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.
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.
PROS: Available complete. Disc Brakes. Orange again.
CONS: Not many, but it’s not very pretty.
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.
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)
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.
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.
- 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.
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.