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  1. #1
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    Surly LHT Complete Anything to Change?

    After a lot of reading I think I am going to go with a LHT. It will be my first new bike (no more hand me downs or CL poor fitting cheap bikes). However, I don't know much about bikes. About 6 months ago I bought a 17" Rockhopper off of CL for $260, but since I have only been riding on pavement and now getting out everyday to ride, I want to get a proper bike for the pavement and more comfortable.

    I would be getting the 52 cm, some people seem to not like the wheel size for the 54 cm and smaller frames, why? I have always had flat bars, so the drops will be weird and I don't know about bar end shifterss. Can I swap those out with the brifters?

    Most of the time I will be commuting ~8 miles round trip. I will be carrying my laptop in panniers and stopping to get groceries on the way home once a week or so. After work and on the weekends I will be riding along the beach trail between Surfside and Newport Beach and on the Santa Ana River Trail. I would like to get in better shape to ride down to San Diego from Huntington Beach and ride ~50 miles on the weekends. I am thinking as a teacher with summers off, I may like touring at some point. However, mostly I will be commuting, carrying groceries, and riding longer rides on the weekends.

    I had thought about the Cross Check and Casseroll also since I really won't be loaded down unless I get the touring bug, but it seems if I do grocery runs and maybe in a year or two some touring the LHT might be better. Or if 90% is long easy rides and commuting should I not go with the LHT?

    Anyhow, with the LHT complete is there anything you'd recommend to swap out?

  2. #2
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    I *just* bought one last friday, taken it for some rides, but haven't been able to actually commute until tomorrow. Here are my initial thoughts:

    Gearing is *very* short. If your commute is flat, you might want something that lets you go a bit faster w/o spinning up too much.

    Stock tires are so-so. They feel very hard and noncompliant, even compared to my 23mm road tires on my other bike.

    Pedals. You'll want toe clips at least (it's amazing how hard riding platforms is after riding clipless -- I guess that says my form has improved!)

    I think the seat is mediocre. I'm contemplating dropping cash on a brooks b17, but am researching cheaper alternatives.. Brooks stuff is so overpriced :-/ My olive frame would look killer with a honey b17 and matching bar tape though...

    I've heard of folks getting the rear derailleur upgraded at the shop to a shimano dx but I have no complaints yet. I have been impressed by the crisp/smooth shifting. your call.

    I ended up going with the LHT because I wear size 15 shoes and I keep my cleats forward on my shoes (I think I calve a fair bit) and want full panniers, and I didn't want to find out too late that the chainstay was too short. In retrospect, I should have convinced a bike shop to let me see if chainstay length was actually an issue before buying... the LHT is a tank. It's not one tiny bit sporty. It's amazingly solid and thought out, but if you want something that you can toss around and ride whimsically, the LHT is not that. But perhaps I'm just too used to my lightweight CF road bike. I suspect it'll be pretty much ideal for my commute on ~12mi of off-road, smooth slow moving (lots of pedestrians) bike trail, though.

    I am going to demo a tricross next week and if it's a way better fit and the kind of bike I could take the panniers off of and comfortably ride packed trails on, I might switch. :shrug:

  3. #3
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Change tires for something more flat resistant. It's the only "necessary" change IMO. That and the saddle if you don't find it comfortable.

    I added a Brooks B17 at purchase as well as 46cm Nitto Noodle bars and Paul Thumbies but I'm sure I would've been happy with the stock bar.
    Last edited by Erick L; 06-24-09 at 04:41 AM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member kk4df's Avatar
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    I had the LBS swap the tires to Schwalbe Marathons, swap the brake pads to salmon Kool Stops, and add fenders. I also swapped the saddle and put on a Brooks B17. I've been very happy with the bar-end shifters.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    Off the bat the only thing I recommend changing would be the saddle. The LHT I bought was a 2007 or 08 so I don't know if they changed saddles or not. I just didn't find the stock saddle comfortable at all. I just ordered a Brooks flyer and hopefully will get it soon.

    I have the 54cm LHT and they have the WTB Slickasaurus'. I haven't had a flat yet and I've been commuting on mine since December of 08. I'd wait on buying new tires to see how you like the stock ones first (unless you LBS will swap them out to the Marathons or Gatorskins or whatever for free).

    I have not had problems with the rear derailer or the brake pads; so again see how you like them before you decide you want something else. The LBS (not local to me) said the LHT was probably the only bike ready to tour with right out the store as is.

    Pedals are your choice. Some like the clipless, some like the flat bmx type, but I have a pair of Wellgo (somethings) with PowerGrip straps and they work fine for me.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    I'm happy with my 100% stock 2009 LHT (with dual sided shimano spd/platform pedals--the best of both worlds). The saddle is not the best, but good enough for commuting. After 600 miles I haven't had any problems, even the stock tires are satisfactory. However, quidquam is correct...the bike is a tank (or, to match its name, more like a truck). After riding with brifters for years, the bar end shifters took awhile to get used to...they require some finesse to shift smoothly and are not as rapidfire as brifters. But considering the heavy-duty utilitarian nature of the bike, the bar end shifters are not really a disadvantage. Since its a tool not a jewel, I plan to ride my LHT stock as long as possible and only replace parts when absolutely necessary. Overall, the bike is really geared lower than I need, but the range of gear ratios extends beyond my needs in either direction, so its not a big deal. Someday the tiny granny ring might come in handy.

    Honestly, I enjoy riding my lighter, sportier bikes much more. I bought my LHT to do all the other things my light/fast bikes can't do (haul loads, buy groceries, commute in the rain, slow-paced family rides, weekend touring, etc.). The LHT fills those roles perfectly, and gets more use than any of my other bikes, but there is nothing "sporty" about it. Even the drop bars are very different from typical drop bars....they are shaped for comfort and don't put you in a very aero position. Essentially, the LHT is my pickup truck, and my other bikes are monster trucks and F1 race cars.
    Last edited by mihlbach; 06-24-09 at 05:32 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    In your case, I'd go with the Cross Check.

    Here's why... on a basic frame like the Surly, you are going to get flex in the chainstays and the BB. Strong guys can get the frame to flex enough on the LHT to get the gears to change when they are hammering. The chainstays on the CC are shorter, and that helps.

    A CX bike makes a fine commuter, but also makes a nice bike for a brisk weekend ride. A touring bike is going to be slow, and being young, I think you may not always want a sedate ride. If you can afford a nicer frame, like the Salsa La Cruz, I'd suggest that as well.
    Last edited by late; 06-24-09 at 06:35 AM.
    Old Man Maine

  8. #8
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    In your case, I'd go with the Cross Check.

    Here's why... on a basic frame like the Surly, you are going to get flex in the chainstays and the BB. Strong guys can get the frame to flex enough on the LHT to get the gears to change when they are hammering. The chainstays on the CC are shorter, and that helps.

    A CX bike makes a fine commuter, but also makes a nice bike for a brisk weekend ride. A touring bike is going to be slow, and being young, I think you may not always want a sedate ride. If you can afford a nicer frame, like the Salsa La Cruz, I'd suggest that as well.
    Cross check or other CX bikes will do the job but they are not going to work as well with loads and you might have unnavoidable heel strike issues with panniers. I've tried using panniers with a cx bike and had unavoidable heel strike problems (shoe size = 46).
    The LHT frame is certainly not the stiffest of my bikes, but its not so flimsy that the gears change when hammering. I'm a 205 pound guy who does a lot of 30+mph sprinting on a track bike, so I know how to hammer. My LHT has never jumped gears due to frame flex.

  9. #9
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    I read about the heal strike on a Crosscheck, but I don't think it would affect me. I am 5'6-5'7 and wear a size 9 shoe. My feet aren't very big.

    My one thought about something like a Crosscheck is how would it work with loaded panniers (laptop, groceries, books, etc.)? Also, has anybody ridden one with a front rack and panniers in the front?

    I don't know much about gearing or parts. I rode a BMX as a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s. I did have a mini-MB for a spell. Then from about 16-26 I didn't ride a bike. 26-27 I rode my dad's old Diamond Back that was about three sizes too big, but road the easy trails in Aliso Wood and along the PCH in Dana Point. When I moved to HB I stopped riding for the next 3 or so years. I just started again a few months ago on a 17" Rockhopper.

    I saw people touring when I was camping along the Lost Coat last year and that got me interested in biking again. Plus, moving downtown HB two blocks from the PCH is what really got me started again.

    Long story short. I know nothing about parts, gearing, etc. except from what I have picked up reading the forums. The only thing I have figured out is that I don't do spandex and it seems I am a Fred. I don't want clipless. I have been riding in New Balance trainers and Vans.

    I like that Noodle bar. I had never seen thumb shifters on a road bike. Those are the only kinds that I have ever used.

  10. #10
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mihlbach View Post
    Cross check or other CX bikes will do the job but they are not going to work as well with loads and you might have unnavoidable heel strike issues with panniers. I've tried using panniers with a cx bike and had unavoidable heel strike problems (shoe size = 46).
    The LHT frame is certainly not the stiffest of my bikes, but its not so flimsy that the gears change when hammering. I'm a 205 pound guy who does a lot of 30+mph sprinting on a track bike, so I know how to hammer. My LHT has never jumped gears due to frame flex.
    I have heard guys complain about the flex on the LHT, including making the gears change. Could be the gears were out of whack.

    A CX bike can handle commuting, and even if he had big feet there are racks that can deal with it. I commute and do lite touring on a sport bike. Take the panniers off and it's a lively weekend ride.
    Old Man Maine

  11. #11
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    I have heard guys complain about the flex on the LHT, including making the gears change. Could be the gears were out of whack.
    It probably has more to do with the barend shifters than frame flex. The rear shifter is indexed, but in addition to the main 9 positions, there are additional trim positions that I was initially unaware of. Having never used indexed barend shifters before, I had similar problems with unanticipated gear jumps, until I realized I was clicking into the trim positions. With a little practice, I learned how to shift correctly. I haven't had a surprise gear change since. Bar end shifters are way less common than "brifters" or downtube shifters, so I imagine most people purchasing a stock LHT would have similar degree of inexperience with barend shifters and some may actually never come to realize the true source of their shifting problem. Also because of these additional trim positions, getting the rear derailleur adjusted correctly is a little more complicated than with normal "brifters" (which lack trim).

    Having said that, the LHT frame is definately not among the stiffest, and that may exacerbate the problem, but with proper derailleur adjustment and good shifting skills, it shouldn't be an issue. YMMV
    Last edited by mihlbach; 06-24-09 at 12:13 PM.

  12. #12
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    For mine, when new, I swapped out the saddle for a brooks and the tires for 2.0 big apples (I have 54cm frame). I've replaced more stuff as time has passed but that was all based on personal preferences pretty much. Heck, so were the brooks and big apples. It's a great stock bike. It is a bike that wants to be loaded. I recommend front and rear racks, 4 panniers, and handlebar bag whenever you can justify it.

  13. #13
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    I've got several hundred miles on my LHT.

    Tires are fine, never flatted, lots of in-city commuting too. (Knocking on wood now). Remember, the pressure listed on the sidewall is the max inflation pressure, not the *ideal* inflation pressure. With teensy weensie tires on racing bikes, you do max pressure. You may not want to do it here. Obviously you don't want to pinch flat, but you also don't need to be beating yourself needlessly. Set it up for the roads you ride on.

    You have to buy pedals for it (it doesn't come with pedals). I went with platforms. Go with what you like, that's why they don't come with pedals.

    I didn't care for the saddle. Not even a little bit. Personal preference. I got a Brooks, but I don't proselytize except to say get what you like.

    That's it. The brakes *will* take some time to wear in before they feel grippy.

  14. #14
    cherish the day buck65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by divtag View Post
    I read about the heal strike on a Crosscheck, but I don't think it would affect me. I am 5'6-5'7 and wear a size 9 shoe. My feet aren't very big.

    My one thought about something like a Crosscheck is how would it work with loaded panniers (laptop, groceries, books, etc.)? Also, has anybody ridden one with a front rack and panniers in the front?

    I don't know much about gearing or parts. I rode a BMX as a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s. I did have a mini-MB for a spell. Then from about 16-26 I didn't ride a bike. 26-27 I rode my dad's old Diamond Back that was about three sizes too big, but road the easy trails in Aliso Wood and along the PCH in Dana Point. When I moved to HB I stopped riding for the next 3 or so years. I just started again a few months ago on a 17" Rockhopper.

    I saw people touring when I was camping along the Lost Coat last year and that got me interested in biking again. Plus, moving downtown HB two blocks from the PCH is what really got me started again.

    Long story short. I know nothing about parts, gearing, etc. except from what I have picked up reading the forums. The only thing I have figured out is that I don't do spandex and it seems I am a Fred. I don't want clipless. I have been riding in New Balance trainers and Vans.

    I like that Noodle bar. I had never seen thumb shifters on a road bike. Those are the only kinds that I have ever used.
    You might want to try the Crosscheck and the LHT on the same day to see what you like better (if you haven't already). They're both really capable bikes--I'm sure you'll enjoy both. HB is a great place that has forgiving weather.

    To answer your questions, I've ridden with loaded rear panniers on my Volpe (similar to the Crosscheck)...it makes handling sluggish but it's definitely worth having them on because you have the convenience in carrying so much stuff (the most I've carried 2 big bags of groceries and a 2.5 gallon jug of water on my rack w/panniers). I have a Nitto M12 up front with a Nashbar front bag....the things I've packed in do not constitute the loaded conditions you speak of but I will say that having all that extra stuff effects steering response. Also, I have some MKS GR9s that I regularly use with NBs and Sauconys--I find that commuting with flat pedals is just fine.

    Having said all this, I think a cross bike might suit you if you want something a bit sportier when not loaded. If you want a lot of loading options, I think the LHT will be good because the geometry is comfier and there are tons of mounting points for racks and fenders. One last thing--the Brooks saddles are really comfy after a 50 mile break-in.

  15. #15
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    Unfortunately, all three of the shops that I have been to don't have any on the floor. Out of the shops I have been to, I have decided on buying from The Path in Tustin. They were by far the best group of guys and friendliest shop I went in. They were the only one that even had a Surly frame in stock (a larger LHT).

    I wish I could test ride, but even then I don't know if I would know the difference. I have always just ridden on whatever. lol However, as I get in better shape I am noticing the Rockhopper with front suspension, knobby tires, and aluminum frame are not the best for the type of riding I am doing. The only thing I test rode was a Randonee at REI. It was so different from any of the bikes I have ridden in my life (BMX and MTB) that I didn't know what was what. It is going to take some getting used to.

    I think I do want to go with brifters, but I read they were a lot more expensive. The Path also has Salsa bikes. The guy helping me pointed out the Salsa Casseroll, but it was $500 more. That starts to get hard on the pocket. Would a Cross bike be fine with laptop, lunch, groceries? Would it be fine for doing a trip from Portland to SoCal?

  16. #16
    cherish the day buck65's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by divtag View Post

    I think I do want to go with brifters, but I read they were a lot more expensive. The Path also has Salsa bikes. The guy helping me pointed out the Salsa Casseroll, but it was $500 more. That starts to get hard on the pocket. Would a Cross bike be fine with laptop, lunch, groceries? Would it be fine for doing a trip from Portland to SoCal?
    As you pointed out, brifters are more expensive but they're a nice convenience. I took my brifters off of my cross bike (and put on bar end shifters) because I didn't need them for commuting....no complaints after 1,500 miles. Bar end shifting is just fine.

    A cross bike will be perfectly fine with a laptop, lunch, AND groceries all at the same time if you have the proper bags and hardware to carry them (speaking from personal experience).

    I'm actually planning a ride from Seattle to LA on my cross bike (and I'm sure all will be fine)...but I'd rather do it on a bike like the LHT because of the geometry. I think a cross bike will be fine....but a touring bike may be more comfortable.

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    tell me more about the trim positions

    I have never heard of this. Are you saying there are slight detents between the indexed positions in each gear? I have a new LHT with the bar ends on Paul Thumbies, and it does seem to be quirky in certain gears, where I can tell the chain isn't exactly centered, but isn't trying to jump to the next cog. I end up tweaking the rear der barrel adjuster and keep swearing someone sneaks into the garage every night and gives it a few turns just to mess with me.

  18. #18
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    I count at least 16 clicks in my rear shifter...8 major clicks and at least 8 minor clicks. The minor clicks allow a slight amount of adjustment...whether on not this is an intentional part of the design I do not know, but it seems to work that way for me. Its very easy to click the shifter into one of these intermediate positions, which, if your derailleur is set up correctly, will throw your derailleur out of alignment with the cogs. At least thats my experience....once I figured it out, I set the limits on the RD and adjusted the cable tension properly and its not been a problem since.

  19. #19
    Old AND Slow Bill Shanks's Avatar
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    I don't think brifters will work well with the Deore derailleurs. REI put brifters on their Randonneur touring bike and had to replace the rear cassette and derailleur with Shimano 105's to keep the brifters.

  20. #20
    I fear angry birds Santaria's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mihlbach View Post
    I count at least 16 clicks in my rear shifter...8 major clicks and at least 8 minor clicks. The minor clicks allow a slight amount of adjustment...whether on not this is an intentional part of the design I do not know, but it seems to work that way for me. Its very easy to click the shifter into one of these intermediate positions, which, if your derailleur is set up correctly, will throw your derailleur out of alignment with the cogs. At least thats my experience....once I figured it out, I set the limits on the RD and adjusted the cable tension properly and its not been a problem since.
    That's correct. They're adjustment clicks. Only way to really compare would be to go mess with a Campy groupo - they have what's referred to as infinity clicking. The 'minor' clicks are adjustment settings only.
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    If you're planning on doing a fair bit of touring, i recommend getting a touring bike (LHT). The geometry and gearing are already suited for touring and the bike has all the braze-ons you want for racks. I have a cannondale cross-bike and an LHt- - -the crosser is great for running dirt roads, but I would never want to do any touring on it- - -too stiff, geometry different, won't have heel clearance for racks etc.
    My LHT is my utility--commuter---tourer. If I could only keep one of the several bikes I have (full-ti road bike, cross-bike, LHT, and others . . .) I would keep my LHT. It's the most versatile.

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