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I built a bike from a custom frame; took months after receiving frame (back order of components, etc). Satisfaction in specifying what you want, but more work, and more value in buying complete comparable bike.
Russ, thanks I had not really priced the Gunnar frames/forks, etc. I don't think the 480 frame will work for me (too big) but I should compare the specs with the Terry and LHT and also contact Gunnar, especially if I can save $$.
If you read the bike description http://georgenaterry.com/coto-donana-tour/
it says it's designed for loaded touring (she makes another model for lighter touring, but it doesn't weigh any less, according to the specs):
RussSeaton, I'll look into other custom frame makers as you suggested, but I think they are all in this $3500 range , from some cursory investigation I have done. I liked this bike, but think I've convinced myself I prefer 26" wheels for touring.
Not so, if your bike is set up right.
If you are comfortable using the drops while climbing and shifting bar end shifters with your hands still on the bars, then your bars are WAY too high. You must have a 45 degree angle in your back while using the drops. And a 90 degree back when using the hoods. Your bars are way too high and probably your reach is too short. In case you did not know, which I suspect you did not, when riding in the drops, with a slight bend in your elbow, your back should be flat, horizontal to the ground. When your hands are on the hoods your back should be about 45 degrees to the ground.
ROFLMAO! You're wrong, but keep the nonsense flowing, it's really entertaining.
Not so, if your bike is set up right.
I believe this is why the old steel bikes made with the real stuff, Tange, Tru-Temp, Reynolds etc. have skyrocketed in price. Something to ponder.
I like the idea of getting a lower gear for climbs (22t). A recommendation of crankset here would be much appreciated.
The OP's primary goal is to make the bike as comfortable as possible for long climbs. Don't really see how getting rid of the bar ends would contribute significantly (or even at all) to the attainment of that goal.
So on touring bikes you have to make a compromise and pick a next best, second choice to make road and mountain components work together. Thus bar end shifters. What new bike seller is going to sell a NEW bike with now 5 year old 10 speed STI shifters, and 10 year old 9 speed rear derailleur? This combination works but is not current.
So Russ, are you advocating "upgrading" a current LHT by putting 5 year old shifters and a 10 year old derailer on it?
And just FWIW, a preference for STI is just like any other preference -- personal.
Trek, Bruce Gordon, Peter White, and other highly respected assemblers of touring bikes specify bar end shifters.
Consider the above a very personal opinion.