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What bikes compete with the Kona Sutra?

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What bikes compete with the Kona Sutra?

Old 01-23-20, 01:00 PM
  #26  
Wilfred Laurier
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
A lot of so-called myths started out as fairly accurate anecdotal reports which unfortunately persisted years after builders had revised flawed designs and largely solved the initial problem. My concern is not the material so much as the apparent sloppiness of fork leg weld joints (and concern for joint integrity/longevity). When the "new" 520 debuted, promo photos showed a fork that looked like something one would expect to find on a $50 Walmart bike, not a ~$1800 LBS bike. Cannondale's Al Pepperoni MTB forks from 25 years ago were fairly reliable and looked a whole lot better with ground/sanded filet joints. From over a year ago:

Thoughts on the new Trek 520
Thanks for the reply.

If you think those welds are ugly, there is a Canadian made '90s Raleigh waiting around the corner to break your kneecaps with a pedal wrench. The bikes came with a cheezy sticker saying 'Welded with LAZER ROBOTIC TECHNOLOGY'. From the absolutely terrible appearance of the welds, I always pictured a 1960s sci-fi robot, with floppy corrugated tubes for arms and light bulbs for eyes, with a MIG torch in its C-clamp hand as it waited for the whistle to allow it to go on coffee break.

I personally don't see an issue with those Trek fork welds compared to any other welded aluminum frame or fork... aluminum TIG welds are naturally fatter and more obvious than steel TIG welds, and the candy red paint job might make it look worse compared to, say, a dull grey or dark green. But, as I have heard exactly one (1) story about the 28 spokes wheels being a problem on the 920, I have heard exactly zero (0) reports of any problems with the aluminum fork on the 520. I don't think it is reasonable to believe you can make any assumptions about the integrity of a weld based on a photograph, unless you can actually see a gap or crack in the weld.

As for those Canadian Raleighs - the weld bead could have been dropped in place by a passing bird with diarrhea, but of the several thousand or so I sold or serviced, I never saw one of their welds fail, which I cannot say for GTs and Specializeds and Cannondales that all had much more aesthetically pleasing welds.
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Old 01-23-20, 01:09 PM
  #27  
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seeker333 I read more through the thread where there was criticism of the fork, and much of the thread is basically 'aluminum?!!?!!?? How dare they! This is no better than a BSO from Walmart!!!'

Someone even paraphrased a comment from someone at Trek explaining the engineering rationale for choosing aluminum, and the comments continued 'I guess they aren't interested in people doing real bike tours! This is obviously just to cash in on the gravel bike craze!''
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Old 01-23-20, 01:17 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
OP didn't mention what their concern was about the aluminum fork, but my assumption is that such comments indicate a person has listened to the myths about bike materials too much and argument would be a waste of time.
A friend of mine has crossed the USA three times on his Cannondale touring bike, thus it is not a low mileage bike. I am not sure but I think it is about 15 years old. Last summer while riding that same bike on the Pacific Coast, his fork snapped. Steerer tube snapped in between the headset bearings, a part of the fork that you never see because it is hidden inside the headtube. When he woke up and got to the hospital, he was diagnosed with a concussion, which is no surprise considering the cracked helmet.

I found Zinn's comments on aluminum vs steel or titanium to be interesting.
https://www.velonews.com/2018/11/bik...fatigue_481150
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Old 01-23-20, 01:38 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
A friend of mine has crossed the USA three times on his Cannondale touring bike, thus it is not a low mileage bike. I am not sure but I think it is about 15 years old. Last summer while riding that same bike on the Pacific Coast, his fork snapped. Steerer tube snapped in between the headset bearings, a part of the fork that you never see because it is hidden inside the headtube. When he woke up and got to the hospital, he was diagnosed with a concussion, which is no surprise considering the cracked helmet.

I found Zinn's comments on aluminum vs steel or titanium to be interesting.
https://www.velonews.com/2018/11/bik...fatigue_481150
One failure = evidence?
Did you read the recent story about a new (All city?) steel frame that broke in half and a guy got a spinal cord injury? Because by the same logic you used we should avoid steel bikes.

A paragraph from the article you linked:
"If you had a steel or titanium frame, I could make no such prediction of certain fatigue failure. That’s because, if the frame’s designer chooses steel or titanium tubes whose tensile strength and dimensions (wall thickness, diameter, and shape) are such that the stresses seen while riding will never exceed — say, 40 percent of its tensile strength in its heat-affected (i.e., weld) zones — then the frame will last indefinitely in the absence of a crash. Of course, notches or dents or poor welds (or, in the case of steel, rust) will lower that limit (as well as lower the tensile strength) and cause fatigue failure to occur at a lower stress or lower number of cycles."

(emphasis added by me)
The assumption that these conditions are met is often overlooked in this discussion. Steel can potentially be made to last indefinitely, but higher than expected loads, flaws in materials (which exist in all material) and incorrect engineering assumptions make that assumption a dangerous one. Also the assumption that your friend's bike would not have failed if it were some other material. And the assumption that your friend never crashed or put his bike thorough such use that one would question the frame and fork's integrity My time in bike shops lasted from the late 80s to the mid 2000s, and it seemed like frame failure was more common when all the bikes were steel than by the mid 2000s when they were almost all aluminum.
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Old 01-23-20, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Wiggle View Post
Yeah I hear you, can see it being a deal breaker for some people.

Personally it never affects me until I have to make some kind of dramatic low-speed turn and I usually just employ the "ratcheting" technique for those couple of strokes. But yeah being in a more precarious situation or simply not wanting to have to think about it are all valid.

Maybe I'll change my mind if I ever have a bad incident with it.
Ive generally been ok also, good description of the "ratcheting" technique, describes it well.

I really did appreciate not having any toe overlap on my Latin America trips, either due to steep hill start offs, or when going over really rough stuff slowly like cobblestone streets etc.
Sure, this didnt happen often, but was nice not to have to worry about it, and I appreciate it once in a while in regular touring conditions too.
Plus anyway, I like the lower gearing and maybe stronger wheels with 26 anyway, so Im fine with 26 in general for the other pluses.
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Old 01-23-20, 04:13 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I found Zinn's comments on aluminum vs steel or titanium to be interesting.
https://www.velonews.com/2018/11/bik...fatigue_481150
The "fatigue accumulation" difference is interesting. It'd be good to get some data beyond his assessment of "sounds like a lot of miles, better be safe than sorry". I mean he might be right but that didn't seem to be on firm ground compared to the rest of his points.
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Old 01-23-20, 07:40 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Wiggle View Post
The "fatigue accumulation" difference is interesting. It'd be good to get some data beyond his assessment of "sounds like a lot of miles, better be safe than sorry". I mean he might be right but that didn't seem to be on firm ground compared to the rest of his points.
Zinn is well known for his knowledge of all things bikes, he also has a small business building bikes for people that need larger size frames than most manufacturers sell. I am not sure if he still races or not, but it is my recollection that he was a very competitive cyclocross racer years ago. But, I think he had some heart issues and quit racing. I have a lot of faith in his knowledge of what works, what does not, and what works for a while ... until it does not work any more.

That said, the data on frame failure and frame lifespan is the kind of data that only a major manufacturer would have, and they usually want to keep that kind of testing data secret. If they know how to build a better frame for less than a competitor, they are not going to share any of the data they used to determine that. My knowledge of steel and aluminum however is not from the alloys used for bikes, instead my knowledge is more based on the kinds of metals used for construction, etc.
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Old 01-24-20, 05:30 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by ndrose View Post
Sounds like we have similar ideas. I’m just at the beginning of the process myself, so I will be watching this thread for suggestions. Other bikes I’m looking at: Jamis Aurora Elite, REI Co-op ADV 1.1, Salsa Marrakesh
I think I'll be going with the Sutra. The Jamis A.E. has a more attractive appearance, and I was initially interested in making its road crank accept a low granny-gear. Now I see that I can't get the kind of benefit I want with a road crank, so I might as well go with 48/36/26. Salsa Marrakesh comes with brifters instead of bar-end shift, and neither it nor the Jamis AE are any easier for me to check out than the Sutra is. Someone posted on the REI bike site that full-hydrolic brakes were a bad idea for touring. Too bad, because REI is easy for me to deal with. Sutra comes with a chainwheel guard, something that I badly need, because I refuse to put on tights just to transport myself somewhere by bicycle.


When will someone invent a gearing system that can allow a bicycle to do everything I want it to do? I don't want to own a quiver of bicycles for my various purposes, I want one bicycle with a variety of gears for a variety of purposes.
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Old 01-24-20, 05:51 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
I was hoping to stay with 700 wheels because that's what I'm accustomed to riding. I would think smaller wheels will make the bicycle more squirrely at higher speeds, in comparison to 700.
Denise went 184 mph on this baby here:



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Old 01-24-20, 06:29 PM
  #35  
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Nyah
don't worry about a 48 11 not being fast enough. You'll be able to pedal downhill at nearly 70kph, I do on mine, so there is no concern.
We rarely are able to hold more than 30, 40kph and that gearing is ample.
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Old 01-24-20, 06:36 PM
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Nyah, I just checked and the top gear is 118 gear inches, so you can pedal at 70kph. I often get to 70k on one of my bikes that has about 112 gear inches.
and you have a nice low gear too, and you can make it lower easier.

So yes you can have it all.
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Old 01-24-20, 07:37 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
I think I'll be going with the Sutra. The Jamis A.E. has a more attractive appearance, and I was initially interested in making its road crank accept a low granny-gear. Now I see that I can't get the kind of benefit I want with a road crank, so I might as well go with 48/36/26. Salsa Marrakesh comes with brifters instead of bar-end shift, and neither it nor the Jamis AE are any easier for me to check out than the Sutra is. Someone posted on the REI bike site that full-hydrolic brakes were a bad idea for touring. Too bad, because REI is easy for me to deal with. Sutra comes with a chainwheel guard, something that I badly need, because I refuse to put on tights just to transport myself somewhere by bicycle.
One thing I like about Jamis is that they tell you what type of steel is used (Reynolds 631). Kona and Salsa just list Cromoly. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but it's appreciated.
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Old 01-24-20, 08:56 PM
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The Salsa website does show a couple of Marrakesh models with bar end shifters. (And they’re less expensive than the model with brifters.) I don’t know whether those are older models that will be phased out, or if they’re ongoing alternative builds. Anyway, they’re there at the moment.

Not trying to complicate your decision! The Sutra is a beautiful bike.
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Old 01-24-20, 09:00 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
...
When will someone invent a gearing system that can allow a bicycle to do everything I want it to do? I don't want to own a quiver of bicycles for my various purposes, I want one bicycle with a variety of gears for a variety of purposes.
Maybe an 18 speed Pinion? I have never seen one, but the data I am seen on line for gearing looks pretty good.
https://www.cyclingabout.com/tour-wi...inion-gearbox/
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Old 01-25-20, 05:40 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
A friend of mine has crossed the USA three times on his Cannondale touring bike, thus it is not a low mileage bike. I am not sure but I think it is about 15 years old. Last summer while riding that same bike on the Pacific Coast, his fork snapped. Steerer tube snapped in between the headset bearings, a part of the fork that you never see because it is hidden inside the headtube. When he woke up and got to the hospital, he was diagnosed with a concussion, which is no surprise considering the cracked helmet.

I found Zinn's comments on aluminum vs steel or titanium to be interesting.
https://www.velonews.com/2018/11/bik...fatigue_481150
The steerer tube of a stock fork in a Cannondale touring bike would have been steel, not aluminum.
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Old 01-25-20, 07:21 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
The steerer tube of a stock fork in a Cannondale touring bike would have been steel, not aluminum.
I have seen a photo of the crack, the mechanic said that part of the crack had started years earlier because the aluminum had a darker gray where it had oxidized, the newest part of the crack had that bright unoxidized look. No rust in the photo, my steel steerer tubes usually have a bit of rust because on a touring bike, rain water will get inside the headtube past the headset.
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Old 01-25-20, 10:07 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
The steerer tube of a stock fork in a Cannondale touring bike would have been steel, not aluminum.
It would depend on the model. Cannondale usually put out two models of their touring bike per year, especially in the later years. The less expensive version had a steel fork and the more expensive version had an aluminum one.
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Old 01-25-20, 10:26 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
It would depend on the model. Cannondale usually put out two models of their touring bike per year, especially in the later years. The less expensive version had a steel fork and the more expensive version had an aluminum one.
This is what his bike looked like in 2017, disregard the saddle, that was used for less than a couple weeks.

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Old 01-26-20, 05:04 AM
  #44  
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Re this specific fork issue, I think it's fair to say that this sort of incident is exceedingly rare, and in my opinion not something to take into account for considering one bike vs another.
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Old 01-26-20, 08:21 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Re this specific fork issue, I think it's fair to say that this sort of incident is exceedingly rare, and in my opinion not something to take into account for considering one bike vs another.
I agree it is rare, but I would put aluminum fork on my list of reasons to think twice about a bike that I planed to use for loaded touring or for high mileage. If I was comparing two equal touring bikes and one had an aluminum or carbon fork, I would take the steel one.

I have not intentionally avoided aluminum frame bikes, my folding bike has an aluminum frame (and steel fork). But as an engineer I have a bias towards steel.

I think you hear of more carbon failures than metal frame failures. I have specifically avoided carbon, have never owned a carbon bike or carbon fork. A friend of mine tours with a carbon fork, but that is his call.

In all fairness to aluminum, I have never heard anyone complain about a loaded touring bike that is aluminum that had a bad shimmy. I think steel is more likely to have a resonance problem than aluminum. There are advantages and disadvantages to all materials.
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Old 01-27-20, 11:35 AM
  #46  
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BTW I tried the Sutra. The frame was a size smaller than what I thought I would need. I could stand over it, feet flat on the ground and then lift it off the ground about an inch. Riding it felt like it was designed pretty well. It had the toe-overlap that people warned me about for 700c wheel bicycles (but "strangely" doesn't happen on my Trek 520 from '99). Even if that happens with the frame size that's most appropriate for me, it's not a reason for me to choose a bike with smaller wheels. So back to the trial ride: Everything seems good within reason. Shifting is good. I love the brakes. The tires, Marathon Mondial, are horrible for hardpack pavement, where I do most of my riding, so I will be switching those out to something more appropriate. Marathon classics don't come in a 40mm model, unfortunately (the "40" is actually a 38). The Marathon Supreme does come in an actual 40mm, so that might be a candidate. I might've read an unfavorable anecdote regarding that tire though. If anyone has experience with the Marathon Supreme, please share it here. I would like buy this bike, after I decide which of its frame sizes works best for me, but only if I can have good tires that don't interfere with good fenders.
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Old 01-27-20, 01:37 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
BTW I tried the Sutra. The frame was a size smaller than what I thought I would need. I could stand over it, feet flat on the ground and then lift it off the ground about an inch. Riding it felt like it was designed pretty well. It had the toe-overlap that people warned me about for 700c wheel bicycles (but "strangely" doesn't happen on my Trek 520 from '99). Even if that happens with the frame size that's most appropriate for me, it's not a reason for me to choose a bike with smaller wheels. So back to the trial ride: Everything seems good within reason. Shifting is good. I love the brakes. The tires, Marathon Mondial, are horrible for hardpack pavement, where I do most of my riding, so I will be switching those out to something more appropriate. Marathon classics don't come in a 40mm model, unfortunately (the "40" is actually a 38). The Marathon Supreme does come in an actual 40mm, so that might be a candidate. I might've read an unfavorable anecdote regarding that tire though. If anyone has experience with the Marathon Supreme, please share it here. I would like buy this bike, after I decide which of its frame sizes works best for me, but only if I can have good tires that don't interfere with good fenders.
re frame size. If you have an inch play, then that sounds like a good size frame for you, and you can easily have the store put on a slightly longer stem if needed. If your Trek 520 really does fit you well, then you will have the advantage of having this base level of known dimensions that work for you, and it makes things a lot easier to replicate this in other bikes, no matter the bikes.
For instance, I have an old dropbar bike that I rode for years, toured on it etc, and knew that a slightly shorter distance from seat to bars would be nicer for me, ie a slightly more laid back position, so I had this as a reference, and ended up on my next bike getting a size smaller than perhaps is almost officially my "proper" size, in my case at about 5'10" I got a 54cm frame, and not a 56cm, and even with the stock stem (prob a 90mm) the bike was more comfortable with just that bit less seat to bars distance. On the newer bike I would be more comfortable on the hoods more easily (and getting older too).

So my opinion is to err on the smaller frame size, and simply put a stem that is 10, 20mm longer if need be. But thats me.

mechanical discs are great arent they? I like them a lot.
Toe overlap, hey it will be there with other bikes too, so unless you can try out a LHT which may not have it, then you just live with it, most of us do fine with it.
re tires, Ive had excellent experience wht Supremes, but do be aware that one must be careful of sharp stuff, and not ride against this stuff, as the sidewalls are very thin---this gives them their wonderful ride quality, but you have to be conscious of how they are.
I wrote up two reviews of them from my experiences with them, here is the second
Schwalbe Supreme26x2 followup #2 roughly6000kms
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Old 01-27-20, 03:02 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
BTW I tried the Sutra. The frame was a size smaller than what I thought I would need. I could stand over it, feet flat on the ground and then lift it off the ground about an inch. Riding it felt like it was designed pretty well. It had the toe-overlap that people warned me about for 700c wheel bicycles (but "strangely" doesn't happen on my Trek 520 from '99). Even if that happens with the frame size that's most appropriate for me, it's not a reason for me to choose a bike with smaller wheels. So back to the trial ride: Everything seems good within reason. Shifting is good. I love the brakes. The tires, Marathon Mondial, are horrible for hardpack pavement, where I do most of my riding, so I will be switching those out to something more appropriate. Marathon classics don't come in a 40mm model, unfortunately (the "40" is actually a 38). The Marathon Supreme does come in an actual 40mm, so that might be a candidate. I might've read an unfavorable anecdote regarding that tire though. If anyone has experience with the Marathon Supreme, please share it here. I would like buy this bike, after I decide which of its frame sizes works best for me, but only if I can have good tires that don't interfere with good fenders.
Toe overlap, I have it on every one of my 700c bikes that has fenders. I live with it. I mostly am bothered by it when loaded touring, the steering is lower due to greater mass on the fork (panniers, etc.) and also start out slower (more mass on the bike) and slower means probably and over-compensating on steering more. But my rando bike or when using my 700c touring bike around town unladen, I rarely notice the toe overlap.

You might consider using the Mondials for touring, and a lighter duty tire for other riding. I often use more robust tires for touring than I use around home.
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Old 01-28-20, 01:28 PM
  #49  
Wiggle
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I was also looking at the Sutra, didn't go so far as to get a test-ride though cause the dealers around here would've have essentially wanted me to pre-purchase one.

Those brakes I believe are the same ones as on the 520, they work great. They aren't as vicious as hydraulic discs but feel very good and I hope will be less likely to be a point of failure. One of the cyclist's here at work seems to need to bleed his hydraulic brakes across several bikes often.

A couple things pulled me away from the Sutra:
1. Brifters - I really wasn't liking the idea of bar end shifters. It's possible I could have gotten used to them and I do understand they are very reliable. Just preference.

2. Came with a front rack.

3. Price - My Trek dealer was willing to haggle, I got $250 off the Canadian MSRP.

4. Vanity - The Sutra looks very nice but I like the blander, utilitarian look of the 520 in gray.

5. LBS - I have a good relationship with the Trek LBS.
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Old 01-28-20, 02:49 PM
  #50  
I.B.Roots
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Nyah - I bought a Sutra about 6 months ago. The sizing is off a bit. Normally I would ride a 54cm but Sutras run large so I have a 52 and it fits fine. It's a great bike, you'll be happy.

Others I considered; Surly Disc (LHT), Fuji, Marakesh.
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