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Old 01-21-08, 05:13 PM   #1
Flyover
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Surly LHT - What would you change?

I am planning on building a LHT this spring. I am wanting to do my own build rather than buy the LHT complete mainly for the hands on experience. I feel that I will be better able to handle any repairs having built the bike up myself.

I am planning on using the parts listed on the Surly web site for the complete LHT for my build. Not having any experience with touring and limited road experience they seem like a good option. Pricing the components on the internet I have found them to be reasonably priced and for the most part well reviewed.

So my question is: What components would you change if you were building a LHT?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-21-08, 05:36 PM   #2
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The frame

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Old 01-21-08, 05:59 PM   #3
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How much will this exercise cost you? I mean, how much will you spend to buy the frame and parts vs. buying the built bike? Given that your going in position is the same parts kit as the LHT complete, why don't you buy the complete and swap from there. I would bet that the difference would pay for some bike maintenance classes!

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Old 01-21-08, 06:13 PM   #4
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So my question is: What components would you change if you were building a LHT?
If I were I would add STI shifters, but I am in the minority here on this forum at least.

BTW: I think it is a bad idea to spend more money to build it yourself unless you really want something radically different from what comes on the complete bike. Different strokes though.
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Old 01-21-08, 06:29 PM   #5
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One of the good things about the LHT Complete is that it's pretty much good to go. There are only a couple of tiny tweaks that I can think of: better brake pads, a handlebar to your liking, tires that suit your use, a better saddle.

Maybe you can get the Complete from your LBS, and tell them you want to assemble it yourself.

Although one plus of buying the frame and parts separately is that you'll probably get the frame quicker - Completes tend to sell out, iirc.
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Old 01-21-08, 07:05 PM   #6
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building a bike

I could not agree more with those who posted above.

I recently mangled my hybrid into the back of a stationary Hyundai!!

The result was I bought a Cross-Check and canablised what I could off the wrek onto the Cross-Check.

Unless you have done this before you will not believe how much work it is. I now have a new found respect for good bike mechanics. I wanted to build as I am a DIY fiend but no sonner have I finished my bike and done a few hundred miles I still want a mechanic to check it over.

In hindsight I am glad I built the bike and am proud of the task, but hells bells I would love to have all those hours back or rather have spent them in the saddle.

Buy complete and fiddle as you go.

I am running the Shimano BR-R550 brakes, no idea if they are any better.

PS: Could not enjoy this bike more, go Surly!

PS PS: wait till you see how much decent tools cost!!!
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Old 01-21-08, 07:22 PM   #7
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Why not buy the complete bike, and take the whole thing apart. Then you could at least try to remember how it all went, when you try to put it back together. With the money you save, you could take it to your LBS and they can fix all the things you can't remember how to put back correctly.
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Old 01-21-08, 07:29 PM   #8
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Here's how I can save you two hundred dollars, give or take, and still meet your goal:

Buy complete LHT, take it apart, put it back together.

Wanna save three hundred? Buy a Randonee. I think they're a better deal anyway...
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Old 01-21-08, 07:40 PM   #9
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Haha...Yeah, that's the puzzle for me lately. LHT vs. Randonee. I'm not buying either until it warms up, but it's driving me nuts. I finally decided on the Randonee, then Surly announced the olive green and I'm back where I started. I would want to ditch the brifters and put barcons on the randonee but that's just me. I wonder how the two frames stack up, but the likelihood of someone having real touring experience with both seems incredibly small.
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Old 01-21-08, 08:06 PM   #10
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I would change the saddle to a Brooks Flyer. The shifters to downtube shifters. Other than that I can't see what else I would "really" need to change.
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Old 01-21-08, 08:39 PM   #11
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That's a good start.

Next would be the brakes, then shifters.

I'll never understand the mystique in building a brand new, antique bike??????
Mystique? It's the hottest seller around here for commuters. It's rugged, and reasonably priced, what's not to like?
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Old 01-21-08, 09:06 PM   #12
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Two things ... I'd dump the bar end shifters and get brifters, 9 speed 105's if you can find them. (I'll take some heat on that one) ... and I'd change the saddle to a Books B17.
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Old 01-21-08, 10:08 PM   #13
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The saddle would be gone. I might change the bars to trekking bars and therefore the shifters but I could live with the drop bars (barcons vs. STI, now that would require more thought) What I would really like to change but can't would be the fact that you can't get the 56 size with 26" wheels.
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Old 01-21-08, 10:22 PM   #14
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The stock saddle isn't any good... I replaced mine with a Brooks Professional.

The stock Kalloy stem had too much rise for me. I replaced it with a Easton EA90 100mm stem, and flipped it down for negative rise.

The Tektro Oryx brake pads aren't any good... replaced with Kool Stop. A few months later, I got frustrated with the propensity of the Oryx brakes to pick up lots of grime in the mechanism. I didn't want to be stuck with taking them apart and cleaning them every month, so I replaced the front Oryx with Paul touring cantis. I almost never use my rear brakes, so I left the Oryx on the rear. The Paul brakes are excellent and have lots of stopping power... but the Oryx brakes really aren't bad.

Stock tires were replaced with Panaracer T-serv 28mm. I went too narrow on the tires, and will soon be replacing with 32mm T-servs.

I replaced the stock seatpost with a Thomson. The stock post is OK, but I prefer a micro-adjust seatpost for use with a Brooks, since they can be a bit finicky with regard to fore/aft tilt.
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Old 01-21-08, 11:33 PM   #15
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Yikes! Such negative "build it yourself" energy here...

Go for it man. Yep, it will cost more than buying a complete bike. Yep, it will take some time. Yep, you will need some bike tools. Big deal. Life is short and building up a frame is fun and rewarding.

You can pick and chose the parts you want, where you want the cheaper parts and where you want the better parts. What drive train will work best for you and your situation, the right combo of hubs, rims and tires. The list goes on. You will learn a ton just picking the components. Then you get the experience of the build, learning how your bike is put together and how it all works. Get stumped part way through? Thats where Bike Forums can help. Step back and look at a bike, it is really a pretty simple machine. You will be a better mechanic for it. Gotta buy some tools? Well how are you going to maintain it without some tools?

And do try and buy at least some of your parts from a real live local bike shop.
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Old 01-21-08, 11:43 PM   #16
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Most of the LHT is decent to begin with -- frame, cranks, bars, stem, etc. Trade up the wheels, saddle and seatpost over time. Change out brakes and derailleurs based on what works and doesn't work for you. We're all in this to ride the bike -- I'd put my effort into getting the bike, putting on some miles, and make your upgrades over time. Me? I'm fixing up and riding a 1983 Specialized Expedition while I wait, wait, wait for my Americano!

p.s. -- if you have this bike long enough you will get plenty of experience assembling and reassembling.
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Old 01-22-08, 02:17 AM   #17
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Oh geez. Here we go again. The whole vibe on the LHT has changed from making your own dinner, to "hey happy meals are 25cents off at McDonalds!"

You would probably do yourself a favour to just dial back the clock to a time before this prefab hit the bricks. There are lots of old threads on building these things out and you can find lots of ideas.

I wouldn't have any (too many) of the package parts from the LHT on my bike, but as others have noted you do need to have more in mind than just changing the bell, or you really will take a financial shelacking.

Find an online dealer like Spicer, that will work with you, and order everything you can at once, but first negotiate a discount. The prices in the catalogs aren't final. When you do this you don't really have to lock in every last part, so you may be able to pick up a few sale parts elsewhere without getting off track with your dealer. Try to figure those parts first, then you can just lay out you want everything from them, but you have a few carry overs already. Get the frame from the likes of Spicer, and he will do the frame prep for you. You need that or some major stuff may not fit, and the tools are about 1K ++.

Wheels you could go something like LX hubs, DT butted spokes, some rims people have actually heard of (OK I like the Alex DH22, but you could go with something like mavic or velocity), then build the wheels yourself. It isn't really difficult, and you can absolutely do a better job than a machine made wheel.

I like Schwalbe Slick tires 37mm , but here is another opportunity to tune the bike to your use and terrain.

Go LX rear deraileur, and on the front I don't really have a favorite, I normally buy whatever is cheap on Nashbar or something.

Cranks specified on the Surly are great, but I think the ratios are the usual stupid. What anyone needs with a 48x11 700c, is beyond me, unless you are gearing for your unloaded use. I like to go purely touring because that is all I use the bike for, to each their own. Apparently you need the same gearing on a 700c as on a 26" tire. I guess it is because they have the same circumference. It's technical.

Brooks saddle. I like a B17 without the copper rivets, dyed leather, or broken in option.

I would get the widest rondoneur style bars possible, but that is my build.

I'm pationate about brakes. If you diverge from the specified brand, at least get something similar in shape, check out the catalogs. Nashbar has some cheap options. I have their 20 dollar a pair ones and they are fine. I would probably go something like the Paul touring, not the neos, on this if it was mine.

Stainless chain.

I'm using up some Nashbar cartridge bearing BBs at the moment.
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Old 01-22-08, 02:31 AM   #18
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Deaner has some good points. I actually have both Paul brakes for my current bike, but haven't bothered to switch in the rear, because the 20 year old brake I first put there has been working great.

That 20 year old brake is actually a petersen , and I just bought another for the front. I'm thinking they may be the perfect touring combo, but that is another post. Why do I have just a rear petersen? Because I once had two, and only bothered with the front one, the stock rear worked fine, and then that bike got stolen... At the end of the day, a few bucks extra up front is better

I like Thomson posts also. With the Brooks you need to be a little careful since they need a fair amount of set back to get the right ride, and don't have as much adjust in the rails. My new frame is going to be set up without set back and just have the seat tube at the right angle for the Brooks.
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Old 01-22-08, 04:48 AM   #19
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Well... interesting thread.

The one thing I think everyone misses in the Flyover's original post is the satisfaction and KNOWLEDGE that is gained from acquiring his parts and tools and doing his own build. That will be worth more than anything if he ever gets stuck with a mechanical somewhere remote.

I couldn't care less for what frame it is. But the idea of planning out a bike, researching and thinking seriously about the performance of each part, then the huge thrill of acquiring it (through means ranging from the LBS through internet dealers to ebay) all comes together to give you an unique experience.

I think the same about the acquisition of tools. The thing about bike tools is that I gain even more independence from the bicycle consumerism... I save money in the long term by being able to do my own work. And, I can build more and more bikes as my interest expands.

Flyover, you have a plan. A basic plan. But you will learn more about YOUR bike by getting the bits and pieces together than you ever will by purchasing a complete bike, stripping it, and rebuilding it. That's just jigsaw puzzle stuff. CREATING your own jigsaw... well that's something else.

The point is: I have been doing something similar with an MTB that has started as a frame. It's on its way to completion, and even I don't know if it will work. But I have acquired various bits and pieces that range from Velocity Deep-V rims throught to XT derailleurs and Magura hub and disc brakes and suspension fork. It should come in at well under $1,000. If it doesn't work... well, I can get a Brand-X MTB frame from the UK and transfer all the bits.

You might make some mistakes. The stem might be the wrong length. You might get a Rapid Rise rear derailleur instead of the normal one. You might get the seat post specs wrong. Or the front derailleur clamp diameter at the wrong size. But if you find a good cross-reference source or two on the internet where you can compare prices (including postage) you can pick up some good deals. And the Shimano website can be a good resource for tech info, as can Sheldon Brown's and Park Tools and....

As has been stated on another thread outside Touring, if you settle for components that are a generation behind the current models, you will do extremely well, and at a lot cheaper price. And don't forget to look over the other side of the Atlantic -- I've been using chainreactioncycles in the UK lately as a reference for my local pricing.

And, as I have discovered, eBay has its various "shops" where fairly reputable dealers put up excellent deals on a Buy-It-Now basis.

As to your question... ummm... what was it?

Oh yes... I'd go

- STI

- Brooks

- Depending on your height, 170mm cranks with 26-36-48 chainrings for flatland and 22-32-44 for lots of hills

- 32-11 cassette

- Whatever Shimano hubs you want, but Deore seem to be the flavour, in 36H, but I like cartridge bearings, and in that camp, everyone seems to like Phil Wood (if you can afford them, and I can't).

- Whatever touring rim; Mavic maybe, although Velocity Dyads in 36H are my current choice, with DT spokes

- The best-quality BB cartridge bearing unit you can afford

- V-brakes with travel agent

- A good quality headset (whatever that means -- maybe around $US100).

I really must find something else to do...
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Old 01-22-08, 06:45 AM   #20
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I should note that there was a lot of good advice above, but remember that all of it (including mine) reflects personal preference.

The standard build can do just fine on a transcontinental tour with absolutely nothing changed. This includes even the brakes (the pads are a bit marginal, so at least carry spares) and the saddle which I probably wouldn't change. Any of the changes are personal preferences or niceties. You don't *NEED* any of them. Absolutely everything on the standard build is at least adequate for a 4000+ mile tour except you will probably wear out the brake pads at 3000-4000 miles or so if loaded touring in the mountains for a major portion of the tour. The tires may or may not last the whole way, but can be replaced when worn out or flatting too often.

The above is based on my experiences with three similarly equipped bikes on the transamerica this Summer. They weren't LHT's but had many of the same components and where there were differences ours had lesser components. We had STI which I prefer, but many here would rather have the bar cons.
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Old 01-22-08, 07:16 AM   #21
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Disc Brakes! LHT and Cross Check need disc brake mounts. If my cyclocross steed wasn't Campy-equipped it would have had disc brakes already. (Hard to find reasonable campy-compatible 700c wheels)
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Old 01-22-08, 08:06 AM   #22
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Disc Brakes! LHT and Cross Check need disc brake mounts. If my cyclocross steed wasn't Campy-equipped it would have had disc brakes already. (Hard to find reasonable campy-compatible 700c wheels)
No thanks... IMO, disc brake equipped bikes ride rough, and rack compatibility is limited. Also, Alex Adventurer rims can be had for $25, making the running cost of rim brakes lower than disc brakes in all but the harshest climates.
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Old 01-22-08, 08:52 AM   #23
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I built my LHT( http://www.flickr.com/photos/macmidd...7603321717923/
)from the frame up to avoid having to upgrade most of the parts in the long run and ended up with the bike I truly wanted. Yes, it costs more but I guess it all depends on how obsessed with cycling you are. Most people I know would rather not go through the hassel of sourcing all the parts, researching on the internet for days, $$ factor, etc. Whatever makes you happy, just think it through!
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Old 01-22-08, 09:38 AM   #24
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The comment in the last post about being obsessed with cycling raises my hackles just a little. My observation is that there is a difference between obsessed with bicycling and being obsessed with all of the stuff associated with bicycling.

I guess there is nothing wrong with being either or both, but they aren't the same thing. Once you are at the quality level of the LHT build you already have more bicycle than you need to take off and tour whatever distance you want. Any upgrades are because you WANT to, not because you NEED to.

I often read about people who haven't even toured yet and are building the ultimate touring bike and wonder how many of them will ever do a long tour.

Bottom line do what makes you happy, but don't kid yourself that you need this or that item upgraded to tour comfortably or successfully.
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Old 01-22-08, 10:14 AM   #25
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The one thing I think everyone misses in the Flyover's original post is the satisfaction and KNOWLEDGE that is gained from acquiring his parts and tools and doing his own build....
Maybe, but again, one of the reasons why the LHT is a popular choice is because the stock parts are already well-chosen for the task(s), with a few minor exceptions.

And to slightly modify my previous post: I'd say that if the PRIMARY goal is to learn how to wrench, I'd get a couple of $10 bikes at some yard sale, pull them apart, re-assemble 'em, do whatever. I'd vastly prefer to learn on $50 worth of bike than $1000.

After you've assembled a few junky bikes, if you feel good about your skills then work on the LHT build.
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