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Surly/All City for 5000km tour + weekend rides

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Surly/All City for 5000km tour + weekend rides

Old 05-17-21, 01:00 PM
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Surly/All City for 5000km tour + weekend rides

hi all,

i'm super stuck in picking a bike - my head is spinning - hope folks can help me out somehow. (NB- My old bike was destroyed a while back, and I don't have any bike at all right now, or any parts kicking around.)

The situation is: I would like to hop on a bike and take the summer to ride from Eastern Canada to California -- I am moving from the former to the latter place, and happen to have the time to make the move by bike, and have always wanted to do a transcontinental trip, so why not! (Well, there are many reasons not to do the trip, but let's leave that aside for the moment.) Then, once having arrived in California, I would like to use the bike for touring around the West Coast, as well as everyday/weekend rides on roads, fire roads, gravel, and trails in the Bay Area.

I'd like for this to be one and the same bike: a quiver killer. This *is* feasible, insofar as (a) I'm interested in doing the tour bikepacking style; and (b) for my local/weekend rides I don't particularly care about speed (more endurance).

Currently what is available to me locally and online (prices listed in CAD)

Surly Cross Check ($1600used, with some quality extra parts thrown in by the seller) and Surly Straggler ($2700, new)

All-City (all of these new) Space Horse ($2700), Cosmic Stallion ($3800), Zig Zag ($3800), and Gorilla Monsoon ($3800).

The used Cross Check is the cheapest option and it's a good build, although I'm not convinced about the fit. The Cross Check and Straggler (which I tried) are both 54cm, which is definitely in the zone but both have the forks cut low-ish for an aggressive geometry -- this pinches my hips, which then twinges an old IT band injury in my left knee. Similarly, the Zig Zag and Gorilla Monsoon are 52cm (All City sizes run large) -- the Zig Zag has a more compact and aggressive geometry, whereas the Space Horse and the Cosmic Stallion are both 55cm and are perhaps a bit too long of a reach but the upright position doesn't seem to mess with my IT band at all.

I am pretty much in love with the ride of the Cosmic Stallion -- test-riding it last week, it actually brought tears to my eyes. I realize it's not a particularly great bike, but ... there's no accounting for taste, sometimes. It's a way higher-end bike than I particularly *should* have - I'm a pretty casual cyclist, have done several 2-week tours but nothing long, don't do any racing or anything. I am seeing this as "buy once, cry once," but with limited options and such a range of use cases, combined with not being that experience with higher end bikes, I'm worried that I don't have developed enough taste to make such a big purchase. However, again, there is sometimes no accounting for taste. For example, I came across this German cello a few years ago and was completely in love with it -- my cello teacher set up a blind taste test with that cello (priced at $8k), a newer Chinese made cello (bought for $1k), and her own 19th-century French cello (valued at upwards of $50k). I by far loved the German cello more than either of the others - even with the blind taste test. My teacher convinced me not to get that cello, but I still regret it. Sometimes, sometimes, individual taste counts for a lot. I think it's true of instruments, and I suspect it also might be true of bikes.

If I don't go for the Cosmic Stallion, I might just roll with the Cross Check and hope for the best on this long tour. This option would allow me to use the money I save ( $2000 CAD less than a new Zig Zag, Cosmic Stallion, or Gorilla Monsoon) to build up a Soma frame (or something like that) when I get to the Bay Area. On the one hand, this strategy would avoid (a) overpaying for an All City stock build, which generally don't seem to be great value; and (b) avoid paying the "Canada tax" in the sense that all bikes -- and most everything -- is sold at a substantial mark up here, in excess of the exchange rate, compared to prices for the same products in the US. But, on the other hand, (a) parts might continue to be an issue through the next year, making it a pain to build up a Soma frame, including getting a frame to begin with; and (b) the Cross Check feels riskier biomechanically for the tour, in the sense that I think the more aggressive geometry might lead to reinjuring my knee which could derail the tour.

The final option would be to go for the Zig Zag, which is much more of a road bike than any of the others, and in that case I could throw some slightly chunkier tires on there, but stick mainly to roads and pack really light for the tour, and just do the tour as quickly as possible. Then, at the end of it, I would have a race-y bike to zoom around for century rides in the Bay Area. This seems like the most prudent option financially, I think, considering that I wouldn't need to change anything on the Zig Zag for either touring or endurance rides. But (a) it might not do as well on the trails in the Bay Area and (b) it's a 52cm frame which felt a bit aggressive for my weak/tight hips.

Final point: I'm on the wait list for a Golden Retriever in California and I would bring a dog on any outdoor adventures that I do. That would mean (a) taking a dog trailer and letting the dog alternate between riding and running alongside on trails. In that case, a stable endurance geometry (like the Cosmic Stallion) would probably make more sense than a racy Zig Zag, since I'm not going to attain huge speeds with a trailer anyway...

Anyone who has read this far probably has quite a headache -- this is what I've been living with for the past couple weeks. Could anybody help me out and bring some clarity to my dark fog of confusion? My heart wants the Cosmic Stallion but it seems like an unwise decision to spend so much money on a build that isn't a good value, and when I have to pay a premium for it in Canada. FWIW- I'm a student, moving to California for a PhD, so definitely not rolling in money, which is why a big purchase like this weighs so heavily on me. I can spend the money, but I want to feel as though it's somehow a reasonable thing to do.

I just want to get on the road and not have any knee problems!!! I just want to be free!!!

Thanks for any help.
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Old 05-17-21, 01:23 PM
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I confess to TL;DR, so I may have missed some requirement, but I've been tempted by the Gorilla Monsoon. Seems very versatile and it looks good.
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Old 05-17-21, 02:02 PM
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1- you only have a few QBP brand bikes available? odd.
2- QBP bikes have never been know for being a great value fully built compared to building on your own. They are not exactly a 'bang for your buck' setup and an example is your brake question- cable instead of hydraulic at that price.
3- AC bikes easily have the longest current run of great paint schemes. Just fantastic.
4- the ZigZag is a road bike. It isnt at all what you want for your cross continent ride or your riding in the SF area.
5- Not sure why you say the Cosmic Stallion isnt a great bike. Its really darn cool.
6- The Cosmic Stallion, Gorilla Monsoon, or Space Horse could all work great for what you want. They could all get you across the continent packing light and could all allow you to ride/commute in the SF area on paved and unpaved surfaces.
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Old 05-17-21, 02:38 PM
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Get the one that made you cry. I didn’t read after that.
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