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  1. #1
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Jamis Aurora vs. Surly LHT

    So after much thought, I've opted against a single-speed for my next build. (I'm converting my current MTB to SS after I build a new commuter/distance bike instead.)

    I was looking at CX bikes initially, but I like the relaxed geometry and all-day-in-the-saddle overall comfort of a touring bike. I'm not concerned on the weight, since I'm riding a 30+ pound monster right now, and I'm not exactly a lightweight myself. Having the range of gearing that a touring rig offers will give me the chance to outfit with racks and do some weekend camping tours that a singlespeed build would not.

    I don't have the technical expertise or desire to build everything up from a frame, so the two bikes that I'm considering now are the Jamis Aurora and the Surly LHT (complete). The mix of components seems about equivalent, but I've been out of the loop for a long time on buying new parts. The Aurora is a mix of Tiagra and SRAM (mostly) with an FSA crank, while the LHT is a mix of Tiagra and XT (mostly) with a Sugino crank. Both have 36h rims, but which is better: Alex ACE19 on Tiagra hubs or Alex Adventurer on XT hubs?
    What's the advantage/disadvantage argument on the shifting setups: bar-end on the LHT, integrated shifters/levers on the Aurora?
    Does anyone know the max tire clearance w/ fenders on the Aurora?
    <edit>*Do either of these bikes have components that immediately scream "Not for Clydesdale use"?
    Does anyone know the pricing on the LHT?

    <edit> *This is really why I posted this thread here, and not in the Touring forum. Everyone here seems to be educated on what will and will not stand up to the abuse we can dish out.
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  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
    So after much thought, I've opted against a single-speed for my next build. (I'm converting my current MTB to SS after I build a new commuter/distance bike instead.)

    I was looking at CX bikes initially, but I like the relaxed geometry and all-day-in-the-saddle overall comfort of a touring bike. I'm not concerned on the weight, since I'm riding a 30+ pound monster right now, and I'm not exactly a lightweight myself. Having the range of gearing that a touring rig offers will give me the chance to outfit with racks and do some weekend camping tours that a singlespeed build would not.

    I don't have the technical expertise or desire to build everything up from a frame, so the two bikes that I'm considering now are the Jamis Aurora and the Surly LHT (complete).

    Two others you might consider are the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 10 and the Cannondale T800. The Sherpa is new this year and is similar to the Jamis and Surly. It's nice to see yet another touring bike and we should give them a look.

    The T800 is aluminum and is a bit more expensive then the other bikes. But it's a great bike for us big guys. It's stiff to the point of near harshness - unloaded - but it is also a very responsive bike for the stiffness. It's probably a little lighter than the others too. With a touring load and a big guy, the bike is a wonder to ride. It' smooth and steady. You can even sprint (or at least stand ) with a load up hills.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
    The mix of components seems about equivalent, but I've been out of the loop for a long time on buying new parts. The Aurora is a mix of Tiagra and SRAM (mostly) with an FSA crank, while the LHT is a mix of Tiagra and XT (mostly) with a Sugino crank. Both have 36h rims, but which is better: Alex ACE19 on Tiagra hubs or Alex Adventurer on XT hubs?
    Surly: The Sugino crank isn't my favorite (I prefer a Shimano XT or LX trekking crank) but it's geared right. Kinda hohum, really. The XT hub is a great hub which is smoother than the Tiagra. The wheels would be much better with DT Alpine III spokes, however. Straight spokes aren't necessarily stronger than double butted spokes, either.

    Aurora: The crank on the Aurora is gear high for touring. You could change the cassette to a 13-34 (if you can find one) and have a good high gear but you'd need to change the low gear to a 26 or 24 to get a good low gear. Or you could change out the whole crank. Look at the Shimano LX trekking which has great gears and a good value.


    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
    What's the advantage/disadvantage argument on the shifting setups: bar-end on the LHT, integrated shifters/levers on the Aurora?
    Personal preference. I, personally, don't like barends. When I used them, they were constantly getting bumped and knocked out of gear. It was annoying.

    For me, the integrated shifters are where I spend most of my time on the bike anyway. I end up using them more often then with the other shifters.

    Some people argue that the STI shifters are too complicated and prone to failure. They are complicated but my experience is that no shifter is prone to failure. They are all very rugged.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
    Does anyone know the max tire clearance w/ fenders on the Aurora?
    No. Sorry.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
    <edit>*Do either of these bikes have components that immediately scream "Not for Clydesdale use"?
    Quote Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
    Does anyone know the pricing on the LHT?
    I don't see anything that would stand up to lots of abuse. They all look good.

    I would suspect that the prices of the 3 steel bikes are going to be in the $900 to $1000 range. The Cannondale is around $1100.

    The Aurora and the Rocky are both nice bikes but they are a bit short for touring bikes. They would be okay but their rides would be a little twitchy with a load.

    The Cannondale and the LHT are both classic touring bikes. Very long, very relaxed. With a load the bikes would be comfortable for all day at any speed from walking to "OH MY GAWD WE'RE GOING TO DIE" speed.
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  3. #3
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Two others you might consider are the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 10 and the Cannondale T800. The Sherpa is new this year and is similar to the Jamis and Surly. It's nice to see yet another touring bike and we should give them a look.
    I'll have to check those out. I've been leery of aluminum since a bad experience cracking an old 'dale MTB at the head/down tube juncture, but that was back in the early days of bonded Al frames. I used to race on an Al/CF Trek 2100, and it held up fine. Could be that aluminum is worth another look.


    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Surly: The Sugino crank isn't my favorite (I prefer a Shimano XT or LX trekking crank) but it's geared right. Kinda hohum, really. The XT hub is a great hub which is smoother than the Tiagra. The wheels would be much better with DT Alpine III spokes, however. Straight spokes aren't necessarily stronger than double butted spokes, either.

    Aurora: The crank on the Aurora is gear high for touring. You could change the cassette to a 13-34 (if you can find one) and have a good high gear but you'd need to change the low gear to a 26 or 24 to get a good low gear. Or you could change out the whole crank. Look at the Shimano LX trekking which has great gears and a good value.
    I've been running an LX crank and XT hubs on my current MTB commuter, and they're fantastic. Swapping out for an LX crank after a while on the LHT wouldn't bother me at all. Neither would swapping out a low ring on the Aurora to get a better low gear. (Not to mention cheaper than a new cassette!)

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Personal preference. I, personally, don't like barends. When I used them, they were constantly getting bumped and knocked out of gear. It was annoying.
    I wondered about that. They seem to be in a position where they're easy to bump. I've considered the LHT and swapping out for D-A downtube shifters, but if the integrated jobbies aren't as failure prone as the stories I've heard then maybe that's the way to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    I would suspect that the prices of the 3 steel bikes are going to be in the $900 to $1000 range. The Cannondale is around $1100.
    That's around the price range I'm looking to stay in. I know there's all sorts of lovely touring and randonee bikes out there, but many are in the $1500+ category which puts them firmly out of my price range. A solid starter frame that will last me a long time, and decent components that I can slowly swap out and upgrade over the years are what I'm looking for.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    The Aurora and the Rocky are both nice bikes but they are a bit short for touring bikes. They would be okay but their rides would be a little twitchy with a load.
    I'm Sasquatch, but not Bigfoot. I've never had a problem with toe-verlap or heelstrike because I only wear a 44 shoe (10.5 US in most brands.) I'm very accustomed to the longer base on my Stumpjumper, though, so a long comfortable frame sounds better to me.
    I searched and found some comparisons on the Touring forum, so armed with that information plus all this, I think I'll be ready to ride a few a make a good decision.
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  4. #4
    Clyde Rider/Racer
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    As an owner of five different Surly's over the last ten years and in that time, not ever weighing under 275lb. I can tell you that the product is as sound and strong as ANYTHING out there and I'll argue anyone up and down on that, Steel is REAL and the best material for any Clyde. Cyccommute appears to be right on most everything and definitely so on his comments regarding the Sugino cranks (crap!) those junk wagons would have you going through BB's all year long and barend shifters, you'll hit with your knees on every one of your climbs (I put grip shift on an old cross bike of mine, LOVED IT! it's worth consideration) but the LHT is a heck of a comfortable bike, I'm an ex-Cannondale rider so I always have a place in my heart for them but a steel frame just feels the way it's supposed to.

    Good luck, happy bike buying.

  5. #5
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    I've been riding an LHT for commuting and weekend rides, averaging 50-75 miles per week since last November. If I had more time, I could easily ride further & more often. At 6'4", 220 lbs, it has never entered my mind while on the bike that the frame or bike or spokes wouldn't hold up under me. My students declare it's the biggest bike they've ever seen (until I swing my leg over it and they see why it is the size it is). It's the best $ 1,425 bucks I ever spent - and now we're working on the specs for an LHT for my favorite wife...who is distinctly non-Clyde at 5'3", 135 lbs and just wants a comfortable long-ride bike.

    Unfortunately there probably isn't a Jamis of any kind for at least 50 miles around me and I've actually never seen one so I guess the comment above was only HALF on-topic - sorry.
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  6. #6
    Member johnnycoke's Avatar
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    I can't offer much info on the LHT, but I got an 07 Aurora in November and have been loving it. I'm 5'10, 250 lbs, and haven't had any problems with the components. This is the first bike I've had with STI shifters, and they took a little getting used to, but I really like them now. I replaced the seat with a Brooks B-17, and put some clipless pedals on as well. I've been pleased with the handling, although I don't have a rack yet, and haven't loaded it up.

  7. #7
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    I emailed Jamis about trying to pin down a specific weight that the Aurora could take and this is the response I got:

    More than likely the problem you will have is with the wheels. Frame should be OK, but they're not designed for this kind of weight. Max tire width is 38mm.

    I told them I weighed 310 and asked what the maximum tire size is.
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  8. #8
    FatTire DukeRyder's Avatar
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    I was also interested in both these bikes, I went to the Micheal's Bicycles in the Quarter today and tested out BOTH! The LHT was built up by one of the bike shop guys, the Aurora was off the floor (ceiling actually). The Aurora they had was just a wee too short in Top Tube length for me, but they're gonna put together a 57cm for me to try next week after Mardi Gras is over. The LHT is a nice bike but it's hard to justify the price difference. The Aurora seems a really good buy at it's price compared to what else is out there.

    If the Aurora in 57cm is still too short in TT length I might spring for the shop to build up a LHT. Accoding to both of their websites the specs are close, but the Surly is definetly a bit longer. Another cool thing about that Aurora is that it comes with 36 spoke wheels stock!

  9. #9
    MUP Pup tromper's Avatar
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    The Aurora my wife has is a nice enough bike but it's definitly more of a "Sport" touring bike then the Surly. On the smallish one she has (50 if I recall) it can just fit 35mm fenders without modifying them due to the somewhat narrow seat stays. Some of the more experienced mechanical types may have a better take then I do, but my take is that it will comfortably fit a true 32mm tire along with a 35mm fender. You might be able to cheat that to a 35 but I doubt it would work, & you'd have to use a wider fender notched to fit the stays.

    I didn't investigate the Surly as closely, but I am looking at them myself. As far as I can tell they seem quite ready for very wide tires, & fenders to match. It's more of a true touring beast as the name would imply. I haven't checked out the Sherpa except briefly, & I don't know who carries them locally. Personally I'm kinda inclined towards the venerable 520 with a couple of mods or if my budget is fat enough a Heron Wayfarer would be nice (Aarons in West Seattle handles those locally)

    I don't know shops on the east side, but You may consider getting ahold of Free Range Cycles in Fremont. They sell both of 'em. I was just there the other day check'n some stuff out. The full bike option Surly's aren't due until spring, but they do sell the frames & custom build them. They had a 58 built up on the floor a couple days ago. If I recollect Recycled Cycles on Boat Street also builds Surly's, & there are a couple other shops that handle Jamis in the North Ends as well but senility prevents me from revealing their names.

    Hope that's helpful.

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