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Choosing a touring all-around bike - Fargo, Vaya, Bombtrack or AWOL?

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Choosing a touring all-around bike - Fargo, Vaya, Bombtrack or AWOL?

Old 06-20-17, 05:37 PM
  #1  
smilyanp
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Choosing a touring all-around bike - Fargo, Vaya, Bombtrack or AWOL?

I few weeks ago I've started this thread: http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/11...l#post19556788

After reading through all the comments I realised that I wasn't necessarily looking for a faster bike. I want to enjoy my trips, not just rush through them. Some of the problems I have with my current setup:

- Too much stuff (not bike specific)
- The bike handles weight bad - twists a lot
- I don't trust it will do well on rougher roads. It handled gravel and packed dirt roads alright, but on some nasty dirt tracks it was shaking, everything rattling - definitely not made for it with load on.

The bike is Specialized Crosstrail Sport Disk. I got it second hand as a bike for around town and then convert it to take touring around Iceland and the Baltic countries. Now I feel I am ready for a better, stronger, more reliable bike (also with better components).

I have stopped at a few options.

a) More of a road / tarmac bike with some gravel / dirt handling
- Salsa Vaya
- Specialized AWOL

b) More of a MTB bike that should handle roads well with the right tyres, but would allow me to get on proper dirt track adventures with a bikepacking setup.
- Salsa Fargo
- Bombtrack Beyond (not the Plus)

I am very conflicted after reading a lot of reviews. I am VERY tempted by the Fargo (not Ti) as it seems an all-around option. I like multipurpose tools as I am still learning and exploring the touring world. I feel like my current setup is preventing me from trying some off-road routes and I think the Fargo with some bikepacking bags would change that.

However, I don't want it to limit me for when I want to go on the road. I want to still be able to cover good distance on long tarmac days with the right tyres.

I am turning to you to tell me if you have had any of these bikes and what is your experience with them:
a) When you used them on single / multidays loaded or unloaded on tarmac?
b) The same as above - loaded or unloaded but on off-road trips

Please ask me if you need any more information. I hope this doesn't look like I am ignoring the comments in the previous thread because I really am not. They honestly made the situation clearer in my mind and I am asking for more advice on the next stage.

All of these bikes are a big investment for me and I want to be convinced when I commit to one of them. The other problem is that the Salsa Vaya, Salsa Fargo and Bombtrack Beyond are not easily available near me in the UK, only the Specialized AWOL seems to be, so I can't easily see and test them.

Thanks again, any experience you share with those would help me greatly!
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Old 06-20-17, 07:29 PM
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You are asking strangers to decide what is best for you.

IMO First you have to decide what is more important, How far and quickly you went or what you saw along the way? I ride 80-100 miles days but I ride them at a 12-13mph average not 18-20mph. My 26" wheeled touring bike is 5-1/4 lbs heavier than my 700c day touring bike but I can comfortably stay on the heavy bike 12 hours a day for days on end and go just about anywhere in most any kind of weather. I can also find a 26" spare tire and tube in most any hardware store. Depending on where I plan to go I also customize my tire selection anywhere from a smooth pavement 26 x1.25 to a knobby 26 x 2.5. So for me a 26" MTB works best.

If you go with a 26" tired bike. Older non suspension mountain bikes make great touring bikes for far less money. Personally I prefer to spend less on bikes and more on the actual tours.

Last edited by velonomad; 06-20-17 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 06-20-17, 07:43 PM
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Long Haul Trucker | Bikes | Surly Bikes
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Old 06-20-17, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by velonomad View Post
...If you go with a 26" tired bike. Older non suspension mountain bikes make great touring bikes for far less money. Personally I prefer to spend less on bikes and more on the actual tours.
I agree. I'd take my old 80's dirt drop over any of those bikes. Brifters on an off-road touring bike? No thank you.
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Old 06-21-17, 04:01 AM
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Thanks guys, those are all fair points. The main question I am asking in this thread tough is:

I am turning to you to tell me if you have had any of these bikes and what is your experience with them:
a) When you used them on single / multidays loaded or unloaded on tarmac?
b) The same as above - loaded or unloaded but on off-road trips?

Thanks again
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Old 06-21-17, 06:40 AM
  #6  
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I ride a Salsa Vaya. If I put on the 50c knobby tires, I could do a little off road riding, but I certainly wouldn't want to tour off road with it. I could probably do a gravel/fire road tour with it, but I wouldn't take it on singletrack for a long ride.

The Fargo sounds more like what you're looking for - jack of all trades. I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be reasonably fast with slicks on the road.
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Old 06-21-17, 07:49 AM
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UK, Had Regional Frame making in the back selling in their own shops in the front thru the 80s, maybe mid 90's;
but they seemed to now sell bikes, Imported from ROC, big multi brand OEM factories,


maybe you can get one of the remaining ones , like Mercian ?

The Salsa like all QBP stuff* is not stocked at my LBS, so I only see other tourists bikes,
they must like them, they pay to have them boxed up and shipped home.

(Mostly because they* only ship even to shops, by billing in advance,
and we are a place to tour not go to buy all your gear..)

what lets a tour bike handle well fully loaded makes them feel stiffer when ridden empty.

then you get an other lighter bike.. like a C&V double butted steel frame
like one of those nice Mercians ..

.. N+1





.....

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-12-18 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 06-21-17, 08:32 AM
  #8  
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I don't have any of those, but my longest ever ride in a day was done on a 26" MTB with 47mm slick tires. Probably could have done it easier on a road bike, but I don't really see why I would think I can ride the road bikes significantly further. Faster, for certain, but you already said you aren't concerned with speed.

Plus, I see no reason why you couldn't get a second skinnier wheelset for the Bombtrack/Fargo, if you did want to use the fatter tires for a trip.
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Old 06-21-17, 09:40 AM
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I'll muddy the waters a bit since I have no direct experience with the bikes you name. If you really are looking for a Swiss Army Bike, have you considered the Surly Troll (26") or Ogre (29")? I use my Troll for commuting, single track and touring. It's just amazingly versatile. With a Salsa Anything Cage and bottle holder on each side of the fork, handlebar harness, frame bag and saddle bag, everything is tucked it tightly so it feels solid and even somewhat nimble, and it carries plenty.
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Old 06-21-17, 10:12 AM
  #10  
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I don't have any of those bikes you listed but I'd take a look at the gearing of each. For instance this Fargo has a high gear of 38x11 - pretty low for riding on the road. This AWOL has a low gear of 30x36 - might be high for heavy loads or rougher trails.

Maybe you don't really need low gearing, maybe you don't need high gearing - I don't know, but be aware of the compromises there.
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Old 06-21-17, 10:22 AM
  #11  
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From your profile it sounds like you are in the UK. You might want to watch Ebay for used Thorns. The Sherpa is a very good touring bike that uses derailleurs, the Raven Tour uses a Rohloff and would therefore be more costly. The Nomad might be heavier than you want. I am not in the UK but I have a Thorn Sherpa, great bike.
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Old 06-21-17, 10:30 AM
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Color me confused. OP is looking at two bikes, for "More of a road / tarmac bike with some gravel / dirt handling"; and for "More of a MTB bike that should handle roads well with the right tyres, but would allow me to get on proper dirt track adventures with a bikepacking setup."


Stumbling towards an answer, I'd think the first thing to figure out is whether you want a bike for paved roads or for dirt track? Do you want better rolling resistance, and will you accept compromises in handling on dirt to get it? Or do you want dirt handling more, and will you accept more rolling resistance to get that?


It's rather like buying a car: do you want to haul firewood, carry 4x8' sheets of plywood, carry a soccer team, pull a boat, get excellent gas mileage, or enjoy the handling of a fine sports car? Pick one.
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Old 06-21-17, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by smilyanp View Post
Thanks guys, those are all fair points. The main question I am asking in this thread tough is:

I am turning to you to tell me if you have had any of these bikes and what is your experience with them:
a) When you used them on single / multidays loaded or unloaded on tarmac?
b) The same as above - loaded or unloaded but on off-road trips?

Thanks again
Trying to choose from several different bikes is always difficult when you do not have physical access to the bikes to make comparisons. Relying on subjective opinions from others has it's hazards. If I was choosing for myself. I would choose the Vaya over the AWOL solely because of the hydraulic brakes. Nothing inherently wrong with them just more maintenance and possible exposure to damage. With mechanical disks I would choose the AWOL.

Fargo vs Bombtrack I would choose the Bombtrack since it has clearance between rear tire and seat tube for a fender.

If had to pick from all of them I would choose the Bombtrack. You can put road tires on it.

If I were in the UK I wouldn't choose any of them.

Being in the UK you have access to some really good touring/expedition bikes. 2 that immediately come to mind is Koga (formerly known as Koga-Miyata) who practically invented the expedition bicycle. SJS Cycles (Thorn) is another well regarded builder/purveyor of touring bicycles.
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Old 06-21-17, 01:20 PM
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As everyone else has said, it sounds like you just need to choose what's more important to you. Do you want to be able to easily ride singletrack, but be slower on the road, or be faster on the road, but have to be more careful and go slower on the singletrack. From the sounds of it to me, I think you want to be able to do singletrack easily. Just make sure you consider whether you'll actually do that or not. If you won't actually end up doing it, get a Vaya or something. If you will, get the Fargo or Bombtrack. My best friend has had a Fargo for a few years. We've done a road tour together and he's done the Great Divide with it. He keeps up fine on the road with some slick touring tires, but of course not as fast as he is on a more road oriented bike. He's also a very strong rider in general, so I'm sure that helps.
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Old 06-21-17, 02:02 PM
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Thanks everyone. I consider myself rather a newbie when it comes to touring, just a few trips behind the belt, so I am listening and reading attentively everything you're saying.

Regarding the singletrack, I haven't done enough, but my point was that I would like to try it and am currently somewhat limited by the bike/setup. I will think a bit more about my priorities and will make a decision. It feels like my mind switches every 15 minutes and when I read more, I find other bikes. The Surly's as revcp metioned are also an option. I've also seen some of them selling on eBay here too.

Thanks again!
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Old 06-21-17, 06:07 PM
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I'm partial to older rigid mtbs because they work well and one can buy a good quality chromo frame for peanuts. Of course one will probably swap out some components but it seems everyone really into bike touring does this anyway.

At this point I am considering downsizing my stable to two bikes; a fast road bike and a multi purpose mtb. For that I plan to buy a second wheelset and mount fast road tires on one and mixed offroad fatties on the other. The cassettes for each will reflect road or offroad.

That way I can swap out wheelsets and just use the bike for whichever conditions I'm aiming for.

A hybrid bikepacking rig of handlebar roll, framebag, and using a rear rack allows a diverse variety of configurations. You can run panniers, a drybag or, as I'm doing atm, a drybag/packsack that allows me to hike as well as bike.

Yesterday I attached it (the bag) to the rack to bike from Calgary to Banff and today I used it on a hike up Sulphur Mt.

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Old 06-21-17, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by southpier View Post

This right here... Since I built my LHT I have stopped riding my 8.5 DS almost entirely, my LHT does everything and its the most comfortable bike I have ever owned. I really wish I had went this way to begin with before buying my 8.5 DS. Oh well live and learn.
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Old 06-21-17, 08:19 PM
  #18  
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Fargos are few and far between these days. Good luck finding one.

I'll resonate others in here saying that rebuilding an old non-suspended mountain bike will give you essentially a blank canvas to customize to your hearts content. My very next project is a sweet mint-condition Gary Fisher Marlin. Made in USA. I'm going to add drop bars to it, and a 2x11 drivetrain. This will easily replace the LHT I just sold.
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Old 06-21-17, 10:22 PM
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I converted my mtb to touring; smooth tires, butterfly handle bars, racks and a brooks saddle, and it will be be some time before I change. With my hybrid, I was good for about 4 hrs of riding before it started getting painful, with this mtb set up, I can go all day long.
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Old 06-22-17, 11:37 AM
  #20  
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don't get a Surly, they ride like lame donkeys.

since your in UK take also a look at this bikes: https://www.evansonbikeworks.com/n-1

not too expensive and he know what he does...
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Old 06-22-17, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by str View Post
don't get a Surly, they ride like lame donkeys.

since your in UK take also a look at this bikes: https://www.evansonbikeworks.com/n-1

not too expensive and he know what he does...

I know bikes are a very personal thing, but this is the furthest thing from the truth I have ever read. Most people who own the LHT seem to love them. I have found my LHT to be a very comfortable ride, and it handles well. Its not a race bike , but then again its not really meant to be.
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Old 06-22-17, 08:32 PM
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I have had a Vaya for several years and, while I am my own heavy load, I have also carried a full touring load and can report that it is very stable and comfortable.


I built mine up from the frame as a flatbar bike with XT components and 40h dyad rims. I see there is now a flatbar-specific vaya frame which has a longer top tube. I have always had fenders with 35-40 tires. Recently went tubeless with Schwalbe Almotion tires and am very pleased with all aspects of the ride -- very smooth and noticeably low rolling resistance.


I do not ride off road and understand the Fargo might be preferred for that purpose.
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Old 06-23-17, 12:34 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
I know bikes are a very personal thing, but this is the furthest thing from the truth I have ever read. Most people who own the LHT seem to love them. I have found my LHT to be a very comfortable ride, and it handles well. Its not a race bike , but then again its not really meant to be.

recently i had the chance to ride one... and I have to a free with a friend of mine who ones a LHT

"""Don't believe anyone who raves about Surly they ride dead & uninspired. They get the job done but 💩📦 and plumbing pipes are the truth. Mickey D's vs restaurant""""
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Old 06-23-17, 06:45 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by str View Post
recently i had the chance to ride one... and I have to a free with a friend of mine who ones a LHT

"""Don't believe anyone who raves about Surly they ride dead & uninspired. They get the job done but 💩📦 and plumbing pipes are the truth. Mickey D's vs restaurant""""
I have an LHT and while I agree that the ride is uninspired unloaded, when loaded, it is a different bike. I was amazed how smooth and stable it is with a four pannier setup. No bike will ride lively and spirited when loaded. When I want a spirited ride, I grab my road bike.
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Old 06-23-17, 08:43 AM
  #25  
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Any old bike will do; Dervla Murphy rode from Dublin to Afghanistan on a three speed roadster. I also once met a dutch cyclist who had ridden to North Cape on a three speed. But there are a lot more options nowadays. Used bikes are a less expensive option, and I bet there are some used Dawes, Raleighs, Woodrups, etc available in the UK.
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