What happened to my Long Haul Trucker?

11 04 2012

My Surly LHT with the Selkirk Trestle in the background...

I’ve been out of town a lot so far this year and have mostly been riding my MTBs and Bike Friday Tikit when I am home. So the other night I grabbed my oldest bike and jumped on it for a ride into town to meet a friend. My sage green LHT has been one of those bikes I’ve used to size other bikes I was buying because it fit so well and it was definitely in that category of “bikes I would never get rid of”. So it came as a huge shock that I was both uncomfortable on my LHT and didn’t enjoy how she felt to ride…=-(

Now logically I know our bodies and our preferences change, but emotionally I was just so totally unprepared to not be smiling as I pedalled this bike into Victoria.

Some of the issues are reasonably easy to fix. I need to move the saddle to get my butt/knees and BB into the position that’s comfortable and efficient. Then I may or may not have to swap in a different stem to get the bars positioned where I want them and I definitely will need to rotate the bars and reposition the brake levers. This is a bit of a pain, but nothing overly challenging. Give me a warm sunny afternoon and 3 beers! =-)

I wasn’t loving the skinny 35mm Marathon XR touring tires either which is also a shock as these have been one of my favourite for a long long time. Tires are easily replaced so other than feeling bad for not enjoying an old friend’s company I can get over this issue. Now I know 35mm isn’t skinny for a road tire, but keep in mind my MTBs run on 2.4″-3.7″ tires and my go fast road bike runs on 42mm tires – plus the XRs measure a bit on the narrow side so they aren’t a true 35mm width.

I actually came home after the ride in question and said to myself “I could sell this bike and be fine about it.”

Now I’m fortunate in that I have a 26″ wheeled LHT in my work stand getting Retroshift brake levers + bar end shifters installed. I just setup the bars/levers and saddle position to be comfortable/efficient so that’s not a problem and it’s running on Schwalbe Big Apple 2.15″ balloon tires. This should address all my concerns about my 700c LHT. I’m keen to get the 26″ LHT back on the road and ride both of them [after adjusting the 700c bike’s cockpit]. A always assumed the 26″ wheeled LHT would be a bike I’d keep for 2-3yrs to compare wheel sizes after which I’d sell it, but now I’m really not sure which LHT will get sold.

If I do end up keeping the 26″ wheeled LHT I may forge ahead with the 650B conversion I had been pondering and perhaps even get the fork re-raked to lower the trail. That seems to be where my bikey preferences are headed.

Life is always full of surprises!


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16 responses

11 04 2012
lovetocycle

Vik,

You just built the 26″ LHT, so don’t sell it.

I think the 700c is a good bike and I think if you
make the changes that you have listed then it will become an even better bike!

I’m saying all this while thinking about getting a folder, so what do i know…?

11 04 2012
thelazyrando

I won’t be selling either LHT in the short term. I’ve got a bunch or tinkering and test riding to do first.

11 04 2012
Castle Dave

Hey Lazy,

I can totally sympathise with the feeling of getting on a bike for the first time in ages and thinking ‘this feels awful’ – the handling feels either too quick or slow, the tyres feel too hard or too squishy, the reach is too long or short, etc. But this just means that you own bikes that ride differently, and surely that’s a good thing – there’s no point in having several bikes that all ride the same.

My advice (if you’re interested!) would be to ride the LHT and nothing else for a fortnight, and then you’ll get used to it again. Chances are when you get back on one of your other bikes then that bike will feel weird in contrast to the LHT. That’s my experience, anyway – hope it works for you too.

Cheers,

Dave.

12 04 2012
Randy

I had the same experience. After a month of travelling, and riding nothing but a Dahon folder, coming home to the LHT was a surprising let-down. It felt so sluggish and bleh that it had me checking for mechanical issues to explain the feeling of “pedaling though mud”. I didn’t find anything, and now the LHT feels pretty normal again, but it’s had me questioning my bike choice…

12 04 2012
A CT Cyclist

Hi Vic, How does the 26 inch LHT feel these days? If it feels ok maybe your riding style has changed. By the way, didn’t you used to ride recumbents and crankforward bikes? Why did you originally choose to ride those and why did you stop riding them?

12 04 2012
Seb

Hi Lazy,

What we never here about anymore is your CETMA cargo bike. You still have it? You like it? For sale?

Thanks.
Seb

12 04 2012
thelazyrando

@Seb – I sold the CETMA last fall. I prefer the Big Dummy for my needs and I wanted the $$ for another bike project.

12 04 2012
thelazyrando

@A CT – I’m just finishing up some changes to the 26″ LHT and will be reporting on it later this month.

I rode recumbents because I thought they would be a better choice for brevets and tours. Having tried many bents and many DFs I prefer the DFs so I sold my bents. I can ride a DF for 18hrs in a day without pain and I am more efficient climbing on my DFs. I also find they are more fun to ride.

The crankforward I had was a fun city bike. If I had more storage space I would have kept it. I didn’t have enough use for a cruiser style bike to justify keeping it in the long term.

12 04 2012
Greg Weber (@onespeedgreg)

I just liquidated my whole fleet over the winter (6 bikes), save my Colnago road bike. I have a custom MTB frame being built. Due in a week or so. For what its worth it felt good to let go of some bikes and use the money for no holes barred build up of the new MTB. It feels good to have a few bikes that i (will) ride the hell out of rather than 8 bikes(some of the same types) that I spend lots of money on but never ride.. I thought i would miss them , but i really don’t.. Maybe because winter didnt come this year and I did not hang up the road bike like I usually do. Dont feel afraid to let go of some iron.. There will always be a new one…always.

12 04 2012
gypsybytrade

Vik, I still think the 650b LHT is a fun project for a current 26″ LHT owner with a curiosity for “the French obsession”. It’s interesting that the 26″ LHT fits 2.1 inch knobbies and fenders, while the 700c frame only allows 45-50mm touring tires and fenders (not sure exactly, but they don’t fit common 29 x 2.1 knobbies such as Nanos). Lael has Big Apples on her LHT now that the ice is gone, and she’s loving it.

Recently, I’ve been wondering if your ride your drops much? The position of the drop would be too vertical for my preference, and you seem to be on the hoods in most photos.

Happy riding.

13 04 2012
thelazyrando

I ride the hoods 80% of the time and use the drops for headwinds and bikepath racing mostly.

I have some 650B rims I could use for a 650B LHT, but I lack the brakes and the hubs. Ideally I’d like to use disc hubs so I an run rim brakes or disc brakes so I wouldn’t be caught out down the road with a disc only frame.

Thing is I love my 650B bike. No questions, but part of that is the low trail front end so the question is how much time/$$ do I put into the LHT vs. getting a bike that’s already a low trail/650B rig?

I have limited bike $$ at the moment so I’ll probably just ride the 26″ LHT with Big Apples for the summer and enjoy it like that.

13 04 2012
stato

Ive fitted some Thorn club tour forks to my LHT, 55mm rake for £100. Quite good clearance for large tyres and it has all the mounts you could ever want.

17 04 2012
Aaron C

I feel the same way every time I ride my cross check after spending a lot of time on my 650B Boulder. I don’t think it’s a matter of them being “different”, I think the bar has been raised. Hetres give such a nice ride, and roll so smoothly… and the flexible frame seems to encourage me. At least I think that’s what’s going on. The Cross Check rides very harsh in comparison, and pedaling it feels like work now. I’m torn…

17 04 2012
thelazyrando

@Aaron – I agree with you, but at the same time it’s not fair to compare the LHT to the Boulder any more than I could compare it to a Trek Madone. If I loaded my Boulder up with touring gear it would be virtually unrideable it’s just so flexible. That flex makes it a pleasure to ride with my minimal rando load though.

OTOH – even a touring bike should be fun to ride albeit less spiritedly! The cockpit issues are just my body adapting to different bikes and needing to be tweaked. The other issues can be solved with a tire change. The one issue that can’t be easily addressed is the steering geometry. I’m torn because if you go to the trouble of buying a custom fork is there any point putting it on a LHT? Would it not make more sense to get a 650B low trail touring bike built when I had the finances to do so?

The answer to that last question is probably yes. So I’ll make the other changes and leave the fork along until it makes sense to get a new frame.

21 04 2012
Loving my other Long Haul Trucker… « The Lazy Rando Blog…

[…] I recently posted that I was not loving my oldest bike a 700c Surly LHT. Having just installed some Retroshift brake levers on my 26″ wheeled Long Haul Trucker it has seen a bunch of saddle time and I must say I love it. The saddle, pedals and bars are exactly where I want them and the big balloon tires roll along like I’m on cloud. I’ll eventually take some measurements of the cockpit so I can adjust my 700c LHT to the same fit, but for now I’ll just ride the fat tire trucker and smile. Profile shot… […]

12 07 2012
Just couldn’t do it… « The Lazy Rando Blog…

[…] bike with which I have had some great cycling memories, but it’s setup really well other than the cockpit that needed tweaking. I think if it was all beat up and in need of a major overhaul the process would have been easier. […]

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