Surly Cross-Check: The Surly Cross-Check is possibly the most common single bicycle model that I see in the wild in Minneapolis on a daily basis. I've admired the CC since I first saw a dark metallic green one back in 2004 or so, but at that time I had a Rivendell Atlantis, which is so similar in many aspects to the CC that it didn't make sense to have both. Later the Atlantis was sold, but I still sat on the fence about buying a CC. I knew as soon as I saw it that the 2011 model in Robin Egg Blue with the newly added mid-fork rack mounts was the bike for me. I bought a frameset and transferred parts from my previous fixed-gear onto it. I thought it was perfect right away - neutral handling, not too twitchy or too stable, just right. Since this was to serve as my commuter and light-duty exploration bike, I had to rack it: an economical but excellent Topeak on the back and a not-so-economical but excellent Tubus Duo low-rider on the front. Now I can carry four panniers on frivolous weekend camping trips or even on longer more heavily-loaded tours. Tire clearance is ample for 40 mm tires with fenders, but with lightweight 28 mm or 32 mm tires, it's as close to a "road bike" as I'll ever want. I go back and forth between keeping it geared with a compact double crank and a 12-32 9sp cassette:
And fixed-gear, which I prefer in the winter or for general commuting, around-town use:
On a recent shenanigans-filled excursion, some friends and I took our bikes somewhere where we probably shouldn't have. One wonderful aspect of the CC became apparent as I hoisted, and a couple times threw the bike onto steep bluff embankments I was climbing. I realized that I can abuse this bike, that I don't have to baby it, and it can take everything I do to it. And if I do somehow go too far and break it or it gets stolen or whatever, I can replace the frame or the whole bike at a relatively modest price, but that worst-case scenario seems unlikely. Sometimes people who buy fancier bikes don't think about this limitation: if the bike is too pretty, or too delicate, or too expensive, or too hard to get, it's possible that the rider will limit him/herself to only the most genteel of cycling experiences. And then it's harder to have fun.
Surly Troll: This is the bike I took to Death Valley, and the bike I will likely take on similar adventures in the future. It's everything the Cross-Check is, but stouter and with huger tire clearance. It's my worst-case scenario bike, ready for anything, especially when the quality and/or existence of a road is in question.
Brompton: This is a bike that many cyclists do not understand. First thing to know: it's not a novelty, but a serious bike (despite admittedly unconventional looks). It's a folder that becomes carry-on in 5 seconds, but it rides pretty well, it's rugged, and it can actually handle heavy cargo, with ease. Therefore, it makes the perfect touring bike, especially when incorporated with other forms of transport.
Curt Goodrich: This is my "classic" touring bike and by far my fanciest, most expensive bike (see above about the consequences of fancy, expensive bikes). It actually has big tire clearance, so versatility is greatly improved over that of the actual classic touring bikes from the 1970s and 80s.
This bike is actually undergoing some major cosmetic surgery and updating, so it won't look like this anymore. You'll see.