Author Topic: Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?  (Read 18433 times)

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Offline SoNouveau

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« on: October 22, 2005, 03:43:48 am »
Soooooooooooo, about two weeks ago I decided to ride from Seattle, WA to Bar Harbor, ME next summer. I'll ride alone most likely and camp out the vast majority of the time. That's was the EASY part--making those decisions.

I started researching bikes and...the more I look, the more I like, and...the more I like, the higher the price. Which is fine. I started with the Bianchi Volpe; nice looking bike; not too expensive. Then I graduated to the Trek 520 (and started salivating a little); nicer bike; well-respected, from what I gather. But then I got a LITTLE windfall (monetarily speaking), and so now I'm looking at Bruce Gordon bikes--which I like because they're integrated, so to speak. I like the idea of things fitting together WELL. And their gearing, say, seems more realistic when I look at the Adveture Cycling maps and see near vertial elevation gains to 5,500 ft.

Granted, I could swap parts 'til I'm blue in the face, and change everything in the world on any bike. In fact, I could buy a frame and start there, but...I'm just an ordinary guy (57); I've done the Seattle To Portland bike ride a few times (200 miles in a day), and a nice fund-raising ride in Montana over two mountain passes (150 miles in a day) but that's about it.

And...I just want to ride and enjoy myself, and the country, and the bike--with adequate gearing, minimal breakdowns, and stability on the bike. I plan to camp out quite a bit, too.

So, how much bike do I need?!?! Opinions? Suggestions? Warnings? Insights? The Trek 520 SEEMS adequate. The Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road Tour seems almost luxuriant. But above that magical $2,500 mark (or so), aren't we talking about aesthetics? Or simply the priviledge of owning the best of the best?!?



  • Guest
Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2005, 09:43:39 am »
Well, it certainly shouldn't be necessary to spend huge dollars for a touring capable bike. If money is no object, then by all means, indulge yourself!!

Bruce Gordon, Co-motion, Rivendell, Heron and so forth make truly fine bicyles...but a bike like the Trek 520 should prove more than adequate. As with many stock models, the gearing may be a bit too high. It could be a simple matter of swapping out the inside chainring for one with fewer teeth. If it involves new cranks, changers, shifters, then...

A few *rules* seem to apply when choosing a touring bicycle...a sturdy frame, strong wheels with plenty of spokes, a full set of braze-ons, good clearances for wide tires and fenders, and low gears. Also, the advent of trailers like the BOB have opened up touring to bikes that might not be sturdy enough to handle a full set of panniers. The trailer takes most of the weight off the frame.

Have you checked out Bruce Gordon's lower priced BLT model? It might be a nice compromise and seems ready for touring right from the start.

Offline SoNouveau

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2005, 10:48:48 pm »
First off, thanks for the post!!

Yes, in fact, I did. The BLT, though considerably less money, seems "pretty darn close" to their upper-end bike. And I'm looking at both Bruce Gordon bikes closely.

I guess it's just so appealing because THEY make the racks; you KNOW they'll fit and fit well; and the panniers they sell evidently fit their racks. And they appear to have put a lot of thought into WHAT they do when making a bike and WHY they do it.

Too, I'm starting to think that when I come back I could just slip on some thinner tires, remove the front rack, and have a great "around town" bike. I currently ride a cruiser, but the BG touring bike would be a nice substitute.

Again, thanks for setting your thoughts down. The dialog alone is helping me come to a (reasonable) conclusion!!!

Offline wanderingwheel

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2005, 03:53:58 pm »
I'm a great fan of Bruce Gordon, in fact I've got a pocket protector sitting right next to me that says "Bruce Gordon Cycles -- Where the Touring Nerd is King".  However, you are certainly right that the Bianchi and the Trek are more than adequate.  I'm also one of the minority who believes the stock gearing on the Trek is fine.  One thing to consider for the Gordon is when do you need the bike?  If you order a custom Gordon he needs to build the bike and you will not have it right away.  Of course Bruce Gordon has one of the shortest waiting periods of all custom builders, unfortunately.

Custom bikes are certainly about aesthetics.  You get an absolutely beautiful bike and you get to choose the color.  Yes it will have a unique geometry for you, but it is highly unlikely that the geometry will be much different than a stock bike.  Yes you can choose all the brazeons and such, but you will probably end up with the same set that is on nearly every touring bike.

Bruce's racks are some of the best thought-out racks that I've seen.  As much as I love my Jandd racks, Bruce's are a step above.  Likewise his panniers are amazing, if maybe a touch on the small-side for the rear.  I never liked panel-loading panniers until I saw his.

In the end, the frame itself is not what's going to give you trouble on the road, regardless if it's the Bianchi, the Trek, or a Bruce Gordon.  The parts that are more likely to cause you grief are:

1: Racks and Panniers
2: Wheels and Tires
3: All other Components

I would budget for the best I could afford there and then if I had any money left over I would give Bruce Gordon a call and have him build me a bike that makes me excited to ride.


Offline SoNouveau

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2005, 01:31:32 am »
Thanks for sharing with me! I'm about THIS close to ordering a new bike from Bruce. In fact, I'll probably call him tomorrow. I suppose, when all is said and done, I THROUGHLY like the idea of my money going to an artisan--that is, a man whose name is on the frame, who actually BUILT the bike, and who picks up the phone himself when you call. AND, a man who "knows" touring, has definite opinions on the hows and whys, and puts his ideas into practice.

On a different note, I stopped in at Elliott Bay Bikes here in Seattle today (where Davidson's are built--beautiful, handmade bikes: and asked them if they made a touring bike. The young salesman said, in an all TOO sure tone of voice, Sure, we can make anything! I wanted to say, Well, yeah, you CAN make anything, you do so on a regular basis?!?! But I didn't, of course.

Again, though, thanks for the thoughts On Bruce Gordon bikes, racks, and panniers.

~ Michael

Offline Seel

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2005, 08:52:37 am »
I too went throught the process of deciding what I should purchase for my 2007 Lewis & Clark trip. While trying to make my decision I was riding a Cannondale R1000 that was one size too small.

You've received lots of good advise so I'll add only these items; I bought the Bianchi Volpe. Why, economics, fit/comfort, and features.

I saved over $200 on the purchase from my LBS; plus an additional 10% on all accessories from now until who knows when...

Fit - if you've ever ridden a bike that doesn't fit and then ride one that does; you'll understand -

Comfort - I like the ride of a steel frame. I like going from 700x25's to 35's with no problems. I like the gearing; the components will probably be upgraded by 2007 but for now after 1800 miles (July to Novemeber)no failures. The only thing I changed was the saddle - the standard WTB was too narrow for me. I have added a rear rack and fenders which haven't changed the ride or handling of the bike.

The volpe has everything I wanted eyelets, braze-ons, gearing, etc. It was the "package". And as ridiculous as it may seem there is just something about the classic Celeste green and red lettering that is way cool!

It's probably because of the fit of the bike but I can ride faster and longer on this bike than the Cannondale.

Remember - "the journey is the destination" so be comfortable.

Bottom lne: test ride as many as you can; you'll know the right bike once you're on it.

"SEEL" - (Slow and Easy Enjoying Life)

Offline jkm4_72

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2005, 02:09:23 pm »
If you're still considering the Volpe keep in mind the steel type changed between 2005 and 2006.  Bianchi now advertises the bike with "lightweight carrying capacity".  

I've also read (and heard from a local dealer) that Volpes are sold out nationwide.

Offline roadrunner

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2005, 01:54:17 am »
I purchased a Bruce Gordon BLT in 1996, have used it on many self-contrained tours, both with his racks and paniers and a BOB trailer, and am completely satisfied with it.  It has been completely reliable; the only components I've replaced have been chains and cassettes.  The gearing is good for any terrain and load, which can't be said for many "touring bikes."  It also serves as my "road bike" and errand runner.  It's heavier than a go-fast road bike, but I don't worry about riding through potholes and on gravel roads.

Offline jackkessler

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2005, 02:53:15 pm »
I agree with road warrior.  The frame is the main point of promotion for the builders and dealers because everything else, and I mean everything, is made by someone else.  Nobody makes bicycles.  They assemble them.  There is no way Bruce Gordon or Trek can brag about their Shimano components.  They are exactly the same as everybody else's Shimano components.  So don't take the hype too seriously.

The most important feature of a touring bicycle is that it be comfortable.  You only touch the bicycle at three places, hands, seat, and pedals, so those are what you have to make work.

The common judgment of tourists including me is that the most comfortable of bicycle seats is the Brooks leather saddle with springs.  It is neither the lightest nor the cheapest, but in my experience it is the only seat that one can stay on all day, day after day.

The handlebar grips should be thick black foam rubber.  Wear the most thickly padded bike gloves you can find.  Otherwise you fight hand numbness all day long.

I was injured when my foot got caught in toe clips and I would urge everyone to get rid of them immediately.  They aren't called 'traps' for nothing.  My preference is step-in bindings set to the lowest tension that makes it possible to ride.  Single-release cleats are just plain dangerous - don't even consider them.  Use multirelease cleats.

I have never ridden an aluminum frame so I can't speak to that personally, but a lot of people seem to prefer steel for touring, and none aluminum.  All of the touring bikes except Cannondale come with steel frames.

The final thought I have about getting a touring bike is that it should have very low gears.  A gear that is low enough in the morning is nowhere near low enough after all day in the mountains.

Offline dannwilliams

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2006, 11:18:18 pm »
I am also looking to get a touring bike and am going through the same dilema, spend more for a custom buile, or buy a Trek or Cannondale....Thanks for all the comments and opinions

Offline giantrider

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2006, 10:19:22 pm »
Have you considered the Jamis Aurora? It is slightly lower in cost than the Volpe. ACA did a product reveiw on it a few months back. I think that the only negative they came up with, was the lack of a third water bottle mounting. Also The 2006 models come with the "extra" brake levers on the upper part of the bars.

Offline mike_khad1

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2006, 04:41:32 pm »
I am considering a burley hudson. I'm waiting for my LBS to get a 56 and 59cm bike in so I can decide which one fits best. Burley Hudson web link

Work to Eat
Eat to Live
Live to Bike
Bike to Work

Offline dannwilliams

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2006, 09:13:00 pm »
I went to a bike shop today that had in stock a Trek 520, a Co-Motion Americano, a Burley Hudson. They also handle IF Independance but did not have one in stock. Was nice to see them all together, but weather and sizes on hand kept me from test riding. I have to admit I am impressed with the Burley Hudson. It only needs the front rack and bottle cages and ready to go. Shorter wait than a Co Motion or IF, and superior component package vs the Trek. Not that the Trek wouldn't make for a good ride. I have always found that I get what I pay for, and if you can afford a little more then do it.

This message was edited by dannwilliams on 1-11-06 @ 5:14 PM

Offline RussellSeaton

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2006, 12:00:26 am »
The Burley Hudson seems like a very nice touring bike.  But at $2200 retail it is exactly double the price of a Trek 520.  Kind of an apple to orange comparison.

If my current touring bike disappeared, and I had to replace it with a 700C touring bike, I'd get a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame/fork for around $450.  Then build it up with the parts I want.  I am positive I could get it done for around $1300.  And I am confident I would have a 700C touring bike that would rival anything sold by anybody.

Personally, if my current touring bike ever needs replacing, I will replace it with a 26" wheeled touring bike, not 700C.

Offline fdonley

Bianchi? Trek? Bruce Gordon?
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2006, 03:10:53 am »
I have put about 5000 miles on my Trek 520 and am very happy with it. It is not a race bike, but a touring bike is about comfort and reliability. I have used it for comuting, exercise and 500 mile loaded ride down the Natchez trace and it has met my needs with no problems at a reasonable cost.