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Question for touring bike owners

Old 06-14-12, 09:59 PM
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Question for touring bike owners

Do any you Surly long haul trucker, trek 520 trek 720 or other "touring bike owners" regret getting a touring bike if your not going to pack it up and load it down? I'm looking at getting one because I'm heavy (265 lbs), they have tons of spokes, strong frames, and apparently comfortable geometry. I have a hard tail mountain bike "1994 GT Karakorum elite I'm converting to more of a road bike, ie., slicks, different stem, bar ends... but want a road bike to go faster more easily. I was thinking of a touring bike or Cycle cross bike due to the fact that they seem to be built more stout. (trek says 275lbs limit on their bikes except touring and Cyclecross bikes. etc.) My question is are these bikes clunky compared to typical road bikes? Am I making a mistake looking at a touring bike if I'm never going to put panniers on it and go camping etc. ?

I'm looking at steel or aluminum in the 1000 to 1500 range. I'm thinking of staying away from carbon because I don't want to crash, drop, scrape, my bike and then worry about the carbon integrity being lost. The only mechanical problems I ever seem to have is keeping wheels true. I really pedal hard up hills etc. Cycle cross bikes are about 500 more than standard road bikes similarly set up. Do you ride, say the LHT and then get on a road bike and go, "wow, this is so much easier to ride faster?" Is going from a touring bike to a road bike the same feeling as going from a mountain bike to a touring bike?

Also, I know I can get a road bike and put 32 or 36 wheels on it afterwords but by the time I do that I might have just as well purchased the touring or CX bike first... Any suggestions of nice road bikes that don't put my rear 6 inches above my rear, have heavy duty wheels, and decent components, shimano 105 for ex that are as durable as one of the highly lauded touring bikes? I want drop bars. Not looking for hybrids, my converted mountain bike is like that already.. Any suggestions would be great.
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Old 06-14-12, 10:28 PM
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If you're hoping for a significant improvement in speed going from a mountain bike to a road bicycle (or touring-style road bicycle) ... you're not going to find it.


Some people get touring bicycles because they make good commuter bikes. Others get touring bicycles because they want something comfortable for long distance rides.
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Old 06-14-12, 10:34 PM
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[QUOTE=Machka;14358751]If you're hoping for a significant improvement in speed going from a mountain bike to a road bicycle (or touring-style road bicycle) ... you're not going to find it.


Really? Then why doesn't everyone (except racers looking for the lightest bikes) just buy touring or mountain bikes for their comfort? What would I find by comparing them? Thanks for the reply.
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Old 06-14-12, 10:36 PM
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Get a Cross Check and you can have a little bit of the good from both worlds. I am 270lbs and use a CC for touring and just general riding. It is fine and has never been a problem at all. I just switched it from touring mode to go-fast mode (Schwalbe Marathon Supremes 700x40) and took off the racks, fenders and panniers. I got some new Egg Beaters for it and now it is ready to just ride fast on the week-ends. It is such a versatile bike that with a change of tires, say to 700X45 Panaracer Fire Cross tires, I can ride singletrack if I want. It is great all-around.
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Old 06-14-12, 10:37 PM
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[QUOTE=summerman;14358769]
Originally Posted by Machka
If you're hoping for a significant improvement in speed going from a mountain bike to a road bicycle (or touring-style road bicycle) ... you're not going to find it.


Really? Then why doesn't everyone (except racers looking for the lightest bikes) just buy touring or mountain bikes for their comfort? What would I find by comparing them? Thanks for the reply.
I think her point is that it isn't the bike, it is the motor
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Old 06-14-12, 10:47 PM
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FWIW-- This is how I think about the hierarchy of bikes. It is actually a continuum. Hopefully, I did not offend any Ford owners

Mountain bike--Jeep
Touring bike -- Ford 250 pickup
Light touring -- Ford 150 pickup
Hybrid-- Buick
Cyclocross bike-- mid-sized SUV
Recreational road bike-- Toyota Camry
Performance Road bike-- Mazda Miata
Competition bike-- Ferrari

Last edited by Doug64; 06-15-12 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
Recreational road bike-- Toyota Cambry
Performance Road bike-- Mazda Miyata
sorry Doug, but you really made me laugh with the Cam(b)ry and the winner, the Mi(y)ata--only a true bike nerd would call a Mazda Miata a Miyata, thats priceless.
(Im a mongrel of a lifelong bike guy/car guy who knows cars and follows motorsport)

its hard to convey good natured ribbing in words, but this was really that, even if you did make me laugh.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Hot Rod Lincoln
I think her point is that it isn't the bike, it is the motor
Originally Posted by summerman
Originally Posted by Machka
If you're hoping for a significant improvement in speed going from a mountain bike to a road bicycle (or touring-style road bicycle) ... you're not going to find it.

Really? Then why doesn't everyone (except racers looking for the lightest bikes) just buy touring or mountain bikes for their comfort? What would I find by comparing them? Thanks for the reply.

Yes, it's the motor.

It's also a matter of using the right tool for the job. I wouldn't want to take my titanium road bicycle with 700x23 tires on a gravel road trek ... my mountain bike would be much more suited to something like that. And on the other hand, my mountain bike isn't really well set up for doing long distance rides. And while both my titanium road bicycle and my Thorn touring road bicycle are well set up for doing long distance rides, the Thorn is set up for fully loaded touring, while the titanium is not. The titanium is better suited for credit card touring or randonnees.

As for the "speed" difference when riding on the road in the same conditions, I noticed that my road bicycle was maybe 2-3 km/h "faster" than my mountain bike ... not really significant.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:18 PM
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I really enjoy using the "touring" bike I built for my commute. I carry 12-15 pounds on the back in panniers. It rides nice and handles the weight with ease.

No regrets here other than I wish to use it for a multi-night mini tour some day.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by summerman
Do any you Surly long haul trucker, trek 520 trek 720 or other "touring bike owners" regret getting a touring bike if your not going to pack it up and load it down? I'm looking at getting one because I'm heavy (265 lbs), they have tons of spokes, strong frames, and apparently comfortable geometry. I have a hard tail mountain bike "1994 GT Karakorum elite I'm converting to more of a road bike, ie., slicks, different stem, bar ends... but want a road bike to go faster more easily. I was thinking of a touring bike or Cycle cross bike due to the fact that they seem to be built more stout. (trek says 275lbs limit on their bikes except touring and Cyclecross bikes. etc.) My question is are these bikes clunky compared to typical road bikes? Am I making a mistake looking at a touring bike if I'm never going to put panniers on it and go camping etc. ?

I'm looking at steel or aluminum in the 1000 to 1500 range. I'm thinking of staying away from carbon because I don't want to crash, drop, scrape, my bike and then worry about the carbon integrity being lost. The only mechanical problems I ever seem to have is keeping wheels true. I really pedal hard up hills etc. Cycle cross bikes are about 500 more than standard road bikes similarly set up. Do you ride, say the LHT and then get on a road bike and go, "wow, this is so much easier to ride faster?" Is going from a touring bike to a road bike the same feeling as going from a mountain bike to a touring bike?

Also, I know I can get a road bike and put 32 or 36 wheels on it afterwords but by the time I do that I might have just as well purchased the touring or CX bike first... Any suggestions of nice road bikes that don't put my rear 6 inches above my rear, have heavy duty wheels, and decent components, shimano 105 for ex that are as durable as one of the highly lauded touring bikes? I want drop bars. Not looking for hybrids, my converted mountain bike is like that already.. Any suggestions would be great.
Touring, Cyclocross and Racing bikes are all road bikes. They are all running the same 700c tires except small sizes in 26", so the only difference between them would be geometry and tire width sizes. A cyclocross or a touring bike will ride better than your mountain bike because of the bigger 700c tires which allows you to roll better, a stretch out cockpit and a lower handlebar setup to allow better body stability while pushing bigger gears sitting and standing. Whereas the mountain bike is designed to be way more upright so you can see more of the trails and setup in a way to dodge rocks, roots, logs and so forth. Since you aren't doing anything of that on the road, a road bike (be it a cyclocross or touring) would be a better choice for you.
In your case, you probably need a pair of hand built 36 spoke, or maybe a 32 if hand built properly and either a touring or cyclocross would work. The best deal right now would be the Windsor Tourist from bikesdirect.com as it has everything you need for $600 as long as this frame fits you. You might want to get a bike shop to assemble it and go over the wheels and make sure they are well trued. The Windsor Tourist is strong as we have a member in our club who rides it -- he's on his 3rd Windsor bike and he's around 200lbs or so. The bike is actually well built for $600. This bike is no slouch either as he rides with us carbon weight weenies and is able to keep up around 20 to 22mph, but then he tours global with his Windsor like 8 months out of the year and racks up insane mileage so his endurance is plenty good. Another bike that I like is the Masi Speciale CX Uno. It's $900 and it's steel. A little lighter than the Tourist and rides really well, but it only has 32 spoke wheels.

Speaking of components. You can get by with Tiagra or even Sora and Deore at the rear. They're durable. As you get fitter and parts wore out, you can always upgrade to better components anyhow.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 06-14-12 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:38 PM
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[QUOTE=summerman;14358769]
Originally Posted by Machka
If you're hoping for a significant improvement in speed going from a mountain bike to a road bicycle (or touring-style road bicycle) ... you're not going to find it.


Really? Then why doesn't everyone (except racers looking for the lightest bikes) just buy touring or mountain bikes for their comfort? What would I find by comparing them? Thanks for the reply.
Light bikes are next to useless without light wheels. Most people don't understand that the best upgrade to a bike is not a lighter frame, but better lighter wheels. A true racer wheel is a tubular wheel, known as sewn up tires which is unlike our clinchers. Why? Because they're tubeless which makes them light and comfortable to ride due to the lower pressure require to inflate compared to clinchers. Light wheels have lighter rims, lighter ceramic hubs and less spokes so their rotating mass and mechanical friction are less and which means they turn easier. So when the wheel turns easily, you'll be able to accelerate from stop to go faster. The fallacy of this popular myth came because when people who rode mountain bikes or hybrids start riding these fancy Cervelos, Trek Madones or Specialized, what they are getting are lighter weight wheels than what they have on the hybrid plus a geometry and bar setup that is conducive on pushing bigger gears. I bet you that your mountain bike gearing is 44/32/22 and a road bike is 53/39/30 or 50/34 for a cyclocross. You don't need Lance Armstrong or a strong motor to go faster with a road bike. The gearing makes you go faster irregardless and you'll develop stronger legs to adapt to those higher gearing! It is this myth that made people think that I need a road bike to go faster. But here's the problem. Those light weight wheels can not support your weight and you need instead heavier wheels so they don't buckle and go on breaking spokes like it will on those race wheels. And heavy wheels with wider rims and wider tires don't accelerate that well. So really, I look at it this way. Ride your current bike often and start being more fit and loosing more weight. I know some guys like you in our club that had dramatically lost weight and ride really fast on X-sport bikes (Giant Roam or Specialized Crosstrails) now. They also have road bikes now as their weight are now below 250lbs and boy they have the power to weight ratios to push those 53/19 on the hills. Loosing body weight is the cheapest free way to ride faster. It always works for anyone.

Good luck and take care.

Last edited by pacificcyclist; 06-14-12 at 11:42 PM.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:42 PM
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I don't think you really need hand built wheels. Factory built wheels will work, but find a good wheel mechanic to check and retension the wheels if necessary. Also gearing on most touring bikes are lower geared rear cassettes tend to run 11 or 12 to 32, 34 or 36 and front chain rings sometimes are smaller. Look for one with a 50 30/39/50T crankset. Most touring bikes will have bar end shifters. If you don't mind a used bike a Cannondale T2000, or touring T1 might be a good choice with the shifters combined with the brake lever assemblies. You might try searching craigslist in your area or a nearby metro area for one. This was their high end model with higher gearing.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificcyclist
Touring, Cyclocross and Racing bikes are all road bikes.
Cyclocross bikes are only questionably road bikes; the typical cross race looks rather unlike most roads I've seen. Granted, the differences between a mid level cross bike and a mid level road (racing) bike are much smaller than between a cross bike and a mountain bike. Then again, even the category 'mountain bike' is meaning less and less, you have to specify cross country, all mountain, down hill, or whatever category. Of course, the differences between a beach cruiser and a single speed mountain bike really come down to tire tread, brake choice and geometry.

Honestly, nomenclature gets so messy that it's important to be precise. Road bikes aren't all road bikes, there are road bikes set up for quick short races like crits, road bikes set up for long distance endurance races, and road bikes made for hauling lots of gear long distances. They are all ridden on the road, and while one can be substituted for the others, it would be sub optimal.
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Old 06-14-12, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by summerman
Do any you Surly long haul trucker, trek 520 trek 720 or other "touring bike owners" regret getting a touring bike if your not going to pack it up and load it down? I'm looking at getting one because I'm heavy (265 lbs), they have tons of spokes, strong frames, and apparently comfortable geometry. I have a hard tail mountain bike "1994 GT Karakorum elite I'm converting to more of a road bike, ie., slicks, different stem, bar ends... but want a road bike to go faster more easily. I was thinking of a touring bike or Cycle cross bike due to the fact that they seem to be built more stout. (trek says 275lbs limit on their bikes except touring and Cyclecross bikes. etc.) My question is are these bikes clunky compared to typical road bikes? Am I making a mistake looking at a touring bike if I'm never going to put panniers on it and go camping etc. ?
People interested in touring bikes have COMFORT as their #1 priority, not speed. Clunky? Touring bikes don't have the latest cool, Italian racing designs and super light components that you find in road bikes, but these bikes are stable and forgiving. In fact, touring bikes in general have a "classic" design that we find beautiful in its own way. I would say they're possibly the most versatile bikes to be used on pavement: commuting, shopping and running errands around town, fitness, recreational, etc.

Do you ride, say the LHT and then get on a road bike and go, "wow, this is so much easier to ride faster?" Is going from a touring bike to a road bike the same feeling as going from a mountain bike to a touring bike?
The immediate feeling of pushing a bike that's at least 10 lbs lighter is obvious. If what you care is speed and sturdiness, you can make your converted MTB go faster simply by switching to more appropriate tires and save tons of $$$ in the process.

Any suggestions of nice road bikes that don't put my rear 6 inches above my rear, have heavy duty wheels, and decent components, shimano 105 for ex that are as durable as one of the highly lauded touring bikes? I want drop bars. Not looking for hybrids, my converted mountain bike is like that already.. Any suggestions would be great.
What's wrong with your converted MTB that you've converted into drop bars? Old style mountain bikes make great sturdy bikes which seems to me is exactly what you're looking for. I would hate to recommend spending $1,500 bucks for a touring or any other bike that you might regret getting if you're not going to pack it up and load it down. If going faster is at the top of your concerns then losing body weight will help you big time. Here's an article on that subject. Also try different tires on your current MTB like Schwalbe Racer or Kojak, Panaracer Pasela. There are other brand/models out there.
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Old 06-15-12, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by summerman
but want a road bike to go faster more easily. .
The only way you'll go faster is to pedal faster with more hp. The road bike might put you in a better posture for spinning faster but you still have to do it. A touring bike for heavy person riding without added gear can make sense IF you like how the bike rides. Personally I'd pick a Trek 520 over a LHT for unloaded riding.
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Old 06-15-12, 12:48 AM
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OP, you'll be getting confused by now.

If I had to have only one bike, it would be a light tourer or a CX bike. I couldn't be competitive on them in a crit, or riding very challenging terrain off-road, but they are versatile enough to do pretty much anything else, and enough fun to be an enjoyable ride unloaded. You'll definitely notice the difference between them and your mountain bike. You'll be a little bit faster, less because of the weight than because you can get more aero in the drops. And, in my opinion, you'll find that they are more pleasant to ride over longish distances.

Which you choose is a matter of personal preference. I've been used to riding tourers for a long time, I like the relaxed set-up. Something not too heavy, like a Raleigh Clubman, might be suitable but there are plenty to investigate.
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Old 06-15-12, 01:23 AM
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I can speak from experience. I had a Fuji Touring, circa-2000, that served as my commuting bike, touring bike, randonneur and century bike, fun time trial bike, errand and utility bike, and general leisure riding bike... it did everything I expected of it, even touring on quite rough roads.

It was largely comfortable, but this was more to do with the cross-sectional dimension of the 700C tyres -- the wider they were with commensurately less pressure, the better the ride. I fitted a Brooks saddle which also helped.

But it did have its deficiencies -- mainly if I wanted to go fast efficiently.

I put on lighter, thinner tyres, but they didn't really make that much difference. My speed and riding efficiency improved when I moved to a dedicated road bike, a Merida 900 Extreme. That bike felt nimbler, sharper in its handling. But unlike the Fuji, I would finish a century feeling well and truly beat-up.

As to MTBs, I toured quite a bit early on with an MTB with Conti Town and Country tires. I could go just about anywhere on it. But the limitation was the gearing, and this is where the idea that MTBs are slower might come from. I decided to go for a "proper" road touring bike when I got left behind on a touring club group ride spinning my butt off in the highest gear I had. Everyone else was riding road bikes with much thinner tyres and double cranks.

I cannot speak to CX bikes because I don't do it, and I don't have one.

If you want an all-rounder bike, a light touring bike (as opposed to a heavy-duty trekker) would be a good option. It should be comfortable, do what you want touring and commuting, but it won't put you on the front of a group ride... because as alluded to earlier, that has to do with the engine, not necessarily the bike.
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Old 06-15-12, 06:26 AM
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I regularly ride a 15 mile loop near my home on both my 19 lb. Soma ES road bike and my 32 lb. LHT 26er. My average moving speed over this loop is ONE mph faster with the Soma vs the LHT (16.7 vs 15.7 mph).

The Soma certainly feels faster than the LHT. The skinny tires transmit more road vibration which gives the impression of high speed, the lightweight wheelset accelerates to speed faster, the more aggressive riding position seems to cheat the wind, the geometry feels more sporty and agile.

In reality, the LHT loses a little aero to the Soma due to its more upright riding position and the weight hurts it on a couple of the decent hills on the loop. But the LHT's fat tires, upright position, cushy Brooks saddle, and long wheelbase are definitely more comfortable. So I don't consider the LHT "clunky" any more than the Soma "speedy". I love both bikes and I'd be hard pressed to choose one to part with if forced to do so.

So to the OP, no, I don't regret the LHT at all and, no, I don't get on my road bike and think "wow, this is so much easier to ride faster!". The road bike gets me home a little faster, the touring bike a little smoother - The effort (the motor) is the same.
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Old 06-15-12, 06:30 AM
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Hmmmmmmm... tap tap tap of my finger...
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Old 06-15-12, 06:44 AM
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summerman, I've ridden my touring bike more than expected in the last year on distance and recreational rides. It performs wonderfully in that type of riding, but due to the heavier wheelset/tires, slacker geometry and longer wheelbase it simply can't offer the acceleration or handling of my race frame based roadie (The touring bike is eight pounds heavier, but isn't a factor IMHO). My daughter's CX bike bridges the gap between roadie and touring bicycles and is really the Jack-of-all-trades road bike.

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Old 06-15-12, 07:01 AM
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I have both a LHT and a CrossCheck. I've toured and commuted on both. here's my takeaway:

Either bike works fine for general around-town riding or commuting. I notice two general differences between the bikes. First, I built the LHT to have a more upright position which I find more comfortable, especially on rides any longer than an hour. There's nothing that says I couldn't setup the CrossCheck to have a very similar position.

Second, the two bikes ride differently. The crosscheck's steering is more lively and the frame feels more rigid. so like, when i stand up to hammer out a hill or sprint to the next traffic light, it FEELS like every bit of energy is being transferred to the rear wheel. The Long Haul Trucker FEELS way different - I hardly ever stand because it feels useless on the LHT, like the bike is telling me to sit back down. It's a less lively ride but much more comfortable. In practical terms, neither gets me to work faster than the other on a consistent basis.
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Old 06-15-12, 07:23 AM
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Second the Surly Cross Check as a decent option. Maybe you will one day want to add some rear panniers and do light touring/commuting/grocery shopping. You can even add a third chain ring if you find it would be useful, although you would need a different FD to do it according to Surly.
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Old 06-15-12, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by benda18
The Long Haul Trucker FEELS way different - I hardly ever stand because it feels useless on the LHT, like the bike is telling me to sit back down.
Our posts crossed. I have an LHT that I ride fully loaded and unloaded for general transportation/commuting. That's a perfect description of how it feels when I stand on it unloaded.
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Old 06-15-12, 07:54 AM
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This is my commuting-touring bike. Surly Troll frame/fork based on MTB geometry. Also have a 700c wheelset for road riding. This will do everything except serious MTBing and fast road riding. I have a carbon fiber road bike when I want to go fast, and not really interested in MTBing. Impossible to find a bike that will do everything well, so decide what you want to do with the bike and where you want to compromise.

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Old 06-15-12, 07:56 AM
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Which for me is why rowans suggestion is spot on for a light tourer or cx bike. This is exactly why I bought a tricross sport, more responsive than my old touring bike, yet inbetween that and a road bike.
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