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silly pre-cross country gear questions

Old 11-12-11, 08:01 AM
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silly pre-cross country gear questions

Hey all--

New to the site, and I;ve read up a good bit on what bikes are good fore a cross country ride... LHT gets named a lot but the guy at my LBS said the thing's so heavy the bike will be working against you. He's pretty into the Jamis Aurora. Any feelings? I've heard the LHT eats none of the bumps so you feel everything but it has so many people raving about it I figured I'd ask. Thanks!
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Old 11-12-11, 10:55 AM
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My LHT isn't any heavier than a similarly equipped Kona Sutra...in fact it is a few ounces lighter. That being said it isn't as light as a Specialized Tri Cross...but it is a tour bike and is supposed to be heavier. Mine rides a whole lot better when loaded with my tour gear...it seems to be a much rougher ride when it is unloaded.

When on tour, speed usually isn't the highest priority. The bike is geared to climb and climbs very well. Yes, the weight has to be lugged up climbs; however, that weight is a result of the ruggedness of the build. Its ruggedness goes a long ways in keeping the LHT as dependable as it is over the "Long Haul"... pun intended.

If I had a less limited budget, I would have purchased something along the lines of a Co-Motion Americano. A beauty of a bike, with all the top goodies! But also with a price that equals my whole TransAm budget!

I can't comment on the Jamis other than looking at its specs and all, seems like it is a good bike...but I can't remember seeing one on tour.

Sounds almost like your LBS rep is more roadie than tourer....just my first impression of his comments...just sayin

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Old 11-12-11, 12:37 PM
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The Aurora is a medium style of touring bike, ideal for club riders who do a 2 week camping tour but want a ride that is good unladen. The max tyre size is 35mm and these typically use ~32mm
The LHT is a heavier style in terms of load capability, it has chainstays 2cm longer so the weight distribution and handling is better but this can make the bike less nimble when unladen. The tyre clearance goes to 45mm and they are typically ridden with ~38mm

Up until a decade or so, the heavier style of tourer was very rare and everyone used medium style even for major tours. I have ridden for weeks on this style with full solo camping load and it is fine.
When you hit tracks and trails, the extra clearance and stability of heavier style tourers gives you an advantage.

Which is best? If you are buying to ride on a big adventure, with a substantial load, then the heavier style is probably more suitable.

Last edited by MichaelW; 11-12-11 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 11-12-11, 01:29 PM
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Thanks, this is really helpful! The Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 is looking pretty nice too, but I'm having a tough time finding information or reviews on it. Has anyone taken one of these for an extended spin?
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Old 11-12-11, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by hensmyth
Hey all--

New to the site, and I;ve read up a good bit on what bikes are good fore a cross country ride... LHT gets named a lot but the guy at my LBS said the thing's so heavy the bike will be working against you. He's pretty into the Jamis Aurora. Any feelings? I've heard the LHT eats none of the bumps so you feel everything but it has so many people raving about it I figured I'd ask. Thanks!
Other guys hit the major points. "eating bumps" can happen with different tires, size of tires and pressure. A heavily loaded bike will eat bumps, a very light bike with high pressure tires will transmit bumps. Bump eating really isn't a priority. If you're a heavy person carrying heavy loads you can't beat the LHT, if you want the ability to put on fatter tires again the LHT is a good choice.

Looking at the Jamis site gives a good impression of the road like set up compared to the LHT.

If your only two choices were the Aurora and the LHT I'd start with a realistic statement of intended use. If you're riding 80% unloaded and 20% loaded with only one set of panniers the Aurora would work, if you like how it rides. If you're riding 80% loaded with one or two sets of panniers the LHT really is a quantum level above the Aurora. Just to confuse things if you like a quicker handling bike which I assume the Aurora is but you want a heavy load carrier the 26" wheeled LHT would be worth considering. I had a 700c 56cm LHT and replaced it with a 26" wheeled LHT and like it's handling better. It's also a tank but once you put 35lbs on a bike you're no longer riding a road bike, you're driving a truck.

So don't focus on the bikes until you have a better idea of the load and what you're going to be doing 80% of the time.
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Old 11-12-11, 02:42 PM
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Thanks LeeG, these are good points. I guess what I'm going for is a bike that will serve me well on my ride from MA to San Francisco this coming summer, but one that will continue to serve me after that as well. I am primarily not a big tour rider--done a few rides across the state (2 or three days) but nothing bigger. So primarily it will be used as a bike for getting around, but I do want it to get me across the country as comfortably and solidly as possible.
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Old 11-12-11, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by hensmyth
Thanks LeeG, these are good points. I guess what I'm going for is a bike that will serve me well on my ride from MA to San Francisco this coming summer, but one that will continue to serve me after that as well. I am primarily not a big tour rider--done a few rides across the state (2 or three days) but nothing bigger. So primarily it will be used as a bike for getting around, but I do want it to get me across the country as comfortably and solidly as possible.
If it were me, I'd go with the LHT. Mine is 54cm with 26" wheels...it handles solid and is nimble enough with a load on. I would get across then sell it if I didn't want to use it for other than commuting when the epic journey is complete. LHTs sell pretty easily.

I say if it were me...in one way it is me, I'm also crossing this spring and summer...TransAm Trail then onward to San Francisco. I'm not selling afterward however. When are you headed out, and what are is your projected route? I may be making a detour to Seattle then down the coast, but I haven't made up my mind on that one...it might be one of those decisions at the fork in the road.
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Old 11-12-11, 03:50 PM
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Cool Gus, we're riding along the northern tier and then possibly dropping down in Colorado. How do you like that Brooks Flyer you've got? I've got one on the way.
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Old 11-12-11, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by hensmyth
... LHT gets named a lot but the guy at my LBS said the thing's so heavy the bike will be working against you. He's pretty into the Jamis Aurora. Any feelings? I've heard the LHT eats none of the bumps so you feel everything but it has so many people raving about it I figured I'd ask. Thanks!
The LHT weighs no more than Jamis Aurora or RM Sherpa frame, for a given size they're probably the same within 2 ounces, on a bike that will eventually weigh >50lbs loaded with touring gear. A bike's weight will be determined far more by it's components than the frameset itself, which weighs only 1/3 of the ~25lb total bike weight.

I think your LBS wants to sell you a bike. Find a more objective source of info, then find a supplier.

"Eats bumps" depends a lot more on the size tires you've chosen, how they're inflated, the load you're carrying, your saddle and even your apparel, more so than the frameset you've chosen. I'd guess all things being equal, the LHT would fair better in this regard due to its accommodation of larger tires, longer chainstays and longer wheelbase.

The LHT is a true touring frameset, not a tweaked road bike frameset. It has 46cm chainstays - this results in you having more room so that your heels don't strike your rear panniers as you pedal. It also gives you more choice in how you locate the rear load's center of gravity over the rear axle. The JA has 44cm CSs; the RMS has 44.5cm CSs.

If you're buying a complete bike, all you're really buying is an assembled collection of parts. The LHT gives you a better choice of parts for touring. It comes with lower gearing via the 24-36-48 crankset and 11-34t cassette. It also has simpler, more reliable bar-end shifters (the others are Tiagra STI). STI brifters are a more costly component, which forces the "parts assembly team" aka "bike company" to cut the cost on other components when they're trying to match the price of the market segment leader (LHT in this case) AND make a profit. The LHT's wheels are as good or better than the alternatives. Strong wheels are critical on a touring bike.

I recommend the LHT of the three you've mentioned. If you're a heavy rider or prefer disc braking, you may want to wait until the Disc Trucker becomes available in March 2012.

Bear in mind the additional cost of gear you'll need to complete your touring adventure, such as racks/bags, tent/bag/pad/cookset, apparel/rainwear, safety/security/lighting etc. In case you're unaware, there are some less costly bike alternatives. You probably need to take these to your LBS for a complete "going-over" before you ride them.

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...an_turismo.htm

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

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Old 11-12-11, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by hensmyth
Cool Gus, we're riding along the northern tier and then possibly dropping down in Colorado. How do you like that Brooks Flyer you've got? I've got one on the way.
I really do like it. It took a bit to break it in and get it micro adjusted, but it fits now for the long days in the saddle...day after day.
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Old 11-12-11, 04:46 PM
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Thanks Seeker. Those bikes you linked to are super cheap! They hold up, eh? My LBS actually, funnily enough, does deal Surlys but not Jamis, and I've had good luck with him giving me an honest response about stuff, sometimes to the point where he's even pushed me away from something he had in favor of something cheaper that he didn't carry. So who knows, maybe he's not the right fit for the LHT or something... I hadn't heard about that disc hauler. That thing looks beautiful. What are the drawbacks with the Rocky Mountain? Just more expensive? The older ones apparently have a stronger frame than the LHT even. Thanks for all the help here!
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Old 11-12-11, 04:57 PM
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I've heard the LHT eats none of the bumps so you feel everything but it has so many people raving about it I figured I'd ask.
Where did you hear this claim that "LHT eats none of bumps..." -- was it from the shop owner who favors the Aurora? If you are wondering which bike will provide better cushion, consider the comparison:

Frame and Fork: LHT and Aurora both chromoly steel
Wheels: LHT and Aurora 700c (and LHT option for 26")
Tire width: LHT likely can handle wider tires; 26" LHT certainly can handle wider tires

So which has potential for more comfortable, bump-eating ride? LHT with wider tires.

I ride a 52cm LHT with 26" wheels. I like fat tires (I rotate between 1.5, 2.0, and 2.15 tires on my LHT) and they offer lots of cushion.
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Old 11-12-11, 06:10 PM
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Thanks bwgride, this is helpful!
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Old 11-12-11, 08:53 PM
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How bout the Bruce Gordon BLT? Anyone have experience riding that?
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Old 11-12-11, 09:10 PM
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All this hair splitting about which tourer to buy gets tiresome. There ain't enough difference between any of them to get excited about. What really matters is fit. Fit is First.

If you want a go-fast bike for the 80% of riding you'll be doing at home, get a road bike and hook a trailer to it for the x-country. Yeah, it'll need some mods like lower gearing to get your load across the mountains, but when finished, just change back to the original gearing. Double wrap the bars for hand comfort and ergonomics. They all need that. And install aerobars on anything you get. Can't beat 'em for comfort and aerodynamics.

Just an out of the box thought from an old man who just finished 80 miles on a bent. Brain addled.
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Old 11-13-11, 07:18 AM
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I have an LHT, and it's an awesome loaded tourer. You couldn't go wrong choosing one for a cross-country trip. I don't know about bump eating. I just know that mine is very comfortable for day after day long rides. That's the test for me. It's not hard to be comfortable for one long ride, but when you do them day after day little things get magnified.

I don't think there is a perfect do-everything bike. If I could only have one bike, there are several that would fit the bill and do everything pretty well, but not great. The way to go, if you can afford it, is to have more than one bike - one for each application in which you will be spending significant time. I have a nice, Specialized Allez for riding around home, centuries, etc. The LHT stays in the shed until it's time to load it up and go out on tour. Then it's darn-near perfect!
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Old 11-13-11, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by hensmyth
Hey all--

New to the site, and I;ve read up a good bit on what bikes are good fore a cross country ride... LHT gets named a lot but the guy at my LBS said the thing's so heavy the bike will be working against you. He's pretty into the Jamis Aurora. Any feelings? I've heard the LHT eats none of the bumps so you feel everything but it has so many people raving about it I figured I'd ask. Thanks!
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Old 11-13-11, 08:29 AM
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Cool video, 10 Wheels. Cyclebum, I tend to agree with you I think--there's no perfect equation and a lot of different bikes will get me out there. I guess that's part of my hesitation with attaching to the droves who swear by the LHT. It seems like a great bike for my cross country ride, but I want a bike I can use for other purposes as well. The answer might just be that there is no perfect bike for balancing those two things... ce'st la vie. I'm going to be doing the ride with my little brother (he's 15) and my dad (he's 55) so I guess I was hoping that there might be a bike out there that would suit all of us to make the shopping component easier. Might just not happen, I suppose!
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Old 11-13-11, 10:59 AM
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How bout the Bruce Gordon BLT? Anyone have experience riding that?
.. not every one is reading on this list, though

Bruce got the same factories that make LHT's etc.
and had them build BLT frames to his specs.
planned to fit his racks..

I have used a set of Bruce's hand made racks for decades..
that is where His offering is better.

QBP/Surly LHT, you still have to buy racks from somewhere , and only Tubus
IMHO, even comes close.

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Old 11-13-11, 12:03 PM
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"The answer might just be that there is no perfect bike for balancing those two things... ce'st la vie."

Bikes get sold from within categories, so yeah, you have to choose. The LHT is perfect for a Trans Am, and while that ride is going on, you will be so much more deeply into that experience, that I think you will thank yourself for having given that experience the respect it deserves. You will be so much more immersed in a trans am compared to a lot of subsequent short rides around town, or whatever, that I think that should be your focus. Plus, if after the ride is over you decide you need a time trials bike, you should be able to get out of the Surly to move onto whatever you want, good resale.

To me the bigger issue is what load level you guys want. The whole ultralite backpacking deal, where the average guy is getting his core weight down to about what my rear panniers weight empty, is some thing anyone contemplating a tour like yours should consider. Partly because to some extent the average bike tour gear is apparently ignorant of the trend and remains heavy load oriented, and partly because the disparity in ages of your group could mean you have at least one rider who really needs to be load conscious.

When I was in the biz back in the early 80s, we carried special ultralite gear at the backpacking/canoeing store specifically for cyclists, who were deemed to have special lightweight needs. That seems like an odd assumption considering how much easier it is to carry a load on a bike, but it was the way it was then. Today the bike ethos is sorta heavy gear oriented. The idea of a touring bike rests on a number of pillars, but certainly one of them is the need to carry a lot of gear. If one dumps that, then the average bike requirement shifts, and a touring bike is even harder to market than it is now.

Certainly there are reasons to carry a little more gear on a bike. Bikes lack shade, and one uses a lot of water, so carrying water is a factor. Also the minimal tool kit (split 3 ways in your case) can add up on longer trips. On the other hand there is generally less need for food, as it can often be resupplied hourly.

That said, while keeping the load down, I would still go for a touring weight frame, for the geometry, and the BOs. The other gear like brakes and gears is often pretty much standard, and I ride light but strong wheels regardless. Just don't think the frame weight will make that much difference. I'm assuming you are normal stature. The average guy gets such an efficiency boast compared to what a woman gets with a bike nearly the same weight, that I don't really think it is that big a deal.

There are some tips here, even if he isn't quite a bike snobby enough for most of us:

https://rayjardine.com/adventures/2010-TransAm/index.htm

One last point is that to the extent you can all get together on this, the better. The more similar the basic platform, the more you will ride the same speed, and split as many common items as possible. Less optimal would be say, one rider on ultralite gear, another set up for expeditions, and a third insisting that bike he delivered papers on in the 70s was all he needed...

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Old 11-13-11, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hensmyth
but I want a bike I can use for other purposes as well.
ok, same decision making process. If those "other purposes" are fast road riding it skews towards sport tour type bikes, if it's unloaded cross/dirt trails then a cross bike would work, if it's a general utility "bike" for hauling groceries then the same kind of bike good for hauling big loads and two sets of panniers like the LHT excel, if it's mtn biking then there are bikes like the Troll, Fargo or Ogre that work.

There are bunches of bikes in those four categories. If you lean to sport tour or cyclo-cross bikes try and get your load down to one set of panniers and rack load. My $.02 putting small panniers on the front with a rack load on the rear works best for those bikes (of course there are exceptions). Touring specific bikes and some of the touring type mtn bikes with solid front forks can take heavier loads like two sets of panniers (but not all mtn. bikes do as chainstay length isn't that long).

If you're leaning to the bikes suited for lighter loads I'd encourage you to keep the load light than opt for a trailer to make up the difference in carrying capacity. I recently talked to a fellow who rode a Surly CrossCheck with trailer about 90% across the country before weather/time cut his trip short. He said next time he'd do without the trailer and simply pack lighter.

Tires can make a big difference for ride feel/comfort on an unloaded bike or stretching a bikes intent to your purposes. You could have 25lb cyclocross bike set up with comfy/light/ supple 360gram 700x32mm tires for road riding but if you put 800gram puncture resistant touring tires on there it'll feel like concrete. Put 40lbs on the bike and the durability of the heavier tire becomes worthwhile with the increased rolling resistance less of a concern compared to the durability, although there are tires inbetween that can roll nicely and have adequate durability. There are some 29" mtn. bikes you could put narrow touring tires on but have the option of fat off road tires as your "other purposes". Some cyclo-cross bikes like the Surly Cross-Check can take wider tires than the average cross bike. Some sport/tour bikes don't handle tires bigger than 32mm with fenders so if you're 220lbs carrying 40lbs you might want a 35mm-40mm tire for a smidge more comfort and rim protection.

There's no perfect bike, and you can end up spending way too much money given the range of products, it doesn't mean you have to. You might find having the right shirt, shorts and glasses matter more once you've hit the road.
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Old 11-13-11, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by hensmyth
Thanks, this is really helpful! The Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 is looking pretty nice too, but I'm having a tough time finding information or reviews on it. Has anyone taken one of these for an extended spin?
RM told me that they weren't going to export those into the U.S. this year, which seriously bummed me out. I presume you found the long, fully illustrated write up of a tour on one. They cost a lot more than an LHT though. I ended up getting a Fargo because I want to be able to run fatter tires than a 700c LHT can use but I haven't toured on it yet, just commute with my 35-some-odd pounds of work related junk and spare clothing.
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Old 11-13-11, 02:40 PM
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Guess you can take a trip to Canada to buy one of those Rocky Mountain bike brands.

communicate with a Canadian Dealer and It can be set up to start your tour from their door.

just bring your loaded panniers ..
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Old 11-13-11, 04:00 PM
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On the LHT question there are two of them in my house I ride a 54 with 26" wheels my wife rides a 56 with 700C wheels. As others have said they ride better when loaded but I don't find either of them to be a harsh ride unloaded. I commute with mine often and compared with all my other bikes except my 29er they provide a very smooth ride.
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Old 11-13-11, 04:34 PM
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Bikes: Bianchi Lupo (touring) Bianchi Volpe (commuter), Miyata On Off Road Runner

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I've said it before, an I'll say it again, "I hate LHT's, an' I hate Brooks, an' hell, while I'm at it, I hate synthetic t-shirts, an' wool, an'..." uh! hang on where's my bike? I'm heading for Mexico! the BF posse is after me...

oh an' I hate those silly shorts with stuffing inside too!.. DUCK!!!!


I love that song by Ugly Kid Joe tho'

Last edited by imi; 11-13-11 at 04:43 PM. Reason: I can't spell rite with people trying to lynch me!
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