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Help me build my custom Surly LHT

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Help me build my custom Surly LHT

Old 02-17-11, 04:01 PM
  #1  
Wheelmonkey
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Help me build my custom Surly LHT

I'm going to start working on building a Surly LHT, beginning with the frame only. This bike will be used initially for some commuting, long day tours, then some overnights, and at some point in the future some touring that will be much more substantial!

(I have 2 very young children, so leaving for greater lengths of time is really not an option at this moment.)

Anyway, I have always bought bikes that are fully assembled. My last bike was a Specialized Roubaix and I just sold it. A LBS has convinced me to "custom build" this thing, so I can get exactly what I want. The LBS owner has been really helpful and will be walking me through this process, but I'm coming to get help from the experts here too.

I know I'd like to get moustache handlebars for it with thumb shifters. I've tried them out and like them. I don't have a good sense of gearing and components right now, so insight there will help (double/triple?). I'll be using pretty basic SPD pedals for now I think. I'm undecided about disc brakes, so feel free to weigh-in on that too, though I know there's a thread dedicated pretty just to that issue alone. There are lots of options for racks (Surly has some), but I'm not sure what is the big difference between types. Based on the praise around here, I think I'll be getting a Brooks saddle for it.

The frame alone (fork included) will run me around $500, and I'd like to keep the extras at around $1,000 if possible (that doesn't include panniers, water bottle cages, and stuff like that).

Info about me that might be relevant: I've been cycling for over 25 years, and never really raced much but I'm a pretty good rider I think. I don't mountain bike much at all anymore and am pretty much resigned to being a "roadie." I've been able to climb any mountain pass I've ever tried here in Colorado and logged some pretty good miles, but never had a touring bike, so I've been a bit restricted in that sense. Most of my riding is done solo at this point, and I'm more interested in being on the bike and logging miles/hours than I am worrying about average speed and stuff like that. I'm a 37-year-old male, about 5'6" and weigh about 142 lbs. I think probably 90% of my riding on this bike will be on the road, though some will be probably be dirt roads and such. I won't be taking it on mtn. bike trails or anything, so no need for those kinds of features.

I want this bike to be reliable, comfortable and trustworthy (i.e. nothing tempermental that's going to require a consistent mechanic's hand). I still like to go fast from time to time, but it's really not a primary purpose here. Again, I don't have tons of money, but I want it to be done right. If I do an upgrade here or there over the next few years, that's cool too. I can decide if something is worth after putting some miles on it.

And yes, I will post pictures when I'm done with this project!

So let the suggestions and/or questions fly...
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Old 02-17-11, 04:31 PM
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paul2432
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Here is how I built up my LHT:

Front Wheel: SON Delux hub (dynamo), Mavic XM719 rims, DT Swiss double butted spokes.
Rear Wheel: Shimano XT hub 36 hole, Mavic XM719 rims, DT Swiss double butted spokes
Tires: Schwalbe marathon supreme

Handlebars: Nitto noodle
Stem: Velo orange polished aluminum stem

Crank: Shimano XT 44, 32, 22
Rear Cassette: SRAM PG-970 11-26 (I might change this to a 12-27 or maybe even wider)

Seatpost: Raceface Dues
Saddle: Brooks B-17

Shifters: Dura-ace bar end
Derailers: Shimano XT

Brakes: Performance Forte V-Brake (this was a budget decision, I may upgrade to XTR V-brakes at some point)
Brake levers: Tektro R520

Racks: Tubus

Paul
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Old 02-17-11, 04:47 PM
  #3  
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Here's my complete build list:

http://hpscott.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/the-bike/

It's very similar to paul2432's. You may not need the dynamo hub like each of us decided to use. However, in that case, I think you should seriously consider a complete LHT -- it is a great value.

Other than the dynamo, the only substantial difference between my build and the LHT complete is that I, like paul2432, went with V-brakes and Tektro RL520 levers. Notably, it would probably be cheaper to buy an LHT complete and change the brakes than build the whole bike up. It's fun to build the bike yourself, but it is not the most economical way to go unless you have lots of usable spare parts lying around.

If I could do mine over I'd probably go with the Shimano trekking cranks / bottom bracket combo that I've seen cyccommute recommend highly (I just tried to find one of his posts about these cranks in a search but couldn't find one... sorry), rather than copy the crank selection from the LHT complete. That said, I've had no problems with my cranks, but he makes a compelling case for the Shimano cranks: arguably better and cheaper.

Last edited by Derailed; 02-17-11 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 02-17-11, 06:38 PM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by Wheelmonkey View Post
I know I'd like to get moustache handlebars for it with thumb shifters. I've tried them out and like them. I don't have a good sense of gearing and components right now, so insight there will help (double/triple?). I'll be using pretty basic SPD pedals for now I think. I'm undecided about disc brakes, so feel free to weigh-in on that too, though I know there's a thread dedicated pretty just to that issue alone. There are lots of options for racks (Surly has some), but I'm not sure what is the big difference between types. Based on the praise around here, I think I'll be getting a Brooks saddle for it.
If you don't realize that a Long Haul Trucker cannot (easily) be fitted with disc brakes, you probably don't want to attempt a custom build. In my opinion, you'd be better off buying a complete bike then upgrading or customizing it... as you run into problems or limitations.

A custom build really only makes sense if you have intimate knowledge of the components you'll select and specific reasons for choosing them. If you just buy random components because we tell you to buy them, you're likely to spend a ton of money and end up with a bike that's less than perfect for you.
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Old 02-17-11, 06:54 PM
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You won't save any money building it from parts yourself unless you have a ton of spare parts suitable for a touring bike lying around. However, you will get the satisfaction and experience of building it yourself. You'll know how everything goes together and comes apart if you have any mechanical troubles on the road.

Through part selection, luck, and ingenuity, 90% of my bike with racks can be disassembled with a single 5mm allen wrench. Another 8% is handled by a single 4mm allen wrench. That leaves a spoke wrench required for the spokes, a special bottom wrench for the outboard bearing cups, a 15mm pedal wrench, and a press/punch for the headset cups. Obviously, I don't carry a bottom bracket tool or a headset press on a trip, but the rest of the bike can be adjusted, fixed, or replaced with a minimal tool set.

I also carry a few tools not mentioned above, like a small philips screwdriver for derailleur limit screws and a small chain tool. By putting the bike together and adjusting it myself, I have the confidence I could do anything to it that needs to be done with a minimal tool set on the road.
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Old 02-17-11, 08:14 PM
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This is such great feedback y'all! Thank you!!! I guess maybe I should just buy the full deal, then make some changes to the handlebars and shifters. Looks like that'll still put me right around the $1,500 mark I was thinking.

Feel free to keep commenting on this though, as I'm loving these comments about the LHT.
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Old 02-17-11, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Wheelmonkey View Post


pretty much resigned to being a "roadie." but never had a touring bike, so I've been a bit restricted in that sense. I'm more interested in being on the bike and logging miles/hours than I am worrying about average speed and stuff like that. about 5'6" and weigh about 142 lbs. I think probably 90% of my riding on this bike will be on the road, though some will be probably be dirt roads and such. I won't be taking it on mtn. bike trails or anything, so no need for those kinds of features.

I still like to go fast from time to time, but it's really not a primary purpose here. Again, I don't have tons of money, ..
It doesn't sound like you're needing a bike for carrying lots of weight, do you really want a touring bike like the LHT? The LHT in your size is probably 26" wheeled which will make for hellaciously strong wheels for unladen regular riding. My suggestion is to buy the complete bike and modify it from there. I'd keep the stock wheels and have another set of light wheels for road riding. When you buy the complete bike you're getting all those good parts for wholesale so when you think of swapping out a few parts for personal modification there you will have some extra parts that are brand new that you bought for a very low price. Since you're swapping out just a few parts you're only buying a few parts at retail as opposed to buying ALL the necessary parts at retail for a bare frame. Purchasing bare frames makes sense when you already have a mess of parts or don't mind paying 50% more for a complete bike.
There are a whole bunch of nice light 1.25"-1.5" 26" road tires that when combined with a light set of wheels will make for a very pleasant blend of fast accelerating wheels with insane amount of comfort/cush.

Last edited by LeeG; 02-18-11 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 02-17-11, 10:57 PM
  #8  
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Like most folks have said-- it costs quite a bit more to build the bike up than to buy a complete bike. However, you get what you want. Good luck. You'll have fun regardless of which path you choose.

This combination of drive train components has been used on several bikes and works well. I suspect you might have to go with the 26" wheels because of Surly frame sizing, but it would still work.

Here is another way to build a LHT (that is the fun part- there are hundreds of combinations):

Wheels: Shimano XT hubs, 36 hole Dyad 700c rim, Wheelsmith DB spokes, 3x
Tires: Schwalbe marathon, 32mm
Handlebars: Profile design Stem: Ritchy
Crank: Sugino DX 500 44, 32, 22
Bottom Bracket: IRG 103 mm
Chain: Sram 951
Seat post: Easton
Rear Cassette: Shimano XT 11-34
Saddle: Terry Liberator
Shifters: Shimano Tiagra STI
Derailers: R-Shimano LX, F- Tiagra 4503 9 spd.
Brakes: Cane Creek Canti's (X-5)
Racks: Tubus F&R
Fenders: SKS w/ Planet Bike mud flaps.
Headset:FSA


Last edited by Doug64; 02-17-11 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 02-18-11, 12:34 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Wheelmonkey View Post
This is such great feedback y'all! Thank you!!! I guess maybe I should just buy the full deal, then make some changes to the handlebars and shifters. Looks like that'll still put me right around the $1,500 mark I was thinking.
Google seems to suggest that a complete LHT should cost around $1100 (+ tax). Swapping the bars and shifters should be inexpensive. You might be able to get your LBS to do it for free, or you could sell the stock parts and put the money toward the bars and shifters you do want. You'll likely find that the thumb shifters and moustache bars you want be less expensive than Tiagra STI shifters and the stock handlebar. Should give you room to buy racks and some luggage and still hit your budget...
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Old 02-18-11, 02:25 AM
  #10  
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Here is my story. I wanted a real touring bike and I jumped at a Cannondale t1 (no longer being built in 2011) It is a road touring bike.
It is an adequate fit, but not a great fit. I swapped the handlebar stem.
The "sport/touring" gearing was too high. 50/39/30 crank an a 11/32 cassette. I replaced it with a 48/36/26 trekking crank and an 11/34 cassette. I still had to walk up one hill on my tour last year. I'd consider 44/32/22 mountain bike crank. Its a touring bike and you need the low gears for climbing when loaded with camping gear.


Then, in a manic moment, I bought a Koga Miyata World Traveller, Signature Edition. This is a true trekking bike. The kind you ride across the Gobi desert or through the Kyber Pass. Got the 57 cm frame but would probably do better on a 60 cm frame. Love the XT components, low gears, & big tires on 26" wheels.

If I had done my research first, I would have bought only the Koga.
So do some research about what you want. Google bicycle touring. You will find lots to read. See Sheldon Brown's article on Gearing. Go to crazyguyonabike. Read the journals there.

Good luck and enjoy the journey. (the process of buying the bike is the first stage of the journey.)
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Old 02-18-11, 05:55 AM
  #11  
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I built my LHT up using a lot of spare parts -- but I had boxes full of stuff already.

I'd personally just buy it already equipped, since most of the parts are completely functional and fine.

(If you decide to build) A few notes that may or may not mean anything in your situation, but do in mine:

Modern cheap derailleurs work just as well as expensive ones -- save $.
Shifters with an option to run friction are good -- 7-8 speed is great for this.
I prefer v-brakes to any traditional cantilever, and once again middle grade v-brakes are fine -- save $.
Spend that $ on a great saddle -- where it really makes a difference.
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Old 02-18-11, 12:48 PM
  #12  
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I enjoy reading the posts about touring builds, especially in these winter months and especially when I am awaiting my frame for my touring bike. Its not a LHT, thats a fine bike but not my cup of tea. Its still cool to see what people are thinking when considering their builds.

Mine will be easy. I'm swapping parts off my Fargo and putting them right on the 2011 Vaya frame. I'll add new cabling, different seat post, stem and headset spacers but the biggest expense will be the TK540 rims using White Industry MI6 hubs I'll build for the Vaya. I'm planning to sell the old Fargo frame and put that money toward a V2 complete Fargo. For the money, its such a deal. This gets me what I want exactly in a tourer and I will have a better off road touring machine as well.

Good luck on the LHT.
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Old 02-19-11, 02:55 PM
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Okay, so y'all convinced me to not custom build the bike, then when I met with my LBS and had a long discussion about my plans & needs, turns out a better fit for me might be a Specialized Sirrus Expert. So crazy how I keep changing my mind as I get more information and options. This forum is really great for all that kind of help though. Thanks everyone - I will keep you posted. I'm about 90% sure about the Sirrus now though!
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Old 02-19-11, 05:09 PM
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The Sirrus Expert is a nice bike, but it is not a touring bike. Does you LBS sell built up LHTers, or does he just happen to have a Sirrus in stock?
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Old 02-19-11, 07:56 PM
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You are correct, Mr. Doug64. I had to get over the thinking that I must have a "touring" bike. So, true, the Sirrus is not a touring bike per se, but the bike shop owner and myself had a long discussion and felt it could more closely meet all of my needs (like - the longest tour I imagine ever doing is probably about 5 days, I still like doing big mountain passes in the CO Rockies, I won't always be touring & this will be my only bike, I will probably not be doing a ton of dirt trail/road riding, and at the same time it can handle all the extra weight when I do decide to do lengthy touring). Plus, I don't weigh all that much myself, so that helps.

Oh, and he doesn't have the Sirrus or LHT in stock, so I don't see that he has anything to benefit either way in terms of this sale. I truly feel like he's just trying to match me up the best he can, and unfortunately for him I have some diverse interests for this bike. Like I said, it's going to be my only bike. So that's my thinking right now...
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Old 02-19-11, 08:43 PM
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Good luck whatever you do. My build from parts LHT [no completes back in the day] was far more expensive than a complete LHT, but I got just what I wanted and it remains the oldest bike in my fleet. While I upgrade and mess with other bikes [often ones I bought stock] this bike has seen almost no changes and continues to be a fantastic bike for me.

If the Sirrus meets all your needs awesome and it will save you $$ over a part by part build...
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Old 02-19-11, 09:48 PM
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That's a fine looking machine!
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Old 02-19-11, 10:43 PM
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this is my LHT

mr whirly crank

chris king stemset

shimano deore hubs w mavic open pro rims

also, have down tube shifters
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Old 02-19-11, 11:43 PM
  #19  
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I dont know much about the LHT..although I know abit about the cross check. Why not go with this, get yourself some moustache bars and I think you'll be set. The new cross checks have a new fork that can accommodate additional rack options. It has a 9 x 2. however if you decide you need more gears in the future, you can screw on a granny gear (and maybe get a new front derailleur/bb).
Then when you decide you want to really tour, you'll still have the old bars??
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Old 02-20-11, 06:45 AM
  #20  
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I bought my frame and fork in 2004. Some parts new, some used on eBay, I looked hard for one new-old-stock part from the 1980s that I specifically wanted.

Your wheels are the expensive item. When it comes to durability, weight capacity and tire selection the wheels are pretty critical. I bought my rims from one vendor, the two hubs from two different vendors and the spokes locally from a shop that was willing to measure the rim and hubs and calculate the spoke length. Although I used 36h rims, I decided to only consider rims that were also available in 40h or 48h because if the rim was not also used on tandems, I did not want to buy that rim. But I built this bike for loaded touring, if you want light gear for commuting, my wheels are the wrong ones. I have a second set of wheels that I bought on sale for lighter weight and skinny tires, but I rarely use them. They were on a sale that had a price I could not pass up.

You should decide if you want to buy wheels or build wheels, that is a big decision. It takes me about an hour to build a wheel and another hour to true it up, but I worked in a bike shop in the 1970s and have built wheels before. I also enjoy it, so I do not see this as a chore to hire out. I do not have a truing stand, instead I true them in the frame and use the brake pads as my measurement device. But a truing stand makes it a lot easier. A good reference:
http://sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

For touring, I have heavier racks, the ones in the photo are lighter and used around town. Photo is about 5 years old, but the bike has changed little since then.



Sage Green 2004 LHT 58cm for 700C wheels.
Primary Wheels:
- Mavic A719 rims.
- XT hubs, M752 Rear and M760 Front.
- Wheelsmith DB-14 spokes (36).
- Hutchinson Globetrotter 700X37 tires 87psig.
Second wheel set for when I want to go faster:
- Cheap wheelset bought on sale:
- Continental Ultra 3000 700X28 tires 120 psig, thin supple casing and smooth tread.
Zefal 45mm fenders.
Generic cantilever brakes.
Generic cross interupter brake levers.
Cane Creek brake levers.
Eight speed BS64 bar end shifters.
Generic stem.
3ttt drop bars.
Generic computer.
Garmin Etrex Legend handlebar mount.
Cane Creek C2 headset.
Old Suntour Le Tech front deraileur - high normal.
Campy Mirage triple, 52T, 42T and 24T (generic 24T ring swapped for original 30T).
Ritchey clipless V4 pedals.
Generic seatpost.
Brooks Conquest seat.
XT rear deraileur M739.
SRAM eight speed cassette 11-32.
Bottle cages - Velocage
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Old 02-20-11, 09:05 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Wheelmonkey View Post
Okay, so y'all convinced me to not custom build the bike, then when I met with my LBS and had a long discussion about my plans & needs, turns out a better fit for me might be a Specialized Sirrus Expert. So crazy how I keep changing my mind as I get more information and options. This forum is really great for all that kind of help though. Thanks everyone - I will keep you posted. I'm about 90% sure about the Sirrus now though!
Seems to me the problem is that you aren't test riding these bikes so picking is bound to vary according to conversations. Curious why you are switching from drop bars to swept back bars or straight bars with bar ends coming from the Roubaix. My impression is that the Tri-Cross would be a good choice for a "do all" bike where 80% of your riding is unladen with some light touring. What I don't understand about the Sirrus is the very steep seat angle when the bar position is level with the seat. I haven't ridden one though.
When you say "commuting" will a rear rack be a constant with occasional panniers thrown on or will you be riding with a messenger bag?
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Old 02-20-11, 10:08 PM
  #22  
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So, I was able to test a Sirrus today and I really liked it. I can't seem to find a LHT in my size around here. I'm thinking no drops because I never really used the drops on the Roubaix. I don't plan on using a messenger bag, so probably i'll have the rear rack on nearly all the time with panniers when needed. That's the current plan anyway. The TriCross seems cool, but again I doubt i'd really use the drops and so that just seems a bit impractical for me, y'know?
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