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Old 05-06-14, 12:05 PM   #1
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LBS's and Touring Bikes

I live in a pretty big city with numerous LBS's but the issue I am having is that not many stock touring bikes..

I am in the market for one and I assume I will need a 58cm since that's what my road bike is..

I am trying to decide between the Surly LHT, the Trek 520 and the Fuji touring bike..

One LBS is a Trek dealer and they have no 520's in stock. A different LBS is a Surly dealer and they have a LHT but it's a 54cm with 26" wheels. There is no Fuji dealer other than a local Sports Chalet and they have zero in stock..

Does everyone encounter this when looking for and buying a touring bike?

The general rule of thumb as you all know is test ride all the bikes and find the one that feels the best.. This is probably even more important with a touring bike but it is impossible to do when LBS's do not stock them..

Thoughts, tips, tricks, suggestions?
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Old 05-06-14, 12:29 PM   #2
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I did. We only have a few LBS within an hour of me, one being a Trek store. I had to get them to order me a 520. It took months to get it. I never could find a LHT to look at or test ride. No LBS anywhere near me carries Surly bikes.
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Old 05-06-14, 12:38 PM   #3
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I did. We only have a few LBS within an hour of me, one being a Trek store. I had to get them to order me a 520. It took months to get it. I never could find a LHT to look at or test ride. No LBS anywhere near me carries Surly bikes.
Kinda of a bummer....

I can have any of the LBS's order me a 58cm but it's kind of a roll of the dice... Do I choose the LHT, 520 or Fuji? It would be nice to be able to test ride them all 1st but I guess that's not going to happen...

Are they all true to size? My Specialized bike is a 58cm and if I have to blindly order it would probably be the LHT just based on it's reputation...

I'd hate to order a 58cm and find it's not true to size though...
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Old 05-06-14, 12:41 PM   #4
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I have no idea if they are true to size or not. I already had a Trek Madone road bike so I got the same size in the 520. A little adjustment in seat height and it fit like a glove.
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Old 05-06-14, 12:44 PM   #5
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My suggestion would be to figure out who from BF lives in your area. 58 is a pretty common size, and I bet it would be pretty easy to find people with LHTs and 520s that you could test ride. The Fuji maybe not so much.
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Old 05-06-14, 12:44 PM   #6
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Kinda of a bummer....

I can have any of the LBS's order me a 58cm but it's kind of a roll of the dice... Do I choose the LHT, 520 or Fuji? It would be nice to be able to test ride them all 1st but I guess that's not going to happen...

Are they all true to size? My Specialized bike is a 58cm and if I have to blindly order it would probably be the LHT just based alone on it's reputation...
There's a google group with a spreadsheet of people willing to allow others to test ride their Surly LHT.
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=U...e23&dg=feature

Also, when I called around ~10 stores within a 4 hour drive, two of them were willing to order the bike and build it up just for a test ride, no commitment. I didn't take them up on their offer (strange guilt) as I found another bicycle, but it's a possibility.
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Old 05-06-14, 12:51 PM   #7
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REI where I live has lots of touring bikes in stock. If not the exact model, look at the specs and find something close for a test ride. Where are you located...maybe someone knows of a shop nearby.
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Old 05-06-14, 12:54 PM   #8
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There's a google group with a spreadsheet of people willing to allow others to test ride their Surly LHT.
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=U...e23&dg=feature

Also, when I called around ~10 stores within a 4 hour drive, two of them were willing to order the bike and build it up just for a test ride, no commitment. I didn't take them up on their offer (strange guilt) as I found another bicycle, but it's a possibility.
Thanks for the link, that is awesome!

Only one in my area and it's a 54cm..

I didn't ask the LBS's if they would order w/o a commitment on my part to buy but I am sure that they would..

Even so, it puts me back to square one.. I would have to have all 3 places do this so that I could test ride each..
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Old 05-06-14, 12:56 PM   #9
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I have no idea if they are true to size or not. I already had a Trek Madone road bike so I got the same size in the 520. A little adjustment in seat height and it fit like a glove.
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My suggestion would be to figure out who from BF lives in your area. 58 is a pretty common size, and I bet it would be pretty easy to find people with LHTs and 520s that you could test ride. The Fuji maybe not so much.
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REI where I live has lots of touring bikes in stock. If not the exact model, look at the specs and find something close for a test ride. Where are you located...maybe someone knows of a shop nearby.
Thanks everyone..
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Old 05-06-14, 01:01 PM   #10
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Are they all true to size? My Specialized bike is a 58cm and if I have to blindly order it would probably be the LHT just based on it's reputation...

I'd hate to order a 58cm and find it's not true to size though...
Fortunately, Philly has a shop that often has several LHTs, Cross Checks and Stragglers in stock. It's also the home of Fuji America.

You can find the LHT frame geometires on Surly's web site. They tend to have longer top tubes, which is why trying to compare your 58cm road bike to an LHT is probably not the way to go. Also, is your 58cm road bike measured the same way as the LHT? Does it have funky sized/shaped tubing that will skew the measurement if it's measured center to center?

To give you some frame of reference, I am 6'2" with a shortish inseam for someone my height. A long 32"/short 33". I ride a 60cm LHT. If you looked at standover clearence alone, some people would say it is too large for me. But I like the way it fits "up top".

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Trek's web site also shows frame geometries for the 520. Fuji might, as well.
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Old 05-06-14, 01:20 PM   #11
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I'm lucky that this shop is a block from my house.

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Old 05-06-14, 01:27 PM   #12
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I'm lucky that this shop is a block from my house.

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Fortunately, Philly has a shop that often has several LHTs, Cross Checks and Stragglers in stock. It's also the home of Fuji America.

You can find the LHT frame geometires on Surly's web site. They tend to have longer top tubes, which is why trying to compare your 58cm road bike to an LHT is probably not the way to go. Also, is your 58cm road bike measured the same way as the LHT? Does it have funky sized/shaped tubing that will skew the measurement if it's measured center to center?

To give you some frame of reference, I am 6'2" with a shortish inseam for someone my height. A long 32"/short 33". I ride a 60cm LHT. If you looked at standover clearence alone, some people would say it is too large for me. But I like the way it fits "up top".

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Trek's web site also shows frame geometries for the 520. Fuji might, as well.
Thanks!

I am in the LA area and none of the REI's that I called have LHT in stock...

I did just have a lengthy conversation with one REI store and he suggested the Novara Randonee Bike as an alternative..

I've never head of this bike before but he could not stress enough that it's an awesome touring bike.. Plus as an REI member I'd get back about $120 (10%) with the purchase..

Novara Randonee Bike - 2014 at REI.com

They have a Large and an X-Large in stock for me to try..

Thoughts on this bike?
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Old 05-06-14, 01:45 PM   #13
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I made it across the country on a Randonee, so it'll work for touring. Make sure the mechanics know what you're planning for it and work the wheels over; by default they're the standar machine built wheels, and will likely start breaking spokes. (That's true for any production bike, IME.)

I have a Fuji Touring from way back when; my perception is that it's a little bit lighter and sportier/twitchier than the Randonee. I prefer the Fuji for light / fast riding, but the Randonee for riding with a load. The Trek 520 I test rode seemed to me to be more like the Fuji, and the LHT was on heavy side of the Randonee. Try them yourself if at all possible, YMMV.

You might have to extend your search radius; I ended up calling all the Trek and Cannondale dealers within about 4 hours' drive to find the second nearest REI had a Cannondale Touring bike (back in 2006, IIRC). When I got there I decided I liked the Randonee better. Go figure!
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Old 05-06-14, 01:50 PM   #14
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Where are you in LA? I'm in OC and have a 58 cm/700c LHT you can test fit.
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Old 05-06-14, 01:53 PM   #15
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I've never head of this bike before but he could not stress enough that it's an awesome touring bike.. Plus as an REI member I'd get back about $120 (10%) with the purchase..

Novara Randonee Bike - 2014 at REI.com

They have a Large and an X-Large in stock for me to try..

Thoughts on this bike?
Great bike, every-bit the bike that the LHT is. Some will favor one's exact build specs and geometry over the other but neither is objective better.
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Old 05-06-14, 02:09 PM   #16
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If you want to travel to Oceanside, the picture was taken at Pacific Coast Cycles. Home | Pacific Coast Cycles : Oceanside, CA : Bike Shop
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Old 05-06-14, 02:15 PM   #17
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When I was in the market for a touring bike last summer, one of the frames I considered was a Gunnar Grand Tour. On their website, they have a pretty cool fit tool under "My Gunnar." I was reasonably comfortable on my existing bike so I used its measurements to plug into the fit tool with some modifications. Over the course of week or so, I tried all different options and eventually came up with a frame size, stem length, angle, spacer, etc. that I thought I would be comfortable with. I ended up with a Soma Saga which had a similar geometry to the Grand Tour and built it largely with the data I determined on the bike fit tool. I am really happy with the bike I ended up with. Obviously, there is a little guess work and assumptions that go into it.
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Old 05-06-14, 02:16 PM   #18
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Where are you in LA? I'm in OC and have a 58 cm/700c LHT you can test fit.
Thanks a lot, I appreciate it! I might take you up on that and I can drive where ever is needed...

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Great bike, every-bit the bike that the LHT is. Some will favor one's exact build specs and geometry over the other but neither is objective better.
If I were to go with the LHT or the Trek one of the 1st things I planned on doing was swap the granny to something with a 22.. I see the Randonee already comes with a 22 granny so that's a bonus in my book..

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If you want to travel to Oceanside, the picture was taken at Pacific Coast Cycles. Home | Pacific Coast Cycles : Oceanside, CA : Bike Shop
Awesome and thanks for the info!
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Old 05-06-14, 02:19 PM   #19
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I made it across the country on a Randonee, so it'll work for touring. Make sure the mechanics know what you're planning for it and work the wheels over; by default they're the standar machine built wheels, and will likely start breaking spokes. (That's true for any production bike, IME.)

I have a Fuji Touring from way back when; my perception is that it's a little bit lighter and sportier/twitchier than the Randonee. I prefer the Fuji for light / fast riding, but the Randonee for riding with a load. The Trek 520 I test rode seemed to me to be more like the Fuji, and the LHT was on heavy side of the Randonee. Try them yourself if at all possible, YMMV.

You might have to extend your search radius; I ended up calling all the Trek and Cannondale dealers within about 4 hours' drive to find the second nearest REI had a Cannondale Touring bike (back in 2006, IIRC). When I got there I decided I liked the Randonee better. Go figure!
Thanks!

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When I was in the market for a touring bike last summer, one of the frames I considered was a Gunnar Grand Tour. On their website, they have a pretty cool fit tool under "My Gunnar." I was reasonably comfortable on my existing bike so I used its measurements to plug into the fit tool with some modifications. Over the course of week or so, I tried all different options and eventually came up with a frame size, stem length, angle, spacer, etc. that I thought I would be comfortable with. I ended up with a Soma Saga which had a similar geometry to the Grand Tour and built it largely with the data I determined on the bike fit tool. I am really happy with the bike I ended up with. Obviously, there is a little guess work and assumptions that go into it.
Cool.. I will check out the tool on their site.. Thanks for the info as well!
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Old 05-06-14, 02:44 PM   #20
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SOMA is based in california and they have some solid touring frames you can build up.
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Old 05-06-14, 03:22 PM   #21
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Ask the shop what they Can Get ..


our town is On a busy touring route .. But of course they are already riding their choice not shopping for one ..

FYI Taiwan is where a lot of bikes get made the Importer sends what they need ,
and it comes back across the sea in a shipping container, in boxes they stack in their warehouses .
then the shop orders from their Warehouses .



SOMA in SF jargon is the South of Market part of town that used to be affordable.

the Company, Merry Sales. is actually south of there closer to SFO airport where there room for Warehouses.


Surly TW to QBP .. is available to dealers with a QBP account

OTOH, Trek ships bikes to dealers on credit, long rotating plans.
QBP is charging the Credit card before shipping it , so its the bank credit not the distributor extending any ..

make a business choice on spec stock .. what sells vs what sits there..

Now if you say 'I would like to test ride an XXX' , the dealer has motivation to get it there for you to try ... Speak Up !

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Old 05-06-14, 03:31 PM   #22
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I'd really emphasize test riding the LHT if you are going to go that route. I have 5 bikes all 58 cm frames, including a LHT. The LHT has a really long top tube, which is a stretch if you have a short torso like I do. I think a 56 would have fit me better. I realize this now, even though I test rode a 58 before I ordered a bare frame. On the plus side of the LHT, the steering tube comes uncut. It is easier to fine tune bar height. That was one of the reasons that I did not go with a 520;when my seat was at the right height, the bars were too low for me.

I am lucky enough to have several great LBSs in the area. I have been able to test ride the 520, LHT, and Cannondales when they were made.

I have not taken the opportunity to test ride a Randonee, but I look at the them pretty hard when I visit our local REI, which is often. IMO it is equal to the LHT,and I would not be surprised if they were not made in the same plant. The forks are identical as far as I can tell. It is the only stock touring bike that even comes close to having low enough gearing for loaded touring. However, it suffers from the same malady as the 520--the steering tubes come precut.

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Old 05-06-14, 03:40 PM   #23
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It strikes me that if you know your road bike geometry, you have a pretty good idea of which touring bike geometry will work well for you as well. Most shops aren't going to make you buy the bike if it really doesn't fit but you will have to decide up front which of the three models to go with. There isn't a ton of difference between the major touring bikes.

One factor to consider is whether you want to go with 26 inch wheels on a touring bike. I probably would but that is endlessly debatable and will push you towards the Surly. Another thing the Surly has going for it is that it comes in sizes (at 2 cm intervals). I can't fit the REI Randonees very well because the jump is too big between the sizes. YMMV obviously. I think the Soma has good sizes as well (if memory serves me well) but the Surly comes as a complete bike for less than you can build the Soma frame up for (Soma comes as a complete bike now as well but it runs $400 more than the Surly).
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Old 05-06-14, 03:59 PM   #24
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I'd really emphasize test riding the LHT if you are going to go that route. I have 5 bikes all 58 cm frames, including a LHT. The LHT has a really long top tube, which is a stretch if you have a short torso like I do. I think a 56 would have fit me better. I realize this now, even though I test rode a 58 before I ordered a bare frame. On the plus side of the LHT, the steering tube comes uncut. It is easier to fine tune bar height. That was one of the reasons that I did not go with a 520;when my seat was at the right height, the bars were too low for me.

I've am lucky enough to have several great LBSs in the area. I have been able to test ride the 520, LHT, and Cannondales when they were made.

I have not taken the opportunity to test ride a Randonee, but I look at the them pretty hard when I visit our local REI, which is often. IMO it is equal to the LHT,and I would not be surprised if they were if they were not made in the same plant. The forks are identical as far as I can tell. It is the only stock touring bike that even comes close to having low enough gearing for loaded touring. However, it suffers from the same malady as the 520--the steering tubes come precut.
Thanks! Yes that is what I was thinking as well as I've read that the LHT has a long top tube..

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It strikes me that if you know your road bike geometry, you have a pretty good idea of which touring bike geometry will work well for you as well. Most shops aren't going to make you buy the bike if it really doesn't fit but you will have to decide up front which of the three models to go with. There isn't a ton of difference between the major touring bikes.

One factor to consider is whether you want to go with 26 inch wheels on a touring bike. I probably would but that is endlessly debatable and will push you towards the Surly. Another thing the Surly has going for it is that it comes in sizes (at 2 cm intervals). I can't fit the REI Randonees very well because the jump is too big between the sizes. YMMV obviously. I think the Soma has good sizes as well (if memory serves me well) but the Surly comes as a complete bike for less than you can build the Soma frame up for (Soma comes as a complete bike now as well but it runs $400 more than the Surly).
I won't be touring outside of the US so I really don't have a need or interest in 26" wheels..

If all things are pretty equal and assuming the Randonee (Large) fits me, then I am probably going to go with it.. REI is having their yearly sale on the 16th of this month (I think) so I may be able to knock another 20% off the Randonees price.. If that's the case, then I can score it for $960 which is quite a bit less than the LHT or the Trek 520..

Since I am starting from nothing in regards to touring I will still need to buy much.. Panniers (front and rear), front rack, lights, fenders, and more than likely a Brooks saddle...
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Old 05-06-14, 04:19 PM   #25
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Thanks! Yes that is what I was thinking as well as I've read that the LHT has a long top tube..



I won't be touring outside of the US so I really don't have a need or interest in 26" wheels..

If all things are pretty equal and assuming the Randonee (Large) fits me, then I am probably going to go with it.. REI is having their yearly sale on the 16th of this month (I think) so I may be able to knock another 20% off the Randonees price.. If that's the case, then I can score it for $960 which is quite a bit less than the LHT or the Trek 520..

. . .
Actually I'd get the 26 inch wheel even for touring in the US of A but that point is endlessly debatable and it is not as big a deal as getting a great deal on a bike; the REI sales have tempted me as well but that darn bike just doesn't fit me right.

Also check out the selle anatomica. It has longer rails than a brooks which is a big deal in setting up the bike and it is not, in my experience, as much work to break in as a brooks.
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