Buying a Touring/Commuting/Crosscycle Bike
I've been looking for my second bike. I love my Trek 5900, but it isn't that practical for all the other things. Fortunately, Steve Hooper told me about Adventure Cycling Association. Here is what I found out:
"Buying a Touring Bike":http://www.adv-cycling.org/features/buyabike2003.cfm. A great comprehensive piece. There is not much on touring in mainline publications like Bicycling.com, so it was nice to find this. . I ideally would love to get a touring/cyclocross bike that also is packable. Ideal specifications would be:
# SS Couplings. The Frame splits so that it can be transported in a standard sized suitcase.
# Cyclocross Tires. So that I can do light mountain biking with the kids. No need for a suspension for a while. Also, this would be an ideal compromise for the wet, wet winter commutes.
# Disk Brakes. Again for the wet and also given the loads. Weighs more, but Avid now makes mechanical brakes that can be used with road bike levers.
# Stiff. Assuming that this thing will be carrying/pulling weight. I'll probably get one of those one or two wheel trailers for camping with the kids.
Here are some bikes that meet some of these requirements listed in rough order. The amazing thing is that I emailed these guys and in every case someone answered right away:
* "Independent Fabricators":http://www.ifbikes.com/. They make a Titanium "Cyclocross":http://188.8.131.52/frames2/tiplanetcross.shtml bike with couplers available and 700c wheels. Missing: Need to see if they have disc brake tabs and 132mm axle spacing. They have them at Aurora Bikes here in Seattle. Contact Rob at 206-783-1000.
* "Co-Motion":http://www.co-motion.com/travmenu.html. A Northwest builder. They make a steel racing, light touring and heavy touring bike series that all have SS couplers. These are called the Espresso, Nor'Wester and Americano respectively. The Nor'Wester sounds about right at 3.85 lb frame with 0.5 lb for the couplers. It is much shorter in top tube than what racers use. It can also use Cantilever, although not Disc brakes. It is a 130mm axle in the rear so can't really put mountain hubs in the rear. Missing: 132mm axle, disc brakes and aluminum (e.g., lighter frame). They don't recommend disc brakes since it causes stress on the front rigid fork and also interferes with panniers.
* "Waterford":http://www.waterfordbikes.com/models/pframe.htm. These cyclocross and touring X-22 series can be had with couplers. The X-22 can have up to 38C tires and cantilever brakes. $1600 for frame and $800 for couplers, case and other accessories. 3.85lb frame. The X-14 is $1300. Missing: disc brake tabs and 132mm spacing for mountain hubs. Richard Schwinn himself (part of the Schwinn's that started the famous bike company) sent me mail giving me advice. Basically said, that a good all purpose bike if carrying more than 50 lbs is the Adventure Cycle. Said that a trailer didn't handle as well. They have them in Tacoma. Spoke and Sprocket. As Richard says, "If they were in Seattle they would be one the jewels of the city. I know many Seattlites who happily make the trek south. Talk to one of the Jim's there at 253-564-1422." List price is $1600 plus $1,200 for the Ultegra kit. Same for the Adventure Cycle.
* "Erickson":http://www.sandsmachine.com/bp_erick.htm. Glenn did a nice bike for Hoops that has everything I want except the disc brake option, but he's totally custom so I'm hoping that he can make this for me. Also noticed he does titanium as well. Fully custom, so the price will be interesting I'm sure! Only problem is that Glenn is gone this summer.
These bikes are wonderful but don't have couplers mainly:
* "Rivendell":http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/html/bikes_rambouilletframes.html. They make full custom bikes of course at $2,200 per frame, but also have a standard Rambouillet for $995 or (Atlantis is available, but in my size takes 26" wheels) made by a small shop in Japan. Steel bikes and these don't have couplers. But, they are big wheel friendly and can accept a mountain rear 135mm or a road 130mm rear hub. Missing: couplers, disc brake tabs and lighter frame, but they are cheap.
* "Giant OCR Touring":http://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/030.000.000/030.000.006.asp?lYear=2003&bikesection=8830&range=138&model=10658. Just about everything except the couplers. Has Avid Disc Brakes. There is also a frame only for "Cyclocross":http://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/030.000.000/030.000.006.asp?lYear=2003&bikesection=8820&range=108&model=10678 and "touring":http://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/030.000.000/030.000.006.asp?lYear=2003&bikesection=8820&range=108&model=10675, so that I can build it up myself, so couplers really are the only problem. Bike is $1300 list.
* "Cannondale":http://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/030.000.000/030.000.006.asp?lYear=2003&bikesection=8830&range=138&model=10658. They have a touring bike the T2000, but checkout their Cyclocross model with Disc brakes, etc. Just missing the couplers.
* "Redline":http://redlinebicycles.com. They have a Conquest Pro.