Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Deciding on LHT vs. Surly Troll for mixed on/off-road touring and more

Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Deciding on LHT vs. Surly Troll for mixed on/off-road touring and more

Old 11-09-11, 05:43 PM
  #1  
Jude
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Philly, PA
Posts: 595
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Deciding on LHT vs. Surly Troll for mixed on/off-road touring and more

I've gradually been learning more about bikes and touring and so forth, and basically came to the conclusion that I'm looking for a bike that, aside from the key things like being able to handle loads and be comfortable, has 26 inch wheels, disc brakes, and can do both on and off-roading. For the present, I don't have the time to do much more than mountain biking day rides and the occasional weekend bike camping trip, but once vacation time is built up/I've left my current job in a few years, I've got a few long tours in mind I want to do. I'd also want to use the bike as a primary commuter/stuff mover (don't have a car).

The only bikes I know of in what I consider a reasonable price range that fit those criteria are the LHT and the Troll. There's lots of info on the LHT of course, and people have certainly ridden it off of proper roads. The Troll - I've seen a small number of positive reviews about how it tours under loads, mostly for purely off-road touring. Since what I would want to use the bike for, both at home and on tour, would involve mixed on and off road usage, I'm basically wondering what people's opinions are on which one would strike the balance better. I've just test-ridden both (although the LHT was a bit too large for me and the Troll had handlebars I'd definitely not want to use) and liked the Troll a bit more, and I also have a feeling it would handle on-roading better than the LHT would handle off-roading.

So, thoughts? Experiences? Even if you haven't ridden a Troll, what are people's experiences with mixed on/off-road trips and what kinds of bikes are a good compromise?

Last edited by Jude; 11-10-11 at 11:49 AM.
Jude is offline  
Old 11-09-11, 10:21 PM
  #2  
bwgride
Slow Rider
 
bwgride's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 1,043
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 38 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have use the LHT off-road and it handles fine. In fact I am now trying to piece together a forest service route in National Forests in NC, SC, and GA for next spring that would allow for fun dirt road and dirt trail touring.

For me, however, the Troll geometry provides a better fit since the effective top-tube is longer than a comparable sized LHT. I believe this differences was by design to accommodate better drop handlebars on the LHT for those who prefer that type of bar. I'm a flat-bar rider so I have to use a longer stem (135mm or 150mm) to get a good fit.

The Troll appears to be more versatile (great dropouts, disc or canti brakes, wider tire clearance), and there is no reason to think on-road the Troll would not handle well. Personally I have decided that once my LHT is no longer ride-able I will switch to a Troll.
bwgride is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 05:34 AM
  #3  
bradtx
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Pearland, Texas
Posts: 7,580

Bikes: Cannondale, Trek, Raleigh, Santana

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 304 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Jude, If your riding is heavily weighted towards dirt, then the Troll would be my suggestion. Ditto if you prefer flat bars.

I base my opinion on my experiance using my touring bike on some mountain bike trails. It worked well, but is just too large for technical single track, which you may encounter searching for a campsite.

Brad.
bradtx is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 05:39 AM
  #4  
Bekologist
totally louche
 
Bekologist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: A land that time forgot
Posts: 18,025

Bikes: the ever shifting stable loaded with comfortable road bikes and city and winter bikes

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
drop bars are a bummer on steep semi-technical downhills IMO.
Bekologist is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 08:05 AM
  #5  
LeeG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 4,909
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 62 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Jude View Post
I'd also want to use the bike as a primary commuter/stuff mover (don't have a car).

would involve mixed on and off road usage,

liked the Troll a bit more, and I also have a feeling it would handle on-roading better than the LHT would handle on-roading.
Sounds like the Troll wins. My 26" wheeled LHT is my do all bike but If I was touring and it involved going off road without shocks I'd want the fattest front tire I could put on. Once you put on 2.0 tires on an LHT and a touring load you're not riding fast anyway so the drop bar set-up doesn't off much advantage there. Titec H bars look good for mixed road/trail riding. For heavy loads off-road I'd be inclined to use an Extra-wheel trailer but that's all guessing, not carrying heavy loads sounds like the better option but if this is your main transportation and utility bike I could see an Extrawheel being useful.
LeeG is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 08:59 AM
  #6  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,404
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8616 Post(s)
Liked 353 Times in 227 Posts
While I have taken my loaded (and unloaded) LHT on dirt/rock/gravel roads, including a couple that were very rough in spots, I cannot imagine being happy riding it on single track. So if you think you might be doing that, the Troll would probably be a better option.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 10:26 AM
  #7  
pasopia
Senior Member
 
pasopia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 617

Bikes: soma double cross DC, giant reign

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'd say Troll, although I have never ridden one.

I've done a lot of dirt road touring in South America with a 26" LHT. It works, it's not ideal. I didn't like riding drops bars on really rough surfaces, the hood position is not confidence inspiring.

I'm probably replacing my LHT frame with a Troll in the spring. I put flat bars on LHT, but the top tube is a bit too short for them.

If you are going with some type of flat bar, go with the troll, the geometry is better for it. Plus you have better mud clearance, and disc mounts.
pasopia is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 11:09 AM
  #8  
Rob_E
Senior Member
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,579

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 258 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by Jude View Post
... and liked the Troll a bit more, and I also have a feeling it would handle on-roading better than the LHT would handle on-roading.
Without having ridden a Troll, I would guess the opposite. For road riding, I have a hard time imaging a better ride than my Trucker, but it also has 700c wheels, which I also prefer for road riding.

I would really think the Troll would shine in off-road applications, but, again, I haven't tried it. I've ridden my Trucker on a variety of surfaces, and while it's rideable off-road, it's not my preference. If some off-roading is required as the shortest route, I'll do it, but I'll do it slowly and carefully, although that may also just be my lack of experience off-roading. Also the relatively low bottom bracket can present problems on rough terrain. Don't know how the Troll compares, but since it seems like it was designed with rougher conditions in mind, I would hope it was a little higher off the ground.

For my part, I had an immediate "new, shiny. want." reaction to the Troll, but upon reflection realized that with 99% of my riding being on pavement, it would probably not be an improvement. I figure if I really want something all-terrain, it should be a 2nd bike that functioned better off road than on, rather than one, do-everything bike. But for your requirements, the Troll seems ideal. I hope you get it and report back.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 11:35 AM
  #9  
LeeG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 4,909
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 62 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
Without having ridden a Troll, I would guess the opposite. For road riding, I have a hard time imaging a better ride than my Trucker, but it also has 700c wheels, which I also prefer for road riding.

.
I wonder about the Trolls balance with too heavy rear loads, moving the wheel back can give an effective chainstay length longer than 16.9" just like the CrossCheck but the LHT is very tolerant of heavy rear loads. But heavy loads aren't exactly optimum for dirt riding and steep ascents/descents anyway. Paved roads are better for speed and heavy loads.
LeeG is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 11:51 AM
  #10  
Jude
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Philly, PA
Posts: 595
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I actually had a typo - see the change to the original post. Still, everyone seems to agree with me that the Troll's the better option. It'll be a few weeks yet but once I get my finances figured out and pull the trigger, I'll get some reviews back...this is one bike that could use more of those
Jude is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 12:08 PM
  #11  
Rob_E
Senior Member
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,579

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 258 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by Jude View Post
I actually had a typo - see the change to the original post. Still, everyone seems to agree with me that the Troll's the better option. It'll be a few weeks yet but once I get my finances figured out and pull the trigger, I'll get some reviews back...this is one bike that could use more of those
With your change, I agree with you.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 12:20 PM
  #12  
Rob_E
Senior Member
 
Rob_E's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 2,579

Bikes: Downtube 8H

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 258 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
I wonder about the Trolls balance with too heavy rear loads, moving the wheel back can give an effective chainstay length longer than 16.9" just like the CrossCheck but the LHT is very tolerant of heavy rear loads. But heavy loads aren't exactly optimum for dirt riding and steep ascents/descents anyway. Paved roads are better for speed and heavy loads.
With either bike, I think the solution would be to avoid too heavy rear loads. I agree that the LHT handles a rear-heavy load well, but in my experience it handles a balanced load better. I keep the front weighted down a little more and it seems to handle better, possibly because of my not inconsiderable rider weight on the rear.

So it's a good factor to consider, if the OP plans to carry the load in the rear. They would definitely want to look at how the Troll handles that kind of load, knowing that the LHT handles it well. But the approach I would recommend is to plan on front and rear luggage solutions for either bike and balance the load however the bike best handles it. I know I spent some time on my LHT with very limited front carrying ability, and it worked fine, but once I had a beefy, front rack, I found shifting weight up front to be very beneficial.
Rob_E is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 01:37 PM
  #13  
MKIV987
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 147
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Looking forward to your review, a Troll is likely in the cards for me sometime in the next few months. We'll see how it handles with an Xtracyle : )
MKIV987 is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 01:58 PM
  #14  
Jude
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Philly, PA
Posts: 595
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
FWIW weight, when applicable, would be divided between front and rear panniers plus maybe stuff on top of the rear rack...I come from backpacking and am pretty sold on the benefits of ultralight stuff, although not all my gear fits the description, I still think my current load (to say nothing of future loads) is already pretty light compared to a lot of bike tourists.
Jude is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 02:07 PM
  #15  
LeeG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 4,909
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 62 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Jude, have you checked out Asanas rig? found it on Carousel Design Works gallery. Lots of ideas for ultralight off road touring.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/carouse...57611584848176

more rider photos

http://www.flickr.com/photos/carouse...7611584848176/

Last edited by LeeG; 11-10-11 at 02:23 PM.
LeeG is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 05:06 PM
  #16  
iforgotmename
Senior Member
 
iforgotmename's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: NE Ohio
Posts: 1,501
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have taken my 26x 2.0 wheeled LHT with WTB dirt drop handlebars off road on a few occasions and it handles light trail riding well. For singletrack the bottom bracket is a bit low and you have to be careful with roots and such. It's a great do all kind of bike but singletrack is a bit challenging compared to my old mountain bike.

My friend has a Troll and it sure is purdy....
iforgotmename is offline  
Old 11-10-11, 06:35 PM
  #17  
alan s 
Senior Member
 
alan s's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 6,632
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1320 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 45 Times in 29 Posts
My Troll write up is here. Not much touring on it, but I love the bike.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...Commuter-Build
alan s is offline  
Old 11-11-11, 08:17 AM
  #18  
TulsaJohn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 210

Bikes: Co-Motion Americano Rohloff, Thorn Nomad MkII, Robert Beckman Skakkit (FOR SALE), Santana Tandem, ICE Adventure FS

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 38 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Probably the definitive answer for touring with a Troll must belong to Cass Gilbert, currently riding a Troll on a multi-year North/South/North American off-road tour. The kicker is he has ridden a Santos Travelmaster and a Thorn Nomad and prefers the Troll. he has a fantastic blog and takes awesome pictures. You can read about it online. It is called While Out Riding.

Enjoy
TulsaJohn is offline  
Old 11-12-11, 08:28 AM
  #19  
irwin7638
Senior Member
 
irwin7638's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Kalamazoo, Mi.
Posts: 3,016

Bikes: Byron,Sam, The Hunq and that Old Guy

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 80 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I have no experience with the Troll, but I had an LHT and loved it. I did think it would be awkward off road, so as soon as I could afford it I upgraded the frame with a Rivendell Hunqapillar. The Hunq was designed to be a dual purpose touring/29er. It rides as comfortably as the LHT but handles quickly like an MTB. It has definitely proven to be worth the extra money.



Marc
irwin7638 is offline  
Old 11-13-11, 06:38 PM
  #20  
Jude
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Philly, PA
Posts: 595
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
While we're at it, what would some26" good tires be for a hypothetical tour where I'm on and off road roughly equal amounts of time? What about one where I'm mostly on road? Mostly off?
Jude is offline  
Old 11-13-11, 11:53 PM
  #21  
wandt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Puget Sound
Posts: 114
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Probably out of your price range, but the Tout Terrain Silkroad seems to have the best qualities of both bikes (suspension corrected and good with load). For a slightly lower pricepoint, you can go with a Boulevard. Peter White has the frames for sale at $500 ($235 off retail)
wandt is offline  
Old 11-14-11, 12:22 AM
  #22  
bwgride
Slow Rider
 
bwgride's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 1,043
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 38 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Jude View Post
While we're at it, what would some26" good tires be for a hypothetical tour where I'm on and off road roughly equal amounts of time? What about one where I'm mostly on road? Mostly off?
For both on and off-road I'd go with something that is wide and smooth if I expected off-road to be packed trails (e.g., dirt road, packed trails like C&O or Katy). I would use a Panaracer Ribmo 26x2.0 ( http://www.panaracer.com/urban.php ) or Schwalbe Big Apple 26x2.0 or 26x2.15 ( http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/1328 ) or something similar.

I currently use Panaracer Ribmo 26x1.5 and it performs very well on road and on packed trails. When I upgrade I will probably get the Ribmo 26x2.0.

If you expected off-road to be loose dirt or gravel, I am not sure there is a good tire for both on and off-road. For on-road smooth tread is best so this makes the combination for off-road loose dirt/gravel difficult to address.
bwgride is offline  
Old 11-15-11, 09:39 AM
  #23  
Jude
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: West Philly, PA
Posts: 595
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Oh yeah - and kickstands. I've heard some horror stories about LHT frames being damaged/destroyed by kickstands and I know Surly doesn't intend for them to be used - is the same true of the Troll frame? The one I test rode in the shop had a kickstand but it's not set up for loaded touring so I'm wondering if having four panniers' worth of gear would make it too dangerous to lean the bike onto one pressure point. Are there any other types of stands that might be safe to use?
Jude is offline  
Old 11-15-11, 09:53 AM
  #24  
Barrettscv 
Have bike, will travel
 
Barrettscv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Posts: 12,033

Bikes: Ridley Helium SLX, Canyon Endurance SL, De Rosa Professional, Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, Schwinn Paramount (1 painted, 1 chrome), Peugeot PX10, Serotta Nova X, Simoncini Cyclocross Special, Raleigh Roker, Pedal Force CG2 and CX2

Mentioned: 42 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 729 Post(s)
Liked 28 Times in 17 Posts
If you want a drop-bar bike for touring and easier off-road, consider these models from Salsa.

Many users have completed the Great Divide route with these;

http://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya_3/

http://salsacycles.com/bikes/fargo_3/
__________________
When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 11-15-11 at 09:57 AM.
Barrettscv is offline  
Old 11-15-11, 10:11 AM
  #25  
Tourist in MSN
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 5,782

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, Perfekt 3 Speed -age unknown, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1242 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 11 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by Jude View Post
While we're at it, what would some26" good tires be for a hypothetical tour where I'm on and off road roughly equal amounts of time? What about one where I'm mostly on road? Mostly off?
Try Schwalbe Dureme on the front. Maybe a Schwalbe Extreme on the rear but I am not sure if the Extreme is still made, they may have replaced it with the Mondial? I have the Dureme and Extreme tires in 2.0 width. The Extreme however is noisy on pavement.

Originally Posted by Jude View Post
Oh yeah - and kickstands. I've heard some horror stories about LHT frames being damaged/destroyed by kickstands and I know Surly doesn't intend for them to be used - is the same true of the Troll frame? The one I test rode in the shop had a kickstand but it's not set up for loaded touring so I'm wondering if having four panniers' worth of gear would make it too dangerous to lean the bike onto one pressure point. Are there any other types of stands that might be safe to use?
The LHT kickstand problems are when the kickstand is mounted behind the bottom bracket shell. I have a LHT with a kickstand located there, but I did not tighten the bolt as much as some others have. But, my LHT is the older frame that has the older style rear dropouts and it is possible that the chainstay design may have changed after I bought mine.

A Greenfield kickstand mounted near the rear dropout should not be a problem. But, the new LHT with disks might not have the right geometry for that kickstand, have not seen one of those bikes yet.

Photo shows a Greenfield type kickstand on my Thorn Sherpa, 26X2.0 Dureme on the front and Extreme on the rear.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg
IMG_4843.jpg (104.0 KB, 202 views)

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 11-15-11 at 10:14 AM.
Tourist in MSN is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.