« on: March 01, 2011, 12:35:09 pm »
The Trek 520 and Surly Long Haul Trucker are very similar. Very similar. Trek is a couple hundred more expensive though. As already mentioned, any bike shop can get a Surly bike. Surly is a division of QBP, Quality Bicycle Products. Every shop in the country has an account with QBP. I'd figure out what size you need in the Trek 520, see if it is about the same as the Surly, test ride, then have the bike shop order in the Surly LHT.
I had a Trek 520 from 1991. It worked very well for loaded touring. Advice is to get the smallest inner chainring you can for whatever crank comes on the bike. Trek advertises a 26 inner ring. Too big. Get the shop to put a smaller inner ring on it.
I'm not claiming the Trek 520 or Surly LHT is the best touring bike. Both are competent touring bikes. Just like the others on your list I assume. Touring bikes are kind of a commodity. They are all very similar with similar equipment, similar frames, similar geometry. All handle, ride, carry about the same. They are all trucks basically. Designed to carry stuff.
As for taking a bike bought elsewhere into a shop for service, no problem. A competent bike shop will work on any bike brought in. They should realize they cannot and will not sell every bike sold in the world. So to stay in business, they have to work on bikes bought elsewhere. Does your car mechanic dealer only work on cars bought there? No, they work on any car brought in.