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Old 05-18-10, 02:56 PM   #1
rutibegga
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LHT build with internally geared hub?

I'm looking to build up a Long Haul Trucker in the near future. I have a short daily commute (7 miles, round trip) and have been riding a fixed-gear Steamroller for the last five years. I've recently decided to go entirely car-free (I've been using the car on weekends -- one of my job entails twice-daily trips to various parts of the city, so I'd bike during the week and take the car on weekends, since I'd usually be doubling my milage then) and have been looking at my options as far as geared bikes go. I really don't want to deal with derailleurs, so I've mainly been looking at internal hubs.

I'd be building this bike up for my weekend commutes, as well as for days I want to ditch the messenger bag and get the weight off my back (hot summer days, days I have a heavy load, etc...). I'm also thinking about train-hopping to the 'burbs and riding out longer distances to visit family, orchards, botanical gardens, and whatnot. I want something versatile.

My questions are:

1. Is having an internally geared hub going to be a PITA as far as maintenance goes? I own a Raleigh Twenty, but I've yet to have to change the tire on the rear wheel, and only ride the bike on short rides (my commute if I don't have many visits after work, or around my neighborhood for grocery-getting and tooling around). How much more difficult is it to deal with?

2. I'm used to riding fixed. I'm used to standing up and soldiering on over hills. Are three, eight, or eleven gears going to be enough on longer, hillier rides? I've managed a few 25 mile club rides on my fixie, and hung in there. I think I'll be ok, but I've never left the Phila. city limits. I'm sure it get hillier (though I've - slowly - climbed the Manayunk wall).

3. I HATE drop bars - I've never been able to feel comfortable with them. Has anyone here done long rides with u-bars or mustache bars? Are they comfortable when you're carrying weight over distance?

4. Aside from the LHT, are there other frames (or complete bikes) I should look at? I'm looking for something that would be great for covering 25 miles with a load, but would also work for weekend trips or possibly camping, down the road.

Thank in advance for any suggestions.
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Old 05-18-10, 03:25 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by rutibegga View Post
I'm looking to build up a Long Haul Trucker in the near future. I have a short daily commute (7 miles, round trip) and have been riding a fixed-gear Steamroller for the last five years. I've recently decided to go entirely car-free (I've been using the car on weekends -- one of my job entails twice-daily trips to various parts of the city, so I'd bike during the week and take the car on weekends, since I'd usually be doubling my milage then) and have been looking at my options as far as geared bikes go. I really don't want to deal with derailleurs, so I've mainly been looking at internal hubs.

I'd be building this bike up for my weekend commutes, as well as for days I want to ditch the messenger bag and get the weight off my back (hot summer days, days I have a heavy load, etc...). I'm also thinking about train-hopping to the 'burbs and riding out longer distances to visit family, orchards, botanical gardens, and whatnot. I want something versatile.

My questions are:

1. Is having an internally geared hub going to be a PITA as far as maintenance goes? I own a Raleigh Twenty, but I've yet to have to change the tire on the rear wheel, and only ride the bike on short rides (my commute if I don't have many visits after work, or around my neighborhood for grocery-getting and tooling around). How much more difficult is it to deal with?

2. I'm used to riding fixed. I'm used to standing up and soldiering on over hills. Are three, eight, or eleven gears going to be enough on longer, hillier rides? I've managed a few 25 mile club rides on my fixie, and hung in there. I think I'll be ok, but I've never left the Phila. city limits. I'm sure it get hillier (though I've - slowly - climbed the Manayunk wall).

3. I HATE drop bars - I've never been able to feel comfortable with them. Has anyone here done long rides with u-bars or mustache bars? Are they comfortable when you're carrying weight over distance?

4. Aside from the LHT, are there other frames (or complete bikes) I should look at? I'm looking for something that would be great for covering 25 miles with a load, but would also work for weekend trips or possibly camping, down the road.

Thank in advance for any suggestions.
IMO:

1. Opposite of PITA. Part of the reason for an internally geared hub is that being enclosed like it is, it is less likely to malfunction from any outside problems associated with derailleur systems. That said, I've only ever had a Rohloff. Don't know about other hubs and their reliability, but mine is a tank.

2. Depends on the hills and what system you get and how in shape you are, etc...a 3-speed isn't the best thing in the world for tough hills, but a system with more gears can do it just fine. I'm not sure of your budget, but if you can wait for it, Shimano is coming out with what looks like a sweet 11-speed called the Alfine that's half the cost of the Rohloff. If I can remember correctly, that's due this fall. And Rohloff is coming out with a new one too, so perhaps the current ones will go down in price.

3. You'll have to ask someone else about this. I'm a drop bar man.

4. LHT sounds great for your stated purpose. Touring bikes really are the best all-rounders, and can be set up accordingly.
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Old 05-18-10, 03:53 PM   #3
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To install an IGH on the LHT you'll need either a chain tensioner (the part that pulls on the chain in a derailleur) or an eccentric bottom bracket. The reason of this is that the LHT has vertical dropouts and that you can't get the chain to the right tension otherwise.

Other than the LHT there is the CrossCheck. This one has horizontal dropouts. Chances are that it will suit your style better than the LHT, being much livelier. It is quite suited to light (40-50 lb of baggage) touring.

I own an LHT myself.
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Old 05-18-10, 04:02 PM   #4
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You could own two LHT'rs for the cost of one with a IG hub. Like lipstick on a pig. It's fine if you want to go that route but the idea that running Deraileurs is somehow more complicated always humors me.
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Old 05-18-10, 04:06 PM   #5
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If you plan to run an internal gear hub the new civia bryant is worth a look.

http://civiacycles.com/bikes/bryant/
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Old 05-18-10, 11:10 PM   #6
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You can buy the Surly 1X1 frame and use the Nexus 8 speed. There are quite a number of users on the net who did just this.
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Old 05-19-10, 05:41 AM   #7
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Also take into account that most IGH, with the possible exception of the Rolhoff, have limitations of torque that can be applied to them: not good for loaded rides and gearing them with a low granny.
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Old 05-19-10, 08:34 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rutibegga View Post
1. Is having an internally geared hub going to be a PITA as far as maintenance goes? I own a Raleigh Twenty, but I've yet to have to change the tire on the rear wheel, and only ride the bike on short rides (my commute if I don't have many visits after work, or around my neighborhood for grocery-getting and tooling around). How much more difficult is it to deal with?
On a bike that is set up well for internal gears, they're no big deal. They do take maintenance, just like anything else mechanical. Because you're using heavier duty cogs, chainrings, and chain, and on many IGH bikes you've also got a chainguard or chaincase, stuff doesn't wear out as fast. But you still wanna be nice to the parts and check them over regularly. Your flat kit will look a bit different, and you might need some extra tools vs a derailler bike. You definitely want to practice fixing a flat at home before trying to do it on the side of the road... but you'd wanna do that with a derailler too.

On a bike like the LHT, where it is flat out not designed for IGH... I'd class it as a pain. Yes, you can in theory put an IGH on a vertical drop out bike, but it can be really fiddly. Plus it means buying an entirely new drivetrain, which means you're building up from scratch and paying 1.5-2x the cost of a LHT complete.

Quote:
2. I'm used to riding fixed. I'm used to standing up and soldiering on over hills. Are three, eight, or eleven gears going to be enough on longer, hillier rides? I've managed a few 25 mile club rides on my fixie, and hung in there. I think I'll be ok, but I've never left the Phila. city limits. I'm sure it get hillier (though I've - slowly - climbed the Manayunk wall).
*shrug* It's Pennsylvania. There are hills. You can pretty much always walk up if you have to, and you won't be the first person or the last to walk up an 18% grade in PA. That is a lot of hill, and many people will have to walk even with gears. (it's pretty noteworthy when you find crazy people doing hill repeats on an 18% grade... I grew up on top of one, and I think it happened maybe once in about 15 years.)

That said... with practice you should find that the increased range over your SS bike gives you a lot more flexibility in what routes you can tackle. Gears are a huge advantage if you're already a strong rider. The main trick is to learn to use them.

Quote:
3. I HATE drop bars - I've never been able to feel comfortable with them. Has anyone here done long rides with u-bars or mustache bars? Are they comfortable when you're carrying weight over distance?
My bars are a bit like the On-One "Mary" bars. People have done centuries and longer on H bars, bullhorns, flat bars, North Roads, trekking bars... you name it, the bar can be used for long distances. Whether you should or not is more a question of bike fit than the merits or demerits of a particular bar. Same thing goes for weight. You can in theory tour on anything. So the question becomes not "can" but "do I want to?"

Drop bars work decently well for a pretty broad range of riders. They're not the favorite bar for everyone, but by eyeball I'd say about half of the people who ride bikes can make 'em work.

Quote:
4. Aside from the LHT, are there other frames (or complete bikes) I should look at? I'm looking for something that would be great for covering 25 miles with a load, but would also work for weekend trips or possibly camping, down the road.

Thank in advance for any suggestions.
A 25 mile ride is not a huge deal. It's something that most riders can learn to do, with some dedicated practice. Even in PA, even on a singlespeed or fixed gear bike. With a load... gears get more desirable. A bigger issue will probably be things like the Turnpike and the fact that most bridges are awful narrow. (nooo, there are never any one lane highway bridges over creeks... how could you possibly design a road that badly?)

Breezers have decently long chainstays, internal gears, and not-drop bars. I have one and like it, and I see no reason why I can't complete a century on it. So far, I've done 45 miles pain free... so the rest is practice (to build endurance) and mental (as in you have to be a bit mental to do endurance riding).

Civia makes IGH bikes. At the time I was buying they were new, expensive, and did not come with step through frame options... I've got some physical limitations that require a step through, so I ignored 'em. Deformed foot bones and a rotated hip meant I had arthritis in my teens. A diamond frame bike is really hard for me to mount and dismount on a bad pain day... so when I was shopping that meant Civia wasn't even on my radar.

Batavus, Gazelle, and various other Dutch and Danish bikes sometimes get imported into the US. They're very good bikes for cargo, but they tend to be built much heavier than my Breezer. Since I have to carry my bike up and down stairs a lot, that was a concern.

Bike Friday has a good reputation. Folding bikes do not let you load the bike down with 70-100lbs of stuff normally. Instead, they let you do things like pop on the train with a carry on bike. These are basically custom bikes, so if extending range with Amtrak sounds useful, this is something to look at closely. They're also a good choice if you've got physical limits like mine. Bike Friday owners seem to use trailers and panniers about equally often, so normalish cargo loads are doable.

A number of fixie road bikes can have their rear wheel rebuilt with an IGH. If you're intending to carry a lot of cargo (say, over 30lbs), I wouldn't go this route without checking the chainstay length. 42cm is on the short side for carrying over 30lbs, especially if you're a small rider or using pretty upright bars. Very few bikes have chainstays of 45cm or longer... if most of the load goes on the rear wheel, long chainstays are a big deal. The Cross-check fits in here too, and is maybe a bit more cargo capable than a Steamroller. A big thing to watch here is tire clearance... many track focused bikes can't take studded snow tires because there's not enough room for 37mm or so tires. If you plan to ride in winter, you want a bike with plenty of clearance. It's also fairly doable to upgrade your Raleigh 20 with a wider range gearhub.

I'd strongly encourage you to try out derailler bikes too tho. They can work very well, and if you're not going for a chainguard, I think you lose a lot of the IGH advantages. Because of my physical limitations and cargo hauling requirements, deraillers turned out not to be a good match for me. That doesn't mean they're unworkable. Lots of people can and do use deraillers.
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Old 05-20-10, 08:30 AM   #9
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Thanks for all of the input.

The reason I'm planning to go with an IGH is because I want a chaingaurd, because I want low-maint, and honestly, because there's something very aesthetically pleasing about a straight chainline (yes, aesthetics are important to me.) I'm also planning mustache or u-bars, fenders, and sort of an old-fashioned look, but I want performance as well. I'm planning on using the bike to ride out to the 'burbs, to visit orchards (coming home loaded up, of course), and potentially for longer rides out to B&B's for overnights. I'd like to get into camping and light touring, so I'd want something suitable for that, as well as for just making my rounds around town.

I'm still leaning towards the LHT with an alfine 8-speed hub, but I'm going to look into other complete bike options that suit my needs. @Torrilin, I'll be going through the list of various bikes you pointed out, save the folders (there's a Brompton and a Raleigh Twenty in my stable.)
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Old 05-20-10, 09:21 AM   #10
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Rutibega, I went through a similar train of thought after seeing a Casserol with shimano 8spd when I ordered a Surly CrossCheck frame. I figured I'd be committed to heavier tires because I didn't want to go through changing the rear wheel but I haven't had any flats with the tires I'm using so that excuse was weak. My $.02 is the CrossCheck would be less of a change in handling than the LHT coming from your Pacer and still be a worthwhile load carrier. I like the aesthetic of a narrow black rack on a black CrossCheck. I could see upright bars looking sharp.

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Old 05-20-10, 11:20 AM   #11
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I use an Alfine for 2x6 mile commute in al weather and the occasional leisure ride. The longest Ive ridden with the commuter is about 30 miles. Its great for urban riding and some people use Alfine in muddy MTBs. I think the advantages of a Gates carbon drive with IHG outweigh any disadvantages (which are??).
Im not sure that Alfine is suited to longer distance riding. The Rohloff rules as far as touring goes. You get a share of low gears, better torque specs and oil bath maintenace.
In my opinion, anyone who is going to depend on a bike for transport will need more than one. I have an everyday commute and a trad touring bike. I also have my old commuter (road/sport style) as a backup.
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Old 05-20-10, 12:44 PM   #12
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In my opinion, anyone who is going to depend on a bike for transport will need more than one. I have an everyday commute and a trad touring bike. I also have my old commuter (road/sport style) as a backup.
Ha! Trust me, this is not my only bike. I've got an ever-growing stable of bikes.

I'll have to look into cost on the Rohloff hubs. I've heard people sing their praises, but I don't want this project balloon in cost to the point of being unmanageable.
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Old 05-20-10, 02:39 PM   #13
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1. In my experience, changing a flat on an internal gear hub is no harder than with any other nutted axle. You will need to carry a wrench, since the hubs don't work with quick releases (except for the Rolhoff, I believe). I've only worked with older 3-speed hubs, though, so I don't know if modern hubs are more complicated.

Otherwise, the hubs need basically no maintenace on a daily basis, and the ability to use a single-speed chain with a perfect chainline means that the rest of your drivetrain will last much longer. The newer hubs use grease lubrication, which means that they should be torn down and regreased occasionally (this would be once a year or less). Oil-lubed Sturmeys generally never need anything more than an occasional squirt of oil.

2. This is going to depend on your terrain and level of fitness. You could play around with Sheldon Brown's gear calculator to get an idea of what the different hubs will give you. I get by just fine with a 3-speed, but I live in a very flat city, and generally don't carry heavy loads with that bike.

3. I have trekking bars on my cargo/touring bike, and they were just fine for a 3+ hour ride last weekend (I wasn't having to shake out my wrists half-way through like the straight bar riders were). I find drops to be better for most types of riding (trekking bars are better suited to manhandling a heavy bike a low speeds, but worse for headwinds, fast cruising, and descents), but they are another option. I'd recommend mounting road hoods on the forward bends for a moustache bar-style cruising position, and possibly adding clip-on aerobars for a decent aero position (I found myself using invisible aero-bars fairly frequently on this ride).

4. Possibly a crazy idea, but I'd think about putting that money into upgrading your R20. They can be rebuilt to ride about as nicely as the Bike Fridays mentioned above, and should be sturdy enough to carry some sizable loads.
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Old 05-21-10, 05:49 AM   #14
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Ha! Trust me, this is not my only bike. I've got an ever-growing stable of bikes.

I'll have to look into cost on the Rohloff hubs. I've heard people sing their praises, but I don't want this project balloon in cost to the point of being unmanageable.
They seem to have had lobster prices over the years, changing from year to year up and down. Do look into getting one directly from Europe if you're looking to minimize costs. Still expensive, but...starbike.com in Germany, where I got mine, can be as much as $300 cheaper than getting one in the US, especially since a US customer doesn't have to pay VAT taxes, if I remember correctly. (When I bought mine, it was as much as $500 difference on some sites.) Also consider buying the Rohloff oil in the liter sizes. At any rate, be sure to look around before pulling the proverbial trigger.
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Old 05-21-10, 08:53 PM   #15
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To install an IGH on the LHT you'll need either a chain tensioner (the part that pulls on the chain in a derailleur) or an eccentric bottom bracket. The reason of this is that the LHT has vertical dropouts and that you can't get the chain to the right tension otherwise.
I've seen this alluded to a couple times, but I don't get it. Why does the dropout angle matter?
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Old 05-21-10, 09:06 PM   #16
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I've seen this alluded to a couple times, but I don't get it. Why does the dropout angle matter?
The chain has to be tight otherwise it will skip, in addition to wearing out the chainring, chain and sprockets prematurely. Because vertical dropouts do not allow you to take up the slack in the chain, you need to use an eccentric BB or to install a chain tensioner (similar to how the rear derailleur mechanism works).

If you have an older bike that has more horizontal style dropouts, slack in the chain can probably be taken in by moving the rear wheel back and forth.
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Old 05-22-10, 07:30 AM   #17
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I've been looking more and more at complete bikes. At this point, the build idea is getting out of control as far as potential cost is concerned. I keep coming back to the Raleigh Alleyway, which has everything I'm looking for (save the racks/panniers) and is pretty to look at, too. I'm going to continue poking around and looking at bikes, but I keep coming back to this. I'm going to have to find a place locally that stocks them for a test ride (I'm 5'4, so size is often an issue).
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Old 05-23-10, 07:55 PM   #18
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I actually thought about doing this as well. I ended up deciding on a Cross-Check instead, for the dropout reasons. It didn't make sense to me to spend a minimum of $150 for an eccentric BB from a company I'd never heard of.

I kind of feel like the LHT is designed for a single particular way of doing things, and it just seems silly to me to try to make it do something else, when Surly makes another frame that's designed to handle any number of ways of doing things.
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Old 05-23-10, 08:35 PM   #19
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I just took an old 3 speed bike and updated it with a Strumey Archer 3 speed hub with drum brake, drum brake on the front, new Velocity blunt rims/etc 650b size (originally a 650A). It rides wonderfully, one thing I am doing is changing out the cog to bring the gearing down a little (got some hills on the way to work that work me pretty hard). For my commute, all you need is the 3 speed.

Frankly, by the time I add all this up I would have probably been better off getting a Globe Haul or Globe Live. I rode a haul after I was well into the project and wanted that bike!!!

Any thoughts on the Globe haul and live? I like the live with the porteur rack on the front, my thought was to get the base model (Live 1 which is single speed), then spend $90 for the rear 3-speed IGH with coaster brake, and get a local bike shop to rebuild the wheel with the new hub, then for about 600-700 you have a beautiful bike with 3-speed IGH.
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