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Custom Surly (?) touring setup with electronic shifting

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Custom Surly (?) touring setup with electronic shifting

Old 07-05-17, 08:01 PM
  #1  
Blue Motobecane
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Custom Surly (?) touring setup with electronic shifting

I am moving from southern California to New York in a month and trying to sort out my bike situation. My habits have changed a lot in the last several years as I have mostly transitioned to running as my primary mode of exercise and competitive athleticism, and I do not want to move multiple bikes to a small apartment in New York. I already unloaded my namesake bike, and I think I will get rid of my aging 2007 Specialized road bike as well. I want to get into occasional bike touring around the northeast, and I expect to be using my bike more for carrying things than I have in CA.

Having never owned a touring or mountain bike, I am in need of some pretty basic information. To start, my goal is to switch to a touring setup that caters to the following needs:
  1. Monthly or bimonthly 100+ mile light camping trips
  2. Weekly or twice weekly 30-50 mile local rides
  3. Regular short trips with groceries, farmers market purchases, etc.

Right now I am considering a Surly frame. I am not thrilled about their complete builds, so I doubt I will be talked into one of them. I am still learning about touring/mountain bike components, but I think I'd be happier with something along the lines of a blend of Shimano SLX and XT components. I have been upgrading my Specialized to Ultegra as things break, and XT seems similar.

I am also super impressed by what I have seen of electronic shifting, so I would consider going that route. However, I don't want to put more than around $2000 into this bike at the beginning (obviously upgrades can and will come later), so I'm not sure if that's feasible at the outset. Unlike where I've been living and working in CA, I don't expect to have a full shop's worth of bike tools available to me, so I'll need either significant help, time rented in a shop, or a professional build. I haven't had someone else work on a bike for me in ten years, so I'm not sure how much to expect to add to my total cost as a result.

Do you guys think I am on the right track with something like a Disc Trucker? Should I consider the complete kit? It seems like some low quality parts are used for a bike that retails at $1500.

And what about e-shifting? I have been looking through options, and it looks like in order to get the 3x11 system I would want on this bike, I'd need to go Shimano XTR for the shifters and derailleurs, as the XT Di2 only supports up to 2x11. That seems out of my price range, but maybe I'm missing some other option, or maybe I should consider 2x11.
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Old 07-05-17, 09:59 PM
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Personally I don't agree with upgrading. if you buy a good frame and put junk components on it, you've got a junk bicycle. Same with good components and a junk frame.
I've heard nothing but good stuff about E-shifting. But top end components deserve a top end frame. The LHT doesn't even make it to mediocre. Pick out a good frame. There's a lot of nice carbon "adventure" bicycles out there that should fit what you are talking about doing. Check out the tandem forum about wide range electronic shifting. Keep what you've got until you can get good everything.
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Old 07-05-17, 10:15 PM
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LHT is a proven design. Squeeze you sound a little crazy to put it down like this.
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Old 07-05-17, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
LHT is a proven design. Squeeze you sound a little crazy to put it down like this.
+ 1. The constant put down of Surly bikes by Squeeze is just way out of line.

OP: you only have a budget of $2k and you don't have access to tools to build a bike. I'd think long and hard about an off the shelf touring bike within your budget. The parts on the surly disc trucker are fine and the bike blows through most of your budget. I like the Kona Sutra as well.

I'm not trying to talk you into the parts on the Surly. Frankly that's your call. But you haven't given any evidence as to why any of the parts on that bike need replacement or why electronic shifting is a needed upgrade on a touring bike.
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Old 07-05-17, 11:53 PM
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Well, the frameset itself is only $500. The complete bike lists for $1450. I haven't ruled out just buying that, but it seemed like I could do better by myself. If I went with the complete bike, I would certainly ride it for a while and decide about upgrades based on that experience. I also have parts I can use already for some things. For example, I'm not keeping that saddle on the bike (I realize that's probably only like $25 of the cost). And I will have my basic hand tools, just not things like a truing stand. I guess I could build wheels here before I leave, but it seems dumb to ship things unnecessarily.

And of course e-shifting isn't a needed upgrade, just something that seems fun.

As for why I think the parts need replacing, I started down that road because I am concerned about getting used to bar end shifters. If I buy that configuration, then decide that I hate them (I have never used them except to play with someone else's bike, so it's going to be a big adjustment at best), it's likely going to be either an expensive change or a shoddy one (do I replace the brakes? I can't get a good sense online of how scary it feels if I don't).

I'm trying to be good about setting a budget and sticking to it, but if I'm going to blow it anyway I'd rather plan it from the beginning.

Thanks for the Kona suggestion--I'm definitely open to other frames as well. And thanks for the general info. I'm still trying to figure out what I want, but I want a plan in place when I arrive because I'd like to take this out in Vermont in mid-September.
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Old 07-05-17, 11:59 PM
  #6  
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Regarding carbon "adventure" bikes, I'm pretty set on steel. I am not trying to start a big fight here, and I know most people ride carbon fiber bikes with no problems, but I've had terrible luck with it and am just no longer enthused by it.

I also don't have anything yet for this project, so keeping what I've got isn't an option. If you mean my Specialized road bike, I'm tired of dumping money into a bike that I don't use for its purpose anymore, and I don't have any interest in finding out how it feels with a bunch of cargo haphazardly bolted onto it.
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Old 07-06-17, 12:21 AM
  #7  
Blue Motobecane
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One more thing I forgot to mention that pushed me toward the Di2 setup: I read somewhere (can't find it right now) that I could run Ultegra Di2 brifters with XTR Di2 derailleurs. That possibility appeals to me, if it's actually correct.
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Old 07-06-17, 03:27 AM
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I've also heard decent things about the kona. I switched from bar ends to brifters, yes kinda pricey. The brakes were switched from hydro to cable as part of it. Worth it for me. Unless you are looking for the specific characteristics of Di2, fast accurate shifting, you'll be spending a bunch of money that could be done much cheaper with cable operated stuff.
I'll stick with my opinion of the LHT. If someone wants fast accurate response in shifting, the LHT would be the worst match for a similar frame. Fast accurate and responsive the LHT is not. Basically why I hate it so much. I do have a right to my opinion. And I am not out of line saying Di2 would be inappropriate on an LHT. I've also met a few LHT owners that think it's low quality. I still think upgrade is a waste of money. Get what you want to begin with.
Good luck OP in your search.

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Old 07-06-17, 04:56 AM
  #9  
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Blue Motobecane, If you want more wiggle room for 'upgrades', take a look at the Fuji Touring. As with the LHT, it has a very good reputation.

Whatever you choose, buy it complete and then customize where needed. Experience is the best teacher.

Brad
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Old 07-06-17, 05:31 AM
  #10  
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Listen to someone who actually tours. Just got back from yet another one with my 6 y.o., stock LHT. Two weeks in MT, with one day in ID. Did a superb job as always, including on the dirt portions of the route. The bear grass was assploding out where I was. I also use it for commuting, shopping, etc.
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Old 07-06-17, 06:25 AM
  #11  
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I built Surly Trolls for my wife and myself

so, clearly, I like Surly. But there is no good reason for putting XTR on a Surly (unless you just want to brag about having XTR). A Surly frame is not light, so it makes no sense to build one up with components that add $100s to shave grams. This is especially true of the LHT, which is a draft horse to the Troll's quarter horse. My advice is to build it up with Deore if you're going with mtb components, 105 if road. Both will last and last, perhaps even longer than XTR, although no one is going to walk up to your bike and say, "Dude! Deore/105! You rock!" As for electronic, I wouldn't bother. For your application, it sounds like you're not training for or riding in the TdF, it's just a waste of money, plus I can't imagine any Surly frame is built for electronic shifting.
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Old 07-06-17, 07:02 AM
  #12  
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I would strongly suggest actually riding as many bikes as you can, simply to get a feel of how a given bike "feels" riding unloaded also, as you may very well be disappointed with a given bikes "fun" factor. You'll probably be riding this bike mostly unloaded or lightly loaded, so take that into consideration and your enjoyment factor when its most likely unloaded a lot of the time.

you'll start to get an idea of costs involved with e shifting stuff, but the budget issue is for you and only you to decide what is worth it.
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Old 07-06-17, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
I've also heard decent things about the kona. I switched from bar ends to brifters, yes kinda pricey. The brakes were switched from hydro to cable as part of it. Worth it for me. Unless you are looking for the specific characteristics of Di2, fast accurate shifting, you'll be spending a bunch of money that could be done much cheaper with cable operated stuff.
I'll stick with my opinion of the LHT. If someone wants fast accurate response in shifting, the LHT would be the worst match for a similar frame. Fast accurate and responsive the LHT is not. Basically why I hate it so much. I do have a right to my opinion. And I am not out of line saying Di2 would be inappropriate on an LHT. I've also met a few LHT owners that think it's low quality. I still think upgrade is a waste of money. Get what you want to begin with.
Good luck OP in your search.
All of this is simply wrong information. It's not really an opinion; it's just a lot of false information that you repeat incessantly.

Let me give you another way to deal with this. The next time someone asks about a Surly LHT, you can point out that a lot of people on these boards have had very good experience with that bike but there are other bikes that you like better and explain why. If you went down that road, I suspect most of the posters would leave you alone since that is an entirely defensible opinion. What you wrote is not.
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Old 07-06-17, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox View Post
I'll stick with my opinion of the LHT. If someone wants fast accurate response in shifting, the LHT would be the worst match for a similar frame. Fast accurate and responsive the LHT is not. Basically why I hate it so much. I do have a right to my opinion.
I just don't understand this comment. Fast and accurate shifting is directly related to component and housing/cable grade and whether it's all adjusted well. One can have quick and accurate shifting on an LHT, and sluggish and imprecise shifting on a $6k road bike. I went with a Troll instead of an LHT because I felt the former was more nimble and versatile, so I understand why some believe the LHT feels a bit sluggish, but claiming that shifting performance is bad is just bizarre.
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Old 07-06-17, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Blue Motobecane View Post
As for why I think the parts need replacing, I started down that road because I am concerned about getting used to bar end shifters. If I buy that configuration, then decide that I hate them (I have never used them except to play with someone else's bike, so it's going to be a big adjustment at best), it's likely going to be either an expensive change or a shoddy one (do I replace the brakes? I can't get a good sense online of how scary it feels if I don't).

Thanks for the Kona suggestion--I'm definitely open to other frames as well. And thanks for the general info. I'm still trying to figure out what I want, but I want a plan in place when I arrive because I'd like to take this out in Vermont in mid-September.
Hi Blue Moto - I live in NYC and personally I would not get bar end shifters at all in the city. You are CONSTANTLY going to stop and start due to traffic and people. It could get potentially dangerous IMO.

So if you're gonna get a Disc Trucker, I would build it up with brifters.

I too was originally considering a Disc Trucker, because I wanted a touring bike setup. So I did a lot of research.

Other good alternatives - The Surly Straggler - a bit more lightweight but can tour no problem AND already comes with brifters - but has all the brazeons you want for fenders, rack, etc.

The Kona Sutra - comes with bar end shifters
The Jamis Aurora - comes with bar end shifters

Those were my top choices.
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Old 07-06-17, 08:02 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by Blue Motobecane View Post
.....
Having never owned a touring or mountain bike, I am in need of some pretty basic information. To start, my goal is to switch to a touring setup that caters to the following needs:
  1. Monthly or bimonthly 100+ mile light camping trips
  2. Weekly or twice weekly 30-50 mile local rides
  3. Regular short trips with groceries, farmers market purchases, etc.

.......
I'd argue a LHT is overkill for above needs and furthermore would be a dog on the "weekly or twice weekly 30-50 mile local rides"

Having a LHT like bike, Novara Randonee and a Salsa Vaya I can say the Randonee is only ridden when I carry heavy loads, i.e. carrying my gear and lightening the load for the wife and kids. It handles heavy well but isn't much fun otherwise. Right now my riding habits are like yours except my daily commute is your item 2 and I exclusively use a Salsa Vaya for the task as it is far more fun to ride than the Randonee. If I were starting over I would still consider the Vaya but would look at the plethora of other bikes that have come to market in recent times that also fit the bill... Niner RLT 9, Specialized Sequoia, Kona Rove etc.... The "adventure" bikes, in my opinion, are much better all around bikes. They don't quite excel at any one type of riding but are great for multi use riding...

Below is a picture of my Vaya from this past weekends ~150 mi ride from Pgh to Cumberland. As seen would be my typical packout for pretty much any unsupported stateside tour. The only reason I'd consider rear panniers is to carry food.



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Old 07-06-17, 08:03 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I would strongly suggest actually riding as many bikes as you can, simply to get a feel of how a given bike "feels" riding unloaded

Also, if you can find an LHT (and I'd bet you have a better chance in the LA metro area than NYC), you can find out how you like the barcons.
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Old 07-06-17, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by edthesped View Post
I'd argue a LHT is overkill for above needs and furthermore would be a dog on the "weekly or twice weekly 30-50 mile local rides"

Having a LHT like bike, Novara Randonee and a Salsa Vaya I can say the Randonee is only ridden when I carry heavy loads, i.e. carrying my gear and lightening the load for the wife and kids. It handles heavy well but isn't much fun otherwise. Right now my riding habits are like yours except my daily commute is your item 2 and I exclusively use a Salsa Vaya for the task as it is far more fun to ride than the Randonee. If I were starting over I would still consider the Vaya but would look at the plethora of other bikes that have come to market in recent times that also fit the bill... Niner RLT 9, Specialized Sequoia, Kona Rove etc.... The "adventure" bikes, in my opinion, are much better all around bikes. They don't quite excel at any one type of riding but are great for multi use riding...
ya I tend to agree with this logic.
I have a 2010 Tricross, a supposed "cross bike" I got in the triple version to use/replace my old tourer. It is one of these "inbetween" bikes that can handle panniers and ride perfectly fine, yet is still fun enough to ride unloaded and I can stay with roadies up to a certain point, and it handles nicely yet isnt as nimble as a pure road bike but still ok.

as this fellow stated, there are lots of bikes like this out there, unfortunately most come with doubles, I personally still find a triple to be the most versatile for all kinds of riding.

as I said before, do a whole bunch of test rides and take notes, but I would definately go for something thats more "fun" to ride, but can still easily handle racks and panniers for the times you want.
My alu frame tricross handled a 40-45lb load (front and rear panniers) rather well, although Im a light guy, which helps, but given that you probably will only have rear panniers on the bike loaded infrequently, many bikes will work well for this--the gearing issue is another topic, and one you'll have to look into (although, be prepared for all store empolyees to tell you that "sure, the gearing is really low on this bike, you'll be able to tour on it Nooooo problemmmm")
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Old 07-06-17, 08:17 AM
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Oh yeah, barcons suck in city traffic and on rapidly transitioning terrain, (I'd take it a step further and say they just suck). Though you shouldn't have to worry much about the latter. I unfortunately must deal with both simultaneously.
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Old 07-06-17, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by revcp View Post
I just don't understand this comment.
You must be new around here. I will send you a PM.
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Old 07-06-17, 08:30 AM
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There is a bunch I would like to comment on here, but ill keep it to a few points.

- check out Soma frames. Black Mountain Cycles monstercross frame too. If you want to build a frame, both will handle loads and be lighter feeling when you are doing local day rides. The BMC frame has 3 bottle mounts as well as mounting for front and rear racks. It isnt meant to hold everything and the kitchen sink, but could absolutely handle 30# of gear spread over the front and rear. I have one for gravel riding and am 230# so its effectively like a 200# person riding the frame with my weight. Yes its slightly different(for those who will disagree) but thats hair splitting.

- the LHT is a workhorse, as mentioned. Itll be great for loaded rides and itll be slower than other options when unloaded. There are benefits and drawbacks to everything.

- XTR is pointless for the money. Its a touring bike we are talking about.

- 2x11 gearing is possible, but most likely more expensive than 3x9 and just not any 'better'.

- If you dont want bar ends and want friction front shifting(since its incredible), consider Gevenalle shifters. I use them- they are easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to maintain.

- Di2 is, in my opinion, an awful option for loaded touring. It is extremely limiting and if you go 3x9 you have all sorts of gearing and component options at your fingertips to find the exact gearing you want/need. An Ultegra Di2 rear dearailleur along is $150. Good lord- its a touring bike.
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Old 07-06-17, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
....the gearing issue is another topic, and one you'll have to look into (although, be prepared for all store empolyees to tell you that "sure, the gearing is really low on this bike, you'll be able to tour on it Nooooo problemmmm")
It's been my experience... Granted I live and mostly ride in an area with sh!#y terrain and am old as well so low gearing is always a priority to me. The classic was when I was in a local shop looking at the new Sequoia Expert and bemoaning the gearing, he was selling hard, to be fair I was just wasting time while the wife was next door, but I told him if I did purchase it I'd have to change the gearing right off the bat as it wasn't low enough for me. He gave me a smug, "I can easily climb Canton Avenue on this bike", comment... I can only guess the local shops push the gearing because it would be bad business to denigrate the products they sell. FWIW, I deal with a 1460' elevation gain the last two miles of my daily commute and have a Sugino Compact plus 48/30 front double coupled with an 11-36 rear cassette and wish for lower. However, I'm hesitant to go lower than 48 or 46 on the front as I enjoy downhills as much as I dislike going up hills.

Canton Avenue for those who don't know this town...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canton_Avenue

However there are guys around here that can handle the hills with road doubles, I'm not one of them!

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Old 07-06-17, 08:36 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by revcp View Post
I just don't understand this comment. Fast and accurate shifting is directly related to component and housing/cable grade and whether it's all adjusted well. One can have quick and accurate shifting on an LHT, and sluggish and imprecise shifting on a $6k road bike. I went with a Troll instead of an LHT because I felt the former was more nimble and versatile, so I understand why some believe the LHT feels a bit sluggish, but claiming that shifting performance is bad is just bizarre.
And how clean and well-lubricated you keep the housings. With 11s clusters, the systems have gotten fussy WRT dirt/water/mud due to the small amounts of cable pull. Di2 just doesn't care. Similarly Di2 has far shorter lever throws (basically mouse clicks), as opposed to mechanical levers that have a ton of dead space before shifting.

Saying in short the shifting "feels sluggish", while uninformative and inarticulate...is one way of putting it.


One can spend the money however one wants...but if you have option Di2 is a nice setup.
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Old 07-06-17, 09:04 AM
  #24  
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I've heard that electronic shifting is just a whole other level of performance that even a perfectly adjusted cable system can't approach. It deserves the rest of the bicycle to be high end also. Sounds like the OP is looking for "serviceable" as most other folks here are also. I have not heard about anyone thinking about touring on tubulars either. So for this application there are other ways to do brifters and low 20's gearing rather than Di2. Mine is Sram, 2x10, 28-42 chainrings
Lots of options if upper 20's is good enough.
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Old 07-06-17, 09:04 AM
  #25  
djb
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front chain rings and rear cassette sizes blah blah blah aside, it all comes down to a given "gear inch" number that is appropriate for a given bike+gear weight.
The smug store employee wouldnt be able to go up that hill if you put 30lbs onto his bike, well, maybe he could, but he's probably in his 20s and hasnt yet figured out that over torquing his knees will cause problems, either now or down the road a bit.

to Mr Blue, if you havent yet ridden a bike with panniers on etc, its hard to know what "gear inch low" makes your riding more enjoyable, but that what it comes down to, having a reference of what total bike weight vs terrain vs your low gearing in an actual black and white "gear inch number" vs your legs......from there you can make an informed decision on what gearing you want for the riding you want to do.
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