Who Wants To Be My Next New Bike?

So, I’ve got a road bike. I’ve got a mountain bike. I’ve got a cyclocross bike. They all do their jobs well. But I’d love to have something that, at the very least, could accomplish at some of these goals:

1) Mount racks and fenders without hacks
2) Be used for light and/or loaded touring, locally (and abroad?)
3) Be good on-road, but worry-free for offroad use

The good thing is, even though I’m looking for an “all-rounder,” it doesn’t need to be made to do everything. I already have a bike to race ‘cross on, and a hardtail mountain bike. I actually DON’T need a super monster-29er machine, even though I might use such capabilities.

The good thing is, there’s something of an embarassment of riches in terms of production bikes today that would fit the bill… Here’s a list of some of them! This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’ll probably come back and update this post in the future… But for now, maybe you’ll find it interesting, or have suggestions for me!

Van Dessel WTF

I never wanted a Country Road Bob, but the Whisky Tango Foxtrot (WTF) is awesome. It can be built up in almost every conceivable way, as long as it’s green. Firsthand info on this bike is really rare on the Internet… I found approximately one person on a forum who had built one up, but haven’t seen any around besides that. People seem to like them, though…
Van Dessel WTF
PROS: Truly able to do it all. Obnoxious.
CONS: Heavy*. No firsthand reports of how it rides. Guilt over it not being a Retrotec.

*Edit! Straight from Van Dessel, the official frame/fork weight for the WTF: 2700gr frame, 1250gr fork uncut. WTF will make you strong.

Salsa Vaya

Like many people, I regret not buying a La Cruz back when it was still shipping. Talk about a cult bike… Now, the Vaya may have actually been less of a La Cruz replacement than fans wanted, but I have a hard time arguing that it isn’t even better for what I’d use it for (i.e. not a mountain bike). The original brown color was also a big turn-off, but Salsa has seen the error of their ways and returned it to “La Cruz Orange” for this year. 2011 also brings a new build utilizing SRAM Apex, for about $1500.
Salsa Vaya
PROS: Available complete. Disc Brakes. Orange again.
CONS: Not many, but it’s not very pretty.

Rawland rSogn

This one flew onto the radar out of nowhere, but it’s definitely a contender. The versatility of a Rawland is back in “road” form… And thankfully it’s lost the dreadful-looking headtube extension above the toptube. The features and geometry look pretty much spot-on, and it’s the nicest looking Rawland yet, to boot.
Rawland rSogn
PROS: All-rounder geometry, monster tire clearance, very thoughtful details, pretty for a stock frame.
CONS: Not yet shipping. Neither is its upcoming cousin, the equally-tempting 700C Nordavinden.

Ritchey Breakaway Cross

This one’s been on my radar for a very long time. I seldom hear an unkind word about it. And it’s going to be white, soon… It’s a traditional steel CX frame with rack and fender mounts and a carbon fork. The neat trick is that it breaks in half (safely) and fits in an included case for travel.
Ritchey Breakaway Cross
PROS: Can race ‘cross on it. In another country. I actually plan on doing that this year, so it’s not a joke!
CONS: Dorky fork. Need to wait a while longer for the sexy white one. Included case is not very protective.

A Custom Rock Lobster (or other esteemed framebuilder)

Rock Lobster
Or another custom frame. But I think Paul would probably get my business in this case. I would probably go with a steel frame and fork, long-reach calipers or Paul Racers (or discs). Road-ish geometry with clearance for bigger tires and braze-ons for all the touring stuff. S&S couplers would be a strong possibility. Frameset cost would be $1500+
PROS: Custom geometry, and “exactly what I want” (which may not be a good thing). Can be coupled.
CONS: More expensive. Wait-time. Though Rock Lobster seems quite reasonable on both counts, compared to other custom bikes.

Bruce Gordon

Morgan came right out at my list of bikes and suggested a Bruce Gordon. Also available in more-affordable TIGwanese form as the BLT.
Bruce Gordon Rock N’ Road.
PROS: Explicitly designed as a dirt-worthy tourer.
CONS: All-the-way-touring-bike. I wasn’t smart enough to have it on my list the first time.

Honorable Mentions

– Ebisu All-Rounder – Undeniably classy, but fell off of my shortlist somehow. See also: Any basic steel road or CX frame with a few braze-ons would accomplish a large part of what I’m looking for in a bike. This one just does it while being beautiful at the same time.

– Surly Long-Haul Trucker – It’s like $1100 for a complete, touring-ready rig. This kind of makes sense if all I want to do is load it down and go touring, and a true touring frame is going to give the best results for that. But as you can see, I’m trying to compromise with some bikes that will be more fun when I’m not touring…

– Others (Cross Check, DoubleCross, Traitor Ruben, A Bike Off Craigslist)

– A Bike I Already Own: If I buy anything new, I’m going to sell my Bianchi Axis and my Bridgestone RB-1. But theoretically, I could just keep my Axis, slap racks on it, and turn it into whatever I need. That’s “free.” Or, I could have rack/fender mounts brazed onto my RB-1… But it’s a little large for me, and I should probably leave that poor bike alone.

Er, what?

Civia Halsted

PROS: Highest load-carrying capacity of any bike here.
CONS: Okay, I’m not really cross-shopping this bike with anything, but today I just remembered drooling over it at Interbike. I would have to go into business as a food vendor or something to justify this one – Which would be awesome.

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10 Responses to Who Wants To Be My Next New Bike?

  1. Slonie says:

    Another one I forgot to mention: Box Dog Pelican. Beautiful, Randonerd-y, and also only one or two in each size per run.

    New Pelican, v3.0

  2. Rob says:

    I’m having the exact same debate right now. I would add the following that probably fall in your rock lobster category:

    Rodriguez Adventure – http://www.rodcycle.com/
    Davidson – expensive customer
    Naked Bikes – beautiful bikes but expensive also.
    Gunnar – i like the price point and it’s made in the same factory as waterford
    Rivendell – they have a taiwanese bike too
    Surly Traveler’s Check – I just can’t get myself to spend the same amount on couplers as a frame. So I can’t swallow putting them on a Surly.

    In the end – I’m almost certain I’m going to paul at Rock Lobster this Monday to get sized up. He has a great price point on doing the S&S too. All in it’s a couple hundred more to get something built up custom and shake hands with the guy who built it.

    Tell me what you end up with.


    • Slonie says:

      Rob, you cannot go wrong by going with Paul on this one… Looks like you’ve indeed considered lots of the same bikes! I’m still perpetually waffling, but the frontrunner is probably the Vaya. However, I reserve the right to begin anew waffling as soon as the new Rawlands come out, and as soon as I look up some of the other possibilities you mentioned. I also came this close to buying a custom (for somebody else) Do-it-All Ti frame off of a forum… But I didn’t like a few things about the geometry.

      Going further into the Randonerd bikes, I’ve also heard about Boulder, the “affordable” Rene Herse. The good thing is, none of these choices are bad!

      Oh, and please drop a line when you get your Lobster planned out, I’d love to follow along.

      • rob says:

        In regard to a used frame. I managed to get a machine for my wife that was a Davidson build with White industry hubs and bottom bracket for $1K used on craigslist. A sweet ride.

        There are so many options, and you pay for what you get. At this point a Rock Lobster that I know will last me a lifetime seems like the best option. Plus, I can avoid getting the super long chain stay.

        I talked to Soul Craft and they blatantly told me that I should just go with a Bruce Gordon. A BG would probably come in $200 more than a Rock Lobster.

        I’ll post something if I hit up Paul this Monday. I might head over there after work. He doesn’t work on weekends.


  3. Slonie says:

    Hey Rob, did you end up getting a bike from Paul?

  4. Slonie says:

    Raleigh Furley and Roper are right up my alley too… But I already made my choice!

    Raleigh had it dialed with their carbon and alu CX bikes but these Vaya-LaCruz like Roper and Furley got me going...

  5. chris says:

    when will they release that Ritchey color scheme? Looks like it was just a tease

    • Slonie says:

      Good question! A white color scheme did eventually ship, but it’s not the same. And that was Interbike 2010… No painted fork either. Too bad, because the one at Interbike looked so sweet! Perhaps I can ask somebody at Ritchey…

  6. Steve says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog. I’d add a recent contestant to your mix: The Volagi Viaje.

    It’s steel w/ carbon fork, discs, big tire clearance, can add racks/fenders, and looks sexy too. Kind of like the WTF with a better aesthetic.

    • Slonie says:

      Oh yeah! The Viaje would certainly be in the mix too! Maybe I should just turn this into a general list of “production bikes I like”… It’s getting to be a popular category!

      I’m overdue (by over a year) to write an update to this post – I actually bought a Vaya, then didn’t finish building it for a year. In the meantime I rode my road bike everywhere, the cross bike when appropriate, and my road bike was stolen. Now I’m looking forward to a Salsa Warbird or a blingy ‘cross bike to replace the missing road bike… But the Vaya has a future as a loaded tourer, too.

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