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Old 02-21-10, 11:52 AM   #1
brotherdan
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LHT vs Volpe

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?

Last edited by brotherdan; 02-21-10 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 02-21-10, 11:57 AM   #2
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I love an old bike with a story. When my Jamis Aurora got destroyed I was sad because of all the places it had taken me.... Like an old friend.

Go with a new frame because you want to and for no other reason... well safety if the frame truly is damaged/dangerous.
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Old 02-21-10, 12:03 PM   #3
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I love an old bike with a story. When my Jamis Aurora got destroyed I was sad because of all the places it had taken me.... Like an old friend.
My old friend has taken me a lot of great places, including Whidbey Island. That's a beautiful place. You're pretty lucky to be living there.
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Old 02-21-10, 12:13 PM   #4
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My old friend has taken me a lot of great places, including Whidbey Island. That's a beautiful place. You're pretty lucky to be living there.
I'm 3 miles form the Deception Pass bridge... for geographic reference. If you look at my pic/avatar that is the bridge behind my Giant TCR.
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Old 02-21-10, 01:04 PM   #5
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The LHT gives you a boatload of extra tire clearance which can be nice.
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Old 02-21-10, 03:28 PM   #6
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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?
I can't help with the buyers remorse. I don't know the Volpe well enough to say where or if the LHT is better than the Volpe. A wild ass guess would be that your immediate reaction to the ride unloaded may not be all smiles because it will ride differently than the Volpe and it's attributes aren't as evident until loaded down. Every time I ride the LHT with a full grocery load with front and rear panniers loaded it becomes obvious. "oh yeah".

Build the Volpe back up as a single chainring 8-9spd light wheeled around town bike and there's no remorse.
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Old 02-21-10, 07:14 PM   #7
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The interesting thing about the LHT is, in a world of latest and greatest, it's not. It is engineered with the bicycle tourist in mind and not sold as a pretentious "new invention" in the bike world. The design is based in the past (what has worked for thousands of riders) and not on the future (next break through technology) so when you buy one, you know exactly what you're getting and nothing more. Face it, what has been used in the past worked and really doesn't need reinventing unless your a bicycle manufacturer looking for a gimmick to stand out of the crowd. Surly's idea is brilliant in making products that have been tried and work every time.
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Old 02-22-10, 08:44 AM   #8
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I don't think the LHT is the ultimate touring bike, although it's probably close. I think the best thing about it is what a great deal it is. It's a very solid tourer for a very reasonable price.

I paid $400 for my frame, brand new. If you got yours for much less it's probably a pretty good deal. If you decide you don't want it, I'm sure you'll be able to get a good price if you sell it.

I'm 6'4" and got a 62cm frame. When I first built it up I felt the reach to the handlebars was too long. I felt all stretched out. Of course, I had myself to blame because I had bought a pretty long stem. I replaced the stem with one that slanted up a lot higher without going so far forward. Problem solved. Now I'm very comfortable. I've heard others talk about feeling stretched out at first, but if your frame is the right size it's an easy fix.

Give your LHT a try on a fully-loaded trip. I think you'll be pleased.
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Old 02-22-10, 12:02 PM   #9
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I have over...err..60 or so bicycles. Vintage, hard tail, full suspension, road, touring, hybrid, etc. I have it all with models from years 1946-2009. 60 bicycles that some people would kill for. My primary everyday bicycle is a lowly 1992 Trek Multitrack 700 sourgrape with red decals. An entry level, purple hybrid. Yes 95% of the components have been upgraded. But Ill tell you a story, When my fork threads got destroyed I had 3 choices, attempted a braze on and retap, find a new fork, or grab another bikes. I decided I want another 92 Multitrack fork in the same color. I looked for another bike everywhere and finally found one in New Jersey. I serioulsy considered destroying my car on a road trip or buying a $500 plan ticket to get this other bike. Luckly patience won out and 3 weeks later I found another one only 200 miles away. My point is I would do anything for my primary, my friend, my baby. A cheapy little frame that I would keep even If i had to watch my other bikes + my car burn.
I would say bring your use with it down a notch but thats it. Maybe no more long tours, but make a weekend warrior out of it.

As far as Volpe vs LHT goes LHT will feel like a dinosaur to you. much longer wheelbase, and "heavier" geometry. You may like it but you may force yourself not to like it. The choice is yours.
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Old 02-22-10, 06:01 PM   #10
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As a matter of fact, the Volpe is closer to the Surly Crosscheck than the LHT. The LHT is a touring bike, first and foremost. It does a nice job as a commuter also, at least for me. It will feel slower; you may care, I do not. Mine is a 56cm with 700c wheels and I cannot fit a full size bottle in the lower position because of the front fender.
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Old 02-22-10, 06:01 PM   #11
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As someone that has a LHT and knows your Volpe I think you should be happy in the end. I am a firm believer in N+1 so I would take the best parts off the Volpe and put on the LHT. Then with some deals/bargins/used parts get both bikes rideable. The Volpe can be the around town/school (when you want gears) or a longer ride bike and the LHT full on touring?

Comparisons between the Volpe and LHT: longer wheelbase, longer chainstays, more braze ons, taller headtube, more tire clearance, and beefier tubing for full loads on the LHT (guessing here). I believe your Volpe is 1" threaded headset so the 1 1/8" threadless headset/fork will be a big improvement. I love vintage bikes, but threadless is much easier to work with, stiffer, and much easier to dial in fit to me.
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Old 02-22-10, 07:36 PM   #12
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As someone that has a LHT and knows your Volpe I think you should be happy in the end. I am a firm believer in N+1 so I would take the best parts off the Volpe and put on the LHT. Then with some deals/bargins/used parts get both bikes rideable. The Volpe can be the around town/school (when you want gears) or a longer ride bike and the LHT full on touring?

Comparisons between the Volpe and LHT: longer wheelbase, longer chainstays, more braze ons, taller headtube, more tire clearance, and beefier tubing for full loads on the LHT (guessing here). I believe your Volpe is 1" threaded headset so the 1 1/8" threadless headset/fork will be a big improvement. I love vintage bikes, but threadless is much easier to work with, stiffer, and much easier to dial in fit to me.
If this is who I think it is, I still want to buy that rack off of you. Sorry I flaked and didn't come to pick it up when I said I would.

I guess it would be a good idea to build up the volpe as an around the town bike. I'm still going to need a bike to tow my kayak.
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Old 02-22-10, 07:50 PM   #13
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I don't know anything about the Volpe, but I do know a little about the LHT. I have a really nice Specialize Ruby Expert that sits and sits because I much prefer the LHT. It is the most comfortable bike to ride that I have ever owned. It is heavy, and I ride slower on it... but when it comes to choosing between the Ruby (weighs a good ten pounds less) and the Surly, I always choose the LHT. So, if you are concerned about time and distance and how long it takes to get places, choose a lighter bike. If you want to be comfortable, no matter how long it takes, I'd say be happy with the LHT. I really love my Long Haul Trucker, and I am looking forward to doing a long tour this spring-summer with it.
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Old 02-22-10, 08:04 PM   #14
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If this is who I think it is, I still want to buy that rack off of you. Sorry I flaked and didn't come to pick it up when I said I would.

I guess it would be a good idea to build up the volpe as an around the town bike. I'm still going to need a bike to tow my kayak.
Too slow on the rack. It found a new home in California two weeks ago.
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Old 02-22-10, 08:11 PM   #15
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Too slow on the rack. It found a new home in California two weeks ago.
Damn. Guess I should have acted faster.
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Old 02-22-10, 08:29 PM   #16
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As a matter of fact, the Volpe is closer to the Surly Crosscheck than the LHT. The LHT is a touring bike, first and foremost. It does a nice job as a commuter also, at least for me. It will feel slower; you may care, I do not. Mine is a 56cm with 700c wheels and I cannot fit a full size bottle in the lower position because of the front fender.
I do like to go fast. But I have other bikes for that. My fixie has been my main commuter in recent years, except when I need to make a big grocery run.

I don't plan on using a fender, so hopefully I'll have enough clearance for a full sized bottle.
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Old 02-22-10, 08:57 PM   #17
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long haul trucker

I think the trucker part sums up how the bike handles... to me the Volpe seems more geared towards cyclocross/randonneuring.
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Old 02-22-10, 11:54 PM   #18
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There must have been a glut of LHT frames on ebay last month becasue I also picked up a new one at a really good price. I also have a Volpe, and can understand your feelings. However, I probably would have bought a LHT when I replaced my touring bike a few years ago, but Surly did not sell complete bike at that time. My Volpe has been across the US plus several shorter trips, and I would not hesitate to take it anywhere. It probably did not make good economic or performance sense to get the LHT, but only time will tell on that score. It would be interesting (to me at least) to following your progress as you build your bike.

I'm going to go pretty much with redxj's advice.

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As someone that has a LHT and knows your Volpe I think you should be happy in the end. I am a firm believer in N+1 so I would take the best parts off the Volpe and put on the LHT. Then with some deals/bargins/used parts get both bikes rideable. The Volpe can be the around town/school (when you want gears) or a longer ride bike and the LHT full on touring?
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