Rustproofed and ready to be built...
I bought my sage green Surly Long Haul Trucker frame back in the day when the only option was 700c wheels [for frames 56cm +] and complete bikes were just a dream. I was really pleased to see Surly introduce a 26″ wheeled trucker in the larger sizes recently. The 26″ wheel size allows you to use parts that are ubiquitous due to the proliferation of the mountain bike and to fit massive rubber plus fenders into the frame for a strong wheel that rolls like it’s on a cloud. If you are headed off paved roads or to a destination where roads are more an idea than a reality 26″ wheels/wide rubber make sense.
I’ve been curious how different a 26″ LHT would be compared to my 700c frame. A side by side comparison was on my mind for a while, but it took a little while to make it happen. Well I’m stoked to say I’ve got a 58cm black LHT frame in my work stand finally. My plan is to try out a few different builds on this frame over the summer and compare them back to back with my 700c Trucker.
Some ideas I have:
- trying 38mm and 50mm 26″ rubber
- trying drop bars and Jones Loop H-bar
- trying 650B wheels & 42mm Grand Bois Hertre tires
- trying a porteur rack up front to see how the bike handles
- possibly setting it up in lightweight mode with 650B tires as a rando rig
New Surly LHT dropouts...
One thing I really like about Surly is that they don’t trying and upgrade their frames needlessly each year like most companies just for the sake of giving you something new to buy. They come up with a solid design, test it thoroughly and then stick with it. The LHT has seen only a couple changes over the years. The rear dropouts are different from my LHT. The rack/fender mounts are supported much better in the new dropouts which is a plus if you carry very heavy loads on rough terrain.
The rough looking finish on the dropouts in the image above is due to rust proofing I didn’t clean off – not a problem with the powder coat.
Nice tall head tube...
The other difference I noticed is that the new LHT’s head tube is ~9″ tall vs. 6.5″ on my older LHT to accomodate the lower front wheel.
The blue LHT...
One thing I’ll be doing differently this time around is to document and post about each stage of the build so that someone who has never built a bike from a frame can see what’s involved. For this post let’s talk about sizing a frame and frame prep.
How to size a frame?
I’m no expert at this and I occasionally goof up, but my system works most of the time!
- if you have a similar bike you like measure it
- if not go to a LBS and find a similar bike that fits well and measure it or grab the specs from the net
- if that’s not working for you ask your LBS to suggest a size
- use the top tube length as the primary criteria
- then check the stand over to make sure you aren’t going to have any issues straddling the bike [I have zero stand over on my LHT and it's no problem]
- get a second independent opinion [hopefully it agrees with your initial sizing result]
- if you are not confident in the answer you get take your time and keep looking into it
For a bike like the LHT most people can ride two sizes comfortably. I like my 58cm LHT, but I can easily fit on a 56cm frame, but a 54cm frame is too small.
56cm LHT w/ 26" wheels - Photo: Hiawatha Cyclery...
- inspect for any damage
- clean threads [BB, braze ons]
- face BB shell [for external bearing cranks]
- face head tube and fork crown
- rustproof inside of frame
I’ll be honest I’ve tried going nuts on the frame prep and not doing anything at all. I haven’t noticed much if any difference in outcome. I’ve read the same thing online from a lot of other folks so it’s not something I stress about. I had both my old trucker and the new frame rustproofed by the Fairfield Bicycle Shop. The cost was low and it seems like a reasonable precaution for a bike used in a wet climate. If you are not sure if you should get your new frame fully prepared by a bike shop find out how much it will cost and compare that to the cost of the frame.
You can always go back to your LBS for some frame prep help if as you build the bike you notice some issues with stuff like excessive powder coat on the threads. However, you do need to deal with rustproofing while the frame is bare so once you start the build it’s too late to reconsider without having to strip the frame again.
While you are at it look the frame over very closely for any obvious problems with the paint, welds and alignment. Most frames are shipped well packaged, but I’ve had 3 arrive with some form of damage. If you have to return a frame for replacement ideally you want to figure that out before you waste time/$$ preparing the frame and installing the headset.