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Old 06-19-09, 02:56 PM   #1
norcalhiker
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Buying new: MTB or LHT?

Hey ya'll. I'm new and I'm having paralysis by analysis over buying a new bike. I "discovered" the Surly LHT. It seems great. And I'm still 50/50 between it and a MTB.

My uses:
- around town bike. I'm carless.
- a 2 year away tour through Mongolia, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan. Lots of dirt! remote! surely more 3rd world touring after that too.
- frequent 4-5 day tours around my area which means dirt roads on the arizona strip, southern utah and nevada.
- and of course, still a lot of pavement touring (60%?)

- and if i go with a mtb i'll want to use it for easy single track and slickrock in utah.

I don't like the idea of a BOB. I want paniers, old man mtn for the suspension fork is fine with me. I'd buy the 54cm LHT so same sized wheels. Would a MTB be better on dirt roads? A front fork seems like a good idea.

Any recommendations for new stock MTBs? steel, lockable fork, mounts, long chain, etc. similar price to the LHT.
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Old 06-19-09, 02:57 PM   #2
norcalhiker
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oh, and for various reasons I'm not interested in building up an old bike...
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Old 06-19-09, 04:07 PM   #3
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I could see the paralysis as your requirements cover a lot of anticipated uses of which neither bike is optimum. If it's dirt riding where picking your line through bumpy trails is important it's a mtn/cross bike and not a low/long LHT. For loaded riding on any kind of road the long chainstay LHT is good. I don't know anything about touring in the Stans but I"m guessing the bike is the least of the worries.

My vote is a LHT,,or a mtn bike with fork lockout. No,,a LHT with a suspension stem,,wait,,,a LHT with a pair of light wheels for zooming around, and a tough pair with big gnarly tires,yeah,,yeah,,that's it.
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Old 06-19-09, 05:31 PM   #4
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i can only imagine what would happen if a suspension fork has problems when you're in a 3rd world country. especially if you are not 100% proficient with re-building what ever fork you choose. or... if you'd be fortunate enough to get very good tech support.

if you're on a 54cm LHT
i wonder what a 16" KM would be like
use OMM racks, and your choice of 700c tyres....
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Old 06-19-09, 06:32 PM   #5
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I think either would do. I think it depends on how much off roading you are thinking of doing and how hardcore your mtbing is. Concerning suspension forks I seem to recall some one on Crazyguy touring Nepal with them, and having no problems -or of course you can always buy a solid fork and change forks....

I'm guessing it would be cheaper to do this route rather than attempt to put front suspension on an LHT. But I think from your post, either would do, and neither bike is perfect and you'll have to make some compromises.
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Old 06-19-09, 10:52 PM   #6
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Personally, I vote the LHT...I might be biased, but hear me out:

I think I've done a tiny bit of riding in as bad, or worse conditions as what you are likely to find.

Ankle deep mud, fresh blasted rock fill, and a couple KM of fresh excavator tracks.

1: The LHT will fit a 2.0 or 2.1" tire quite nicely, I'm using Kenda Karmas, and they worked beautifully for the trail I had riden.

2: I don't know exactly what you're planning for bars, but I bought the pre-built LHT, and it comes with pretty standarad fare bars, which are rather narrow for me, especially when on a rough road.

3: It'll be fun

I been blasting down that trail, or another time down a service road, where washouts have been filled with fresh blast rock. Now it's not the smoothest ride in the world, but I felt confident in the bikes handling capabilities that it was not going to pitch me off into the weeds, even with my narrow bars.

I don't havy any long term rides on such roads, but I think the LHT is about as simple a bike as it can get, which could be an important piece of mind when you're in the middle of nowhere. Don't need to worry if your fork is going to self destruct.
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Old 06-19-09, 11:15 PM   #7
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With the plans you outlined, I'd for sure give the Surly Pugsley a look see. The fat tires oughta take you anywhere a mountain bike would, and with some extra air, should make a usable road bike.

Do a Forums search. Lots of threads.
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Old 06-19-09, 11:20 PM   #8
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LHT sounds right to me. I think what you gain on the long smoothish tours is more important than what you lose on the short offroad bits. You'll only really wish you suspension for long, very rough surfaces. But honestly, everything you've described people have done on both the types of bikes you're describing. It sounds like the LHT excites you more, so get that, and be happy.

Steve
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Old 06-20-09, 07:00 AM   #9
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I would do the LHT, with a set of big fat tires. That way, you won't be losing energy through the shock ("Lock-out" be damned) but you can still hit some trails with relative ease. Or just get a Novara Safari and be done with it.
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Old 06-20-09, 07:38 AM   #10
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Why limit yourself to one bike?

Although there is a bit of overlap, if you really plan to ride extensively on both dirt and pavement, I think you'll benefit from using different types of bikes. Let's face it -- the LHT is designed to be a touring bike and to provide stability while loaded, but it's not made for real MTB work. Even a cross bike, which is more versatile than the LHT, might be sufficient but won't excel at all the types of riding you plan to do.

As to the 3rd world touring, I'd go for an MTB / expedition frame, low gearing, and a lock-out suspension fork (e.g. Thorn Nomad). I expect that you will want some extra cushion with some of the rough roads. You may also want to look into an internal hub gear (e.g. Rohloff). Not sure how that will work out with the singletrack stuff, but for expedition touring it's a good choice: very robust and low-maintenance.
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Old 06-20-09, 10:08 AM   #11
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I'd take the perspective of choosing a bike that will handle the worst conditions you expect to contend with and then if you can "live with" the compromises for your other uses. You can ride a mountain bike on all surfaces, but you can't ride an LHT on all surfaces - especially very steep downhills where an endo is possible if you don't slide your ass behind your seat. Unless you have the arms of an orangutan, you won't be able to reach the brakes on a drop bar LHT.

You still can reatively thin minimum tread tires for 26" like the 1.5" Marathon Plus, or if you step up to a 29er you can use (depending on the rim) road tires of 28mm or greater. The latter is less available in third world countries, I'm told.
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Old 06-20-09, 01:55 PM   #12
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how about a monstercross style bike? and 2 sets of tires...



singular peregrine



rawland sogn or dsogn

both bikes will fit a fat offroad tire (i have the dsogn and it easily takes a 2.1) and are at home on the road with slicks.

there's also the salsa fargo....




these should all make very reasonable all around type bikes.
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Old 06-21-09, 12:07 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the thoughts. Why limit myself to one bike? Cost is a big reason. Also, the world doesn't have endless resources... A monster cross bike has big tires, which i don't want.

I'm leaning towards a hardtail. I'm far more interested in beautiful mountain wilderness than roads. And i'll be able to join my friends mtbing in utah. Any recommendations for bikes??

The fargo is tempting, but just doesn't seem as fun on trails. So far i'm looking at the specialized stumpjumper and Jamis Dragon.
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Old 06-21-09, 12:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norcalhiker View Post
Thanks for all the thoughts. Why limit myself to one bike? Cost is a big reason. Also, the world doesn't have endless resources... A monster cross bike has big tires, which i don't want.

I'm leaning towards a hardtail. I'm far more interested in beautiful mountain wilderness than roads. And i'll be able to join my friends mtbing in utah. Any recommendations for bikes??

The fargo is tempting, but just doesn't seem as fun on trails. So far i'm looking at the specialized stumpjumper and Jamis Dragon.
I'm with you on the fargo. it isn't so much a MTB.
personally i use a rigid 29er, i prefer a typical MTB BB height
you can always use Old Man Mountain racks.
at the moment, I'm using an "Ultimate LowRider" for the front, which gives the option of putting panniers up high or low. its great.

I'd look at what it would cost to build up a Surly Karate Monkey. use a Thudbuster seatpost.
you're choice of forks.
the KM comes with a rigid fork

personally i dig the 29er deal. the bigger tyre actually does hook up different in the dirt than a 26"
i was amazed with that, and still cant really figure out whats up with that...

and the big upshot is...
that 700c tyres are the same bead seat diameter as 29er tyres.
so on a 29er MTB you can use 700c tyres.
so ya... you can use touring tyres, CX tyres, and of course 29er MTB tyres.

and of course if you like disc brakes
the KM takes them too.

so you could easily end up with a bike that does almost everything, from MTB to Touring.
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Old 06-21-09, 09:47 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norcalhiker View Post
Thanks for all the thoughts. Why limit myself to one bike? Cost is a big reason. Also, the world doesn't have endless resources... A monster cross bike has big tires, which i don't want.

I'm leaning towards a hardtail. I'm far more interested in beautiful mountain wilderness than roads. And i'll be able to join my friends mtbing in utah. Any recommendations for bikes??

The fargo is tempting, but just doesn't seem as fun on trails. So far i'm looking at the specialized stumpjumper and Jamis Dragon.
If that's the case, your preferences parallel mine: one bike, as versatile as possible, given riding preference is for rough road/off road where possible. I'd say -- FWIW -- the conclusion is obvious: a high-quality hardtail with solid components/forks, changing tires according to conditions, should see you right. Can't imagine why you'd want anything else. Two things come to mind. First, as between 29er or 26 (i.e. 559 rim), given your stated intentions of taking the bike to Asia, 26 all the way (tire/wheel availability), unless you've some compelling reason to go 29er. Second, you do want to consider the bike's ability to take racks etc, though that's not an issue if towing a trailer and is perhaps no longer much of an issue anyway given the availability of racks for bikes with discs, without rack mounts, etc.
Thorn, in England, produces what would be my dream bike, but I'll simply never be able to afford it, so make do with what I have. You might find their brochure for the Sterling (go to Thorn Cycles/Models/Sterling) interesting reading -- it's given me lots of ideas that I've incorporated into my own far cheaper beast!
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Old 06-23-09, 10:46 AM   #16
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the key is what you main purpose will be. in-town, touring or singletrack riding. If you only go to Utahin once a while and rather spend time in Mongolia, then have a look at the German brand tout terrain, www.tout-terrain.de They make a super robust and light touring and commuting bike that can be easilily taken tough off road sections. you can ride with (touring) suspension or steelfork. If you dont mind riding around with a rack on a singletrack, this might be your choice... Check www.Peterwhitecycles.com he sells these in the US
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Old 06-23-09, 01:15 PM   #17
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I understand your dilemma. You have somewhat diverging requirements. If your plans for extensive touring are two years off, why not just go for one of the mountain bike suggestions? Two years from now a lot will have changed and you will likely be ready for a second bike.
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Old 06-23-09, 01:34 PM   #18
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I have a Rawland Sogn. If you get a disc brake model frame, you can have a road wheel set and a MTB set. It's - IMO - the perfect "all-around" bike. (It's a 650B)
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Old 06-27-09, 09:12 AM   #19
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This guy used a cannondale F3 in Asia.

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=495949

That's not a bad all around bike either.
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