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I am looking for a bike as primary transportation in the South Bay area. My commute is 5 mi, I like to do overnight trips on weekends and use the bike for shopping, which will involve occasional trips not longer than 30 mi.

My budget is $1500, but I would not mind to spend less in order not to worry too much about theft and maybe even get a second bike.

I went to a lot of bike shops, but they seem to be geared more towards racing or mtb, very few bikes even had rack mounts.

My current favorite is the Novara Randonee 2012 http://www.rei.com/product/816068/novara-randonee-bike-2012 but I am not 100% sure it is the right bike for my purpose.

My concerns with the Randonee are:

-Main concern: Bar End Shifters. I've never had bar ends, but I have the feeling that they are unsuitable for traffic. I have to go through a few streets with heavy traffic I don't feel too comfortable in, even without taking my hands off the brakes. I like integrated shifters.

-Minor concern: The Randonee is not overweight (29 lbs), but a bit too heavily built for my purpose. I won't do any tours of more than a few days, most of my use will be running errands and doing tours (not races) with friends who have mostly cross or road bikes. I don't want to be the slowest.

Are these proper concerns? Did I overlook anything? Does one get used to the bar ends?

Other bikes I looked at:

-Novara Verita, $1200: Goes in the right direction, but sitting was uncomfortable compared to Randonee, and they weren't able to identify the problem in the shop.

-Fuji Cross 3.0, $800: 400318">http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1094122_-1_400318 I have doubts about the canti brakes, especially when wet.

-Salsa Vaya 2, $1700: BB5 disc brakes probably better than brakes on Randonee, far too expensive

-Fantom Outlaw, $999: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/outlaw.htm Cheaper version of salsa, but bad idea to buy without trying it out.

Anyway, these four only have double cranksets with a lowest ratio of 36:32, I am not sure this is low enough.

Bikes I read about but that I didn't see in any shop: Specialized Secteur, Surly LHT, Trek, Surly Cross Check

Are there other bikes I should look at that -take a rack and fenders -have reliable brakes for all weather use in traffic -preferably have integrated shifters -low enough gear

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I have an older model of the Randonnee (with brifters), and it's certainly been a good bike. It is, though, built like a tank, and probably more than you need if you won't be doing much touring. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 2 '12 at 11:29
    
I have an all-city space horse for road riding / cross riding / touring. It's a great versatile bike. It has all the mounts you need, has STI shifters, and big tire clearance. allcitycycles.com/bikes/space_horse –  Benzo Jul 2 '12 at 13:03
    
Canti brakes work ok when wet, you just have to know the proper technique. All brakes respond slower when wet. You need to make sure that you ride them a bit when you anticipate a stop to clear some of the water off the braking surface. If you're set on disc brakes, then the raleigh roper is also probably a decent fit, since it has rack/fender mounts and disc brakes and seems close to your budget, around $1400 at REI. raleighusa.com/bikes/steel-road/roper-12 –  Benzo Jul 2 '12 at 13:10
    
The Jamis Bosanova is a triple ring, disc brake, Reynolds steel that might be worth looking at‌​. I use a Kona Honky Inc for what you describe. That said, watch out for the rear hub measurement - 135mm is generally standard for disc, but the Kona uses a road (130 mm) so rear hubs that fit can be expensive. I haven't ridden on BB5's, but consensus I got was BB7s are preferable - talk to the shop about options. –  OMG Ponies Jul 2 '12 at 16:39
    
Not sure if they have them in your area, but I have a Devinci Caribou. Got it for $900 Tax included because it was last year's model. MSRP is about $1000. Great touring bike and has all the necessary holes to attach racks. devinci.com/bikes/browse_22#22_71_274 –  Kibbee Nov 15 '12 at 18:58
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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The Surly Pacer is a good choice. My first real bike was a one, and I used it for commuting, training rides, and a two-week tour in Europe. Even though it wasn't "ideal" for training rides or touring, it worked great for me until I was able to afford more specialized bikes. The Pacer doesn't come with as many rack bosses as you'll want (one advantage of the cross-check), but p-clamps did the trick for me.

That said, about your individual concerns:

  • bar-end shifters are great for touring bikes
    • they are perfectly fine for traffic, you get used to them faster than you think
    • they are waaaay less prone to malfunctioning, which brifters are legendary for
  • 30lb isn't really that big a deal for a do-everything bike
    • the extra 5lb is nothing compared to the weight of the rider and touring equipment
    • steel is probably the best choice for this type of bike regardless
    • it's easier / cheaper to upgrade the engine instead of the bike :)
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I suggest checking out the Space Horse. I have one and am very pleased with it. Most recent version comes with a compact 10 cassette, is a very smooth ride, and quite comfortable. I've taken it off road onto the gravel rails to trails we have around here and the next day loaded it up for a 15 mile commute to work.

Solid as a tank. Comfortable. Versatile.

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This titanium Motobecane is slightly above your budget range, but it's a very nice bike. It can accommodate a rear rack, and can be outfitted for touring:

Motobecane titanium Century Elite touring bicycle

The same retailer offers several different models at a lower cost, including this one with a steel frame.

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I got a Marin Four Corners for the exact same purpose as described and have been happy with the results. The bar end shifters on touring bikes are meant for durability on long hauls and can be a hassle, at first, to deal within a city commute, but easily conquered at 20 miles a day. It too is 29lbs of double butted steel, but considering the weight you shed riding on a daily commute, its not big deal. To the 'Four Corners;, and beyond.

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