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Old 10-02-08, 09:55 AM   #1
djkenny
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Randonee vs. Surly LHT (another debate)

I know this comes up at times.

I tend to like the look of the LHT more...no doubt...but from say "a value stand point"...if you could get the Novarra Randonee new for under $600...is it just as good a bike/better/less? The LHT is $900+

Then again...I honestly used to think the LHT looked kind of cheesy until it grew on me. The Randonee just utilitarian...but lately I have been digging on it's more earthy colors for some reason.

I am most interested in a road or touring bike that I can later add albatross bars or some kind of upright set up to.

Some of the variables I am interested in include:

Gears - Is the Randonee's Tiagra stuff less robust or smooth than the Shimano XT on the Surly? Are the old school vers on the Surly easier to repair, same?

Rust - Both are steel frames (though I am curious which is "best" steel) are one of them more known to rust (I ride in rain)

Finally...anything else in terms of which is a better all around bike (street cred aside)?
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Old 10-02-08, 10:10 AM   #2
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Either way, just spray some frame saver in it and don't worry, be happy! Carbon and Aluminum advocates like to point ar steel rusting but the fact is that it only becomes an issue over decades of time even if you leave it sitting outside all the time. Rain rides and dry parking won't rust it except in a VERY long span of time. Remember - steel was essentially the only option for a century.

All the Shimano stuff is pretty comparable and all pretty high quality. Differences are pretty subtle. XT is extremely nice, Tiagra just plain good.
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Old 10-02-08, 10:49 AM   #3
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I'd be happy with either one.
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Old 10-02-08, 11:02 AM   #4
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26" truly fat tire capability sealed the LHT for me.
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Old 10-02-08, 12:37 PM   #5
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The LHT will be a better over-all bike in the long run. I just finished helping a co-worker order one. The parts are XT, much better than the Tiagra. The LHT is a very well made frame and will last a very long time. The best part is that Surly uses bar-end shifters on this bike with lots of eyeletts for attaching racks. STI/ERGO is fine for road bikes but for your work bike stick with the bar-ends. Do a price comparison between the two and you will see why the bar-ends are a better choice. Plus, the bar-ends will last a lot longer. Don't let the price differance between the LHT and the Novarra be the deciding factor. Good luck. My three cents worth.
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Old 10-02-08, 12:50 PM   #6
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I am most interested in a road or touring bike that I can later add albatross bars or some kind of upright set up to.
IMHO, the main differences between these bikes are:

1. Price. Both are good values, but when the Randonee goes on sale it's a screaming deal.
2. Color. Personal preference.
3. Bar ends (LHT) vs. Brifters (Randonee).

The other differences are smaller/easier to change.

Since you said you are interested in potentially changing the handlebars, you may find less complications down the road if you start out with bar ends (LHT). If you pick new handlebars that won't accommodate the Randonee's brifters you'll have added complexity and cost down the road.

Likewise, if you really want brifters, you should start with the Randonee.
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Old 10-02-08, 04:07 PM   #7
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I had a Randonee last year and found thier size range was just too wide for me...it went from a 52 to a 55cm and I fall right in the middle on that geometry. Other than that, the Randonee is a great bike and already comes with a rear rack AND the biggest pro for the Randonee is you can take it back to REI for ANY reason... I returned mine after 2 months because it was too big and they too it back no problem. No experiance with the LHT othen then the new color for '09 is Truccachino, about the same beige as on the Randonee.
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Old 10-02-08, 04:55 PM   #8
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I just got the Randonee and I love it!
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Old 10-02-08, 10:45 PM   #9
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My opinion = LHT. When the indexing gets a little off, I can just switch over to friction shifting until I get a chance to tune it up. I also had the same size problem on the Randonee: 52 too small, 55 too big. Also, the 26" tires on my LHT give me plenty of in-town toe clearance with fenders. I think the LHT's are still powder-coated, too, and I've heard the Randonee's paint jobs don't hold up well.
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Old 10-03-08, 12:56 AM   #10
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I looked at the Randonee this summer, nice bike, i really liked it's rack, good deal.

LHT, drop dead gorgeous, incredible value and last a lifetime.

I ended up getting a Cross Check, i wanted horizontal drop outs and a lil sportier geometry. in my opinion Surley makes superior products.
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Old 10-03-08, 07:30 AM   #11
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Had a guy with a LHT drooling over my Safari. He liked the discs but was concerned of the ride and durabiltiy of the alum frame. I described how nice it rides and told him about all the polo abuse it had taken with zero probs. If you're cool with 26" wheels,the Safari beats the Randonee and LHT for value,and doesn't give up a thing in ability.
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Old 10-03-08, 07:50 AM   #12
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I got the Randonee. Biggest selling point was the return policy - no such recourse existed if I got the wrong size LHT, or it didn't feel right.

Both are fine bikes, you can't go wrong with either. The Randonee for me feels extremely comfortable (with a B17 saddle) and it's definitely the right bike for me.

Component-wise, you're looking at the following differences (Randonee component listed first):

Shifters: Tiagra brifters vs. Shimano bar-end
Headset: FSA Orbit X vs. Ritchey Logic Comp
Stem: Ritchey adjustable vs. Kalloy fixed
Handlebars: Ritchey BioMax vs. Zoom
Fork: Generic in-house steel vs. lugged in-house steel
Brakes: Shimano R550 cantilever vs. Tektro Oryx cantilever
Crank: Shimano Deore vs. Sugino XD600
Front derailleur: Both use Tiagra
Rear derailleur: Shimano LX vs. XT
Hubs: Tiagra (130mm) vs. XT (135mm)
Rims: Mavic A319 vs. Alex Adventurer
Rear rack: Jandd-like unbranded rack vs. no rack

A big difference is the price - the Randonee can be had at the REI 20% discount several times/year. I personally got mine initially without a discount but then had some setup problems, asked for a discount, and got it. Plus, I used some credit card cash rewards I had been saving up. So the bike only cost me about $280 of my own money.

There's a big controversy on brifters vs barcons. I see benefit to both. Yes, the brifters are more finnicky but more ergo. The barcons are sturdier but require a reach to shift. Another difference is that you can use a bar-end mirror with brifters but not with barcons...

Finally, I just searched the REI website and it does not list the Randonee any more. Hopefully it's still around!!

Good luck with your decision, you can't go wrong with either bike.
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Old 10-03-08, 10:51 AM   #13
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^^^
yeah i noticed it was no longer on REI's site last night also.
good bike, be a shame to discontinue it to carry more hybrids.
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Old 10-03-08, 10:56 AM   #14
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I bought and toured on a Randonee this summer and very highly recommend the bike. I have not even a minor complaint with anything about it.
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Old 10-03-08, 10:58 AM   #15
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^^^
yeah i noticed it was no longer on REI's site last night also.
good bike, be a shame to discontinue it to carry more hybrids.
I think this happens every year to ship the old models out and the new ones will be in next season.
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Old 10-03-08, 11:38 AM   #16
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I wonder what the new Randonee will be like? Anyone aware of changes?
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Old 10-03-08, 11:48 AM   #17
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I asked about the new Randonee at my local REI. They have the info. The changes seem minor but I wasn't looking at anything in particular. The bike is due in stores in the middle of this month.

I just got my REI membership with a 15% discount coupon that is no good on bikes. My daughter just got her 20% coupon but it is no good on bikes. When can you get the discount on bikes?
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Old 10-03-08, 12:36 PM   #18
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Yeah, the Randonee disappears from the site every fall as they run out of stock. It'll be back.
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Old 10-03-08, 01:01 PM   #19
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This past March there was a good coupon that allowed discounts on bikes.
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Old 10-04-08, 03:29 AM   #20
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I have the Randonee and am very happy with it. If the brifters get a little out of synch, there is a adjustment knob right on the shifters that I can adjust while riding. I have not changed anything, still stock.

Every March REI has a members only 20% off sale that includes bikes. I got mine in 2007 for around $750.

Good Luck with your search.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:55 AM   #21
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I owned a randonee and the sizes are just plain odd. I normally ride a 54cm and had a 55cm that felt insanely large. Their TT length seems a tad wacky.
Surly makes nice frames. My vote is for the LHT unless money is of utmost importance. The randonee can be had for cheap.
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Old 10-04-08, 09:26 AM   #22
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I have a LHT, and I didn't like the bar-ends. I installed them. So now I have a LHT with brifters. Maybe I should have just started with a Randonee?

I know the LHT rides like a dream. Is the Randonee the same way?
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Old 10-04-08, 09:57 AM   #23
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No it does not ride like a dream. Not bad but nothing special.
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Old 10-04-08, 11:52 AM   #24
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I have a LHT, and I didn't like the bar-ends. I installed them. So now I have a LHT with brifters. Maybe I should have just started with a Randonee?

I know the LHT rides like a dream. Is the Randonee the same way?
I think the Randonee rides very well. Compared to my previous Cannondale R1000 and my current foul-weather use Specialized Sirrus, the Randonee is way more comfortable. Getting on the bike and getting clipped in feels exactly right. It definitely soaks up the bumps much better than the other aluminum bikes I mentioned. Tows a trailer great. I didn't feel this way on my test ride, but once I got used to it, the bike is by far my favorite ride and the smoothest bike I've ever owned.

I bet the Randonee and LHT ride very similarly; they have similar geometry and are probably made by the same group of folks using the same materials and techniques.

The only complaint I have on the bike is I think the brakes are anemic compared to road calipers or V-brakes. Hopefully a set of nicer pads will cure this.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:56 PM   #25
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You can't go wrong with either bike. The Randonee is a better deal. The LHT is a somewhat better bike. The bar-end shifters are actually really nice once you get used to them, especially the friction-shifting option, and the LHT just seems sturdier. And the LHT does ride like a dream, but that probably has more to do with the XT hubs than anything else.

(Disclosure: I ended up buying the LHT, but test-rode the Randonee when I was looking for a touring bike, and liked it. I also liked the Bianchi Volpe, the Surly Cross Check, a used Trek 520, and the Jamis Aurora.)
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