Okay, all this talk about the Surly LHT has gotten me very interested. I'm considering buying a frame and putting together the components over the course of the next year. Does anyone have any suggestions, or specifications to watch out for? I've never built up a bike before. I know nothing about what sizes bottom brackets come in, or the width of the dropouts, or whether an 8-, 9-, or 10 speed cluster would be more or less rugged. And what kind of chain do you need? (I don't know much, I admit it.)
Right now I'm riding a 14-year-old Nashbar with Biopace chainrings and a 7-speed cluster.
Here are some things I do know: I want rugged and reliable first, low-weight and trick second. I'm 6'4" and would be interested in the 62cm frame. I want bar-end shifters. I want to be able to pull heavy loads up steep hills - top speed is secondary. I want to be able to use wide 700mm tires. Right now I'm using 28mm tires, but would consider fatter - 34? 36? - to get more durability and the ability to ride trails (like the Katy Trail?). I want to be able to mount fenders. I like the Surly racks; I'd probably end up buying them, either with the framer or later (when my wallet had recovered somewhat.)
If anyone with mechanical experience can enlighten me, I'd be grateful.