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1995 Trek 820 and 26" Surly LHT

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1995 Trek 820 and 26" Surly LHT

Old 10-23-13, 08:07 PM
  #1  
corwin1968
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1995 Trek 820 and 26" Surly LHT

I've been riding since 1995 and 100% of that has been 700c wheels. In the past year or so I've been curious about the world of 26" wheels and I picked up a 1995 Trek 820. This bike is both an experiment in exploring 26" wheeled bikes and a guinea pig for me to learn step-by-step how to overhaul a bicycle.

I have found that I really like the ride of the 820 and I want to get a good quality 26" frameset. I'm looked at custom and that's still on the table but on the production market I've been looking at the 26" Long Haul Trucker. I don't know if I'll ever get a chance to test ride the 26" version so maybe you guys here can help me. If I really like the ride of the 820 am I likely to like the ride of the LHT?
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Old 10-23-13, 08:16 PM
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hard to say. The handling of the 820 is snappier for sure. It is an older mountain bike, but it's still a mountain bike : P I like my 26" LHT, and have had an 820, but I wouldn't say they feel similar.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:24 PM
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I have a 56cm 26" wheel LHT that I've set up with drop and mtn bars. The LHT will probably be quicker handling and better load carrier.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
hard to say. The handling of the 820 is snappier for sure. It is an older mountain bike, but it's still a mountain bike : P I like my 26" LHT, and have had an 820, but I wouldn't say they feel similar.
I haven't ridden an 820, just guessing looking at the geometry. The LHT carries weight very well.
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Old 10-23-13, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
hard to say. The handling of the 820 is snappier for sure. It is an older mountain bike, but it's still a mountain bike : P I like my 26" LHT, and have had an 820, but I wouldn't say they feel similar.
This gets at the heart of what I'm looking for...how each handles compared to the other. I know a lot of people convert old MTB's to touring bikes so I've never thought of MTB's as "snappy", primarily for that reason (having never ridden one before my 820). I wouldn't mind just building up an old MTB but the dang top-tubes are so long and they kill my back.
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Old 10-23-13, 09:20 PM
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if you think the 820 top tube is too long, I wouldn't be weary of an LHT. I have a 52 inch, and have had a 56 inch road bike. The 52 stretches me out more than I would like. I have a short stem on there now. The frame sizes seem to get wonky when you get below 56cm or so. (at least for my taste) The LHT already runs "large" depending on who you ask by 1 or 2 frame sizes.

There are many other frames to choose from in that price range fortunately.

If you have back problems I can see getting a more upright bike, but the more upright you are, the more you trade off to your backside. Recumbent seems to be a dirty word around here, but I was looking at lightning recumbents and challenge recumbents for a while, they're both far out of my price range however.

A little more on the handling of an LHT. It is what I consider "twitchy" when unloaded, but this could be partially due to the short stem on mine. When loaded it rides like a bus....a dream bus, but a bus. I really like this feel. I can sit upright, kick leg up on the downtube and coast down a hill like I'm riding a locomotive, but that feel certainly isn't for everybody. I really just don't enjoy riding unloaded that much unfortunately. I end up riding my unicycle instead.
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Old 10-24-13, 05:08 AM
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Since you already have a Handsome Devil, why not look at the XOXO?
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Old 10-24-13, 05:43 AM
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corwin1968, I think I've remarked before that if I'd kept my 820, I'd have converted it to a touring bike. The chain stays are a little shorter than ideal for large panniers which could be the only possible issue, but there are work-arounds.

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Old 10-24-13, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
Since you already have a Handsome Devil, why not look at the XOXO?
The thought has crossed my mind but I'm a bit conflicted on what exactly I want out of my next bike. Part of me wants a quick and nimble 26" bike and for that, the XOXO is probably as good as it gets. Another part of me wants a cushy, Cadillac ride in a bike. I also want to be able to mount 50-60mm tires, which the XOXO won't allow. My Devil is literally a 700c version of the XOXO so that makes me lean toward a cushy ride, for something different. I guess I want the cushy Cadillac ride I often hear about but I'm afraid of getting a bike that handles like a barge.
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Old 10-24-13, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
if you think the 820 top tube is too long, I wouldn't be weary of an LHT. I have a 52 inch, and have had a 56 inch road bike. The 52 stretches me out more than I would like. I have a short stem on there now. The frame sizes seem to get wonky when you get below 56cm or so. (at least for my taste) The LHT already runs "large" depending on who you ask by 1 or 2 frame sizes.

There are many other frames to choose from in that price range fortunately.

If you have back problems I can see getting a more upright bike, but the more upright you are, the more you trade off to your backside. Recumbent seems to be a dirty word around here, but I was looking at lightning recumbents and challenge recumbents for a while, they're both far out of my price range however.

A little more on the handling of an LHT. It is what I consider "twitchy" when unloaded, but this could be partially due to the short stem on mine. When loaded it rides like a bus....a dream bus, but a bus. I really like this feel. I can sit upright, kick leg up on the downtube and coast down a hill like I'm riding a locomotive, but that feel certainly isn't for everybody. I really just don't enjoy riding unloaded that much unfortunately. I end up riding my unicycle instead.

One reason I'm so interested in the LHT is that the 54cm version has an effective T-T length of 555mm, the same as my Devil, which I find pretty comfortable. I only run flat handlebars and I find I like a shorter top-tube even for those. I tend to ride with high handlebars and although I don't like an extreme upright position, I'm still closer to upright than aggressive positioning.
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Old 10-24-13, 03:10 PM
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Today's my lucky day!! We were in an LBS about 40 miles away on Saturday so I could test ride a Surly Karate Monkey (actually, I'm interested in a Troll or Ogre but all three share the same geometry) and the guy said they were expecting a bunch of Surlys in about two weeks. I left him my name and number and he called today and they have a Troll built up today and will have a 54cm 26" LHT built up tomorrow afternoon! The 54cm LHT is the size I'm interested in and the KM was the right size for me and I assume the Troll will also be the same size so I'll get to ride the two bikes that interest me most at this time.
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Old 10-24-13, 07:22 PM
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You may also want to check out the Camargue that VO is coming out with this winter, seems like a good combo of responsive + tour capable + 26" wheels (in the smaller sizes). I've been pondering the 700c version.
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Old 10-24-13, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
Today's my lucky day!! We were in an LBS about 40 miles away on Saturday so I could test ride a Surly Karate Monkey (actually, I'm interested in a Troll or Ogre but all three share the same geometry) and the guy said they were expecting a bunch of Surlys in about two weeks. I left him my name and number and he called today and they have a Troll built up today and will have a 54cm 26" LHT built up tomorrow afternoon! The 54cm LHT is the size I'm interested in and the KM was the right size for me and I assume the Troll will also be the same size so I'll get to ride the two bikes that interest me most at this time.
It would be interesting to get your feedback
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Old 10-25-13, 06:38 AM
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I converted an 88 trek 850 to a touring setup. I haven't taken any trips yet and the front trail may be a bit high for front loads but I love the 26" wheels. I'm building another super light 26" light tourer from an older trek team mtb frame (early carbon fiber).
(early pic. suspension seatpost was temporary)
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Old 12-22-13, 08:32 PM
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I haven't been riding my 820 much because all I had for tires were the knobbies that came on it and I absolutely hate riding those on pavement. I finally ordered a set of 55mm Schwalbe Big Apples and put them on. The front wheel is starting to get noticeably out of true but even with that it's a very sweet riding bike. So much so that I'll probably take both wheels to an LBS for trueing and spend as much time as I can riding it.

I finally got around to taking a photo of it:

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Old 12-22-13, 09:47 PM
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820

my comment with the surly's is that they tend to have short forks, as i recall in the 360 mm range whereas the trek should be in the 410 height range (plenty of clearance for fat tires).. If you end up using the trek, the crank (besides having only a 38 tooth large chain ring) there is a recall on that particular crank (known for breaking)
Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
I've been riding since 1995 and 100% of that has been 700c wheels. In the past year or so I've been curious about the world of 26" wheels and I picked up a 1995 Trek 820. This bike is both an experiment in exploring 26" wheeled bikes and a guinea pig for me to learn step-by-step how to overhaul a bicycle.

I have found that I really like the ride of the 820 and I want to get a good quality 26" frameset. I'm looked at custom and that's still on the table but on the production market I've been looking at the 26" Long Haul Trucker. I don't know if I'll ever get a chance to test ride the 26" version so maybe you guys here can help me. If I really like the ride of the 820 am I likely to like the ride of the LHT?
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Old 02-19-14, 06:12 AM
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I FINALLY made it down to the LBS to ride the 54cm 26" Long Haul Trucker.

First, I'll say this was very much an Apples-to-Oranges comparison because the LHT had skinny tires and drop bars below seat-level while I prefer fat tires and MTB bars above seat-level. When I got back to the LBS the owner asked "How was it?....." and my first words were "It didn't meet my preconceived notions about what it would ride like".... and he just smiled and made comments about how it's not particularly slow or cumbersome, which is exactly right.

Overall, I couldn't tell much difference between riding the LHT and riding my Handsome Devil (a sportier geometry 700c) bike. Again, Apples-to-Oranges but I was hoping to find something in that ride that would lead me to think it could end up with the ride characteristics I want and it just wasn't there. My biggest concern about the 26" Trucker was the long 46cm chainstays but I couldn't even tell they made any difference while riding. It was a very nice bike but I did not feel confident at all on it (probably a lot of that is the drop bars) and there was absolutely nothing about the ride that appealed to me.

OTOH, I've been to this shop before and ridden several bikes so I decided to test ride a bike I had previously tried out....a Surly Troll. The Troll just clicked all the buttons for me. It wasn't set up right for me (nor was the LHT) but I immediately felt confident and just enjoyed the hell out of riding it around. The first time I rode it I thought it was nice but it didn't wow me. This time, riding it immediately after riding the LHT, it blew me away!

Fortunately for me, my oversized 820 feels much more similar to the Troll than the LHT. Now I have a decision to make. I've pretty much narrowed my choices down to ordering a Troll frameset or simply using my 820. Either choice would get the new components off of my Devil (the 820 has it's own decent wheelset). I'm leaning toward just riding the 820 and saving my money to put toward a custom frameset in the future.

It's funny because I've posted in numerous threads about my search for the perfect bike and I've always insisted that I want an "agile" bike. I even chose my Handsome Devil for that attribute. I've always been interested in the LHT and I've often been warned that if "agile" is what I want then the LHT is probably not for me. Well, now I've ridden an LHT AND IT WAS TOO AGILE FOR ME!!!!! I've always viewed this as a process of exploration and it's led me in directions I didn't expect. The bikes I've liked all seem to have really high trail numbers (over 70mm) and I tend to prefer MTB geometry over road or touring geometry. Exactly the opposite of what I thought a year ago.

Last edited by corwin1968; 02-19-14 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 02-19-14, 01:29 PM
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I think your sense of "Too Agile" was due to the more aggressive riding position on the LHT. Set up with high, flat bars and cushy 2" tires, I doubt you will feel the same way.

My opinion, from reading your thoughts, is if you feel comfortable on the Troll, that is the way you should go. It is a very capable and versatile frame. You can run discs or rim brakes, or be one of those crazies that have both set up--Just in case. Many have toured on it, just like the LHT. It is suspension corrected, so you can put on a fork, if you want. The tire clearance is also better and I believe you can squeeze in the new 2.75" Dirt Wizards for a mini-fat action. It can be set up as a SS easier, as well. I think that would be a fun bike.

For more heavy loaded tours, LHT makes more sense.
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Old 02-19-14, 03:17 PM
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My wife rides a Trek 820, and it might be from around 1995. It has a 3x7 (21 speed) drivetrain and a suspension fork. It's a very capable and reliable bike, but in my view, it's quite heavy. If weight isn't a concern, and if you're comfy enough on it to spend lots of time on it, you already have the perfect bike.
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Old 02-19-14, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
I FINALLY made it down to the LBS to ride the 54cm 26" Long Haul Trucker.



It's funny because I've posted in numerous threads about my search for the perfect bike and I've always insisted that I want an "agile" bike. I even chose my Handsome Devil for that attribute. I've always been interested in the LHT and I've often been warned that if "agile" is what I want then the LHT is probably not for me. Well, now I've ridden an LHT AND IT WAS TOO AGILE FOR ME!!!!! I've always viewed this as a process of exploration and it's led me in directions I didn't expect. The bikes I've liked all seem to have really high trail numbers (over 70mm) and I tend to prefer MTB geometry over road or touring geometry. Exactly the opposite of what I thought a year ago.
Corwin, the 700c LHT is not agile, the 26" LHT is agile. The other thing is it appears you are looking for a bike for unloaded riding or if you aren't be aware some bikes don't reveal their handling attributes until loaded. While a loaded bike isn't really agile I prefer the more precise steering in the 26" LHT since things pretty much go ballistic if I can't maneuver well.

I just checked the Surly site and it says the 54cm comes with 1.5 tires which isn't that cushy at high psi. I use 1.75" Panaracer t-serv tires which have some cush but are still agile.

It seems pretty obvious you like the Troll. I'd suggest getting it over a custom frame if money is an issue. Putting off getting a better bike for an expensive bike may not necessarily get you what you want. Custom bikes are neat if you're outside the bell curve in proportions or have money burning in your pocket.

I have owned numerous bikes, had custom frames made, knew builders and owned a shop. The search for the perfect bike is fun but perfect changes and at some point the bike disappears under you and it's the experience that matters.

your comments about chainstay length are interesting. I think long stays can help carry a rear load everything being equal but they aren't that significant to handling agility as trail and head angle. According to the specs the 26" wheel LHT has a longer wheelbase than the 700c LHT but the 26" is quicker handling. I have a Felt Cafe 8 with mondo long chainstays , 49.5 cm, and wheelbase but it feels more agile than a 700c LHT.
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Old 02-19-14, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
The thought has crossed my mind but I'm a bit conflicted on what exactly I want out of my next bike. Part of me wants a quick and nimble 26" bike

I had Ed Litton build me up exactly that about 20yrs ago. Road bike handling but capable of using 1.75" tires and loaded touring. What I discovered is that it wasn't good in the dirt, but I didn't specify that. As I got fatter and older I had to raise the bars up from my comfortable drop bar position which took it out of the road bike intention placing more weight on the rear wheel which reduced it's ability to carry a heavy rear load. So objectively it was the better bike and perfect at one time with nicely curved 531 road blades but my bike use changed to where the 26" LHT is the perfect bike, er truck. Unloaded I'd rather ride a CrossCheck or similar bike.
One thing to keep in mind when folks talk about models of bikes it's their experience for that one size of bike, their posture and their size. When you have a whole bunch of people of similar size on similar types of bikes and similar posture/bar drop/reach it's easy to collect opinions for comparisons. Once you throw in folks with different amounts of weight they can put on the bars, bar positions 3" below to 4" above the seat and all manner of loading and terrain you have to go through a lot of variables for the opinions to be useful.

Perfection is a lot to ask for when good enough is easily found.
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Old 02-19-14, 04:17 PM
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Noglider,

The 820 is definately heavy. I'm no weight weenie (I weigh 400 lbs) but it's too heavy to be my perfect bike. The catalog lists the bike at 29 lbs and I'm sure that's conservative. On top of that, I'm riding the 22.5" version which is HUGE. Surprisingly, it fits me well. My thinking is that I would have R&E make a similar bike that would be much lighter and more importantly, I would have them build it so I can upgrade to a Rohloff IGH and disk brakes in the future. I might not ever do either but if I go custom I'll spend a little extra to build those options in.

LeeG,

I am definately looking for a bike that will be ridden unloaded. I might eventually put enough bikepacking gear on it for credit card touring but I don't foresee ever doing the whole heavy-duty touring rig role.

Since I'm switching to 26" wheels, I also have to factor in a new set of custom-built wheels. I can keep the 820 and use the money I would have spent on the Troll frameset to almost cover the cost of new custom wheels. Then I've got a few "toys" left over from previous hobbies that I can sell to raise funds for a custom. My biggest obstacle right now is knowing for sure exactly what I want. I would love to have a custom tomorrow but I won't rush the exploration process because I want to get it right.

Here's my 820 and a similar custom bike from R&E:

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Last edited by corwin1968; 02-19-14 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 02-19-14, 05:54 PM
  #23  
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Weight of frame materials, in the right places helps a touring bike work better, handling the touring baggage ..
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Old 02-19-14, 09:31 PM
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Corwin, sounds like you're posting in the wrong forum if your intended use is unloaded riding instead of touring. My $.02 is to get a complete Troll bike for less than the price of a Rodriquez frame
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