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Old 06-14-10, 11:24 AM   #1
NoGaBiker
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Observations about my new Touring Bike vs. my Racing Bike

I've been lurking over here in Touring for a year. Last spring I joined ACA and got all hyped about touring, after 20 years of hammering around on nice race bikes. Instead of buying a new bike, though, I put $350 in used eBay parts into a nice commuting bike (Marin Belvedere) I already had. Drop bars, XT der, 9sp brifters, rear rack, etc. It was(is) great for commuting, but the 17" chainstays aren't enough for my foot and decent sized panniers.

So last month I bought a beautiful Olive Green 09 LHT frame, intending to dismantle the Marin and build up the Surly. But I got to thinking how nice it would be to have a loaner touring bike so I could invite friends. So I kept the Marin unmolested and started from scratch with the LHT.

I've now had it completed for three weeks and I have 300-some miles on it. In a word, I am in LOVE! I've ridden it on a round trip to three grocery stores and come home with 90 pounds of groceries (4 Ortliebs and a BOB trailer). I've commuted with a single Ortlieb on back. I've ridden for the hell of it with only a Topeak rack trunk. I've ridden it "naked" (only a tiny seatbag with tire levers, tube, money). I've taken it on two race-team group rides and averaged 18mph on rolling hills. (This was hard work, but very rewarding.) I've cruised around Atlanta with absolutely no agenda, just out discovering. I've loaned it to a friend.

It has been the best conversation starter in the biking world I've ever owned. Nobody knows what it is but all are enthralled with its big, rugged, utility.

And now for the stunner: I had abandoned my $6000 titanium race bike ever since getting the Surly. Yesterday morning I rode with two friends so I loaned out both of my touring bikes and rode the Merlin. I was shocked at how annoying it was! Jerky. Skittish. A brief stint through a gravel parking lot was nearly impossible; I had to walk it while my friends just rode on ahead. I was sore and achy after 2 hours, where the LHT leaves me wanting more after that time. I heard groanings and noises from the bike that I never hear from the Surly. Everything about it felt fragile, and this is a titanium bike, not plastic!

Of course, the upside is the 15-pound weight, compared to 38 or so on the Surly. When the road turns up the Merlin is the clear winner. Or if you need to hammer along at a 19-22mph clip for an hour or so, no contest. But who actually needs to do that?

Here's how I felt, for the car afficianodos among us: It's like I had always driven my Porsche 911 GT3RS around town and for sporty drives in the mountains. I recognized the value of a utility vehicle like a station wagon, but I had no delusions they could be fun. Then one day I tried an Audi RS6 Avant, or maybe a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and found that yes, they haul lots of stuff, but they are also great handling, fun to drive cars that lavish you in comfort and ask nothing of you in return. It's like the best of both worlds.

I don't think I'll give up my race bikes anytime soon (I ride with guys who want to go so fast I can barely hang on with a 15-pound bike), but I doubt I'll take them out for pleasure very often in the future. The long geometry and upright seating is just too freeing! I'm even starting to get used to looking like a ******. (Yeah, to roadies everything about the posture, etc. of the LHT looks really strange. But my perception is really changing on that.)

I rode 400 miles in Provence last fall on a Lynskey ti race bike with a Topeak seatpost rack. I now realize that trip would have been so much more comfortable and enjoyable on my LHT! Dang! Now I must do it again!

NGB
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Old 06-14-10, 12:50 PM   #2
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Sounds like you need an "endurance" road bike (Specialized Roubaix, Cervelo RS, Look 566, Giant Defy, Felt Z-series, etc) rather than a race bike. My 16lb RS is good for 6-8 hours/day @ 18-22mph. Handling is more relaxed than a race bike (Specialized Tarmac, Cervelo R3) but more responsive than my touring bike. Overall, it's a pretty good compromise...
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Old 06-14-10, 03:50 PM   #3
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Sounds like you need an "endurance" road bike (Specialized Roubaix, Cervelo RS, Look 566, Giant Defy, Felt Z-series, etc) rather than a race bike. My 16lb RS is good for 6-8 hours/day @ 18-22mph. Handling is more relaxed than a race bike (Specialized Tarmac, Cervelo R3) but more responsive than my touring bike. Overall, it's a pretty good compromise...
That is exactly the sort of bicycle that I want to compliment my Surly Long Haul Trucker. Something faster and more agile than a touring bike, but also more comfy to ride than a racing bike. But I bet I would agree with NoGaBiker's assessment if I had another bicycle-the Surly is my only bike and it's a fantastic only bike as it is
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Old 06-14-10, 06:00 PM   #4
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*shrug* Sounds to me like you've got Newbikeitis.

Sooner or later, the novelty will wear off, you'll notice that it handles like a minivan, you'll start feeling the extra pounds on a occasional hill, and maybe you'll get tired of putting an extra 5% into those group rides.

Of course, it's always handy to have a versatile bike around, but I expect you'll be jonesing for the Ti, or a new carbon fiber bike, at some point in the indeterminate future.
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Old 06-14-10, 07:23 PM   #5
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Congratulations NoGaBiker.

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Newbikeitis.


Quote:
you'll notice that it handles like a minivan
Actually, depending on the build, the LHT can be made to appear quite responsive, especially with lighter/smaller wheels which reduces trail. It never reaches the level of a race bike of course.

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you'll start feeling the extra pounds on a occasional hill
Then again, when riding just for fun, which touring is for myself, the LHT, built with a MTB crankset, just laughs at the steepest hills.

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and maybe you'll get tired of putting an extra 5% into those group rides.
No contest here: I tried to follow the boys by making my LHT as light as possible (23 lb), to no avail. It was no fun at all although I got complimented for my enhanced drafting capabilities.

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Of course, it's always handy to have a versatile bike around, but I expect you'll be jonesing for the Ti, or a new carbon fiber bike, at some point in the indeterminate future.
Likely, but not when touring for sure.
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Old 06-14-10, 08:28 PM   #6
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Well, I can relate very well. I have a 2005 Specialize Ruby Expert, full carbon bike which I used to ride exclusively-averaging a 100 miles a week (I know, I know, a paltry amount given the company). Then I got my Surly LHT two years ago, because my goal is to do a tour of the Pacific Coast, and well, lets just say that the Ruby is collecting dust. I plan on selling it, even though it cost me twice the LHT. The Surly LHT is by far the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden, and I am no spring chicken.
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Old 06-14-10, 08:30 PM   #7
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OP-What did you do to the Surly LHT to make it weigh 38 lbs?
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Old 06-14-10, 09:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
Sounds like you need an "endurance" road bike (Specialized Roubaix, Cervelo RS, Look 566, Giant Defy, Felt Z-series, etc) rather than a race bike. My 16lb RS is good for 6-8 hours/day @ 18-22mph. Handling is more relaxed than a race bike (Specialized Tarmac, Cervelo R3) but more responsive than my touring bike. Overall, it's a pretty good compromise...
Hmmmmm! what about a 1980's sport tourer, or maybe a classic Italian steel frame with some modern components, fast, agile and comfortable.
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Old 06-14-10, 09:33 PM   #9
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Nothing like a good Surly LHT bicycle.I put lower gears on mine I go slow but hills are easy to go up too.:-)
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Old 06-14-10, 09:49 PM   #10
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I bought a Novara Randonee last month and have been riding it around town as my utility bike. I have a 2300 Trek that is a jet plane by comparison, but I, too, like the feel and ride of the tourer. When I'm feeling full of energy and want to zoom up hills, I ride the trek. the rest of the time I'm leaning more and more towards the tourer. It's great to have two completely different bikes. I especially enjoy just tooling along on the Randonee without any concern for speed or acceleration. My Randonee must be 30lbs before the U-lock and other stuff I put on, so every few days I feel the urge to jump on the Trek for the sheer pleasure of pedaling a light bike.
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Old 06-14-10, 10:49 PM   #11
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I think I can relate to your excitement. I recently discovered the joys of a good steel touring bike geometry. I think as I get older, I'll go to the tourer more and more as an everyday ride. However, no bike can fulfill every possible need. I went riding today with a fast friend and there was no way I would have enjoyed the ride as much being left behind his skinny tired road bike while I putted away on my comfortable fat tire tourer. I enjoyed the ride very much keeping up with my light and tight alum racer. On-the-other-hand, I'm starting to sip the cool-aid a bit as I look wantingly at the LHT and Saga framesets.
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Old 06-15-10, 09:03 AM   #12
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OP-What did you do to the Surly LHT to make it weigh 38 lbs?
It wasn't hard! Topeak rear rack, Jannd front rack, small pump, 3 cages, seatbag (1 pound loaded) and single Ortlieb (as pictured) with 1 pound of odds and ends (hat, rag, light cablelock) = 40.6 pounds as you see her. I didn't weigh the bike naked, but this is how I ride it. By contrast, the weight of the one above it in full riding configuration is 16.2 pounds.
http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z...r/RIMG0009.jpg

http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z...r/RIMG0010.jpg
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Old 06-15-10, 11:02 AM   #13
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you might like the

new Trek Pilot. Its not your $6000 race bike, but it is a light performance road bike with touring geometry.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/road/#pilot
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Old 06-15-10, 01:06 PM   #14
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Thanks for the sporty-bike suggestions, but I'm not looking for another bike. I'm delighted with the LHT, and when I want something lighter and sportier-handling I'm set with the Merlin. I was mainly posting my observations that the Surly is a blast to ride and is so comfortable that it has made me realize how relatively uncomfortable race bikes are, when I never really knew that because that's all I ride for long distances. My commuter and beach/utility bikes are uber-comfortable but I rarely ride them more than 12 or 15 miles.

I'm looking forward to doing a century soon -- not a formal century, but just a hundred-mile ride -- to see if I feel better at the end than I typically do on the Merlin.
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Old 06-15-10, 04:55 PM   #15
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you might try a different fork on your race bike if you think it's too "twitchy"
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Old 06-15-10, 09:45 PM   #16
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you might try a different fork on your race bike if you think it's too "twitchy"
Okay, I appreciate the intended helpfulness but I guess my comments went over some heads. I've been riding race bikes since 1983 -- I'm not really trying to diagnose a "problem" with my race bikes. I'm trying to draw out the fact that in comparison to the wonderful ride of the LHT they -- and most of all the Merlin -- seem twitchy, nervous, etc. It is the nature of these type bikes. There's nothing wrong with the Ouzo Pro fork. I was trying to give a big shout out to you touring guys by way of saying your rigs are wonderful and I'm enjoying mine.

Thanks.
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Old 06-15-10, 10:24 PM   #17
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no no no,

you're wrong, plus you need to buy more stuff

glad you like the LHT, I thought about this thread as I rode my touring bike home this evening, and I totally agree about a stable, comfortable tank. Its like cruising in a '64 caddy with sweet power steering and a bench seat...
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Old 06-16-10, 08:32 AM   #18
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no no no,

you're wrong, plus you need to buy more stuff

glad you like the LHT, I thought about this thread as I rode my touring bike home this evening, and I totally agree about a stable, comfortable tank. Its like cruising in a '64 caddy with sweet power steering and a bench seat...
Tooo funny you mention that. Here's one of my cars!

http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z...urchase-10.jpg
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Old 06-16-10, 08:41 AM   #19
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Nice post. I have an LHT but no experience riding a lightweight road bike so I am always wondering. Some day...

I do know that the enjoyment of riding the LHT and the versatility of being able to haul some stuff for commuting, or pick up groceries on the way home, gets me out on the bike more, so that's all good. I also like to be able to pick a rough road on the way home, or charge over sections of gravel or whatever. I guess the bike just fits my style (or lack thereof). :^)
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Old 06-16-10, 08:46 AM   #20
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Tooo funny you mention that. Here's one of my cars!

http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z...urchase-10.jpg

lucky sumbi*ch. that is beautiful.
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Old 06-16-10, 09:15 AM   #21
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Tooo funny you mention that. Here's one of my cars!

http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z...urchase-10.jpg
That is BEAUTIFUL.
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Old 06-16-10, 09:16 AM   #22
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Double post

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Old 06-16-10, 09:25 AM   #23
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lucky sumbi*ch. that is beautiful.
Thanks! As you can tell from my house, some sacrifices had to be made!
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Old 06-16-10, 10:16 AM   #24
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I had a carbon Giant road bike once and didn't like it either. But I come from the MTB side of biking so that wasn't too suprising. Jerky, skittish, yeah Right before that I had an older aluminum Trek road bike and I actually liked it better. But I though a light carbon bike would be an upgrade.

Now, after riding the steel Kona Sutra frame (quality issues aside) I am a convert to steel.

If I ever get a road bike again, it'll be a steel frame. I stopped obsessing over the weight years ago.

Congrats on your bike, looks neat with orange tape

Oh, so you're using brifters with Deore XT RD? No problems?

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Old 06-16-10, 10:48 AM   #25
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Thanks! As you can tell from my house, some sacrifices had to be made!

well, on the upside, at least you can live pretty comfortably in the trunk...
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