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Advice on new bike purchase

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Advice on new bike purchase

Old 05-09-10, 07:48 AM
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Advice on new bike purchase

Hi all. I have used the archives on this countless times to evaluate the quality and prices of stuff on craigslist, and most recently my girlfriend used a bikeforums.net posting to talk a seller from 900 to 550 on a Bianchi Eros, so I figured this would be a good place to ask questions about getting a new bike.

I sold my old bike (2006 Jamis Ventura Elite) yesterday because it was giving me neck and back pain. I loved the bike and the first 20 miles of each ride on it were a dream, but after that I would start hurting from being leaned over too much. Because of this, when I was tired from playing basketball or riding all day, I didn't feel like riding over to whatever engagement I had that evening, electing to drive to save myself back pain. I hate driving!

My goal is to find a bike I can jump on even when I am dog tired and ride for 20 miles. This is the most important thing, but I am also hoping to find something that is light and fast, built from CroMo steel and can carry racks and fenders. I realize I may not get all of the things in my price range, but that is what I am shooting for.

I rode a Surly Long Haul Trucker yesterday and loved it. The steering tube had not been cut at all I think, and the handlbars came up an inch or two above the seat on the 56cm model. I have never been so comfortable in my life, and if there were no hills to deal with, I would have laid my cash on the line.

I am sure that I could load all my worldly possessions onto this bike and it would carry them admirably, but that is much more utility that I need, and requires giving up a huge amount of pedaling efficiency to move such a heavy bike.

I am wondering if there is any bikes that are comparable to the LHT that I should check out. I have thought about buying an older bike and a new fork, and leaving the steering tube uncut (or cut very high) to give myself the geometry I desire. If I had the money, I would have one custom made, but I can spend only 1000-1500 on this bike right now.

The options I see so far:
1. Ask an LBS to build me a bike with uncut steer tube
2. Buy a LHT and eventually replace the frame with something nicer
3. Buy a used bike and a new fork, leave the steer tube uncut
4. ???

What do you guys thing about this? Any suggestions?
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Old 05-09-10, 08:37 AM
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I have a Surly Long Haul Trucker (58 cm) with handlebars set about level with the saddle, and I use it for rides up to 125 miles in the Connecticut River valley and the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts. It's not light, especially with a Brooks Flyer saddle and stainless steel fenders, but then neither am I.

Unless your goal is to go up hills as fast as possible, or to accelerate quickly on the flats, I don't think that the 1-2 pounds that you save by going to a lighter CrMo frame are going to make that much difference, and at the price point you're looking at, you're not going to be getting really lightweight components. The Long Haul Trucker frame plus uncut fork adds up to 7.4 pounds. You could get a Surly Pacer, which weighs 6.54 pounds, but you'd be giving up the more relaxed geometry and the ability to use wide tires with fenders. Or you could get a Cross Check, which weighs 7.08 pounds (frame + uncut fork). If you get the complete bike, the LHT comes with a good touring triple, while the Cross Check and Pacer come with doubles.

In short: if you like the ride of the Trucker, I'd advise getting it. If you can find a good deal on a used bike that you like, you can get a stem extender or riser to raise the handlebars if necessary (might require new cables and housing for the brakes and shifters, though). But the LHT is a hard deal to beat for a new bike.
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