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  1. #1
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    Fuji touring vs Surly Long Haul vs Novato Safari :-)

    Hey, this is my first post. I have hiked, riverboarded, climbed, skied, scuba dived and every other physical activity you can do outdoors. Even tho I have bicycled all my life, I am about to attempt my first cross country trek on bicycle. I am not worried about the physical challenge....but I have never bought a bike specifically for touring before, and came here for some advice and opinions from those who have.

    I understand that there are certain features and frame style that set touring bikes apart.

    Right now I am torn between these three models, the Fuji Touring, the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the Navaro Safari. Alot of shops don't carry touring bikes on the floor because they seem to not be as popular as the other styles. So until i can sample these three all out for myself, i am cobbling together as much feedback from those who have.

    I am a 6'4" tall and a muscular 220lbs. I know individual fit can vary even with people of the same height due to differences in leg and torso length...but i wanted to give you an idea of my size.

    Secondly, i will be travelling with camping gear, but trying to keep it as light as i can. I dont know how many side bags(paniers?) i will use. Maybe two maybe four. But i will use them. So front and back racks for sure.

    I plan to travel from East to west on a northern or middle route in the Spring.

    Basically thats it. Just looking for any personal opinions about any of these bikes. Likes, dislikes. Whatever. All appreciated.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    One thing you'll want to consider is gearing. For example, that Fuji's granny gear is pretty high. Think about the kind of terrain you're going to cover. If you're going cross country then you're going to encounter a mountain or two. You might want to think about a lower granny gear.

    Of course, that's something you can change on it after you buy it.

    Other than gearing, I imagine most any of those bikes are fine as long as it fits you.
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  3. #3
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    The problem with the Fuji gearing is, I believe, they use road pull ratios, so you can't just swap out the crankset for a MTB one. Since Fuji uses brifters, that means that you have to use a road crankset. The lowest granny you'll get there will likely be 30T. If you want a 22/24T granny, there might be a way (other people can answer that), but more likely you'll have to switch out the brifters to bar-end shifters anyway since, to my knowledge, there are no brifters that have MTB pull ratios.

    I don't have any of those bikes, but obviously the LHT gets high marks on this board. I think it has less to do with the components of the completed bike (though Surly does a good job with that, too, from what I read) and almost everything to do with the great geometry on a steel frame. If you only bought the frame and spec'd it out yourself you'd have a great bike (though buying complete bikes is always cheaper than piecing it together yourself). Just from reputation, I'd lean toward the LHT.

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    Hey...thanks for the opinions so far. Much appreciated. Yeay, not going to build the bike from scratch...but i am going to take an extensive bike maintenance course before the trip. I am sure flats and other mishaps are bound to happen along the way.

    I agree with what some of you said about the Fuji gears being kinda high. I do plan to take a more northernly route which will mean more mountains. I do dig the Surly too. And although the Safari is on the cheaper end, i do know someone who crossed country on one twice and loved it.

    6 months ago i donated a kidney to my bro who needed one, and this ride will be to honor that. We are both in great shape and fully recovered, and are looking forward to this next adventure together. As Lance Armstrong wrote, it's "Not the Bike"....it's whats inside that counts.

    Having said that, we want to make the right bike choice too....so keep those personal opinions coming. Again, Much appreciated. Good info all. :-)
    Last edited by Wuweiwarrior; 09-19-11 at 04:14 PM.

  5. #5
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    Here's a couple reviews, and you might be able email the writer with any specific questions. Surly LHT review, Fuji touring review. There are also some other interesting posts if you look at "related posts" down at the bottom.

    Personally, I would be more inclined to go with the LHT if I were looking to get 26" wheels, but would choose the Fuji if I were going with 700c, but that is just my preference.
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  6. #6
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    Both Fuji and Surly make excellent bikes. Also both manufacturers make their 700c models with 64cm frames. So your in luck there!

    If I were you, I'd go to REI, and board the Safari, just to get an approximate idea. If it fits, get it! If not I'd opt for the LHT.

    The LHT will be a few hundred more, but well worth it!

    - Slim

    The Novara brand is a good brand. I just wish I knew who really made those bikes!

  7. #7
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    Huge fan of my Surly LHT here. I've toured NZ and Tasmania with it, and been cycling on it for 3 years (8000km so far). I live in San Francisco now, and I've gone on off-road weekend tours, and my bike never fails me. I'm part of a touring club where people have a variety of bikes, some not at all meant for touring. Everytime someone has some mechanical issue, I'm so thankful for mine, which was just built to handle heavy weight, tough conditions etc. It's incredibly stable at speed with lots of weight, it can do dirt, and it doesn't break. And don't even get me started on those wonderful granny gears...
    I don't know whether Novara is quite up to scratch for a cross country tour, but maybe that's just LHT snobbery on my part... And I don't know anything about the Fuji one. All I know is, it's hard to go wrong with the LHT. Enjoy!

  8. #8
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    I really think you will want to decide what type of handlebars you want before you buy the bike. Trekking bars, drop bars or mountain bike bars are most common. Once you have made that decision, then go shopping.

    Why? People develop rather strong opinions on which handlebars they prefer and you might be happiest if you figure out what you prefer before you buy. Brake levers and possibly shifters are not that cheap to change. If you wanted trekking bars on a LHT, it is not a cheap conversion. On the Fuji it would cost even more to make that change. Or if you wanted drop bars on the REI brand Safari, also costly and I am not sure if the top tube would be short enough for that conversion.

    If however cost is no object, there are some other good touring bikes you may also want to look at. For example, I have a couple friends that are quite happy with their Trek 520s.

    Once you decide on the handle bars, then go shopping for a bike. You probably will want 700c wheels, that makes the decision a bit easier as that rules out a few models.

    It was commented above to avoid road gearing, but I put road cranksets on my two touring bikes and am quite happy with that. I however use a 24t instead of the 30t chainring. For the rear, I use 11/32 Sram eight speed cassettes. I do not know how well a 24t (instead of the 30t chainring) would work with a brifter, I suspect badly. I use bar end shifters that are friction and they work well with the big jump from the 24t to my 42t middle ring on the crankset.

    If I was going to go cross country, I probably would use the LHT that I built up from frame and fork in 2003, but I prefer drop bars.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brittain View Post
    The problem with the Fuji gearing is, I believe, they use road pull ratios, so you can't just swap out the crankset for a MTB one. Since Fuji uses brifters, that means that you have to use a road crankset. The lowest granny you'll get there will likely be 30T. If you want a 22/24T granny, there might be a way (other people can answer that), but more likely you'll have to switch out the brifters to bar-end shifters anyway since, to my knowledge, there are no brifters that have MTB pull ratios...
    I used a 24T Granny with my Raliegh R700, it was equipped with Shimano Utegra STi Shifters (brifters), I had to also lower the tooth count on the big ring to around 48T. It worked like a champ. BTW the crankset was also Ultegra.

    Isn't the Fuji and LHT about the same type of tour bike, where as the Safari is more specific for some off pavement type tours? I always thought it was quite different than the other two.
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  10. #10
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    The Surly and Fuji are intended for drop bars, and have a shorter TT. The Novara has a longer TT - it's basically a 29er mtb with long chainstays.

    OP - a person your size should probably avoid the shorter chainstays of the Fuji (44cm) and pick from the Surly or Novara (46cm). Your big shoes are less likely to whack the panniers on the Surly or Novara. Also the LHT is available in size 62cm now, and 64cm in a few months.

    The LHT is the best of the three bikes. In February you can pick one with disc brakes, if this appeals to you.
    Last edited by seeker333; 09-19-11 at 07:33 PM.

  11. #11
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    Awesome feedback everyone. Thanks again. I am taking it all in and processing it as i look for shops with some on hand that I can try out.

    I agree with what Tourist said about the handle bars...as I was thinking about them a lot too. The funny thing is that i like all the styles mentioned. I like the mountainbike handle bars for commuting. But i like the drop handlebars for speed and improved aero against the wind. The safari bars intrigue me for their unique design. Gotta locate a REI shop near me so i can see how they feel. I think i can eliminate the mountain bike bars simply for lack of hand positions on long treks. So it looks like the drop bars unless the Safari bars really wow me.

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    Thnks seeker. Yeah...my feet are freakishly large. Hitting the panniers would be very annoying for sure. I will wait for February for any sales....but not for disc breaks. I understand they make changing flats a pain as well as get in the way of panniers and racks. True?

  13. #13
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    No, not in the case of the Disc Trucker, due to frame design and rear brake caliper placement

    There can be problem with R&P in the case of the Safari, also due to frame design and caliper placement. Compare pictures.

    Disc brakes don't normally affect ability to remove wheel to repair a flat, in either case. You have to avoid rough handling which can bend a brake rotor.
    Last edited by seeker333; 09-19-11 at 10:13 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member gtownviking's Avatar
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    I know a lot of people are not fans of the Sojourn (Raleigh's touring bike) but this years model is sweet. 631 tubing.
    Check it out...http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/steel-road/sojourn-12/

    This is the one I am planning on getting.
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  15. #15
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    You should weigh it first. Old Sojourns weighed ~34# in 55cm (6# more than my LHT with similar gear).

    New fork is an improvement.
    Last edited by seeker333; 09-19-11 at 10:44 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    This is a LHT set up with a 44/32/22 crankset, 11-34 rear cassette, and brifters. Using a Mtn crank required using a shorter bottom bracket spindle (103mm). We have this set up on four bikes, and have a total of about 16,000 miles without any major issues. Brifters work well with cantilever brakes, and with "travel agents" have more than enough pull for linear pull brakes.



    I would not worry about the durablity or reliablity of brifters. Our son competes in cylcocross races, and his bikes are equiped with brifters. Despite the mud and crashes, he has not had any major issues with them.

  17. #17
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'm 6'4" as well. I bought a 62cm Surly LHT and I am so glad I did! It's about as well-thought-out tourer as there is. There are no weaknesses I can find. I built mine up from a frame, which was expensive, but fun, and I got exactly what I wanted. The Sugino crankset I bought had a 26-tooth granny. I replaced that with a 24. With the Cyclotouriste cassette on the back I have a really low setup. You won't regret having a really low gear, but you will certainly regret it if you don't have a low enough setup.

    I met a guy crossing the country on a Fuji tourer. He liked it, but it wasn't as robust as my LHT. He had to replace both the wheels halfway across the country. It's a good option if you can't afford the LHT, but I think the Surly is a better bike.

  18. #18
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    Wuweiwarrior, I think prudent advice is to get a bike best suited for loaded, unsupported touring as you're still unsure about how much gear y'all will be taking for the trip. Of the three bikes you listed I feel it's down to the LHT.

    Whichever bike you chose I suggest having the wheelset retensioned and retrued to reduce the possibility of problems on the trip.

    Brad

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brittain View Post
    The problem with the Fuji gearing is, I believe, they use road pull ratios, so you can't just swap out the crankset for a MTB one. Since Fuji uses brifters, that means that you have to use a road crankset. The lowest granny you'll get there will likely be 30T. If you want a 22/24T granny, there might be a way (other people can answer that), but more likely you'll have to switch out the brifters to bar-end shifters anyway since, to my knowledge, there are no brifters that have MTB pull ratios.
    FWIW, your conclusions are totally wrong. There is no problem putting a MTB crank on the Fuji even though it has brifters. My wife's bike has 9s Tiagra brifters, Tiagra FD and a Deore 22/32/44 crankset. The crankset was swapped with the original 30/42/52.

  20. #20
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    It's all good, get one, and change things to make it fit ,
    and the gearing that will work for you.

    the Product managers specify parts for a pricepoint they think will do,
    for most people , at a target price-point..
    higher road gearing, suits commuters, they buy a lot of bikes.

    but you can remove things, and replace them with your choices.

    Summer sees a whole lot of people riding all sorts of bikes,


    carrying their camping gear, riding down the WA/OR Pacific Coast.. here..

    just get something... and go see somewhere.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-26-11 at 09:42 PM.

  21. #21
    ... Brittain's Avatar
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    I guess I was totally wrong on the MTB/brifter issue. I hear a lot of conflicting information on that, but apparently it can be done.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brittain View Post
    I guess I was totally wrong on the MTB/brifter issue. I hear a lot of conflicting information on that, but apparently it can be done.
    At this time you need to match the indexing shifters to the FD... both road or both mountain. From what I've read, sometimes, but very rarely can the two groups be mixed. I was lucky to get a Suntour mountain FD to work with RSX levers, just used the cable anchor's B position.

    Brad

  23. #23
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    I've got both a Fuji Touring and a Novara Randonnee; I think the Randonnee is pretty close to the LHT, except it has brifters. Both have decent gears for touring (Fuji 24 small crank, Randonnee 26), both use a Shimano front derailer, although the Fuji has Campy brifters. No real problems with either.

    As bradtx mentions, you want to match Shimano road shifters for road front derailers. Most people can use index front shifting with front cranks down to 26, unless you're the princess who feels the pea (estimated 5% of the population). For the princess types, who don't like the way this set-up shifts, bar-end shifters allow you to use ratcheting front (still index rear), as the LHT does.

    The Safari is the odd ball in this comparison, since it's more like a mountain bike than the Fuji or LHT, and uses grip shifters. OTOH, some people ride MTBs TransAm, so the Safari should be capable.

    MHO: at 6'4", the OP should really try out all the available options; finding something big enough may be a challenge. Any of these will work (as will the Trek 520, Randonnee, etc, etc.). Pick the one that feels best to ride -- you don't want to be cramped, or stretched, during long hours in the saddle. If 'twas me, and I liked the Fuji best, I'd work a deal to swap out the crank for something smaller, and have it installed and adjusted before leaving the shop.

    Check with Wayne at thetouringstore.com for racks and bags. I like Tubus Cargo and Tara racks (rear and front) -- buy what you need, the racks that come with some of these should work fine for a TransAm road tour. Then pick your poison for panniers; I like Ortlieb, but the Bikepacker bags may be big enough that you won't need any bags up front!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wuweiwarrior View Post
    Thnks seeker. Yeah...my feet are freakishly large. Hitting the panniers would be very annoying for sure. I will wait for February for any sales....but not for disc breaks. I understand they make changing flats a pain as well as get in the way of panniers and racks. True?
    If you're not thinking of carrying big loads don't get big panniers. That said the 26" wheeled LHT is dynamite for carrying heavy loads AND responsive handling.

  25. #25
    Senior Lurker, mostly. DW99's Avatar
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    I can't make comparisons of the LHT and Randonnee with the Fuji Touring, all good bikes for sure. I have the Fuji, and I can say that it is a well made touring bike at a very reasonable price. Mine is a 2010, the same bike at the top of the Darren Alff review linked in Ciufalon's comment #5 from above. http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/fuji-touring-review/ I am very happy with it, handles a full load well, fits well, and I can ride it all day and enjoy it. Haven't ridden it across the country but wouldn't hesitate and I hope to someday. Good luck in your decision and your ride, Wuweiwarrior.
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