Actually, compared to 9 years ago, there were 11 more solo dedicated touring bike models listed in the current Buyers Guide issue of Adventure Cyclist than in the March 1997 issue. Not a "boom" by any means, but definitely not "disappearing" either.
That guy from Texas with the seven yellow shirts has re-energized the "road" sector of bicycling, and road bikes are now out-selling mountain bikes. The touring bikes are part of that "road" sector.
I have had several mountain bikes and bought my first road bike, a Marin Venezia, last year, which I love to ride. I am looking at a touring-specific bike either later this summer or next spring. Yes, I am a Lance fan, but he is not at all why I bought the Marin. This organization (ACA) has more to do with it than anything.
Check out the March issue of AC for a good listing of the available options for road (and a couple of off-road) touring bikes. If you are buying a new MTB, look for one with a 43-45 chainstay and comfortable geometry for long rides.
This message was edited by Trailpatrol on 4-18-06 @ 7:20 PM