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I want to go offroad with my LHT

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I want to go offroad with my LHT

Old 12-12-12, 08:47 AM
  #1  
garethzbarker
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I want to go offroad with my LHT

I have a Surly LHT. It's unfortunate that the disc trucker came out after I bought my trucker or I would have gotten that model. Next spring I want to use it for offroad riding here in Korea. I haven't done much offroad riding really so I don't know what to expect; but I have some friends that will guide me to easy courses. I use midge drop bars so those should be useful for trail riding. Without breaking the bank what are some tips to improve my V brakes for max performance? I have kool stops brake pads just on the front and they do help a lot. I only put them up front because for normal purposes that was adequate. Now I'll put them on the back as well. Obviously without suspension (other than my brooks) I won't be riding really extreme stuff. I'm sure some of you use your touring rigs for offroad fun so please share any tips you have

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to put the cash into it but is it possible to install disc mounts on a standard LHT frame? I'm just wondering, doubt I'd do that; for the cost I could probably almost buy an entry level MTB.
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Old 12-12-12, 08:58 AM
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What do you mean by offroad riding? if light trail riding, what you currently have will be fine, not sure what the hang-up with the brakes is, we all managed fine with canti's BITD, most CX bikes still have them as standard, can v-brakes will work even better than them. AM, DJ or DH, this bike won't work.

The biggest issues you will have with your LHT will be the geometry of the bike, and the drop bars, Drop bars are usable, again, look at CX, the geometry, not much you can do other than learn what you can and can't do with the bike.
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Old 12-12-12, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
What do you mean by offroad riding? if light trail riding, what you currently have will be fine, not sure what the hang-up with the brakes is, we all managed fine with canti's BITD, most CX bikes still have them as standard, can v-brakes will work even better than them. AM, DJ or DH, this bike won't work.

The biggest issues you will have with your LHT will be the geometry of the bike, and the drop bars, Drop bars are usable, again, look at CX, the geometry, not much you can do other than learn what you can and can't do with the bike.
I'm not very versed on MTB jargon but I think my buddy mentioned CX. Yeah the geometry could be a pain in the nads I guess. Didn't think about that.
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Old 12-12-12, 09:19 AM
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AM = All Mountain
DJ = Dirt Jumping
DH - Downhill
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Old 12-12-12, 09:22 AM
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I've done it plenty with my 26" LHT, you can do it but it's no mountain bike. The big issue is the low bottom bracket...watch out for roots and don't get too aggressive in the turns. The geometry definitely makes climbing off road a little harder. Vbrakes stop just fine if setup right.
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Old 12-12-12, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by iforgotmename View Post
I've done it plenty with my 26" LHT, you can do it but it's no mountain bike. The big issue is the low bottom bracket...watch out for roots and don't get too aggressive in the turns. The geometry definitely makes climbing off road a little harder. Vbrakes stop just fine if setup right.
That's my experience as well. Potential pedal strike even on some relatively mild terrain. May depend on your size bike and size tires as to how much of an issue that is. In fact, the first change I would recommend is the biggest tires you can fit in order to get a little more room underneath.

I wouldn't add disc braze-ons just to use your LHT as a mountain bike. In the U.S. at least, I feel like I could pick up a serviceable, 2nd hand mountain bike for cheaper than modifying my Trucker's frame. If off-roading means connecting up some roads with some light trail riding, I have no problem using my LHT. But if it means going out of my way to spend some time riding the trails, I feel like I'd probably be happier with a budget mountain bike.

But if you really want to try out disc brakes on this thing, rather than modding the frame, you might just pick up a front fork for a Disc Trucker and swap it out. At least you'll have a front disc brake, then, and you can decide if it'd be worthwhile to mess with the rear.
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Old 12-12-12, 10:27 AM
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I've used my LHT trail riding. Just add good tires and ride.
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Old 12-12-12, 10:39 AM
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1st part of making V brakes work well is wheel truing.. with no side to side motion,
the clearance
between Rim and brake shoe, when lever is released, can be reduced to a couple ~3 mm .

my favorite rim brake is Magura's HS33 hydraulic.
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Old 12-12-12, 10:44 AM
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garethzbarker, I too have used my touring bike, sans panniers, off road. It really can't be used on anything technical, primarily it's size prevents any of the drops, rocky sections or testier uphill/downhill transitions. I use my mountain bike for that type of riding and would suggest that for anyone.

Forest trails, walk paths and unimproved roads are easily doable, a touring bike can cope with whatever a CX bike can. Linear pull brakes are easily modulated and can stop a wheel when needed. There's no reason for disk envy.

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Old 12-12-12, 10:49 AM
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Most touring bikes will gladly take some amount of dirt, but as mentioned above, there is a limit to what they can comfortably do. If the rides your buddies want to take you on involve a lot singletrack, you definitely will need to look at a mountain bike with at least a decent front suspension. If it is simply about riding on dirt/gravel roads, then the LHT will be just fine. You should definitely go for it and start with the LHT and see how you like mountain biking. I know Korea tends to have a wet a climate and disc brakes would have been nice. Your V-brakes, however, should still perform adequately (this is all people ran in the 90s.) Yeah, I would use Kool Stop "salmon color" brake pads front and back. Later, you can also replace the brake housings/cables for something of much higher quality.

I absolutely love my touring bike for 90% of my cycling needs. They are truly amazing! The remainder 10% is technical trail riding for which I keep my full suspension mountain bike.
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Old 12-12-12, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
I've used my LHT trail riding. Just add good tires and ride.
+1. This road actually got steep and pretty rough in places. At one point, we were riding on bare rock. I actually lost a rack bolt during the twenty mile stretch. We did some rougher roads later in the trip.


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Old 12-13-12, 07:33 AM
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Thanks guys. I'll be trying Korean XC riding. Korea is known for steep small mountains. Hopefully where they bring me isn't too rocky, everywhere I hike is full of basketball sized rocks. I just want to ride in the woods (can be hard to find here) or fireroads, a bit tired of pavement sometimes. The idea of packing some camping gear if the ride isn't too difficult is tempting as well.

I'll strengthen up the brakes but it sounds like I have been shortchanging my bike's capability mentally. I have some 2.1 knobby 26' tires to throw on and my one on midge bars seem like they will be great for steering. I think they are cyclocross bars.

By the way, when you say install better cables and housing I'm a bit confused. How does that help? Do you just mean to avoid snapping the cable or would it improve braking in some way? What should I look for? I usually just use jagwire cables, are those ok?

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Old 12-13-12, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
I absolutely love my touring bike for 90% of my cycling needs. They are truly amazing!

I really agree Chris. If I could only keep one bike it would be a tourer. I've been on my Bike Friday most of the year doing weekend sports touring as the folding allowed me to use trains and buses but I recently pulled out my LHT and threw studded tires on for winter, forgot how amazing she is for just about everything.
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Old 12-13-12, 10:17 AM
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The biggest drawback to using a LHT off road is just how harsh the frame rides. My LHT is way more stout and stiffer than my Surly Troll MTB. Perfect for loaded touring, beats the heck out of you in the rough stuff.
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Old 12-13-12, 10:36 AM
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I had this wild notion to try a local CX race; Cheshire Cross in Connecticut.

So I took a Trek 620 Frame and built up a 27" single speed out of mostly spare parts and two cheap new wheels.

Had I not stayed up late most nights before the race, only finishing it the day before and having about a half hour in the park near my house after dusk to learn my dismounts and remounts.... well, I still wouldn't have done well.

I had pedal strike issues, and the long wheelbase (620's had varying geometry, I think mine has 45.5 or 46cm chainstays. Not 47 like the 720, but still a luxury liner of a bike. It may have helped preserve my safety by limiting my speed, but it generally wanted to just go straight. Including towards trees.

It looked cool, though!







This was my experience. I think you will have trouble if you try to carry any weight. That would require putting your toe down a lot, I think, and the high TT is going to give you issues.... good luck!
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Old 12-14-12, 07:42 AM
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A couple of years ago, I was looking to build up a nice all around bike. I use it for around town commuting and for weekend touring. I REALLY wanted disk brakes. I decided on the Salsa Vaya as it really "fit" my needs and was amazingly comfortable. I am super happy with my choice and would buy the same bike again, but I will say that having disk brakes really isn't that big of a deal in retrospect.

As far as offroading, I have done gravel trails, single track, etc on my Vaya with no problems. A good solid wheel and some 700X42 tires and life is good! It will never be a mountain bike, but it will do surprisingly well.
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