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  1. #1
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    Using a Long Haul Trucker for Third World Touring?

    Has anyone used the Surly Long Haul Trucker in a third world country (China, Vietnam, South America, Eastern Europe)?

    I'm almost sold on the LHT, but I'm not sure about the 700c wheels in these countries. I have heard horror stories of people not being able to replace/fix their wheels,tubes and tires in these countries, because you can only find 26 inch wheels. By the way, I ride a 60-62, so the LHT is built for 700s in this size?

    This is a big concern for me. Can anyone help me out with some advice? Does anyone know who makes a 26 inch wheel touring bike (non-custom) or does anyone think the LHT is fine for this (based on real experience) ?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpvisual View Post
    By the way, I ride a 60-62, so the LHT is built for 700s in this size?
    Yes, 56 and up.

  3. #3
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    I toured from France to Vietnam using 700c (4'06-4'07), and if were to go again I would only use a bike with 26" wheels.

    SOME options are to buy a built bike (Bruce Gordon etc), or build one up from a hard tail steel MTB.

    Edit-adding the top of my "no expense spared" list would be one of the Thorn models with a Rohloff hub...
    Last edited by Camel; 05-22-08 at 01:03 PM.
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  4. #4
    40 yrs bike touring
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    It must have been a miracle that the many thousands of bike tourists that have cycled the world on 700c [not to mention the next level of difficulty with 27 inch wheels] over the last 50 years when the road conditions were much worse than today. All this without the benefit of tires much wider than 35mm.

    Under current conditions stronger rims, wider foldable spare tires and rapid international shipping has deflated this "what if" argument about 700c wheels and tires.

    My US and international tours on and off road on skinny touring tired bikes, mountain bikes with 26 in wheels and 700c X47 29er tires have all been without the supposed problem raised in this thread.

    Riding style and weight carried and tire pressure and width will influence the outcome more than the wheel size in my experience.

  5. #5
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Some folks have documented the difficulty with finding 700c tires (and rims) in non-western countries, for example:

    1. http://www.downtheroad.org/Equipment/Bikes/bicycles.htm

    2. "The problem with my touring bike is that 700c tires and tubes (especially Presta) are very hard to find in Asia. I could not find spare tires in any towns, large or small, except Manila, Chengdu (China) and Kathmandu. I did find one in Bangkok but we were slow to buy it, and it sold out--and the store couldn't lay its hands on new stock for the next two weeks, so we were stuck. Meanwhile, Joan could have replaced her tires in just about any small town we rode through."

    http://www.ericandjoan.com/bikeletters.htm

    3. http://www.cyclingforums.com/showthread.php?t=119243

    4. "Riders leaving areas such as western Europe and North America, where cycle equipment is readily and widely available, nevertheless often prefer 26-inch wheels because mountain-bike sizes are often more easily obtained in the Third World and even in eastern Europe. The Fédération Française de Cyclotourisme's mass ride from Paris to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 insisted all riders use 26-inch wheels for that reason."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Touring_bicycle

    There are a number of models that use 26" tires even for large sizes. Thorn has a less expensive, non-Rohloff version, and so do other British makes. REI has the Novara Safari:

    http://www.rei.com/product/730480

    Others exist as well; do a search on the net or here in the forums for more.

  6. #6
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    I'm not convinced the tire size is that big of an issue. We've toured in many countries and have very rarely found decent quality tires in any size - so we've had spares sent to us from the US rather than trying to buy them in third-world countries.

    I've always toured with 26" wheels in the past, but have just bought a bike iwth 700c - I'll see how it goes on our Alaska - Argentina ride. I plan to put new tires on right before leaving the US and carry one or two spares with me. If I need more, I'll plan on having them sent to me.

    I may be totally off base here, but that's what I'm saying now - I might completely change my mind.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  7. #7
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    I had Schwalbe 700c's shipped to Kashgar. It took several weeks using UPS (with a hand off to chinese express mail). Would have been 7 to 10 days using Fedex. I didn't have to pay for the shipping as it was replacements for defective tires. I still recommend Schwalbe, just not 700c. Kashgar was an OK place to wait for a shipment. Some places aren't.

    I could also have changed my comfort level, and gone ultralight (don't want to). I don't think weight caused the failure, as it was a sidewall failure on 3 tires. Recommended preasure & I'm still using the replacements with no problems.

    Other "what-ifs": broken spokes or wheel(s) due to trauma (ie collision, object through the wheel, handling during transit etc).

    I met a spanish dude on the Friendship highway using 29ers. He'd had some issues with his tires, and at one point he had actually hired a taxi as an S&G car for 3 days...

    edit: adding I would have had no problem finding suitable 26" tires (and wheels) in cities along the route I took. I saw them while looking for replacement 700's...
    Last edited by Camel; 05-22-08 at 09:13 PM.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpvisual View Post
    Has anyone used the Surly Long Haul Trucker in a third world country (China, Vietnam, South America, Eastern Europe)?

    I'm almost sold on the LHT, but I'm not sure about the 700c wheels in these countries. I have heard horror stories of people not being able to replace/fix their wheels,tubes and tires in these countries, because you can only find 26 inch wheels. By the way, I ride a 60-62, so the LHT is built for 700s in this size?

    This is a big concern for me. Can anyone help me out with some advice? Does anyone know who makes a 26 inch wheel touring bike (non-custom) or does anyone think the LHT is fine for this (based on real experience) ?
    This guy did 28,000 kms round the world, through many 3rd world countries on a LHT. 26 inch wheels I believe.

    You can stock up on tyres, tubes and spokes, but 700c touring rims are rare, in 'outback Asia' No shortage of fancy road racing wheelsets in the larger cities though.

    www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/longwayhome

  9. #9
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    I have a question.

    Let's say I plan to go around the world with 700c rims (this seems to be the issue at hand). Couldn't I just plan to have a brand new set of wheels shipped to me halfway through, to minimize concerns?

    Assuming I'd have plenty of tubes and spokes, I think that could be a valid option, considering that the cost of a wheelset is relatively small in relation to the cost of the whole trip.

    This is hypothetical, but I believe, worth asking...

  10. #10
    Senior Member chrisch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpvisual View Post
    Has anyone used the Surly Long Haul Trucker in a third world country (China, Vietnam, South America, Eastern Europe)?
    I apologize for splitting hairs, but does anyone consider China or Eastern Europe to be Third World?
    TrackMyTour.com - An iPhone app for Bike Touring! See who's touring now and where.

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    Well, all my tours of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Karakoram Highway and South America have been on 700c - dunno how I have managed really. What I have learned is that it's the quality of the wheels that you start out with that is critical - handbuilt, with top-end rims and spokes - rather than the size. Equally, starting out with decent tyres and carrying a spare (e.g. Marathon XR folding) is better than relying on poor quality local replacements. For long trips, it's pretty straightforward to get stuff sent out.
    Having said all that, if I was going to buy an expedition bike tomorrow, it would have 26' wheels.

  12. #12
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Seems the general thought is yes, it is certainly possible to tour around the world on 700c, but expect to be delayed somewhat if a tire fails or a rim breaks in small towns or remote areas while you await shipment of a new tire/rim; or ride on 26" and likely fine a replacement tire/rim, of possible low quality, in small towns/remote areas and resume your tour with less delay.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisch View Post
    I apologize for splitting hairs, but does anyone consider China or Eastern Europe to be Third World?
    yes.

    usa- 1st world
    western yurop/australia/nz/canada - 2nd world
    s.america/africa/asia/everything else-3rd world

    forgive the gross generalization, but i believe this is spot on.

  14. #14
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Creamcrackered View Post
    ...Having said all that, if I was going to buy an expedition bike tomorrow, it would have 26' wheels.
    +1 - you can tour on 700c or 26" wheels anywhere, but if you are buying a new bike for third world tours I'd get one with 26" wheels.
    safe riding - Vik
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirpoopalot View Post
    yes.

    usa- 1st world
    western yurop/australia/nz/canada - 2nd world
    s.america/africa/asia/everything else-3rd world

    forgive the gross generalization, but i believe this is spot on.

    Oh man, I actually LOL'd at this. You have definately been drinking the American Koolaid. Haven't you noticed that America is much worse in areas such as: health care, standard of living, etc. than many of the countries you've listed as "2nd world". The first world is all the countries you have listed in 1st and 2nd world. The second world is Russia/Asia etc, third world is Africa/South America.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirpoopalot View Post
    yes.

    usa- 1st world
    western yurop/australia/nz/canada - 2nd world
    s.america/africa/asia/everything else-3rd world

    forgive the gross generalization, but i believe this is spot on.
    Not quite!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirpoopalot View Post
    yes.

    usa- 1st world
    western yurop/australia/nz/canada - 2nd world
    s.america/africa/asia/everything else-3rd world

    forgive the gross generalization, but i believe this is spot on.
    ROFL.

    I hope you're kidding.

  18. #18
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I don't think the 700c issue is really that big a deal. My feeling is that while you might get a tire or tube in some small town, quality will be low. Same for maintenance.

    If you're really that concerned and plan to travel extensively in non-industrialized areas, look into getting a Thorn with a Rohloff or other internal hub. 26" wheels, sturdy frame, low maintenance with the hub gearing.

  19. #19
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    Thanks for all them comments! It seems that 26 inch wheels are better for Third World Tours, so why don't bike companies make more 26 inch wheel touring bikes?

    It seems that companies like Surly should at least make one touring frame with the 26 inch wheel option...in all sizes, not just below 56, 54, or whatever they do. You shouldn't have to drop 2,3, or 4 thousand on a custom frame to get a touring bike with 26 inch wheels.

    I would rather not go with a mountain bike, but it looks like that's where things are right now for this type of touring.

  20. #20
    D.G.W Hedges mrhedges's Avatar
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    BTW 1st world refers to USA and West europe
    2nd world refers to soviet union/eastern block countries
    3rd world refers to poor (nonsuperpower) countries

    these terms date back to the cold war. things have gotten alittle more confusing since then.

    sorry not to get to off topic but why can't you build a LHT with 26 wheels is there not enough reach for brakes? turning a mountain bike into a touring rig would probably not be as slick as an LHT but who needs slick in south asia?

  21. #21
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrhedges View Post
    BTW 1st world refers to USA and West europe
    2nd world refers to soviet union/eastern block countries
    3rd world refers to poor (nonsuperpower) countries

    these terms date back to the cold war. things have gotten alittle more confusing since then.

    sorry not to get to off topic but why can't you build a LHT with 26 wheels is there not enough reach for brakes?
    Besides the brakes being an issue the BB on the LHT is quite low as it is....putting smaller wheels would give you issues with pedal/ground clearance.
    safe riding - Vik
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  22. #22
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    If you're really that concerned and plan to travel extensively in non-industrialized areas, look into getting a Thorn with a Rohloff or other internal hub. 26" wheels, sturdy frame, low maintenance with the hub gearing.
    Part of the advantage of using 26" wheels and MTB gearing is that they are widely available if you need spare parts to keep rolling. An IGH means that if you do have any issues you are stuck until you get spares flown in. I just built up a Surly Big Dummy with a Rohloff and when I realized I didn't order some small parts I needed for the build it took 3 weeks to get them - this is in Canada with email/fax/phones at my disposal 24/7. The crazy thing was I could have walked into a LBS 3 blocks from my house and had a full MTB drive train in 15 mins at a fairly low price.

    With bar end shifters that have a friction mode you can use virtually any 26" rear wheel and/or dérailleur to get you down the road.
    Last edited by vik; 05-23-08 at 05:46 PM.
    safe riding - Vik
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpvisual View Post
    Thanks for all them comments! It seems that 26 inch wheels are better for Third World Tours, so why don't bike companies make more 26 inch wheel touring bikes?

    It seems that companies like Surly should at least make one touring frame with the 26 inch wheel option...in all sizes, not just below 56, 54, or whatever they do. You shouldn't have to drop 2,3, or 4 thousand on a custom frame to get a touring bike with 26 inch wheels.

    I would rather not go with a mountain bike, but it looks like that's where things are right now for this type of touring.
    A 26 inch wheeled touring bike, or for that matter a mountain bike built for a large rider is going to have a large frame (long head tube, seat tube, top tube etc) Visually, a large 700C wheeled touring bike looks more proportional and most bike companies realise that newbie cyclists will be in the market for such bikes. A lot of bikes are sold on drop bars, long wheel bases, heel clearance etc.

    Conversely, a small frame 700C touring bike may look like a kid's bike with it's wheels on steroids.

    If you feel more at home with a 700C touring bike, go for it. A well built and maintained bike whatever the wheel size, will have less chance of breaking down.

    Consider an MTB only if you're doing a lot of cycling off road. Tyre width matters also, if you want to keep your butt happy

  24. #24
    Senior Member Clarenza's Avatar
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    Just one small point about the strategy of having spares flown in from home. Visas in some countries, particularly Central Asian countries, can be very short and extremely difficult to extend. So you may not have the luxury of waiting for the spares; you'll have to find another way to the border. In that situation, even 2nd rate 26" tyres may look pretty good.

  25. #25
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    Just go 650B, easiest way to take the uncertainty out of whether you will be able to find tires.
    "I don't buy new frames, it just encourages them."

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