Alice? Alice in Pun-derland, sorry.
People really like the Surly Long Haul Trucker. So do we. All steel, super-pure touring bike, Subaru-ish aesthetics, eff-you brand, good price, even the name, "Long Haul Trucker," just talking about it makes me want one.
Problem is, they're a bit scarce. We have two small ones in at the moment, check back here for up-t0-datish info. We can also order them, for now. But next week/month? Dunno. And it does long-distance touring really well, but it's a bit overbuilt for many other more pedestrian tasks.
Some folks bemoan the lack of good steel road bikes to choose from, but just for giggles, let's have a look at the Jamis Aurora.
We'll start by describing what it's not. It's not a pure, cross-country (ahem) trucker. With bigger front rings, a shorter wheelbase, lower-rake fork, and higher bottom bracket, it won't handle as well when completely loaded down. It doesn't have the unique touring-tough spec of the LHT, in favor of all-around riding ease. The brand name doesn't describe the mood resulting from your existential crisis. And while I find it attractive, it's a different look.
But if your touring is more in the olde English manner, the Aurora still features a steel frame and fork, all the braze-ons necessary for racks front and rear, and nice wide gearing. And maybe you'd like to throw in some all-season commuting?No problem. And the adjustable stem might seem odd, but it helps this bike fulfill it's mission as a great all-rounder. Hike it up for touring or commuting....
....or lower it down for fast group rides (yes, slap on some skinnier tires, and it will do). Maybe even put some knobby tires on, and use it to give cyclocross a first try.
We've sold a few Auroras over the years, and it's always nice to see these rigs bouncing around the city, and on the roads and paths out yonder. It's even nicer to hear riders crow about them, as this recent customer of ours did ("a revelation").
Have a look at the Aurora Elite, too. The price bump gets you a high-quality 10-speed drivetrain, a higher grade of steel, and carbon fork (which still has mid-blade eyelets for front racks). Big Shawn is pretty sure this was the most frequently EP'd (employee direct purchase from the factory) bike in City Bikes history, back when it was still known as similarly-celestial Nova.
If you're planning to criss-cross the country, you'll be better served on the Long Haul Trucker. But the Auroras are 95% as good for more typical touring, and will also do all those other things at 95%, too.