If I can be of any assistance please let me know. We own 4 Co-Motion bikes, 2 Pangea Rohloff and 2 Nor'Wester Tours (now called Cascadia) all 4 have bikes have S&S couplers.
We just recently completed traveling for 769 days 28 countries, 14 US states on our Pangeas. In the past we have done several fully loaded short tours in Europe riding our Nor'Wester Tours. We can understand your hesitation with buying a bike without being able to "test" ride it. We had the same issue and to add to that there were maybe one or two reviews out there. If we keep our Nor'Westers they will only be for commuting now. Although they are great touring bikes, they can not carry the weight like the Pangea, plus our Pangeas are Rohloff and once you've ridden a Rohloff you will not want to go back. 769 days in all types of conditions and not one single issue or adjustment needed, other than doing the oil change a couple times on the Rohloff.
As for the Surly and Trek, sure they are fine bikes and many have made it around the world too, but they're not made in the USA. This is our personal choice, but we go out of our way to not buy stuff made in China and if you look hard enough you can find a lot of items made elsewhere. Nomads look to be like pretty stout bikes and we came across a few of them during our travels, but they too are made in China/Taiwan, so no thanks. We also came across many Koga brands, they are very popular in Europe and they seem pretty good too and I believe they are made in Holland, but I think they are aluminum frames.
Buying a Co-Motion is expensive but the quality is top shelf, it's built by craftsman and not machines or some poor sap making a few dollars a day in miserable conditions, and it helps keep a US builder in business.
I personally would not buy a Cascadia or Americano unless you plan to stick to mostly paved roads. The largest tire for either bike with fenders installed is a 35c and that is not big enough for extended gravel or dirt or mud. With the Divide or Pangea you can run much larger tires with fenders and they provide a much smoother ride over the rough stuff. Just remember with the larger tires comes added weight.
If you have any questions shoot me an email at pedalpowertouring(at)gmail(dot)com
Photo:Vietnam looking back at the mountains we came down the night before in the dark.