate the frame, then buy something else like the Vaya or LHT.

EDIT: I am an idiot. The Fantom CXX has canti brakes, not disc.

Last edited by WalksOn2Wheels; 01-23-13 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 01-23-13, 08:05 PM
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I don't actually know anything, but I do like steel bikes.

Any of those would feel pretty fast to me. The Bianchi Volpe feels fast to me. I don't know if they will feel fast to you if you're used to the OCR1. But they'll tour.

Shoot, I'd take any of them, but if I could afford a Disc Trucker, I can't think of a reason not to buy one.
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Old 01-23-13, 08:06 PM
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Casseroll doesn't have disc brakes, and they are getting hard to find - but I really enjoyed my test ride on one last week (the only thing that's holding me back from snapping it up is the fact that I just built up my dream commuter and my husband wouldn't be too happy if I splashed out for another bike).

I thought I wanted a Vaya before I went to try it out, but personally I thought the Surlys (and the Casseroll) felt faster. Sure this is because of the tires, though. Have you ridden any of these bikes yet?
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Old 01-23-13, 08:11 PM
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Don't forget about the Bianchi Volpe! I got my wife one, and whenever I clean it for her I'm always amazed at how well designed it is. Has brifters, triple crankset, room for fatish tires, eyelets for racks/fenders and while it's no zippy 20lb road bike, it can still hold it's own on pavement. It's a true all-rounder.

https://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/road/steel/volpe/

Last edited by dvald001; 01-23-13 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 01-23-13, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dvald001
Don't forget about the Bianchi Volpe! I got my wife one, and whenever I clean it for her I'm always at how well designed it is. Has brifters, triple crankset, room for fatish tires, eyelets for racks/fenders and while it's no zippy 20lb road bike, it can still hold it's own on pavement. It's a true all-rounder.

https://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/road/steel/volpe/
I'm riding a friend's older Volpe with bar-end shifters, and to me, it feels warp speed. But I'm kinda slow.
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Old 01-23-13, 08:34 PM
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When I was looking for a bike I had nearly the same criteria as you (except that disc brakes weren't real common then.) Brifters were the most important of the criteria for me. I bought a Rocky Mountain Sherpa. A great steel frame. Tiagra brifters. 36 hole front and back wheels. Cantilever brakes (I'll be converting them to V-brakes soon.) 440 Chain stays (don't like my heel hitting the panniers.) But, this is definitely a touring bike. It's meant to carry a load. It's not quick. It's not light. If I were buying today, I would definitely go with a Salsa or Vaya and build it up the way I liked if it didn't already come spec'd the way I wanted. Vaya, with it's disc brakes seems the way to go for a commuter. Touring bikes are good commuters... but they are overkill for that type of riding. A Vaya or Salsa aren't enough bike for an extended fully loaded tour (especially if you're planning on carrying much weight on the front fork.) Most bikes are designed to do one thing well and they might be adequate at some other types of riding. You have to decide what is most important to you...
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Old 01-23-13, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by dvald001
Don't forget about the Bianchi Volpe! I got my wife one, and whenever I clean it for her I'm always amazed at how well designed it is. Has brifters, triple crankset, room for fatish tires, eyelets for racks/fenders and while it's no zippy 20lb road bike, it can still hold it's own on pavement. It's a true all-rounder.

https://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/road/steel/volpe/
Originally Posted by GrouchoWretch
I'm riding a friend's older Volpe with bar-end shifters, and to me, it feels warp speed. But I'm kinda slow.
One thing the Volpe has over all those other models ... panache!
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Old 01-24-13, 09:58 AM
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Civia Bryant?
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Old 01-24-13, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by gerv
One thing the Volpe has over all those other models ... panache!
Don't let the Bianchi team hear you compliment the Italian bike with a French word!!!
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Old 01-24-13, 10:28 AM
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I've ridden about 5000 commuting miles on an LHT and another 2000 on a Vaya. My impressions are the Vaya feels quicker and more nimble, but the reality is my average commute speed is actually almost the same. I haven't done any loaded touring so I can't really speak to the 30 lb load, but rack mounts abound on each. However, the LHT with v brakes was much easier to mount fenders to.
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Old 01-24-13, 10:56 AM
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I just moved from an LHT to a Vaya Ti. My bikes are the smallest sizes, so my experience may not be as relevant. I've only had one good ride on the Vaya (due to winter weather here), a 27 mile rolling hills road ride. And *wow*. The Vaya is much lighter and quicker than the LHT. It felt more like one of my road bikes. The LHT is a lot more plush, but the Vaya made me feel like I was in much better shape than I really was!

I've also got a Motobecane Fantom CXX (42cm) and it's a fun frisky ride too. It's basically a Surly Crosscheck.
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Old 01-24-13, 12:13 PM
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First off thanks for the responses everyone!

gerv and WalksOn2Wheels - Regarding the Windsor Tourist/Nashbar touring bike I believe they actually have a good reputation for a touring setup I just don't think I can get over the brand unfortunately. I feel like I'm ready for something with a fancy brand name on the side of it and I'm willing to pay extra just for it (again unfortunately...). I've read the reviews on the Fantom CXX and it sounds like it would be a pretty darn good fit for me but again the brand thing sneaks into my head and I'm afraid I'll just want to upgrade in a year. That said I don't want to spend more than $1200 and I'm not really sure if that's a realistic figure (I'm mostly searching used).

GrouchoWretch, dvald001, gerv - Sounds like I need to add the Bianchi Volpe to my list for sure. I actually have been reading a bit more about disc vs canti brakes and I've decided that disc brakes is not a criteria I want to base this purchase on (actually I'm not even sure if it's a plus at this point with touring in mind). I'm afraid if I remove the disc brake criteria my options will be innumerable though... help!

anichka - Even though the Casseroll didn't have disc brakes it was on my list as I've seen more of those available used than the Vaya and the price is quite a bit more palatable. Also I read a review of someone that rode both a Vaya and Casseroll and like the Casseroll quite a bit better (and described the Vaya as feeling sluggish... hey that might have been the poster in this thread). Unfortunately I live in the middle of nowhere so I haven't been able to ride any of these bikes. Also it's been ungodly cold here (it was -22F when I woke up this morning...) so even if I made a trip to a city with a decent bike shop (about 100 mile drive) I wouldn't get much of a test drive. That said there is a bike shop in town and I've been meaning to head up there to see if they can help me figure out what I want.

InThe Rain - I mostly just want something closer to a touring bike than the Giant OCR1 I've been using for tours. Actually I think most any bike that's not made of CF will make for a better touring bike than that lol.

Leebo - Civia Bryant. Hmm, that's a new one for me. I just searched and it looks like it might be a single gear in the front which would be a deal breaker. I actually almost bought a Redline Metro Sport but someone in the touring forum pointed out how short it is which would be a problem (it would have been a good deal at $500 though!).

jimcross - thanks for the input on Vaya vs LHT. The fender mounting is one of the reasons I'm scratching disc brakes from the criteria. My brother actually has a LHT and both tours I've done have been with him. I think I know what you mean, the LHT doesn't look fast even when it's going fast. That's probably a good thing but I'm afraid it would convince me to change bikes if I don't feel like I'm going fast (as dumb as that sounds).

eofils - your comparison of the Vaya and LHT matches my preconceived notion of them pretty well. It's really sounding like the Fantom CXX would be a winner for me I just can't get over the name (sorry, it wasn't all that long ago I was well on my way to becoming a roadie with dreams of owning a $3k CF bike... a lot has changed lol).


It sounds like the bike's I have on my list are a pretty good match. In my search for a good deal I've been spending a lot of time on Craigslist and eBay but the odds of finding the exact bike I want in the exact size I want is pretty slim. What other bikes should I be looking for when doing these searches? Based on the responses so far I've added the below to my searches:

Bianchi Volpe
Surly CrossCheck
Motobecane Fantom CXX
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Old 01-24-13, 01:04 PM
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Nothing but custom will be just exactly like you want it, but you are free to change things at point of sale,
likely get credit for the new take off parts, towards what you really want..

brand name is just paint, paint over it if you desire..

job 1 is to make it fit and be comfortable on, riding around, all day , for weeks.
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Old 01-24-13, 01:07 PM
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I have a Vaya and a front fender that I use for commuting... I believe I am using a Planet Bike fender without a problem. I've even used it with a front rack (the one from Salsa that is made for the straight blade fork that the vaya comes with). I do not use a rear fender because my OMM rack has a topshelf that is almost as effective as one. No problems clearing the disc brakes on the front anyway..

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Old 01-24-13, 01:10 PM
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If the name on the BD bikes means that much to you, why not just repaint the frame? That'll still be cheaper than some of the well known brands and you can have it in whatever color you want.

For me, the quality of the frame and components are what matter most. While I don't have a BD bike, I wouldn't be opposed to one, especially for a commuter.
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Old 01-24-13, 01:27 PM
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I've ridden a Windsor Tourist (BD bike) for 3 seasons now and its really my favorite bike. A quality steel frame well constructed with pretty nice components. the wheels while not truly high end are perfectly serviceable. I change the brake pads for obvious reasons and the rear rack is ok but not great (a bit light) in construction. For $599.00 with free shipping it was a good deal for me. The money I saved I was able to do a few other upgrades. Its never gonna be a Volpe or LHT but then I don't care
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Old 01-24-13, 01:35 PM
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My Vaya is my daily rider/commuter. I run a Carradice saddlebag (with support), and it works well for my 24-mile (roundtrip) commute. The bike is sturdy enough for dirt/gravel riding, but with a change of tires, it'd downright lively. Not as nimble as my Black Mountain, but it's not designed to be.

You can read more about the Vaya, etc, on my blog.
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Old 01-24-13, 01:54 PM
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Let me put in a pitch for the 2013 Kona Jake.



As you can see, the new Jake has disc brakes and at $1149 with full 10-speed Tiagra components, I think it's a great value. It doesn't have front rack mounts, but it meets all of your other criteria.

You can find my initial review here: https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...88-mile-review

I'm now up to around 800 miles now and still loving it. I've done some tinkering (changed the saddle, pedals, tires, wheels and brakes) but that's just what I do with my bikes. The tires are the only thing that I really felt had to go, and even those would be decent for some purposes like dirt roads or packed gravel.
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Old 01-24-13, 08:39 PM
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If I had the scratch, that Kona Jake is dead sexy, but I didn't so I got the Gravity Zilla. Meets all your criteria and my review can be found here...

https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ew-BikesDirect
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Old 01-25-13, 10:46 AM
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The Novaro Zealo is an interesting option. It should work as a light tourer. It's not steel, but you get some nice components for a very good price especially when the 20% coupons come around...

https://www.rei.com/product/837491/no...ealo-bike-2013
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Old 01-25-13, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ratell
The Novaro Zealo is an interesting option. It should work as a light tourer. It's not steel, but you get some nice components for a very good price especially when the 20% coupons come around...

https://www.rei.com/product/837491/no...ealo-bike-2013
That does looks nice, though I can't for the life of me understand the appeal of 50-34 cranksets. The stock BB7's are a very nice touch.
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Old 01-25-13, 12:29 PM
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*I* thought the Vaya was a bit sluggish, but I think it was just the tires.

There's a 54 cm Casseroll on eBay right now with a Buy it Now price of $800. I would be all over that if it wasn't just a bit too big (I am still kinda debating it, in fact - I am 162 cm tall, just 3 cm shy of the recommended height). That's $300-400 cheaper than the one I rode a week or two ago in Seattle.
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Old 01-25-13, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by anichka
*I* thought the Vaya was a bit sluggish, but I think it was just the tires.

There's a 54 cm Casseroll on eBay right now with a Buy it Now price of $800. I would be all over that if it wasn't just a bit too big (I am still kinda debating it, in fact - I am 162 cm tall, just 3 cm shy of the recommended height). That's $300-400 cheaper than the one I rode a week or two ago in Seattle.
Gotcha. I have that Casseroll in my watch list but I think it's too small for me Like you I've been debating biting anyway. I'm 184 cm but with shortish legs for my height...

EDIT: fixed cm conversion error...

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