Tony Brown's cycle: Soma Saga
Frame/Fork: Tange Prestige chrome-moly tubing; 31.8mm butted downtube and top tube
Crankset: Shimano 105 5703 Triple, with 50/39/30t chainrings
Front derailleur: Shimano 105 RD-5703
Rear derailleur: Shimano 105 RD-5701 GS
Rims/tires: Mavic A719; Schwalbe Marathon Plus, 700 /32

Will Fifer's cycle: Motobecane Cyclocross
Frame/fork: Vari-butted titanium 3 / 2.5 tubing; Motobecane alloy crown carbon
Crankset: Shimano FC-6800, Ultegra Double Hollowtech 2, 46X36T
Front derailleur: Shimano FD-6800 Ultegra
Rear derailleur: Shimano RD-6800 Ultegra
Rims/tires: Vuelta Team SL XRP, Schwalbe Marathon Plus, 700 /32

About the bikes
You can spend a lot of money on bicycles. But new, tour-ready bicycles — basically, sturdy, comfortable rigs with lots of places to hang, strap and lash things — are widely available for $900 to $1,200; lots of cheaper, used bikes are around.

Our models, acquired and assembled for this tour over the past two years, were in the $2,000 neighborhood. Fifer's is a 10-speed, disc brake, titanium Motobecane cyclocross bike with Shimano Ultegra components; mine is a Soma Fabrications steel frame, completed with a 10-speed Shimano 105 drive train, Mavic A719 wheels and Paul Touring Canti brakes.

We're both using tough, touring 700c tires, so we have interchangeable tubes and a shared spare.