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Old 06-27-10, 02:32 PM   #1
Venturarace
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Smoothest Ride---Surly LHT, Trek 520 or Jamis Aurora?

As, I search for my first touring bike, im wondering which of the above bikes would provide the
more smoother, comfortable ride, WITHOUT any loads on bike.
I am 5 11, 170lbs!

Thanks
Michael
Princeton NJ
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Old 06-27-10, 02:40 PM   #2
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You might want to consider which one of the three fits you the best instead. Have you ridden any of them? Ride quality is very dependent on tire choice, position on bike, saddle, etc. Maybe I am reaching here, but absent any of these considerations, the longer wheelbase will usually feel smoothest.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:46 PM   #3
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I'd say that, given the same tire specs and saddle, they'll be the same.

If you want a smooth ride, a few tricks.

• use wide and lower PSI slicks
• try Fizik bar-gels under the tape (or an equivalent product)
• if you really wanna go nuts, look into a Thudbuster
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Old 06-27-10, 02:47 PM   #4
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Thanks TomT74,

So far, I have test rode the Trek 520. It felt like I was leaning too far forward, more like a racing bike. I think it has an abnormally long top tube, than the other 2 bikes I have mentioned. I will be using the bike for casual riding and working up to the MS150 ride in Cherry Hill NJ in September.

Also, as a general rule, will steel be more comfortable that aluminum? I really kind of like the more "old school" look and vintage colors of the steel bikes.
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Old 06-27-10, 03:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Venturarace View Post
Thanks TomT74,

So far, I have test rode the Trek 520. It felt like I was leaning too far forward, more like a racing bike. I think it has an abnormally long top tube, than the other 2 bikes I have mentioned. I will be using the bike for casual riding and working up to the MS150 ride in Cherry Hill NJ in September.

Also, as a general rule, will steel be more comfortable that aluminum? I really kind of like the more "old school" look and vintage colors of the steel bikes.
If you were leaning too far forward on the Trek 520, it is most likely a bad fit for that particular ride. Really, first get the correct fit, then tweak it the best you can and take it for a good ride.

I have the Surly LHT and enjoy it. After two months I am still adjusting the seat a bit, the bars etc. It will be dialed in soon, but it takes time.

The 520 is well respected. I tend to believe you may have ridden one that is not a correct size for you. Don't discount it yet, read about and talk to people about fitting a bike for try out purposes.
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Old 06-27-10, 04:18 PM   #6
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I test rode the Aurora and the Surly, and bought the Surly. The biggest difference in my opinion is the wide tires on the Surly. They suck up the bumps, and I fear no street grates
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Old 06-27-10, 05:12 PM   #7
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Also, as a general rule, will steel be more comfortable that aluminum?
Nope.

As a specific rule, i.e. one frame of each, with identical geometry and components: maybe. I'd bet you would not be able to tell the difference. Frame material has very little to do with ride quality. Harping on it is the refuge of marketing mavens and those who are susceptible to their charms. Claims of "dampening road buzz", "vertically compliant", etc, are true in the strictest sense, but the actual effects are vanishingly small next to a well-fitted bike, a 5 psi decrease in tire pressure, a comfy saddle, or a gel padded handlebar.
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Old 06-27-10, 05:17 PM   #8
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id go from the point of which is cheapest, but thats me.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:38 PM   #9
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It's very hard (impossible?) in Atlanta, a city of 4 million to find even one of these bikes stocked locally. I've tried the "authorized" Trek and Jamis dealers (everybody who buys from QBC is an authorized Surly dealer, I think.) and I've never found one. The dealers will order one for you when you know what you want.

So if you've found one to test ride, I'd do my best to see if that dealer can dial in the fit on the 520 till it is right for you. Then I wouldn't worry about the others, which are only vaporware from a fit perspective (Of course, your city may have multiple stocking dealers of touring bikes. If so, ignore me.)

Agreed on steel vs. aluminum meaning less than nothing. Nobody that I'm aware of makes an identical geometry, identically spec'd bike available in steel or alum, so any other comparison will boil down to wheels, tires, saddle, bars, geometry, any one of which will have a bigger effect than frame material. For instance, my smoothest (bump absorbing) bike is an aluminum commuter, my old steel race bike isn't nearly as smooth and comfortable as my modern titanium or carbon race bikes, my steel LHT with 32mm Schwalbes is noticeably buzzier and bumpier going over the cobbled entrance to our neighborhood than the aluminum $400 Marin Belvedere commuter with 28mm tires on it.
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Old 06-28-10, 06:16 AM   #10
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Michael - Since you are in Princeton, you may also wish to consider the Fuji Touring and the Bianchi Volpe, either of which may be purchased at the Oldest Bicycle Shop in America, located in Spring Street in Princeton Borough:

http://koppscycle.net/articles/history-pg59.htm

(I am not employed by this shop, but I have been a customer there.)
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Old 06-28-10, 06:36 AM   #11
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"smoothest" , as in soaks up bumps? Seems to me that is too much into personal preference territory given the ability of tires and psi to address that aspect with long wheelbase also affecting unloaded handling preferences.
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Old 06-28-10, 06:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
I'd say that, given the same tire specs and saddle, they'll be the same.

If you want a smooth ride, a few tricks.

• use wide and lower PSI slicks
• try Fizik bar-gels under the tape (or an equivalent product)
• if you really wanna go nuts, look into a Thudbuster
Yep, compare the tire clearance of the different frames and go from there.
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Old 06-28-10, 09:51 AM   #13
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I can only give you my personal experience, since I am certainly not an expert on touring bikes. I've faced a similar question recently. I have a herniated disk (injury far predating biking) which recently started to act up. I ride my bike 75-100 miles a week, mostly commuting with a few weeks of touring in the summer. My doctor and physical therapist were both concerned about road vibrations. I must admit, I could definitely feel it in my back when I hit the many cracks in the road. The roads in eastern MA are pretty poor... I'd have to fly to "unweight" over all the road obstacles.

Anyway, for three years I've been riding a Jamis Aurora. I really like it, and it has been great for commuting and light touring. It's main limitation, though, was in tire size. I can only fit on a 32 on the bike. I tried two brands of 35, which wouldn't fit. Also (through absolutely no fault of the bike design), I think my frame is slightly too large for me. I do not have enough seatpost showing to use a thudbuster.

My Aurora has about 10K miles on it, so it is definitely showing some component wear. I decided to buy a LHT with 26" wheels instead. (Note that the LHT with 26" wheels allow MUCH larger tires!) The geometry difference between my LHT and Aurora seems to be well within the adjustments available with seat position, stem swaps, etc. In that regard, I think they have identical fit for me, although I'm never completely done tuning my fit on any bike.

The difference in tire choices, though, is HUGE! With my LHT-26" I use a pair of 2" (55mm?) Big apples inflated only to 45 psi. They slurp up all of those road cracks that used to rattle my teeth. I could go down to 35 psi for an even smoother ride. Of course, I pay some cost in rolling efficiency. If I increase the tire pressure to 60 psi, I would pay a much smaller rolling cost but have a much harsher ride. I could also change back to much narrow tires as well, if I decided to. With these 2" tires and fenders, I have a lot of room to spare. For my next tire set, I may go up to the even more comfortable 3.15" big apples. I also now use a thudbuster, but I would definitely suggest trying larger tires first.

So for me, it was not the frame material, geometry, etc. It was just the ability to put on whooping big tires and a thudbuster.

That's been my experience with the two bikes.
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Old 06-28-10, 10:10 AM   #14
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With these 2" tires and fenders, I have a lot of room to spare. For my next tire set, I may go up to the even more comfortable 3.15" big apples.
I don't know how you are looking at your LHT but it is specified for 2,1" wide tires at most. Here, using 26x2.00" Marathon Supreme, clearance is a mere 1/8th" each side.
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Old 06-28-10, 10:27 AM   #15
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I will comment on the Jamis Aurora since I have experience with it. Before being taken out by a car I had put approx 10K miles on it... Including one cross country trip and many local tours. One thing I would say about the Jamis is that it's priced well or at least it used to be but haven't looked at it's pricing as of late.

The wheels are decent if you keep an eye on them for the first few weeks, months. When they settle down they should serve you well.

The frame is decent but pretty flexy in the rear when I compare it to my Novara Randonee that is much stiffer in the rear when standing. I'm comparing those two with the same Tubus rear rack. Best to use a Tubus Logo if you go Jamis since the chainstays are pretty short. If you have bigger feet you will run into issues. The Jamis does have a good warranty and dealer support.

It's not as smooth as my Novara in my opinion. After having the two.... I would always pick the Novara over the Jamis now that I have several thousand miles on it. Seems like you can't purchase them now since REI seems to be selling the Surly LHT'r.
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Old 06-28-10, 11:07 AM   #16
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Yep, compare the tire clearance of the different frames and go from there.
On this, Surly wins hands down.
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Old 06-28-10, 01:05 PM   #17
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Soorry- I meant the 2.15 beg apples. -JimDDD
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