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Advice: Crossbike (Trek Crossrip Elite) VS Touring bike (Surly LHT)

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Advice: Crossbike (Trek Crossrip Elite) VS Touring bike (Surly LHT)

Old 06-02-14, 11:20 PM
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disguisedrobot
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Advice: Crossbike (Trek Crossrip Elite) VS Touring bike (Surly LHT)

Hi everyone, Iím new to this forum and also new to biking. I hope this is the right place for this post. After making about a cycle tour of Taiwan (Taipei to khaosiung), Iíve come home really wanting a bike.

I would like to have a bike thatíll mostly be used for very light commuting and recreational riding ( meaning several miles after work, weekend trips of maybe 50 odd miles), and also be able to do some touring with it too. To start with, Iíll probably do weekend trips every now and then (total of 100 odd miles + camping) and then this summer, Iíd like to go for one thatíll last a few weeks (hundreds of miles + camping).

After looking at several bikes online and their availability around my area (currently living in japan and my choices at my LBSs are fairly limited), I am being tempted by the trek crossrip elite and the surly LHT. I have looked at the cannondale CAADX too , but I the eyelets for front and back racks and fenders on the crossrip seem to be ideal for what I want out of a bike. They are priced very similarly, which makes it harder to choose between them.

Currently, I donít foresee myself going on many big tours that last several weeks to months because of the available time I have. for that reason, I think a crossbike is probably the better option, but I really have no clue though. I canít decide which bike would suit my needs so Iíd really appreciate some advice to help me make a decision!

I have questions:

GEARS:
Gearing confuses me, but my understanding is that touring bikes have better ratios for heavier loads/hill climbs. I live in a mountainous area with some steep looking climbs, so will the gearing on the crossrip be adequate for loaded/unloaded trips or will I need new gears?

GEOMETRY:
Regarding geometry, how can you tell by looking at the bike and knowing whether itís aggressive or relaxed? Relaxed is a more upright posture, right? If the crossrip has an aggressive geometry, can this be changed by raising the handle bars or something?

FIT:
Iím 5í11 (180cm?) with and inseam of around 32, but Iím not exactly sure about this. What size bike should fit me? When I was at a few LBSs last week, I tried communicating to them that I donít know what size bike to get, and then they just eyed me up and said I look like a 52cm. I was expecting a tape measure to come out so I donít particularly trust their judgement.

CARBON:
Just how strong are carbon forks? Can I hop on and off pavements without having to worry about them snapping in half? If I get the crossrip, Iím thinking about changing them over to steel ones for touring for self-reassurance. Have many people toured with carbon forks before? How much load have you carried on them?

BRIFTERS VS BAR END SHIFTERS:
Although Iíve never used brifters, I really like the convenience they offer. Being able to shift from different positions without having to move much appeals to me a lot (side note, I like the idea of having 2 sets of break leavers too). Bar end shifters seem really awkward to use because there is a lot of hand movement to change gears. Please prove me wrong on this. I have read that bar end shifters are really easy to repair. How much more difficult are normal shifters are to repair? Whatís the reliability between brifters and bar end shifters?

Iíll keep it as that for now and thanks in advance!
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Old 06-03-14, 03:35 AM
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First of all, you have to determine the type of cycling you'll mostly be doing and how often you're really going to be doing it. A touring bike operates best, whenever loaded. You wouldn't attempt to win any road bike races with it against a bonafide road racing bike. All touring bikes have triple chain rings and include a "granny gear" for climbing hills. Something that you can better appreciate, once attempting to climb a hill while carrying over 70lbs of equipment.

If you plan on doing any touring that involves camping, then you're going to be carrying a heavy load, that will include cooking utensils, sleeping bags, a tent, and accessories. CX bikes were NOT built for such loads. Touring bikes operate more efficiently, when loaded. Touring bikes have a longer wheel base and their bottom brackets are closer to the ground for a lower center of gravity. Therefore, a cyclist can feel more relaxed by distributing more of his weight across the frame of the bike and will have a greater sense of stability whenever moving while loaded. For longer distances under load, a touring bike is the most appropriate tool for the job. Of course, for the quick weekend jaunts carrying light loads and staying in hotels, a CX bike can handle that type of credit card touring, with relative ease. In fact, just about any bike could. That would mostly depend upon the type of terrain upon which you'd be cycling, and the types of hills you'd be climbing. Touring bikes are really more versatile than CX bikes, because of their carrying capacity. Otherwise, a CX bike would be the better bike in terms of handling, responsiveness, and speed, under normal circumstances. That's whenever comparing an unloaded touring bike with a CX bike. Of course, once the bikes are loaded, the touring bike wins hands down!

Bicycle sizes can be different from one bicycle company to another. A 56cm made by Trek, could very well be a 54cm made by Surly. Therefore, bicycle sizes don't directly translate from bicycle company to bicycle company. It's not too advisable to go by whatever a bicycle salesperson says about the "correct" bicycle size for a customer. Sometimes, they're only trying to reduce inventory as fast as possible. The best way to determine your "proper" bicycle size is thru a "proper" fitting. However, there are plenty of charlatans out there, claiming that skill too, who work in bicycle shops. Really though, you'd just have to mount and test ride the bike in order to properly assess the comfort level, fit, and performance of the bike for yourself. Try to select a bicycle shop that has competent employees, who can better advise you concerning "fit". In most cases, the correct "fit" can be dialed in if you're anywhere close to the proper bicycle size.

Sometimes, finding a bicycle shop capable of a "proper" fitting, can amount to nothing less than a crap shoot.

Whenever it comes down to frame materials, the touring material of choice has always been steel! Though carbon is intensely strong, steel remains the touring leader. I can't recall a touring bike ever made with a carbon frame or fork. To my recollection, it's always been steel. I know that I've heard of more carbon fork recalls than I have of chromoy steel forks being recalled.

I know one thing for certain. If I ever purchased a CX bike with a carbon fiber fork, I most certainly would NOT be changing it to steel. I would simply use it for its intended purpose and that's it!

Your frame material for most types of bikes, is a simple matter of choice. However, when it comes to a touring bike, there's not much choice. It's either going to be steel or aluminum, and there's much more available in steel than aluminum when considering touring.

Choice is a great thing! It's a prime mover in the arena of freedom. Our taste buds, likes, dislikes, and whims, all rule within this arena. That's the way it is when considering brifters and bar end shifters too!

Last edited by WestPablo; 06-03-14 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 06-03-14, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by disguisedrobot View Post
Currently, I don’t foresee myself going on many big tours that last several weeks to months because of the available time I have. for that reason, I think a crossbike is probably the better option, but I really have no clue though. I can’t decide which bike would suit my needs so I’d really appreciate some advice to help me make a decision!
Although I think either bike could be suitable, the big question, as WestPablo stated, revolves around prioritizing your riding goals and optimizing the selection based on that. Basically, the LHT is a long, big bike made for easy loaded touring, whereas the Crossrip is more utility oriented and more agile with its shorter wheelbase. For your light commuting and recreational riding, either will be fine, but for your weeks-long camping tours, probably the LHT is the better, more versatile, choice (for lower gearing, longer chain stays to avoid hitting bulky panniers).

Originally Posted by disguisedrobot View Post
I have questions:

GEARS:
Gearing confuses me, but my understanding is that touring bikes have better ratios for heavier loads/hill climbs. I live in a mountainous area with some steep looking climbs, so will the gearing on the crossrip be adequate for loaded/unloaded trips or will I need new gears?
Your understanding is correct, but which gear range you need also depends on your fitness and strength. The Trek has low enough gearing for unloaded climbing for most people; the LHT can match that and go lower and offer a broader range of fine tuning for loaded rides. Having a broad range of suitable gears is great for touring not only for that ultimately low stump-pulling gear, but for being able to find the right effort level when you're tired, or it's windy, or your facing a miles-long uphill.

Originally Posted by disguisedrobot View Post
GEOMETRY:
Regarding geometry, how can you tell by looking at the bike and knowing whether it’s aggressive or relaxed? Relaxed is a more upright posture, right? If the crossrip has an aggressive geometry, can this be changed by raising the handle bars or something?
Geometry refers to the angles of the frame, not posture. One can have a relaxed posture (more upright) on an aggressive frame, or an aggressive posture (less upright) on a relaxed frame, but the bike's handling characteristics, be they relaxed, stable, and forgiving, or aggressive, reactive, and lively, are determined by the design of the frame, i.e. the frame geometry.

That said, generally speaking, there's a lot of simpatico when the geometry and fit/posture match; things like component spec and handling often work together optimally. It's usually not a big deal to deviate from this simple rule, but it can require a little fine tuning.


Originally Posted by disguisedrobot View Post
FIT:
I’m 5’11 (180cm?) with and inseam of around 32, but I’m not exactly sure about this. What size bike should fit me? When I was at a few LBSs last week, I tried communicating to them that I don’t know what size bike to get, and then they just eyed me up and said I look like a 52cm. I was expecting a tape measure to come out so I don’t particularly trust their judgement.
Proper fit is more than just one number can encapsulate, so depending on the geometry of the bike, any given, say, 52, may work, or the same may be true of 54s or 56s. Just as a ballpark, I'd probably guess 54 to start, but not seeing your build and proportions, it's impossible to say. Since you're buying from an LBS, I don't think you need to worry about this too much aside from paying attention to how the bikes feel on test rides.

Originally Posted by disguisedrobot View Post
CARBON:
Just how strong are carbon forks? Can I hop on and off pavements without having to worry about them snapping in half? If I get the crossrip, I’m thinking about changing them over to steel ones for touring for self-reassurance. Have many people toured with carbon forks before? How much load have you carried on them?
I can't address this from an experiential perspective with regards to touring, but I can from the perspective of road riding and MTB, both of which I've done on rigid carbon forks without problem for many combined years. I've ridden carbon seat posts without issue, too; carbon MTB bars for awhile. I don't think there's anything inherently flimsy or fragile about carbon fiber. Personally, I'd contact Trek and ask them about load limits on the fork and trust that.

Originally Posted by disguisedrobot View Post
BRIFTERS VS BAR END SHIFTERS:
Although I’ve never used brifters, I really like the convenience they offer. Being able to shift from different positions without having to move much appeals to me a lot (side note, I like the idea of having 2 sets of break leavers too). Bar end shifters seem really awkward to use because there is a lot of hand movement to change gears. Please prove me wrong on this. I have read that bar end shifters are really easy to repair. How much more difficult are normal shifters are to repair? What’s the reliability between brifters and bar end shifters?
Brifters are great for sporting applications and anytime quick gear changes required, e.g. commuting. If you're not an aggressive rider, bar end (aka barcons) are just fine, though you do compromise some momentary stability when executing the shift as you have to move your hand. Lots of folks ride 'em just fine, especially if they're not in a particular hurry. As for durability and repairability, I don't think there's a significant or meaningful differences there, although barcons are simpler and cheaper, and separating the functions can reduce the risk of losing both in a crash. Otherwise, grifters tend to work well for many, many years, as do barcons, and the ubiquity of brifters makes replacement a non-issue (aside from cost).

I hope that helps!

Last edited by chaadster; 06-03-14 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 06-03-14, 08:12 AM
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IMHO, @chaadster has done an amazingly splendid job here, explaining in detail the intricacies of Touring vs. CX features given to cycling in the most simplistic manner. Therefore, I feel that we must all commend him!
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Old 06-03-14, 10:17 AM
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Why, thank you, WestPablo! I was just echoing points in your earlier post, mostly!
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Old 06-03-14, 10:32 AM
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You will be more likely to find a 520 and a Cross Rip in the same shop, at once

because they would be delivered on the same truck to your Trek, dealer to test ride.


Touring is More the trip than the perfect bike purchased.

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-03-14 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 06-03-14, 01:44 PM
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Cross bikes often have compact double cranks (2 rings, usually a 50 and a 34), whereas a touring bike will have a triple crank, for that wider gear range. That's a big difference.

Touring bikes usually have a little more relaxed geometry, which allows you a slightly more upright position. Cross bikes have more aggressive geometry for a more forward position, because they're race-oriented.

If you're considering a cross bike but don't want a carbon fork, check out the Surly Cross-Check. It's kind of in that middle range between the LHT and the Trek Cross-rip.
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Old 06-03-14, 09:35 PM
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Thanks for the replies! Special thanks to WestPablo and chaadster for your long and detailed responses. You guys have managed to clarify some things I’ve been trawling for on this forum over the past 2 weeks. Ah man, bike shopping is so much more complicated than buying a car or a computer.

I’m guessing roughly here, but I’ll probably be doing 10% commuting, 70-80% recreational cycling (really hilly roads and flats) and the rest for touring. Most of the touring will be short weekend trips (but not every weekend), staying at friend’s houses or camping and cycling back the next day. I’ve got about 2 weeks to play with during summer and will probably not get the opportunity to do it again until next year. I won’t be doing that much long distance (I’m going to presume that long distance means 400+ miles over several days) cycling, so with that in mind, would a touring bike still be the better choice?

My weak and unconditioned legs will appreciate triple chain rings. If I were to get the crossrip, is it a simple matter of buying a new crank set and installing it?

I’m not sure the LBSs around here offer test runs, but I’ll definitely ask. Apart from reach of leg on the pedals, I’m not exactly sure what else I should be looking out for. Any tips here would be appreciated!

I have read many times that steel frames offer the best comfort. As I’m new to this, I’m not certain I’d be able to tell the difference between the two. As for the carbon forks, WestPablo, apart from using the bike for its intended purpose, can you explain why you wouldn’t change out the forks?

Thanks so much for the information about geometry. Since it doesn’t refer to your posture at all, and out of curiosity, how does the different geometry (ie aggressive, relaxed, forgiving) affect the riding and handling? Am I correct to compare an aggressive angle of a bike to how an old school dragster kinda points down?

I guess the momentary loss of stability is one of my worries about the barcons (thanks, new term learnt!). I am trying to visualise what changing gears on them will be like in places with heavy traffic and whether they’d be adequate enough over brifters.


A side note, when I was riding on the Giant Great Journey around Taiwan, my heels would sometimes knock into the rear panniers. It got a little annoying because would have to readjust them to sit slightly farther back to stop it from happening. I’m sure the Great Journey is designed as a touring bike, but with so many variables to take into account (pannier size, bike length, rack size) I’m now thinking it probably had nothing to do with my US11-US12 feet.

I would like to not obsess over this so much, but when I’m spending this much money on something, I’d like to be sure I’ve made the right choice.
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Old 06-03-14, 11:07 PM
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The CX vs. Touring Compromise

I'd like to make a suggestion, just for the sake of discussion:

Instead of focusing upon CX vs. Touring, why not focus on a specific type of bike that would best suit your needs. For example, a CX and Touring bike, both have drop handlebars, wide tire clearance, rack and fender mounts. They are both capable of cycling for extended periods of time, over rough terrain, and for long distances.

Therefore, I say, instead of making this a CX vs. Touring bicycle inquiry, let's instead, look for a bike that will best satisfy your cycling needs. A bicycle that will offer you the very best in both the commuter and touring worlds. Though there are most probably many bicycles that will suit the bill, four come to mind almost immediately. They are as follows:

1) *The Surly Ogre

2) *The Surly Troll

3) The Salsa Vaya

4) The Salsa Fargo

Salsa Cycles
Type the model inside the search box, because there's something wrong with the website...

* These Surlys can have drop bars installed

Google images of the Surly Ogre

Ogre | Bikes | Surly Bikes

All of the above bikes make excellent commuters. They are also quite capable of touring for long distances. There will be no handling issues, just because they're not loaded. They're all quite responsive and versatile in tire width, as well. They are compromises between your CX and Touring bicycles, that you're sometimes going to use for commuting.

The Fargo is not just an urban assault bicycle with the ability to traverse potholes, road cracks, and raised sidewalks, it can also meet the country trail challenges of rocks, roots, and gravel. It's more ready and able to tour the world's most rugged pathways. It's really just a hardtail mountain bike in disguise.

The Vaya is much like it's Fargo cousin, except for the fact that it's tire clearance is less and it's more urban centered than the Fargo. It's therefore, even more suited to commuting, but it's more geared for touring paved road surfaces, just like any other touring bicycle. The Vaya behaves well either loaded or unloaded.

The Surly Ogre is one of the most versatile bikes ever made. The frame design offers you many tire width, brake, and drivetrain options. It operates quite responsively either loaded or unloaded. It works equally well as either a commuter, or as a touring bicycle.

The Ogre might accommodate a person over 5' 10", more so than someone less tall. OTOH, the Troll, being a sibling of the Ogre, just might suit the cyclist 5' 9" or shorter. If you're close to 5' 9", you really could just as easily go either way. However, that said, some cyclists over six feet are quite happy with their Trolls, while some shorter than say, 5' 7" cyclists, are happy with their Ogres. Ogres are 29ers, while Trolls are 26ers...

Discussions:
http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/76...don-blt-2.html

http://www.whileoutriding.com/qa/qa-troll-v-ogre-2

Last edited by WestPablo; 06-04-14 at 07:14 AM.
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Old 06-04-14, 02:11 AM
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Carbon on Touring Bikes and Forks

It's widely known that carbon fiber is a very strong, tough, and resilient material. Carbon racing bikes are beautiful, fast, and efficient.

OTOH, I've heard of so many strange occurrences happening with both its bicycle frames and forks; Top tubes being cracked by swinging handlebars. Cracks strangely appearing at the bottom bracket area (apparently for no good reason). Chain stays being cracked by derailleurs. Frames not surviving minor crashes. Carbon forks failing, and later being recalled...

I dunno, I'm old school. I believe more in the integrity of steel when it comes to either commuting or touring. Aluminum is fine for commuting, as well. However, you'll never see me swap a steel fork, for an aluminum one. I would however, swap a steel or aluminum fork, for a carbon fiber fork, on my commuter.

OTOH, when it comes to touring, I only want the material in which I have the most confidence on my bicycle, and that's steel! I want steel on both frame and fork, together!

Imagine being stranded 500 miles from home....

Last edited by WestPablo; 06-04-14 at 05:23 AM.
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Old 06-04-14, 05:10 AM
  #11  
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Yes, the biggest plus for steel frames/forks when touring is that it's easily repairable. Steel can be bent back to shape, or welded to repair, for example, common skills found globally.
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Old 06-05-14, 07:00 PM
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Some amazing information there and thanks for the links! I hadn’t even thought about those bikes because I thought the CX and tourers were the ones that suited my needs. I didn’t realise there were bikes that covers an even broader range of activities. I am definitely open to suggestions there are more suitable bikes for me.

OGRE:
I really like the sound of the ogre because it seems highly modifiable (not something I’ll be doing for a long time) and the ability to mount racks and fenders onto it without any kind of modding. We could be onto a winner here.

I’ve only ever ridden on flat bars so drops are really alien to me. I’ll mostly likely be using the upper positions of the drops for a while before I get used to the drop position. What I do know from my brief experience in Taiwan though, is that I definitely want drops. My palms were in so much pain a few days into my tour from using flat bars. Since doing a lot of bike research recently, I think raising the handle bars could have helped out and of course, being able to change hand positions would have been ideal too.

My question for the ogre, is what sort of cost would it roughly cost to change the flat bar to a drop bar? Also, what other things would I need? Are we talking about new brake levers/new shifters/cabling?

FARGO:
The Fargo looks really nice. I originally had questions about this but I’ve decided to not ask them. The price of this stallion is a bit too high for me and possibly too beefy.

VAYA:
I do really like this one. It’s pretty much got everything I need for what I want out of a bike. Both the vaya 2 and 3 are a bit pricey, but I should be able to stretch out for the 3. The description says it has the 9 speed shimano cassette. What is the actual gear range? A quick search online and has brought up 11-32 and 11-34. Will I have to do any kind of improvising to fit racks and fenders on at the same time with this bike?

I’ve spent a few hours looking up these bikes yesterday and people appear pretty positive about them. I’m hoping they stock them at my LBS. Their websites list one of my LBS as their dealers so hopefully even if they don’t have it in, they’d be able to order one for me.

Last edited by disguisedrobot; 06-05-14 at 10:04 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 06-06-14, 08:23 AM
  #13  
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Great posts in this thread. I might throw the Specialized AWOL into the ring of bikes to consider. A lot like the Vaya that has already been mentioned. Might be an alternative depending on what dealers / product lines you have available to you locally. A touch less expensive than a Vaya 3, but not by much.

A slightly left field (and maybe less expensive due to lower demand) recommendation of a bike to look at might be the KHS TR-101.

Last edited by syncro87; 06-06-14 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 06-06-14, 05:39 PM
  #14  
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Thanks for the suggestions syncro. Sadly, looking at Specialized's online catalogue, the AWOL isn't available in Japan. However, the KHS might be available at my LBS. I'll have to pop in and check soon. While looking on Specialized website, I've noticed they've got the Tricross Sport Disc (shorted to TC). Although in aluminium, it's got rack eyelets for my future touring needs, but will this be a bike to consider? Like my original choice of the Crossrip, this one's got a compact crank. Does anyone know if the gearing components on this can easily be swapped out for a triple crank?
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Old 06-08-14, 03:20 AM
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Surly Ogre Options

Hi there, Disguisedrobot!

I've been thinking about your bicycle inquiry and dilemma for the past few days...

I've come up with the following three options:

1) Join a bicycle co-op, where they can assist you with your own bicycle building project. Oder your Surly Ogre frameset online, along with other components from other reputable distributors. Plan and execute your bicycle build with the mechanics at the co-op. There, they will both teach and guide you along the way, as you continue to install and adjust each bicycle component upon your newly acquired bicycle frame. That's exactly what needs to happen with the Surly Ogre build.

You can order the Surly Ogre frameset from www.modernbike.com @ $518

2) Go to a bicycle shop or dealership where they can order Surly bicycles. Plan ahead of time with the head mechanic and discuss your desires concerning the new Surly Ogre that you're ordering thru them. You can discuss possible components, as they will better serve your plans to both tour and commute. Also, discuss your thoughts about possible modifications you'd like to make with regards to the new bicycle ordered. Wait for the arrival of the Surly Ogre frameset kit, and allow your LBS to assemble the bike.

3) Order the complete Ogre bicycle from www.jensonusa.com @ $1600 and make gradual upgrades thru either a co-op or a LBS.

* Here's a bicycle company that stocks Surlys:

Surly Ogre - Century Cycles - Cleveland & Akron OH

Last edited by WestPablo; 06-08-14 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:36 PM
  #16  
disguisedrobot
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Hey ho, thanks so much for taking the time to think about my situation and replying! I really appreciate it!

I've been googling bike co ops in Japan but I don't think they exist as I can't find a single relevant result. I think the second option will probably be my best bet. I guess I can enquire about the costs of replacing the handlebars with them directly. I wasn't able to go to the LBS to have a look last weekend, but hopefully I should be able to make it out there this weekend.

I'm hoping they can order my size!
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Old 06-10-14, 02:34 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by disguisedrobot View Post
Thanks for the suggestions syncro. Sadly, looking at Specialized's online catalogue, the AWOL isn't available in Japan. However, the KHS might be available at my LBS. I'll have to pop in and check soon. While looking on Specialized website, I've noticed they've got the Tricross Sport Disc (shorted to TC). Although in aluminium, it's got rack eyelets for my future touring needs, but will this be a bike to consider? Like my original choice of the Crossrip, this one's got a compact crank. Does anyone know if the gearing components on this can easily be swapped out for a triple crank?
For some reason, I thought you were currently residing within the U.S., but worked in Japan some time ago...

At any rate, in many cases, a compact can mimic the mechanical advantage of a triple. At least it can get really close. Triples may indeed be phasing out in the not too distant future.

Both the Tricross and the CrossRip can fulfill your cycling needs, equally as well.
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Old 06-10-14, 09:04 PM
  #18  
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Haha, I wish. That'd make things so much easier!

I read that compacts cover pretty similar ranges as standard cranks, except they lose out on some of the higher gears while gaining some of the lower ones. My main concern with the compacts against triple cranks was that I was worried that the compacts didn't have a super easy granny gear to help me up hill climbs while loaded with gear. I'm not sure my weary legs can carry me up a long steep road!
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