Monday, April 27, 2009

What bike?

I have decided to buy a bike before I leave, so I now have time to make an informed choice. Something I would not have had had I been forced to buy one in Rome in a few days!

There are quite a few different touring bikes on the market, ranging from ‘kinda expensive’ to ‘bloody ridiculously expensive’. I guess it isn’t surprising given they are meant to take punishing terrain, while hauling large loads for long distances – apparently something that can do that isn’t cheap. Anyway, from reading books and looking at my own situation I have come up with a list of things I want in my touring bike:

  • steel chrome-moly frame: sturdy, easier to fix if it breaks but heavy
  • road-style with drop bars: I’m not planning any off-road escapades and I like road bikes a lot more. Plus it will be nicer to cover ground and I don’t mind sweating the hard stuff going up epic hills…though I have never done this with 60kg of packs strapped to my bike…..
  • capacity for fat tyres: I hate flat tyres, and I assume I would hate them a lot more if I was miles from nowhere – so I want impregnable tyres, and these are generally quite fat (wont fit in a normal road bike fork). Schwalbe seem to have some nice tyres – the marathon plus tourers seem pretty much what I want (they are minimum 32 wide though…which is wiiiiiiiiide).
  • decent components: I don’t need top of the range, but I don’t want crap, good brakes I think will be a must if I’m planning on tackling some large climbs.
  • lots of pannier lugs: Given that I’m basically buying this to carry stuff, I want it to be able to do that well. That means a sturdy long frame with lots of lugs!

So far, the bike that seems to fit the bill best for me is the Surly Long-Haul Trucker (LHT). It costs about $2000.00 new with a standard kit (not too bad, not too great) or you can just get the frame and do what you want with it for about $800 or so. I like the idea of just getting a frame and building it up…but realistically that will never happen. A cool shop in Sydney seems to be able to build up a custom LHT for up to $3000 – this looks pretty ideal but is quite expensive.

I won’t jump into buying a $3000 surly LHT… I think I will trawl eBay, classifieds and bike shop sales first. If I could pick up a stock LHT for about $1000-$1500 that would be perfect and then spend a bit on upgrading certain components. One component I will definitely be getting (other than awesome fat tyres) is a Brooks Saddle; they are awesome.

Other touring bikes I’m looking for……………will come when I find any….

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