Okay, so as option 1 for the ride is to adapt my existing bike, but as discussed here there are some problems with that; essentially all I would keep is the frame, and even that would probably be a sub-optimal solution.
So the alternative option is to buy something different (new or 2nd hand). I chatted to Andy (Ronde Technician) a little about options on this front; they’re Condor re-sellers, and as such that’s where their expertise went to..
- Condor Fratello (£600 frameset),
- Condor Heritage (£600 frameset) – But I really don’t like the colour scheme.
But a bit of googling came up with some viable alternatives..
- Jamis Quest (roughly £1250 all in), road.cc review here.
- Singular Osprey (£710 frameset), road.cc review here. Hmm, think this might be what DDGM rides?
- Genesis Equilibrium (somewhere between £1000 and £1300 all in), road.cc review here.
- Mercian Audax Special (£700-£950 frame, hand-built)
For all of these, the focus is on something that is something that balances two competeing elements — strong enough to take panniers and stand up to the rigours of long distance riding whilst being comfortable and being sufficiently light that it is still a pleasure to ride (and 65miles/day is easy enough). Of course there is a trade-off to be had here. At one is the road racer, at the other is the true tourer, something like a Surly Long Haul Trucker (which is pretty much ALL you’ll hear about if you google touring bikes). For sake of comparison..
- Surly Long Haul Trucker (£280 frameset on ebay – interestingly that’s being sold by the Edinburgh Bike Cooperative!)
Chat with Andy (Ronde)..
Andy in Ronde suggested lose pricing of..
- frameset, £600
- groupset*1, £400
- wheels,*2, £200
- Deda finishing kit, £200
*1 Groupset – need to balance (1) performance, (2) longetivity, and (3) ease of replacement. The last one means not SRAM, since suppliers are limited. So Shimano or Campangelo; I’m good with either. I currently use Shimano and know their range, so we stuck with that. Recommended the 105 over my current Tiagra, as thought a big jump in performance, but hardier than the upper models (Integra and Dura-Ace). In terms of ratios, thinking compact at front (50-34) rather than my current standard (52-39) and wide at back (11-28) rather than my current (11-25).
*2 Wheels. Make sure they’re hand-built (so they can be easily repaired). Consider getting a second set for back here, that are lighter and use a second cassette to make switching wheels easy. Put Gatorskin tyres on, as wide as the wheel can take – e.g. 28C or 30C.
Concerns / more things to think about..
- Do I want to pay for brand new, or buy a frameset or even entire bike, second hand?
- Do I want to get something that’s an out-and-out tourer, like the Surly LHT, and accept that it’s a slower (but certainly hardier, and possibly more comfortable) ride?
- I guess for this question, I need to know how much stuff I’m taking, and whether it will fit onto an Audax equivalent?
- The Condor Fratello comes with carbon poggia forks; can they take / do they suit front panniers? Reading reviews (e.g. here) suggests that when loaded (with only 15kg of weight) there is a some flex in the backend.
I guess my main concern, expressed in 2-4, is “Is an audax the right style of bike for a 2000 mile, unsupported, ride?” If I was motelling / crashing on people’s floors every night, then yes, undoubtedly; I could travel super-light, just use rear panniers, and this would be fine. But (a) can I afford that for 60 days straight, and if not, then (b) how much weight (and volume) is the camping option going to add? That basically determines what I get. Looks like I’ve decided what the topic of my next blog post will be..