Getting Rigged for Touring

If you’ve been paying attention at all around here–all three of you–you’ve noticed that I’ve started touring more in recent years: a handful of S240s as well as a couple of double-overnight trips. But this year, we’re stepping things up with more S240s, more weekend trips, and at least one week-long hilly, mostly-gravel tour.

I’ve been making due with the Devil as a sometime touring rig, usually with a Soma porteur rack and a couple of different varieties of baggage, including a huge ILE porteur bag and a Carradice Low-Saddle Longflap.


These setups have worked well enough for short trips on pavement–and only just well enough. The Devil just doesn’t handle very well with much of a load, whether over the front or rear wheel. It also has limited tire clearance for the larger tires I prefer when riding mixed surfaces. I can just barely fit 40mm Clement MSOs with fenders. This sort of clearance isn’t a big deal when riding on pavement–though it’s still a little less than I would like. But on gravel it falls somewhere between annoying and potentially unsafe, depending on the condition of the roads and what gets stuck between the tire and fender.

And, I’d really much prefer to leave the Devil in single-speed mode. It’s really how it performs best.

What to do…

As such, I’m trying to decide how to build a true touring rig with ample tire clearance. These are the options I’m considering, along with what I consider to be the pros and cons of each. The basic division lies between using a frame-set I already own but that requires a new set of wheels or a new frame-set that uses a set of wheels I already own. Either way, I’m going to have to sell off some existing stock to finance the missing parts (either wheels or a frame, but little else since the bins have most of what I need).

Surly Troll

  • PRO: Already own the frame-set, plenty of tire clearance, thousands of braze-ons, designed for load carrying and stability.
  • CON: Requires wheels I don’t own, fender lines are less than attractive, more of a mountain bike than a all-road tourer, the usual too-short Surly head tube, not the same wheel/tire/tube size as my touring companions, requires disc brakes to use 650b wheels.

Velo Orange Campeur

  • PRO: Good looking, ample tire clearances, mid-trail design for front loads, plenty of braze-ons, takes wheels I already own.
  • CON: Uses a 1-inch threaded stem, has silly little cartoons on the top tube.

Velo Orange Camargue

  • PRO: Good looking, huge tire clearances, mid-trail design for front loads, plenty of braze-ons, semi-horizontal dropouts for a variety of hub types,  uses wheels that I already own.
  • CON: Not yet available for sale.

Velo Orange Polyvalent

  • PRO: Good looking, ample tire clearances, low-trail design for bigger front loads, plenty of braze-ons, short semi-horizontal dropouts, 650b wheels.
  • CON: Uses a 1-inch threaded stem, requires wheels that I don’t own, not the same wheel/tire/tube size as my touring companions.

Soma Saga

  • PRO: Decent looking, ample tire clearances, plenty of braze-ons, uses wheels I already own, tall head tube with extension.
  • CON: My wife and one of my touring companions each ride one, sizing is a little off for me, optimized for a rear load more than a front load.

Which one would you choose and why? Something I’m missing (keeping in mind that I don’t want a Long Haul Trucker, or anything that requires me to use disc brakes)?

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