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. Will the 29er go the way of the 26? I hope to heck not, because I looked at a lot of different 29ers , including the Salsa Fargo and Co-Motion Divide before I bought my Volcanic Vx7. I like it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.No, 29 won't go away as there is still a lot of new stuff being introduced for it. The real marketing ideal is you will buy all three MTB's sizes; 26, 27.5 and a 29.
OP, there is very little functional difference between 26" (AKA 650b) and 700c (AKA 29"), despite confusing and contradictory bicycle industry propaganda. Of more import is the width of the rims and the availability of parts (tubes, rims, tires).This is incorrect. 650B wheels are not 26" wheels in today's lexicon. 26" wheels are ISO 559 and take 26" MTB tires. 650B is 27.5" in today's terminology and they are by no means the same.
Would that article have been written by Jan Heine, aka the lead advocate for 650B? Either way, I'd view that recommendation with suspicion. I've seen a total of two 650B bikes. They're not common. Tires for them are even less common -- I've only ever seen them available through the web / mail order. I'm leading up to this: if you're going to ride 650B, take a spare tire, or, if/when you have a problem, be prepared to wait (over a long holiday weekend?) for a replacement to get to you.I remember when Sheldon Brown first advocated for 650B wheels/tires and I don't know if he or Jan Heine had priority. That said, they are beginning to catch on in the MTB world where they are called 27.5" and are getting increasingly common. Most of the major bike and tire manufacturers now have that size wheels/tires in their MTB product line. AFAIK, no road or touring bike has adopted them so far.
The only thing in your list I feel at all strongly about is the pedals and shoes. Stick with MTB shoes. Get some with stiffer soles and you'll never notice the difference while riding. You'll want to walk without acting like a duck and/or sliding.+100 You will be on and off the bike a fair bit while touring and having shoes and cleats you can walk in will be a huge benefit.
You might be able to find a Trucker Deluxe frame in your size. That'll pack into a suitcase, saving $300 over a full size bike, but you have to build it up (or have it built up) with parts you buy. Depending on your size, you may have to disassemble it even further than the full-size option to pack it.I've owned and traveled with a bike with S&S couplers and they are not for the mechanically feint of ability. Disassembly, packing and reassembly are fairly time consuming and detailed. Also, the travel case is not even a trailer so you have to store it somewhere while you tour.
If it were me, I'd take the BF you have and put up with the trailer. You're going to find that any bike carrying luggage seems slow compared to an unloaded bike. Better the devil you know, IMHO.
I suspect it's more a case of finite element analysis being employed to support marketing-driven "artistic" designs, which just happen to require proprietary rather than standard parts. This is great for the manufacturers (don't you want to buy a new wheel?), but are difficult to repair when you break something on the road during a tour.Any cycling tourist who uses boutique designer wheels on their tour bike deserves whatever problems they run into. As you noted, these use special spokes and other parts and most LBSs can't repair them with in-stock parts. Standard hubs, spokes and rims in reasonable spoke count and cross patterns are the only sensible choice.
You are certain to bust a flange with radial spoking. My wheel idea works best with 36 spokes. A 32 spoke wheel could be built with 3 cross left and 2 cross right however 2 cross will be more likely to break the flange. A 40 hole wheel could also be built with 4 cross left and 3 cross right or a 48 spoke wheel with 5 cross left and 4 cross right with no problems. If you are worried about flange breaking use a large flange hub.Very interesting. Then all of the great number of radial spoked wheels built both individually and commercially are doomed to hub failure? Yes, years ago both Campy and Shimano refused to warranty their hubs if laced radially but that's way in the past and both companies sell wheels with radial lacing and have removed that warning from their hubs. Your information is way out of date.