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Old 08-14-07, 08:55 PM   #1
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Is the Surly LHT fun/fast unloaded???

Someone has just written about their first ride impressions of a Trek 520

What are people's impressions of the Surly Long Haul trucker when it is ridden unloaded.

I'm buying one and I hope that my impression is every bit as good as Jignell with his 520.
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Old 08-14-07, 09:30 PM   #2
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My LHT is pretty fast. It isn't nearly as nimble as my Steamroller was, but it's like comparing a Corvette to a Volvo Wagon. Both can be as fun as you make it, but one is 100 times more practical.
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Old 08-14-07, 11:25 PM   #3
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mine weighs, like 42 pounds, with tool kit and pump. it's a tank. two front racks.

but still fun to ride. did a 115 mile day on it, loaded with overnight gear, last weekend.
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Old 08-14-07, 11:45 PM   #4
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A regular on our annual Wisconsin trip showed up with a brand new Surley LHT this year. He mostly rode it unloaded and on the fast days he was pulling more lead time in the pace line than I was. I think he was having fun.
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Old 08-14-07, 11:53 PM   #5
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The LHT's strength is when it is loaded. It is very stable...With just rear panniers it is really hard to remember they are there. Add the front panniers and obviously the steering has more weight but with a low-rider rack (like the Tubus Tara) it is easy to get used to.

Downhill at high speeds (40+ mph) it is absolutely stable loaded or not.

Uphill is not a relative strength (even unloaded at 32 lb without water or bags) because of the base weight. Still, in a low enough granny gear it will get you up faster than walking.

The extreme smoothness, stability and comfort (including Brooks B17 saddle) make all-day rides the greatest of any bike I've ever had.

A century is easy and pleasurable on this bike.
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Old 08-15-07, 06:59 AM   #6
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I think mine is fast and fun, but maybe I don't know what is fast and fun. I had a twitchy race-y bike at one point, just plain didn't like it.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:06 AM   #7
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It is not fast like a road bike. But it is faster than my old hybrid with slicks. When I get back from tour, I plan on searching out some skinnier wheels to make it more of a road bike.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:58 AM   #8
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i finally got mine built up from my lbs, and it's a great bike. i think it's a bit slow though because mine is built with 26" rims and has 1.5" tires on it. it's a lot different than my track frame with 23cm tires to say the least. but it is so comfortable that i feel i can ride it for days without a break.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:14 AM   #9
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I can't compare it to a 520, but I can compare it to my two other bikes, a Trek 4500 with suspension fork and somewhat knobby tires and a 1989 DiamondBack Ascent MTB, no suspension but superslick tires
I have had my LHT only for a week or so and have done less than 30 miles on it, none of it loaded.
It was a custom build with most of the components one step up from the standard build. It has 700x38C Specialized Nimbus Amradillo tires.
So far what I notice most is the quietness. Quiet when riding over pavement, quiet when shifting gears. Also, the riding is very smooth, with the steering being very responsive. My posture is fairly upright, but I had a longer stem with a steeper angle installed. I do notice bumps in the road much like my do on my DB Ascent
I plan to take it out this week for it first 50-miler. I am looking forward to it

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Old 08-15-07, 06:52 PM   #10
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Touring bike wheels generally have more rolling resisistance and are weigh more than road bike wheels. If you want your LHT to be more peppy, put a set of Shimano roadbike wheels on it with 700X23c tires on it.

Most of us, however, do fine with our stock touring bikes. heavy wheels and all.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:22 PM   #11
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I have had my new LHT for about a month now. I have two other bikes - an old 10-speed, and a new TREK 820 mountain bike. When I was shopping, I started running the gear-inch calculations. The LHT has a slight lower low gear than the TREK, and it has a significantly higher high gear than my old 10-speed.

Without racks and panniers, but including a frame pump, a seat bag loaded with two spare tubes, a patch kit, tire tools, and a multi tool, and two bottle cages and bottles, it weighs about 25 pounds (weight obtained by the scientific method of standing on the bathroom scale and noting my weight, then picking up the bike, noting the weight again, and calculating the difference).

Mine is a 60cm frame, and is equipped with 700c x 28 tires, and Deore components.

I was surprised at how "sporty" my LHT feels. By comparison, my old 10-speed feels like it's on rails. The LHT really turns easily, and it took me a ride or two to feel comfortable with the steering. I notice the fork angle is actually steeper than my old 10-speed, which accounts for this.

The LHT climbs better than my TREK 820. On the TREK, when really stomping up a steep hill, the front suspension gets into a kind of sympathetic oscillation with the downstroke of the pedals. Eventually the front wheel comes off of the ground when the oscillation gets large enough. The LHT just climbs smoothly.

I bought the LHT because I wanted a steel-frame bike with traditional controls, and able to carry heavy loads - I'm about 255 lbs myself, about 6' - 2-1/2" tall with size 14 feet. I figure the weight difference between the LHT and a typical aluminum/carbon-fiber bike is less than the weight of one of my shoes. I have no real intention of touring, and use my LHT exclusively as a road bike - it's always unloaded. I ride the bike as exercise - when I lose enough weight (my goal is to get down to under 200 lbs) I may just reward myself with a new Surly Pacer.

I am quite satisfied with it.

Last edited by tpelle; 08-15-07 at 08:31 PM.
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Old 08-15-07, 09:11 PM   #12
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I've owned my LHT for two months, and have put 1400 miles on it so far. I bought it for use as a long-distance, loaded commuter. I may tour someday... but I have no plans to any time soon.

Regarding the feel of the LHT when unloaded... it handles differently than a road bike, that's for sure. Steering is slow compared to my Trek 5200, but that's the way I want it for everyday riding. In my opinion, fast steering is a PITA for non-competitive riding. The "touring" gearing ratios make it a bit more difficult to find the right ratio when leading a paceline; etc, but I wouldn't change the cassette because, when the bike is loaded, I feel that the extra range is necessary. The frame rides really nice... small imperfections in the road are simply soaked up by the frame, and larger bumps don't seem so bad, but, for large bumps, the frame tends to transfer more impact to the rider than lighter, springier steel frames.

With its oversized tubing, the frame has tons of bottom-bracket and rear triangle stiffness. I can barely feel flex when I stand and hammer up hills, even when the bike is loaded. This attribute made me pretty much fall in love with the bike because I HATE the way less rigid steel frames flex. That's what drove me to buy the Trek 5200 over a steel bike a couple of years ago, even though I like the way steel rides better.

Overall, I would rate the LHT as adequate for unloaded riding, but not inspiring. The LHT is more like a truck... enjoyable to ride, in it's own way, but built to haul things over being "zippy" to ride. But if you're an especially heavy or strong rider that hates frame flex, the LHT may be the bike for you. I feel that my LHT is one of the best buys I ever made. I never regret having purchased it.

My LHT is a 58cm frame "complete", with folding 28mm Panaracer T-serv tires (basically, they are identical to the popular Panaracer Pasela Tourguard, but have a strengthened sidewall and wire bead is not available). I swapped the stock stem for an Easton EA-50, and flipped the stem, so the riding position is quite low. I swapped the stock saddle out for a Brooks B-17. Rack is a Topeak Explorer (aluminum). Unloaded weight (with rack and fenders) is 27-lbs.

Just for reference - I am 30-years old, 6-feet tall, 170lbs, sprinter/weightlifter-type build.
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Old 08-16-07, 08:49 AM   #13
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I say that my LHT is as comfortable as a couch and almost as fast!
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