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  1. #1
    Senior Member BRAZUCA's Avatar
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    Stock 2013 Surly LHT/Disc Trucker vs. Trek 520: Which one is better equipped?

    Hi folks, starting to look for a touring bike but will be using it a lot for commuting, everyday rides, weekends 20 - 30 miles rides and light touring a couple of times a year. Anyway, I like steel bikes and after a lot of reading I'm down to two bikes: Trek 520 and Surly LHT / Disc Trucker. I don't know details of the componentry, learning here, which one is better considering that I will keep everything stock? I tried last week the Disc Trucker 60 cm, really liked how confortable it was. I will have a Trek 520 also 60 cm to ride from my LBS mid-next week, let's see. Because of my usage, not so much loaded touring, I'm leaning towards the Trek 520 (based on what I read), but the Disc Trucker felt so nice...Here are the links of those bike current set-ups. Thanks!

    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ouring/520/520

    http://surlybikes.com/bikes/long_haul_trucker

    http://surlybikes.com/bikes/disc_trucker
    2011 Surly Long Haul Trucker
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  2. #2
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    Of all the bikes, the Disc Trucker has the best speced wheels (XT hubs), but neither the Deore on the 520, or the LX on the normal trucker are anything to laugh off, all will work plenty well. My partner does have an LHT, and had a head-on collision. The fork was bent backwards, but the stock wheelset was still true, I was impressed.

    Both the Disc Trucker and the 520 use linear pull brake levers, which complicates things a little if you want to switch brake levers. I'm not sure why you'd want to, since the brake levers they come with are very good.

    The 520 has an oversized handlebar, which might be a good or a bad thing depending on your preference.

    It seems the 520 has a slightly lower spec lever overall, but all of the components are still quality, and nothing I would feel uncomfortable touring on.

    I think it really comes down to a few options, which one feels better under you, which one is cheapest, and which one comes in the prettier color.

  3. #3
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    BRAZUCA, The Trek has a slightly shorter top tube that may effect your fitment for better or worse. Components are basically a wash, concentrate on the fit.

    Brad

  4. #4
    Senior Member BRAZUCA's Avatar
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    Thank you fuzz2050, greatly appreciated. I'm not in a hurry, I can use my Trek 600 for now and the biking season in Indiana is coming to an end soon, so, I will push for a discount since I found both models in stock (this was a surprise to me). There is LHT is $1275 and the Trek 520 $1375, a good difference but not that high to make me pick a bike that was not my first choice, this is my top budget as well, I don't want to go beyond $1,500 with tax. I think I may like the oversized handlebar of the 520, really curious to take it for a spin this week.


    Quote Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
    Of all the bikes, the Disc Trucker has the best speced wheels (XT hubs), but neither the Deore on the 520, or the LX on the normal trucker are anything to laugh off, all will work plenty well. My partner does have an LHT, and had a head-on collision. The fork was bent backwards, but the stock wheelset was still true, I was impressed.

    Both the Disc Trucker and the 520 use linear pull brake levers, which complicates things a little if you want to switch brake levers. I'm not sure why you'd want to, since the brake levers they come with are very good.

    The 520 has an oversized handlebar, which might be a good or a bad thing depending on your preference.

    It seems the 520 has a slightly lower spec lever overall, but all of the components are still quality, and nothing I would feel uncomfortable touring on.

    I think it really comes down to a few options, which one feels better under you, which one is cheapest, and which one comes in the prettier color.
    2011 Surly Long Haul Trucker
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  5. #5
    Senior Member TiBikeGuy's Avatar
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    I don't really like the idea of using disk brakes on touring bikes. Because the brake pads of disk brakes comes in many shapes and sizes to fit the different models, the bike shops in the remote areas that you are travelling may not have the spares that would fit your bike. Canti's and V-brake pads are readily available everywhere. On one of my trips to Indonesia, we were riding through some muddy terrain that wore down all of the brake pads. One of the guys using Magura HS-33 brakes was unable to get spare brake pads in any of the towns along the way.

    If the hydraulic hose develops a leak, the local bike shops there may not be able to bleed the brakes or have replacement hoses. Brake cables are easily replaced by anyone who is mechanically inclined.

    The newer bikes tend to have disk brakes without the v-brake bosses. So when the disk brake fails, you can't put on a cheap v-brake as a temporary repair.

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    Brazuka,hold off on deciding until you've ridden both. The component selection doesn't matter as much as the ride. The LHT is a go straight bike, the 520 handles well unloaded and loaded. I had a 700c LHT and switched to a 26" wheel LHT because of the lack of maneuverability. Either model, 700LHT or 26" wheel can handle heavy loads.

  7. #7
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    One of them has Avid BB7 disc brakes, the other doesn't.

    Disc Trucker: 1, 520: 0

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiBikeGuy View Post
    I don't really like the idea of using disk brakes on touring bikes. Because the brake pads of disk brakes comes in many shapes and sizes to fit the different models, the bike shops in the remote areas that you are travelling may not have the spares that would fit your bike.Canti's and V-brake pads are readily available everywhere.
    Not true in my area, which is populated by high-end bike shops: they're more likely to have BB7 brake pads in stock than pads for rim brakes! Don't ask me how I know this...

    In the United States, at least, finding pads for Avid disc brakes is very easy since they're what are spec'd on the vast majority of bikes sold. Replacement pads are light and cheap, so it's no trouble to carry a spare set of pads.

    If the hydraulic hose develops a leak, the local bike shops there may not be able to bleed the brakes or have replacement hoses. Brake cables are easily replaced by anyone who is mechanically inclined.
    The Disc Trucker uses a mechanical Avid BB7 brake caliper which uses the same brake cables as rim brakes. Guess you didn't bother to read the specs

  9. #9
    Senior Member BRAZUCA's Avatar
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    Thank you bradtx, great advice and I will do it. Like I said, my LBS has a Trek 520 60 cm in their warehouse and it will be available on Tuesday. The other LBS is a stocking shop for Surly and they have a few LHT and one Disc Trucker, let's see.
    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    BRAZUCA, The Trek has a slightly shorter top tube that may effect your fitment for better or worse. Components are basically a wash, concentrate on the fit.

    Brad
    2011 Surly Long Haul Trucker
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  10. #10
    Senior Member BRAZUCA's Avatar
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    Thanks LeeG. I will ride both and see, I read in many places that if you are not riding loaded all the time, the Trek 520 may be a better all around bike and also good for touring, let's see. Very curious and excited to ride it this upcoming Tuesday. I will post my thoughts here and likely will have to ride the LHT one more time.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    Brazuka,hold off on deciding until you've ridden both. The component selection doesn't matter as much as the ride. The LHT is a go straight bike, the 520 handles well unloaded and loaded. I had a 700c LHT and switched to a 26" wheel LHT because of the lack of maneuverability. Either model, 700LHT or 26" wheel can handle heavy loads.
    2011 Surly Long Haul Trucker
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  11. #11
    Senior Member BRAZUCA's Avatar
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    SStorkel, I agree with you, I can easily take a few extra BB7 pads and I will be touring in the US only. I may take the bike to Brazil to ride it there on vacation, but I can take some BB7 pads as well.
    2011 Surly Long Haul Trucker
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  12. #12
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    I think you should, and in your case doubtless will, base your choice on the ride of each. Bikes are very similar in configuration, and one might think how could the riding characteristics differ much, and yet they can. You are incredibly lucky to have a chance to ride both bikes in your size.

    "I read in many places that if you are not riding loaded all the time, the Trek 520 may be a better all around bike and also good for touring,"

    One hears these concerns about a bike being too loaded oriented. I don't think you should really consider this. We rarely hear people say around here that they bought an LHT, and they wish they had a lighter bike (at least within the category). We do have people complain their bike does not carry a load well. The latter is usually not a touring bike's fault, but it could be.

    If you consider the packages, the stuff that makes one bike a heavy tourer, vs another, is a trivial (weight wise) amount of frame stiffening. The most popular all around bike of the last 50 years has been the MTB. Average rigid MTBs, are significantly beefier than typical heavy touring bikes, and usually come equipped with horrible tires for road use, yet, look at how popular they are for the usual commuting activities. The main difference between a heavy tourer and a lighter one, equipment wise, is the gearing (I like the Surly low gear better), yet these days with 9 speed technology, you can have all the cogs you need for both loaded and unloaded uses, on the same set-up.

    Generally people get a chance to test touring bikes unloaded, which creates a false impression of how they will ride loaded. Tires are a big factor in bike feel, and the lighter tires on the Trek would normally give a nicer ride when comparing the bikes unloaded. Personally I prefer 35-37 mm tires for softer surfaces like stone dust rail trails, etc... However either tire size is fine for the road. But it would be cool if one could test the two bikes in your sample with the same wheels, just to take that variable out of the equation.

    I agree that discs are not a huge issue on reliability or parts, but I don't see much upside either. I think that for the kind of riding you will do, they are more a mater of taste. If you are used to cantis or happy to play with them, then you should find they will do all you need. But if you are a disc person, you may have difficulty being as comfortable, keeping in mind the BB7s do not have the power of hydro discs. What BB7s are is heavy, and sometimes in the way of your gear, so to me, if you do not want an all out heavy tourer, this is a place to save weight.
    Last edited by MassiveD; 10-14-12 at 12:41 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BRAZUCA's Avatar
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    Thank you for the detailed feedback MassiveD, I will take your comments into consideration. I agree that the 35-37 mm tires are a plus and since there is a difference in the length of the top tube (small, but it is there), let's see how if feels when I ride it. I'll report back either Tuesday or Wednesday once I rode the Trek 520. Still, the short ride on the Disc Trucker was very nice and solid.
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  14. #14
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    BRAZUKA, There's alot of bandwidth used discussing the use of a loaded tourer while not loaded. Fact is they do just fine for centurys, randos or whatever. I pump the tires (35 mm) to 65 PSI and just ride.

    Brad

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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    Generally people get a chance to test touring bikes unloaded, which creates a false impression of how they will ride loaded. Tires are a big factor in bike feel, and the lighter tires on the Trek would normally give a nicer ride when comparing the bikes unloaded. Personally I prefer 35-37 mm tires for softer surfaces like stone dust rail trails, etc... However either tire size is fine for the road. But it would be cool if one could test the two bikes in your sample with the same wheels, just to take that variable out of the equation.

    .
    Yep, and rarely do buyers get a chance to try out different configurations in load balance, rear only, front/rear, front heavy/rear light in order to find out if a bike fits ones intended use well.

  16. #16
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    I'm another that suggest you ride both bikes and choose based on comfort and fit. I rode both, they are both nice bikes, but I chose the LHT and have no regrets. It is great unloaded and even better with a load.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    If you are thinking of traveling often to Brazil with your new bike, I suggest adding the Trucker Deluxe to your list, unless TAM (or whichever airline you fly) does not charge extra for bikes. Most int'l U.S. carriers are now charging $200 each way for bikes. It adds up quickly.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    I agree that discs are not a huge issue on reliability or parts, but I don't see much upside either. I think that for the kind of riding you will do, they are more a mater of taste. If you are used to cantis or happy to play with them, then you should find they will do all you need. But if you are a disc person, you may have difficulty being as comfortable, keeping in mind the BB7s do not have the power of hydro discs. What BB7s are is heavy, and sometimes in the way of your gear, so to me, if you do not want an all out heavy tourer, this is a place to save weight.
    Disc brakes provide consistent stopping in all conditions. Even with Kool Stop salmon-colored pads, I found stopping my rim-brake equipped road bike to be treacherous in the rain. When a car pulls out in front of you, it seems to take the rim brakes forever to clear the water from the rim and start slowing the bike. For rain riding, I much prefer disc brakes.

    In my experience, the Avid BB7 and BB7 Road have enough stopping power to lock the front wheel with one finger on the lever, just like my Magura Marta hydraulic disc brakes. I would argue that the hydraulic discs provide better "feel" at the lever; the BB7s are indistinguishable from road caliper and cantilever brakes in this regard.

    And Avid BB7 caliper+160mm disc weighs 144 grams (=5 oz) more than Avid Single Digit 7 V-brakes. I doubt most bicycle tourists could tell the difference in weight, even on an unloaded bike, without a scale.

    Disc brakes do limit your choices for front racks. I believe that Surly's racks are disc brake-compatible. If you don't like Surly's racks, your choices will likely be limited. The Disc Trucker's rear brake caliper is located on the chainstay, so it shouldn't interfere with most rear racks.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Disc brakes [I
    do[/I] limit your choices for front racks. I believe that Surly's racks are disc brake-compatible. If you don't like Surly's racks, your choices will likely be limited. The Disc Trucker's rear brake caliper is located on the chainstay, so it shouldn't interfere with most rear racks.
    I have just ordered a Surly Disc Trucker and requested they fit Tubus Ergo rack on the front. Are these going to be compatible?

  20. #20
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Tubus Front Racks, the top rail is on a pivot,
    bolt on front, to the hoop, to make it fit .

    a couple holes in the back to vary that fit.

    Havent seen issues with front Lowrider racks and disc brakes.

    the rear ones , some adjustment may be needed,
    depending on the caliper location.
    top of Chainstay , vs Back of Seat Stay..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-17-12 at 11:47 AM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    One thing to consider concerning fit. Surly ships their bikes to the dealers with the steerer tubes uncut. This allows more flexibility when adjusting bar height. The steerer tube can be cut after the height is dialed in.

    I have a LHT, and prefer one of my other bikes for unloaded riding. However, it is an excellent bike for loaded touring.

    I believe that it is just about a wash, and would look for fit first, and then components, e.g., disc brakes vs. cantilever vs. linear pull.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Disc brakes provide consistent stopping in all conditions. Even with Kool Stop salmon-colored pads, I found stopping my rim-brake equipped road bike to be treacherous in the rain. When a car pulls out in front of you, it seems to take the rim brakes forever to clear the water from the rim and start slowing the bike. For rain riding, I much prefer disc brakes.
    Cyclocomute will be along shortly to explain that you just don't have them adjusted properly. I am really loaded, and I do not feel that my cantis are as good as they should be. But they are good enough. Other knocks on discs are the fragile rotor thing; The bad rigging angle of the spokes. The less replaceable wheels; the heavier parts; The rack thing; the more expensive cost, so often the person making a comparison is not comparing a similar quality canti; and some tubes should probably be beefed up, which is one worrying thing about the Surly, they didn't really seem to commit fully to the concept with a thin looking fork with a lugged crown.

    So I would have them, but it isn't a one way street. Basically if a person came up using discs on their other bikes, they will want them on their touring bike, end of story. And now that X-cross is beating the drum, we will get more stuff that crosses over into the touring world all the time

    "And Avid BB7 caliper+160mm disc weighs 144 grams (=5 oz) more than Avid Single Digit 7 V-brakes. I doubt most bicycle tourists could tell the difference in weight, even on an unloaded bike, without a scale."

    Ideally the whole frame needs to be beefed up to match. And designed so the wheels don't fly off. That affects ride, though it is not really noticeable given the tires. So the weight is more than you are saying, and there are lighter brakes than Vs. I agree that the total may not be much, but one has to draw the line at some point or the whole load sky rockets. I think everyone can consider a few overweight options, but not every overweight option. For some it will be discs. The big thread at the moment is the ultrlite one. You have to say "no" to something to get there. The end result can still be nice.
    Last edited by MassiveD; 10-15-12 at 11:54 PM.

  23. #23
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    I would get the bike that fits you the best. My second choice is to go with the Disk brakes if you ride in any wet conditions. I just finished a 7 day ride accross North Carolina and we had 2 days of rain. My Vaya has disk brakes and I had no issues. The bikes without disk brakes had issues. Most people had to clean their rims and pads several times during one day due to the amount of dirt that was getting on the rims and embedded in the pads. Good luck on your choice, I think both bikes are will work fine.
    Comotion Speedster, Caad 9, Salsa Vaya, Lynskey R230

  24. #24
    Senior Member BRAZUCA's Avatar
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    OK folks, I really appreciate your comments. Here is a quick update: I did not get the call today from my LBS regarding the availability of the 60cm Trek 520 for me to ride, today is the day the transfer from the warehouse was going to happen, therefore, I believe it will be tomorrow or Thursday for me to ride it, I'm looking forward to it. I started to get more educated on components and found an interesting comparison chart and this got me concerned: the price for the LHT went up and the components quality went signficantly down, like Shimano LX vs. XT and the front derailleur is Sora. The Trek 520 is not much better, but in the paper at least, it looks a little bit better with Deore LX and Dura-Ace shifters. There is a +$100 price premium for the Trek but the components seems a bit better and it was not like that when I look some years back into the LHT specs., maybe I should look for a used one in decent shape but not a lot of used LHTs or Trek 520s for sale out there. I'm kinda of disappointed for the price of the bikes and what I'm getting, this is making me really think this well before spending the money. E.g.: I found an used LHT that by the pictures it looks very good and the owner claims it has only 900 miles on it, all the components are XT and the asking price is $1,000 (still high for an used bike).
    Regarding wheels and tires (26"vs. 700cc) and this info. may be used for everyone here. I exchange a few e-mails with a biker friend in Brazil and he has done a few centuries down there, interestingly enough, he told me that the majority of low end bikes and mountain bikes have 26" tires, nevertheless, he mentioned that the high end bikes are much more common and I should not worry to get 700cc tires down there, it is not as common as 26" but they are available and without any problems on larger cities and more upscale bike shops. He was more concerned about the disk brakes than the tires and he highly recommended the V-brakes which can be easily repaired even in the remote areas of Brazil.
    Anyway, as soon as I have an update on my test ride I will let you know. I will ride again the LHT as well, I only rode the 60cm and I will try the 58cm with canti on the LHT (I have a LBS that is a stock dealer for Surly in Indianapolis) and this is great. Again, kinda of feeling unfair that I would be paying more for a LHT with lower components that someone did in 2009-2010, at least with the Trek 520, this would be the same.
    2011 Surly Long Haul Trucker
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Actually, a lot of folks feel that the older LX hubs are better than the new XT hubs. The LX has solid axle and larger bearings in the rear hub. The XT has hollow aluminum with smaller bearings. FWIW- Between my wife and I we have bikes with both LX and XT hubs. Either hub will do the job. Do a search on this forum, and you can get all the pros and cons.

    A $40 upgrade to a Tiagra front derailleur will give you a very tour worthy and flexible component. It is used on a lot of bikes, including higher end touring models.

    I wouldn't get too hung up on the components, strive for fit.

    I bought a Sora equipped road bike for commuting and winter bike eight year ago to save my "good" bike. I had planned on replacing the "cheaper" components when they failed with some higher quality equipment. I'm stiil waiting, and that bike has been ridden almost every working day for the last 7 years. I actually like riding it better than my other road bike which has components a couple of notches above Sora. I did change several components, not because they failed, but because I wanted different gearing, and carbon fork. However, it still has the Sora shifters and front derailleur!

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