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  1. #1
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    My first touring bike! *sigh*

    Dear Forum,

    I'm in the process of choosing my fist touring bike. wowwww! :-)

    I've read a lot, thought a lot, and narrowed my choices down to just two bikes: Surly LHT and Soma Saga.

    BTW: how come 90% of touring bikes nowadays are disc only? the #2 item in my list is some kind of rim brake! I guess that's okay in the 1st world but here in the 3rd world it is impossible to find disc brake related parts and/or service unless you're in a big city.

    the #1 item in my list is 26" wheels. that should be enough to make me choose the LHT but... I'm deeply atracted to the Saga! it is emotional and irrational, I can't help it.

    on OFF-ROAD

    I've been using a mountain bike (HT with suspension fork) for touring so I tend to consider on-road and off-road as the same thing. I'm afraid a true touring bike could be disapointng here...

    I've read that the Saga is "good" (better than the LHT) for off-road touring. is this true?

    the kind of off-road I have in mind is, for instance, the "Santiago de Compostela way": basically well cared for dirt roads with 5% of technical terrain (roots, erosion).

    on SIZE

    you know... the size in cm is not an exact measure of the feeling you have when you actually "sit on the saddle". I guess the best size for me (6' tall 32.5" inseam) is either the 56cm or the 58cm. anyone of you who knows the Saga could please wild-guess what would be the best size?

    note: I have 0% chance of test-driving a Saga here in BRA...

    on POPULARITY

    I see very few comments on the Saga here. and indeed Soma makes just 200-300 bikes/year!!! why such a small market-share? looks like a good beautifull bike for a reasonable price!

    OTOH I must say that almost all commentes here are positive!


    so... that's it.
    in case you have any other comments, suggestions etc on my current state-of-mind I'd love to hear it!

    TIA!

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I have no Idea about what brands are sold in Brazil, you tell us..

    what brands are in your favorite Brazilian Bike Shop?
    try some on for size.

    is there penetration of those made in Taiwan for US Importers, there?

    Brazilian brands also get product from similar factories in China..

    Saga is a brand of a California company, Surly/Salsa is Minnesota based company.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-15-13 at 11:53 AM.

  3. #3
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    I have a LHT with the 26 inch rims with rim brakes. If that meets your criteria better than the Soma, then that is what I would go with. I am 5' 11" and have the 56. PBH is about the same as yours.

  4. #4
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    hello fietsbob,

    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    I have no Idea about what brands are sold in Brazil, you tell us..
    - lots: Scott Specialized Trek Kona
    - a few: Jamis Dahon Giant
    - none: Surly Salsa Soma Bike-Friday
    - no local brand that I would spend $ on; we used to have one (Caloi)
    but it looks like the foreign brands are winning;

    note that in the (many) bike-shops I know there are lots of MTBs and Road; urban bikes are starting to show up more frequently... but almost no touring bikes!

    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    what brands are in your favorite Brazilian Bike Shop?
    try some on for size.
    would not help... my road bike (Spz Roubaix) is 56cm and fits me like a charm but I can't trust that a Soma Saga would too...

    forgot to say: I'm picky enough that I don't even consider buying a complete bike. I'm choosing the frame w/o regard to the BRA market (I can import it if needed, 78% import tax) and I'll build it to my linking (the best part);

    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    is there penetration of those made in Taiwan for US Importers, there?
    Brazilian brands also get product from similar factories in China..
    yes, I guess most low end BRA brands have their bikes made in asia (I'd guess more china than taiwan);

    there is a new and promissing brand here: RC Bikes; the guys behind it are serios and I've heard they are commited to it; their site OTOH is still mostly information-free :-) http://rcbikes.com.br/

    []s,

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    I don't own one, but I read here all the time how the 26" LHT is very capable off-road. To me both frames look quite similar aesthetically. If I had to choose between the Saga and the LHT, definitely the LHT (26" version) sounds like the winner from the convenience point of view if you live in Latin America. It's a simple and well-designed frame for worldwide touring: 26" wheels, rim brakes, easy to find replacement parts anywhere.

    As far as the correct frame sizing, you may want to analyze this google spreadsheet that's been populated by many LHT users.

    I remember reading in a blog that 26" tires are different in Brazil? That rims/tires run a little bit larger even though they're marked as 26". This struck me as odd. Do you know anything about that? It would be sad if you don't go through the trouble of getting a 26" touring bike and still have issues finding replacement tires in Brazil. ISO 559 is what the 26" LHT uses.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 01-15-13 at 12:40 PM.

  6. #6
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    hello phughes!
    Quote Originally Posted by phughes View Post
    I have a LHT with the 26 inch rims with rim brakes. If that meets your criteria better than the Soma, then that is what I would go with. I am 5' 11" and have the 56. PBH is about the same as yours.
    I see we have similar body-size and taste for bikes. but I have this crush on the Saga that you apparently don't have :-)
    Actually Saga's best off-road capabilities could be a factor...

    There is a good chance tha I'l go with a LHT just like yours!

    []s,

  7. #7
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    hello Chris!

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    I remember reading in a blog that 26" tires are different in Brazil? That rims/tires run a little bit larger even though they're marked as 26". This struck me as odd. Do you know anything about that? It would be sad if you don't go through the trouble of getting a 26" touring bike and still have issues finding replacement tires in Brazil. ISO 559 is what the 26" LHT uses.
    I've never heard of this difference, I'd say it is not true! actually I would not know because I mostly use foreing rims AND tires. but there is a local rim brand of very good quality (VZAN) that I often see in non-local bikes with non-local tires. I'd know from one of my biker friends if this was a problem.

    []s,

  8. #8
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    I think Soma would sell more Saga's if they offered the 26" wheel option on the larger sizes.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Brennan's Avatar
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    I think the 26" wheels and the durability of the LHT make this an obvious choice for South America.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Any steel decent rigid fork hard tail MTBs to be found with out shipping stuff from del norte.

    you get any Duty break on Used stuff? might make a shopping trip to [sales tax free] Oregon
    a reasonable expendature..

    Chris is in Mexico and got a custom Build from a shop in Seattle Washington ..

    Bike Friday ships around theGlobe.. the carton is more compact, of course..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-18-13 at 02:14 AM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Chris is in Mexico and got a custom Build from a shop in Seattle ..
    Quite a few cyclists living outside of the U.S. and Europe ordering bikes on the internet ultimately opt for custom (or semi-custom) builds to insure fitting and to get a bike built with components to match their satisfaction. A custom build obviously costs a lot more, but it's well worth the extra expense, in my opinion. No matter which bike you get, you will still have a lot of fixed costs (and hassle!) to get the bike into your living room. I have no clue about the import tax situation in Brazil, but at least here in Mexico you can fly with one bicycle and it's considered as part of your personal luggage (no import tax to pay.) My 26"-wheeled touring bike was handmade by Rodriguez (R+E Cycles) right in their shop in Seattle, WA. So, two months after placing my order, I took advantage of a business trip to San Diego to pick it up and brought it back. The airline ticket and stay were much cheaper than it would have cost for shipping + import duties if I had it shipped directly to Mexico. BTW, Chinese and Taiwanese bikes pay a much higher import tax here in Mexico, something to watch out for with bikes like LHT and Saga as they are both made in Taiwan.

    If it's of your interest, I wrote about my custom build here. In fact, my partner is currently ordering another Rodriguez (a randonneur.) He made a decision after doing his due diligence of interviewing a handful of builders. The guys at R+E Cycles are just awesome to work with! They really have a good system in place to work with long-distance customers.

    Good luck in your decision, Otavio!
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 01-18-13 at 10:55 AM.

  12. #12
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    You are not limited to mass produced bikes. The Co-Motion Pangea is exactly what you are looking for. The bike as shown is spec'd with disc brakes but CM will build it any way you want.

    Other custom manufacturers will do the same. Independant, and Waterford come to mind. While commodity bike manufacturers like Surly satisfy the needs of most of us, for those who aren't finding what they want there is an answer. It's an expensive answer, but well worth the money spent if it gets you what you want.
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  13. #13
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    Otavioexel, I agree the soma saga looks great as a touring bike but your preference for 26" wheels takes it out. My question is how much of an off road,downhill, trail bike do you want along with a pavd road touring bike?

    I've got a 56cm 26" wheel LHT that handles heavy loads great. I haven't ridden it on trails but it feels nimble with regards to close quarter maneuvering unlike the 700cLHT and can take a 26"x2.0" with fenders with no problem. But if I was looking at some manner of off road riding I wouldn't want a heavy load and would look to bikes like the Surly Troll. It's short chain stay measurement comes from a forward most axle position. It looks like it could be moved back an inch for an effective 17.5" measurement. The much larger tire accommodation for the Troll would be a nice compromise/replacement for a shocked mtn bike and front loads.

  14. #14
    we be rollin' hybridbkrdr's Avatar
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    Nashbar has a touring frame that takes V-brakes. I know people talk about the Salsa Vaya as having more versatility (EDIT: Whoops, I realized I wanted to say Surly Troll which has a supsension-corrected fork for 100mm travel). I know what you mean by limited choices. If you have a number of criteria like eyelets for backrack and bosses for V-brakes etc., it's often difficult to find exactly what you want.

    After having the weird experience of buying almost two of everything to build a touring bike, I first chose a Nashbar frameset and ended up buying a WD Cycle Elite mountain frame. Now, that WD Cycle frame I found on eBay may be a peculiar choice but I thought in the end I'd rather have the flexibility of going where I want to go instead of feeling limited by a rigid fork.
    Last edited by hybridbkrdr; 01-18-13 at 11:27 AM.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member iforgotmename's Avatar
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    I am 5'11+ and I ride a 56 cm 26 inch LHT. It is ok off road just be very careful of roots, stones etc due to the low BB.I have rode singletrack with Schwalbe big apple 2.3's (it was a dry summer) without any problems. ree with Lee that you may want to consider the troll also. I have toured with my LHT and absolutely love the way the bike rides.
    Here is a pic of my LHT riding offroad in the snow, it is running Nokian 2.2 studded tires with fenders.
    P1020441 by DennisLitto, on Flickr

  16. #16
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    I built a Soma Saga almost two years ago. I'm extremely pleased with it.



    I was replacing my previous touring bike, so I had lots of parts to reuse. I was interested in a frame only and I was strongly considering the LHT as well. Either frame will make a great touring bike. I went with the Saga for some small esthetic reasons (color and fork design) and some small practical reasons (head tube butt thickness and kickstand mounting plate). I also got a great price on the Saga frame at the time.

    I wrote a description of how I built up the Saga. You can read it here:
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...oma-Saga-build

    I'm 6'1" with a 32" or 33" pants inseam and I'm comfortable on the 58cm Saga. As you can see in the photo, the Saga has a sloping top tube, so the 58cm is a virtual size.

    The only off road touring I do is on hard packed limestone paths and such. There is room for some largish tires, but I run 700x37 tires with long fenders to keep me and my gear more dry and clean during and after a rain.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    I am converting an early 90's GT Timberline to a tourer. Added City Slicker tires, upgraded the shifters, brakes and rear derailleur. Hoping that it will be a very versatile steed for mostly road with some flat trail mixed in. It's not yet finished and I have only tried it out on the rollers and it seems very stiff (which I prefer).
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  18. #18
    Senior Member 12bar's Avatar
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    I am 5'11' with a 32' inseam and went with the 56cm LHT with 26" wheels it fits me like a glove, my wife is a little taller at 6'1" I put her on a 56CM LHT which is also a great fit for her.
    "It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for someone you love". Blazeman, Warrior Poet

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by iforgotmename View Post
    I am 5'11+ and I ride a 56 cm 26 inch LHT. It is ok off road just be very careful of roots, stones etc due to the low BB.I have rode singletrack with Schwalbe big apple 2.3's (it was a dry summer) without any problems. ree with Lee that you may want to consider the troll also. I have toured with my LHT and absolutely love the way the bike rides.
    Here is a pic of my LHT riding offroad in the snow, it is running Nokian 2.2 studded tires with fenders.
    P1020441 by DennisLitto, on Flickr

    Wow, the 2.2" fit? I had drop bars on mine but found out low speed handling with a big front load or hopping off curbs was much better with wider bars so I went with TitecH bars.

  20. #20
    Senior Member iforgotmename's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    Wow, the 2.2" fit? I had drop bars on mine but found out low speed handling with a big front load or hopping off curbs was much better with wider bars so I went with TitecH bars.
    The fit is a little tight in place but I have had no problems. I also like wider bars, this bike carries a lot of large front loads on my CETMA 7 rail.

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