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Old 08-23-12, 03:38 PM   #1
eyeomegasquared
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Just picked up a LHT

I was originally thinking of converting my Trek FX to a touring bike, but it seemed like the bars+bar end shifters+stem would be quite a bit of $. Plus there was no guarantee the fit would feel right. So I started looking at the Trek 520 and the Surly LHT. I found an older model LHT on clearance at REI for $950. It seemed like a great deal, even though I was a bit apprehensive about the 26" wheels. Some people say wheel size doesn't make a difference and fit is everything. I hope they're right.

I'd like to know people's thoughts on the touring crank. I read threads in here where people were changing out their 26T to 24T. Is that granny gear really that important in touring? I'm use to riding a compact crank and I've never done any touring before. I guess a compact crank on a touring bike would be a bad idea?

The bike seems to ride very nice and the fit feels good so far.
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Old 08-23-12, 03:46 PM   #2
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from my understanding the main benefit for 26" wheels on a touring bike is replacement wheel/tire availability in South America and Asia. I would stick with a triple for sure, 26t should be low enough. assuming you have a mtb cassette. 26-34 is plenty low to climb a wall with a load.
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Old 08-23-12, 05:55 PM   #3
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Yeah, I saw that price on the REI website, excellent price! As for the gearing, because of the 26" wheel, the 26/34 combination gives you around 18 or 19 gear inches, which should be low enough for most folks.

Family and friends of mine who have the LHT like it a lot. It's a good bike and you got it at a fine price.

PS -- The 26" wheels won't be a problem, the handling is fine with them. In fact, if I were in the market for one, I'd get it with the 26" wheels as well.
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Old 08-23-12, 06:10 PM   #4
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I'm really liking the bar end shifters. I've never had them before, but I think I prefer them to any other road shifting system I've used. I especially like that the front shifter is friction.

I also noticed they downgraded the components on the newer LHT, so I guess it's good I got the older model.
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Old 08-23-12, 07:27 PM   #5
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I got the first year production of LHT. At that time they only sold frames and forks, not complete bikes. I have a 24t front granny and my rear is an eight speed 11-32. If your rear biggest rear sprocket is a 34, the 26t chainring is probably good enough. But, if you run across a 24t chainring for under ten bucks sometime, pick it up so you can try it. But, don't go out of your way to find one.

My LHT is 700c, the larger frames used to only be available in that wheel size. The 26 inch wheels are not a disadvantage for touring. I built up a touring bike that has 26 inch wheels (not a LHT) for non-paved touring.

A friend of mine bought a new LHT this year, when he asked me the difference between the two wheel sizes, I said that a 35mm or 37mm width tire is considered a fairly wide 700c tire, but that same width is considered a fairly narrow 26 inch tire. Thus, for biking around town if he wanted a faster tire without a load, the 700c might be a better choice. But, for loaded touring on pavement, a 35mm or 37mm is a very good width tire. For off pavement you probably want a wider tire, so the 26 inch wheel bike is probably better if you are looking more for a pure touring machine. My point is that the 26 inch LHT gives you more wide tire options if you want to tour on gravel. I have done some gravel rail to trail type trips and I find the 2.0 inch width Schwalbe tires (several models available) to be great on 26 inch wheels.

I think you will be very happy with it. Make sure that you write down the serial number in case of theft, a lot of people forget to do that.
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Old 08-23-12, 08:50 PM   #6
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I got the first year production of LHT. At that time they only sold frames and forks, not complete bikes. I have a 24t front granny and my rear is an eight speed 11-32. If your rear biggest rear sprocket is a 34, the 26t chainring is probably good enough. But, if you run across a 24t chainring for under ten bucks sometime, pick it up so you can try it. But, don't go out of your way to find one.

My LHT is 700c, the larger frames used to only be available in that wheel size. The 26 inch wheels are not a disadvantage for touring. I built up a touring bike that has 26 inch wheels (not a LHT) for non-paved touring.

A friend of mine bought a new LHT this year, when he asked me the difference between the two wheel sizes, I said that a 35mm or 37mm width tire is considered a fairly wide 700c tire, but that same width is considered a fairly narrow 26 inch tire. Thus, for biking around town if he wanted a faster tire without a load, the 700c might be a better choice. But, for loaded touring on pavement, a 35mm or 37mm is a very good width tire. For off pavement you probably want a wider tire, so the 26 inch wheel bike is probably better if you are looking more for a pure touring machine. My point is that the 26 inch LHT gives you more wide tire options if you want to tour on gravel. I have done some gravel rail to trail type trips and I find the 2.0 inch width Schwalbe tires (several models available) to be great on 26 inch wheels.

I think you will be very happy with it. Make sure that you write down the serial number in case of theft, a lot of people forget to do that.
That's a good point on the wheel size and wider tires. The more I think about it, the more I think the 26" wheel size will be ideal.

I can't fathom needing a 24T chainring. I was actually considering putting my compact crank on the bike, which is 48/34. But I've never done touring before so it's hard for me to imagine needing that granny gear.
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Old 08-23-12, 11:40 PM   #7
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I might be a wimp, but this is the setup on my LHT and I use every gear when when fully loaded .

22/32/44 crankset with an 11-34 rear cassette. Yup, it is mountain bike gearing.

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Old 08-24-12, 07:49 AM   #8
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I might be a wimp, but this is the setup on my LHT and I use every gear when when fully loaded .

22/32/44 crankset with an 11-34 rear cassette. Yup, it is mountain bike gearing.
I'm with you -- 22-32-44 on my Trek 720, with a custom 13-32 cassette. I use every gear, especially the low ones. Great low end, and very little penalty on the high end.

The original poster does have 26" wheels, so that has the effect of lowering the gearing with respect to 700c wheels.
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Old 08-24-12, 08:22 AM   #9
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... ... I can't fathom needing a 24T chainring. I was actually considering putting my compact crank on the bike, which is 48/34. But I've never done touring before so it's hard for me to imagine needing that granny gear.


If you look close at the sign in the background, it says 8 percent. (The sign says it is a downhill, I had just climbed up it.) On that trip, there were some hills (mountains) that were long and steeper, but they did not have photogenic signs.

Fortunately I was not doing loaded touring when I had to crank up this 14 percent grade hill, only carried day trip gear in one pannier that day.



The other limiting factor is speed. I find that with a load, I can't maintain a speed slower than about 4 mph, any slower and it is too unstable. For me, my lowest gear of 24t front and 32 rear gives me a good gear ratio for my minimum speed at a cadence that works well for me.
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Old 08-24-12, 09:23 AM   #10
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Wow. I didn't know you could fit that much stuff on a bicycle. I'll stick with the triple crank then.
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Old 08-24-12, 09:33 AM   #11
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from my understanding the main benefit for 26" wheels on a touring bike is replacement wheel/tire availability in South America and Asia.
Sometimes it's harder than you'd expect to find a 700c touring tire, even in a biking town in the US. A few years back my SO and I were touring through Durango, CO. My SO damaged a tire on his Cross Check (700c). Everyone and their brother rides a bike in Durango, right? Not one bikeshop in town had a 700c touring tire available. One shop said that there was maybe one in a shipment that just came in and that they might get around to unpacking it tomorrow. We kind of needed it now. So he nursed that tire for another couple days until we got to the tiny town of Dolores, CO and the great bike shop there had some Schwalbes that they were happy to sell.

My SO now has an LHT with 26" wheels.
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Old 08-24-12, 09:34 AM   #12
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I might be a wimp, but this is the setup on my LHT and I use every gear when when fully loaded .

22/32/44 crankset with an 11-34 rear cassette. Yup, it is mountain bike gearing.

The two LHT's in our fleet have this gearing also, full XT setups.
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Old 08-24-12, 10:38 AM   #13
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Sometimes it's harder than you'd expect to find a 700c touring tire, even in a biking town in the US. A few years back my SO and I were touring through Durango, CO. My SO damaged a tire on his Cross Check (700c). Everyone and their brother rides a bike in Durango, right? Not one bikeshop in town had a 700c touring tire available. One shop said that there was maybe one in a shipment that just came in and that they might get around to unpacking it tomorrow. We kind of needed it now. So he nursed that tire for another couple days until we got to the tiny town of Dolores, CO and the great bike shop there had some Schwalbes that they were happy to sell.
And some people think carrying a spare tire is unreasonable...

FWIW, a lot of stores in flatter cities will carry workable tires. They just call them 700C hybrid bike tires. Usually a bit heavier and stiffer than a good touring tire, but they'll work in a pinch.
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Old 08-24-12, 12:09 PM   #14
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And some people think carrying a spare tire is unreasonable...
On our next tour, into remote places of southern Utah, on our 26er LHTs, we did take a spare tire. It was easy to twist it up, zip tie it, and strap it to the pannier rack with a toe strap.
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Old 08-24-12, 05:10 PM   #15
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On our next tour, into remote places of southern Utah, on our 26er LHTs, we did take a spare tire. It was easy to twist it up, zip tie it, and strap it to the pannier rack with a toe strap.
You really do not want any dirt in between the tire and the tube, a grain of sand there will likely become your next puncture. You might want to wrap it in a plastic bag to keep it clean. I carry my folding spare in my pannier and to make sure it stays clean, it is in a ziplock.
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Old 08-25-12, 08:53 AM   #16
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I do wonder about that ease of finding spare tubes for 26" wheels. The LHT rims are drilled for presta which I don't think is nearly as common as shraeder.
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Old 08-25-12, 06:35 PM   #17
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I do wonder about that ease of finding spare tubes for 26" wheels. The LHT rims are drilled for presta which I don't think is nearly as common as shraeder.
When I built up my touring bike with 26 inch wheels, I had that concern because I bought rims that were drilled for Presta. I have had no trouble finding tubes, but if I was in small town USA, that may be a different story. For that reason, I drilled the rims out, and put the Wheels Manufacturing inserts in the larger diameter holes. Then put the rim tape over the adapter to hold teh adapter in the rim so it does not fall out. This way, if I am unable to buy a Presta tube in Schraeder land, I can push out the adapter and use a Schraeder tube.

Most quality bike shops will have these adapters.
http://wheelsmfg.com/presta-stem-savers.html

I do not recall the size drill bit, I sized it to the adapter which fit quite well. I used an antique crank type drill (the genuine cordless drill from before batteries were used for drills) and it only took a few minutes.
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Old 08-26-12, 09:56 PM   #18
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My LHT has 26" wheels, and mountain bike gearing with a 22t granny, when fully loaded I appreciate the lower gearing. The 26" wheels are supposedly a bit stronger, as well as being able to fit fatter tires.
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