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Next year, I am planning a cross country route that will cover approximately 7,400 miles. My plan is to do a national park biking tour of the country, and take advantage of some mountain biking on the way.

That being said, I need a new bike. I would like to get a versatile mountain bike, and convert it into as much of a touring bike as I can (drop down handlebars, etc.) My budget could be around $1,200, and I also want to pull a trailer along with me.

Right now I have a Kona Cinder Cone from 2005. I've taken it on some longer rides and love the feel, but it's also the only mountain bike I've had so I don't know what else is out there. I'm also assuming that getting another hardtail would be the best option for this type of journey. I have my eye on the Kona Caldera, but would like to hear what anyone else has to say first.

Thanks
 

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Not sure this is the best forum to post this thread?

My first thoughts are a HT that has suitable geometry for marathons. Many touring bikes use v-brakes for simplicity of maintenance and easy access to parts so don't know if you want to consider something like that as well. You may want to think about bull horns rather than drop bars.

I'd spend your budget according to the following priorities:
1. geometry and ability to mount rear and front racks
2. cockpit component comfort such as stem, bull horns
3. comfort components such as seat and maybe even a thudbuster/suspension seatpost
4. suitable tires for terrain + inner tubes
5. user friendly air pump
6. robust clipless pedals with good rotational 'float'
7. cycling computer to help pass the time/keep pushing you with little games like increasing/maintaing avg speed, cadence, etc.
 
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