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Old 07-26-17, 01:56 AM   #1
BikingDingo
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New to Touring - Seeking Advice

I'm 5'4" with an inseam of 28". I was extremely interested in the Surly Long Haul Trucker Disc 54cm, but learned that a 26" tire may be undesirable. Surly makes a 700c, but the biggest size is 56cm. I believe my body would be too small for such frame. I have three initial questions:

1) Is a 26" tire truly undesirable? Would it be insane to do a long tour in a 26" tire?

2) What make/model would fit well with my build (5'4.5", 130lbs, 28" inseam)? I prefer Surly, Kona or Scott due to a potential discount.

3) Are disc brakes an unnecessary luxury or highly recommended?

I initially hope to use this a commuter and eventually transition it into a cross-country touring machine.
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Old 07-26-17, 04:14 AM   #2
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Surly puts 26"(559bcd)on it's smaller frames because it is difficult to design a small frame that will accomadate 700C wheels with wide tires and fenders . Toe overlap on a touring bike can be a problem.

Another possibility would be 650B(584bcd) wheels. The SOMA Grand Randonneur is one example. Rivendell also has a couple of frames designed around 650B wheels. They are more expensive, but will probably last decades. There are others such as Velo Routier from Canada.

There will be posts after this saying "But the availability of 650B tires is limited". That was true a few years ago, but its less true now, with the popularity of 27.5 .

Disc brakes? Dunno. Velo Orange is coming out with a new Polyvalent designed for discs and 650B.
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Old 07-26-17, 04:30 AM   #3
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Welcome to BF, BikingDingo!

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Originally Posted by BikingDingo View Post
I'm 5'4" with an inseam of 28". I was extremely interested in the Surly Long Haul Trucker Disc 54cm, but learned that a 26" tire may be undesirable. Surly makes a 700c, but the biggest size is 56cm. I believe my body would be too small for such frame. I have three initial questions:

1) Is a 26" tire truly undesirable? Would it be insane to do a long tour in a 26" tire?

I think that the Surly Disc Trucker in 54cm would be a stellar choice for you. A bike with 26" tires is definitely not an undesirable thing, in fact quite the opposite. Tires of that size are more easily available than 700c in many countries around the world. I had a Long Haul Trucker with 26" wheels and I loved it. I sold it because I didn't like cantilever brakes. I should have gotten a Disc Trucker in the first place.

2) What make/model would fit well with my build (5'4.5", 130lbs, 28" inseam)? I prefer Surly, Kona or Scott due to a potential discount.

Stick with the DT.

3) Are disc brakes an unnecessary luxury or highly recommended?

People will argue this to the moon and back, but I like disc on any bike that will be carrying weight, and will potentially be travelling in wet weather.

I initially hope to use this a commuter and eventually transition it into a cross-country touring machine.
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Old 07-26-17, 06:08 AM   #4
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Lots of folks on this forum tour on older mountain bike frames with 26" wheels. I've done a couple week-long tours on 26" wheels, so don't let that hold you back if you like the Surly.
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Old 07-26-17, 06:21 AM   #5
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A 26in wheel is the opposite of undesirable. In fact Surly started offering all of their larger sized bikes in 26in due to customer demand.

I have a 56 LHT in 700c. I wish the option for the 26 had been available at the time.

I also wish I had disc brakes. But that wasn't available either. Built my trucker in 2008.

I think I'm talking myself into a new Trucker. Hmmmm....
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Old 07-26-17, 07:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
There will be posts after this saying "But the availability of 650B tires is limited". That was true a few years ago, but its less true now, with the popularity of 27.5 .
It might be "less true", but having sorted out tires earlier this year for myself on 26" and two other guys on 29" and 27.5", I will say that the 27.5" still has a lot of catching up to do especially in the non-knobby realm. Not to say you probably can't find something suitable, though.

OTOH, when I was looking for an emergency replacement 26" wheel, I quickly learned that many shops aren't stocking them anymore (or at least beyond the basic $40 cheapies), because all modern MTBs are going to 27.5/29.
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Old 07-26-17, 08:00 AM   #7
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I think that the Surly Disc Trucker in 54cm would be a stellar choice for you
A 54cm frame would most definitely not be a good choice for someone with a 28" inseam. The 54cm in a 26" wheel has a standover height of 31" which is at least 3" taller than BikingDingo has legs (giving an inch of wiggle room between the hard bits and the sensitive bits). For a 28" inseam, a 46cm (28.5" standover) or a 42cm (27.6" standover) would be much better. BikingDingo didn't tell us if that is her (his?) inseam in bare feet but unless BikingDingo rides in PeeWee Herman platforms, shoes aren't going to make up 3" in height.

Quote:
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I'm 5'4" with an inseam of 28". I was extremely interested in the Surly Long Haul Trucker Disc 54cm, but learned that a 26" tire may be undesirable. Surly makes a 700c, but the biggest size is 56cm. I believe my body would be too small for such frame. I have three initial questions:

1) Is a 26" tire truly undesirable? Would it be insane to do a long tour in a 26" tire?

2) What make/model would fit well with my build (5'4.5", 130lbs, 28" inseam)? I prefer Surly, Kona or Scott due to a potential discount.

3) Are disc brakes an unnecessary luxury or highly recommended?

I initially hope to use this a commuter and eventually transition it into a cross-country touring machine.
For a you, a 26" wheel makes a lot of sense. It increases standover without compromising on frame geometry and handling. You aren't all that short but smaller wheels do make a difference. Don't be sold on the hype that large wheels "roll better". The difference is minimal and a smaller wheel has several advantages. It is lighter, as are the tires. It's stronger but that not much of an issue for you.

Perhaps most importantly, it allows for lower gearing. This chart shows the difference between the 700C and 26" gearing
(26" is on the top).

Finally, Santana Tandems has an interesting take on disc brakes with which I happen to agree. I have disc brakes on a few bikes and, frankly, can't see what the fuss is all about.
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Old 07-26-17, 08:47 AM   #8
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without touching on the disc brake issue (I have toured on rim brakes and disc, yes there is a diff but rim brakes are easy peasy to live with and work fine) the most important thing here is that for someone who is 5'4" , a 54cm LHT with drop bars is going to be too big for you--forget the standover part, the "reach" from seat to bars is just plain going to be too large for you.

if you have never ridden a drop bar bike, I strongly urge you to go to many bike stores and test ride diff sized frames, but whatever you do, DO NOT let a bike store employee tell you that a 54cm frame is fine for someone 5'4".
Hell, I'm 5'10" and ride a couple of dropbar bikes with 54cm toptubes or thereabouts, and with diff stem lengths depending on the specific frame (stem is the changeable thing that comes in diff lengths and angles that holds the handlebars and determines how far the bars are from the front of the frame and at what height) I am very comfortable on both bikes.

oh, and touring on 26in wheels in my opinion also is not a real difference, and I have toured a lot with both. Touring is not racing, and we toodle along at very reasonable speeds and I havent noticed a diff between the two. I recently did a two month trip on 26in wheels and can't say I noticed any diff from riding 700 wheels.
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Old 07-26-17, 08:53 AM   #9
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A 54cm frame would most definitely not be a good choice for someone with a 28" inseam. The 54cm in a 26" wheel has a standover height of 31" which is at least 3" taller than BikingDingo has legs (giving an inch of wiggle room between the hard bits and the sensitive bits). For a 28" inseam, a 46cm (28.5" standover) or a 42cm (27.6" standover) would be much better. BikingDingo didn't tell us if that is her (his?) inseam in bare feet but unless BikingDingo rides in PeeWee Herman platforms, shoes aren't going to make up 3" in height.
An oversight on my part. Thanks for correcting me, Stu. If 28" was my true inseam, then I believe that I would feel more feel more comfy on the 42cm frame.
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Old 07-26-17, 08:56 AM   #10
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oh, and touring on 26in wheels in my opinion also is not a real difference, and I have toured a lot with both. Touring is not racing, and we toodle along at very reasonable speeds and I havent noticed a diff between the two. I recently did a two month trip on 26in wheels and can't say I noticed any diff from riding 700 wheels.
For that matter, the wife and I purchased a pair of vintage Raleigh folders a couple months ago, and we are having an absolute blast with them. Those things really fly! She says they work very fast to cheer her up after a hard day at work.
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Old 07-26-17, 09:25 AM   #11
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I'm 5'4" with...
There's nothing wrong/undesirable/inferior to a 26" wheeled tourer vs 700c. 700c is more popular now, and people do choose to go the way of the majority when making decisions if for no other reason than it's the way most people go.

I owned a 26" LHT and switched to a 700c Disc Trucker (DT). The 700c bike is no quicker than the 26 bike - if anything it's slower because larger diameter wheels use more material located further from the axle. Twenty-six inch wheels are likely to have greater longevity than 700c wheels due to favorable spoke lacing geometry. Worldwide, 26" tires suitable for touring are more readily available than 700c tires. I wish I had bought my DT in 26" instead of 700c. Also, if you intend to use studded tires (UT), then wider 26" tires on a bike with ample clearance is the better choice.

On smaller 700c bikes you get toe overlap, particularly on large-tired touring bikes with full fenders. Toe overlap occurs only when you make a slow, tight turn (a U-turn in a 2 lane road, for example), and the tip of your rotating shoe strikes the front fender/tire. Bike designers modify smaller frame sizes to reduce the likelihood of toe overlap (longer TT, steeper STA, slacker HTA), which usually compromises fit, comfort and handling. The smarter solution is to design around smaller wheels, which is what Surly has done with the LHT and DT.

Compared to rim brakes, disc brakes are heavier, usually more costly, and require the bicycle frame, fork and wheels to be heavier to accommodate the brake. Mechanical disc brakes are fairly low maintenance (exception being bent rotor related issues), and can be easier to maintain than rim brakes. Disc brakes may stop slightly quicker on dry road, but where they really shine is when riding in rain, snow or wet grass/weeds. If you hardly ever ride in wet conditions, then you do not reap the main benefit of disc brakes, and rim brakes will probably be more than adequate. Disc brakes are more useful in a commuting scenario because you're more likely to be riding in fast traffic where frequent, quick, radical maneuvering is necessary.

At your height, it would be smart to choose a 26" wheeled bike. I suggest giving rim brakes serious consideration, even though most will advise discs (they now dominate the bike market). A LHT is a good value. It's a well designed tourer that's been around since 2004 with no major issues, either as frameset or complete bicycle (some of us DIY). The frameset is manufactured by the arguably best Taiwanese mass-produced frame builder and the joints are well made (if frames fail it's usually at or near the junction of tubes/dropouts/bottom bracket). The LHT/DT is probably overkill for a 135 lb person and 20-40 lbs of gear - you could get by with a lighter-duty bike. However, I doubt you would be disappointed in a LHT. If that's what you want, get it, and don't give the 26" wheels a second thought. Ditto disc brakes, you probably don't need them. I usually propose a LHT/DT to the "what touring bike should I get" question because they're well designed and made, reasonably priced and I can be confident I've provided good advice. At 64.5" height I reckon you'd fit a 46, 50 or 52cm LHT/DT depending on a number of factors (your physique, posture preference and handlebar type).

Having made my standard recommendation, you should know that there are many bikes which could be made into a workable commuter and/or tourer for a 135 lb person. Good rack and fender mounts plus long chainstays to prevent heel-to-pannier interference (i.e. heelstrike) are usually needed for both uses, and this is where many bikes fall short. There are ways to jury-rig fender and rack mounts to these bikes, depending on the bike and use. Metal (Fe, Al, Ti) frames and forks are more suitable for these types of kludges. Many people are content with kludged bikes, while others can't abide things not done "right". If you fall into the later group, pay a bit more for the bike you want, because it's less costly than compromising on the first bike, then later replacing with a second "better" bike.
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Old 07-26-17, 01:45 PM   #12
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Does anyone ride a Kona Sutra in a 52 or 54? This is another option I'm considering - it has 700c tires. Thank you for all your input!
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Old 07-26-17, 02:06 PM   #13
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You're less than an inch away from my height and inseam. I'm about 5'4" and a half.

54 cm is too big. 52 cm, maybe. ~50 cm is probably your size. It varies a little bit based on model, but 95% of the time, a bike that fits you best will be between 48-52 cm.

If you're sticking to road, find a bike that uses 700c wheels. Salsa Vaya and Fuji Touring are good options, at different prices and levels of quality.

As far as touring goes, essentially the only advantage to 26" wheels is availability in third-world countries. I've found that in most of Latin America, get to a larger city and you'll find shops with 700c wheels/tires/tubes. The next large city is usually no more than a week away, and there are few tire/wheel issues that can't be mended for a week at a time with a boot, spare tube, and a patch kit. Can't speak for Africa or Asia. You can always carry a spare tire if it's a long tour and you're worried.

I'm not familiar with Kona or Scott, so I'm no help there.

Disc brakes can be nice, but aren't wholly necessary, especially if you're sticking to pavement.

In summary: If you're sticking to pavement in developed countries, get 700c. Even if you're not, 700c is fine as long as you're prepared. Your frame size is ~50 cm. Disc brakes are optional.
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Old 07-26-17, 02:15 PM   #14
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If you're touring in remote areas, 26" can actually be an advantage of you need to source a spare.

IMO, discs are a no brainer. But for maintenance/repair reasons, I'd recommend mechanical rather than hydraulic.

I'd actually look at the Troll as a good touring option for a smaller rider as well. Especially if some rough stuff might be in the cards.
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Old 07-26-17, 02:33 PM   #15
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I find both 26" and 700c to be desirable. I'm sure 27.5 is also OK, but possibly a little harder to find tires.
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Old 07-26-17, 03:03 PM   #16
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When you say touring, I assume that you are talking full loaded touring. I am 5' - 6" and have both 700c and 26 touring bikes. I would highly suggest that you try a 42cm frame. Having a lower top tube has a huge advantage. On a loaded touring bike you have three bike mounting options: 1) swinging your leg behind the rear seat; awkward with gear stacked up on the rear rack. 2) Swing your leg over the handlebars; difficult. 3) Step over the top tube; Easier with low top tubes, more awkward with increased height. An old rigid mid 90's Haro mountain bike with the dipped top tube would be really nice.
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Old 07-26-17, 03:10 PM   #17
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I strongly disagree with anyone who says you should be riding a 48, or 50 cm frame. Assuming that you have a bike now, measure your preferred seat height. (seat top to the crank center to the top of the seat), and try out a 42 cm bike with your preferred seat height. On a mountain bike, if a bike were 48-50 cm (19-20"), that would be for someone close to six feet tall.
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Old 07-26-17, 04:03 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikingDingo View Post
I'm 5'4" with an inseam of 28". I was extremely interested in the Surly Long Haul Trucker Disc 54cm
Way too big for you unless your some variant of the missing link and have comically long arms!

My 5 foot 3 inch son with 28" in seam rides a 43cm with 49cm ETT.
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Old 07-26-17, 04:35 PM   #19
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I agree with the smaller frame sizes. I am 5'5" with a 28" inseam and 48-50cm is a bit too tall for me. I can ride that size of course, but would have to lean the bike to stand over the top bar. Mounting would be cumbersome - especially with gear on the back.

I have looked at the disk trucker online more times than I can count and should I order one, I would be looking at the 42cm frame. Surly lists the 42cm as having a roughly 27.5" stand-over height.

My current Cannondale is 41-42cm and it's about right for me. I can step over the top bar to mount it and not have to contend with trying to swing my leg up and over the loaded rear rack. I also have just enough room between top bar and nether-realms to avoid unnecessary discomfort.
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Old 08-01-17, 09:37 PM   #20
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Hey Dingo! Welcome. Go with the LHT and 26" wheels. It's a great bike with 700 or 26 wheels. Discs are not a luxury, more the norm anymore. In wet weather, they'll be better than rim brakes, but other than that, I don't think that it really matters. I have 2 mountain Bikes, one with rim brakes and one with disc. They both stop when I want them to!
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Old 08-01-17, 11:01 PM   #21
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I would look for a frame with some slope of the top tube. I just built a Dyad rim wheel 584 with 37 mm Schwalbe marathon plus tire, perfect for touring. Better than 559 IMO.
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Old 08-01-17, 11:14 PM   #22
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26" are more desirable for touring, mostly because of the variety of widths you can easily accommodate on a 26" frame. Most 26" frames will take a 2" tire if you want to do some rough gravel touring for example.
Disc brakes- not really necessary. I've never had a problem stopping with rim brakes, even in the rain. You're touring, you don't generally need to do crash stops on massive wet descents. I ride discs now- long story- and I have had them fade on a long steep descent. Plus mechanical discs need more adjustment than rim brakes I've found. Last tour I seemed to be constantly fiddling with my brakes, my partners bike I adjusted the barrel adjuster on the bars once. Plus they are much heavier than rim brakes...
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Old 08-02-17, 12:16 AM   #23
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Does anyone ride a Kona Sutra in a 52 or 54? This is another option I'm considering - it has 700c tires. Thank you for all your input!
I am 5'7" and have a size M 2016 Kona, sized 52. The standover with 700x37c wheels is roughly 30 inches and my inseam is about 31.5 w/o shoes and 32-32.5" depending on type of shoes I wear (usually Vans, so mostly on the lower end). I would look at the s/m(50 or 51, can't remember exactly) or s (48-49) not only for the standover height, but for the reach as well. The 52 suits me just fine. I think it will be a pretty aggressive reach for someone your height. Just my two cents.
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Old 08-03-17, 08:26 PM   #24
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I strongly disagree with anyone who says you should be riding a 48, or 50 cm frame. Assuming that you have a bike now, measure your preferred seat height. (seat top to the crank center to the top of the seat), and try out a 42 cm bike with your preferred seat height. On a mountain bike, if a bike were 48-50 cm (19-20"), that would be for someone close to six feet tall.
Unfortunately this isn't how we size touring/road bikes and I agree with what several other very knowledgeable people have already stated and that is, the 54 cm is going to be way too large for you and the 48 or 50 will likely be the ticket.
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Old 08-04-17, 08:49 AM   #25
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Does anyone ride a Kona Sutra in a 52 or 54? This is another option I'm considering - it has 700c tires. Thank you for all your input!
Just to reiterate what everyone else is saying, both of these bikes will be too big for you. The 54 LHT will be too big for you. If you're interested in the Kona Sutra, you should be looking at the 46cm, but even that might be too big for you. I am 5'-5", and looking at the specs for the 46cm Sutra, it would be too big for me.

I am currently riding a 52cm Salsa Vaya, which only fits when I ditched the set back seatpost and got a zero offset one. It's almost a hair too big for me. You really need to be looking at smaller frames.
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