I was wondering whether anybody had experience with long distance touring on either the cross check or Karate Monkey 'on-road'. From what I understand, both are great for off road back country touring, but I wished to find out if their versatility extends to comfortable road touring. If they have on-road shortcomings; how do these these shortcomings compare to the long haul trucker's off road shortcomings? Thanks for your help.
Just looking at the specs, the KM comes in fewer sizes (making fit a little less precise) and weighs more. The LHT has more head tube to get the bars higher and lower BB. CC has shorter wheelbase which yields less stability. LHT has a more lax head tube angle. LHT has more water bottle mounts and dual rack/fender eyelets front and rear. LHT is built for 26" wheels in smaller sizes to avoid weird geometry.
Any of them will work on or off road, but the LHT is just better designed for more hours in the saddle.
I've had both the Crosscheck and the LHT and own a different make (Voodoo Dambala) of 29er mountain bike.
The LHT feels rock solid when loaded down, but the lower bottom bracket and long wheelbase make it less offroad worthy than the Crosscheck. The Crosscheck works fine fully loaded but isn't quite as "solid" as the LHT. The Crosscheck is extemely versatile - I have 2 sets of wheels for mine. One set of fancy road wheels for using it as a road bike, and one set of bomber wheels with either cyclocross tires or touring tires. It can even handle up to 44c tires. I haven't specifically ridden the Karate Monkey, but it would definitely be a much better off road machine. But on the road it would be overly heavy and not very quick steering.
If the bike is going to be primarily used for touring, I'd recommend the LHT.
If you want to do a little of everything - the Crosscheck.
If you are going to do lots of serious mountain biking - the Karate Monkey.