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Please Help Me Modify My Surly LHT

Old 03-18-08, 08:24 AM
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Not having a high enough high gear is an annoyance on certain days in certain situations but it's relatively minor. But not having a low enough low can be a serious problem. Last summer when I climbed over the North Cascades Highway on the Northern Tier I kept looking for a lower gear that wasn't there. I struggled on and made it over the top but it was no fun and I started having knee problems for the first time ever.

I have a Sugino crankset on my new LHT, and a Cyclotouriste 14-34 9-speed cassette on the back. The Sugino came with a 26 tooth granny. I put a 24 on. I'll see how it does this summer on tour. I hope it goes low enough. I'm thinking about buying a 22 and bringing it along. If I find that my gears aren't low enough I can stop at a bike shop and have them put the 22 on. Or maybe I should just put the 22 on before I go. Comments?
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Old 03-18-08, 08:36 AM
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For those recommending a 24 or 26 granny, does anyone know how that will work with STI? I did a 26 with bar-ends which are friction in front, and it was fine, but I'm wondering how the STI responds.

If it would work, that's what I would do.

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Old 03-18-08, 08:49 AM
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It works for me with STI. I did this with both the stock road crank and with a Sugino XD600. Both ways work fine with STI.
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Old 03-18-08, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Staggerwing
What do you weigh? Are you CC touring, or carrying all of your stuff and camping? Relative to the preceding questions, what is your wheel build? If your all up (you, the bike and stuff) weight is over 200 lbs, which is likely (figuring 30 lbs for the bike, suitably outfitted + 40 lbs stuff + you), you want at least 36 spoke wheels, properly hand tensioned and trued. You might even consider a 40 spoke rear.

Might even consider the option of a trailer, and towing, versus carrying everything.
I weigh about 195 lbs, and will be carrying all of my stuff. My wheels are the Salsa Delgado Cross (36 hole) with XT hubs. I built it up with touring in mind, but knowing that the vast majority of the riding I would be doing would be "regular" road riding. I was fine with riding a relatively heavy bike with friends who ride racing bikes so that I would have the option to do some touring.
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Old 03-18-08, 09:33 AM
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No problems, just a tad more sensitive on the upshift from the small ring to the middle. Assuming you have (relatively) modern Shimano *road* componentry you are approaching the limits of the front derailleur, however I'm fairly sure I put a 24 teeth ring on which is beyond the "official" limits of the front derailleur with no ill effects. Obviously this was when I used the original 105 middle and large rings -if you replace those with smaller rings then that would alleviate any limit problems for the front derailleur (but again, I'm pretty sure I had a 24t and had no problems -not as smooth, but still fine).

Originally Posted by valygrl
For those recommending a 24 or 26 granny, does anyone know how that will work with STI? I did a 26 with bar-ends which are friction in front, and it was fine, but I'm wondering how the STI responds.

If it would work, that's what I would do.

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Old 03-18-08, 11:01 AM
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I just got a Surly LHT. It has a Sugino 26t granny gear with a 74mm BCD. 24t is the smallest you can go with a 74mm BCD, and I will be making this modification. Low gears are priceless on some hills.

On my Fuji Touring bike I swapped out the entire crankset for a compact triple with a 22t granny. This cost about $60.
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Old 03-18-08, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
For those recommending a 24 or 26 granny, does anyone know how that will work with STI? I did a 26 with bar-ends which are friction in front, and it was fine, but I'm wondering how the STI responds.

If it would work, that's what I would do.

No problems and I have a 22 inner. My middle is a 34, however. Jumping from a 22 to a 39 would be a tad difficult and I don't know of many cranks would allow for that kind of combination anyway.

For a front derailer, a Tiagra is much better than its more expensive brothers.
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Old 03-18-08, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
No problems and I have a 22 inner. My middle is a 34, however. Jumping from a 22 to a 39 would be a tad difficult and I don't know of many cranks would allow for that kind of combination anyway.

For a front derailer, a Tiagra is much better than its more expensive brothers.
Why is tiagra better? I understand it is essentially the same as ultegra or dura-ace, but heavier, but why better?
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Old 03-18-08, 08:31 PM
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Personally I think I'd scrap the Dynamo and go with good AA battery LED Lights. Even the really high output ones will run 50+ hrs, take a spare set of batteries and if you ever need to run the lights that long continuously I think the dark might be overshadowed by the fact that nuclear winter might be setting in. Plus they'd work off the bike so you could use them in your tent, around camp etc. And if you need to charge your portable electronics the folding solar arrays for backpackers are pretty amazing and cheaper than having a wheel with a dyno hub built.
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Old 03-19-08, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by xxsoultonesxx
Why is tiagra better? I understand it is essentially the same as ultegra or dura-ace, but heavier, but why better?
All of the higher level stuff has been sculpted to make it 'stiffer' in the outer plates but that narrows the gap between the inner and outer plate. The Tiagra has less of a bump on the outer plate. The Tiagra is also wider between the plates so it's more forgiving in trim. Although I've measured it, I can't remember the numbers but they are significant...on the order of several mm.
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Old 03-20-08, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by jhunt012
I have a Blackburn Expedition Rack. I plan to buy the Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus Panniers. Is the blackburn rack suitable? (I know I will need to buy a front rack and front panniers as well)

-Jim
I think the Ortlieb attachment system requires a cylinder shape mounting bar because it wraps around the bar. I think someone recommend the Nashbar or Performance lowrider -- I believe the mounting area of these racks has a flat aluminum piece welded to the mounting bar and will present some problems for mounting the Ortlieb bag. Look for a front rack with a standard mounting cylinder mounting bar.
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Old 03-20-08, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
I have a Sugino crankset on my new LHT, and a Cyclotouriste 14-34 9-speed cassette on the back. The Sugino came with a 26 tooth granny. I put a 24 on. I'll see how it does this summer on tour. I hope it goes low enough. I'm thinking about buying a 22 and bringing it along. If I find that my gears aren't low enough I can stop at a bike shop and have them put the 22 on. Or maybe I should just put the 22 on before I go. Comments?
The sugino XD600 is a 5-bolt crank with a BCD of 74mm, meaning that 24 is the minimum, according to the late great Sheldon.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/cribsheet-bcd.html
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Old 03-20-08, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by quester
The sugino XD600 is a 5-bolt crank with a BCD of 74mm, meaning that 24 is the minimum, according to the late great Sheldon.

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/cribsheet-bcd.html
Thanks for that. I guess I've done all I can do. I won't waste my time looking into this. 24 should be fine.
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Old 03-20-08, 08:20 PM
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I have the same gearing on my LHT and have no problems hauling 40 pounds of gear uphill.
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Old 03-21-08, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
Thanks for that. I guess I've done all I can do. I won't waste my time looking into this. 24 should be fine.
If you need to go lower, look at a Shimano. Jenson has some with 48 tooth outers and they'll take a 22.
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Old 03-21-08, 09:47 AM
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Folks, this is an East Coast tour.
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Old 03-21-08, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by foamy
Folks, this is an East Coast tour.
Not sure what your point is. If you mean that it is flat...
Adventure Cycling lists it as being hilly. Their ratings have been pretty good where I have experience with them.

Also I find that I have needed lower gears in the east than in the west. I definitely found that to be the case on the TA and I see steeper hills around home (North of Baltimore Md) than I saw in the Cascades or the Rockies on the TA.

That said I have not ridden this specific route, so I don't know for sure how hilly it is.
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Old 03-21-08, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Not sure what your point is. If you mean that it is flat...
That is exactly my point. There are some hills to be encountered around the Delaware Water Gap and in New England. No mountains. If a 30 tooth chain ring and an 11-34 rear isn't enough, I don't know what to say. Ninety percent of the route is flat as a pancake.

If he plans to cross through some ranges (and he'd have to go out of his way to do it), then yeah, go ahead and put a smaller granny on. The thread had devolved down to a 22 tooth granny. I'll check some sources this evening and re-post so that accurate elevation changes can be stated. I have an annoying tendency to stick my foot in my mouth, but I'm fairly certain about this one.

Last edited by foamy; 03-21-08 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 03-21-08, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by foamy
I'll check some sources this evening and re-post so that accurate elevation changes can be stated. I have an annoying tendency to stick my foot in my mouth, but I'm fairly certain about this one.
As I said I don't know the route, so I will be interested to hear the real deal if anyone knows it. The following snippet is from AC's description:
Terrain
This is one of the challenging rides that Adventure Cycling has to offer, as it has many hilly areas where granny gears are needed to climb the steep hills. Northwestern Connecticut, the Susquehanna River area in Pennsylvania, and the country roads north of Richmond are extremely hilly. But you do have some easy riding to compensate, such as when biking the paths along the Potomac River in Virginia.
I have no idea how seriously to take it, but they sell it as pretty challenging. I will say that the portion of the TA above Richmond wasn't terribly hilly, merely rolling, so that does cast a bit of doubt.

I agree that 22t inner rings with a 34 in the cassette are probably overkill for anywhere, but the most extreme.
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Old 03-21-08, 12:22 PM
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Yeah Pete, I was just checking some topo maps and the only concern I see is around Connecticut and it doesn't look bad at all. Hills, really. Any coastal tour that finds itself around Richmond or the Susquehanna is way off base, wouldn't you agree?. I'll consult Ikenberry and read what she has to say.

Incidentally, I'll be taking a ride up to the mouth of the Susquehanna in April for a few days to see how the bike rides in the hills (as close as I'm gonna get to mts. in this neck of the woods) and check some gear out.

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Old 03-21-08, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by foamy
Yeah Pete, I was just checking some topo maps and the only concern I see is around Connecticut and it doesn't look bad at all. Hills, really. Any coastal tour that finds itself around Richmond or the Susquehanna is way off base, wouldn't you agree?. I'll consult Ikenberry and read what she has to say.

Incidentally, I'll be taking a ride up to the mouth of the Susquehanna in April for a few days to see how the bike rides in the hills (as close as I'm gonna get to mts. in this neck of the woods) and check some gear out.
I don't know, I can see crossing the Susquehanna at Conewingo or Holtwood. I can also see going by Richmond. There definitely are hills there but the hills in all those places are not all that bad in my experience unless you pick the worst roads through the area. I can see a 30t inner being enough for me through those areas on the roads I have ridden there.

OTOH: Adventure cycling has a habit of going out of their way to find the nastiest hills for no apparent reason sometimes. I know we found that to be the case in quite a few places on the TA.
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Old 03-21-08, 03:13 PM
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I know that area of Connecticut fairly well. Going east west you go over some ridges. Depending on the specific route it can be just challenging, or a real grind if you take some of the back roads. Some of the steepest pavement I've ever seen is in the area where New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts come together.

The Massachusetts section is my backyard. I'd describe that as "uppsy-downsy". But there aren't too many really steep grades there.

foamy, gearing is pretty personal. A 30/34 may be really low for you, but not low enough for someone else.

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Old 03-21-08, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedo
I know that area of Connecticut fairly well. Going east west you go over some ridges. Depending on the specific route it can be just challenging, or a real grind if you take some of the back roads. Some of the steepest pavement I've ever seen is in the area where New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts come together.

The Massachusetts section is my backyard. I'd describe that as "uppsy-downsy". But there aren't too many really steep grades there.

foamy, gearing is pretty personal. A 30/34 may be really low for you, but not low enough for someone else.

Speedo
Point taken Speedo. The OP was asking if he needed to change gearing for a EC tour. Everyone tells him "Oh, yes, absolutely." I'm allowed to disagree with that.
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Old 03-22-08, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by foamy
Point taken Speedo. The OP was asking if he needed to change gearing for a EC tour. Everyone tells him "Oh, yes, absolutely." I'm allowed to disagree with that.
Wow! I really appreciate everyone who has chimed in. Right now, I am thinking I will get my panniers, do some rides on some hills around where I live with them loaded, and try to get an idea what I need to do. If there is anyone who has ridden this route, i'd love some input.

Thanks again!

-Jim
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Old 03-22-08, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bwgride
I think the Ortlieb attachment system requires a cylinder shape mounting bar because it wraps around the bar. I think someone recommend the Nashbar or Performance lowrider -- I believe the mounting area of these racks has a flat aluminum piece welded to the mounting bar and will present some problems for mounting the Ortlieb bag. Look for a front rack with a standard mounting cylinder mounting bar.
I have an Ortlieb BikeShopper bag, with the QL2 mounting system. This mounting system does not require a cylindrical mounting bar since I mount the bag onto my Topeak rack that has tubing that is rectangular in cross section. The Ortlieb latch system is quite generously sized and and should be able to mount onto any mounting bars of any shape as long as it is not really big. For example, my Topeak rack's mounting bar is 0.8cm (width) by 1.5cm (height) in cross section.
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