Author Topic: Choosing my first (touring) bike!  (Read 1695 times)

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Offline katebybike9

Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« on: October 05, 2013, 07:17:06 pm »
I'm just starting to get into longer and overnight bike rides and would eventually like to do multi-day touring. I definitely need to upgrade from my single speed and road bike. I'd like to get a bike that will stand the test of time but not break the bank. I've been looking hard at the Surly Long Haul Trucker and wondered if anyone had any opinions about it?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2013, 10:44:08 pm »
From one standpoint, all the "mainstream" touring bikes are a lot alike -- Surly LHT, Novara Randonnee, Trek 520, Fuji Touring, etc.  Enhanced tubing to reduce shimmy with a load, somewhat raised bars for comfort during long days in the saddle, wider tires to support a load, mounting points for racks and fenders are common.  Most have stayed with 9-speed (although the Novara went up this year).  You'll want to check the crank to make sure you get an adequate low gear (one target is 20 gear inches) in case you ever hit a steep climb while heavily loaded at the end of a long day; sometimes the makers will take a short-cut and put a road triple on "to match the component manufacturer's recommendation."  IMHO, a 26 or 24 small crank is a good target.

One wrinkle is the the LHT has a somewhat longer top tube than the others for a given frame size.  For many women, this will make it difficult to fit the bike -- many women have shorter torsos and longer legs than men of the same height.  If at all possible, I suggest looking far and wide to find stocked bikes in early spring.  Test ride a few -- at least 3-5 miles -- and see which one feels better to you.  If you have to buy "blind," make sure you've got a great bike shop with a good fitter.  You may have to go a size smaller than ideal, and make up the smaller frame with a different, non-stock stem.  That's where the great shop will work with you; the young whipper-snapper racer wannabes will push you to the bike they want, and the race fit they like, which don't work for most (not all) tourists.

Offline DaveB

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2013, 08:49:23 am »
One wrinkle is the the LHT has a somewhat longer top tube than the others for a given frame size.  For many women, this will make it difficult to fit the bike -- many women have shorter torsos and longer legs than men of the same height.
One feature of the LHT is that the smaller frame sizes come with 26" wheels which improves standover height and reduces toe overlap so that is a benefit.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 06:47:22 pm by DaveB »

Offline MidSouth

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2013, 01:11:48 pm »
I would Google "Surly Long Haul Trucker Review".  You will get about 38,000 pieces of information to gander at...

Offline rondickinson

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2013, 07:11:36 pm »
I'm new to touring and did a ton of research.  I would agree with 100% of the advice given by "World Traveler".
In addition, I found a brand that I like called "Lynsky"  (the former owners of Light Speed).  The bike is Titatium.  Higher cost, mine was right at $4,000, but man does it ride smooth and is very solid.

Had to order it blind and it took over 2 months.  I had a LBS help me pick out each part for size, and then I paid them to assemble the bike.  We spend a lot of time getting the breaks and handle bars in the right spot (and test riding for several days) before installing the bar tape.

Go to Lynskyperformance.com

Offline DaveB

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2013, 09:14:55 am »
The bike is Titatium.  Higher cost, mine was right at $4,000, but man does it ride smooth and is very solid.
The OP very specifically said; " I'd like to get a bike that will stand the test of time but not break the bank." I think your recommendation violates that restriction.   

BTW, I have three older Ti Litespeeds and I agree with your assessment of the ride and handling and, were I in the market for a high-line touring bike, Lynsky would certainly be on my shopping list.  However, their cost definitely puts them out of reach for most riders, particularly new tourists.

Offline rondickinson

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2013, 09:40:10 am »
You are right, but I guess it depends on the size of your bank and your priorities in life. :)

Offline mmounties

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2013, 04:49:57 pm »
One wrinkle is the the LHT has a somewhat longer top tube than the others for a given frame size.  For many women, this will make it difficult to fit the bike -- many women have shorter torsos and longer legs than men of the same height.  If at all possible, I suggest looking far and wide to find stocked bikes in early spring.  Test ride a few -- at least 3-5 miles -- and see which one feels better to you.  If you have to buy "blind," make sure you've got a great bike shop with a good fitter.  You may have to go a size smaller than ideal, and make up the smaller frame with a different, non-stock stem.  That's where the great shop will work with you; the young whipper-snapper racer wannabes will push you to the bike they want, and the race fit they like, which don't work for most (not all) tourists.

I couldn't agree more. 

i did a lot of research too and in the end wound up going with an LHT anyway but changed the seat and used different handlebars at the highest setting possible with the standard headset.  A good LBS that can give you a good fit is key but keep in mind that most of them usually base their experience on mostly fitting male cyclists, i.e., when they do a fit for a woman they will often default to fitting them like men, and so may use different benchmarks than they should for a female.  In addition to that, even very good fitters have their own ideas of "the perfect posture" for riding and will try to fit you with that in mind. 

Minimum test ride distance of several miles is a must and if you feel any discomfort at all or if your perfect posture isn't the same as theirs, be sure you communicate what exactly it is you're looking for so that the fitter understands what your desired result is.  For instance, the LHT's standard head tube for the smaller sizes isn't long enough to fit a handlebar that allows for the more upright posture, that I prefer.  I had to make some other adjustments to make the bike fit right for me.  That said, now it's just about perfect!  Hope this helps.
-- Tina

Offline DaveB

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2013, 09:03:35 am »


i did a lot of research too and in the end wound up going with an LHT anyway but changed the seat and used different handlebars at the highest setting possible with the standard headset......... For instance, the LHT's standard head tube for the smaller sizes isn't long enough to fit a handlebar that allows for the more upright posture, that I prefer.  I had to make some other adjustments to make the bike fit right for me.  That said, now it's just about perfect!  Hope this helps.
The current LHT's use a 1-1/8" threadless steel steerer and can safely be used with a lot of spacers between the top of the headset and the stem if the steerer is left long enough.  That gives you the option to have the handlebars quite high in relation to the seat.  If you order the bike as a bare frame and fork, the steerer will come full length giving a lot of room to adjust it.  If you order a complete bike, try to get it with the steerer "uncut".

Offline wbst31

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2013, 07:26:22 pm »
I looked and tried both Trek 520 and Surly Long Haul Trucker. I went with the Surly Disc Trucker and have never regretted my decision. The Surly is a fine platform that has worked well on my adventures.  You can see pictures of the bike at:

www.crazyguyonabike.com/wbst31

William Becker
Fort Myers, FL

Offline indyfabz

Re: Choosing my first (touring) bike!
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2013, 10:00:53 am »
My GF and I both have LHTs that have served us both well on pavement and forest service type unpaved roads.

The variety of sizing is nice. My GF is only 5'. Her LHT was a surprise birthday present. The smallest LHT offered was the only stock touring bike I could find with sufficient standover clearance.

If you get one, definitely don't cut the steerer tube before you get comfortable with your riding position, if you cut it at all.