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Old 11-13-12, 07:32 PM   #1
DiscTruckerMF
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How does your bike handle UNloaded

So I'm the owner of a disc trucker and did a 1500 mile tour over 20 days earlier this year. I weigh about 250lbs and had about 50lbs of gear on the bike via front and real panniers and a trunk bag. I really haven't done much loaded up riding at all since I got back from the tour but the bike is my regular commuter. Today I went to pick up my farm share veggies and being that we are getting late in the year there were tons of heavier root type veggies; butternut squash, potatoes, turnips, cabbage, etc. I probably had about 30 or so lbs loaded on the bike and for whatever reason, the bike just really seems to handle BETTER with a load on it, then unloaded. I can't quite put a finger on it, it just seems to be a smoother more floaty type of ride. Anyone else experience this? I'm kind of at the point where I want another bike for a commuter because other than the ability to put bigger tires on which is great for the potholed roads of nyc, the surly is just kind of sluggish especially since I ride so many recreational miles on a carbon race bike Sram Force all around. I don't think I can justify a 3rd bike, yet I don't know if I should sell off the trucker as inthe warm weather months i will potentially be loading it up and hauling some weight with it and it seems to do that so well.
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Old 11-13-12, 08:19 PM   #2
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The word "Trucker" in the name isn't just window dressing.

You might be a candidate for a Cross-Check. Bit lighter and nimbler. Still runs good sized tires. Will carry some stuff.
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Old 11-13-12, 08:30 PM   #3
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54cm, 26" LHT, 80 pounds with gear and water...4,080 miles over a 70 day period (TransAm) this summer. She feels much better loaded!
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Old 11-13-12, 10:06 PM   #4
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I've put more than 58,000km on a Fuji Touring doing randonnees, touring, commuting, training and leisure riding. It started out with 32mm 700C tyres, and over a period I put narrower wheels and 23mm tyres on it to improve its speed performance. I even toured on that tyre-wheel combination, but I did wreck a couple of rims doing so.

Maybe invest in a second pair of narrower wheels and tyres with the same cassette set-up so you can just swap them with the originals.

Having said all that, touring frames such as the Fuji Touring, the LHT and Trek 520 are designed to be loaded and to ride and handle best that way.

You might also consider reducing the pressure in your tyres compared with what you run when loaded. I usually run between 90 and 95 psi with all my single bikes, and maybe up to 100 if I have a load on board. The lower pressure improves ride and makes the bike a little less twitchy over bumps in corners.
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Old 11-14-12, 04:05 AM   #5
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I'm kind of at the point where I want another bike for a commuter because other than the ability to put bigger tires on which is great for the potholed roads of nyc, the surly is just kind of sluggish especially since I ride so many recreational miles on a carbon race bike Sram Force all around. I don't think I can justify a 3rd bike, yet I don't know if I should sell off the trucker as inthe warm weather months i will potentially be loading it up and hauling some weight with it and it seems to do that so well.[/QUOTE]

Ok, you obviously enjoy the utility of LHT. Is the problem of a third bike cost or storage for three bikes? If it's cost the solution is easy, don't get a $1500 bike. Get a $400 Bikes Direct Motobecane and spend some time assembling it. If your commuter needs to look understated go to it with a can of spray paint.


In the 80's when I rode a lot a lot of poor racers kludged together commuters out of everything from three spds to old racing bikes with outdated equip.
You might look at that racing bike and ask whether it really meets your needs. If you train/race keep it. If you need a beat 'em up road bike that can take fatter tires, 28-32mm, for urban commuting AND fast recreational rides there are bikes that can pull that off better than your carbon racer that probably can't take larger than 25mm tires. While you can perceive the difference of that lighter road bike it doesn't make a practical/measurable difference in recreational riding if the rider is packing extra weight.
If you're a 250lb person with a carbon road bike on 25mm tires and you want something for fast riding AND potholes it seems to me the carbon road bike should be replaced with a road/cross bike that can take 32mm tires.

Btw, if your LHT is 700c consider getting a Cross-check frame and transferring parts over. You won't have "three bikes" you'll have two bikes and a frame.
It's what I did when I got a Cross-check frame. I had a 700c LHT that I was replacing with a 26"wheel LHT. The parts went to the cross-check frame and I had no problem selling the 700cLHT. In your case you don't have to give up the LHT frame. Btw you might see what happens putting your light road bike wheels on the LHT with 28-32mm tires and stripping all the touring stuff off. It might be all the difference you're looking for.




Only reason I caution selling the LHT is that replacement cost will be high.

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Old 11-14-12, 09:40 AM   #6
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Touring bikes get more use than the lighter one , here..
because i tend to need pannier space to pick up a few things
before returning home, and carrying foul weather gear for changing weather.

Bike #3 , a folding bike wont take-up much room when not being ridden.

other bikes, here, include one that I just left the Studded tires on.
So Freeze up is coped with by just checking the tire pressure,
rather than pulling wheels off to change tires.
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Old 11-14-12, 09:53 AM   #7
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54cm, 26" LHT, 80 pounds with gear and water...4,080 miles over a 70 day period (TransAm) this summer. She feels much better loaded!
I KNOW YOU! YOU ARE DALE! I'm Dave, my buddy Todd and I met you at Gerty's Country Store on our way out to Joplin! I recognized the "threeisacharm" from your crazy guy on a bike journal! How's it going?! I read through most of your journal, how did Daniels health end up?

Regarding the bike, I agree, it rides so frigging great fully loaded, I just can't place exactly what it is about it, maybe because objects in motion stay in motion so once that baby gets going she really moves, but it also just has such a nice balanced feel. When it's unloaded, she just doesn't seem to feel quite right.

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Old 11-14-12, 10:00 AM   #8
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Still rides fine in my cases..

My Brompton Without the usual load in the front bag feels oddly light.
[it is low, 35mm, trail]

the substantial tube set that makes a Touring bike work so well carrying weight ,

will feel less resilient unloaded, than a light DB tubeset , framed bike.

.. and my cadence and gear choices put me off the back of competitive minded group rides.

I'm the Tortoise in a race with a Hare., but I can go a long ways in a 3 month period.

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Old 11-14-12, 10:03 AM   #9
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all scenarios i have thought about. Love Bikes direct. My carbon bike is the immortal fire, it's a phenomenal bike, can't beat it for 1900 bucks. I've thought about getting some type of custom steel frame bike that will allow for a 28 or 32 on the rear which could make my race styled rides much better but there also aren't many good racing tires in those sizes, you really start to get some tires that don't have great rolling resistance and trust me, with some of the guys I ride with, it matters. I don't race but I do have a racing license and am probably going to start doing some races next year, I do a few training rides with guys that race so getting rid of the high performance bike isn't an option, it's too much fun. I am wondering if a CX bike is the way to go. It seems like geometry will be similar enough to a racing bike that I shouldnt lose any speed but another issue is that since I commute all over NYC and lock my bike up outside, my commuter really can't have nice parts on it. I know I can make the frame look beat up but the theives here aren't dumb, they can spot 105/ultegra, etc from a mile away. hell i've had 2 sets of flatbar shifters stolen.

as for whether it's a money or a space issue, it's mostly a space issue. I don't like leaving my bikes outside although I do have a backyard here in the city, so I do have the option of storing one outside and even covering it with a tarp. Thats probably what would happen with the trucker. A big part of me really wants to sell the trucker but there is also sentimental value, the tour I did on it was a big charity effort and I feel like I should keep that bike forever as a reminder of what I did. ugh, decisions, decisions. I guess the original point of my post was trying to understand exactly what it is about a touring bike that makes it so much slower than a road bike. Some of it could be the added weight, it is twice as heavy as my CF bike. I could take off the rack and fenders and try to see how it rides then. I really dont' think it's an aerodynamics issue as the surly is just seriously slower than the road bike. I guess I should just take it out for a measured ride and really try to quantify how much slower it is. I'm also wondering if I need to double check things like BB bearings and hub bearings to make sure I don't have some huge amount of drag. Lastly, I am running a dynamo hub upfront which adds weight and resistance but is really great for night time commuting.

Thanks for listening to all my random musings! Part of me just wants to tinker with building another bike I think!

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Old 11-14-12, 10:04 AM   #10
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My Brompton Without the usual load in the front bag feels oddly light.
I just don't know that I can get into the folding bike world. Of course i alsways thought bikes with fenders were dorky but now i have them!.
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Old 11-14-12, 10:09 AM   #11
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Both my commute bike (Fuji Touring) and my spare touring bike (Randonee, nicknamed "The Iron Pig") feel like sporty rides when I take the loads off. OK, the Randonee handles 20 pounds in the rear without much change, but my first ride on it was the last 4400 miles of a cross-country trip with a front and rear load of 40-65 pounds -- thus the name, "Pig".

I think the biggest problem with handling is putting too much weight up front. I don't have a low trail bike to compare it with, but I think just the extra inertia required to turn the wheel deadens the feel.

Need another bike? N+1, baby! Seriously, though, I think I adjust to a bike in about 5 minutes, and then I don't notice it underneath me -- at least if there's some decent scenery around. Strip malls don't count.
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Old 11-14-12, 12:26 PM   #12
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I've thought about getting some type of custom steel frame bike that will allow for a 28 or 32 on the rear which could make my race styled rides much better but there also aren't many good racing tires in those sizes, you really start to get some tires that don't have great rolling resistance and trust me, with some of the guys I ride with, it matters.


A big part of me really wants to sell the trucker but there is also sentimental value, the tour I did on it was a big charity effort and I feel like I should keep that bike forever as a reminder of what I did. ugh, decisions, decisions.

I guess the original point of my post was trying to understand exactly what it is about a touring bike that makes it so much slower than a road bike. Some of it could be the added weight, it is twice as heavy as my CF bike. I could take off the rack and fenders and try to see how it rides then. I really dont' think it's an aerodynamics issue as the surly is just seriously slower than the road bike. I guess I should just take it out for a measured ride and really try to quantify how much slower it is. I'm also wondering if I need to double check things like BB bearings and hub bearings to make sure I don't have some huge amount of drag. Lastly, I am running a dynamo hub upfront which adds weight and resistance but is really great for night time commuting.

Thanks for listening to all my random musings! Part of me just wants to tinker with building another bike I think!
$.02 experiment to see what's real. There are LOTS of fast riding 28-32mm tires. When I raced stronger riders could dust me with heavier wheels/cheap tires and the difference I could feel/measure between tires was dwarfed by my conditioning that day. Above 18mph aerodynamics of you and the bike will matter more than the difference between a 25 and 28 mm tire and acceleration/hill speed will still get down to power/weight of the whole package not the % weight difference between two bikes.


I thought you liked the LHT for it's utility and it sounds like it'll be used again this summer. If you don't see yourself needing it's capabilities again sell it.

Assuming you have the same bar/seat position on the LHT as your road bike there are a few reasons it's slower. All that touring stuff on it, the tires, the wheels. That extra weight will be perceptible accelerating but once you put faster tires on your top speed isn't appreciably slower ASSUMING the same aero position. Most of what bothered me about the 700c LHT was the handling. It wasn't a point and shoot responsive handling bike, it's a bus. The 26" wheel LHT with 1.75" tires is noticeably slower than the 700c but the handling is more to my taste.
I doubt the bearings or dyno are the issue, you're simply comparing two bikes at opposite ends of the spectrum and want something in the middle. I'd still go for something you can swap major parts from the LHT and build up. Oh, and if you do get something "in the middle" that's good for commuting and 32mm tires with fenders and rack it still won't feel as fast as your road bike.
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Old 11-14-12, 12:54 PM   #13
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$.02 experiment to see what's real. There are LOTS of fast riding 28-32mm tires. When I raced stronger riders could dust me with heavier wheels/cheap tires and the difference I could feel/measure between tires was dwarfed by my conditioning that day. Above 18mph aerodynamics of you and the bike will matter more than the difference between a 25 and 28 mm tire and acceleration/hill speed will still get down to power/weight of the whole package not the % weight difference between two bikes.


I thought you liked the LHT for it's utility and it sounds like it'll be used again this summer. If you don't see yourself needing it's capabilities again sell it.

Assuming you have the same bar/seat position on the LHT as your road bike there are a few reasons it's slower. All that touring stuff on it, the tires, the wheels. That extra weight will be perceptible accelerating but once you put faster tires on your top speed isn't appreciably slower ASSUMING the same aero position. Most of what bothered me about the 700c LHT was the handling. It wasn't a point and shoot responsive handling bike, it's a bus. The 26" wheel LHT with 1.75" tires is noticeably slower than the 700c but the handling is more to my taste.
I doubt the bearings or dyno are the issue, you're simply comparing two bikes at opposite ends of the spectrum and want something in the middle. I'd still go for something you can swap major parts from the LHT and build up. Oh, and if you do get something "in the middle" that's good for commuting and 32mm tires with fenders and rack it still won't feel as fast as your road bike.
okay you bring up a couple of great points. first one is positioning, nowhere near one another (nor should they be really) truth be told I do not love the fit of the trucker. part of it is that i"m used to aggressive road geometry, the other part is that i think the 60cm is just too darn big, despite me being 6'3. the reach just seems sooo long. I shortened up the stem but still don't love it. I love the tires that are on it, randonneur hypers which are very light considering they are 700x40 and I do realize I could try going with them in 32 and that may make it feel a bit more snappy. I really wish I could put my finger on it, its not even that the bike is necessarily all that slow, something just doesn't feel nearly as good riding it unloaded as it does loaded. maybe the added weight is making the frame flex and feel springy? I dunno. I rode a rental MTB a few weeks back and actually did 18 miles on it, that thing was a real bear. When I got back to my trucker it felt great again. I think it's maybe just my perceptions. It's starting to get cold here in NY. When I ride the trucker to commute i'm bundled up in workout pants or jeans and wearing a winter coat. When I'm on the race bike I'm spandexed out. But at the same time, when I rode the trucker home with the veggies loaded up last night I had the "AHHHHHH" moment of being taken back to my tour and the smoothe ride that it was.

I should just build another in between bike, I really want a CX or a 29er but there is just nowhere with dirt here in NYC to ride them
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Old 11-14-12, 01:52 PM   #14
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DiscTruck, sounds like you've put your finger on it. It's best with a pile of crap on it otherwise you'd rather ride something that fits and "rides" better whatever that may be. Personally I think the fit should feel good loaded or not. The fit on my 56cm 700c LHT was good, I didn't like how it handled, loaded or not. The fit on the 56cm 26" wheel version fits well but just as important I like how it rides loaded or unloaded.
Sounds like a new bike is in order. Can't beat the versatility of a Cross-Check, TriCross or similar bike that can take 35mm tires and fenders. Wholesale replacement of the LHT sounds easy but if you think you might continue in the disc/29r direction a new frame and parts swap could be fun.

Check this out

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...ortdisccompact
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Old 11-14-12, 02:46 PM   #15
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One benefit of folding bikes , in N+1 situation,
you can always find a place to put it in your House.

In the car Boot and so forth..
I have 2 bikes , both with a 47 wide tire
Diameter matters .. the difference between
the 26 and the 20 " wheel is a world apart..

Go Fast Bike you have the skinny tire,larger rim 451 20"
like Bike Fridays Pocket Rocket.

There are also NonFolding small wheel bikes in mini-velo category
popular with Asian riders in small apartments . the smaller wheel just Occupies less space.
Shimano , naturally has asmall wheel Cassette & hub , the Caprio.. 9-26t to run the regular cranks
like 53-39.
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Old 11-14-12, 04:36 PM   #16
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I KNOW YOU! YOU ARE DALE! I'm Dave, my buddy Todd and I met you at Gerty's Country Store on our way out to Joplin! I recognized the "threeisacharm" from your crazy guy on a bike journal! How's it going?! I read through most of your journal, how did Daniels health end up?

Regarding the bike, I agree, it rides so frigging great fully loaded, I just can't place exactly what it is about it, maybe because objects in motion stay in motion so once that baby gets going she really moves, but it also just has such a nice balanced feel. When it's unloaded, she just doesn't seem to feel quite right.

Great ride for you Dave!! Yeah, you got me! Daniel is doing ok, I haven't seen him in quite some time now. I am busy back in the world of the working...hoping to do another ride in the future...hopefully riding on our tandem, self contained to/from somewhere....we haven't nailed down a time or location yet.
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Old 11-14-12, 04:59 PM   #17
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OK folks, maybe I'm too excited about my "new" to me LHT, but it's a 58 cm with 700cc wheels and I just rode it unloaded. I just "loved" it and could not find a more confortable and versatile bike. I have not tried it loaded yet and will not until next Spring, so, probably I will be even happier.
Now, if you are used to a racing bike, I don't think you will like the LHT. But this should not be a surprise, right?
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Old 11-14-12, 05:36 PM   #18
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Now, if you are used to a racing bike, I don't think you will like the LHT.

Only if you are expecting your LHT to ride like your "racing" bike. I ride a road bike and an LHT unloaded and loaded. I like riding both bikes. I do think the LHT feels better loaded that unloaded. As one BF member once put it, when you stand up and try to stomp up a hill, the unloaded LHT seems to tell you to sit down.
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Old 11-14-12, 08:06 PM   #19
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Only if you are expecting your LHT to ride like your "racing" bike. I ride a road bike and an LHT unloaded and loaded. I like riding both bikes. I do think the LHT feels better loaded that unloaded. As one BF member once put it, when you stand up and try to stomp up a hill, the unloaded LHT seems to tell you to sit down.
well put, my only thought is that it's just that the frame is that much more flexy for comfort purposes. I've said from day one that my cf race bike is like a Kawaski street bike and the surly is like a Harley. you can appreciate both, but it's just weird it truly seems to be a BETTER ride loaded than unloaded. its not necessarily due to speed just something about the balance and comfort. Perhaps by loading weight on the panniers you get the effect that a tightrope walker has with a long pole???? it's amazing how easy you can ride an lht fully loaded front and rear with no hands
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Old 11-14-12, 08:06 PM   #20
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As one BF member once put it, when you stand up and try to stomp up a hill, the unloaded LHT seems to tell you to sit down.
Perfect
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Old 11-14-12, 08:35 PM   #21
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As said before, the LHT was built for loaded touring. You'll just have to get over that fact, and get on with riding it.
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Old 11-14-12, 08:39 PM   #22
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I think what I really need to do is try it out with some narrower tires. I bought the 700x40 hypers because I knew it would be my 250lbs plus 50lbs of gear. Me riding it unloaded, I don't needs such volume. Perhaps I just need to throw some gp 4 season 32c's on it and call it a day. IT probably still will have a bit of a strange feel but should be a little quicker to accelerate
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Old 11-14-12, 08:51 PM   #23
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http://www.bikeman.com/BK8214.html
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Old 11-14-12, 09:20 PM   #24
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Only if you are expecting your LHT to ride like your "racing" bike. I ride a road bike and an LHT unloaded and loaded. I like riding both bikes. I do think the LHT feels better loaded that unloaded. As one BF member once put it, when you stand up and try to stomp up a hill, the unloaded LHT seems to tell you to sit down.
+1

Here's my 54cm, 26in LHT at its best. For everything else there's N+1.
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Old 11-14-12, 10:14 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by DiscTruckerMF View Post
I think what I really need to do is try it out with some narrower tires. I bought the 700x40 hypers because I knew it would be my 250lbs plus 50lbs of gear. Me riding it unloaded, I don't needs such volume. Perhaps I just need to throw some gp 4 season 32c's on it and call it a day. IT probably still will have a bit of a strange feel but should be a little quicker to accelerate
The information in your earlier post about the 40mm tyres is a bit more helpful. It's a bit like a Prado or Pajero fitted with wide, ultra-high profile off-road tyres, then expecting great performance on the highway, both in terms of fuel consumption and handling.

Yes, put on the narrower tyres and see what happens.

As a footnote, I've never toured with 700C wheels on anything wider than 32mm. I don't see any point going wider... as I say, a waste of energy, and if the frame is designed properly, you shouldn't need 40mm or even 35mm.

I've toured on a converted MTB with 26x1.75 Town and Countries, and those plus the gearing were what convinced me to change to 700C and narrower tyres for touring. I did use 26x1.5 and 26x1.25 on a commuter bike for several years, but that was because I was traversing a rough entry road of a couple of kilometres to my employment.

Last edited by Rowan; 11-14-12 at 10:19 PM.
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