Just couldn’t do it…

12 07 2012

My Surly LHT…

My garage is pretty cluttered with gear. The worst offenders are the bikes loitering in there. ;) For various reasons I’m not ready to sell any bikes at the moment, but I did have what seemed like a cunning plan to pull out 2 bikes and put them into medium/long-term storage eslewhere. One of those bikes was my 700c Surly LHT. My thought was to strip it down of parts which would either get reused or put into my spares bin. The frame would be stored for the foreseeable future. To be revived at a later date when I had a need for it and the original LHT would be an even more classic bike to ride. In the meantime I’d just ride the 26″ wheeled LHT as I was keen to keep testing out that wheel size.

Tweaked LHT cockpit…

I hauled the 700c LHT from where it was hanging in the garage and clamped it into my repair stand for the tear down. Not surprisingly I procrastinated for a while. It’s summer so there are lots of things on the go eating up my free time. At some point I realized I had time to work on the LHT, but was just not happy about taking it apart. Not only it is my oldest 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.

A closer look at the cockpit…

I was fine with keeping the LHT in service, but if I was going to do that I had to get the saddle & bars adjusted so I was comfortable on the bike again. I can’t explain how my preferred riding position changed so much, but it did. I ended up raising the saddle a touch and dropping the bars 1.5″ which also moved them forward 0.5″. I rotated the bars forward a bit and moved the brake levers forward on the drops. It’s actually a pretty radical adjustment given that the LHT’s previous setup had worked for me for many years.

What’s important is that when I climb aboard this bike now my body immediately feels at home. I’m not going to cut the steerer tube until I’ve ridden the bike a while just to be sure I am confident of the change.


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10 responses

12 07 2012
trailz

Ha! I’ve considered selling my 700 LHT to fund getting a Brompton, but, like you, I pause every time I look at the bike. It’s my go-to joy ride. So comfortable it almost feels like peddling is no effort, and it just wants to glide forward. Love it. I’m not sure I’ll ever part with it. As for the steering tube, mine is uncut, and I’ve had the bars as high as possible since I got the bike last year. At 46 years old, I really appreciate higher bars for longer, leisurely rides. Vik, you may like to consider leaving it uncut for the same reasons I did (realities of aging).

12 07 2012
alang

worst case is you get a new fork if you decide you want it higher again. you could even go disc in front if you were so inclined. anyhow, it’s a solid bike, and i know i miss mine at times. not sure if I’ll own another ‘touring’ bike anytime real soon, but i think about it.

13 07 2012
doc

Stick a spacer-mount bell above the stem…hides the steerer tube overage.

13 07 2012
thelazyrando

I’ll cut the fork’s steerer once I am happy with the setup. I don’t see any point worrying about what I might want for bar height in a number of years. A high rise stem would be an easy solution to getting the bars higher if that was desired at some point.

15 07 2012
Kim

I am selling my olive green 54cm Surly LHT’r . I could never really fall in love with the bike. It is the frame geometry; namely the seat and head tube angles. It is not relaxed enough for me. The bike is heavy and not comfortable.

I have grown deeply in love with a 21″ 1983 Raleigh Elkhorn Mountain Tour bicycle with personal upgrades. The chain stay length is very near to the LHT’r. The seat and headset tubes are at the same angle. Unbelievable comfort. I was out all day on it yesterday with no complaints whatsoever.

I have glad for you that you like yours and have make adjustments to fit your comfortable needs.

We are all different and have different preferences for comfort.

27 07 2012
Mark

First off, thanks for the great blog! I had a pleasant old time this week slowly trawling my way through pretty much everything you’ve posted here that’s bike related.

Second off (err …), do you plan on doing any tyre comparison tests with your 700c and 26″ LHTs? I’ve got a 60 cm 26″ LHT with 2.15″ Big Apples, but I’m thinking of changing to a 62 cm 700c, then running 2″ BAs – I’m wondering if it’s going to feel significantly different speed-wise. Any compulsion to slap some fat BAs on your 700c? ;)

27 07 2012
thelazyrando

@Mark – thanks for the kind words. I would like to try some 40mm Kojaks on my 700c LHT, but I lack the funds to experiment at the moment. Big tires on a 700c wheel will be very comfortable and if the tire carcass is supple they won’t be slow rolling, but all that added weight pushed out further will slow down the steering as well as adding some pneumatic trail which adds even more stability at mid to high speeds. That will make the bike harder to turn.

26″ wheels are twitchy which is why a bigger tire is so nice….you get improved comfort and added stability.

700c wheels are plenty stable and comfortable with 32-40mm tires so going bigger isn’t necessarily going to be an improvement.

Having said all that you would really have to try it on a 700c LHT and see what you thought to know for sure.

If you want a recommendation I’d go 40mm x 700c Kojaks to get the best handling, speed and comfort combo.

27 07 2012
Mark

Interesting points, which I’ll certainly take into consideration. I originally had 35 mm Marathon’s on my LHT, probably with too much air in them, and on first ride I concluded I’d made a big mistake choosing 26″ – very skittish, often slower than other riders on 700c when coasting downhill and a rather harsh ride. That all changed when I put the BAs on, though, and riding the quirky Surly became fun all of a sudden.

I didn’t know Schwalbe made the Kojak in anything fatter than 35 mm at 700c, though a 40 mm sounds perfect. As it happens, I have the 35s on my On-One Pompetamine SS, and so far I’m really impressed. However, they do seem to be very lightweight, so I wonder how wise I choice they’d be for carrying loads or touring – which is what my LHT tends to get used for.

28 07 2012
thelazyrando

@Mark – I can’t find a 40mm x 700c Kojak on Schwalbe’s site which means 1) they are out of stock or 2) I am recalling things incorrectly and 35mm is the widest 700c Kojak. I’m not sure.

Marathons have a terrible ride and are dead slow tires. I hate ‘em. I’ve had better luck with some of the higher quality Marathon tires like the Supreme and XR.

Having said that I’ve gone off using heavy/stiff tires for touring – at least in most cases. You don’t need stiff heavy duty tires just because you are carrying a load. Tandems use all sorts of performance or comfort rubber and they carry far more weight than a solo bike tourist.

Tires should be inflated so that they see a vertical drop of 15% of the measured width when rider/cargo is onboard and static. So for a 40mm wide tires that’s ~6mm. Tires have a max and min pressure on the sidewall if getting the 6mm drop requires a pressure higher than that range you should move up to a wider tire. If the pressure required is lower than that range you should get a narrower tire.

The issue with weight is tire volume not getting a stiff casing – at least not because a supple fast tire cannot safely carry the load. As long as the pressure is in the correct range for the tire it doesn’t care what it’s carrying.

Now you might want a heavy duty expedition tire if you are going somewhere remote with potential to slash a sidewall on sharp rocks or if you need mega mileage before a tire wears out. The cost will be a slow harsh tire. Not a good trade off for most bike tourists who travel on paved roads in areas where getting new tires is easy. I’d rather carry a spare supple/light tire if I had to than ride slow harsh rubber that I felt didn’t require carrying a spare.

Almost all my bikes run supple fast rubber and I average 1-3 flats a year between city, highway and offroad riding. Both loaded and unloaded.

If I was choosing between 35mm Kojak and a 50mm BA for my 700c LHT I’d go with the Kojak. I’d prefer a 40mm Kojak in a perfect world, but if that’s not possible 35mm is a better compromise in 700c than 50mm.

Actually in a perfect world I’d get both tires and try them then sell the ones I don’t like. Trying is always best if you can ;)

29 07 2012
Mark

Yeps, that makes a lot of sense. When I get the 700c LHT, I’ll probably buy some 50 mm BAs and some 40 mm Gran Bois Hetres (if I can find a place to source them in Europe), then compare them to the Kojaks. Now also wondering about 50 mm Kojaks for my 26″ LHT – this is gonna get kinda expensive:)

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