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Topics - CastAStone

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Gear Talk / Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 29, 2010, 10:53:01 am »
Hello everyone,

My friend and I are looking to tour unassisted from West to East across the US this summer. We will be taking Louis and Clark to Nebraska, doing an old RAGBRAI route across Iowa, and then use Northern Tier most of the way to Syracuse, cut down to Phily on PA state bike routes, and then finish in Seaside Heights, NJ.

We both are looking to buy real touring bikes for the occasion (my Trek 7.3 can be loaded up front and back for short tours just fine, but it is aluminum, flat barred, and has lots of Altus/Acera components), and we're in a bit of a pickle. We're both hoping to spend as little over $1000 as we can.

Everything we can find on the Surly LHT and Trek 520 is dated. Our LBS told us that the 2007 LHT bears little resemblance to the 2010 one (cheaper handlebars, lower grade Shimano and SRAM components) and the 520 is much the same. We've eliminated other bikes due to component quality (like the Aurora) and price (like the Cannondales), and at this point we're trying to decide between these two.

My questions aren't to compare them, as I doubt too many of you have toured on 2010 versions of both, but rather to compare a few components:

1) 520 has LX derailleurs, LHT has XT rear and Tiagra front. Can anyone tell the difference between these sets? I'm worried about losing momentum while shifting uphill; I know the XT is "better" than the LX, but I'm wondering if anyone can actually tell this difference. Also I'm curious how a road set like the Tiagra compares.

2) The LHT has 11-34 cassette, the 520 11-32. Will the 520 cassette get me through the mountains or should I assume I need to replace it?

3) I know the LHT has longer chainstays, has anyone rode the 520 loaded with size 13 shoes? Is it okay?

Anything else I need to know, please do tell.


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