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Big dollar bike shoes are as much a fashion accessory as a necessity and are aimed at competitive riders where weight and great stiffness are important.Big dollar shoes are not necessarily a necessity on a bike tour.
On the Nashbar website they have six shoes which take SPD cleats for $29.99 or less. Before using a 20% off coupon Nashbar frequently has. On the Amazon site the Crocs shoes are about $25-30. These are official Croc brand shoes so they might be much more than the copy shoes sold in flea markets. $30 or less for a pair of shoes does not meet my definition of "Big dollar shoes". All of the $29.99 or less Nashbar bike shoes looked like sneakers so I would guess they are comfortable.
I'll give an opinion on the bike. What everyone else has said should be considered. This bike does not appear to be setup for touring/carrying baggage. There does not appear to be any way to mount racks. The brakes are sidepull calipers. They will not be able to fit wide tires. Anything wider than 28mm likely will not fit. The shifters are mountain bike shifters mounted on top of the handlebars on either side of the stem. This does not seem like a good way to shift a road bicycle. Gearing seems OK. Triple crankset with at least a medium sized 7 speed cogset in back. Probably low enough gears if you do not run into anything real steep. You would need to be a pretty good bike mechanic to grease and tune the bike after you buy it. And be able to true and build wheels. Assembly is probably not good. I think you would be better off finding a used bike more suitable to touring. You probably need to learn more about bike mechanics.Everything you mention is correct but it could be summed up in one word: Walmart
This bike cost $180 all-up and the OP is trying to minimize his cost. Any usable trailer will cost way more than the entire bike.I'm trying to to stay as inexpensive as possible.When trying to use a non-touring bike for touring, it's usually best to consider using a trailer rather than panniers.
Just did a quick check and see that the ACA described the GDMBR as:If that's a good description and the single track is both a "dash" and not too tightly wooded or hemmed in by rock walls, then the 1200GS is a suitable machine.
"The big, bad granddaddy of epic mountain bike routes. 2,700 miles of primarily jeep roads (with a dash of pavement and singletrack)"
That sounds like what the GS and KLR were designed for.
.....high gear 50 x12 and low gear 30x30......i don't believe i will need any lower than that.....one bike had a 28x32...you could pull out tree stumps with that..lolThat depends on where you tour and how much you carry and, obviously the age and strength of the rider. For most of us, a 30x30 low gear will allow a modest load to be ridden up fairly steep but short climbs or more shallow but long climbs. If you get into steep and long (think West Virginia) you will want something significantly lower.
I think I'd prefer mud over marring. They do make clip covers, though. Then you'd have the "I'm walking with a big lump on the bottom of my shoe" problem.Even lugged soled MTB shoes let the cleat touch the ground a bit so you will have both. AFAIK, cleat covers are only available for road shoes and road cleats like Look, Time, Speedplay, Shimano SPDL, etc. No one makes them for recessed cleats.
Agreed about the tread pattern and mud - I usually take the shoes off when I go into someone's home that is hosting me. Restaurants, not so much.Shimano's "Touring" shoes reduce that problem since the soles are basically flat except for the cleat pocket so there are no lugs to trap mud. Even then you don't want to walk on someones hardwood or polished tile floor as the cleats do make mild contact with the ground.
DaveB, I have a pair of those on my mtb that I'm thinking about putting onto my touring bike. Just a thought at the moment...As the old ad used to say; "try it, you'll like it." I expect the great majority of touring bike use MTB-type clipless pedals.