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Buying a touring bike in Italy?

Old 08-12-19, 06:55 PM
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The 585
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Buying a touring bike in Italy?

I might be taking a job in Italy and was wondering if Italian touring bikes are cheaper to purchase over there than in the US. I'm in the market for a touring bike I can use for both commuting and long loaded trips. Plus I think it'd be a cool souvenir to ship back when I return!

Specifically, I've got my eyes on the Cinelli Hobootleg. Looks like a solid steel frame touring bike. I like the Gazzetta Della Strada too, but it looks more like a city commuting bike. Anybody got any opinions on these two bikes? Would they be cheaper to buy in Italy? Any OTHER recommendations?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-12-19, 07:08 PM
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Are they available in Italy? They may be made/marketed for the US (and other countries) markets. I don't think of Italy as being a big touring market (not like Germany) but maybe a few touring bikes are marketed in Italy.
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Old 08-12-19, 08:42 PM
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If you buy in Italy, you are likely paying a VAT tax. If you bring a bike to Italy to keep it there for more than 90 days from outside the EU, you might have to pay a customs duty when you bring it in. That is something you may want to research.
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Old 08-12-19, 10:31 PM
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Touring bikes in Italy are not common, though they can be found and usually ordered. Prices are pretty good for bikes and parts.
The larger cities in the north have more of a selection, and yes Cinelli can be had.
The biggest selection of touring bikes are sold by German companies and usually aluminum. Cube, Radon, etc.
Then there are the high end bikes like Koga
Do you know which city you will be in?
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Old 08-13-19, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Eggman84 View Post
Are they available in Italy? They may be made/marketed for the US (and other countries) markets. I don't think of Italy as being a big touring market (not like Germany) but maybe a few touring bikes are marketed in Italy.
Did not think about that, but you're right, they may be specifically marketed to US markets. If that's the case, I'd prefer to look for something specifically marketed to Europe.

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you buy in Italy, you are likely paying a VAT tax. If you bring a bike to Italy to keep it there for more than 90 days from outside the EU, you might have to pay a customs duty when you bring it in. That is something you may want to research.
Good points, I did not think of taxes and customs duty fees. Something to definitely look into, my company should probably reimburse for that as part of the relocation package.

Originally Posted by MarcusT View Post
Touring bikes in Italy are not common, though they can be found and usually ordered. Prices are pretty good for bikes and parts.
The larger cities in the north have more of a selection, and yes Cinelli can be had.
The biggest selection of touring bikes are sold by German companies and usually aluminum. Cube, Radon, etc.
Then there are the high end bikes like Koga
Do you know which city you will be in?
Thanks for the input, MarcusT! That really surprises me that there isn't a big market for touring bikes in Italy. I'd be happy finding something in Germany or Italy that would be similar to a Long Haul Trucker. Maybe you might have some recommendations for models I should keep an eye out for. I'll be in your neck of the woods... Vicenza.
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Old 08-13-19, 04:57 PM
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If you start looking in Germany at the touring bikes, you will start seeing more Rohloff bikes. They are pretty rare here in the USA. I would not say they are common in Europe, but they are less rare there. When I did my month long tour in Iceland, I saw eight different people touring on a Rohloff bike. But here in USA I almost never see a Rohloff. One of my neighbors is a bike mechanic and he has told me that my Rohloff touring bike is the only Rohloff bike he has ever seen even though he has been working as a bike mechanic for years.

I think you will find that in continental Europe that touring on flat bars is much more common where most bikes sold as touring bikes in USA are fitted with drop bars.

So, there will be some cultural changes when you start looking at touring bikes in Europe.
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Old 08-13-19, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you buy in Italy, you are likely paying a VAT tax. If you bring a bike to Italy to keep it there for more than 90 days from outside the EU, you might have to pay a customs duty when you bring it in. That is something you may want to research.
Value-added-tax collected on items purchased by typical tourists who are non-EU residents is refundable at the time of export, but it's a hassle. Perhaps worth it for a large purchase like a bicycle because VAT in Italy is something like 24%.
Here are the rules: Going to Spend Big Money in Italy? Here's How to Get a VAT Tax Refund! - GRAND VOYAGE ITALY

Of course, the longer you live and work in Italy, the more likely you are to be regarded as a resident of the EU, and your rights to refunds might fizzle out. I'm sure there's a rule.....

Last edited by conspiratemus1; 08-13-19 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you start looking in Germany at the touring bikes, you will start seeing more Rohloff bikes. They are pretty rare here in the USA.
Those look pretty nice, I'll have to check those out! They look good with the butterfly bars, as well.

Originally Posted by conspiratemus1 View Post
Value-added-tax collected on items purchased by typical tourists who are non-EU residents is refundable at the time of export, but it's a hassle. Perhaps worth it for a large purchase like a bicycle because VAT in Italy is something like 24%.
Here are the rules: Going to Spend Big Money in Italy? Here's How to Get a VAT Tax Refund! - GRAND VOYAGE ITALY

Of course, the longer you live and work in Italy, the more likely you are to be regarded as a resident of the EU, and your rights to refunds might fizzle out. I'm sure there's a rule.....
Any idea if VAT applies to bikes bought secondhand or through a private seller? I wouldn't mind picking something up used if it can save some hassle.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by The 585 View Post
Those look pretty nice, I'll have to check those out! They look good with the butterfly bars, as well.



Any idea if VAT applies to bikes bought secondhand or through a private seller? I wouldn't mind picking something up used if it can save some hassle.
I like a Rohloff for touring, but there are advantages and disadvantages to a Rohloff just like there are advantages and disadvantages for derailleurs. I have three touring bikes, two use derailleurs and one is Rohloff. Rohloffs are more expensive than a derailleur drive train.

I am really quite ignorant of VAT tax details, but it is my understanding that once the tax has been paid, it is not charged again on the same goods. Thus, a used bike would not be taxed a second time. But, I live in USA and am really guessing on this. It would be best to ask someone in Italy.

There are several European internet sellers of bikes and bike parts that I frequent. You can often buy stuff there to be shipped to USA (without paying VAT tax) much cheaper than you would pay in USA. Even if you are local to the EU in which case you would pay VAT tax, it is often still cheaper to buy from some of the European internet sellers. I bought my Rohloff hub from an internet seller in Germany in 2013 to be shipped to USA. It would have cost me 50 percent more to buy in USA, but I bought it to be shipped to USA from Germany. If I had bought it to be shipped to somewhere in the EU from that German seller, I would have also paid VAT tax which would have added 20 to 25 percent more. That would still be cheaper than the 50 percent more than I would have paid if I bought it from a USA seller. My point is that it is often cheaper to buy good components from some of the European internet sellers than buying here in USA, even if you are buying for shipment to the EU.

I have no clue if you are looking for a budget touring bike or a higher end one, but there are several brands in the UK (which still is in the EU for now), Netherlands and Germany that offer really nice touring bikes, with derailleurs or with Rohloff hubs. If you wanted one of them, if you bought it to be shipped to USA, you would pay about 10 or 11 percent duty when it is shipped here. And then if you took it back to teh EU, since VAT tax was not paid when you bought it, you might pay a customs duty to bring the bike into the EU. But if you wait until you are a resident of the EU, instead you would pay the VAT tax to buy it there.

I really am not an expert at VAT and customs duty issues, but I might sound like it. I am sure others know much more. But I have paid the duty on an expensive bike frame that I bought from the UK, and I have bought a lot of other stuff to be shipped to USA from Europe.
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Old 08-13-19, 07:06 PM
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When I was in Italy a couple of years ago I came across a Argentinian couple who bought their touring bikes on arrival. They bought their bikes in a shop in Ostia (port of Rome). I don't remember any details of the bikes themselves since I really don't pay much attention to that type of stuff, both were experienced cyclist and were quite satisfied with their purchase.
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Old 08-13-19, 09:59 PM
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The situation may have changed since I did a bike tour in northern Italy (and Ticino, the Italian-speaking canon in Switzerland) many years ago.

I didn't notice local folks doing long-distance touring. They were more on racers, and not so much on touring bikes. Most of the cycle tourists I met were from Germany or Switzerland, and as a rule they seemed to prefer flat-handled bikes that more closely resembled hybrid or mountain bikes: so more upright riding positions, and fatter tires.

If you also prefer the flat bar style, consider going to Germany or Switzerland to find your souvenir. But if you like drop bars on a touring bike, there may be more options on this side of the Atlantic. (I prefer drop bars for the postural variety they offer.)
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Old 08-13-19, 10:12 PM
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Don't forget to check out the used bikes. The most used website to sell used items is:
Subito.it
In the end, if you cannot find anything you like, you can always go with a Trek 520, those are easily available.
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Old 08-13-19, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by The 585 View Post
...Any idea if VAT applies to bikes bought secondhand or through a private seller? I wouldn't mind picking something up used if it can save some hassle.

I don't know for Italy, except that I presume that those itinerant markets that set up in small towns on market day and deal only in cash are not remitting VAT to the government. The stalls don't often even have cash registers.

VAT regimes typically have a long compliance code that describes in excruciating detail what is taxed and what isn't, flowing from the political realities of setting up the tax peculiar to each country. The Canadian VAT (we call it a Goods and Services Tax, aka the Gouging and Screwing Tax) is broadly modeled on British and European systems (with the additional complexity of our provincial sales taxes stuck in there as well.) So, based on Canadian practice, there are three ways that your used bike from a private seller (i.e., not an organized bicycle business) could be tax-free:

1) The seller is exempt because his/her total annual sales are less than a certain threshold and you thus avoid making the little kid running a lemonade stand register as a tax collector for the government. This would apply to nearly all private used-bike sales in Canada. But if you were running a used-bike business, you would definitely have to collect (and remit) VAT on the sales of those used bikes if the volume was enough to make it a viable business. Used-car lots pay VAT.

2) The specific good or service is exempt. e.g., new houses are taxed in Canada but re-sales aren't. Legal fees are taxable in all cases but insured medical fees are not. Rent and loan interest aren't taxed but utilities are. Famously (to Canadians) a single donut in a bag (snack) is taxable but a dozen donuts in a box (basic groceries) is not. Governments don't like to make too many things tax-exempt because it creates precedents where everyone else wants their gig to be exempt, too. It would be unlikely that sales of bicycles (used or new) would be exempt just because they are bikes or just because they are used. But then, a VAT of 24% (ours is only 5%) might mean that only a few things are taxed and the tax is not sufficiently broad-based. Anyway, the seller of the used bike will know if he, in his particular circumstance, is supposed to collect VAT from you.

3) The seller proposes not to collect (or remit) VAT, even when he's supposed to, if you pay in cash without a receipt. The higher the VAT, the greater the incentive to cheat, but, perhaps, the greater the penalties for getting caught. Here, because VAT evaders are usually evading income taxes also, the government goes after noncompliant sellers more than buyers -- the seller is still obligated to remit the tax even if s/he never collected it -- but I don't know where the emphasis of the Italian Financial Police lies.

Remember that outdoor piazza-type sales events sometimes contain elaborately choreographed distractions to help pickpockets ply their trade.

If you don't have a receipt for an expensive bike, U.S. Customs might get suspicious and assign a value to it much greater than what you say you paid for it.

Last edited by conspiratemus1; 08-13-19 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 08-14-19, 03:02 AM
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The Cinelli Hobootleg looks like a nice bike from what I see. I didn't know it existed, and wonder if it's available in the US.
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Old 08-14-19, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by conspiratemus1 View Post
...
If you don't have a receipt for an expensive bike, U.S. Customs might get suspicious and assign a value to it much greater than what you say you paid for it.
That is why I keep the receipt for my Rohloff hub and separate receipt for my bike frame as PDF files on my phone.

But the only thing that USA customs was interested in the two times that I came into USA from elsewhere with my bike was the salami sandwich that I had not yet eaten, they get really excited about importing meat products. And the times that I rode my bike into USA from Canada, they did not even ask if I had a salami sandwich.
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Old 08-14-19, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
That is why I keep the receipt for my Rohloff hub and separate receipt for my bike frame as PDF files on my phone.

But the only thing that USA customs was interested in the two times that I came into USA from elsewhere with my bike was the salami sandwich that I had not yet eaten, they get really excited about importing meat products. And the times that I rode my bike into USA from Canada, they did not even ask if I had a salami sandwich.
Well, likely you had/have an honest face and demeanour and they correctly pegged you as a non-smuggler (other than the salami.)
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Old 08-14-19, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
The Cinelli Hobootleg looks like a nice bike from what I see. I didn't know it existed, and wonder if it's available in the US.
https://www.cinelli-usa.com/cinelli-...-bike-railway/
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Old 08-14-19, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by conspiratemus1 View Post
Well, likely you had/have an honest face and demeanour and they correctly pegged you as a non-smuggler (other than the salami.)
There were two lines at the airport, I was in the line for those that checked one or more boxes yes on the form, yes I had food with me.

The woman next to me in line was a teacher that had been chaperon for a group of high school students that had been on farms in S America as part of their studies of ag practices in S America. She honestly checked the box yes that she had been on a farm in a foreign country recently. But she commented to me that the couple dozen students all in her charge checked the boxes no, so the students were all in the fast lane. And she was worried that the students and other chaperons with the students did not have the paperwork for their next flight because she had all the paperwork, yet she was separated from them. The part I found most humorous was that I could see several of the students were eating while standing in the fast line and the only place you could have obtained any food to eat was from outside the country, yet they all checked the box no saying that they had no food.
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Old 08-15-19, 09:46 AM
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While on this subject, I'll be in Italy this fall in Venice, Florence, Umbria, and Rome. I only get one day on a bike (renting) but would be interested if anyone has any suggestions on good bike components/parts/accessories/clothing I should look for when I'm over there that are either unavailable or highly marked up here in the USA.
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Old 08-15-19, 10:06 AM
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Oh, man... you're making me feel a bit dated.

When I was in Italy in 1982, I snagged my Colnago Super, and it wasn't that obsolete at the time. I think I only rode it on day trips with a backpack in Italy.

The next trip, 86/87, I bought another older road bike. The only rack I could find was a bent steel rack, which just didn't hold up. But, that bike did some extensive mini-tours around Italy.

At that time, there seemed to be a dichotomy between racers, and commuters, with very few in between.

Also, pre-internet, no just hopping on the internet and buying one's accessories elsewhere in Europe.

Anyway, consider a vintage classic steel road bike if you can find one, and it suits your needs. Bring some accessories with you, or plan on sourcing via internet if you can't find what you need.

Also, keep in mind that cycling isn't evenly distributed around Italy, or wasn't at that time. Lots of commuter cyclists in Parma and the Po Valley. Almost no bikes in Perugia.
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Old 08-15-19, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Smitty2k1 View Post
While on this subject, I'll be in Italy this fall in Venice, Florence, Umbria, and Rome. I only get one day on a bike (renting) but would be interested if anyone has any suggestions on good bike components/parts/accessories/clothing I should look for when I'm over there that are either unavailable or highly marked up here in the USA.
My advice is that if you do find something there that you can't buy here, make sure that the dealer or retailer can provide any paperwork you need to get the VAT tax refunded once you leave the EU. And since I have not done that myself, I have no clue what you would need to do or what to ask for.

I have bought a lot of stuff over the years from:
https://www.wiggle.com/
https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en
https://www.planetx.co.uk/
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/
https://www.evanscycles.com/
https://www.probikekit.com/
Above is in the UK, the following are from Germany.
https://www.bike24.com/
https://www.starbike.com/en/

In all cases I ordered the stuff for shipment to USA, the mail carrier or DHL or other shipping company delivered it to my door. I did not have to pay VAT when the stuff I ordered was shipped to USA.

My point is that anything sold in Europe is generally available to be shipped to USA. I ordered my Rohloff hub from Europe, I probably saved $500 USD on the Rohloff hub alone.

There are a few exceptions, probably the most well known exception is that Ortlieb has told their European vendors to not sell to USA buyers because USA retailers get quite unhappy when European sellers can significantly undercut them on price. My Ortliebs were all shipped to me from Europe before Ortlieb implimented that policy, I saved a lot of money by ordering my Ortliebs from Europe.

Since those internet vendors I listed above likely undercut any retailers you shop at in Italy, you might not find the bargains there that you can find on your computer from home.

If you might be shopping in Europe for bike stuff, bring a luggage scale so you can keep your luggage within the airline weight limits. A good luggage scale is the travelers best friend. And know what the limits are.
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Old 08-16-19, 07:18 AM
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Cheap Ortlieb in Europe you say?! Now you have my interest perked... I'm definitely in the market for a front bag setup of some kinda. Don't know if I want low rider panniers or a large handlebar bag. Already got a set of backpackers and a Ortlieb grocery pannier for the rear.

Thanks for the suggestions guys!
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Old 08-16-19, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Smitty2k1 View Post
Cheap Ortlieb in Europe you say?! Now you have my interest perked... I'm definitely in the market for a front bag setup of some kinda. Don't know if I want low rider panniers or a large handlebar bag. Already got a set of backpackers and a Ortlieb grocery pannier for the rear.

Thanks for the suggestions guys!
Here is an example of why my comment on Ortlieb price in Europe. If you type in Germany as location, the price for these panniers is 104.90 Euros which includes VAT.
https://www.bike24.com/1.php?content...75,307;page=13

If you type in USA as location, the price drops to 88.15 Euros because VAT is excluded. But the page says they will not ship to USA, so the price they list is pretty much meaningless.

As of the time I type this in, the current exchange rate makes 88.15 Euros equal to $97.57 USD.
https://www.reuters.com/finance/curr...=&destCurr=USD

At REI you would be paying $190 USD, but you can get that price down with some internet shopping from other sellers.

Each European seller has different policies on shipping costs, some UK sellers will provide free shipping with a large enough order. Bike24 which I listed above usually has a 20 Euro shipping charge to USA, but even with that high a shipping charge, you can save a lot with them on large orders but unfortunately not on Ortliebs.

If you buy a bunch of Ortlieb stuff in Europe, that could be a heavy bag you bring back, recall my comment on a luggage scale.
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Old 08-16-19, 11:25 PM
  #24  
MarcusT
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
My advice is that if you do find something there that you can't buy here, make sure that the dealer or retailer can provide any paperwork you need to get the VAT tax refunded once you leave the EU. And since I have not done that myself, I have no clue what you would need to do or what to ask for.

I have bought a lot of stuff over the years from:
https://www.wiggle.com/
https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en
https://www.planetx.co.uk/
https://www.sjscycles.co.uk/
https://www.evanscycles.com/
https://www.probikekit.com/
Above is in the UK, the following are from Germany.
https://www.bike24.com/
https://www.starbike.com/en/

In all cases I ordered the stuff for shipment to USA, the mail carrier or DHL or other shipping company delivered it to my door. I did not have to pay VAT when the stuff I ordered was shipped to USA.

.
These are some viable sources, but they will not sell all products to Italy. Yes, they will send to the USA, but with European contracts, not other EU nations.
Make sure you are putting in Italy as your country and prices, shipping, availability and taxes will be automatically adjusted.
Some sites will say "item not available for your country", others will just not show the product in their line up.
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Old 08-17-19, 07:05 PM
  #25  
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Thanks for all the awesome advice on bikes and VAT guys. I also didn't even think about getting some gear and equipment over there, too. I'll definitely look into the ortlieb bags as I'll be in the market for a good set of those as well.

You know, I was thinking, if upright touring bikes are what they use in Europe, maybe I'll check those out. Heck, I rarely even ride in the drops on my roadie, I'm on the hoods almost the whole time, so drop bars really aren't necessary for me. I want to pick up something that's traditionally European, ideally with trekking bars though.

If I go that route, what are some good options for German and Swiss touring bikes? fahrradmanufaktur looks like they make some sweet options. Anything else along those lines to keep an eye out for? I'm also sort of concerned about getting things that will be tough to service and find parts for back here in the US. Rohloff hubs look like a real cool concept and I'd love to try them, but is servicing them difficult here in the US where they're very uncommon?
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