When I built up this 26″ Surly LHT it was going to be a test rig to see what I thought about 26″ & 650B wheels vs. the 700c LHT I’ve owned for many years. I assumed after a year or two of messing around I’d be selling it and going back to my trusty sage green trucker. Instead I’m loving the new LHT and its balloon tires while trying to tweak my old LHT to make me smile again. I didn’t see that coming which is exactly why you have to try out different options to really know what you will prefer. Assumptions based on your previous experiences often don’t hold true.
I’m still working on the 700c LHT, but I’ve done what I can without buying anything new and I think putting some fast supple rubber on the old trucker [Schwalbe 40mm Kojaks] is my next move. I don’t have the $$ to spend on that at the moment so until I do I figured it was time to focus on the LHT that I am stoked to ride and make it better.
Although I like riding the black 26″ wheeled trucker a few items were bugging me. The most important of which was the classy silver platform pedals were too small and lacked enough grip to keep my feet in place. I don’t like cages or SPD style pedals so I went back to what works for me on most of my bikes – BMX platform pedals. Admittedly they are not pretty and they don’t match the beautiful Velo Orange cranks, but they work which is what counts. Plus when I am actually riding this bike you can’t see them.
I’m using this bike for errand running and transportation in the city at the moment. For that role it’s surprising how often a rear rack and 2 panniers just isn’t enough capacity to haul what I need. The solution was to add an OMM Sherpa rack up front. These racks are light, strong and the platform is very handy if I am carrying multiple boxes. I’ve used OMM racks on most of my bikes for well over a decade and they’ve never let me down.
With an OMM Sherpa rack on the rear I think the front and rear racks balance out the bike nicely. They might even draw the eye away from my fugly pedals ;)
I had some lovely silver metal water bottle cages from Velo Orange on this LHT and although they were stunning they would catch on my capris and pants as I pedaled. I bent one out of shape so bad it went into the metal recycling bin. The other will be kept for use on another bike. I’ve got he same VO cages on my Boulder rando rig and love them there because I’m always wearing tights or shorts on that bike so no snagging. Like the pedals I’ve installed these plastic cages I am using fall into the ugly, but practical category.
That’s all the changes for this summer. I have a 26″ wheeled dynohub and light I may mount on this bike. At the moment it’s light out way past 10pm so lights are really not needed this far north. I’ll reconsider come September. The 2.15″ wide Schwalbe Big Apples are faster than you would expect and very comfortable. For city use they are pretty much ideal – not to mention they are paid for! Having said that I am curious what this bike would be like with even faster more supple wide rubber like a 2.0″ Schwalbe Kojak. That would also allow me to swap the Big Apples into my Surly Big Dummy cargo bike – where a boost in speed and comfort would not be a bad thing.
What about 650B?
I haven’t forgotten about trying out this wheel size. I even have some shiny new Velo Orange 650B rims that have been hanging in my office for over a year. The trouble is that building some 650B wheels and buying new brakes is spendy when the bike is rolling along so well in its current state. Other more pressing bike related purchases always seem to get in the way. So for now that idea is being shelved. I have no doubt that a 650B trucker with Grand Bois Hetres would be a very sweet ride it will just have to wait.
If I was doing it all over I’d have gone with the 26″ wheeled Disc Trucker so I could share any 650B wheels I built between the LHT and my MTBs.