I will start by saying I am mind there are no Italian bicycles in this overview. Some Italian companies have touring bicycles in catalog but generally we are still so far, in my opinion, from the cycle touring culture of other countries in the world and this is also noticeable in products one finds on the market – good but not on the same level of the following:
Thorn touring bicycles
Thorn touring bicycles are an institution in the U.K. but here in Italy are almost unfindable... problem solved thanks to the internet! You start from Thorn Sherpa (1300£) until Thorn Mercury 700c, Thorn Raven and Thorn Nomad. The entire range is fit for bicycle touring, strength and stability are Thorn's strong suit. The Rohloff system (no front derailleur, cog set on the rear wheel) protects the gearbox, a very fragile element while traveling. 26'' wheels grant you to find a replacement almost all over the world and the steel frame (in some models listed above) is a quality guarantee in itself. I's also available a tandem model... one day I'd really like to try these bicycles!
Another company that has conquered even the most exigent bike travelers is Koga that with its World Traveller (29'' wheels) and Traveller (26'') has a large following among long-distances trip lovers. In this case frame is made of aluminum, lightweight but even solid; handlebars are equipped with extension very useful to keep different handles and easel and luggage holder (for panniers) are already installed. Shimano LX gears and V-brake brakes are the right balance between quality and strength. Prices (1600£) are not competitive but if you want to be safe and you are planning a long trip these bicycles could be the right ones for you.
More information, details, prices and other models on www.koga.com
Surly Long Haul Tracker
The Surly Long Haul Tracker is another strength bicycle actually beloved by bike travelers. Steel frame, simple but comfortable design, Shimano XT rear derailleur, it has Cantilever brakes, obsolete at our latitudes. However the stars-and-stripes company has a good name between bike travelers, indeed I have seen many cyclists using one of these vehicles during our trips.
The reference website to find information about Surly bicycles is surlybikes.com
A successful model in the world of cycle touring is undoubtedly the one proposed by the American company Kona. Sutra is a bicycle that has much changed in the years but without being altered. Chrome frame, Shimano gears and Hates disc brakes make this bike a great compromise, also in view of the competitive price (1300£), innovation and strength. Like the previous models, this bicycle has a rigid fork that make it not good for challenging tracks. By the same company, a little more equipped model is Rove.
Further details and technical information are available on Kona website
Perhaps the less known among the other touring bicycles but even one of the most efficient, in my opinion. The Santos Travelmaster appears to have been made for traveling, like those mules not very charming but that inspire fondness and safety. The Rohloff system, the belt drive in lieu of chain (a belt that arouses my curiosity), the compact frame design, the double easel (front and rear) and many other little details make this bike (available in 2.6, 2.8 and 2.9 version depending on the wheels size) one of the best touring bicycles, suitable for even the most exigent cyclists.
Any detail and information about Santos bicycles on their website
While waiting to try one of the bicycles listed above, as always we are curious to receive any tips and suggestions from those who already have a touring bicycle and use it on field.