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Choosing the right frame - Surly LHT vs Troll

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Choosing the right frame - Surly LHT vs Troll

Old 12-16-14, 11:19 PM
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sadbox
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Choosing the right frame - Surly LHT vs Troll

Due to some fortunate circumstances I'm going to be able to build more or less my "dream" bike. It will be either a Surly Disc Trucker or Troll with a Rohloff hub and some bombproof wheels.

How I ride / considerations:
I currently commute to work every day on my current bike and ride about 7 miles each way. I'm pretty sure either frame will be suitable for this.
I would like to work up to some longer rides on the weekends. Possibly some bikepacking. My long term goal would be being able to do something like the great divide.
I can only really have one full-sized bike. I live in a studio apartment with my wife in San Francisco, and it's way too crowded to fit more than one bike each in there.
Either bike will be set up with something like a Jones Split H Bar.
I currently weigh ~320 lbs.

I'm unsure which frame would work better for me though.

The reviews of the Trucker focus a bunch of how well it can carry weight, and as a super clyde it seems like that would be a very desirable characteristic. I've also heard that it's more stiff under load than the troll, which also seems like a desirable thing for someone my size. I have taken a stock LHT for a test ride and it was rather comfortable.

I was originally set on getting a Troll, but the points above have made me consider the Trucker. In my fantasy world where I'm traveling the world on this bike it seems like it would be useful to be able to use either discs or cantis, and that the more mtb-esque geometry would make it nicer to ride on ****ty roads. That being said, there are probably 10 bike shops within a couple miles of me. I have not found a bike shop in the area that has one of these to test ride.

My questions for you:
Am I too worried about the stiffness of the Troll for someone my size?
Is the Troll too much of a compromise considering how much on-road riding I'm currently doing?
Am I too worried about how well the LHT will handle in ****ty-road situations?
General recommendations?
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Old 12-17-14, 08:44 AM
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As a clyde myself the LHT or Disc trucker (DT) is a beast and IMO the best bike for a clyde who tours. There are many people who take their LHT off road (not MTN biking)...just change the tires to a more aggressive tread, upgrade the wheels to support the additional abuse and you are good to go.

As a clyde I just need to ride and the DT supports the abuse I put on the bike. If you are not concerned about speed the DT is a GREAT all around bike! Plus the gears are low enough to climb all of those hills in SF. Stiffness?? As a clyde I do not care about stiffness....actually it helps.

One downside is that the bike is heavy...add racks and some upgraded wheels will make it tough to lug that bad boy up to a 3rd floor apartment but as a clyde we dont care about the weight as we are used to carrying around a few extra lbs.
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Old 12-17-14, 08:49 AM
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I'd be more concerned about max. tire size than whether one frame is more "stiff" under a load than the other which is a pretty subjective opinion. Tire size matters a lot in what kind of terrain you can ride. You do want to ride the divide, right? Here the advantage goes to the troll.
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Old 12-18-14, 03:22 PM
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How tall are you? Surly Troll is 26'' only, whereas the LHT comes in 26'' and 700c (Surly Troll equivalent in 700c is Ogre). If you are tall (> 6 ft or something), 700c might prove a better fit. If you are set on 26'' for some reason, disregard this.

Otherwise, do not underestimate looks. Motivation to mount a great looking bike is much greater for me than to mount an ugly bike. If you like the look of one of them better than the other that's also an important criterion.

Ideally, test ride all of them obviously.
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Old 12-19-14, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by lurch0038 View Post
One downside is that the bike is heavy...add racks and some upgraded wheels will make it tough to lug that bad boy up to a 3rd floor apartment but as a clyde we dont care about the weight as we are used to carrying around a few extra lbs.
I'm not too worried about the weight, my current bike is a ~35lbs commuter and it's not really much of an issue (we've got an elevator that can fit the bike).

Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I'd be more concerned about max. tire size than whether one frame is more "stiff" under a load than the other which is a pretty subjective opinion. Tire size matters a lot in what kind of terrain you can ride. You do want to ride the divide, right? Here the advantage goes to the troll.
The troll can take 2.1" tires, while the troll can take 2.7". At this point I'm leaning pretty heavily towards the troll.

Originally Posted by yipyipyip View Post
How tall are you? Surly Troll is 26'' only, whereas the LHT comes in 26'' and 700c (Surly Troll equivalent in 700c is Ogre). If you are tall (> 6 ft or something), 700c might prove a better fit. If you are set on 26'' for some reason, disregard this.

Otherwise, do not underestimate looks. Motivation to mount a great looking bike is much greater for me than to mount an ugly bike. If you like the look of one of them better than the other that's also an important criterion.

Ideally, test ride all of them obviously.
I am currently riding a bike with 26" wheels, and it doesn't bother me much. With the generator hub and rohloff I'm limited to 36h wheels, so I figured 26" would be the best bet. Maybe I'm underestimating the strength of 36h 700c wheels? Anecdotally speaking, I also feel like 26" wheels make it easier to weave in between cars and **** in the city.
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Old 12-20-14, 07:06 AM
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I went for the Troll, besides being heavy, I have relatively short legs and do much of my riding on gravel and now snow. I suggest you also look for a strong seat post, such as a Thomson. Either bike would serve you well. so I think it comes to fit, then personal preference in style.

Good luck, I would like to have done a build Rohloff, but it was outside my budget. I went with a road set, drop bars and brifters, not MTB gearing and I do not like bar end shifters.

.....

Add ... I look at the Salsa Vaya, LHT and CrossCheck. All great bikes, but fit took to me the Troll.

Last edited by raspberryfisher; 12-20-14 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 12-20-14, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by sadbox View Post
Am I too worried about how well the LHT will handle in ****ty-road situations?
General recommendations?
Some paved and unpaved roads I did in June:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/davez2...7645062932708/
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Old 12-20-14, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by sadbox View Post
I am currently riding a bike with 26" wheels, and it doesn't bother me much. With the generator hub and rohloff I'm limited to 36h wheels, so I figured 26" would be the best bet. Maybe I'm underestimating the strength of 36h 700c wheels? Anecdotally speaking, I also feel like 26" wheels make it easier to weave in between cars and **** in the city.
Well-built wheels can take lots of abuse with 32 or even 28 spokes, regardless of diameter. But if you are happy with 26'', no reason to switch. 26'' is somewhat more maneuverable, while 700c rolls over obstacles better. Endurance-wise, it's not a big difference.
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Old 12-20-14, 02:08 PM
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I'm a couple weeks into my newly built 26" LHT. It's primary use is my commuter, but I've already had it out on fire roads, and a 6 mile stretch of single track with 26x2.0 Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. So far, I absolutely love it. It's no light weight, however, it does just fine on my 48 mile commute. It's not like the frame is built with solid lead pipes as some may have you believe. By the time you get the bike outfitted with all the needed items, the minimal weight penalty of the frame goes out the window. Even with fenders, I could put some more aggressive tires on it if I wanted to spend more time in the dirt, but that's was my Salsa is for. I'm a big fan of the LHT.
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Old 12-21-14, 08:53 PM
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On the Rohloff- compare the gearing on the low end to that available with a triple and 32 or 34 tooth rear sprocket. As a heavy rider in an area noted for steep hills, you want all the gearing you can get on the low end.
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Old 12-22-14, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
On the Rohloff- compare the gearing on the low end to that available with a triple and 32 or 34 tooth rear sprocket. As a heavy rider in an area noted for steep hills, you want all the gearing you can get on the low end.
According to the rohloff website [1] the lowest possible gearing is equivalent to 20:34 combination. I believe that would work fine for me.

I've decided to go with the Troll. The troll has rear-facing horizontal dropouts so I can use a tugnut or something while the Trucker has a vertical dropout forcing me to use something a bit more complex.

[1] Sprocket ratios: www.rohloff.de
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Old 12-22-14, 02:59 PM
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I didn't realize they went that low, but hadn't checked, either.
There's an alternate low end for riders over 100kg (edited) or tandems, (scroll down a bit on that website) but results are still comparable to or lower than what you'd use on a derailleur system.
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Last edited by StephenH; 12-25-14 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 12-22-14, 03:44 PM
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I'll put in my two cents for what it's worth... For road riding, MTB geometry profoundly SUUUUUUUUUCKS! For eventual touring, stick with the LHT or Disc Trucker, no question. The two truckers also have enough clearance for 2" (50mm) tires. GET THE BIG TIRES. For us "uber-clydes," the additional comfort and durability make up for the weight. Despite the others' concerns, I ride both 26" and 29" tires and of the two, I actually prefer the 26ers. I also have both caliper and disc brakes. Of the two, there's no comparison - go disc!

Now my advice and a buck will buy you a sale-priced cup of McCoffee, so consider my advice worth every penny you've paid for it. But, that said, I firmly believe what I've told you.

Merry Christmas - FarHorizon

PS: I see you've decided to go with the Troll (I typed the above before noticing that). One last plea - look at the chain stay length on the Troll. Look at the same on the Trucker. Whichever is longer is the right choice, period (really!). I just went to the Surly site and looked myself - Troll =419 & Trucker = 460. That's a HUGE difference. Think again about the Troll - please. For what you've said you want to do with the bike, the Trucker (despite its more complicated stays for IGH use) is definitely the better choice.

Last edited by FarHorizon; 12-22-14 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 12-22-14, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by FarHorizon View Post
PS: I see you've decided to go with the Troll (I typed the above before noticing that). One last plea - look at the chain stay length on the Troll. Look at the same on the Trucker. Whichever is longer is the right choice, period (really!).
What's the reasoning behind that? Most of the what I've read about chain stay length is related to heel clearance for panniers, and from what I've read the chain stay length is a bit shorter on the troll, but the panniers mount further back, giving you almost exactly the same clearance for both the LHT and the Troll.

I have two major concerns with the LHT/DT at this point:
1. I would love to take the bike out on the weekends to local trails and some day I would love to ride some longer off road tours.
2. The vertical dropout on the LHT/DT forces you to use a different style of chain tensioner [1], with the troll you can use a tuggnut [2] or other similar styles of chain tensioners.

If you have any recommendations for rohloff capable touring-ey frames with horizontal dropouts I'd be happy to look at them =)

Ideally, I think the answer would be to just have two bikes. Maybe I'll start with the troll+rohloff for an everything bike while I'm in the small apartment, and if I ever move somewhere larger I'll pick up a disc trucker with a normal derailleur setup for longer on-road tours or something. Or if I decide that I really hate my bank account I could get something super-fancy like a co-motion americano w/ a rohloff and a belt drive and custom geometry.

[1] https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-sFLQGt_kK1...er_Rohloff.jpg
[2] https://www.mvdejong.luna.nl/PugsleyRearRight.JPG
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Old 12-22-14, 06:50 PM
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More bikes are better bikes! LOL

But to answer your question, the longer chain stays typically do two things, as I understand it:

1. They make handling less quick. When you're trying to avoid load oscillation, that's a good thing.

2. They soften the ride by flexing.

The two may seem contradictory, but long chain stays with generous trail at the fork are the traditional recipe for touring bikes, and so far as I can see, the rules still hold. I'm sure that there are other things involved as well (low bottom bracket, for one), that I see. MTBs have absolutely NONE of those things.

Typical MTBs use "compact rear triangles" with the shortest possible chain stays and the most upright seat tube angle possible (necessitated by the wheel's need to clear the seat tube). This helps when climbing. MTB steering is typically race-quick for avoiding obstacles on downhill runs. And finally, the MTB's bottom brackets are as high as possible to provide clearance.

So as far as I see, touring bikes and MTBs are as far apart as possible on frame geometry and intent. That's why I opine that for road riding (and touring) MTBs are profoundly not to my liking. Of course, lots of folks ride their MTBs on the road and are well pleased with the experience, so maybe it's just me.

What's not up for debate is that the three things I identify as "touring" attributes (longer chain stays, generous fork trail, and low bottom brackets) are very, Very, VERY common on bikes designated as touring models, and consistently have been for many decades.

I'm also confident in stating that very few MTBs have those characteristics.

Now, correlation isn't causality, I'll admit, but when there is that much consistency, I think that there are reasons.

Please understand that despite what I've said, I'm not knocking your choice. I understand that it's your money, your bike, and that you have your reasons. I would have chosen otherwise, and I've given my rationale. I may or may not be misguided (I've never claimed to be another Sheldon Brown), and I'm still learning about this stuff, myself. Enjoy your new ride! Please post photos, too, so we can all vicariously share the excitement!

Peace

Last edited by FarHorizon; 12-22-14 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:11 PM
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let me throw another option out there... Straggler It's essentially a Crosscheck Disc frame. It'd give you the best of both worlds, whereas the LHT will prove a big compromise on trails and the Troll a big compromise on the road, the Straggler will be great on road or on trails.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:30 PM
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Or this might fit all your needs:
Surly 1x1 x Large XL Frame | eBay
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Old 12-22-14, 08:10 PM
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Troll dropout has an integrated rohloff torque arm slot if that matters much.
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Old 12-23-14, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by FarHorizon View Post
Or this might fit all your needs:
Surly 1x1 x Large XL Frame | eBay
The Troll is just a 1x1 with a rohloff compatible dropout (no extra torque arm required) and a whole bunch of extra braze-ons for fenders and racks and junk.
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Old 12-23-14, 05:31 AM
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Then maybe the Troll is the best choice.
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Old 12-23-14, 04:41 PM
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If you are going to run the H bar, then get the troll. The LHT will have a shorter top tube intended to fit properly with drop bars. Both bikes will carry you and all your gear, but fit is going to be critical if you want to be happy on longer rides.
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Old 12-31-14, 12:19 AM
  #22  
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Hi,
I have a Troll with a Rohloff and absolutely love it. I originally built the bike as a single speed mountain bike as I had a Specialized Source 11 as a commuter/everyday bike. I always had in the back of my mind the desire to have a Rohloff. One day, my Source was leaned against the wall at work in my office and my boss happened to look at it and rather admiringly said "Man, this is a nice bike! Wanna sell it?" I just said rather jokingly "Sure, give me $1500 and it's your's" he left my office and came back about an hour later with a check for $1500. That afternoon I took the then SS Troll to the bike shop and said do it. I ended up ordering the 36 hole Rohloff and a matching Son dynamo front hub and about a week later picked it up.

Anyway, you mention this is your dream bike, not that I'm biased or anything, but I say go for the Troll. Even if you don't decide on a Rohloff, I'd go with the Troll frame since you can still upgrade later. The LHT doesn't have the ability to take the Rohloff as easy as the Troll.

Shawn
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