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Old 06-01-11, 11:51 PM   #1
lurrego
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what do people mean when they say a bike is "slow"?

I am considering a long haul trucker, and since it is pretty much impossible to try one in person (none in stock, and I don't know anyone that owns one), I am always looking up other people's comments and observations. Many seem to say it drives like "grandpa's buick" or "an old Cadillac" or other such things, essentially saying it's slow.

What exactly does this mean? Maybe I'm too young, but I can honestly say that these comparisons just fly over my head. What makes a bike "slow" and what makes the trucker slow? I'm a pretty big guy at around ~220lbs, with a weight lifters build and pretty short at 5' 8", so i figured this would be steady enough to ride with. I would only commute with it, don't plan to race at all, ever, but with the way many are telling it, I get the impression that riding it in the street to get to school will be like walking. Please explain this concept of "slow" to me, using other arguments besides "it's heavy," because the way I see it, I'm already a pretty strong pretty fit guy, so wouldn't pedaling faster just make it go faster?
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Old 06-02-11, 12:23 AM   #2
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The LHT is a relatively slow bike... it is an expedition grade touring bicycle that is designed to carry decent loads and keep it's rider in relative comfort nad typically gets set up with a more upright riding position which impacts aerodynamics.

A fit person should be able to cruise along on an LHT at close to 30 kmh for good distances... my touring bike is very similar to an LHT and find that when it is unloaded, it is a relatively quick bicycle.
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Old 06-02-11, 12:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by lurrego View Post
I am considering a long haul trucker, and since it is pretty much impossible to try one in person (none in stock, and I don't know anyone that owns one), I am always looking up other people's comments and observations. Many seem to say it drives like "grandpa's buick" or "an old Cadillac" or other such things, essentially saying it's slow.

What exactly does this mean? Maybe I'm too young, but I can honestly say that these comparisons just fly over my head. What makes a bike "slow" and what makes the trucker slow? I'm a pretty big guy at around ~220lbs, with a weight lifters build and pretty short at 5' 8", so i figured this would be steady enough to ride with. I would only commute with it, don't plan to race at all, ever, but with the way many are telling it, I get the impression that riding it in the street to get to school will be like walking. Please explain this concept of "slow" to me, using other arguments besides "it's heavy," because the way I see it, I'm already a pretty strong pretty fit guy, so wouldn't pedaling faster just make it go faster?
Slow is relative. If compared to a racing bike, the LHT will be slow because:
1- it's heavier
2- gearing is completely different (the steps on the racing bike will be biased toward racing/smooth pedal stroke whereas on a touring bike a wider gear range is desirable).
3- the head angle will be more slack = increased rake/trail = greater tendency to self steer = slower steering input but more stable. Compare riding no hands on a race bike vs. a touring bike and you'll find the touring bike is noticeably easier.
4- more upright riding position = more wind resistance created by the rider's torso (think of the torso as a big sail catching the wind).
5- the LHT is going to have wider tires, perhaps 1.25+ wide, and will be generally run at lower pressure. Even the 32c Schwalbe Marathon is typically run at 95 psi or less. A racing tire will be narrower (less wind resistance), run at higher pressure (less rolling resistance), and have less tread (less rolling resistance).
6- the LHT will have a longer wheelbase = longer turning radius = slower turning

I'm sure there are many others, but these are just a few reasons off the top of my head...

Calling a LHT slow is like calling a Honda slow compared to a Porsche.
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Old 06-02-11, 12:26 AM   #4
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They are talking about the frames geometry. The frame angles of the forks head tube and the seat tube is more relaxed angles of the seat tube and head tube,this slows the steering down and the longer than usual wheelbase makes it handle like a semi truck instead of a sports car. This bike is very stable at any speed but inlike a race bike you have to drive it instead of point and shoot like a race bike or a not so aggressive handling of a cycle cross, or touring bike.
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Old 06-02-11, 12:36 AM   #5
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I rode a "slow" bike to work today. Its based on an old Mountain bike frame. Its very different for a couple of reasons including much wider tires than the fairly narrow road type tires I was using on the other bikes I have been riding lately. Why do the other bikes feel quicker?

Bike 1. 1987 Schwinn Le Tour road bike. This is one of the most fun fast bikes I have ever ridden that actually fits me. It feels like the frame springs forward when you push it and wants more. Its not a racing bike or anything, but its pretty light (25 lbs) for the bikes I typically ride. If you have a heavy duty type bike like the LHT their probably would have any of this springyness just solid feel.

Bike 2. 2010 Windsor Shetland mini velo. This is a small bike with 20 inch tires. Its the most fun bike I have ever ridden. It gets up to speed very fast with the small wheels and it just feels great to ride. Its nto as responsive as teh Schwinn, but quick acceleration is what is does really well and its just zippy and really maneuverable. The LHT is going to have a longer wheelbased and so its going ot feel more plush and stable kinda like the buick or caddy instead othe litle sportscar feel of something with a shorter wheelbase. My Minivelo takes that to an extreme. =)

Bike 3. The 1986 (or something like that) US Express Peugeot bike (actually a kids 24 inch bike) that i converted to drop bars. The tires are much wider and it rides so solid in every way. It has to be slower than the other bikes but it just feels liek I can bomb around anywhere on the thing. In some cases I went faster because I didn't fear potholes off road terrain etc. Its pretty comfy except with that heavy steel frame. I feel like calling it my mini LHT.

Ultimately mot fo the time I have never felt like a bike has held me back, but like you I don't ever intend on racing. I rarely even ride with people except my wife and I have to hold back for her. Most the riding I have done over the years is on bikes based on mountain bikes which are supposed to be slow blagh blagh. The Trek bike I had as a commuter was plenty fast even with all the fenders lights racks and junk I had on it. Speed on a bike is mostly relative to the rider and how fast they can pedal. To me it sounds like you are looking for a bike thats a truck or an SUV not a sportscar. Based on what you have said it sounds like a good choice to me. Hopefully this was helpful. I know a college student that has an LHT and she rides that thing all over the place literally and she is a total bike nut.

Also the geometry of the LHT might suit you better than other bikes and if the bike fits you will got faster than soemthing thats supposed to be fast. I prefer the relaxed geometry thats supposed to be slow. I am pretty convinced I ride faster on a bike with that geometry and I am more comfortable even if I am not riding fast.
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Old 06-02-11, 01:13 AM   #6
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Sixty Fiver, hopperja, nwbikeman, and monsterpile, I can finally say that I understand what people mean when they say "slow"! thanks a million for those explanations. Sure do love forums with people that really know things from experience and can chime in to help beginners like me. I really appreciate it!
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Old 06-02-11, 01:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hopperja View Post
Slow is relative. If compared to a racing bike, the LHT will be slow because:
1- it's heavier
2- gearing is completely different (the steps on the racing bike will be biased toward racing/smooth pedal stroke whereas on a touring bike a wider gear range is desirable).
3- the head angle will be more slack = increased rake/trail = greater tendency to self steer = slower steering input but more stable. Compare riding no hands on a race bike vs. a touring bike and you'll find the touring bike is noticeably easier.
4- more upright riding position = more wind resistance created by the rider's torso (think of the torso as a big sail catching the wind).
5- the LHT is going to have wider tires, perhaps 1.25+ wide, and will be generally run at lower pressure. Even the 32c Schwalbe Marathon is typically run at 95 psi or less. A racing tire will be narrower (less wind resistance), run at higher pressure (less rolling resistance), and have less tread (less rolling resistance).
6- the LHT will have a longer wheelbase = longer turning radius = slower turning
7- This is a generalization but race bikes will also feel more responsive in terms of power transfer compared to a touring/commuting bike due to the type/shape of tubing used in the frame.
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Old 06-02-11, 05:09 AM   #8
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You can go to the Surly Crosscheck/LHT Google groups, they have info on people who are willing to let you test ride their bikes if you're in the area.

I have a LHT, and I ride group rides with it on the weekends, have no problems keeping up with the non-racer road bike people. Is it slower than a proper road bike? Yes. Is it slower than my 50# custom chopper? No. Is it slower than my mountain bike with slicks? No. I'm happy.
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Old 06-02-11, 07:09 AM   #9
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It's not so much the bike, as it is the motor ;-)

I use a 56cm, 700C LHT as my primary ride. Commuting, utility riding, group rides, out cruising with my sweetie, whatever. Even played polo with it a time or two. The LHT is heavier (mine, with racks, weighs a little less than 34 pounds), has a little longer wheel base, and wider tires than does my 18-lb carbon fibre road bike. So I'm not as speedy-fast on it for the same level of effort as I would be on my carbon bike... but I've found over the past several thousand miles with it that I can be as fast as I need to be, or want to be.

Your mileage (and Mph) may differ... ;-)
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Old 06-02-11, 07:23 AM   #10
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Calling a LHT slow is like calling a Honda slow compared to a Porsche.
A LHT may be a lot of things but it isn't a Honda. It's more like calling a Dodge Ram slow compared to a Porsche.
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Old 06-02-11, 07:28 AM   #11
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Personally I'd rather have the LHT. A short frame with snappy steering might actually be more dangerous at high speed; you could probably get into a death wobble more easily than on a longer frame.

Give me any bike, even a carbon one, and by the time I'm done outfitting it, it'll weight 30 pounds or more anyway, so for me there's not much point in paying for light bikes. I was actually thinking about getting a lighter bike for summer months last week, but I can't imagine having a bike without fenders and a rack, and by then I might as well just keep riding my hybrid.
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Old 06-02-11, 07:41 AM   #12
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Its not that slow. Its not really like a Honda/Porsche difference. Speedwise its more like an Accord/Pickup truck difference. Compared to a carbon fiber racing bike it will have a very different feel. It will be heavier, and you will notice the geometry differences others here have mentioned. Competitive riders like light bikes so they can quickly close a gap in a paceline, climb easier and accelerate quicker. If those things arent concerns for you then weight is not an issue. You can setup a LHT with drop bars and still get a fairly aerodynamic position on it. You can change cassettes and cranks and gear it more like a racing bike if you want. How fast or slow has more to do with your legs than the bike.
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Old 06-02-11, 07:50 AM   #13
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Many seem to say it drives like "grandpa's buick" or "an old Cadillac" or other such things, essentially saying it's slow.
No, not necessarily. A smooth ride does not mean the same as saying it is slow.

On an extreme, I have a Raleigh DL-1 English 3-speed roadster. Very upright with north road bars, weighs 50 lb., etc. It has that Cadillac/Buick feel. If I take it on a long ride, though, I can make pretty good time because it is so comfortable that I don't feel the need to make stops, plus once you get it going it really cruises along. I was cruising along on the MUP once and someone recognized me and tried to catch up on their road bike, but couldn't catch me until I stopped to rest in some shade and take a drink of water. The DL-1 has a ponderous ride feel, but it is by no means slow.

For people who make comparisons to Cadillacs, I think they are talking about how smooth it is at cruising speed. A racing bike feels every bump and pebble, a good touring bike is built to minimize that feel and make the ride feel smooth. When someone mentions a ride that feels like a Caddy or a Buick, they are talking about the smoothness of the ride, not the speed. A friend of mine commutes on an LHT and he rides pretty fast indeed.
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Old 06-02-11, 07:54 AM   #14
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I have a LHT and a specialized Roubaix carbon fiber road bike. For a given level of effort (measured by avg. HR over the distance) I tend to be about 2 mph slower on the LHT. Primary differences are as already mentioned...weight, narrow high PSI vs. wide low PSI tires, and rider position. I'm very upright on the LHT, so much so that even when in the drops I'm more upright than my ususal riding position on the roubaix. The roubaix is even one of the "relaxed" road bikes. When riding, if I decide to bump my speed, its VERY easy to do this on the roubaix since additional application of power is felt immediately in speed. On the LHT its more like ramping up to the speed to the new level of effort. In short, when I'm out for a group ride, I take the "fast" bike, but when I'm riding for transport or recreation I ususally take the LHT.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:13 AM   #15
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People who have both road and touring bikes have told me that while their roadies are faster on smooth pavement, they can actually make better time in the real world -- over broken pavement, railway tracks, frost heaves etc. -- on a smoother riding, more durable touring bike. I don't know, though. I ride a rather hefty drop-bar hybrid that's all decked out for touring with racks, lights and fenders. It goes as fast as I need or ever want to go.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:21 AM   #16
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There are no slow bikes, only slow riders.
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Old 06-02-11, 10:36 AM   #17
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Which bike I commute on depends on weather.
On crappy days I ride my fat tire frankenbikefenderbeast. It is geared for climbing/load pulling and quickly outruns the gearing on the down hills. My fair weather road bike is longer geared , "quicker" overall and much, much faster on the downhills.
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Old 06-02-11, 11:07 AM   #18
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JoeyBike rides one... nuff said
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Old 06-02-11, 11:08 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by lurrego View Post
Please explain this concept of "slow" to me, using other arguments besides "it's heavy," because the way I see it, I'm already a pretty strong pretty fit guy, so wouldn't pedaling faster just make it go faster?
You don't have to go faster on a fast bike; you can go the same speed with less energy, but you have a higher top speed. You can pedal faster and go faster (on any bike), but there's a limit here, as with all things. I don't know how fast you can turn the pedals over, but a lot of roadies can do short sprints of about 200 revolutions per minute, often with their heart rate being about the same number. For maybe a whole minute. Then they start turning the pedals more slowly again. What I'm saying is that you can't just keep turning the pedals faster to make up for all sorts of things, until you're moving them infinitely fast.

Other people have done a great job of explaining why and how a long haul trucker is slower than a Tour de Frace road bike. Given your plans, you probably want something closer to an LHT than a TdF bike. But you'd be well served by doing some test rides.

And no, the Surley won't be as slow as walking.
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Old 06-02-11, 11:54 AM   #20
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People who have both road and touring bikes have told me that while their roadies are faster on smooth pavement, they can actually make better time in the real world -- over broken pavement, railway tracks, frost heaves etc. -- on a smoother riding, more durable touring bike
This is good to know. Really smooth pavement essentially does not exist anywhere on my route, I sometimes have to ride gravel and in fact in places even the paved parts are horrid; there is a paved road that I can take as an alternate route that is usually actually worse than the gravel. It's something to bring up when I talk with people who say I "really should buy a road bike."
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Old 06-02-11, 11:57 AM   #21
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This is good to know. Really smooth pavement essentially does not exist anywhere on my route, I sometimes have to ride gravel and in fact in places even the paved parts are horrid; there is a paved road that I can take as an alternate route that is usually actually worse than the gravel. It's something to bring up when I talk with people who say I "really should buy a road bike."
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Old 06-02-11, 12:01 PM   #22
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A slow bike to me is a bike that just takes a lot more effort to go at the speeds I like to go.
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Old 06-02-11, 01:16 PM   #23
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One of my commuters is a Shogun that I can squeeze 40's in it, but have 35's(or 38's I would have to look) on it. As everyone else has mentioned the fatter tire has is overall faster than the skinny tires. I will say, that it is a more plesurable ride with the wider tires. Rivendel has a good write up on why a fatter tire does not have that much rolling resistance than a skinny one. I have a friend with a LHT( good looking bike BTW). I had to ask him what the "F.F.F." decal on his bike ment, He said "Fatties Fit Fine".
I tried the Kool Aid- just a sip with the Brooks, another drink with the fat tires.... I think I like Kool Aid
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Old 06-02-11, 01:34 PM   #24
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Any bike I plop my ass on will have a slow, weak motor. So I figure it might as well be a comfortable one like my Soma Doublecross with heavy touring grade wheels, 700x35c tars, and Brooks saddle. I'm not trying to fool anyone trying to make them think I am a fast guy when I just ride for fun and to try to keep from dying too soon.
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Old 06-02-11, 01:47 PM   #25
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Fast or slow bike is meaningless. As an extreme example, take a high-end CF race bike on singletrack and see if you can keep up with an MTB. Just get a bike that is suitable for the conditions you ride in and the gear you carry.
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