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  1. #1
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    LHT for gravel/commuting/light touring?

    I am in the market for a bike for gravel grinding, commuting, and some light touring (mainly pulling my BOB trailer). I have a beautiful Litespeed Classic for road riding and a 26" Gary Fisher mountain bike I ride gravel and commute on.
    I was thinking of a cyclocross bike until I rode the LHT and Fargo the past few days. They are two totally different animals and both seem to serve their intended purpose quite well.
    Any advice on either bike (good, bad, or ugly) would be appreciated.
    Thanks for the information.

  2. #2
    Got Scotch? goalieMN's Avatar
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    I just got done doing a nice weekend trip on my LHT that included a bunch of gravel roads as well as minimum maintenance roads. It did a great job fully loaded with panniers front and back and riding on Marathon Plus 35's





    The LHT handled really well on all the surfaces, and felt stable carrying almost 45 pounds of stuff, as the guy I was with had only a rear-rack, so I was carrying more.

    I wouldn't use the LHT as a MTB, but it did really well on some pretty iffy roads. I commute on a converted SS mountain bike, and love my 17 pound road bike, but the LHT was comfortable for carrying a load. I can only imagine it will be better if I can get my weight down to 30 pounds or so, which should be pretty easy.

    FWIW, we did 91.5 miles into 20+ mph winds the second day, mostly on pretty flat rail-trail (Lake Wobegon Trail in Minnesota) and I really enjoyed how the bike felt and handled over a long period of time cranking into the wind. It was a great ride on the gravel with rollers, but it was nice to just sit and spin into the wind for hours as well.
    "It turns out that what you have is less important than what you do with it."

  3. #3
    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    The LHT is a great bike for those purposes, but a cyclocross bike would be better. The LHT is kind of sluggish when it isn't loaded compared to a Surly CrossCheck or Salsa Vaya. I haven't ridden the Fargo, but it seems to me that the fat tires would have the usual pluses and minuses - more cushion but slower acceleration.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor29 View Post
    The LHT is a great bike for those purposes, but a cyclocross bike would be better. The LHT is kind of sluggish when it isn't loaded compared to a Surly CrossCheck or Salsa Vaya. I haven't ridden the Fargo, but it seems to me that the fat tires would have the usual pluses and minuses - more cushion but slower acceleration.
    I've had years of use of my LHT, touring, commuting, and hauling groceries, etc. I'd say it's very workable for the OP's stated purposes. It's a great bike. _Tons_ of weight on it and it will remain rock solid.

    That said, I agree with Thor29's remarks. Crossbikes are a speedier option for the stated purposes, especially if you're anticipating pulling a trailer rather than latching bags onto the bike.

    Good luck.
    Formerly Merriwether

  5. #5
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    The LHT did feel a little more sluggish than some of the cross bikes I have rode. That being said, the ride is incredible.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    A Rawland Nordavinden (700c wheels) would be sweet! Gotta build it from the frame up. Otherwise, for a complete bike, look into the Salsa (e.g., Vaya) or Surly (e.g., Cross-Check) line-up.
    Handcrafted panniers and bags for the discerning cyclist


  7. #7
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    A couple of weeks ago I did a three day tour with Norm (my Cross Check) on mostly gravel roads.

    Lake Cascade, Idaho by Bike Hermit, on Flickr
    That's Norm in the middle. At the front of this group is a Fargo with a Bob trailer. Both worked well. I like the Fargo because the handlebars can go really high. A 26" Disc Trucker would make a great offroad tourer...the bottom bracket is higher than a 700c bike.
    Last edited by Bike Hermit; 08-16-12 at 07:02 AM. Reason: wrong link
    Bike Touring News
    Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

  8. #8
    Senior Member Simon Cowbell's Avatar
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    If I'd had a gravel grinder already, there'd be a LHT(d) in my garage right now. That's why I got a Vaya. It's done more gravel than touring so far, and it works incredibly well for both, imo. Having spent some time riding Fargos on gravel, I think that'd be the bike I'd want for a bikepacking rig, but I already have that category filled.

  9. #9
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    On Saturday I will be riding my LHT on the 100K course of d2R2. 70% dirt/gravel roads with nearly 8,000' of climbing.

    Last year the GF and I did a fully-loaded tour in Montana that included about 60 miles of unpaved roads. Gravel, dirt, dirt with strewn rocks, sand and even bare rock. Both LHT's peformed flawlessly.

    MB.jpg

  10. #10
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    +1 on the Crosscheck, just be sure you like the fit.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 301driver View Post
    I am in the market for a bike for gravel grinding, commuting, and some light touring (mainly pulling my BOB trailer). I have a beautiful Litespeed Classic for road riding and a 26" Gary Fisher mountain bike I ride gravel and commute on.
    I was thinking of a cyclocross bike until I rode the LHT and Fargo the past few days. They are two totally different animals and both seem to serve their intended purpose quite well.
    Any advice on either bike (good, bad, or ugly) would be appreciated.
    Thanks for the information.
    +1 for the LHT. I've used it for commuting over the past 12 months (throughout the winter too). Great multi-purpose bike.

    I tried a CrossCheck. Sure, the CrossCheck is slightly lighter and has more nimble/compact geometry, but I far preferred the more upright geometry of a LHT.

    I'm about 1.5 MPH slower on my LHT compared to a road race bike.

    Go with what feels good.

  12. #12
    Senior Member gunner65's Avatar
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    That is why I built my salsa casseroll

  13. #13
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I have a LHT and a Bianchi Volpe CX bike. I have used both for extensive touring. I got the LHT when I returned from a fully loaded 3700 mile tour on the Bianchi; thinking it would be better for the kind of touring that I do. Since then I took the LHT on a long tour, 2900 miles and several shorter tours, so I got a good feel for the bike.

    The LHT does a great job with a heavy load. It is stable and while on the sluggish side for handling does well in most conditions. I actually like the way the Bianchi handles better than I do the LHT. I generally run 28mm tires on it. Fork blade braze-ons for a front rack would have been nice on the Bianchi.

    I have ridden the Bianchi with exactly the same configuration as the LHT. My Bianchi and the LHT have exactly the same drive trains, and the same wheels (except the hubs). I built up both bikes. I prefer the handling characteristics of the Bianchi . It is quicker and more responsive. It is also a little lighter, and I run 28mm tire on it. This could contribute to the better handling. The Bianchi also handled the loads just as well as the LHT. Here again, I used 28mm Continental Gatorskin tires while touring on the Bianchi, and 32mm Schawlbe Marathon tire on the LHT. The 28mm tires are much lighter than the 32's.

    My wife and I are leaving for a 6 week tour in a couple of weeks, and I'm still vacillating over which bike to take ( I know, "such a problem").

    As you can see from the pictures, this is not light touring. IMO--I think for light touring and commuting the CX bike would be preferable to the LHT. I'm not too sure what the widest tire my CX bike will take, but that might be something to consider if you want to use 35mm or 38mm tires with fenders. You don't need a LHT to pull a BOB.


    The road was too muddy to ride on! Part of our route last summer took us over 400 miles of dirt, gravel and unpaved roads and trails. I don't run tires larger than 32mm, but the tires and LHT did very well in those situations.


    This is the usual setup for the LHT. I generally carry about 35 ponds of gear.


    Bianchi Volpe CX bike with same load. The only thing different between the 2 bikes are the frames, tires, racks and computers.
    Last edited by Doug64; 08-16-12 at 10:52 PM.

  14. #14
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    I commuted on my LHT, here it is after a day of mud/gravel riding:



    You could go with the Crosscheck or LHT, both will work well, just your preference. I like that the 26" LHT will take FAT tires.

  15. #15
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    301driver, Kind of a wishy-washy answer, but there's no wrong choice as it'll come down to a personal preference of some feature one or the other may have. Both are capable of multiple tasks, but if you don't need the weight carrying capability of the LHT the Salsa seems a better fit with your other bikes.

    That written, I have a crit. bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike, but no trailer.

    Brad

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