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Not another one... Noobish "Which Bike" questions

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Not another one... Noobish "Which Bike" questions

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Old 11-23-12, 12:12 PM
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k_randomfactor
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Not another one... Noobish "Which Bike" questions

Greetings friends and neighbors. I hate to throw out a "Which Bike" thread, but I'm hoping to narrow down my choices.

I've read a ton of threads about touring bikes, and understand that bike fit is the most important criteria in a tourer, or any bike really. Other than that, my little hillbilly brain is spinning. Going this weekend to test ride a couple of bikes, and comfort/fit is tops on my list of things to look for. However, being a new guy to touring, and bikes in general really, I would appreciate some thoughts and comments on my "short list".

I'm looking for a bike for loaded touring mainly, with a secondary purpose of fun/recreational riding and grocery getting provided I don't get smashed on the way to the store. I'm in the early planning stages of a cross country trip, but local short haul, weekend, tours are on the menu as well. The ability to put on wider tires for dirt road bikepacking trips is a big plus as well, but lower priority. If needful, I'll just use my MTB with a rack for that. I like disks, but am willing to go rim brakes if the bike is ideal otherwise. My MTB has disks and I'm a fan, but am willing to branch out.

My short list...
- LHT/Disk Trucker - seems to be the 'gold standard' and tops of the 'buy it now' list for a lot of folks. I'll be riding one of these tomorrow. This is really where I'm putting my money right now. The lack of any racks as a standard addition is a little off-putting, but I'm willing to deal.
- Kona Sutra - riding one of these tomorrow as well. I like this one as it is a 'turn-key' bike, since it already comes with front and rear racks and fenders, needing only panniers to be ready to go. The small ring may be a little taller than I think I need/want (26t), but hopefully the shop will be willing to swap that out for a 22t. Comes with disk brakes, which is a plus in my book.
- Novara Randonee - There isn't an REI within a couple of hours, but I'll be driving by one or two after the first of the year. Seems like a solid choice, but the lack of local support is a drawback.
- Fuji Touring - there isn't a real local dealer, so hopefully I can find one that isn't too far away to test. The 30t small ring seems silly, but hopefully it will be changeable with minimal fuss. Lack of local support is a drawback as well.
- Trek 520 - the other default bike it seems. None of my LBSs have one in stock, so I'll hope that one shows up after 1Jan so I can test drive it.

Other bikes that may be on the list, but they seem more like light "sport tourers" as opposed to fully loaded touring bikes.
- CrossCheck - guy at my LBS rides one, but he suggested that the LHT may be a better idea for want I'm looking for.
- Novara Safari - Again, seems like a sport tourer, and the twist shifters don't really put a tilt in my kilt.

My LBS said they could order and build a Soma Saga, but that may be a little more spendy than I can go for right now. I don't have a box of spare, take-off parts to draw from for a build.

All of these, barring the iffy Novara Safari, are close enough in price that it may be a wash, but the Sutra with racks and fenders included may be a better bargain. I'm willing to pay more for a "better" bike, but I'm not made of money.

Keeping in mind that there are only a few LBSs nearby, with a limited choice of manufacturers available, are there any other makes/models I should be looking at? I'd like to stay away from mail order bikes, as I'm not super versed in bike lore at the moment, and I like the idea of LBS support when/if something goes sideways. Of course, if I can find a good deal on CL/fleabay, I'm not opposed to second hand.

So, am I at least heading in the right direction? Any thoughts and comments on my list, as well as experiences/issues with the bikes, would be greatly appreciated. Looking back, I don't think I've ever really ridden a road bike. They've all been MTBs, so I'll be dealing with a new bike style on top of everything else.

Thanks in advance folks.
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Old 11-23-12, 01:06 PM
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Yea, Touring is more about the Fit on the Bike than what one it is.. think Verb rather than Noun.

Make it comfortable to ride all day long..

after that its a collection of gear ratios and the range of those to get you over Mountains
with your stuff in the Baggage, so in late afternoon You don't have to loop back home to have a place to sleep.

then you get up the next Morning , pack the stuff in your bags and do it again.

component parts can be changed, Bike Brands Buy them in bulk not make them.
unlike Car manufacturers ..

so where do you want to go?
One consideration, tires, what size ? ranking wheel sizes by world wide availability
of another tire, someplace.. 26" and 20"
Further down the list skinny 700c and then Wider 700c...


My most recent bike purchase was a Bike Friday, a 406 20" wheel.
US Company making , not Importing.

they are advantaged because the whole Bike is made to fit inside a suitcase,
to bypass the increasing Special Handling Fees, Airlines charge
to Get to where you want to go, If it does not start from your front door.

in the 700c wide tire camp, Trek maintains a first owner lifetime warrantee .
[materials and workmanship]

most others have a time limit. Surly 3 years, I think..

For the LBS, Trek sells to their dealers with a credit line , whereas QBP is all COD.

so ask the Trek dealer to order your size , so you can test ride it.

They have several Months to sell it to someone else If you opt out ,
before the Bill comes due.

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Old 11-23-12, 01:25 PM
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Once you get past the fit issue, they're all just frames with a bunch of replaceable components hung here and there. You'll no doubt be tweaking this and that as miles suggest a need.

The LHT is, as noted, a proven winner and imminently resellable, so little risk. The hybrid-like sloping top tube of the Sutra might make it a more relaxed ride. That it comes tour ready is certainly in its favor.
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Old 11-23-12, 01:51 PM
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Hello K_,

Visited your area last June for two weeks on a road bike.

Most touring bikes seem to come with too high of gearing.

My Cannondale T-1 came with a 50-39-30 crank set.

Recently had it changed to a 42-32-22 crankset.

Wow did that make a great improvement for fully loaded or pulling a grocery trailer.

So please get some low gears with your new bike.

The Road Bike......


So if you see this trike...say Hi Ed.

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Old 11-23-12, 06:16 PM
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I got the same high gears on my Cannondale T1. It is pretty much off the list now since Cannondale isn't making it anymore.

Don't make "Getting a Deal" too high a priority.
The best deal is probably to be had on a bike that isn't suitable for your purpose.

I think Surly still make a 26" LHT. I don't know how tall you are, but the 26" LHT looks like a great bike and would meet your wider tires for occasional off roading criteria.
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Old 11-23-12, 08:27 PM
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LHT with 26" wheels
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Old 11-23-12, 09:54 PM
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All your primary (and most of the secondary) selections are decent bikes. None of them will handle with front and rear panniers as they do off the showroom floor. But if, during one of your trial rides, you think, "This bike is fun!" -- go back to the store and buy it.

Even if you put 4,000 miles on a cross country tour, you're likely to be riding that bike twice that unloaded around home. That's if you like the bike. If not, it may hang in the garage, and you'll forget about the tour. So buy one that speaks to you.

I'm figuring that by the time you get all the equipment together, plan for time off to complete the tour, and do enough training to get yourself through the first week, you'll be sufficiently committed to complete the tour with any of the bikes with the load.

IMHO, after you get to a 26-34 or 24-32 low gear, you're about as low as you need (with 700C or 26" wheels). It gets difficult to stay upright at some speed, and you may as well get off and push.
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Old 11-23-12, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post

So if you see this trike...say Hi Ed.
Pretty sure I've seen Ed around down near Townsend. I'll holler at him next time I see him.

Thanks for the comments folks. If there are no major, non-fixable, issues with any of those bikes, I'll let my back pick the bike. The overall geometry of the Sutra, plus the fact that it is "tour ready", makes me really want to like it, but the reputation and performance of the LHT makes it hard to overlook. I'll ride both Saturday, and see which I like better. I'll see if my LBS will order a 520 for a test ride as well. They're pretty OK folks, so hopefully there won't be a problem. As long as one of those three works out, those will probably be where I go.

RE: tires and location

Right now, I'm just planning a cross country US trip, so 700c tires shouldn't be a problem. I'm saving the Anchorage to Tierra del Fuego and the Round the World til the year after next. The ability to use wider tires is a plus, but is not a top priority atall atall. One of those "it would be nice" options, but not a deal breaker either way. After some thinking, if I need a 'backcountry tourer', the Surly Ogre or Surly Troll (clever names) will be on the agenda if my MTB won't cut it. Since I'm looking at mainly improved roads in advanced countries for the immediate future, a 700c will probably be a better option right now.

For the record, I'm 6', 200lbs (need to lose a few), with a 32/33" inseam and a just over 6' wingspan (74"). I wear a 46 suit coat when I can't avoid wearing a suit. I'm not a tiny guy. Not Gigantor, but petite I ain't.

Much appreciative of the feedback folks. Thanks.
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Old 11-24-12, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
All your primary (and most of the secondary) selections are decent bikes. None of them will handle with front and rear panniers as they do off the showroom floor. But if, during one of your trial rides, you think, "This bike is fun!" -- go back to the store and buy it.
The problem with that is that a lot of bikes that ride great on a test ride may be the same ones that will be dogs with gear. I can't recommend buying the ride that sucks, in the hope the bags will change matters. But one has to be careful it isn't just a bike designed to give a good test ride. Light tires, low resistance, and fast rolling, and too light. Snappy components that will give trouble on a long tour. Gearing that is really a road mix, not a touring mix. Etc... Position or seat that are great for a ride around town, but not comfortable over the long haul. Chainstays that deliver a road ride, but are too short for bags.
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Old 11-24-12, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
The problem with that is that a lot of bikes that ride great on a test ride may be the same ones that will be dogs with gear. I can't recommend buying the ride that sucks, in the hope the bags will change matters. But one has to be careful it isn't just a bike designed to give a good test ride. Light tires, low resistance, and fast rolling, and too light. Snappy components that will give trouble on a long tour. Gearing that is really a road mix, not a touring mix. Etc... Position or seat that are great for a ride around town, but not comfortable over the long haul. Chainstays that deliver a road ride, but are too short for bags.
Keeping that in mind, what criteria should I be looking for? Being a FNG, and having pretty much zero experience with road bikes in general, and tourers specifically, what do I need to be considering? Not trying to be an ass, I'm honestly looking to gain some knowledge. Without having at least a short tour or two under my belt, a test ride is about the only basis I'm gonna have to make a decision.

I'm heading out shortly to go test ride the LHT and the Sutra. Both are nominally in my size, so it should be a fairly honest test. We'll see what else the shop has in stock. May as well ride a bunch of stuff while I'm there, right? I was planning on riding the LHT first, and using it as a baseline for "rideability" and overall handling, since it has such a reputation as a great tourer. I figure that will give me as good a basis for comparison as anything.
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Old 11-24-12, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by k_randomfactor View Post
Keeping that in mind, what criteria should I be looking for? Being a FNG, and having pretty much zero experience with road bikes in general, and tourers specifically, what do I need to be considering? Not trying to be an ass, I'm honestly looking to gain some knowledge. Without having at least a short tour or two under my belt, a test ride is about the only basis I'm gonna have to make a decision.

I'm heading out shortly to go test ride the LHT and the Sutra. Both are nominally in my size, so it should be a fairly honest test. We'll see what else the shop has in stock. May as well ride a bunch of stuff while I'm there, right? I was planning on riding the LHT first, and using it as a baseline for "rideability" and overall handling, since it has such a reputation as a great tourer. I figure that will give me as good a basis for comparison as anything.
The 700c LHT is a great load carrier but not particularly nimble. I had a 700cLHT and replaced it with a 26" LHT. I like how it handles over the 700c version. Useful knowledge will come through experience, here you're collecting opinions. Haven't ridden the Kona or Randonneur you can pretty much make any nice handling bike handle poorly by loading it up wrong.
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Old 11-24-12, 12:40 PM
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The Fuji touring bike is the same frame as the Bikes Direct Windsor Tourist and the Nashbar steel touring bike. If you go that route, you might save some money with one of the other two retailers.
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Old 11-24-12, 04:15 PM
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Well, just got back from test riding the Sutra and the LHT, rather the Disk Trucker. The DT was a 56cm, which is nominally a size that should work for me, and the Sutra was a 61cm that should probably be too big. Figured I'd give it a go, just to say I did.

The DT rode well, pedalled great, but felt just a tad sluggish. Not bad, but like LeeG said, not very "nimble". The cockpit felt a little too stretched for comfort, but that should be fixable with a shorter stem. Riding in the drops felt like I was about to fall on my face. Overall, I liked it, but it didn't feel "right". When I actualy get ready to drop the coin, I'll go back and see if they'll put on a shorter stem and see if that fixes the problem.

Then, I rode the Sutra. Oh. Holy. Crap. I think I got about 3 pedal rotations in and fell in love. Even though it is "too big", the sloping top tube made it extremely comfortable, with a cockpit designed by the third little bear. Juuuust right. Moderately upright, without feeling like a sail, and riding in the drops felt natural. And this coming from a flatbar guy.. "Nimble" without being twitchy, and pedaling was great.

Just to give the DT a fair shake, since I really wanted to like it, I took it out for a second spin. Being a noob with road bikes, I didn't want my unfamiliarity to unduly sway the test. It still didn't feel quite right. Not bad, just not right.

Both had comparable tread 700cx35 wheels, so that wasn't a huge factor I wouldn't imagine. Rode both through the shop's gravel parking lot, and they both performed admirably.

So, unless the 520 or the Novara are the moral equivalent of a 2 wheeled BJ, I think that the Sutra is gonna be my bike of choice. I'll give the LHT/DT another shot with a shorter stem, but unless it really wows me then, Kona it'll be. Kinda sad, as I was really hoping the Surly was gonna be the one.

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Old 11-24-12, 04:29 PM
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Good report...Thanks.
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Old 11-25-12, 12:01 PM
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Thanks 10Wheels. After riding those two bikes, the whole "Fit is King" idea makes a lot more sense. Fietsbob's comment that "fit is a verb" is more understandable, and a pretty apt description.

May be beating a dead horse here, but I'm a chronic researcher, and studying the specs of the bikes a few things popped out at me. The numbers were just numbers without some (minimal) experience, but now they show a few things that may be what the differences are.

Granted, I know I'm WAY overthinking this stuff (and just need to buy the bike that feels best and ride the damn thing), but I like to understand "why" and "how" stuff works. May be why I became a gunsmith. Feel free to skip the rest of this, as it probably doesn't really add much to the discussion, but I thought I'd post these thoughts. I may be way off base, but here they go...

1- The 61cm Sutra has a longer head tube (195mm v. 152mm for the 56cmDT), which seems to puts the bars at a higher, more comfortable height for me. To get the same, or comparable, height with the DT, I'd have to go up to a 60-62cm frame. A 58cm (next size up from what I tried) may be a good compromise. The stand-over height of the 58cm DT would only be 5mm over the Sutra, and I doubt that 5mm would make much difference re: standover, but the extra 20mm of frame height, plus the extra 19mm HT length may make a difference. Or am I looking at it incorrectly?

I'll see if that LBS can/will order a 58cm bike for me to try. May be that the slightly longer HT, plus the taller frame, may put it more in line with what I'm looking for, keeping #2 & 5 below in mind.

2- The 56cm DT has a shorter wheelbase, but longer chainstays. Not sure what difference that plays, but it seems that it keeps the bike more "centered" under the rider. That would seem to me to improve handling, but it also seems to rotate the upper body backwards, using the seat as a pivot, causing the body to stretch more to grab the bars.

3- The DT also has more BB drop, which, I would think, keep the bikes CoG lower, which would improve stability, but decrease handling "nimbleness". Surly doesn't list the BB height, but more drop equals less height, correct?

4- The Sutra has a heavier down tube, which seems to make the frame more rigid (the BSG said the same). Seems to help handling and pedaling efficiency, but "road noise" seemes to be greater. Doesn't necessarily change fit, but effects ride quality. Tires were a wash, but fork and rear triangle material/size would contribute to this as well. I don't remember comparative sizes, so this point is probably moot.

5- The Sutra has a longer horizontal Top Tube (605mm) than the DT (570mm effective length). It's counter-intuitive that the Sutra didn't feel as stretched out. The difference in HT length (43mm) and the difference in effective TT length (35mm) seems like a wash as 8mm combined difference shouldn't effect fit that much..

Unless the shorter BB drop and the shorter chainstays shift the body geometry forward just enough to overcome the "paper" differences with the Sutra.

Anywho, just some over-analyzation. Not trying to talk myself into a LHT/DT, or talk myself out of a Sutra, just throwing out some thoughts on "why" the Sutra may fit better. The whole "curiosity/cat" thing. Also, if I'm thinking about these correctly, it may help eliminate, or add, some other bikes. If I'm off-base on any of these, please let me know if you actually read this far.

Sorry for the rambling. I'll go work now.

Last edited by k_randomfactor; 11-25-12 at 12:04 PM. Reason: grammer
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Old 11-25-12, 09:16 PM
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k_randomfactor, Another good tourer is the Raleigh Sojourn, just to muddy the waters.

Referring to an earlier remark, chainstay length is important when using large panniers to prevent bag to heel contact. Some pannier manufacturers have a 45 degree angle on the lower front corners to help prevent heel strike for those with big feet or short chainstays.

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Old 11-25-12, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
The problem with that is that a lot of bikes that ride great on a test ride may be the same ones that will be dogs with gear. I can't recommend buying the ride that sucks, in the hope the bags will change matters. But one has to be careful it isn't just a bike designed to give a good test ride.
Note I started with the qualification that the bikes listed were decent bikes. Surely it's possible to throw together a "spiffy" bike for a test ride. But the bikes OP selected are all built hefty, to carry a load and prevent shimmy; equipped with decent components (except perhaps too big chain rings on a couple); and sent to the bike shops with tires much bigger than you'd ever find on a "normal" road bike.
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Old 11-25-12, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by k_randomfactor View Post
1- The 61cm Sutra has a longer head tube (195mm v. 152mm for the 56cmDT), which seems to puts the bars at a higher, more comfortable height for me. To get the same, or comparable, height with the DT, I'd have to go up to a 60-62cm frame. A 58cm (next size up from what I tried) may be a good compromise. The stand-over height of the 58cm DT would only be 5mm over the Sutra, and I doubt that 5mm would make much difference re: standover, but the extra 20mm of frame height, plus the extra 19mm HT length may make a difference. Or am I looking at it incorrectly?

I'll see if that LBS can/will order a 58cm bike for me to try. May be that the slightly longer HT, plus the taller frame, may put it more in line with what I'm looking for, keeping #2 & 5 below in mind.

2- The 56cm DT has a shorter wheelbase, but longer chainstays. Not sure what difference that plays, but it seems that it keeps the bike more "centered" under the rider. That would seem to me to improve handling, but it also seems to rotate the upper body backwards, using the seat as a pivot, causing the body to stretch more to grab the bars.

3- The DT also has more BB drop, which, I would think, keep the bikes CoG lower, which would improve stability, but decrease handling "nimbleness". Surly doesn't list the BB height, but more drop equals less height, correct?

4- The Sutra has a heavier down tube, which seems to make the frame more rigid (the BSG said the same). Seems to help handling and pedaling efficiency, but "road noise" seemes to be greater. Doesn't necessarily change fit, but effects ride quality. Tires were a wash, but fork and rear triangle material/size would contribute to this as well. I don't remember comparative sizes, so this point is probably moot.

5- The Sutra has a longer horizontal Top Tube (605mm) than the DT (570mm effective length). It's counter-intuitive that the Sutra didn't feel as stretched out. The difference in HT length (43mm) and the difference in effective TT length (35mm) seems like a wash as 8mm combined difference shouldn't effect fit that much...
First, you're not making a fair comparison fit-wise if you're comparing a 56 DT to a 61 KS. I would guess at your height you should fit a 61 a whole lot closer than a 56. I fit a 56 DT at 5'9".

Looking at the geometry numbers between these two sizes is somewhat a waste of time. Compare the dimensions for the same frame size! Still, there are things worth mentioning.

The KS has 440mm CS vs 460mm on the DT, regardless of frame size. The bigger the rider, the bigger the feet, the more CS you need so your heels won't strike your panniers as you pedal. I would always choose a 46cm CS frame over a 44cm CS frame if all other dimensions (except WB naturally) were the same. There is no good solution to a bike with short CSs. You can use smaller bags, or move the bags and rack rearward, but this tends to make the bike handle badly when loaded, sometimes causing shimmy - something you'll never forget once experienced.

The DT has a lower BBH than the KS, also regardless of frame size (for a given wheel size). Surly publishes only the BB drop (relative to axle height), because the actual BB height varies depending on the size tires you mount. Bigger tires raise the entire bike, including the BB. A DT with 700x32mm tires has a BBH of ~267mm, ~15mm lower than the KS.

Overall reach can be manipulated a lot with stem, bar and lever/brifter choices, but ultimately you need the range of adjustments to cover the range of your natural reach, which can change over time depending on you - how you ride, how often you ride, how your body copes with aging and joint/back/etc issues. Getting the ETT right is pretty important for good fit.

I suggest you carefully reconsider fit before you go any further. I've found Rivendell's approach to fit is good for touring bikes. The process starts with you taking actual measurements of PBH in bare feet, and from there you can predict fairly accurately the frame size you need, saddle height, and handlebar height. Reach is harder to predict and usually requires a lot of actual bicycling to determine the best reach for each individual.

http://www.rivbike.com/Articles.asp?ID=247
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Old 11-25-12, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by k_randomfactor View Post
Well, just got back from test riding the Sutra and the LHT, rather the Disk Trucker. The DT was a 56cm, which is nominally a size that should work for me, and the Sutra was a 61cm that should probably be too big. Figured I'd give it a go, just to say I did.

The DT rode well, pedalled great, but felt just a tad sluggish. Not bad, but like LeeG said, not very "nimble". The cockpit felt a little too stretched for comfort, but that should be fixable with a shorter stem. Riding in the drops felt like I was about to fall on my face. Overall, I liked it, but it didn't feel "right". When I actualy get ready to drop the coin, I'll go back and see if they'll put on a shorter stem and see if that fixes the problem.

Then, I rode the Sutra. Oh. Holy. Crap. I think I got about 3 pedal rotations in and fell in love. Even though it is "too big", the sloping top tube made it extremely comfortable, with a cockpit designed by the third little bear. Juuuust right. Moderately upright, without feeling like a sail, and riding in the drops felt natural. And this coming from a flatbar guy.. "Nimble" without being twitchy, and pedaling was great.

Just to give the DT a fair shake, since I really wanted to like it, I took it out for a second spin. Being a noob with road bikes, I didn't want my unfamiliarity to unduly sway the test. It still didn't feel quite right. Not bad, just not right.

Both had comparable tread 700cx35 wheels, so that wasn't a huge factor I wouldn't imagine. Rode both through the shop's gravel parking lot, and they both performed admirably.

So, unless the 520 or the Novara are the moral equivalent of a 2 wheeled BJ, I think that the Sutra is gonna be my bike of choice. I'll give the LHT/DT another shot with a shorter stem, but unless it really wows me then, Kona it'll be. Kinda sad, as I was really hoping the Surly was gonna be the one.
Have a 2008 Novara Randonee, pretty good for the price, fits nice but I bought a Surly Disc Trucker 26" frame both for the brakes & room for wider tires plus the long wheelbase. Test-rode an non-disc LHT in a parking lot--the handlebar reach is longer than avg I guess but suits me. I'm getting an angle-adjustable stem. But the Kona Sutra looks mighty sweet, amazing that I hadn't read about it during searches, price is pretty good too. OTOH even the current Novara Randonee is more appropriate than the old model for touring with MTB drive-train & bar-end shifters. Still, I like the 26" Trucker for the room for wide tires. You've ridden mountain bikes & I suppose you're accustomed to a comfy ride...something to consider. My Randonee's ride is fine for most touring but can be harsh over city streets/sidewalks/paths. Truckers have long wheelbases, the DT has about 1 cm more than the Sutra.
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Old 11-26-12, 06:26 AM
  #20  
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k_randomfactor, Test riding as many different bikes (and their variations when possible) is certainly the best process to find what suits you, then pick whichever allows for the least number of modifications to personalize. Number crunching has it's place, but it takes saddle time to put ALL of the little differences between framesets into perspective.

Because of slack geometry and longer wheelbases all expedition level tourers feel dead compared to a race bred road bike, and even some mountain bikes, when unladen. I see that comment more associated with the Surley, but then again it's possibly the most test driven tourer on the market in recent years so more comments about it, both good and bad, should be expected.

I use my touring bike for many different riding situations, so much so I've sold some roadies (even the ones I was quite fond of) because of it's versatility. Point is I feel a touring bike should encourage one to ride it as much as possible, whether it's laden or not. I have a crit bike and a mountain bike for what they do best.

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Old 11-26-12, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
IMHO, after you get to a 26-34 or 24-32 low gear, you're about as low as you need (with 700C or 26" wheels). It gets difficult to stay upright at some speed, and you may as well get off and push.
Of course this is personal preference, but for what it's worth, I have a 22/32 low gear (27" wheels), and I use it all the time. I've never had a problem keeping upright with that low gear, and it's much easier (and faster) for me to spin up a hill in low gear than walk the bike, even if I am going up the hill at 4 or 5 MPH. A low low gear sure is nice at times, so I'd advise the original poster to get gearing that's *very* low if the OP plans on loaded touring in an area with hills.
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Old 11-26-12, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by k_randomfactor View Post
Thanks 10Wheels. After riding those two bikes, the whole "Fit is King" idea makes a lot more sense. Fietsbob's comment that "fit is a verb" is more understandable, and a pretty apt description.




1-

2- The 56cm DT has a shorter wheelbase, but longer chainstays.

3- The DT also has more BB drop, which, I would think, keep the bikes CoG lower, which would improve stability, but decrease handling "nimbleness". Surly doesn't list the BB height, but more drop equals less height, correct?

4- The Sutra has a heavier down tube, which seems to make the frame more rigid (the BSG said the same). Seems to help handling and pedaling efficiency, but "road noise" seemes to be greater. Doesn't necessarily change fit, but effects ride quality. Tires were a wash, but fork and rear triangle material/size would contribute to this as well. I don't remember comparative sizes, so this point is probably moot.

5- The Sutra has a longer horizontal Top Tube (605mm) than the DT (570mm effective length). It's counter-intuitive that the Sutra didn't feel as stretched out. The difference in HT length (43mm) and the difference in effective TT length (35mm) seems like a wash as 8mm combined difference shouldn't effect fit that much..

Unless the shorter BB drop and the shorter chainstays shift the body geometry forward just enough to overcome the "paper" differences with the Sutra.

Anywho, just some over-analyzation. Not trying to talk myself into a LHT/DT, or talk myself out of a Sutra, just throwing out some thoughts on "why" the Sutra may fit better. The whole "curiosity/cat" thing. Also, if I'm thinking about these correctly, it may help eliminate, or add, some other bikes. If I'm off-base on any of these, please let me know if you actually read this far.

Sorry for the rambling. I'll go work now.
1. Seems to me the 56cm LHT is too small and the 61 cm KS is too big so any valuable comparison is moot. My gut feeling is that the LHT can carry a heavier rear load and still handle well compared to the KS but that the KS will feel more like a bike than a truck unloaded.

2. Comparable size LHT has longer wheelbase. Just for reference my 26" wheeled LHT has the same wheelbase as the 700c one but is more nimble/precise handling even with 1.75" tires.

3. The size of tires can change bb height

4. Tire type can affect ride also

5.again different sized bikes
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Old 11-26-12, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by OldZephyr View Post
Of course this is personal preference, but for what it's worth, I have a 22/32 low gear (27" wheels), and I use it all the time. I've never had a problem keeping upright with that low gear, and it's much easier (and faster) for me to spin up a hill in low gear than walk the bike, even if I am going up the hill at 4 or 5 MPH. A low low gear sure is nice at times, so I'd advise the original poster to get gearing that's *very* low if the OP plans on loaded touring in an area with hills.
Exactly. Grinding up hills at low cadence fatigues the legs & I've found that with a loaded bike it sort of causes the front wheel to almost lift off the road. When I started the first climb on a Blue Ridge Parkway tour on the old Randonee (had low gears but not low enough) I thought, "Good grief, I might never finish this tour". A motorist stopped to say hello; she was a local bike tourist. She mentioned touring around Hannibal Missouri where they have climbs twice as steep. Of course it's sometimes nice to have some pretty tall top gears but on the BRP descents the cross winds hitting the panniers limited a comfortable speed anyway.
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Old 11-26-12, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
First, you're not making a fair comparison fit-wise... Looking at the geometry numbers between these two sizes is somewhat a waste of time. Compare the dimensions for the same frame size!
***Edit: I looked at the numbers for the 60cm LHT/DT compared to the 61cm Sutra, and they are, almost across the board, within .200-.500". The only concern I may have with the 60cm LHT, is the standover, which is 1.4" taller than the 56cm version, and an inch taller than the Sutra. The 56cm had a little room, but was close to getting, uh, "crowded" in the standover area. Not sure if that matters atall atall. Have to see when I can find one to ride.***

Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
Number crunching has it's place, but it takes saddle time to put ALL of the little differences between framesets into perspective..
Thanks for the comments, and reality checks, folks. I'm going to ride as many bikes as I can, and base the choice on that criteria alone.

I got curious and started comparing the two bikes I rode, mainly to see if I could figure why the two bikes fit differently. I knew they did, and I knew at least one of them probably was the wrong size. Granted, a lot of re-inventing the wheel (ba-dum ching! ) and blind guessing, but I like to figure things out and understand what's going on behind the curtain. Hard-headed I guess. I kinda figured that the LHT was too small, after thinking about it for a bit, and comparing the specs and crunching the numbers kinda showed that. Still gonna try to find a shop closer than 2.5hrs away to test drive a larger LHT. And maybe a smaller Sutra, if anybody has one. And hopefully a few other makes to cover all my bases. The biggest problem is few LBSs, with few manufacturers available (and even fewer tourers), and a truck that is iffy at best on long trips for trying other bikes. (Parking the truck for repairs and going car-lite is another reason I'm looking at a nice tourer. Grocery shopping. Exciting life I live.)

I hope the LBSs nearby would be willing to order a bike for me to test ride, but asking them to order half a dozen, when I may not buy any of them, just ain't right. So I'm gonna have to travel a bit to see what I can see.

For the record, again, I'm not planning on basing my purchase on my half-assed WAG about fitting. Those were just some thoughts that were bouncing around in my head as I'm trying to understand the theory behind bike geometry. Granted, a good bike designer/engineer could answer my questions in about 2min, but I didn't have one handy at the time. I'll ride as many as possible, and base my decision on that, and only that.

The rest is just me having fun being a nerd.

RE: gears

I have a 22t low gear on my MTB, and love the heck out of it. I'm not, and have never been, a super strong climber, so a low low gear really appeals. I may not need it, but it's nice to drop into the small ring when going up steep Appalachian hills. I may be spinning 900RPM and doing 2MPH, but my knees thank me at the end of the day.

Again, thanks for the discussion folks, I appreciate the time and assistance. This is a mighty fine forum.

Last edited by k_randomfactor; 11-26-12 at 11:00 PM. Reason: Adding stuff
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Old 11-26-12, 11:48 PM
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Was a bit surprised about the LHT standover issue though it's true they have non-sloping top bar. For your height the 58 cm would seem to be a more likely fit in other regards. Bought a new 56 cm 26" wheel Disk Trucker frame without any test ride (though I did a short test ride of same frame in 27" wheel version). Back when I rode racing frames I'd get them around 58 cm; standover height was not optimum but other measurements worked well (just was a little careful about hopping off the saddle ;^) ) I'm 5'11" but longish legs. Oh well, good luck. Went to my LBS today & they had 4 LHTs on display, a record for local shops. No DTs nor 26" models though.
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