Surly 26″ Wheeled LHT Inital Impressions…

12 08 2011

Time to ride...

Although my 26″ wheeled Surly LHT build project is not finished I’ve done enough wrenching so I wanted to taste the fruits of my labours and see what I thought so far. I’ll just touch on a few topics in this post.

On my way to get some groceries...

26″ wheels and 2.15″ Schwalbe Big Apples

  • big rubber lots well proportioned for the 58cm LHT
  • it rolls well over a variety of surfaces
  • rewards a moderate steady effort, but doesn’t want to ride crazy fast
  • tires are heavy as is rear wheel
I’m enjoying the monster truck vibe of the current wheelset/tires. They aren’t performance orientated, but they do roll just fine at a moderate cruising pace. The beauty is that they just keep rolling and rolling and rolling no matter what get’s in the way. Yesterday I was run off a narrow paved road onto a bumpy dirt shoulder and then slammed into and off of a square concrete curb scoring some air before landing back on the road. On my 700c LHT with 35mm rubber that would have likely resulted in a crash and/or some wheel damage. With 55mm of soft rubber underneath my 26″ wheeled LHT I didn’t even bother touching the brakes as I knew the bike would handle the sudden obstacles without drama. For 5km-15km around town utility/transportation riding missions these wheels are a blast. If I was going to run this setup 24/7 I would invest in a higher uqlaity rear wheel to lose some of the unneeded weight back there. I’d also invest in the liteskin version of the Schwale Big Apple for a faster rolling balloon tire.

Lovely Velo Orange water bottle cages...

650B & Grand Bois Hetres
  • fast and comfy
  • I love this setup on my rando bike
  • would provide a spare wheelset if my primary wheels on my rando bike fail
  • not nearly as plush as 55mm Big Apples, but much faster
I have some 650B Velo Orange rims leaning against my garage wall waiting for some love and a spare set of Grand Bois Hetres 650b x 40mm tires that I could use on them. I love these tires on my rando bike and having a second 650B wheel set in operation means I have a spare should my primary wheels fail before a ride or even to take with me to a big event as a spare emergency set. The downside is the don’t exist yet so I have to spend a far bit of $$$ [new hubs, spokes, wheel build & new brakes+ levers] to make them happen and they won’t be nearly as plush as 55mm tires.
To be honest both options have a lot of merit and maybe in the long run I’ll do both. For now I’ll ride the 26″ wheels I have and give it some more thought. I’m enjoying the monster truck vibe well enough at the moment….=-)

Velo Orange stem mounted bell...

Velo Orange Rando Bars

I’ve really enjoyed the shape of these VO Rando bars. The complex curves all seem to fall to hand very naturally and make my hands happy. I ended up with a fairly narrow set [37cm at the brake levers – 44cm at the flared ends]. I need closer to 42cm at the brake levers so I’m going to have to swap these out for a wider set. VO makes a set that are 48cm at the flared ends which will likely be perfect for me. Speaking of the flared ends it’s nice to be able to have both a narrower position on the hoods/in the drops and a wider more stable position further back towards the ends of the bars. The VO stem and headset mesh well with the bars and the LHT. They provide a classy modern look. No issues with any of these items so far – although it’s early in the game.

Velo Orange Bell & Bottle Cages

I use a similar setup on my rando bike and they are very nice to use. The bell is attractive and stays out of the way until you need it. The sound is pleasant and isn’t overly jaring which makes for friendlier encounters with other bikers and peds. The bottle cages are light and grip a bottle securely even on bumpy roads.

The elusive Acorn Roll Bag...

Acorn Roll Bag

My online buddy Gary helped me score this Acorn Roll Bag [thanks Gary!…=-)] I’ll use it on this LHT and my rando bike depending on what’s going on at the time. The Acorn bag will get a full write up later in the year.

VO elk hide chain stay protector...

VO Chainstay Protector

The VO chainstay protector looks nice on the bike and keeps the chain off the chainstay. I have one on my rando bike as well and so far it’s worked well.

Ortlieb panniers on an OMM Sherpa rear rack...

Ortlieb Bags on OMM Rack

Ortlieb bags and OMM racks are my go to solution for carrying gear on most of my bikes. They’ve served me well for a decade plus. You can’t go wrong with them.

Bike Wrappers...

Bike Wrappers

I put a set of Bike Wrappers on my black 58cm LHT. They fit on the bike without issues although they don’t cover as much real estate on this big frame as they do on Sharon’s Cross Check. Sharon has been complaining about her commuter MTB’s ugliness and since she is forced to ride it until her Cross Check is back in action I think I’ll move these Bike Wrappers to her current commuter to make it a bit easier on the eyes. I haven’t tested the visual safety aspects of this product yet [the dark times they are coming!…=-)], but they do provide an easy and very fast way to change the look of your ride if you want a different feel without committing to the $$$/effort of a repaint.

Might as well get rid of some recycling...

Downtube Friction Shifting

So far the 9 speed drivetrain has worked well. I’m fine with the limited gear range for my utility riding around town. The shifter falls to hand well enough and I like the simplicity of this setup. Using a friction shifter with a cassette designed for indexed shifting isn’t ideal as any offset from a narrow optimal cable position results is ghost shifting under power. I don’t shift like mad so it’s only a minor hassle to tweak each shift to get the right derailleur position. I’m going to keep the shifter on the downtube so in the long run I will either get an indexed downtube shifter or a cassette that isn’t ramped and pinned for index shifting. I’m not in a rush to make a change on this.

VO Crankset

I’m only using the smaller ring of this double crankset. I can manually shift to the larger ring if I need to. Despite a long BB spindle these cranks have a very low Q-factor. I’m not overly sensitive to a variation in Q-factor so this is not terribly important to me. I haven’t noticed any flex in the long BB spindle, but I’m a fairly weak rider so that’s not shocking. Not much to say about these bad boys – I turn my feet, the chain goes round and my Trucker trucks…=-)



4 responses

12 08 2011

Nice build. I’ve been watching it with interest as I just built a 58/26 LHT this spring. It’s my “commutility” bike and it’s perfect for my short commute and grocery runs:
LHT Commutility Bike
I tried the 2.15 Big Apples but found them a bit too sluggish, even in the LiteSkin version, so I switched to LiteSkin 2.0’s and they are perfect. The fatties do fit fine though! Even the 2.15’s fit under the Planet Bike Cascadia fenders with no problem. Speaking of which, I decided to go with black fenders since they visually blend in with the tires and make the wheel size look more proportional to the frame, to my eye anyway.
Seeing your bike come together, I kinda wish I got black, though!

12 08 2011

@Pete – nice looking trucker…=-) If the blue doesn’t rock your world after a year or so you can get her powder coated any colour you like for $100-$150.

I hear you about the weight of wide rubber. It’s a trade off between that monster truck feel or a more nimble ride. I think the 650B 40mm Hetres are the best balance if speed matters, but the extra 15mm of width adds a ton of volume to the mix and is hard not to like.

If you stick with one wheel size tires are a cheap-ish and easy change to make.

12 08 2011

Thanks! I’ve never ridden the mythical Hetres, but they probably weigh half what the BA’s do, so I’d bet they are nice.
I love the worry-free toughness of the Schwalbes for urban riding. and found that an extra 10mm, rather than 15, gave me the ride I wanted. The 2.15’s ended up on my wife’s MTB where they provide much-appreciated confidence – she mocks drainage grates and railroad tracks now!

12 08 2011

Good news for those with 26″ wheels, Compass bicycles has just released a 26″ x 1.75 (559x42mm) Sounds like these will be very similar to the Grand Bois Hectre.

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