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Surly LHT vs. Deluxe?

Old 11-23-11, 05:47 PM
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Surly LHT vs. Deluxe?

After checking out 4 LBS and researching for many hours, I have decided the LHT is my best bet for a long term touring bike. Although the Marin four corners was a close option (found it for 700 bucks) I just couldnt get over the number of LHT lovers reviews and the lack of info from Marin four corners owners. The LBS also drove me in the direction of the LHT. That being said I have recently stumbled upon another dilemna...

1. LHT stock from my LBS for $1224 but subject to high costs and lots of trouble shipping it between countries when I travel (once to twice a year)

AND

2. Buying the LHT Deluxe frame set and building a bike from that base. It would probably be about $2200-2500 (quote from LBS), or a grand more than the stock bike, depending on the components I would choose. But it would (supposedly) give me more freedom to collapse the bike and check it as normal luggage. I have searched all over for info on the deluxe but because it came out recently I havent been able to find much actual data. My LBS was somewhat familiar and explained that it will take some time to put back together after arrival, and emphasized the cost difference from the stock option.

Any thoughts? Has anyone used S&S couplers before? Are there other options I am missing?


Thank you
Evan
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Old 11-23-11, 06:04 PM
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The Deluxe frame is 600 euro more expensive than the standard frame, I noticed. Which would be more like a 750 dollar price difference at the moment.

The S&S couplers make the frame more heavy though, but with a tourer that isn't of the greatest concern.

Flying internationally with a bike can be as easy as just turning the handlebar 90 degrees, and putting the whole thing in a nylon cover. Or as difficult as having to fit the whole bicycle into a too tiny cardboard box, while having to dismount most of the parts that stick out.

Having S&S parts can make a difference in the last situation. Knowing what airports to avoid, and which airline to avoid could be a better alternative though.
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Old 11-23-11, 06:51 PM
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prior to the LHT Deluxe Surly offered the TravelersCheck, a 700c cross bike with SNS couplers. Mine has gone to Hawaii, California, and the midwest. It is primed for a trip to the east coast to ride NYC, and Paris as well.


(I have the couplers covered with pieces of a supersized lizardskin chainstay protector, to keep grip and grime from off road out of the couplers and to somewhat disguise the couplers.)

IF you are considering a lot of air travel with your bike, like to take a bike on vacation, and enjoy exploring cities and destinations by bicycle, by all means, splurge on the Deluxe.

If you are contemplating one big bike trip or the purchase would otherwise cut into your bike touring budget, there are better things to spend the money on (like food and lodging and other gear)

I own a Travelerscheck and absolutely love the ability of the bike to come with in a standard checked size piece of luggage. Its easy to load into a taxi (try that with a boxed bike!) and i'd even feel comfortable trying to hitch a ride with it in hand.

If you set your SNS coupled bike up with cable quick connectors or other tricks to make reassembly easier, its quite a reasonable task.

In my five years working at a bike shop, everyone that had SNS coupled bikes absolutely loved them.
One caveat: check your couplers frequently. I worked on three bikes with couplers and complaints of bad shifting.... in all three cases, the SNS couplers were so loose the frames were moving and flexing and thwackering the shifting.
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Old 11-23-11, 11:18 PM
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To put my opinions into context I have to tell you that I have not used the S&S couplers even though my wife's bike is equipped with them. We have transported her bike on planes, trains, ferries, buses,and in car trunks. I'd have to think hard about getting another bike with couplers. I think it is one of those things that a person really likes or does not like.

I'm not sure, but it seems that the Deluxe only comes in 26" wheel size; which may make sense for a compact package.

The reasons that I have not used them are:
- Her bike's frame is smalll, 47cm, and fits easily into almost any bike box, as does my 58cm LHT.
- Most airlines and trains requiring boxes have large sized boxes, and as ijsbrand said, "Flying internationally (and often on domestic flights) with a bike can be as easy as just turning the handlebar 90 degrees, and putting the whole thing in a nylon cover." This has been our experience.
- We don't have to worry about a high priced box when we unpack at our destination. Most made-for-coupler cases are not designed for bikes with racks or fenders.
-I would like to believe that the airline baggage handlers treat a box that they know contains a bike a little better than a "piece of luggage". Although looking at the condition of some of our boxes, I'm not too sure this is true.
-I can pack her bike in a regular sized bike box in about the same amount of time, or maybe even less time than it would to use the couplers. This is pure speculation, because I've never tried it.There is still the bars to turn or remove and the pedals to remove. I've built both our bikes and can break them down relatively fast.
- If packed strategically, the TSA folks do not have to do much unpacking to inspect the boxes. The best packing job in the world can be ruined by an inexperienced person trying to repack the bike.
-Our empty panniers stay on the bike when we put them in any size of bike box.
Our helmets also go in the box. This can't be done with luggage sized boxes. Our gear goes into 2 lightweight ripstop nylon duffle bags as checked baggage. Our rackpacks and handlebar bags go as carry-on luggage. it works well for all modes of transportation. All the gear needs to be dealt with, not just the bike alone.

It took me about 45 minutes to get my bike ready to put in the box. However, I won't tell how long it took me to do it the first time I do have to remove my front rack and front fender.


This is a disadvantage. The boxes are BIG, especially navigating through airports or train stations, and finding a taxi if you need one. Everything that goes in my wife's panniers is in that black duffle bag.

Last edited by Doug64; 11-24-11 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 11-24-11, 12:11 AM
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+1 ^^ I recently took my mtb to Thailand, minimal preparation allowed me to store the bike in a box similar to the one above. EVA Air didn't charge me for it either. Very easy.
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Old 11-24-11, 01:07 AM
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You can or recently could get a SUrly frame for 400, almost disposable. With the deluxe you are ordering an oddball, so you need to be doubly sure you are going to like that frame in that size, and that you are not a necessary candidate (at least in that price range) for a custom. Even then, for me, that would be too much pimping of a cheap frame.

The S&S couplers are really nicely made. You will have to give some thought to how to stage the bike so that you make the process as easy as possible, and actually get something out of it (meaning after all this, it checks in a different category).
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Old 11-24-11, 09:37 AM
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S&S couplers on a regular bike are only worth it imo if you intend to do crazy stuff like do a part of your trip by canoe while carrying the bike
for regular transport it hardly makes a difference, it will still be a big and heavy box and you're going to pay extra for transport either way
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Old 11-24-11, 01:52 PM
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Couplers Advice

This is great info-

A few follow up questions:

1. Would I really still be charged for oversize bag if I get the coupled LHT? It looks like I would be able to fit everything into a regular suitcase, and make it under 50 pounds (23kg). I would only even think about it if I would be saving money in the long run by not having to pay additional fees.

2. Indeed it is a lot of money to put into a "cheap" frame. Any ideas for a price-comparable custom frame? I looked at the folding Bike Friday but it doesnt seem to be as good for loaded touring.

Thanks for the tips as I continue my research.

Evan
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Old 11-24-11, 05:08 PM
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A couple of other thoughts:

Icelandic Air's checked baggage requirements are L+H+W=62" (they are pretty liberal compared to other carriers). If the box needs to be 10" wide; then it only leaves 26"x26" for the other 2 dimensions. My 700c wheels with 28 mm tires are almost 28" in diameter (leaving the air out of the tires might work). Can you get a bike in a box that size, even uncoupled? I don't know how close the airlines hold to these requirements, but if they do, and the size exceeds their limit you probably end up paying for a bike anyway. It cost us $56 each to transport our bikes from the States to The Netherlands. How many trips do you have to make to make it worthwhile? What type of touring /traveling is the bike going to be used for? How much other luggage and gear needs to be accommodated? What accessories are on the bike- racks and/or fenders?

This is a company that I looked at when I was thinking of having one of my bikes retrofitted with couplers. They have some pretty good information about packing, advantages etc. If you think you will ever want couplers, it is much better to get them at the start rather as a retrofit. It is probably cheaper too.

https://www.bikyle.com/s_&_s_couplers.htm

Last edited by Doug64; 11-24-11 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 11-24-11, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
T
This is a disadvantage. The boxes are BIG, especially navigating through airports or train stations, and finding a taxi if you need one. Everything that goes in my wife's panniers is in that black duffle bag.
Yes, that is a problem, isn't it? A boxed SNS coupled bike (when you actually take it apart - A person that owns an SNS bike and has never utilized the couplers may have more money than sense?)

fits in a 10" x 26" x 26" suitcase or cardboard box.
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Old 11-24-11, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by echartier
This is great info-

A few follow up questions:

1. Would I really still be charged for oversize bag if I get the coupled LHT? It looks like I would be able to fit everything into a regular suitcase, and make it under 50 pounds (23kg). I would only even think about it if I would be saving money in the long run by not having to pay additional fees.

2. Indeed it is a lot of money to put into a "cheap" frame. Any ideas for a price-comparable custom frame? I looked at the folding Bike Friday but it doesnt seem to be as good for loaded touring.

Thanks for the tips as I continue my research.

Evan
SNS bikes disassembled and put into a case or cut to size cardboard box meet standard airline dimensions for luggage, not oversized. and it can be under 50 pounds unless you start packing a lot of tools, racks, etc into the box. I can travel with the bike in a box and one carryon for a lightweight trip, and the boxed bike, one checked bag and a carryon for a trip with lots of gear. Its a lot easier to manage than the photo doug64 posted.

It is not a large money saver unless you do take a lot of trips, but some airlines charge 100-150 bucks for boxed bikes, I've read some horror stories of cyclotourists sometimes paying each airline for a bike in a standard bike box.

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Old 11-24-11, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
. If the box needs to be 10" wide; then it only leaves 26"x26" for the other 2 dimensions. My 700c wheels with 28 mm tires are almost 28" in diameter (leaving the air out of the tires might work). Can you get a bike in a box that size, even uncoupled? [/URL]
I take the front tire off to make it easier for TSA inspectors to open and close the box with 28c tires, but yes SNS bikes generally do fit in a 10x26x26 box.

If you're savvy you can even fit a rack in the box.
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Old 11-24-11, 10:55 PM
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Bekologist,

Yes, that is a problem, isn't it? A boxed SNS coupled bike (when you actually take it apart - A person that owns an SNS bike and has never utilized the couplers may have more money than sense?)
You may be right.

Last edited by Doug64; 11-25-11 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 11-25-11, 05:59 AM
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here's the size of an SNS bike in the box, photo courtesy of BiKyle bicycle shop.


Last edited by Bekologist; 11-25-11 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 11-25-11, 03:47 PM
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I own a Trucker Deluxe. 1st off I love it. I wanted a bike that was easy to travel and would let me avoid airline fees and I could load up and not worry about - the bike totally fits the bill. My last trip that I used it on I saved 300 dollars in baggage fees. I liked that. I also liked being able to take it in a taxi without any problems and getting through the airport is easy. When I landed back home by bike was in good shape (even though i saw the baggage handlers drop it repeatedly from varying heights) and on my same plane I saw someone collect their cardboard bike box (like those pictured above) in taters from the oversize lugguage compartment.
You can do a nice build with all new kit (and not off ebay) for <2K with nice wheels. I did it for that with STI and wheels made by a well-known wheel builder. And I could have saved a lot more money but I wanted some nicer components. However I built all of mine up myself and was quite happy I did since you do really have to take lots of kit off the bike to get them to fit. I also was able to fit a rear rack in with the bike - no problem.

However. The bike+travel bag is heavy as I have it built up (49.5 lbs ready to fly) because the travel bag are 18 pounds. They also cost $300+. Note that my tires weight close to 4 or 5 pounds so there are lots of ways to save weight.
The 26" wheels are the way to go for the travel bike and surly made the right call by only offering those. They ride great. My buddy has a 700c travelers check and it really JUST fits in his case. I have room.
I also like that if it is destroyed it is a surly. That is a lot of money to me but looking at the other options that can be had with S and S it is WAY cheaper. I also have learned quite a bit about packing the bike (the hard way) that I did not forsee needing attention. For example - make sure you tape/ ziptie protection on the ends of the couplers. Otherwise an inspection by the airline may end up with it exposed and gouging the braking surface of your rim. I was less than pleased but it was smooth again after a day of touring in wet and gritty rain.
Carry a coupler wrench and check every couple days - they do loosen and it takes seconds to tighten. And they make the frame weight so little more that it just doesn’t matter.
It took me 2+ hours to pack it the first time and ~ 1hr to assemble. I can now pack it in about half that time and that is not in a rush.
Here’s a photo from my most recent trip. I still need to chop the stearer a bit and in this photo it looks like the seat is way low but it is even with the handlebars.
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Old 11-25-11, 05:07 PM
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Dahon Paid the fee to Richey to use the breakaway coupling scheme He patented,
Tournado is that bike. 700c wheel .
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