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Messages - RussSeaton

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The OP's primary goal is to make the bike as comfortable as possible for long climbs. Don't really see how getting rid of the bar ends would contribute significantly (or even at all) to the attainment of that goal.

The OP stated the following:

"make some modifications to my stock-component 2009 Surly LHT, primarily to make it as comfortable as possible to climb with load for long stretches.... So, my question: what is the single best modification/investment I can make to my Trucker?"

You concentrated on the first statement.  Climbing.  I concentrated on the second statement.  Single best modification.  I ride my touring bike without a load too.  So I want it to be enjoyable to ride/shift then too.  As well as comfortable for climbing.

So on touring bikes you have to make a compromise and pick a next best, second choice to make road and mountain components work together.  Thus bar end shifters.  What new bike seller is going to sell a NEW bike with now 5 year old 10 speed STI shifters, and 10 year old 9 speed rear derailleur?  This combination works but is not current.

So Russ, are you advocating "upgrading" a current LHT by putting 5 year old shifters and a 10 year old derailer on it?

And just FWIW, a preference for STI is just like any other preference -- personal.

YES.  It is a great upgrade.  My statement is in reference to NEW bike companies selling NEW touring bikes.  A company cannot sell a NEW bike with 5 year old 10 speed shifters and 10 year old 9 speed rear derailleurs on it.  The person before brought up Trek and a couple other companies selling new touring bikes with bar end shifters.  Yes they do that.  But I explained they do it because it is the only way to offer a new from the factory bike.  Individuals building their own bike or modifying their own bike can easily put 10 year old 9 speed rear derailleurs and 5 year old 10 speed STI shifters on the bike.  And still call it new if they want.  A bike company like Trek cannot call a bike new if it starts with 5 and 10 year old parts.

Personal?  Are you still using 27" wheels instead of 700C?  Are you using freewheels instead of cassettes?  Does your frame have 120mm spacing instead of 130 or 135mm spacing?  Are you using centerpull brakes instead of cantilever brakes?

Trek, Bruce Gordon, Peter White, and other highly respected assemblers of touring bikes specify bar end shifters.

As I already stated before, touring bikes are somewhat unique because they require drop road bar and road shifters, with mountain bike derailleurs and cranksets.  For some reason Shimano decided to make their current road and mountain components non compatible.  So on touring bikes you have to make a compromise and pick a next best, second choice to make road and mountain components work together.  Thus bar end shifters.  What new bike seller is going to sell a NEW bike with now 5 year old 10 speed STI shifters, and 10 year old 9 speed rear derailleur?  This combination works but is not current.  So bike sellers sell all new parts on their all new bikes.  Bar end shifters work with everything and are new.  At one time single pivot sidepull brakes and center pull brakes were the standard.  They worked.  But now almost everyone uses dual pivot sidepull brakes.  No center pull brakes are used anymore.  Why?  Something better came along and people realized it and switched.  Same with bar end and friction shifters.  They had their day.  And that day is long past now.

Consider the above a very personal opinion.

No.  Not very personal at all.  Almost every single "costly" bicycle sold has combination brake/shifter levers.  Mountain and road bikes.  Both.  If bar end shifters were desired by a majority of people, then the capitalist society we live in would provide them.  If friction shifters were better than the indexed click shifters on every single bike sold, we would have friction shifters.  In a capitalist society, the businesses provide the buyers what they want to buy and will pay for.  That is how capitalism works.  But if you are trying to sell what no one wants, then you won't sell anything.  That is capitalism too.  How many friction or bar end shifters do you see people using?  Almost none.  Touring bikes are somewhat bizarre because they use mountain bike components and need road shifters.  Bar end shifters are an easy way to make this work.  Otherwise you have to mix and match various years and models of road and mountain together to get it to work right.  Go to all your local bike shops.  How many bar end or friction shifting bikes are sold?  None.  Why?  The bike shop is there to make money.  If all their customers want to buy bar end shifters, they would sell all they could.  They would make money and be happy.  But no one wants bar end shifters.  So the bike shop does not sell any.  Very simple.  All the customers want those new fangled (25 years old now) combination shifter/brake do-hickeys.

I think the Surly Long Haul Trucker loaded touring bike is considered a good bike for touring.  Most loaded touring bikes are good.  They all perform the same task and all more or less do it equally well.  Its not really complicated.  You want to go on a loaded tour.  So far you have only used the bike for unloaded riding.  Here are a few suggestions to consider.

Tires:  For unloaded riding, you want light, thinner, more supple tires.  They make the ride more fun.  BUT for loaded touring you want heavy duty rough tough thick heavy tires that are indestructible.  So get some tough tires for loaded touring.  They will suck for riding until you get 50 pounds of gear on the bike and are in the middle of nowhere riding through glass and thorns and nails.

Shifting:  The LHT comes with bar end shifters.  Fine choice.  Some love them.  Until they ride a bike with the new fangled modern supposedly delicate and breakable STI shifters.  Then they want to take a hammer to bar end shifters and pound them into junk.  You could make your riding, loaded or unloaded, more fun with STI shifters.

Handlebar tape:  You might want to put two layers of tape on the bars to make them more cushy and comfortable.  But if you have small hands then the extra thickness may make the bars harder to grip.  So don't do it.

I'll assume the gearing on the bike is adequate right now.  And the saddle is comfortable.  And the reach to the bars and bar height is right.  What pedals do you use?  I favor SPD pedals and sandals for riding.  Nothing is as comfortable as that combination.  For fun before your big trip you might want to replace the chain, cassette, chainrings, cables, brake pads.  And oil everything up very well.  But you probably don't need to replace all those parts.  Bike will work fine as is.  Just replace the parts when they wear out or break.  No need to waste money on new stuff when its not needed.  I'll also assume you already own racks and panniers that work well enough.

There really isn't any single best improvement, modification, investment you can make to the bike for loaded touring.  It works well enough as it comes from the factory.  Any changes are minor.  Your question is just like a Toyota Camry owner asking what is the single best improvement I can make to the car?  How can you improve a car that runs perfectly for 300,000 plus miles and never ever breaks down?  And rides and handles fine.  Paint flames on the side of it?

Gear Talk / Re: Bike - Light Duty Touring Aluminum vs. Steel
« on: July 14, 2016, 01:20:17 am »
You're asking one bike to do two different tasks.  You want to ride across the country on paved roads carrying minimal baggage and stay in motels.  The best bike for this is a road racing style bike.  It does not have to be a racing bike.  But a bike designed to be ridden only on the road and carry minimal bags.  It should be an easy to ride bike on paved roads.  Lightweight.  Skinny tires for less rolling resistance.  A racing style bike.  With low gears.  It does not have to be a Tour de France race bike.  Just a road only "racing" style bike.

And then you also want a bike that "can handle panniers for shorter bike tours with camping gear".  There are many bikes you can mount a rear rack on and pile stuff on top of the rear rack.  But this usually comes with lots of compromises.  Only loaded touring bikes are really designed for panniers and weight like camping gear.  Other bikes might be able to do this but not well.

All the bikes you listed are sort of cyclocross bikes.  Maybe you could mount racks and panniers to them.  But they really aren't that good for a paved road ride across the country.  They would make it.  Yes.  But a mountain bike would also make it.  Or a BMX bike.  I have a cyclocross bike similar to that Surly you listed.  I enjoy riding it.  But of all my bikes it would be a ways down the list of ones I would pick to ride across the US on paved roads.

Pick one of the things you want to do.  1.  Ride across the US on paved roads with minimal gear staying in motels.  Or 2.  Handle panniers for shorter bike tours with camping gear.  Find a bike that can do one of those things really well and enjoy yourself.  If you later want to do the other, get a second bike designed for that task.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike - Light Duty Touring Aluminum vs. Steel
« on: July 13, 2016, 05:10:42 pm »
I'd modify Russ' suggestion to a "light touring" or "sport touring" bike from various manufacturers.  Large saddlebag (perhaps with a seatpost rack to keep it off the tires) and a handlebar bag should be able to hold what you need for so-called "credit card" touring, in which you plan to stay at B&Bs, motels, etc.

The bike I am thinking of is my Cannondale CAAD7 bike.  Its 10-15-20 years old now.  Not sure how old it is.  Aluminum frame and carbon fork with aluminum steerer tube.  No eyelets for mounting racks.  Uses sidepull racing type brakes.  Fits 28mm tires just fine.  Back when it was new it may have been Cannondale's top racing frame.  I have low gearing on it.  13-28 cassette and 52-42-24 triple crankset.  I have ridden it in Colorado many times.  Up and down mountains.  Many centuries on it.  It probably weighs 20+ pounds or so.  Thirty years ago it may have been a high zoot racing bike.  Now I guess it fits the sport touring category.  It would be my first and only choice to put a large saddlebag on and ride across the US staying in motels every night.  I would never ever put panniers or a rack on it and try to carry heavy weight.  Its a great bicycle for riding on paved roads all day long.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike - Light Duty Touring Aluminum vs. Steel
« on: July 13, 2016, 03:16:56 pm »
I am planning to ride Transamerica with minimal gear (no or only emergency camping equipment)

Any suggestions for a bike that is lighter weight but can handle panniers for shorter bike tours with camping gear?

You seem to be a bit confused.  You want to ride across the USA with minimal gear.  Any racing bike with a large saddlebag and maybe handlebar bag will work perfectly for this.  Lighter the better.  Assuming it fits.  A light racing bike is much better for this than a heavy duty touring bike ridden with no bags.  But then you want a light bike that can handle panniers?  Panniers and heavy duty touring bikes kind of go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Light bikes do not have the ability to mount racks to hold panniers.  Light bikes cannot operate with heavy panniers hanging on them.  Pick either a light racing bike or a touring bike.  They are both bikes, but they are very different and do not really do the same things.  You want the same bike to win the Tour de France and ride the Rocky Mountain trail.

Gear Talk / Re: Front Panniers or Rear Duffel??
« on: July 11, 2016, 04:16:53 pm »
I'm a firm believer in front panniers.  Low rider front panniers.  On several trips I have ONLY used front panniers, no rear panniers at all.  Might have had something on top the rear rack.  But almost all the weight was in the front.  As already mentioned, with an unloaded bike about 70% of the weight is on the rear wheel.  Your body weight is almost all on the rear wheel.  It helps for control and stability to shift as much weight as possible to the front wheel.  Lower front panniers help lots too.  Look where your rear panniers are located.  Low, right above the rear axle.  Do you think its just coincidence and luck they ended up there?  Rear racks could easily be made a foot taller and get the weight up to saddle height.  But they don't because getting the weight low is better.

For bike touring I recommend bicycle sandals.  And use SPD cleats on the bottom.  Shimano makes sandals.  Other companies also make them.

General Discussion / Re: Colorado: bike maps?
« on: July 08, 2016, 02:52:01 pm »
Sounds like you are looking for gravel roads.  I cannot really help you with that.  But Colorado only has a limited amount of roads.  Due to the mountains.  Any state map will have all the paved roads on it.  All of them because there aren't many paved roads.  Maybe that Google thing will show the few gravel roads.  But Colorado does not have many roads.  There aren't many towns in Colorado.  There aren't many farms in Colorado.  There aren't many people living in the rural parts of Colorado.  Most states have rural and urban people.  And roads to connect all the rural people with the urban towns.  But Colorado has a few urban areas and roads connecting the few urban areas.  And that's it.  There are not many or any farms in Colorado.  No people living in the rural areas.  So no roads in the rural areas.  In my state we have farms everywhere.  And gravel roads connecting all these farms.  And the gravel roads all lead back to paved roads connecting all the small towns everywhere.  Colorado does not have that.  So not many gravel roads for you to ride.

Gear Talk / Re: Surly ECR for Sierra Cascades or Atlantic route
« on: July 07, 2016, 03:33:59 pm »
Not a bike I would ever want to ride.  But it does take 700C wheels.  Not sure the rims can handle normal sized 700C touring tires or not.  But if they can, then its easy to change the tires out to 700x35mm touring tires.  Then the bike should be somewhat OK on paved roads.

General Discussion / Re: Do you pack a Spare Tire???
« on: July 07, 2016, 03:27:13 pm »
My Spare Tire Schwalbe marathon mondial DD tire is 740g =1.64lbs and my Acer Chromebook 11.6in is 3.3lbs and I am packing my Acer Chromebook on my bike touring trips in California to upload Pics from my camera to my Facebook blog

Your spare tire is way too heavy.  Just carry a spare that will serve its purpose.  Put it on in an emergency and ride it for a few days or so until you come to a bike shop and can buy a new heavy duty touring tire.  Then put the spare back in your bag as your spare tire.  You can easily find a suitable spare that will be 300 grams or maybe less.  You are carrying one extra pound needlessly.

I have seen in computer stores smaller, lighter computers, tablets, notepads, etc..  Few inches less in size, and several pounds less in weight.  They would work just as well as the very large, heavy thing you are carrying.  I'd suggest you get a bit smarter and carry less extraneous weight.  And if by chance you use public sources of internet access, it might take an extra week or so to find one maybe.  I doubt anyone on your Facebook will give a dam that your information is a week late.  Believe it or not, not everyone cares about being instantly in touch with the whole world.  If everyone only heard from you once a week or once a month, they would all be happy with that.  Hearing about you every minute of the day is not necessary.

Gear Talk / Re: Crankset Options
« on: July 04, 2016, 11:51:16 pm »
Not sure why downtube shifters and cranksets are related in anyway at all.  Cranksets don't care how they are shifted.  Downtube shifters, bar end shifters, STI, Ergo, SRAM's shifter.  Friction or indexed.  Crank doesn't care.  I am not sure how modern new downtube shifters work.  For the front derailleur anyway.  Is the front derailleur shifter indexed with distinct clicks, stops.  Or is the front derailleur shifter friction/ratchet based.  This will affect whether your current front derailleur shifter can handle a triple or double crankset.  If there are distinct stops, clicks, then its likely your downtube shifters are for double cranksets only.  So your crank will have to be a double crankset.  If the front derailleur shifter is indexed, clicks, stops, then you can't really stop in the middle.  It won't click in the middle and will tend to want to go up or down.  Nothing to hold it in the middle of the stroke.  Now if your current downtube Dura Ace shifters work with friction, ratchets, on the front derailleur, then you are good to go.  Push the lever all the way forward and you are in the smallest ring, no matter if its double or triple.  And if you pull the lever all the way down, then you are in the big ring.  Double or triple, does not make any difference.  And if you put the lever in the middle, then you will be in the middle of the crankset.  Middle ring if its a triple crank.  Or making lots of noise from friction if its a double.  Kind of halfway between both rings on a double.

If your question is about what crankset to use.  Get one with as small a inner chainring as possible.  If triple crank, then make sure the inner ring is 24 teeth if its a 74mm bolt circle diameter crank.  Or 22 teeth if its a mountain bike triple with 64mm bcd.  You can also use mountain bike cranksets with only two rings.  Mountain bike double crankset.  You can get a 22 tooth inner ring on those cranks.  For high gear, that is never a problem.  You only use the highest gear when going down a mountain with a tailwind.  Now days many cassettes have 11 tooth small cog.  So a 40 or 42 or 44 chainring gets you a 4 to 1 ratio or close to it.  That is close to a 50x12 or 52x13 or 53x13 high gear on a road bike.  How often do you use the highest gear on a road bike?  Rarely.  Unless you are going down a mountain with a tailwind.  Only professional cyclists have enough leg strength to use high gears.  Just use whatever big chainring the crank comes with.  You will spend about 95% of the time in the middle gears, 4% in the low gears, and 1% in the high gears.  Don't worry about the high gears.

Will XT parts work with Dura Ace?  Yes.  Crankset and chainrings and cassette cogs don't care.  Shifters and rear derailleur, maybe the front, kind of care somewhat.  And try to match up the front derailleur with the crank.  Triple front derailleur with triple crank.  Double front derailleur with double crank.  You can get away with mixing them, but its best to match them.

Routes / Re: Wintertime Pacific coast OR Sierra C?
« on: July 02, 2016, 08:31:53 pm »
The Sierra Cascades are a mountain range.  They get snow and ice in the winter.  Maybe not as much as the Rockies or Alps.  But they do get snow.  And its below 32 Fahrenheit, Freezing, in the winter.  Otherwise the snow melts to water.  I don't believe the Cascades are awful horrible during the winter.  But they are mountains.  Either side of the Cascades, the Pacific Coast, or Napa Valley/Central Valley are fine in winter, sort of.  They are OK and rideable I suppose.  But not super duper pleasant in the winter.  You could manage but might not be happy.

On the Pacific Coast, look into which direction the wind blows in the winter.  I know in summer the wind is out of the north along the coast.  Not sure if that is the prevailing direction in the winter too.  Check the prevailing wind direction on the coast in the winter.

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