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I didn't care much for the Surly LHT

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I didn't care much for the Surly LHT

Old 09-12-16, 09:03 PM
  #1  
Inpd
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I didn't care much for the Surly LHT

So I got to finally ride the legendary LHT! I was looking forward to it as after a few tours I want to get a proper touring bike rather than the hybrid I'm currently using.

Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed. Now don't get me wrong the bike was smooth and it is very well thought out. There are braze ons everywhere. But a few issues:

a) God it's heavy which means it was sluggish even just taking off.
b) I hated the bar end shifters. Out of the saddle climbing it kept on hitting my knees. The bike was a 56cm the correct fit for me.
d) It seemed (from pulling the seat tube) there is no interior coating and given its steel rust maybe an issue.
e) The frame felt flexy (granted I'm a big guy at 180+ pounds).
f) Most importantly! c) The shop had one with racks and panniers so I put a few things in there to see how it handled loaded and it shimmied terribly at + 15mph. This was on a descent over a small hill so it was quite scary.
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Old 09-12-16, 10:07 PM
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The LHT needs at least 50 pounds of gear loaded on it to feel right. That way you won't notice the weight of the bike. The shimmy will disappear when fully loaded, assumed you get the proper front to rear weight ratio of 40/60. Anything else and you are on your own. Interior coating? You gotta be kidding. Ever heard of Framesaver? Look it up. Bar end shifters? Yeah, I agree, they suck, but who says you have to get the complete build? Spring for brifters and problem solved. What else...flexy frame? That's what gives it the Cadillac ride. You want stiff? Go with aluminum.
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Old 09-12-16, 10:21 PM
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Criminy,
If the LHT has a flexy frame, how thick do the tubes on a Cro-Moly frame have to be, in order to not be flexy?
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Old 09-12-16, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
The LHT needs at least 50 pounds of gear loaded on it to feel right. That way you won't notice the weight of the bike. The shimmy will disappear when fully loaded, assumed you get the proper front to rear weight ratio of 40/60. Anything else and you are on your own. Interior coating? You gotta be kidding. Ever heard of Framesaver? Look it up. Bar end shifters? Yeah, I agree, they suck, but who says you have to get the complete build? Spring for brifters and problem solved. What else...flexy frame? That's what gives it the Cadillac ride. You want stiff? Go with aluminum.
So I did have the 40/60 ratio right and it was even distributed left and right but it was about 30 pounds not 50 pounds.

Are you telling me the bike is designed to be stable only at 50 pounds? That's an interesting design requirement but would make sense if their target market is serious touring riders!
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Old 09-12-16, 10:24 PM
  #5  
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No, it is just that you aren't likely to get a 50 lb bike to go faster than 15 mph, even on a 10% grade downhill.
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Old 09-12-16, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Inpd View Post
So I got to finally ride the legendary LHT! I was looking forward to it as after a few tours I want to get a proper touring bike rather than the hybrid I'm currently using.

Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed. Now don't get me wrong the bike was smooth and it is very well thought out. There are braze ons everywhere. But a few issues:

a) God it's heavy which means it was sluggish even just taking off.
b) I hated the bar end shifters. Out of the saddle climbing it kept on hitting my knees. The bike was a 56cm the correct fit for me.
f) Most importantly! c) The shop had one with racks and panniers so I put a few things in there to see how it handled loaded and it shimmied terribly at + 15mph. This was on a descent over a small hill so it was quite scary.
If you are hitting your knees on the shifters when standing and climbing, maybe it isn't the right fit for you. Go up a size. I don't even come close to hitting mine.

Also, the size may be what is causing the instability. The 56 was probably too small for you. I ride mine daily on descents at speeds between 30-40 mph and have absolutely no stability issues. It is an incredibly stabile bike. I even hit a chunk of concrete one day, causing rim damage, at over 30 mph downhill, and the bike kept going straight. I couldn't induce a shimmy if I tried. I ride with panniers most of the time, sometimes empty and have had it loaded with a total bike/load weight of 82 pounds numerous times on that route with zero stability issues. I went the same speeds, well over 30 mph and had no problems. The bike is rock steady.

If you fit the bike properly, the LHT is very stabile. I ride a 56 with 26 inch rims. I am 5' 10".
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Old 09-12-16, 11:12 PM
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LHT is supposed to be somewhat flexy with the long wheelbase & fork rake. At first the Disc Trucker felt a bit noodly in the front end but I got used to it & the new 50 mm-wide Marathon Supreme tires make up for that by keeping front wheel more planted. LHT has some rep for shimmy problems but IMO that may be due to popularity. OTOH hybrids can be light & economical for moderate-duty touring.
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Old 09-12-16, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Interior coating? You gotta be kidding. Ever heard of Framesaver? Look it up.
Some generic 4130 frames are now sold with an ed coating to prevent rust inside the tubes.
Nice feature.
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Old 09-13-16, 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
The LHT needs at least 50 pounds of gear loaded on it to feel right. That way you won't notice the weight of the bike. The shimmy will disappear when fully loaded, assumed you get the proper front to rear weight ratio of 40/60.
This does not make sense. No one designs a bike that requires a certain weight to prevent shimmy.

Neither of my two lht shimmy loaded or unloaded. If that bike shimmies, there is something wrong. Maybe the fork is out of alignment, the front wheel was not properly seated in the dropouts, or some other imbalance in frame or components.
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Old 09-13-16, 03:14 AM
  #10  
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Inpd, I'm not a fan of the LHT just because it doesn't quite fit me, but with so many folks happy with theirs, I have to guess that something wasn't right with the one you trialed.

Brad
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Old 09-13-16, 04:10 AM
  #11  
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Yeeaah my LHT does not shimmy unloaded or loaded, nor is it flexy. It's probably one of the stiffest bikes I've ever ridden in terms of BB flex. Otherwise it's quite comfy.
I'm 240lbs and even when climbing fully loaded out of the saddle as a 330lbs system it does not flex at all. Actually it climbs really nicely.

I've also ridden that bike down alpine passes with a max speed of 50mph again with the 330lbs full system weight and there wasn't even a whiff of shimmy.

Then again it's my own personalized build so maybe the model you tried had something wrong with it? Bad racks, loose headset or other factors mentioned above?
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Old 09-13-16, 06:48 AM
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impd, bottom line is if you don't like bar end shifters and a heavier, slower steering bike, there are other bikes out there.
I agree, the shimmy you experienced is not normal, but then I wasnt on the bike so cannot have any opinion on how it felt and the why.

keep looking at diff bikes, good luck
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Old 09-13-16, 06:53 AM
  #13  
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I ride a disc trucker. Love my (friction only) bar ends. Never contacted my knees. No shimmy.
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Old 09-13-16, 08:00 AM
  #14  
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Lht

I bought an LHT frame right before Surly came out with the complete. I had to spray Framesaver inside the tubes - a hassle, but not a big one. My impression is that it is a fantastic tourer. It's heavy, which makes it kind of slow. If it was my only bike I would not be happy, but I have another road bike, so I only ride the Surly on tours.

My previous tourer was a Nashbar that would shimmy so bad at higher speeds that I seriously worried that I would crash, or that the frame would come apart. Balancing the load carefully, side to side, helped a bit, but the shimmying never went away. The LHT is always rock solid, at any speed, carrying any-sized load, and no matter how carelessly I balance the load. I'm 6'4", so I have the biggest frame - still no shimmy, and I weigh about 210.

I've ridden bikes with downtube shifters, bar-end, and brifters. They're all okay, and I get used to whatever I'm riding. I prefer brifters. My understanding is that bar-end shifters are thought to be more reliable, and easier to fix on the road. Maybe. But I've never had an issue with my brifters, and if I was building up a bike today I'd probably go with them (if I could afford it - they're expensive.) However, the bar-ends don't bother me enough to change.

I love my LHT, but only for touring.
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Old 09-13-16, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
impd, bottom line is if you don't like bar end shifters and a heavier, slower steering bike, there are other bikes out there.
I agree, the shimmy you experienced is not normal, but then I wasnt on the bike so cannot have any opinion on how it felt and the why.

keep looking at diff bikes, good luck
So what other frame sets are out there that aren't too expensive (say around $500 mark).

Traitor wanderer
Soma Saga
Kona ***** tonk

Anything else?
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Old 09-13-16, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Inpd View Post
So what other frame sets are out there that aren't too expensive (say around $500 mark).

Traitor wanderer
Soma Saga
Kona ***** tonk

Anything else?
https://www.traitorcycles.com/2015/Bikes_Wander.cfm

Traitor Wander Frameset & Fork 2015 | evo outlet


Last year's 2 frames in L and XL size are currently $300 and free shipping.
Mounting points for fenders and racks., good chainstay length, etc etc.

Last edited by mstateglfr; 09-13-16 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 09-13-16, 08:51 AM
  #17  
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For pretty much any bicycle, especially an LHT, to have uncontrollable shimmy it has to very damaged or horribly built.

The shimmy you experienced was most likely induced by your own muscles. It takes a time for a persons body to adjust to different bicycle especially a load one. This adjustment may take a few seconds for an experienced rider or an hour for someone without experience. I know I've even experienced a shimmy when after riding a fully loaded bicycle all day and then unloading it. The first few seconds my muscles over-under-steering rapidly. This is the type of shimmy you most likely experienced.

Last edited by BigAura; 09-13-16 at 10:22 AM. Reason: tpyo
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Old 09-13-16, 09:06 AM
  #18  
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My 2004 LHT had such a bad shimmy fully loaded that the only way I got rid of the shimmy was to put the frame in the recycle bin. No more shimmy. I now have two touring bikes that work just fine with or without a load.

Bar end shifters - type of shifter is personal preference. If you have been biking with brifters for years, you probably will not like bar ends, there is no reason to try to get used to them if you likely won't like them.

That said, I have to ask how wide were your handlebars? I never stand on the pedals to power up hills or accelerate after a stop, but if I did my handlebars are wide enough that my knees would easily clear the ends of the bars.

I started using bar end shifters before index shifting existed, then the only other option was downtube friction. Currently on my drop bar derailleur bikes, I have bar end shifters on two bikes, a brifter for the rear on one bike, and downtube friction on one bike. Of those options, for touring I prefer the bar ends. But, I have been using bar ends for so long that it is normal for me. I am considering switching my friction downtube shifter bike to friction bar ends.
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Old 09-13-16, 09:10 AM
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People Tour thru here, on the OR Coast, on all sorts of bikes, including Full carbon Fiber Race Bikes.


Ride what ever 'Floats your Boat' .. go some where that is not a loop, home, and you are 'Touring'..
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Old 09-13-16, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
Neither of my two lht shimmy loaded or unloaded. If that bike shimmies, there is something wrong. Maybe the fork is out of alignment, the front wheel was not properly seated in the dropouts, or some other imbalance in frame or components.

Concur. Maybe there's a loose wheel bearing, or the wheel isn't true, but there's something wrong for an LHT to start shimmying.
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Old 09-13-16, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
For pretty much any bicycle, especially an LHT, to have uncontrollable shimmy it has to very damaged or horribly built.

The shimmy you experienced was most likely induced by your own muscles. It takes a time for a persons body to adjust to different bicycle especially a load one. This adjust may take a few seconds for an experienced rider or an hour for someone without experience. I know I've even experienced a shimmy when after riding a fully loaded bicycle all day and then unloading it. The first few seconds my muscles over-under-steering rapidly. This is the type of shimmy you most likely experienced.
The shimmy was downhill without pedaling.

It seems to be a problem with the LHT if so which models? See https://groups.google.com/forum/#!to...ht/BgCFSLRkty4
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Old 09-13-16, 10:04 AM
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Then buy something else.
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Old 09-13-16, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Inpd View Post
So what other frame sets are out there that aren't too expensive (say around $500 mark).

Traitor wanderer
Soma Saga
Kona ***** tonk

Anything else?
Genesis Equilibrium is an option if you want to bring one over from the UK (no US distributions).

I picked up a frame set and built it up and super happy with it. 725 steel frame with rack/fender mounts and enough clearance for 28s with fenders.
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Old 09-13-16, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Inpd View Post
So I got to finally ride the legendary LHT! I was looking forward to it as after a few tours I want to get a proper touring bike rather than the hybrid I'm currently using.

Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed. Now don't get me wrong the bike was smooth and it is very well thought out. There are braze ons everywhere. But a few issues:

a) God it's heavy which means it was sluggish even just taking off.
b) I hated the bar end shifters. Out of the saddle climbing it kept on hitting my knees. The bike was a 56cm the correct fit for me.
d) It seemed (from pulling the seat tube) there is no interior coating and given its steel rust maybe an issue.
e) The frame felt flexy (granted I'm a big guy at 180+ pounds).
f) Most importantly! c) The shop had one with racks and panniers so I put a few things in there to see how it handled loaded and it shimmied terribly at + 15mph. This was on a descent over a small hill so it was quite scary.
basically you ended up with a ball of sh..e
get rid of it as soon as buy a thorn club tour frameset build it up yourself.
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Old 09-13-16, 11:00 AM
  #25  
Inpd
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Originally Posted by antokelly View Post
basically you ended up with a ball of sh..e
get rid of it as soon as buy a thorn club tour frameset build it up yourself.
I didn't buy it, I just test rode it. Maybe I was expecting too much given all the glowing reports or maybe this one was a lemon as some of you suggest.
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