While money isn't the biggest issue on my mind when looking at potential touring bikes, it is certainly a major factor. Ideally I think i'd like a Surly LHT frame due to the quality, tyre distance and it's long, sturdy, work-horse frame that is built for hauling lots of gear. I'm not, however, willing to spend rediculous amounts just to get a Surly over another similar touring bike.
Apart from the frame I want decent running gear, probably Deore XT or at least LX with a brooks saddle and quality tyres, racks etc... The stock LHT is not equipped with great running gear (solid, but not great) and does not come with fenders, racks or pedals. It also has bar-end shifters, which I would prefer not to have. Basically, a stock LHT would need some work to get it to the standard I would like. The other option is a LHT frame, built up with custom parts.
I did up a spreadsheet to figure how much it would cost to build up a Surly LHT frame to the same specs as the Dawes Ultra Galaxy. It would cost about $3150, and that was with a fair bit of stuff on special. The Dawes Ultra Galaxy, on the other hand, comes with great running gear, pedals, racks, fenders and nice schwalbe tyres for $2675 + $100 PH.
Quite a saving...plus I would not have to build it! (or more likely pay someone else to build it, which would cost another few hungy!).
I will therefore go for the Dawes Ultra Galaxy..... I have decided! (unless a great Surly LHT comes up for sale second hand)
Okay so I didnt get the Dawes Ultra Galaxy. Why? Well I realised there is such a thing as GST and import duty that must be paid! (thanks Howard). That would add about 15% to the cost, making it around $3k too.... too much IMHO.
After reading the surly google group threads for hours on end, I settled on the idea of the stock surly LHT. While some parts will probably require upgrading, others definitely, upgrades allow you to spread the cost out! Also the LHT can be sourced in Australia, if not Qld, for around $2000.
I discuss my decision a bit more in a more recent post here.