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Old 05-17-14, 02:34 PM   #1
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Best Commuter/Tourer/not too Tank Like-Cross Check? Handsome Devil? Pake build?

I have been contemplating a touring bike for a couple years now. I played around with my Hybrid GT Nomad, added upright bars when it originally had flat bars . A couple years ago I was fine touring with it, it flexed a little under load, but it was fine for 60 mile rides.

Recently I rode a Handsome Devil. I am so used to heavier bikes like my Bridgestone MB3 MTB that it felt like a racing bike/comparably. It was fun and nippy. I read it can handle some gravel roads and lighter touring okay. It kind of looks like a Cross Check to me?

My co-worker has a Surly Cross Check and says it would likely be a good choice. If I changed up the drops and added a different stem. How different is this bike from a Cross Check? The one I rode had a 7 or 8 speed Deore gearing set up, likely will need more gears for hills and loads.

The Long Haul Trucker just seems too over built. Trek 520's are too aggressive. Soma has a few bikes that might fit the ticket. I here they have a Ritchey tuning one that is as strong as a LHT but less heavy.

I want something nippy enough but can still handle an overnight camping trip with 35 lbs or so of gear, and not flex too much.
I also want a longer head tube.
Trying to avoid over stemming and stacking. I need a more upright stance.

Have to say, the stock handle bar set up and geometry felt pretty good on the Handsome Devil.

Pake was brought up. I could build it up the way I wanted it. I like the blue paint, too. Never rode one to comment on it's feel. I am assuming it is similar to the CC and Handsome?

I am also open to the idea of a not-too-overbuilt, but appropriate touring bike.. and maybe the Handsome as a fun commuter. The light weight stock wheels might have contributed to the sporty feel and quicker nature, but ... perhaps... they might not hold up to 35+ lbs of gear on a 60 mile trek?
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Old 05-17-14, 02:46 PM   #2
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It's hard to imagine that the Trek 520 is more aggressive than the LHT. They're both fairly long wheelbase bikes with relatively slack angles which is the hallmark of true touring bikes. The difference you felt may relate more to how the bike was set than the geometry.

If I had to choose one bike to commute, ride, and tour on, I'd lean towards the surly cross check or the soma double cross. In either case, I'd get two wheelsets: one for touring/commuting and the other for fast road riding.
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Old 05-17-14, 02:47 PM   #3
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these are very popular in Germany if you're concerned about fit

SATORI :roducts::
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Old 05-17-14, 02:48 PM   #4
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Checkout the Jamis Aurora Series! That's especially the Bosanova!

Last edited by WestPablo; 05-17-14 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 05-17-14, 10:51 PM   #5
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Violet Crown Cycles in Austin, Texas offers the hand-built Sam Houston. You can get it in a touring version for loaded touring or as an all-around commuter. They also offer a CX version for those who want one.

Going custom on this build may get you the exact bike you need. That's a good option if an off-the rack bike falls short.
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Old 05-18-14, 10:37 AM   #6
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I like to ride longer rides (30 miles) for leisure and exercise, and I have been riding my new 58cm Soma Saga for a month now. This bike was selected after riding an older Kona cross bike as my road bike for years, which had a terrifically stiff frame and fork and rigid wheel set. The Kona was great for a half hour ride, good for an hour, and abusive and harsh for two or more hours. Tried saddles, tires, shoes, gloves, but it was simply too stiff of a frame; too straight of a fork; too short in the rear end; and too responsive to steering input in the front. I decided I needed a touring or light touring frame, and I wanted steel for the ride characteristics I had always enjoyed on my old road frames and mountain hard tail frames. I was also hoping for something "affordable," which I guess is around $2k built these days.
I test rode LHTs (disc and canti) and a 520, and a new Vaya. The LHTs were fine, but did not feel as lively as I imagined I wanted an all-day bike to be. To me, they are like a pickup truck: great at what they do, but really, most of the time a minivan is quicker, hauls nearly as much just as well, is more efficient, more agile, and just as comfortable as a big truck or SUV. And LHT felt slower than the Saga, although i have no evidence of that, it was just an impression. The Vaya was nice but reminded me of my cross bike too much, with that straight fork and seemingly harsh ride, and for the same cost I felt I could go with an affordable steel touring frame set and get it custom built. I liked the 520 for ride quality but felt I would spend the next year upgrading one thing or another, like wheels, brakes, bars, bar tape... So I opted for a Soma Saga frame, after considering the All City Space Horse as well. It was the sloping top tube that made me pick the Soma over the Space Horse.

The Soma Saga has a long head tube, more upright ride, and is stiff enough in the bottom that I don't feel or notice flex. And at my size ( I am 6ft 215lbs.) I always seem to flex the BB. That is one reason I ride an old Klein MTN bike frame: no flex.

I am using a SRAM Apex 2x10 setup, pauls canti brakes, SOMA Off-road drop bars, and VO Touring hubs/velocity rims. Right now I am on 32 Schwalbe Marathon green guard tires, but will play around with some Continental Gatorskins that may roll easier and be nearly as flat resistant at substantially less weight. Built like this I have no problem on rough roads, gravel roads, or busted up city pavement. And it rides SSSOOOO much better than my old Kona Jake cross bike on the same routes! I plan on doing longer training rides this summer with it, with a few century rides and a season-ending supported charity weeklong tour across Montana. I don't foresee doing fully loaded tours but 35 lbs for a couple nights? Sure. If fully loaded comes around I may need a triple and lower gearing anyway.

One last thing about upright position: I was just about done with drop bars of any kind when heading down the touring bike path, and considered uprights with bar ends or trekking bars as my only way ahead. I don't like or prefer to use traditional drop bars, and struggled with comfort, position, width, for years. My local bike shop owner and builder offered me a ride on his personal road bike that had Soma Junebug off road drops, and it was a revelation! I now use the drops, the brakes and shifters are always at my fingertips, and they are comfortable in any position. Totally natural and intuitive from the first time I tried them. Just a thought.

Good luck with your search and decision.
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Old 05-18-14, 12:02 PM   #7
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An all-rounder bike will have a sloping top tube to facilitate riding in an upright position. The difference from the road bike is while the road bike emphasizes efficiency at the expense of comfort in order to win a race, the commuter bikes places a premium on all day comfort in the saddle. People used to ride a road bike but now that is an increasingly a niche category. A do everything bike just makes more sense. If a road bike is the race car of the bike world and a fat bike is the land rover of the bike world, a commuter bike is in between - its a capable family car, small SUV and cross-over country explorer. In other words, a jack of all trades and master of none.

That accounts for its increasing popularity and its here to stay.
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Old 05-18-14, 08:07 PM   #8
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I have a Handsome Devil and have studied the Cross Check's geometry because I was also interested in it.

Comparatively, the Devil has road bike angles (73 degree seat and head tube angles) and the Cross Check is a bit more relaxed (56cm has 72.5 degree seat tube and 72 degree head angle). Their fork rake amounts are only 1mm different but the different head angles give the Devil a trail measurement of 61mm and the Cross Check 69mm. All of these theoretically combine to give the Devil a slightly more nimble ride than the Cross Check. I've never ridden a Cross Check so I cannot confirm this.

The Devil has BB drop of 70mm and the Cross Check has 66mm. Not a big difference but theoretically, the Devil will feel a bit more stable in this dimension. The Devil's listed chainstay length is 43.6cm and the Cross Check is 42.5mm.....again, not a huge difference. The Devil's chainstays can be lengthened to 45.5cm by moving the rear wheel all the way back in the droput. I've ridden it both ways and the longer length seems to be a bit smoother ride and the shorter length is livelier.

The frame weights of the two are probably very similar. My 55cm Devil was listed at 5.06 lbs and my kitchen scale showed it at 4.8 lbs. The total bike, as I built it with a 3x9 drivetrain and heavy duty touring wheels and tires was 26.7 lbs.

The Devil is also available as a frameset and that is how I purchased mine. My preference is for a bike a bit more on the agile side of things and the Devil, with appropriate tires, is very run to ride that way.

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