You know how much we hear that the LHT (and most other modern touring bikes) are handling so much better when loaded heavier on the rear? Well, I started traveling with an LHT only last year so I am still learning and experimenting a lot. This time I wanted to experiment what all this meant.
I am about 200 lb. My ride is a 56x26 black LHT, custom as seen here:
According to the trail calculator here:
the trail on that bike is 62 mm and the mechanical trail 59.
(compare this to 66 mm and 63 mm for the 56x700c LHT with 35 mm tires)
I installed the Surly Nice front rack on it, no rear rack at all and started loading my panniers in low-rider position up to 50 lb, total 55 lb including the rack and panniers weight.
My conclusion: what's the deal? No, seriously, if we are to believe what we read everywhere, like in Bicycle Quarterly, I should hardly be able to control my bicycle. At the very least the ride should be awful, totally unpleasant. The reality is that past 7-8 km/h (4-5 mph) the bicycle goes exactly where it is pointed at, stable as if on rails. Period. No fuss whatsoever. Climbing a long 8-10% hill (Mount Royal in the heart of Montreal, Canada) using the lowest gear (17,2 gearinches) and speed, all was just fine. I turned corners at 20 kph with the same results.
So my question is what am I missing that every one else is reporting? Under which circumstances front loading the LHT becomes a problem? What kind of test should I run to learn the limits that I shouldn't exceed? Is it just because that I am heavier than average, hence loading the rear more than most, that I experience no handling problems?
Thanks for reading this and sharing your thoughts.