Yes, the Europeans so a fabulous job at providing reliable and frequent rail service but their short distances and high population density make it attractive. Even at that, most of their passenger service is subsidized.
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The only thing in your list I feel at all strongly about is the pedals and shoes. Stick with MTB shoes. Get some with stiffer soles and you'll never notice the difference while riding. You'll want to walk without acting like a duck and/or sliding.+100 You will be on and off the bike a fair bit while touring and having shoes and cleats you can walk in will be a huge benefit.
You might be able to find a Trucker Deluxe frame in your size. That'll pack into a suitcase, saving $300 over a full size bike, but you have to build it up (or have it built up) with parts you buy. Depending on your size, you may have to disassemble it even further than the full-size option to pack it.I've owned and traveled with a bike with S&S couplers and they are not for the mechanically feint of ability. Disassembly, packing and reassembly are fairly time consuming and detailed. Also, the travel case is not even a trailer so you have to store it somewhere while you tour.
If it were me, I'd take the BF you have and put up with the trailer. You're going to find that any bike carrying luggage seems slow compared to an unloaded bike. Better the devil you know, IMHO.
I suspect it's more a case of finite element analysis being employed to support marketing-driven "artistic" designs, which just happen to require proprietary rather than standard parts. This is great for the manufacturers (don't you want to buy a new wheel?), but are difficult to repair when you break something on the road during a tour.Any cycling tourist who uses boutique designer wheels on their tour bike deserves whatever problems they run into. As you noted, these use special spokes and other parts and most LBSs can't repair them with in-stock parts. Standard hubs, spokes and rims in reasonable spoke count and cross patterns are the only sensible choice.
You are certain to bust a flange with radial spoking. My wheel idea works best with 36 spokes. A 32 spoke wheel could be built with 3 cross left and 2 cross right however 2 cross will be more likely to break the flange. A 40 hole wheel could also be built with 4 cross left and 3 cross right or a 48 spoke wheel with 5 cross left and 4 cross right with no problems. If you are worried about flange breaking use a large flange hub.Very interesting. Then all of the great number of radial spoked wheels built both individually and commercially are doomed to hub failure? Yes, years ago both Campy and Shimano refused to warranty their hubs if laced radially but that's way in the past and both companies sell wheels with radial lacing and have removed that warning from their hubs. Your information is way out of date.
First, four cross is usually used for higher spoke count wheels, and two cross for lower spoke count wheels. The idea, as I understand it, is to get the spokes coming off the hub at roughly a right angle to the radius through the center of the hub. Are you advocating going to a 48 spoke wheel? If you're using 4x with 36 spoke wheels, are you coming off the hub at an acute angle?A 36 hole rim and hub laced 4X will produce a tangential spoke line and is the smallest number of holes that will allow 4X lacing
Second, the ping you note as a new wheel is ridden is caused by windup of the spoke during tensioning and truing. This is normally fixed (by a skilled wheelbuilder) by over-correcting and then backing off during final truing. I don't see this as something that can be corrected by changing the length and angle of a spoke.Correct. "Pinging" is prevented by proper stress relieving of the spoke line, lubing the spoke threads and preventing or correcting spoke wind-up during tensioning. The wheel's construction geometry is not a factor.
Third, the wheel is centered by balancing the tension of the right and left side spokes. If you're using the same number of spokes on each side, as is the case for every wheel I know of on the market now, you can lengthen or shorten the spokes on the left (non-drive) side, but the tension will have to stay the same unless you pull the rim off-center. With the same tension on the spokes, keeping the wheel centered, the only change is going to be frictional losses as the (almost) unloaded spoke shifts. This is unlikely to be significant, and so I doubt you'll change the load the wheel can take before a spoke goes to zero tension.As noted by mathieu there are asymmetrically spoked wheels these days but how much is structural and how much is a fashion statement is debatable. One way to balance the required tension differences with a dished wheel is to use thinner spokes on the non-drive side. Say 2.0/1.8/2.0 on the drive side and 2.0/1.6/2.0 on the non-drive side.
A better approach might be to replace box rims with a stiffer (V) rim. The V rim adds some structural rigidity, meaning you share the load across more spokes. This, in turn, means you can carry a larger load on the V wheel without the spoke losing tension.
Most touring bikes have MTB or friction shifters so that they can use MTB derailleurs.I don't think this is correct any longer as most of the touring bikes I see advertised have brifters. They can use MTB 9-speed rear derailleurs with 9 or 10-speed cassettes and brifters and have to use a road front derailleur. The touring bikes with barend shifters have a more latitude with their front derailleur choice but the same rear derailleur limitation.
Knowing his to fix your bike is really important as well. Simple stuff like replacing links in a chain can really make a difference and you will have to put a lot of maintenance along the way. My first tour was when I was 19 (San Francisco. - DC). And I knew little about repairing my bike. I had some uncertain times with my bike and was my biggest regret.A good quality bike in well maintained condition should not require a lot of maintenance even over a 4000 mile tour. Chain lubing and tire pressure should be the only routine items with wearing out or damaging a tire as a possibility. If you start with the components in good shape cables, shifters, brake pads, chains, wheels, etc. should last the duration of the trip with no problems. The operative term is "good quality" and X-Mart level bikes don't qualify.