Author Topic: New touring bike recommendations  (Read 5814 times)

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Offline Jake Northrup

New touring bike recommendations
« on: November 23, 2022, 10:08:34 pm »
I've decided to purchase a new bike for a 2023 Transamerica trip.  I don't want to be limited to tarmac, but will primarily be on tarmac.  My short list is Kona Sutra, Surly Disc Trucker, and maybe Stanforth Kibo.  I am leaning towards the Sutra but still very much undecided.  I like the Kibo but import taxes and shipping are cons.  Gearing for climbing is important, as well as capability to handle some gravel and dirt.  Other bikes I should be looking at?  Very interested in recommendations!  Thanks.

Offline UncaBuddha

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2022, 09:17:23 am »
Trek 520 disc. Masi Giramondo (if you can find one). Salsa Fargo for lots of off road. I splurged and went with a Lynskey Backroad titanium (and now I need a big lock)...

The Fargo and the Backroad give me the best reach to stack ratio allowing for a more upright position and I have them both.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2022, 09:46:37 am »
If you can find what you are looking for, consider buying a lightly used bike as you get much better bang for the buck.  Plus, if you decide you don't like the bike for some reason, you lose a lot less money when selling it.

Offline froze

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2022, 11:59:48 pm »
I went through a major search for a touring bike that would have the stuff I wanted.  The Trek 520 and the Surly disk Trucker were overpriced with lower quality components compared to what I thought were the two top contenders for the price. The Kona Sutra, and the Masi Giramondo 700c.  I settled on the Masi because it was about $500 less expensive than the Kona, but the Kona is a fine bike.

Both the Kona and the Masi have slight differences.  At the time I bought the Masi in 2019, the Kona came with a Brooks B17 saddle, the Masi had a cheap WTB saddle which I replaced with first with a Advocet Touring saddle, then recently I bought a Brooks Cambium, not sure what I think of that saddle yet.  Kona comes with a really nice steel front rack, but Masi came with not only the same front rack but also the same rear rack that Kona does not include.  Kona came with fenders the Masi did not, but for $45 I got a set of Topeak Defender fenders that are better than my Planet Bike Cascadia fenders I had on the old bike.  Kona does come with a bit nicer Schwalbe Mondal 40c tires while the Masi had cheap heavy Kenda Drumlin 45c which I have since replaced those with Schwalbe Almotion 38c which is way better than the Mondal tires.  The Masi has the best gearing in the business for climbing a steep grade with a heavy load.  Both bikes come with Microshift bar end shifters, they are cheap plastic  but they are functional, though I will probably replace mine this spring with something that is all aluminum.  Both come with cheap wheelsets, I had to adjust my spokes because the wheels were flexing under load, that took care of the issue.  Neither bike come with pedals.

I can't think of anything else.  I got the Masi because it had a bit more for what I was looking for with less expenditure to get stuff it either didn't have or needed improvement than the Kona would have cost not only new but to get a Tubus Grand Tour rear rack alone is about $225!  Plus better gearing another $45 or so I would have had to spend that to get the Kona up and running right.  I' didn't include the cost of the pedals since neither bike comes with pedals so there is no advantage with either bike in that area. 

Problem with the Masi is that it hasn't been in stock since Covid hit back in 2019, I got mine just about a month before the covid shutdown.  Modern Bike claims they have 2019 27.5 x 2.1 tires in stock...2019?  I find that odd, but when I clicked on various sizes they put a bike into the bin!  I would call before ordering it just to make sure it's not some sort of error.  That Masi is essentially the same as the 700c but with different tire size, more for off road adventure, but you could put narrower and smoother tread on it; also that bike does not come with racks or fenders, so it will end up costing more than the Kona would.

I haven't had any problems with the Masi, so if you get the Kona that should be the same experience since they both use the same transmission and the same brakes.

Offline wildtoad

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2023, 01:24:28 pm »
Jake, I would say you are looking for an "all road" touring bike. A few additional ideas for you if you are still searching:

Bassi Hogs Back (usually sold as frame but dealers can build complete bike)
Veloci Cycles Plan Big (same as above)
Panorama Cycles Forillon (an interesting brand that puts together a limited line of very well spec'd bikes for the money. This would be my choice if I were in the market for a new, complete touring bike w/ reasonable pricing)
Marin Four Corners (very affordable, but I am not a fan of the stock gearing for all road touring)
Tanglefoot Hardtack (sold as frame, but primary dealer in VT builds up completes and frequently has demo bikes for sale @ discount). Has received some great reviews as of late.
Salsa Marrakesh

If you leaned more toward dirt touring w/ acceptable pavement performance, then Black Mountain Cycles La Cabra, Tanglefoot Moonshiner or Salsa Fargo are some ideas.

Of the other bikes mentioned in this thread, both the Kona Sutra and Masi Giramondo are super solid choices for what you are looking for. My current touring bike is the original guacamole green Masi Giramondo, heavily modified and upgraded over several years of riding. The geometry hits the sweet spot of what an all road touring bike should be, and the ride quality is surprisingly excellent for a bomber bike. Tremendous on pavement and dirt. Giramondos can be hard to find. Masi was on a roll from circa 2014-2019 with a unique product line, affordable pricing w/ obviously savvy product management. They announced a new product manager just before the pandemic hit, and the brand seems to have been in the doldrums ever since. Very poor supply and, outside of the Giramondo, a relatively uninspired product line in contrast to the prior run.

Good luck and enjoy whatever you decide on.

Offline RonK

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2023, 04:02:42 pm »
The Salsa Fargo should be on your list. Very much a do anything bike.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline froze

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2023, 07:01:55 pm »
When I did my research back in 2018 and 19, the only other bike that had most of all the stuff I needed was the Kona Sutra, but it was more money than the Masi Giramondo.  The gear ratio needed to climb steep mountain roads with gear on the Kona wasn't as good, in fact, none of the other bikes had good gearing, but that can always be replaced; but the Kona also didn't have rear racks while the Masi had both front and rear steel racks, and steel racks are expensive; the brakes on the Kona are now hydro while the Masi is mechanical disk which while out in the middle of nowhere and something happens, it's easier to work in the field with mechanical disk brakes than hydro disks.  Back in 2018-19 when I was looking the Kona Sutra used mechanical disk brakes, but they changed over to hydro recently, if the Masi hadn't been available I would have bought the Kona.

All the other bikes I looked at, which others have listed here, were either stupidly expensive and or didn't have what I wanted in a touring bike.

I suggest you make a list of what you have to have for your touring requirements and find a bike for the least amount of money as possible that fulfills more of the list than not, and whatever the bike doesn't have what you do need is the cost to replace that part cheap or expensive, and does another bike have what you want for less than it would cost to replace the part?  Some small stuff like pedals, neither the Masi nor the Kona came with pedals which is understandable, also the tires are usually cheap tires and not really ideal for touring on, and most bikes come with cheap saddles except for the Kona and few others came with the Brooks B17.

Anyway, just things to consider, and of course depends on how much you want to spend.  I decided on spending as little as possible because touring bikes get beat up, and I didn't want an expensive touring bike to get beat up in a couple of years of touring.

Offline hikerjer

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2023, 05:57:12 pm »
I have a 2012 Kona Sutra, so my advice may be somewhat dated. However, after several long tours, I have nothing but good things to say about it.  I did have to upgrade the cassette to gain lower gearing, put a Books saddle (maybe not necessary but nice for me.) on it and adapt the stem (spacers) somewhat, but it was still a great investment. It came with a rear rack, so that was a plus.  Even with the upgrades, since I got it on a closeout sale at a local shop, it was still cheaper ($1200) than most of the other options I looked at. And, I really liked the color, and it's been an absolutely great bike.  Old as it may be, I have no reservations on taking it on a cross-country tour this summer if all goes well.

Offline froze

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2023, 10:40:37 pm »
2012? Are you joking?  that Kona is not remotely dated!!  I've run into people that were touring across the USA on bikes made in the 1980's!  I had plan to tour on a 1985 Schwinn Le Tour Luxe until a car sideswiped me and totaled the fork, so I had to buy another bike and ended up with a 2019 Masi Giramondo 700c, but I still wish I had the Schwinn.  So, no, your Kona is not dated, and in fact is an excellent bike, keep it, and take care of it, and will last you the rest of your life.

Offline hikerjer

Re: New touring bike recommendations
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2023, 11:52:49 pm »
Thanks for your response. By being dated I simply mean that it's not quite the same model as the newer Sutras which have made some changes and improvements i.e. better gearing, stock Brooks saddle, etc.  Trust me, in no way would I considering giving up my Sutra. It's a great bike in fine condition and I fully intend on riding it for many more years - hopefully on a cross-country tour this summer if things pan out.