We wanted bicycles that were designed for touring. I did some research and could get it down to a shortlist of three different cycle brands, Thorn, Surly and FM (VSF Fahrrad Manufaktur).
Thorn bicycles is a brand that I knew about since long and they have a good reputation. But I found their homepage very messy and their presentations were a bit to self-righteous for my liking. And when the price was quite high too, it was an easy decision to exclude them.
Surly and the model LHT (long haul trucker) was a bike that I liked and is also very popular among many bike travelers. But some of the standard components on the LHT were not what I wanted and to upgrade everything would be quite expensive. So it was not a perfect choice.
Then I only had FM left. Not a brand I knew much about, really nothing. I just came across it when I was reading The Adventure Cycle-touring Handbook. Not really much information in the book and search on the internet didn't reveal much information either. But I found the company's homepage and it looked like a cycle with good components and an attractive price. It's a German brand and they don't have any retailers in Sweden.
Luckily we were going to Berlin in April for the half marathon so we would have a chance to try to find a shop selling FM then. We spent one day traveling all over Berlin to different bicycle shops. I had decided that we wanted the TX 400 model, but none of the shops had that model. Back at the hotel we made plans for which shops to visit the following day.
First stop the second day was at Zentralrad and this turned out to be right place. We spent almost the whole day there testing different bikes and measure out the correct seat position. Tom was very helpful and together we fitted out the bikes and decided which modifications we wanted. Big thanks to you and your colleagues!
I ended up buying the TX-400 30 gears, frame size 52 ( I'm 175 cm tall).
My VSF Fahrrad TX-400 30 SPEED "naked."
Modifications that I did to standard model were:
Saddle - changed it to Brooks B17 Handlebar - changed it to a DH handlebar Grips - changed to Ergon GP5 grips Bottle cage - changed to 1,5 l for PET-bottles Adapter - added an adapter to the headset in order to have a more upright position.
Phim also ordered the TX-400 with ladies frame size 45 cm. She is 150 cm tall and have the problem then that the top tube is too high on most bicycles. But this model fitted her perfect.
Amendments she did were:
Saddle - changed it to Brooks B17 S Imperial Handlebar - changed it also to a DH-bar
List price for the bikes were € 1,299, but our bikes ended up a bit more expensive as we made some modifications. But we could also sell back the parts we had replaced so it's saved us some money.