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Old 07-18-08, 01:02 PM   #1
wiggles
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Talk me out of buying a LHT

Well, I ended up spending darn near two hours at the bike shop today talking to two of the sales people about touring bikes, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with the LHT. It was a toss up between that, the Trek 520, or two Cannondales which were of course priced about 3 and 700$ higher. Out of my price range, so I didn't really look at them.

I'm still a beginner with off-trail riding, and I didn't want to shell out 2k for a fancy touring bike. Its going to be used for cummuting, basic around-town use, and metrics. So I need something that can handle heavy constant use, and say, "thank you sir, may I please have another?"

So far the surly wins out over the rest because a) the 520 is out of stock in my size, and apparently trek is backordered on them so who knows when I'd even be able to test ride it, b) the geometry is better, c) I like steel over aluminum (cheaper and more easily repaired - one of my buddies is a master welder AND i'm a bit tubby so I just feel more 'secure' on steel), the gears feel really comfortable.

Now, the biggest complaint I've heard about the LHT is the rear wheel is small compared to a lot of other touring bikes to make room for fenders. What else?

The only real issue I saw was the bar shifters - I'm going to have to swap them out for something else methinks. They felt a little clunky.

So do your worst guys - tell me what you hate about the LHT. Once i see what the gripes are I'll be able to decide Thanks!!
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Old 07-18-08, 01:14 PM   #2
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I just got my LHT, yesterday and I love it. No real gripes yet besides my constrictor clamp's bolt breaking when I went to tighten it up.

Get it!
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Old 07-18-08, 01:20 PM   #3
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I was deciding between a 520 and LHT. Went with the 520 because I found an older model on clearance. I also didn't like how the LHT had 26" wheels on some sizes. But they're both great bikes, you really can't go wrong with either. Price and availability would be my deciding factors.

Personally, I'd never swap the bar shifters out. They work great and are virtually unbreakable.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by wiggles View Post
Now, the biggest complaint I've heard about the LHT is the rear wheel is small compared to a lot of other touring bikes to make room for fenders.
The rear wheel is a different size? Really? In diameter or width?

(They do use 26 inch wheels on the smaller frames and 700c wheels on the larger frames.)

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Originally Posted by wiggles View Post
The only real issue I saw was the bar shifters - I'm going to have to swap them out for something else methinks. They felt a little clunky.
I'd suggest trying these for a bit before you change them (unless the shop will do it as part of the purchase).

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Old 07-18-08, 01:29 PM   #5
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The rear wheel is a different size? Really? In diameter or width?
The smaller sizes (52" and under) are built around 26" wheels. The larger sizes have 700C wheels. It's so that a 'reasonable' seat tube angle can be had on the smaller models. Or so they say. See www.surlybikes.com for details.
A lot of people like 26" wheels for touring, though.

Last edited by Pedaleur; 07-18-08 at 01:31 PM. Reason: Accidentally put a jackass cybersquatting URL in. Fixed now.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:29 PM   #6
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The rear wheel is a different size? Really? In diameter or width?

(They do use 26 inch wheels on the smaller frames and 700c wheels on the larger frames.)


I'd suggest trying these for a bit before you change them (unless the shop will do it as part of the purchase).
I'm just not a fan of bar shifters, they always felt so imprecise to me. Maybe they'll grow on me? Hahaha.

You guys aren't doing a very good job of talking me out of it so far :-P

Maybe this is the right bike then? w00t!
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Old 07-18-08, 01:31 PM   #7
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Smaller wheel is a big advantage if you are that size. First it is a stronger wheel, easier to get parts for both in NA and globally, rolls easier (arguably and assuming same grade of components). People are spending the big bucks for Thorns with 26" wheels in all sizes. In euro a lot of custom touring bikes come in 26". Cutting edge, most of us wish it was an option in the larger sizes.

Only reason not to buy the LHT is that you don't need such a heavy clunker for the kind of riding you propose. It's a Long Haul truck. Nothing you say about use requires that. Also if you are in the 26" size, you would have to be one hell of a doughball before you would need to have any concerns about breaking any bike. You need to be 250-300 pounds, and an agressive rider/Jackass for that to be a concern.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:35 PM   #8
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Smaller wheel is a big advantage if you are that size. First it is a stronger wheel, easier to get parts for both in NA and globally, rolls easier (arguably and assuming same grade of components). People are spending the big bucks for Thorns with 26" wheels in all sizes. In euro a lot of custom touring bikes come in 26". Cutting edge, most of us wish it was an option in the larger sizes.

Only reason not to buy the LHT is that you don't need such a heavy clunker for the kind of riding you propose. It's a Long Haul truck. Nothing you say about use requires that. Also if you are in the 26" size, you would have to be one hell of a doughball before you would need to have any concerns about breaking any bike. You need to be 250-300 pounds, and an agressive rider/Jackass for that to be a concern.
Agreed - I am also trying to get a bike I can use as a stepping stone upwards for longer rides. I'd like to get involved with touring but right now all I have is a trek MTB - not very distance friendly at all. I liked the fact that touring bikes can be used for what I need and be comfortable to do basically anything I want with.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:37 PM   #9
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i've had my lht for a few months with about 1100 miles on it. i can't think of any real complaints. just a well-priced solid tourer. i also was skeptical about the bar-ends at first, but love em now.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:45 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by wiggles View Post
Well, I ended up spending darn near two hours at the bike shop today talking to two of the sales people about touring bikes, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with the LHT. It was a toss up between that, the Trek 520, or two Cannondales which were of course priced about 3 and 700$ higher. Out of my price range, so I didn't really look at them.

I'm still a beginner with off-trail riding, and I didn't want to shell out 2k for a fancy touring bike. Its going to be used for cummuting, basic around-town use, and metrics. So I need something that can handle heavy constant use, and say, "thank you sir, may I please have another?"

So far the surly wins out over the rest because a) the 520 is out of stock in my size, and apparently trek is backordered on them so who knows when I'd even be able to test ride it, b) the geometry is better, c) I like steel over aluminum (cheaper and more easily repaired - one of my buddies is a master welder AND i'm a bit tubby so I just feel more 'secure' on steel), the gears feel really comfortable.

Now, the biggest complaint I've heard about the LHT is the rear wheel is small compared to a lot of other touring bikes to make room for fenders. What else?

The only real issue I saw was the bar shifters - I'm going to have to swap them out for something else methinks. They felt a little clunky.

So do your worst guys - tell me what you hate about the LHT. Once i see what the gripes are I'll be able to decide Thanks!!
Go for the 'Dales! There's less to change out (the spec on a T2 or T800 is very good) and the bikes will last you for 20 years (as will any touring bike). Over the long run that extra $300 is nothing.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:59 PM   #11
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Don't get the LHT -- It totally *SUCKS*

First of all, it's a steel frame with loose geometry. The thing is like riding a lay-z-boy down the road. A bike shouldn't be that comfy to ride, especially for long distances.

Second, the geometry is all messed up. Why did they put 26" wheels on the smaller bikes when a road bike *needs* 700c?! Doubleyou-tee-eff? Why should cyclists not have to suffer all that toe overlap?

Third, who needs that kind of tire clearance on a road bike. Seriously?! Aren't 28mm tires enough?!

Fourth, what's with all that low gearing?! Sure, they think people are riding with a load, but how about HTFU?!

All right, I'll stop now. It pained me to go that far. Get the Surly, Wiggles! It's a *fantastic* bike, and I think you'll just absolutely love it! No wheels are small -- everything is proportional. The 54cm and below have 26 inch wheels, and the 56cm and above have 700c. It's all about proportions. And the fine people at Surly *really* did right on this call... I have a 52cm with the 26ers, and the bike fits me like a custom. Perhaps I'm just lucky...

Another nice thing about the LHT is all of the frame bosses. Don't like bar-end shifters? Well, it has down-tube bosses, should you like to go that way. You can have STI if you want it, but give it a week or two first. I'm in love with the bar-ends in friction mode. Dead-simple, reliable, and always perfectly in gear. I've had mine for three weeks exactly now, and already have 500 miles on it.

If you don't want a decent bike for the money, then just get something else. Otherwise get the LHT. Save up if you have to... I did. It took me about one year...
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Old 07-18-08, 02:53 PM   #12
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I just got my LHT, yesterday and I love it. No real gripes yet besides my constrictor clamp's bolt breaking when I went to tighten it up.

Get it!
I had the same problem with my new one.
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Old 07-18-08, 03:25 PM   #13
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Nobody gets LHTs anymore because they are too popular.
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Old 07-18-08, 04:22 PM   #14
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Nobody gets LHTs anymore because they are too popular.
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I just picked up mine today. If you are going to get one, I would try to get on it fast before the price increase goes into effect. Not sure when that's happening, but probably sooner than later.
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Old 07-18-08, 05:01 PM   #15
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If you don't like the bar end shifters, you are probably better off with a Novara Randonee. High end brifters can set you back a lot of $$$$. Catch the REI sale this fall, or the spring 20% off coupon, and the deal is very, very hard to beat.
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Old 07-18-08, 05:46 PM   #16
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i don't know if the LHT is the same way but i've ridden some cross checks and their frames are not stiff enough around the bottom bracket. the two i've ridden both flexed extremely badly.
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Old 07-18-08, 06:35 PM   #17
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I just finished a two-week tour on the Northern Tier on my LHT. It performed flawlessly and I'd heartily recommend it. However, I bought a frame and built it up, so I can't comment on the components that come with a complete model. The ride was comfortable, it tracked like it was on rails, there was never any shimmy, no matter how fast I got going. I had no heel strike at all (with a Tubus rear rack, Ortlieb Classic Roller panniers, and size 14 feet.) There was plenty of room for 32cm Schwalbe tires and fenders.

I say try the bar end shifters. When you get used to them they make a lot of sense.

I love my LHT!
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Old 07-18-08, 10:18 PM   #18
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I have owned both the 520 and LHT and they are great bikes. I found the 520 to be faster/easier to pedal especially when it was unloaded. Surly designed the LHT with very long chain stays and a very low BB which is great for touring but feels like a tank otherwise IMO. If I felt like going for a 30-50 mile unloaded ride, I would be on the 520 since it performs like a pretty decent road bike and I am guessing that is due to the shorter chain stays and better tubing. My turn side pedal on the LHT touched the ground several times when cornering due to the low BB but you learn fast to stop pedaling when going into a turn and to keep your turn side pedal up. The LHT will come with a longer head tube which might get your bars higher but the complete bike comes with a cut steerer which is a shame. I don't know what size you are getting but I had the 62cm and it did not fit into a bike box with the rear wheel on. If you are tall and planning on air travel, it might be something to consider. Having said that, the LHT comes with a real crowned fork which for some folks, like myself, means a lot.

BTW, like others have said, give the bar ends a go. You might be surprised.
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Old 07-18-08, 10:29 PM   #19
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Get a Cross Check...same company. IMHO a little better geometry and a little quicker handling. I weigh 275lbs and got one. No problems with about 1000 miles on it...no flexing at the bottom bracket as suggested. The only thing I did other than stock was to get wheels built to handle my weight. Also, put a rear rack and fenders on it for touring...front rack will come later but so far no problems
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Old 07-18-08, 11:03 PM   #20
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its an absolutely spectacular bike in every way. you simply cant beat it. the drive train and wheels are fabulous, you wouldnt need to change a thing. You probably will want to make some adjustments in the cockpit with a different saddle and maybe bars (they throw on cheap ones because htey know a lot of people will change them anyway). but this is normal.

its a bike that can do anything and everything while being smart, elegant, and a joy to ride. and the pricepoint is great too.

go for it!
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Old 07-18-08, 11:22 PM   #21
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"The only thing I did other than stock was to get wheels built to handle my weight."

That's a good point. Though if you have a good local bike shop, they will swap that in for you, or even just a good run around the wheels that come with it by a tech will likely see you through.

"Agreed - I am also trying to get a bike I can use as a stepping stone upwards for longer rides. I'd like to get involved with touring but right now all I have is a trek MTB - not very distance friendly at all. I liked the fact that touring bikes can be used for what I need and be comfortable to do basically anything I want with. "

That is why people buy them! Some MTBs can make good long distance bikes, but by the time you are done you will need a new MTB, so might as well just get an LHT and save the trouble.
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Old 07-19-08, 02:01 AM   #22
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I've nicknamed my Surly LHT 'Shirley' and I think the wife's a bit jealous!

She's just got a ho hum mega dollar Ti MTB with bling bling XTR parts to ride with. Yawn.
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Old 07-19-08, 02:36 AM   #23
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Like virtually everyone else in the universe, I have the LHT, and, as stated, it's a great bike, if you like big, heavy, steel bikes with thick tires, that track well and are fairly tough (which I do, in fact, like a lot). It is quite heavy, though, and therefore a bit sluggish; you'll never break any speed records on that thing, that's for sure. Maybe you should take a look at a Bianchi Volpe. It's lighter, faster, and sportier, has comparable components, is about the same price, and most of the ones I've seen are equipped with road bike-type shifters. For most uses, the LHT is honestly a bit more of a tank than most people need. (However, if anyone tried to take mine away, I would have to kill them.)

And, like others, I'd advise you to give bar-end shifters a long second look. I didn't like them at first, but now I really appreciate them, especially in friction mode. They're a lot more elegant and reliable than STI, once you get used to them, especially if you're riding long distances.
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Old 07-20-08, 07:59 AM   #24
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Why I DID NOT buy a Surley.


10. No local bike to test ride

9. Fuji Touring bike complete for two hundred dollars more than Shirley LHT Frame only.

8. Everybody doin it (herd affect)

7 As the former fed chairman would say "over exuberance without an underlying connection with reality)

6. My size frame is (54cm) has 26" wheels, and I wanted 700c.

5. Frame geometry similar to "many" similar priced bikes.

4. Frame construction is nothing to write home about neither is my Fuji, (aka Windsor clone). The LHT Windsor and Fuji are all 4130 dbl butted cro mo. Let me start a rumor, The Windsor and LHT are made in the same factory in Tiawan.

3. I gave away all my "trukin" songs on 8 track in 1979. (six days on the road and I'm gonna see my baby tonite.

2. Who wants to buy a bike with the name Shirley uh I mean Surley.

AND the number one reason U should not buy a Long Haul Trucker (besides not driving an eighteen wheeler for a living).

1.Color choices booger green, mold green or robins egg (aka baby powder blue) (what is with these people?).
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Old 07-20-08, 09:50 AM   #25
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AND the number one reason U should not buy a Long Haul Trucker (besides not driving an eighteen wheeler for a living).

1.Color choices booger green, mold green or robins egg (aka baby powder blue) (what is with these people?).
A lot of people, and myself included, love the Surly colors. Especially the booger green. I think it's great that Surly is choosing colors for their bikes that are not that common. Trek and Bianchi must have liked them to since they copied the green or at least came close to it.
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