Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: Reinhart Bigl on August 25, 2014, 01:58:36 pm

 
Title: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: Reinhart Bigl on August 25, 2014, 01:58:36 pm
Hi all, been looking around for a good deal on a new or used cromo touring frameset...
In my online travels, I found a company called LKLM Krangear out of China.  They sell touring bikes and accessories.
www.lklm.com
I've never heard of them until now, and there is little if any anicdotal information out there by owners.

Their product looks like it's decent quality (frames are made from Reynolds 725 CroMo tubes, and have all the required brazeons...).

Does anyone here have any experience with this company?  I'm seriously thinking of buying one of their framesets...as the price is right...

Thanks

Reinhart
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: DaveB on August 25, 2014, 09:41:45 pm
Have you considered the Surly LHT or Cross Check?  Both are available as frames/forks for under $500 if you shop around and they are a known and respected commodity.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: Reinhart Bigl on August 25, 2014, 10:28:35 pm
Yes, the Disc Trucker was my first choice actually,  however here in Canada a frameset runs over 600 new...and not my colour of choice.  I actually attempted to buy a Disc Trucker during the year when the frame colour was black...but was told by Surly that I had to buy the colour they shipped to Canada, green.
Surly has their policy and I have mine...so I'm considering other choices.
The Soma Saga looks good too...however the LKLM is disc ready and has all I need and it seems to be a decent frame...and the price is right.  I just haven't seen much about this frame other than the detailed pics on their website.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: DaveB on August 26, 2014, 08:50:49 am
I've seen several of those direct Chinese suppliers web sites.  Most offer carbon racing  frames but I guess some  have steel too.  Generally you take your chances with quality, delivery and getting any potential problems fixed.  They may be fine and reliable but you don't know that until you've sent your money and, if they are not, you have little recourse  Also, know that you will have to pay shipping costs and import duties so the web site posted cost is not the total. 

I looked at their web site and couldn't find any specifics such as geometry, weight, even prices, and knowing about hackers, I wasn't going to poke around too much.  Do you feel lucky?

Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: Reinhart Bigl on August 26, 2014, 09:19:34 am
LOL...sorry, should have directed you to eBay...their frameset is still advertised there...and it's there that the specs are.

I agree that I am taking chances...but the more I search, the more I find...so I was able to find a journal on Crazyguyonabike wherein the writer sports an LKLM bike.

I'm not 100% sold on the LKLM, as the Disc Trucker is still the first choice (just lost a bid on eBay for a used frameset...) but as I poke around at prices, it seems that the LKLM offering will give me the most bike for my buck.  With shipping and the cost (they are willing to accept my CDN$ at par with US$) the frameset comes in at under $500.

Of course, if there is anyone out there that has a 56cm Disc Trucker frameset for sale...
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: Pat Lamb on August 27, 2014, 11:33:40 am
An unknown product from an unknown supplier?  Do report back how it goes, if you end up getting one.

Two points:
They show a fair few Fuji bikes on their web site.  There are Fuji dealers in the U.S., who will provide warranty service if needed.  (My commute today was on a Fuji warrantee replacement frame.)

Second, and more pertinent to the unknowns.  You should treat this as an experiment, or as a gamble.  Will it work?  Who knows?  If it does, you may have saved money.  If it doesn't, fair chance you're out the cash on the frame, and anything you may have spent for a mechanic to (help) build the bike up.  Don't spend money on this you can't afford to lose.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: Reinhart Bigl on August 27, 2014, 01:55:03 pm
Thanks for your advice Pat.  For sure it' a risk/gamble, but I think of it as an educated risk.  I'll be building up the frame on my own.  I've checked out Fuji nice bikes, but they are very similar to my current Miyata 1000.

If I do this, I'll certainly post my experience here.

As mentioned, my first choice is the Surly...and although they have their frames manufactured in Taiwan, I would also like to do business witha NA outfit if possible...
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: DaveB on August 27, 2014, 04:11:32 pm
As mentioned, my first choice is the Surly...and although they have their frames manufactured in Taiwan, I would also like to do business with a NA outfit if possible...
Wait a minute. This whole thread started when you asked about a frame made in China and sold directly from Chinese based supplier and then you say the above?  Excuses me if I'm puzzled. 

Surly is owned and sold by QBP, a US based company, so if you want to deal with a NA based company that's about as close as it gets.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: Reinhart Bigl on August 27, 2014, 05:33:45 pm
Agreed, even though Surly frames are made in Taiwan, they are an NA-based company ...I realize that I may be sounding rather conflicted...
I guess I feel that I would rather give my business to an NA company, but I'm either not getting the same  or similar value for my $$$, or in the case of Surly, they would not sell me the frame I wanted at the time I wanted to buy.  I know that their product is excellent, but when I am told if I want their product, I cannot have the option of ordering the colour I want even though they were producing it at the time...that is not good business.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: andrews on February 01, 2015, 02:26:44 pm
I just purchased a 318 frameset from LKLM. This frame is their new 26" model (54 cm). The price on Ebay was $193.00 US with $130 shipping charge (January 2015). I have so far only unpacked the frame and these are my initial observations. I will add a progress report after the bike is finished and has some miles on it.
- packaging was adequate. The frame arrived in good shape, and there was plenty of wrapping.
- shipping took about two weeks from China to Virginia City NV.
- the frame is impressive. The welds and brazes appear to be solid and clean.
- there is every braze-on imaginable. Covers everything from disc mounts and cable routing to a bridge over the seat stays for a cantilever brake housing stop. Very well thought out and versatile.
- I like the specifications. There really isn't any mystery to designing a touring bike these days: long wheelbase, rear wheel set back for space to avoid heel strike, lots of braze-ons, decent geometry for seating position and ground clearance, cro-moly steel frame throughout. The frame has everything I wanted. Very stout design, too. It looks like it will take quite a bit of abuse.
These was some mention in earlier posts on this thread that people were looking for bikes made in North America or at least NA marketing companies. Best that I can tell there aren't any bikes made in USA, and the companies mentioned were large established corporations. I just received a new Trek 520 bike as a replacement for one that was stolen, and the sticker on the head tube states 'Made in China'. The impression that I have of the LKLM company is that they are solid bicycle tourists themselves, and are trying to build some decent equipment. The pictures on their Facebook site of touring through Tibet appear to corroborate their view. They obviously use the equipment that they build and have pride in it. And the idea that they are somehow operating a 'sweatshop' that the large corporate folks aren't seems a bit ridiculous.
I'm really looking forward to building up this frame. Will let everyone know how it turns out.

Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: jaimerouler on May 09, 2015, 09:53:21 pm
Hi,
Was just curious on some more information on LKLM and came across this thread.  Just got into bike touring recently, and want to get a proper touring bike set up.  Visited their operations in China back in January, but they didn't have the bike specs I wanted yet.  They promised they were developing a 725 Reynolds touring frame (World Traveler) with EBB.  Was a bit skeptical they would deliver, but just visited them at the Shanghai bike show this week and they had a prototype.  They said production starts in June.  My father-in-law and I plan to each buy a frame.  Will build it up with an Alfine 11 internal hub.  The frame looks solid.  Their touring gear looks really good too.  Nice waterproof panniers (look like the ortlieb bags) and racks of tubular chromoly.  Where the bottom racks attach, they've design the eyelets on the frame to channel out so the connection is more solid.  There's definitely thought to the design.  Just to add to the posts above, it's true many China-direct bike buys are gambles and quality is not consistent. Have had my own bad experience with that.   However, these guys really seem to be an exception.  They're nice to deal with.  They are a family owned operation, bike enthusiast themselves and passionate about their products, which they are continually developing.   They have a warranty on their frame (forget how many exactly).  Am pretty excited to get their frame and build it up.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: andrews on June 07, 2015, 08:06:56 pm
Finally got the 318 LKLM bike built. Here are the specs:

 
- Frame LKLM 54 cm (26" wheels)
Frame is excellent quality with all the braze-ons imaginable. The color of this one is school bus yellow - good quality powder coat;

- The frame is Reynolds chrome-moly throughout, and the main triangle is triple butted;

- The toe and heel clearances are excellent. Even with large fenders and setting the shoe clips all the way back there is plenty of space between toe and front wheel;

- The top tube is nearly flat. In my opinion, the slanted diamond geometry used in mountain and BMX bikes is not appropriate for touring bikes. A horizontal top tube leaves plenty of room inside the triangle for mounting accessories (remember that these bikes are recreation vehicles) and also makes the seat stays taller for mounting racks;

- Haven't measured the bottom bracket height, but it is on the high side, which is in keeping with the overall concept of the bike;
 
- Forks are a similar design to the ones used by Chris Chance on his 'Fat Chance' bikes. Very solid. Also the crown is set high enough to give plenty of room for fenders. I've had touring bikes that have all the braze-ons for the fenders but didn't leave enough room between the crown and the tires;

- Tall head tube to reduce number of washers needed;

- The frame is designed with an internal cable routing system. I've accidently scraped up frames with external cabling and really appreciate the internal design. The ports are set back on the tubes a little farther than many of the mountain bikes that I've seen, but again this configuration seems to work better for a touring bike;
 
- The frame came with excellent quality stainless cap screws instead of the usual pan head screws. Also the mounting screws for the racks were M6 instead of the smaller M5, which makes much more sense. I had to drill out the Tubus mounts to accommodate the M6 screws, which was just fine with me.

For a refresher on touring bike geometries see   http://cyclingabout.com/understanding-bicycle-frame-geometry/

For the rest of the bike:

Drive train: 12-36 rear cassette, 44-32-22 175 mm crank (Shimano Deore Hollowtech)
The low gear is almost more psychological than practical. It can only be used if I'm going up a steep hill and want to go a bit further before getting out to push. The short travel per revolution makes it nearly impossible to start in that gear;

Rear derailleur/shifters: SRAM X-7 with twist grips
I really don't like trigger shifters and bar end shifters require that I take my hand off the bar. I have found the twist grip shifters to be the ticket. Shifting is smooth and hands are firmly on the bar during shifting.
Front derailleur: Shimano Deore
This frame required a top mount cable, and we had this Deore on hand:
 
Seat post clamp: Hope (UK), silver, quick release
One of the quirks about the frame is that it takes a 30 mm seat post clamp rather than a standard 28.6 mm clamp common to steel bikes. Possibly due to the triple butted tubing. After greasing the seat post it became obvious that the clamp that came with the frame wasn't adequate to keep the seat from sliding down. The Hope clamp is impressive - heavy duty, brass seat, and the release arm can be swiveled to any position (nice touch). Holds the greased post in place just fine;
 
Front rack: LKLM platform
The LKLM rack is a solid piece of work with clean welds and simple design. The platform design adds additional stability through the upper connector at the fork crown. I specifically wanted a front rack with a platform because I use a Biria Quatrone handlebar bag that I wanted to strap to the top. This arrangement takes the weight off the handlebar as a cantilever and transfers it to the rack, which is significantly more stable. The extra weight of the rack is partially offset by removing the heavy mounting hardware from the handlebar bag (since the weight of the bag is no longer hanging from the bars it only takes a couple of strips of double-faced Velcro and a small strap to hold the bag firmly in place);

Rear rack: Tubus Logo
I wanted to go with the LKLM rear rack, but got a good price on the Tubus rack. Two things that I like about the Tubus rack -  it sits slightly farther back than most racks, and there are small stop pins on the far back which keep the pannier clips from sliding off. The rear panniers are a set of modified Jandd Expedition panniers (bright red, of course!) and the extra length comes in handy;
 
Wheels: Sun RhynoLite rims with Shimano Deore axles.
This set of wheels was on sale, but I might have a new set hand built using Shimano Deore XT axles and possibly Velocity AeroHeat rims;


Fenders: Velo Orange stainless steel
Beautiful chromed fenders with sturdy mounting hardware. I might spray the insides with automotive undercoating to take out the tinny sounds from tire gravel hitting them. Most people seem to think that fenders are only to keep themselves dry, but more importantly they keep mud and silt out of the drive train. These fenders sit nice and low on the front wheel to protect the crank and chain;

Tires: Vittoria Randoneur Trail 38 mm, reflective sides
Nice thick tread, tight tread pattern which is perfect for packed gravel rail trails, and a slick center for pavement. Good grip on pavement. A bit heavy, but they wear longer than some other tires due the extra tread thickness. These tires tend to kick up gravel, so the fenders were a necessity;

Seat: Gyes GS-17A with copper plate rails
I have a couple of Brooks B17 saddles on other bikes, but have really come to like the Gyes saddles even more. The designs are similar, and the Gyes has a thick 3mm leather from Australia with a laminated backing. The backing makes them a bit stiffer to break in, but once broken in they hold their shape better than the Brooks. The Gyes also comes with the adjustment key, something that Brooks charges extra. This particular seat has copper plated rails which makes it very gaudy, perfect for a bright yellow bike;
 
Seat post: Velo Orange with an offset, silver
Headset: FSA sealed bearing

Pedals: Shimano M520 SPD
Nothing fancy, just basic pedals;

Brakes: Shimano Deore XT cantilevers
Yes, disc brakes might work better, but I have not had any problems stopping with cantilevers and did not want the extra complexity of discs. V brakes would have been nice, but the fenders were too tall. Fortunately the LKLM frame has a cantilever bridge on the seat stays, something that you don't see too often these days;

Handlebars: Nashbar mountain trekking bars
These bars are a little wider than most trekking bars, and work well with this style of bike;

Handlebar tape and padding: Profile Design cork
The bar wrap by itself was not thick enough for my tastes, so underneath the tape on the lower part of the bar is a set of old Morgan/Endurance neoprene grips. These grips were made back in the 1970-80's, and are the most comfortable handlebar grips that I have ever used. Using the tape overtop gives a very comfortable feeling of a firm base with a softer outer 'give'. PD calls the color 'Rust' which is a ridiculous name for tape on a steel bike. It took two strips of tape per side to cover the Morgan grips.

Water bottle holders: Bike Buddy (UK)
These stainless steel mounts are still the most solid system that I've ever come across. They use flat spring loaded pegs on the bike with rails that have keyhole slots (commonly seen in shelving units) which are attached to the bottle. Simple and indestructible. Just don't lose the bottle! In regards to the frame, the water bottle pegs are placed far apart enough so that two large bottles don't interfere with each other.

My overall opinion of the LKLM frame is that this is a serious, well made, well designed touring bike. I've put a few hundred miles on this bike and am extremely pleased with the stable ride and handling. Anyone looking for a decent touring bike should consider giving these folks some serious attention.

Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: andrews on November 20, 2016, 03:59:28 pm
I've now taken the bike on three month-long tours: one to the north island of New Zealand and two through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. The bike performed superbly! The geometry and clearances of the frame make it an excellent choice for touring. With the 1.75 " Vittoria tires it handled gravel rail trails as well as pavement very nicely.

I'm very pleased with the bike, and am planning to have S&S couplers installed on it for the next trip.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: walks.in2.trees on November 20, 2016, 08:46:58 pm
I've now taken the bike on three month-long tours: one to the north island of New Zealand and two through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. The bike performed superbly! The geometry and clearances of the frame make it an excellent choice for touring. With the 1.75 " Vittoria tires it handled gravel rail trails as well as pavement very nicely.

I'm very pleased with the bike, and am planning to have S&S couplers installed on it for the next trip.
What was your packed weight for that last photo?

Sent from my SM-T817V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: andrews on November 20, 2016, 10:45:18 pm
Not sure what the total weight was, probably about 45lbs. It was a working holiday mapping old transportation canals, and I had to bring extra gear like a laptop computer and large 50x camera. The trip was during September, and I wasn't sure what the weather would be like so I brought cold weather wool clothes. Turns out that it was 80-100F the entire time.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: indyfabz on November 21, 2016, 03:45:34 pm
and two through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania.

Where in PA?
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: andrews on November 21, 2016, 10:54:24 pm
There were two trips: the first one was from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg along the route of the Pennsylvania Canal; and the second one started in Philadelphia, up the Schuylkill River to Pottsville/Port Carbon, over to Pottsgrove, down the Swatara Creek through Lebanon to Harrisburg, up the Susquehanna River to Wilkes Barre, then over the hill and down the Lehigh River corridor to Easton. I needed to do some research in Philadelphia, so I took a bus from Easton to Philly. Quite sorry to miss the Delaware Canal towpath. The first trip started in Pittsburgh, up the Allegheny River to Freeport, did a loop on the Butler County Community Trail, up the Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers through Leechburg, Saltsburg, and Blairsville, then up to Indiana on the Hoodlebug Trail, the Ghost Town Trail to Ebensburg, over the top and down Blair Gap to Hollidaysburg, several days in Altoona Penn State to help put on an old time "Canal Jam" (1800's canal folk music), down the Lower Trail and Route 22 through Huntingdon and Lewistown, stayed at the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon for a few days, across the Clarks Ferry Bridge and down to Harrisburg, and then a few days around Harrisburg with research at the state archives. I spent a long day cycling down to Columbia and across the long bridge at Wrights Ferry, and came back to Harrisburg through Lancaster. For both trips I started in Reno, Nevada, and traveled to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and back by Amtrak.

In case you are wondering, I am working on a set of guidebooks and/or website for the Pennsylvania Canal system. The bicycle trips were working holidays to 'ground truth' a series of digital maps of the canal system that I drew from period survey maps.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: indyfabz on November 22, 2016, 10:03:46 am
Sounds neat. I live in Philly.  I did the Lower and Ghost Town Trails back in '98 during Pedal PA's Penn Central tour, which was a Pittsburgh to Philly tour started by an old friend of mine. Stayed in Indiana, Penn State Altoona and Penn State main campus the first three days.

In 2013 I started in Warren, OH and rode home to Philly following much of PA Bike Route S to Bloomsburg and then headed south into Schuykill and Lancaster Counties before heading home. The route included the Allegheny River Trail from Franklin, PA to Emlenton. If you are ever up that way, it's a very nice ride, and it's almost all paved.

The Delaware Canal towpath is just o.k. Rode the portion from Easton to Riegelsville most recently back in September during a tour home from Brattleboro, VT. The surface is a bit gravely and dusty in places. My bike and body got bike filthy from just those short miles. Not sure what sort of shape it is in around the pedestrian bridge between the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville and Bulls Island S.P. in NJ. At one point it was pretty much unrideable due to flood damage. Some repairs were made and it got damaged again by flooding. Don't know if that damage was repaired. The real issue with that trail is that if you start out on it and come to a section that is closed, the road alternatives of PA 611 and PA 32 are not good ones. I was riding it a few year ago during a tour and came to a section where a giant drainage pipe was being replaced. I was so unwilling to ride PA 32 that I walked down into the giant ditch/hole with my heavy bike and managed to get it up the other side and continue on down the trail.

If you do get back to Easton and ride it, Mark, the owner of Dogwood Haven campground just off the trail on Lodi Hill Rd., is a nice guy. The place is nearly all quiet, seasonal campers, but there are a few regular sites. The place is a bit, uh, "rustic," but it's serviceable and completely shaded, and Mark charges cyclists only $10/night. He has a day job so he doesn't arrive back at the place until 4:30 or so. Ride up the gravel driveway. If he's not around, head straight down the gravel road to site A, B or C (A is the best), pitch your tent and flip him $10 when he shows up. He'll probably be enjoying a beer by the time you find him.
Title: Re: LKLM & Krangear
Post by: andrews on November 25, 2016, 02:26:20 pm
Thanks for the tip. I was born in Easton, and still have some family there. On the other hand, I wrote the technical portion of the Wikipedia page for the Ringing Rocks boulder field in Upper Black Eddy. The Dogwood Haven campground would be perfect for access to the new hiking trail up to the rocks. I'm planning on another trip next fall, and will try to fit in some time for it. Thanks!