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Anyone switch from a Surly to classic or vintage steel bike?

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Anyone switch from a Surly to classic or vintage steel bike?

Old 07-17-15, 12:28 PM
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VictorKnox
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Anyone switch from a Surly to classic or vintage steel bike?

Right now I have two main bikes, a Surly Cross Check and a Surly Troll. My CC is set up as a long distance road bike with fenders and frame bag. I've ridden two centuries on it and countless other rides. The problem is that I've been fighting fit issues with it since I bought it in 2012. Because of this, I'm thinking of selling it and looking for a vintage steel road bike, probably a Trek with Reynolds 531 frame. Two reasons: I used to have a 1985 Trek 420, so I'm sure of the fit, and because I've read a lot about how much better the higher end frames ride.

So my question is: Is that last part true? Has anyone here started on a Surly Cross Check/Pacer/Straggler/Steamroller/LHT and switched to a higher end vintage steel bike? Or from an Ogre/Troll to a vintage MTB? If so, what is your experience? Is the ride better, or is there not much difference between say, Reynolds 531 and Surly's 4130?

I understand that bike fit and the components/set up influence the feel of a bike, and I understand that 531 is just Reynolds name for their 4130 cromoly steel, so I'm just wondering about people's opinions who have ridden both. Feel free to chime in about other types/brands of steel as well: Columbus, Tange, etc. My focus on the 531 is just because I'm mainly looking at late 80's Treks.

Thanks!
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Old 07-17-15, 12:38 PM
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I went from a Salsa Casseroll to a 1979 Trek 910. The Trek was less than 30 percent the cost and I like it so much I'll likely never give it up. In fact, the guy I bought it from wanted to buy it back. I said "no, but thanks."
Mine is Columbus all around and I really like it. Just bought a 1982 Trek 614 which is Reynolds main tubes and Ishawata elsewhere but I haven't ridden it much yet.
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Old 07-17-15, 12:52 PM
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I had an LHT and a couple Treks (racing and sport-touring geometries) at the same time. I sold the LHT because, while it gets praise as a loaded tourer, I really wasn't using it for that purpose. The Treks I have ridden are all flavors of True Temper...and the ride quality is very high. The LHT ride was meh, but again, I wasn't using it as intended.
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Old 07-17-15, 12:58 PM
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Note that there are several different flavors of 531 tubing, some lighter, some heavier, different butting, etc. Also, there's a lot more that goes into "ride" than just the tubing type. Therefore it's not possible to make any universally applicable blanket statements regarding the ride given by a 4130 frame versus a 531 frame. I would argue that tires have a greater effect on ride than tubing type.
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Old 07-17-15, 01:47 PM
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Speaking technically, Reynolds 531 is not the same as 4130. 4130 is Chro-mo, whereas 531 is manganese molybdemum, a different alloy. In theory, a bike made from each could weigh about the same, but it depends more on the butting profile. 531c is the racing variety of 531, and there were others like 531st for touring, along with countless others.

All that said, I have at present 2 4130 bikes and have owned several 531 bikes. I've liked both. It really depends on the build.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:19 PM
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My main ride is a '91 Trek 950 mountain bike. Has a lugged chrome moly frame and the ride is spectacular, imo. I use city tires on it and ride primarily on streets and am really sold on the ride - very responsive but not harsh or twitchy. I like it enough that I hope to find an older Trem road bike eventually as well. So yeah, I think you'd like the ride of a Trek steel bike.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:22 PM
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Yes. I have a Surly LHT that I bought for commuting. The ride is garbage. I now commute with a vintage Trek 600 series and the ride is amazing in comparison.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:31 PM
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Several years ago, I decided I wanted to try a new bicycle. Got a LHT and built it up with hopes of it being a satisfying long-ride bicycle. It was heavy and stable. The ride wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't "fun". After almost 2 years of trying very hard to fall in love with it, I traded it. I'm pretty sure Surly sticks to Straight Gauge 4130, and that typically doesn't provide a spirited ride (at least not in my experience).

Part of why I was having trouble being thrilled with my Surly was because I have ridden bikes that were near top of their line when they were made, and there was a very noticeable difference. Granted, part of that is because the LHT is designed to be a stable tank, but I think Surly tends to build durable bikes based on cool concepts at a relatively low price point, rather than focusing on honing the performance. It's an apples to oranges comparison, imo.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:31 PM
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I sort of went the other way: after building up several vintage bikes with assorted classic and modern components, I sold everything off and built a Soma Double Cross. Moving to a small apartment necessitated the n-1, but I've found the ride to be as good or better than any vintage bike I've owned.

For the most part, my problem is with geometry. There are very few vintage bikes with short seat tubes and long top tubes, unless you're converting a mountain bike or older hybrid. This bike fits like a pair of perfectly-aged undies.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:32 PM
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I have a newer Trek 820 and an '86 Trek 760 Pro Series, but no Surly.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:50 PM
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I strongly encourage anyone who has ever been sucked into the Surly LHT cult to find and source a Cannondale ST vintage bike. Lighter, stronger, stiffer, more efficient than any vintage racing steel bike, but relaxed geometry for randonneur or touring, and the bike was designed for loaded touring. With the racks off it will sprint and climb well enough for your "A" group fast group ride, but it will also carry you for unsupported touring fully loaded with racks, panniers, and smiles.

It was in 1983 what Rivendell and the LHT have been trying to do since. Only as a veritable rocket bike, if a rocket bike had comfortable touring non-racing geometry. Probably the best sprinting, climbing, fastest bike most cyclist will ever own. Which is funny considering the dog the LHT is. So consider abandoning the "steel is real" cult and try a vintage Cannondale ST. You'll be shocked by the Country bike that is an absolute rolling joy to ride. As a bonus, as a commuter it doesn't RUST, so vintage ones are easy to find.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by icepick_trotsky View Post
It really depends on the build.
All the wise old men here say that, so it must be true. If your Surly's don't fit, get rid of them and thank the bicycle gods that they have a name brand with a a relatively high resale value. But do get something that actually fits.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:53 PM
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This bike fits like a pair of perfectly-aged undies.




What, it falls down halfway through the ride?

A Surly to Vintage switch is not about the steel but the experience. It's knowing how to get home when the bolt falls off or the chain breaks , or knowing it's a saddle and not a seat, it's the perfect friction shift or the ticking of your Sturmey hub on an evening ride. Riding C&V is an experience not a number.
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Old 07-17-15, 02:59 PM
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I have friends who all ride Surly with the exception of one who switched from a Crosscheck to a nice Peterson Bridgestone which the majority of the peer group envies now. If you personally know a very good fit in regards to frame geometry and crank that is being offered at a reasonable price I don't know why anyone wouldn't pick up a bike from their past or their dream fit bike. There will always been someone who is looking for a deal on a good Surly or other trending bike brand.
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Old 07-17-15, 03:00 PM
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I have had a Surly Cross Check but ride mostly vintage bikes now. I have a Soma Smoothie too (another modern Steel road bike). Hard to compare the rides exactly, but my go to around town bike is built around an old Trek sport touring frame. One quip I have with the old Trek is the rear hub spacing and horizontal dropouts. I know the spacing can be cold set and the dropouts aren't a huge concern, but in a perfect world...

I wouldn't mind trading the Smoothie for a Pacer for a little more versatility with the long reach brakes. I don't see how you could go wrong with a classic Trek or a Pacer for a nice sporty around town bike. I have an '83 Trek 420 and an 80-something Bridgestone 400 that I could use to build similar bikes so I doubt I'll be buying anything new anytime soon.
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Old 07-17-15, 03:02 PM
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Why would anyone want a LHT as their daily rider if your seeking something exciting, sporty and a general do-it-all type of bike? It's specifically a touring bike and nothing more? Built like a tank incase you were to ever encounter one in some faraway land. I picture it was exciting to ride as a Schwinn Continental but a little less classy but quite a bit more. Lol. I see them as relatively affordable option if someone who doesn't want a used steel bike and isn't into the "scene" to know what to look for and any shop with a QBP account can sell them.
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Old 07-17-15, 03:05 PM
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I've ridden an LHT, and it really is an apples-oranges thing.
No vehicle analogy is really right, but Hummer 2 vs. Camaro comes to mind.
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Old 07-17-15, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
I strongly encourage anyone who has ever been sucked into the Surly LHT cult to find and source a Cannondale ST vintage bike. ...
Just checked. Hell hasn't frozen over. ... and I still have this.

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Old 07-17-15, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
Why would anyone want a LHT as their daily rider if your seeking something exciting, sporty and a general do-it-all type of bike? It's specifically a touring bike and nothing more? Built like a tank incase you were to ever encounter one in some faraway land. I picture it was exciting to ride as a Schwinn Continental but a little less classy but quite a bit more. Lol. I see them as relatively affordable option if someone who doesn't want a used steel bike and isn't into the "scene" to know what to look for and any shop with a QBP account can sell them.
I guess the point is that the Cannondale ST was built as a specific loaded touring bike. In '83 when they debuted their first bicycle the company was just in the Nylon goods business of selling bike touring panniers, saddle bags, frame bags, handlebar bags etc. They wanted something epic to hang their good on and couldn't find but heavy steel bikes that were just so meh…in the marketplace. Cannondale wasn't vested in aluminum. They didn't make bikes, they didn't have an identity, they just approached the problem and considered what would make a better bike. The truth is that a lugged steel bike isn't dependable. Lugs don't work well but only the lightest of touring loads.

A Cannondale ST is and was actually stronger and stiffer than ANY touring bike that was available at the time. However, the ST revealed something. The strongest and stiffest loaded touring bike does NOT have to be compromise. The aluminum Cannondale ST is a veritable rocket bike, that can climb like a mountain goat (without racks, fenders, etc), and sprint in a spirited group ride. That do everything bike is actually a BETTER loaded touring bike than most bikes designed for loaded touring, which it was as well.

The Cannondale ST touring bikes aren't tanks? They were the strongest bike frames on the planet at the time and still going strong (rust free) three decades later, after thousands of miles and countless owners.

I backed my ST800 into a garage on the roof rack of the car, bent up the fork which needed bending back. Frame's still fine without nary a crack, and I'm well over 350lbs. Put me on your lugged or steel touring bike and see if that holds up. The answer the lugs wouldn't hold and the steel tubing would fail.

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Old 07-17-15, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by USAZorro View Post
Just checked. Hell hasn't frozen over. ... and I still have this.

You have a paint job. Take the components and put them on a Cannondale 3.0 series bike and then tell me what you really think of both.
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Old 07-17-15, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by striknein View Post
I sort of went the other way: after building up several vintage bikes with assorted classic and modern components, I sold everything off and built a Soma Double Cross. Moving to a small apartment necessitated the n-1, but I've found the ride to be as good or better than any vintage bike I've owned.

For the most part, my problem is with geometry. There are very few vintage bikes with short seat tubes and long top tubes, unless you're converting a mountain bike or older hybrid. This bike fits like a pair of perfectly-aged undies.
Not that this is really relevant to the thread, but while none of the "Surly"-branded offerings check all the boxes for me, I think an All-City Space Horse could replace many of my bikes nicely.
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Old 07-17-15, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
The truth is that a lugged steel bike isn't dependable. Lugs don't work well but only the lightest of touring loads.
That's just crazy talk. Where are you obtaining these "truths"? Apparently all those thousands of miles of loaded touring that I have done on terrible lugged steel frames were a disaster.


Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
A Cannondale ST is and was actually stronger and stiffer than ANY touring bike that was available at the time. However, the ST revealed something. The strongest and stiffest loaded touring bike does NOT have to be compromise. The aluminum Cannondale ST is a veritable rocket bike, that can climb like a mountain goat (without racks, fenders, etc), and sprint in a spirited group ride. That do everything bike is actually a BETTER loaded touring bike than most bikes designed for loaded touring, which it was as well.

The Cannondale ST touring bikes aren't tanks? They were the strongest bike frames on the planet at the time and still going strong (rust free) three decades later, after thousands of miles and countless owners.

I backed my ST800 into a garage on the roof rack of the car, bent up the fork which needed bending back. Frame's still fine without nary a crack, and I'm well over 350lbs. Put me on your lugged or steel touring bike and see if that holds up. The answer the lugs wouldn't hold and the steel tubing would fail.

Surly LHT suck. They are heavy and a cult as much as a bike. The hilarious thing is that every LHT owner could have had a Cannondale ST for pennies on the dollar and ended up with a better, faster, stronger, stiffer, better climbing bike, and better touring bike from Craigslist. Which is where most LHTs go after they post and upload the requisite build pics to social media. LHT is a cult of building bikes, you show me someone who like riding one and I'll show you someone who either doesn't know a damn thing about bikes or is intellectually dishonest.
This is more than a little over the top. Obviously you like Cannondales. However, all bikes have pros and cons, and all designs are compromises. Perhaps there are a number of bikes out there that are not designed to hold up "well over 350 lbs" while your Cannondale will and so it is a good fit for you. However, in that instance one has to ask if the Cannondale is perhaps inappropriate for folks who only weigh 150. You are making absolute statements about matters of opinion, and using those opinions as though they are facts to insult vast swaths of bike riders. These tactics do not make your arguments believable.
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Old 07-17-15, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
I've ridden an LHT, and it really is an apples-oranges thing.
No vehicle analogy is really right, but Hummer 2 vs. Camaro comes to mind.
Interesting analogy, but from a European perspective it's kinda like 'truck' vs 'light truck'. Camaros were always heavy and cumbersome compared to Alfa Romeos, BMWs and even European Fords.
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Old 07-17-15, 04:24 PM
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For what it's worth, I've owned quite a few more modern steel bikes. To me, my Crosscheck and Disk Trucker were the least impressive of the bunch. I'd take my All City Mr. Pink back without hesitation if you gave me the option over having both those bikes. I also enjoyed the All City Macho Man and a Soma Stanyan. I'd never get a Surly again TBH.

As as far as replacing your CC with a Trek, it's so hard to say. So many models were made and many were quite differently equipped year to year. I've enjoyed the touring ride much more than the more racing inspired vintage Treks. And I wouldn't buy a year other than the ones with Imron paint; avoiding the Aluminum. They'd also need to be at the top of the product line or close to it. But again, that's my experience and what I like.

Don't pretend to know your budget, but I'd make a decision on whether you'd like to be on a more relaxed, touring frame or an aggressive frame and look into the market of bikes that were a little higher end than Treks. Albeit generally from much smaller builders. But again, that's just my experience from going from more modern steel, transferring to vintage rides of above average quality, to now a little more higher end option.
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Old 07-17-15, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mtnbke View Post
You have a paint job. Take the components and put them on a Cannondale 3.0 series bike and then tell me what you really think of both.
I have a sweet, lively 853-framed bike that's every bit as responsive as, and less prone to road noise than the CAAD 6 that I test rode about 5 years back.

I get that you prefer aluminum in bikes your size. If I rode 65cm frames, I might too. If you rode bikes my size, you might appreciate bikes like this, and the Fuji, and the Raleigh Professional, or the Team Pro - none of which are either boat anchors or dead-feeling frames. You might appreciate how the tiny bit of flex that the frame has when working hard to go up a hill gets stored and serves to propel you forward an extra little bit as it rebounds in rhythm to your cadence. You might love the plush feel over less-than perfect surfaces, or (heaven forbid) that you are able to remain upright and the bike come through it undamaged when a groundhog darts in front of you and you have no choice but to go over it.

You seem to have it in your head that with steel you can only get "dead" or "noodley" - probably because that's your experience with frames that fit you. But truth is, there are plenty of well-conceived steel bikes that are bliss to ride. While I didn't hate the CAAD - 6, and I probably wouldn't hate the 3.0's, all things considered, I'd rather stick with steel. Just as passionate about it as you are.

Back to the OP... I have heard that the CrossCheck rides vastly differently than the LHT, but I do suggest finding and trying out some other bicycles that are more performance-oriented than Surly's. No harm in trying out Cannondales and forming your own opinion even.
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