LHT 26″ Wheeled Build PT2…

31 05 2011

Starting to add the ingredients for a great bike...

Before you order your new frame make sure it has enough clearance for the tires and fenders you intend to use. It’s not rare for people to change their view of what size tire they want to use on their bikes or decide that fenders are a good idea. With generous clearances in the frame and fork you can always run smaller rubber, but if you start with your tires taking up all your spare room and decide you want to install fenders you are out of luck.

I’m a fan of bigger tires. They aren’t as slow as people think they are – in fact they can be downright fast if you get a light supple set. They provide a comfortable ride on rough ground and can handle mixed surfaces much better than narrow rubber. For a 26″ wheel a something in the range 40-50mm provides good balance between speed, comfort and good handling. I don’t like narrow tires on 26″ wheel as the ride is harsh and the handling can be nervous.

Schwalbe Big Apples 26 x 2.15" of rubber...

Surly designed the LHT to fit decent size rubber so it was easy to mount up some 2.15″ Schwalbe Big apples. There is room left over for full fenders. I decided to give the Big Apples a try since they were hanging up in my garage from Sharon’s city bike’s first incarnation. I mounted them up on some wheels that I had left over from previous bikes. The front wheel is a nice custom built unit with a XT hub and a Velocity Aeroheat rim. The rear wheel is a low end WTB disc hub mated to an unbranded rim. It’s a bit of a pig and not something I’d want to use long term, but I figured I might as well roll with it for now until I decide what I want to use on the rear.

Fatties do fit fine...=-)

Custom wheels are nice, but they cost a lot and aren’t needed for most applications. You can buy lower cost machine built wheels that will be fine unless you are very hard on your gear or very picky. If you do buy machine built wheels get something using mid-grade hubs/rims and have a human go over them to ensure the tension is even. That last step is low cost [$10-$15], but is the difference between having all sorts of problems and being satisfied with an affordable set of wheels. Don’t skip it!

I’m not going to get too hung up on the wheels for this bike until I try some 650B hoops with Grand Bois Hetres 42mm tires. If I stick with 26″ wheels in the long run I’ll get a better rear wheel and probably run something like a 2.0″ Schwalbe Kojak for better speed.

I moved the Brooks Champion Flyer saddle and seatpost over from my 700c LHT. The tan leather will add a touch of class to this black frame that will get built up with silver fenders and components. I’ve even considered using leather bar tape, but we’ll see that may be one step too far for me!…=-)


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20 responses

31 05 2011
Levi

Vik,

What size fenders would you run on an LHT with 2.0 tires?

31 05 2011
Pete

Good timing. I just put 26×2.15 Big Apples on my 58cm LHT last weekend! They fit perfectly under Planet Bike fenders, and the big tires + fenders really give the bike a proportional look that’s much better than the 26″ wheels with small tires, which look too small for the bike.
The tires do feel a bit sluggish compared to the 26×1.5 Marathons I had on there before, by OMG are they plush! Might be my just imagination, but I think the Apples are a good bit heavier if nothing else.
Looking forward to the rest of your build experiments.

31 05 2011
Geana Tyler

I decided the same color scheme for my LHT, black with the leather brooks, hammered silver fenders and when the bar tape needs to be redone, going with the leather. I put a VO rack on front to hold the handlbar bag I sewed, black with blue Pendleton wool blanket accents. So far it’s working well for the 50-70 mile rides we are doing. Soon we want to try our hand at bike touring so will need to get a better set of wheels than what came stock on it. Thanks for posting your build, I will be interested to see what you decide to put on it and how it turns out.

31 05 2011
thelazyrando

@Levi – I like to shoot for 10mm wider fenders vs the tire I am running. That gives good protection and looks balanced. Of course there are only certain widths of fenders available so that’s just a general rule.

As Pete notes the Planet Bike Cascadia MTB fenders work well with 26″ x ~2.0″ tires.

I had some 60mm wide Berthoud stainless fenders on my Thorn Nomad with 2.0″ tires.

Velo Orange has a number of metal fender options in the 58-60mm range.

http://store.velo-orange.com/index.php/accessories/fenders/fender-sets.html

31 05 2011
thelazyrando

@Geana – are you having any issues with the stock wheels that is making you want to replace them?

31 05 2011
Micheal Blue

I had 2″ Big Apple tires on my 20″ folder. They worked well, but I ran into the problem you describe: they wouldn’t fit properly under the fenders.

31 05 2011
Chris Cullum

Out of curiosity what do those B/A’s weigh? I agree that 26″ 559 is a good choice for loaded touring. I don’t necessarily think the LHT is great choice for a “lightweight 650B randonneur”. The bike is a tank designed for heavy loads. I’m not sure what the point would be. A lightweight road bike converted to 650B would make more sense.

31 05 2011
Vik

@ Michael – you have a Dahon correct? I have 20 x 2.0″ BAs on my [Sharon's Speed D7] and they work. You have to play with the fenders, but there is enough clearance.

31 05 2011
Vik

@Chris – the LHT is a popular touring bike that many people use as a commuter. It is not a fast ultra light rando bike in the vein of my Boulder Bicycle All Road. Since so many LHTs are out there I think it’s interesting to see what a 650B rando-fied LHT would be like. You can certainly make the LHT lighter by forgoing the touring racks and heavy duty wheels. The frame is stiff, but in the bigger sizes for heavier riders it’s not such a crazy choice.

If are serious about riding a lot of brevets and you’ve got the ability to build/own a dedicated rando rig I think that’s a great idea. OTOH if you tour/commute on a LHT it’s worth starting off on it for brevets until you are at a place where you need a different bike.

1 06 2011
Micheal Blue

Vik, yes, I have Dahon Mu P24. I had to play with the fenders as well, and just about squeezed the tires in, but then I had two issues:
1) when folded, the handlebars or a cable would rub against the rear tire, so the bike was difficult to wheel along folded.
2) as the sides of the wide tires would kinda overlap the fenders, the fenders wouldn’t offer as good coverage in rain.
1.75″ tires are the widest one I can reasonably employ.

1 06 2011
Geana Tyler

@Vik
I haven’t had any issues yet but have had bad luck with machine built wheels on my commuter bike and spent too much money trying to let the shop fix it when I really needed to go straight to a nice handbuilt wheel from Sugar Wheel Works here in Portland. Solved the problem. Right now I have been riding with just the handlebar bag on the LHT on our longer rides but being on the heavy side of things (body weight wise) I am afraid to add more to the bike (camping gear) and push my luck with the wheels. Perhaps an overnighter to someplace close would help me decide if I need to spend the money for wheels. I did get a Burley Travoy to help take most of the weight off the bike thinking that might be a solution for the camping trips.

1 06 2011
thelazyrando

@Geana – getting the machine built wheels tensioned properly by a human is vital for them to work well and is way cheaper than some custom wheels. I’ve had great luck with several sets of machine built wheels by taking them to a pro wheel builder for some love right off the bat.

If you wait until your machine built wheels have problems you can’t really solve them at that point without a wholesale rebuild.

3 06 2011
Zyzzyx

@Pete and others: If you didn’t go for it, I’d definitely recommend the folding bead ‘LiteSkin’ version of the Big Apples. It’s 1/4 to 1/3 pound lighter than the wire bead, and with the thinner sidewalls, has a better rollout than the wire bead versions. Definitely costs more though, and can be tricky to find in stock.

7 06 2011
Alex

Vik,

just wondering if you’ve come up with a solution for brakes on the 650b wheelset?

I’m doing the same conversion on a 90’s MTB and I’m having trouble finding either V’s or canti’s with enough reach adjustment to get up to the rims.

Cheers

7 06 2011
thelazyrando

@Alex – I haven’t got that far. I’m waiting on some parts to come in. I’ve hear Tektro 720’s have enough adjustment and so do Paul Moto Ace cantis.

http://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2011/05/converting-lht-to-650b.html

I’ll try the 720’s as they are far cheaper.

7 06 2011
Alex

@Vik

Thanks for that. Just got the tape out and checked over the frame with a 650b mock up. Looks like the Tektro R556 long reach caliper brake should fit perfectly on my particular frame, as it is drilled. Wide enough to take a decent tire and fender too.

4 10 2011
Greg

I realize this most is a few months old, but do you happen to know if Big Apples will fit on a 700c LHT with fenders? Love your site. Thanks for doing it.

4 10 2011
thelazyrando

@Greg – I run 35m 700c tires with fenders and surly says 42mm with fenders and 45mm without fenders on the 700c LHT, but someone on the LHT Google Group says he fit BAs and fenders so it might be possible. If you really feel the need for 50mm+ 700c tires give it a shot.

30 10 2011
davidd419

Any suggestions for semi good machine built wheels? For 26″

31 10 2011
thelazyrando

@David419 – I would just go down to your LBS and see what they have or can order in. They’ll have a catalogue of machine built wheels to pick from. I’m 175lbs and carry a moderate amount of gear. I’d happily tour on any mid-grade pre-built 26″ XC MTB wheelset, but I would give it to a pro wheel builder and pay $10 to have him check over each wheel and adjust the tension. The front wheel on my cargo bike is such a wheel and has provided trouble free service for years.

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