Who else makes bikes like the Specialized AWOL?
August 31, 2014 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm really into this bike. I'm looking for a bike that works for touring and also for cyclocross. I understand the geometry isn't ideal for cyclocross racing per se, but I feel like this sort of geo is the best middle ground I've seen. My issue is I'm not super into supporting Specialized. I don't like some of their business decisions and I'm more into supporting smaller, American made companies. So, any recommendations?
posted by matt_od to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Surly Cross-Check may be a good fit, though it doesn’t have the same sloping top tube as the Specialized.
posted by migurski at 10:56 AM on August 31, 2014

How much do you want to spend? You could buy a pretty bombproof Rivendell.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:01 AM on August 31, 2014

Sounds like you want a custom Six Eleven bike. It's about as small and American-made as you can get.
posted by headnsouth at 11:07 AM on August 31, 2014

Response by poster: Though I would love to do custom, I'd like something a little quicker than I'd be able to get if I did build to order.
Cross-Check is close, but it looks like you can only have front racks, no rear.
posted by matt_od at 11:08 AM on August 31, 2014

Response by poster: Hah. Yeah, would love a Six Eleven. But yeah, I don't want to wait 13 months on this one.
posted by matt_od at 11:09 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

My partner swears by his Kona. It's bombproof. For extra fanciness, check out Brent Steelman's bikes. I've been swooning over them for years.
posted by batbat at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2014

Looked at the AWOL just a week ago. Salsa Fargo is about the closest alternative that I know of.
posted by BlooPen at 11:19 AM on August 31, 2014

Are you wanting a bike you can walk into a shop and test ride and buy today, like in time for cyclocross season? Or are you willing to order?

If you can wait a bit, here are some options that might work:

The Soma Double Cross is made to be their do-it-all cross/touring/etc bike.

Honey Bikes - haven't seen one in person, but they look great, and they have a cyclocross utility design that might work. They are made in the US.

You might look at gravel bikes, too.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2014

Salsa for sure. The AWOL looks a lot like a Salsa Vaya. Touring, gravel, and 'cross are what Salsa is all about.

Also, you can totally put a rear rack on a Surly Cross Check.
posted by zjacreman at 11:31 AM on August 31, 2014

Ditto - I love my Cross Check, and I put on a rear rack without any issues. (I'm curious, what made you think you couldn't?)
posted by xil at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2014

Response by poster: Whoops, my bad. Just looking at the site, I didn't see braze-ons for rear racks listed.
posted by matt_od at 11:35 AM on August 31, 2014

SOMA DoubleCross (Disc). Has canti and disc mounts, eyelets for fenders, rack mounts, you name it. I've had one for three years now, and have it set up more aggressively (cross-oriented) than they tend to (touring-oriented) and it works well for both. You can get a frame/fork or a complete bike, the Triple Cross for a more race-oriented version (I would have gotten this if it existed then), or a non-disc version. SOMA also makes plenty of other touring options, race options, you name it.
posted by kcm at 11:47 AM on August 31, 2014

None of the Soma, Surly, Salsa, or Kona frames are American-made, nor are most of Rivendell's, FWIW.

If you're interested in American-made but don't want to deal with custom, I would look at the Boulder Bicycles bikes (which are more rando-oriented than CX), which are built by Waterford in Wisconsin, or the Gunnar line, which is Waterford's own TIG-welded house line and has several different kinds of cyclocross and touring frames.

Another US-made option—also made by Waterford—is the Milwaukee Bicycle Company, the house brand of Ben's Cycle in Milwaukee. These frames tend to be a bit cheaper than the other Waterford-made options, even the Gunnars. They have a cross frame and a "gravel" frame that might be up your alley.
posted by enn at 12:18 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are a few non-custom US-made bikes out there, but it's tricky, and obviously they're significantly more expensive than their Taiwan-made counterparts.

I like my Ocean Air Rambler, which was made by Zen fabrications in Portland. I believe Ahearne is planning on making his Outback into a semi-stock design also, but I'm not sure how many he's building up.
posted by lantius at 1:14 PM on August 31, 2014

The Salsa Vaya 2 fits all of your requirements except American-made. I didn't think I'd ever find my perfect compromise all-in-one bike, but my Vaya is my everyday bike as well as my touring bike and my distance/event ride bike, and I love it.

It's going to be difficult to get a bike actually built in the USA without going semi-custom, and it sounds like you don't want to wait for that. But Salsa's parent company QBP (which also includes Surly, All-City, and Civia, among others) is headquartered in the US, and does not, as far as I can tell, share any of Specialized's icky business practices.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:50 PM on August 31, 2014

Like enn says, most of the cheaper frames out there are made in Taiwan. Rivendell does some manufacturing there, but their higher end frames like the Atlantis, the Hunqapillar, and the A. Homer Hilsen are made by Waterford these days (they say "in Wisconsin" on the website). They used to have them made in Japan, but the exchange rate put an end to that.

I love my Boulder All Road, but it's not for you if you want a rear rack. Mike Kone designs the frame geometry to carry a load on the front, and when I was discussing the particulars of my bike with him (I got semi-custom sizing), he wasn't keen on the effects that a saddlebag would have on weight distribution and handling, let alone a rear rack!

I've heard good things about Rodriguez bikes, but have no personal experience with them. They're custom but relatively cheap, and their website currently claims a wait of only 5 weeks.
posted by brianogilvie at 3:32 PM on August 31, 2014

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