April 16, 2011
Why $1500? It seemed like a good round number that included a lot of cool bikes with great builds at a reasonable price. Today's post is sort of an addendum to that list; it includes some bikes that I missed last year, plus some new bikes for the 2011 season. Here we go!
Marin Four Corners ($999): New for the 2011 season, the Marin Four Corners is one of the most affordable stock touring bikes out there. The steel frame and fork have both cantilever brake bosses and disc mounts, giving you flexibility with your braking options. You also get a third set of water bottle mounts under the downtube, as well as pump pegs under the top tube. The build around the frame is great, with sturdy wheels and tires, as well as bar end shifters matched up to a wide-range 9-speed cassette and triple crankset.
Masi Speciale Randonneur ($1090): This bike was actually on last year's list, but it has seen some good improvements over the past year, which are worth mentioning. One update is that the gear range has been improved by offering a triple crankset, as opposed to the compact double. Also, it has taken on cantilever brake bosses to make room for wider tires. For a cool nostalgic touch, the bar end shifters have been replaced by downtube shifters.
KHS TR-101 ($1099): This is a great bike that will give you the opportunity to hit the ground running with a lot of key accessories, such as a rear rack, full set of fenders, tail light, and pedals. The steel frame has a slightly sloping top tube to lower the standover height, and the steel fork includes low rider eyelets for a front rack. As for the build, the Shimano bar end shifters are efficient and durable, and the 9-speed cassette paired with the triple crankset give you a huge range of gears.
Novara Verita ($1099): New from Novara, this bike uses a nice Reynolds 520 steel for the frame, has a wide wheelbase for stability, and gives you eyelets for a full set of racks and fenders. The brake calipers limit you to a 700x28 tire, so if you like to load up on a ton of gear, you may want to look at the Novara Safari. One of the few touring bikes taking advantage of SRAM's new Apex 10-speed component group with a compact double crankset.
Civia Bryant ($1260): This is a really cool looking touring bike that would be great for lighter loads. The steel frame and fork look great and have some unique features such as a kick stand plate, in addition to a split dropout that makes this bike belt drive compatible, something we don't see a lot of. The 11-32 9-speed cassette and 50/34 compact crankset provide a decent gear range. One limitation is that the brake calipers give you clearance only for up to a 700x28 tire, but that is still great for lighter loads.
Salsa Vaya ($1499): Sneaking into the list by a dollar, the Salsa Vaya starts out with a solid steel frame and fork that offers all of the eyelets you will need for setting up racks and fenders. The top tube is sloped to lower the standover height, making it easier to mount and dismount, and the two smallest sizes (50cm and 52cm) come with 26" wheels to further lower the standover. The build is very modern yet sturdy, with Avid BB5 disc brakes, and SRAM's new Apex 10spd drivetrain.
For more in depth specs on these bikes, check out check out the manufacturer's websites. Also, if you're looking for tips on finding the right bike for you, the upcoming April issue of our Adventure Cyclist magazine will be hitting mailboxes shortly (if not already). It contains our annual Touring Bike Buyer's Guide (check out past Buyer's Guides). The magazine will also feature in-depth touring bike reviews throughout the season, so keep an eye out for future editions, as well!
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.