The Bike. Obviously this is top of the list and the single most important consideration. You can ride anything cross country, but you want to be comfortable on your steed of choice. My road bike or mountain bike wasn't going to up to par so I started shopping for a touring bike designed for the long haul. There are way to many options out there so the narrowing focus is to find a local bike shop (aka-LBS) that understands long, multi-day rides and that actually has touring bikes on the floor. You must test ride these things to determine if you are up for a long-term relationship with it. There's no option for a trial separation in the middle of South Dakota. You must have commitment. For the next three months this bike will be my partner. I better like it!
This is a very comprehensive list of touring bikes periodically posted by Adventure Cyclists [click here]. In my case I found TTR in Greenville, SC where JJ helped me select a Surly Long Haul Trucker. The single one review that sold me on this bike was a comment that the LHT was the closest thing to the 1980s early, hand-built, lugged, American-made Trek 520. Jenny and I had new 520s back in 1983 when we rode six months in France and we loved them. Her's got trashed when a lady turned without warning in front of my riding-Jenny's-bike-to-high-school son and catapulted him over the car. Seventeen year olds must be made of rubber; he bounced onto his feet. He had to carry the bike to mom's work place and continued walking to school. The bike was a waste. My old Trek still hangs in the basement...stripped of many components by same son. That's just plain karma though...I outright "borrowed" my Dad's bike (like, forever) in order to ride all the way across town to make a totally "happenstance" passing in front of Jenny's house. Fortunately she was there or history might have taken different turns. Ahh...the road of life!
For the record, and to totally loose most of my non-biking friends, here's the low-down on the LHT.
Surly Long Haul Trucker
Frame: 56 cm; 4130 chromoly steel; double-butted main triangle; TIG welded.
Fork: 4130 chromoly, lugged and brazed, tapered curved blade w/ lowrider rack eyelets.
Headset: Cane Creek 40, 1-1/8˝ threadless; black.
|Our very own Fletcher-based company|
Stem: Kalloy AS-009, 26.0mm bar clamp; aluminum; 4-bolt face; silver.
Handlebar: , black.
Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN-54; square taper interface; 68 x 118mm.
Crankset: Andel RSC6, 26/36/48t; square taper interface; silver.
Cogset: Shimano HG-50, 11/34.
Shifters: Microshift Bar-Con bar ends, 3 x 9-speed, friction/Index settings.
Front Derailleur: Shimano Sora, FD-3403; silver; clamp diameter 28.6mm.
Rear Derailleur: Shimano LX, T661SGS; black.
Chain: SRAM PC-971, silver; 116 links.
Brake Compatibility: Linear pull or cantilever.
Brakes: Tektro, CR720 cantilever; silver.
Brake Levers : Tektro RL340 standard reach.
Brake Pads: Koolstop brake pads.
Seatpost: Kalloy SP-248D, 27.2mm; 30mm; silver.
Saddle: Brooks B17 honey saddle; 520g.
Rear dropouts: Vertical, 135mm.
Rims (700c): Alex Adventurer, 36h; double wall; eyeletted; black.
Front and Rear Hubs: Shimano LX, T660; 36h; non-disc; 135mm; silver.
Tires (700c) Continental Top Contact, 700c x 32mm-550g; wire bead; reflective wall.
Extras: Stainless steel post clamp, 14g DT Swiss spokes.
Braze-ons: Upper bosses and dropout eyelets for racks front and rear; fender eyelets; chainstay spare spoke holder; pump peg; downtube lever bosses; 3 sets of H2O cage bosses; rear housing stop for canti brakes; housing stops for
Fenders: Woodys classic surfboard style wood fender; Mahogany, Purpleheart, Maple, and Wenge
|Woody's sweet wood fenders|
Weight: 29 pounds 56 cm frame, fork, wheels; 31.6 pounds w/ front and rear racks, saddle.
This is what it looks like fully loaded. Meet Lou. my partner for the next three months. Next I'll list the gear.