I am currently assembling a purpose-built mountain touring bike.
For touring on roads or anything that was once a road, I have an Americano. I wanted another bike of similar quality that would be ideally suited for off-road touring.
One can, of course, get by with alot less than what I am describing. I have also ignored the controversies of STI versus bar ends, disk brake vs v-brakes, sus vs rigid forks, and 26" vs. 700c (29er). Read about these issues elsewhere.
Based on 20k miles of road touring experience and on my readings in this and other forums, I have established these priorities:
#1 & #2 Wheels: Strong without going overboard.
- Rims (25-30 mm: Sun Rhynos, not Kris Holm)
- Spokes (36 Alpine III's, not 40 or 48)
- Hubs (White Industries, not DT 540's; XT's work too)
#3 Hand Positions: Bar ends on a straight bar, an h-bar, or trekking bar. Drop bars put your weight too far forward during descents.
#4 Steel for Rideability: Even though it is lighter than steel, titanium is not a good value in loaded touring. Carbon is probably too weak, unless you use a trailer.
#5 Tires: Very wide, but durable tires with moderate knobbies (at least on the front) that run well with low air pressure. You probably shouldn't have any suspension (but I plan to have a suspension fork). Panaracer Rampage on the front and fat Marathon XR's on the back.
With the exception of hydraulic disk brakes, most other mountain bike components are fine.
The problem with all new complete mountain bikes is that the wheels are likely to be too weak for touring with panniers. However, this problem can be solved by using a trailer (like the BOB Ibex) instead. Look at the Gary Fisher Ferrous 29.
This message was edited by cyclesafe on 1-15-08 @ 5:51 PM