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On building up a LHT?

Old 05-08-06, 06:13 AM
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On building up a LHT?

I'd really appreciate hearing what you guys think. My 96 Schwinn, is facing retirement as a tourer sometime during the next year. Though I've thought of a Randonee or Trek 520, I think I'll start building up a LHT.

Since my size (5'-8") will probably dictate a 26" wheeled frame per Surley specs, I was thinking of equipping it with the most up to date Shimano MTB group. The newest XTR group might be for me, though I don't want combination shifters and brakes, nor do I plan for disk brakes.

My old 7 speed Schwinn has twist grip shifters while my mountain bike, also a late 90's Schwinn, has near top of the line (for that time period) Shimano. I'm always impressed by how crisp and rapid the shifting is on the mountain bike.

I'll probably use trekking bars or hybrid bars with ends, as I like that set up, so the thumb shifters suit me fine. I don't really care for barcons. I like shifting without ever moving my hands from the main position.

I'm also an old man, so I want a low gear setup, at least 11-32 on back if I use 44-34-24 or something like that on front. My current tourer has the 11-34t mega gear on back with a 48-38-28 front and it will climb anything once I jump to the "give-up" gear. But its 7 speed so its a real "jump" and sometime I must look like a comedy character from Looney Tunes when I jump to the low gear. The 11-32 range in a 9 speed sounds good to me.

Any thoughts on using the Shimano mountain group as opposed to a road group?

"..................and then the wheels came off"
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Old 05-08-06, 07:40 AM
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I have a 42cm LHT, with the 26" wheels. I haven't toured yet, but I've just done some local day rides since I got it in Dec.

It first got built up with a 105 road crankset (with the smallest cog a 24 tooth) and 12-34 Xt cassette in the back. I am using 9sp Dura Ace downtube shifters.

Later I switched the crankset to an XT mtn bike set, so i have full mtn bike gearing, 22-34 lowest gear. This seems to work out well for this bike.

This little LHT is a heavy little bike, and I only have a small Delta Sherpa rack on the back. This bike weighs around 30lbs!

I used this bike at the local club ride once and I had enough top end gears to go down the road with the road bikes, but I certainly wasn't as fast as most of the riders.
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Old 05-08-06, 09:15 AM
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There are quite a lot of posts with similar queries, so do a search ("LHT" or "crank" or "build"). Not to say they'll answer your questions -- but you'll see the range of opinions.

Lots of satisfied LHT-builders with 8-speed components, primarily for cost and availability. Also several people completely satisfied with the Sugino crankset XD600 (or XD300 with steel rings), 46/36/26. You can even swap the 26 for a 24.

Other than that, it's just opinions. Some will swear by mtn-specific cranks, some will go with 105 road gears. Count me in with the 8-speed and Suginos.

I don't see any reason to go for XTR stuff. Unless you don't feel right about saving money. It's a tad lighter than the other Shimano mtn components, a bit more flash, but at twice the price. I agree that mtn derailleurs are well-suited to touring needs, but the rest of the drivetrain, I'd go with mix-and-match for low cost and reliability.

-- Mark
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Old 05-08-06, 10:12 AM
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As far as rear derailleurs are concerned, newer mountain derailleurs are of the rapid rise variety so I'd stay away from those if I were you. New-old-stock XT-M750 rear derailleurs are still available for around $40.....can't go wrong with those. For my recent LHT build, I used XT derailleurs and hubs. Most LHT builds I've seen have been based around LX and XT comnponents, except for the cranks. I've even seen full mountain drivetrain builds, including 44-32-22 compact drive cranks. But I think most in general prefer trekking cranks with a 46 or 48 big ring.

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Old 05-08-06, 12:28 PM
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I am running all 9spd MTB componentry on my LHT. Shimano XT derailleurs (M750), hubs and a SRAM 11-32 cassette. I am using a LX M580 crankset (Hollowtech II) with the two bigger rings taken from a M581 trekking set, giving me 22-36-48 up front. I used to run 8-speed but I eventually noticed that 9-speed seemed to become more common around here, so when my last drivetrain died, I started making the switch.

I'm pretty happy with my MTB-LHT setup after but I am a bit worried about the outboard bottom brackets of Hollowtech II's because they are still quite uncommon in my experience. If I have any problems with it while on tour, I might be stuck for a few days waiting for something to be ordered in. I leave for my cross-Canada tour in a week, so I'll just have to roll with it and hope that the BB doesn't develop any hiccups.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:08 PM
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Hey There. After thoroughly researching this forum I've decided that I also want to build up a LHT.

I have all summer to learn and plently of time to waste. I do not however have a whole lot of $$ these days and I'm wondering what the estimated cost might be for the bike parts? I want to get fairly decent components etc. but they don't HAVE to be the best/most expensive.

What about tools? I have a basic set of wrenches, srewdrivers etc.

I checked out the highly reccommended Zinn book and there are a ton of specialty tools in there as well. Do I really need all of these to build the bike? How much am I looking to spend? Is my girlfriend gonna kick my ass when I start getting grease all over our small NYC apartment (with a backyard though )
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Old 05-08-06, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by macaroni steve
I have all summer to learn and plently of time to waste. I do not however have a whole lot of $$ these days and I'm wondering what the estimated cost might be for the bike parts? I want to get fairly decent components etc. but they don't HAVE to be the best/most expensive.

What about tools? I have a basic set of wrenches, srewdrivers etc.

I checked out the highly reccommended Zinn book and there are a ton of specialty tools in there as well. Do I really need all of these to build the bike? How much am I looking to spend? Is my girlfriend gonna kick my ass when I start getting grease all over our small NYC apartment (with a backyard though )
Building a bike up from new components doesn't make a mess. It's maintenance and old parts that gets all grungy and greasy. Really, there are a couple pieces that involve (pre-installed) grease, but a few sheets of newspaper on the floor should keep it all contained. (Not counting the chain -- do that outside.)

Your gf will have to find another reason to kick you out...

There's a lot of small parts, though (plus plastic baggies and carboard boxlets that all the parts come in), which can take over a work space. The messiest part, IMO, is cutting and trimming the brake/shifter housing. Or if you build wheels, which need a bit of grease. Cutting the head tube is another, but I'd recommend you have a shop do that if you're just getting into bike work.

Together with wrenches and screwdrivers, you need hex keys (Allen wrenches) and the special insert tools for bottom brackets and cassettes. Recommended: a torque wrench, plastic mallet, cut-off tool (Dremel) for housing. You may also need for taking off stuff later: chain whip, chain link tool, crank extractor. Add in a good worklight and plenty of patience.

I built up my wife's LHT for around $700 (includes frame). But that's because I have a shelf of parts I've been collecting over the years -- lots of stuff from LBS sales or taken off other bikes, but most of it from Nashbar sales. If you have the time, wait out Nashbar for good quality parts at low prices, and accumulate. (Like XT hubs for $22, handlebars $8, shift cable $1, pedals $12, ...)

But if you don't have the time, or have more discriminating taste, count on at least $1200 for the build (includes frame). That's the number most often mentioned here.

-- Mark

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Old 05-08-06, 08:31 PM
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I went with XT for my Cross-check. I read several articles here and there that recommended XT over XTR in terms of bang for the buck. The XTR is the latest and lightest, but the XT is pretty light and very sturdy. I've been happy with my XT components--although the chainrings on the XT crankset I have seem to be wearing pretty quickly. I think XTR is best for racers.
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