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Trek 520, Kona Sutra, or Surly LHT?

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Trek 520, Kona Sutra, or Surly LHT?

Old 05-02-14, 10:47 AM
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pepper240
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Trek 520, Kona Sutra, or Surly LHT?

Hi Everyone,

I am planning a bike trip from Toronto to Halifax. 21 Days. 2172 km. I need a good touring bike. After doing some online research, I have found that the three most popular touring bikes that are available for sale in my area are the Trek 520, the Kona Sutra, and the Surly LHT. Here are some details about me:

Weight: 175 lbs.
Height: 6 foot
Experience: Summer commuter, occasional racer.

I plan on test riding each of these bikes before I purchase one. I also have heard that each of them apparently ride better when loaded, rather than unloaded. Each of them costs approximately $1500 for the 2014 model, and each of them have good and bad reviews online. Which bike do you think I should buy? Also, when I do buy one of these bikes, would I need to make any modifications to the stock model? If so, what should I change? Thanks!
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Old 05-02-14, 11:02 AM
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raqball
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Originally Posted by pepper240 View Post
Hi Everyone,

I am planning a bike trip from Toronto to Halifax. 21 Days. 2172 km. I need a good touring bike. After doing some online research, I have found that the three most popular touring bikes that are available for sale in my area are the Trek 520, the Kona Sutra, and the Surly LHT. Here are some details about me:

Weight: 175 lbs.
Height: 6 foot
Experience: Summer commuter, occasional racer.

I plan on test riding each of these bikes before I purchase one. I also have heard that each of them apparently ride better when loaded, rather than unloaded. Each of them costs approximately $1500 for the 2014 model, and each of them have good and bad reviews online. Which bike do you think I should buy? Also, when I do buy one of these bikes, would I need to make any modifications to the stock model? If so, what should I change? Thanks!
I am in the same boat right now..

I am in a toss up between the Trek 520 and the Surly LHT. I will test ride them both but as you say, a test ride is really kind of hard to tell considering the test ride will be done w/o loaded gear and at nowhere even close to accumulated mileage and / or mega climbs..

If they are both similar then I will probably go with the Trek because my favorite LBS sells the Trek but not the Surly.. I love this LBS so they get preference right from the start..

Changes I am considering are lower gears (22t or 24t) for climbing them mega mountains and a Brooks saddle..
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Old 05-02-14, 11:03 AM
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As always, rule number one is ride the bike with the best fit. Everything else is essentially very similar. LHT fit me best, but I got the disc trucker version with 26" wheels. I've changed: Saddle, pedals, gearing, shifters (went to STI), handlebars, fenders, kickstand, added a hub dyno, fornt/rear lights, usb charger (powered by dyno), added a front/rear rack, a thorn accessory bar and an arkel handlebar bag. I probably went overboard.

So again, buy the bike that fits, make sure there are good racks (or use a trailer) to carry your stuff. From there it's personal choice.

Horrible pic of my bike:
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Last edited by DogBoy; 05-02-14 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 05-02-14, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DogBoy View Post
As always, rule number one is ride the bike with the best fit. Everything else is essentially very similar. LHT fit me best, but I got the disc trucker version with 26" wheels. I've changed: Saddle, pedals, gearing, shifters (went to STI), handlebars, fenders, kickstand, added a hub dyno, fornt/rear lights, usb charger (powered by dyno), added a front/rear rack, a thorn accessory bar and an arkel handlebar bag. I probably went overboard.

So again, buy the bike that fits, make sure there are good racks (or use a trailer) to carry your stuff. From there it's personal choice.

Horrible pic of my bike:
I like the disc trucker as fit was the most important factor for me.

VERY COOL!! Sorry to hijack this thread but which front rack, fenders, charger and dyno hub did you use as I am looking to upgrade as well.

Last edited by lurch0038; 05-02-14 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 05-02-14, 11:58 AM
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Try them all and pick the one you like best. The one you like is the one you'll ride.

Only other suggestion is to get moving on the test rides and buying phase. Touring bikes seem to be made once a year. They'll show up in bike shops in April, and usually be gone by June. Get them while they're hot!
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Old 05-02-14, 12:00 PM
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I can't compare those 3 bikes, but will save I have a Kona Sutra and love it. You'll find lots of love for all three, though.
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Old 05-02-14, 12:27 PM
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Have you looked at the Soma Saga? IMHO, it is superior to the other frames you mentioned at a comparable price.
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Old 05-02-14, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by lurch0038 View Post
I like the disc trucker as fit was the most important factor for me.

VERY COOL!! Sorry to hijack this thread but which front rack, fenders, charger and dyno hub did you use as I am looking to upgrade as well.

Arkel front rack, sks longboard fenders, Supernova The Plug III charger, Shimano alfine disc dynohub 36h. I'm very happy with the build now. I had some early kinks. See here for more detail.
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Old 05-02-14, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Have you looked at the Soma Saga? IMHO, it is superior to the other frames you mentioned at a comparable price.
Why superior? I think of these frames (surly LHT, Kona Sutra, trek 520, or soma Saga) as being within spitting distance of each other quality wise.

Personally I'd go for the bike that the OP thinks is the prettiest. Everything else is kind of secondary . . . .
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Old 05-02-14, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Why superior? I think of these frames (surly LHT, Kona Sutra, trek 520, or soma Saga) as being within spitting distance of each other quality wise.

Personally I'd go for the bike that the OP thinks is the prettiest. Everything else is kind of secondary . . . .
+1 (assuming they all fit fine.)
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Old 05-02-14, 12:43 PM
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Superior was not the best choice of words. It is better for me because the geometry fits me better. I personally like the Saga's styling better as well. The Surly LHT is often touted as the end-all for inexpensive touring frames, and is a great option if it fits you, but the geometry is all wrong for me -- overly long top tube, and too short head tube. If nothing else, someone researching frame should check out the Saga because it might very well be a better fit.
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Old 05-02-14, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by pepper240 View Post
Hi Everyone,

I am planning a bike trip from Toronto to Halifax. 21 Days. 2172 km. I need a good touring bike. After doing some online research, I have found that the three most popular touring bikes that are available for sale in my area are the Trek 520, the Kona Sutra, and the Surly LHT. Here are some details about me:

Weight: 175 lbs.
Height: 6 foot
Experience: Summer commuter, occasional racer.

I plan on test riding each of these bikes before I purchase one. I also have heard that each of them apparently ride better when loaded, rather than unloaded. Each of them costs approximately $1500 for the 2014 model, and each of them have good and bad reviews online. Which bike do you think I should buy? Also, when I do buy one of these bikes, would I need to make any modifications to the stock model? If so, what should I change? Thanks!
As others have said test ride if you can and pick the one that suits you best. If you have local dealers then that might factor into the decision. I purchased a touring bike late last year, sight unseen because we have no local dealers. My two choices I could get shipped to the area were the Surly and the Trek.

I chose the Surly LHT (disc) and based the size on my regular road bike. Got a 58. Oh yeah, I LOVE the Surly and have done one tour on it. I toured with a guy on an older Trek 520 and it was a little lighter and he loves that bike also. I've hosted several touring cyclists that rode Kona... So you're on the right track.

But I really like my Surly, rides very nice. I added the Surly racks, ortlieb panniers and everything else is stock, including the seat. Of course, had to add pedals. I have around 1,250 miles on it as my secondary bike in 6 months. If I had bought the Trek I probably would have felt the same way. Really can't believe any of these bikes would get a bad review...they are all good.

Good luck
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Old 05-02-14, 03:41 PM
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3 brands all out of Taiwan to different importers .. made to do the same sort of job

My LBS is not a Jamis dealer so Ive never seen those .


Occasional racer , may have any of them seem too heavy for that .. N+1 tour and race bikes as separate tools.

test ride all 3 , ask about changing things like adding a smaller Granny gear . stem to make a better fit.
saddle ,. pedals a good time to get a price cut on accessories is Point Of Sale. when you buy the bike ..

Typically, 10% + installation is often thrown in ..

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Old 05-02-14, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Superior was not the best choice of words. It is better for me because the geometry fits me better. I personally like the Saga's styling better as well. The Surly LHT is often touted as the end-all for inexpensive touring frames, and is a great option if it fits you, but the geometry is all wrong for me -- overly long top tube, and too short head tube. If nothing else, someone researching frame should check out the Saga because it might very well be a better fit.
Agree. I have a LHT, and if you have long legs and a short torso, like I do; the LHT may not work for you. I can ride it, but I have other bikes that fit better, all 58 cm frames.
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Old 05-02-14, 09:31 PM
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The 520 has some nicer components and comes with a rack, and the LHT fits bigger tires, but really its all about the fit.

In other words: Trust your test ride.
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Old 05-02-14, 10:02 PM
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all three are fine rides-and I test rode all three and went with a Salsa vaya 3-and changed the small ring to a 26,so far so good.
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Old 05-02-14, 10:15 PM
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You guys should throw the Fuji Touring into the consideration mix also. My LBS sells a lot of touring bikes and they said the Fuju is starting to outsell the LHT and 520. It is certainly a better deal price wise... Great components and easy to find on sale right now (~$750 recently).
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Old 05-03-14, 03:58 AM
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pepper240, Welcome to the forum.

All three of your choices would make a good final selection. Fitment trumps all other criteria and then it's down to features and appearance.

More than likely you'll make changes to any of the three. What those possible changes are will generally boil down to comfort and performance, the latter usually is optimizing the gearing to suit your needs.

Brad
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Old 05-03-14, 04:56 AM
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Originally Posted by pepper240 View Post
Which bike do you think I should buy? Also, when I do buy one of these bikes, would I need to make any modifications to the stock model? If so, what should I change? Thanks!
Don't buy a touring bike based on future modifications. Only you can determine which of these models (if any) is the right bicycle based on fit. After the test rides and the purchase is complete, we can discuss about upgrades.
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Old 05-03-14, 05:42 AM
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Get the best fitting bike first and if it were me I would get one that has disc brakes, they are far more powerful than any rim brake and you will need it when loaded down.
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Old 05-03-14, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Have you looked at the Soma Saga? IMHO, it is superior to the other frames you mentioned at a comparable price.
I just built up a Soma Saga and I love it. It rides great unloaded too!
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Old 05-03-14, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
You guys should throw the Fuji Touring into the consideration mix also. My LBS sells a lot of touring bikes and they said the Fuju is starting to outsell the LHT and 520. It is certainly a better deal price wise... Great components and easy to find on sale right now (~$750 recently).
No. 1. It's a fine bike and very competitively priced. Heck I'd probably buy one at that price over the other bikes.
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Old 05-03-14, 04:41 PM
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Trek 520 for a medium load, nice ride loaded or unloaded. LHT for mondo loads, 26" wheel and 700c versions handle differently. If you have any need later on for a utility use bike the 26" LHT is a good pick, if you are inclined towards general road riding the 520. Not familiar with the Kona.
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Old 05-03-14, 10:50 PM
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Thank you all so much! You have all been very helpful. I sincerely appreciate all of the feedback.
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Old 05-19-14, 12:22 AM
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I have put 300 miles on my new Soma Saga build and I am very happy with it, but build and component preference play a secondary role to fit and feel. It all starts with a good steel frame and how they feel for you. I am 6' 215 and needed a stiff bottom end, and I liked the Saga. If the All City Space Horse had a sloping top tube I would have had a tougher choice because I liked that, too. The others you mention we're nice riding but too sluggish as built (LHT) or too budget minded for me (520). But other folks I know love them and ride them hard!
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