Gear Shed

Q:

For bike touring abroad, should I buy the bike in the U.S. or overseas?

My wife and I are moving to the U.K. at the end of the year and would like to tour around Wales and Scotland by bike. Should we buy our bikes here and ship them, or buy over there? Thanks, and I love your column. Travis Portland, Oregon

Rock ‘n Road Tour Bike     Photo: courtesy, Bruce Gordon

Bruce Gordon Rock ‘n Road Tour Bike

Rock ‘n Road Tour Bike

A:Ah, a loyal reader. Always a good thing.

I’d buy here and ship. In part, that’s because most decent touring bikes are made in the United States, so buying one overseas likely would cost you more. If budget is a bit of a factor, look no further than a Trek 520 ($1,250). It’s a pure tourist—steel frame (for a sturdy, smooth ride), stable and comfortable geometry, low gears, lots of places for attacking racks, bottle cages, and more.

If budget is not a factor, then by all means buy a Bruce Gordon Rock ‘n Road Tour Bike, a semi-custom touring bike hand-made in California. This is a fantastic bike that’s designed from the get-go as a tourist, with a tough and comfortable steel frame, excellent touring geometry, and lots of set-up options (such as straight or drop handlebars from factory). They’re not cheap: $3,300 with Shimano XT group, although that includes a set of Bruce Gordon racks, too ($3,000 without racks).

Lastly, if budget is not a factor AND you decide to buy there, get a Bob Jackson World Tour. Made in the U.K. by long-time bike maker Bob Jackson, the World Tour is an updated version of the BJ Super Tourist (on which the Gear Guy tours). It’s a steel-frame bike that takes fenders, racks, and all the other stuff you might need. Sort of a British version of the Bruce Gordon. Price for frame only is £390, which is currently about US$750. Figure $2,500 to $3,000 for a built-up bike, depending on options. Jacksons are lovely, and the company is famous for its excellent paint jobs.

You can send your thanks by attaching a $50 bill to a World Tour frame, 21 inches in Ferrari red, and sending it the Gear Guy care of this website.

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