A couple of nights ago I put a bid in on ebay for a new LHT frame more or less on an impulse. I ended up winning the auction, but I'm having a bit of buyer's remorse.
I purchased a Bianchi Volpe in 2001. I've done a lot of touring, commuting and general riding on it over the years. I'm on my third or fourth wheelset, third crankset, and I've worn out and replaced almost every other part on the bike except the handlebars, stem and front brake.
Somewhere along the line I put a sizable dent in the downtube. Nonetheless, I continued riding it and have since put several thousand miles of fully loaded touring in, without any major failures. Also, the paint is heavily chipped and scratched from the accumulated wear and tear of a decade of heavy use, and there are lots of little rust spots where the paint has been worn away. I figure the frame is still in good enough shape that I could continue riding it for several years to come.
My plan is now to take all of the components from the Volpe and use them to build up the LHT. But I'm wondering if I made the right decision.
I want all of the LHT fans out there to sell me on this frame. I've been hearing for years that the LHT is the ultimate off the shelf touring frame. But am I going to notice a significant improvement in my touring experience when I start using the LHT?
The sizing is different, and I'm hoping that will be an improvement. My Volpe is a 55cm frame, which has always felt a little bit small to me, though not uncomfortably so. The LHT is a little bit bigger at 56cm. Will I notice the slight increase in size? Is there a significant difference in the riding position between the Volpe and the LHT?
The longer wheelbase is the main advantage, right? It's length helps to dampen vibrations and shocks, and the longer chainstay will alleviate problems resulting from heel strike on the rear panniers. Mid-fork brazeons make for sturdier front rack mounting, and the positioning of the third water bottle cage should make it much easier to access my third water bottle, and allow me to use a full size bottle in that cage.
But is there anything else I'm missing? Are the sum total of the advantages of my $400 upgrade listed in the above paragraph?