Author Topic: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?  (Read 20372 times)

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Offline delphi99

I am thinking of doing a cross country tour next summer (Sierra Cascade or Atlantic route) and looking to 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. I have done long-ish trips before (RAGBRAI, Red Ribbon Ride, and multi-day hotel camping trips with friends) but not with a loaded bike. So, my question: what is the single best modification/investment I can make to my Trucker? TIA!

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2016, 02:25:34 pm »
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?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2016, 02:29:44 pm »
Oil the chain, maybe?

Seriously, it really depends on you, how you load it, how it fits you, where your problems are, etc.  You might be more comfortable with a different saddle.  You might need a different stem to make the bike fit you better.  You might want cushier bar tape.  You might want wider, more flexible, more expensive tires to soak up road shock better.  Maybe you want a lower gear.

No, wait, I take it all back.  The single best investment for your LHT is to get out and ride it lots.  Get yourself in shape and used to sitting on the saddle for next year (again, since you've done some long-ish trips previously).  That'll do more for your comfort than anything you could buy.

Offline DanE

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2016, 03:11:21 pm »
Change the cantilever brakes to V-brakes.

Offline jrswenberger

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2016, 09:42:00 pm »
I am thinking of doing a cross country tour next summer (Sierra Cascade or Atlantic route) and looking to 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. I have done long-ish trips before (RAGBRAI, Red Ribbon Ride, and multi-day hotel camping trips with friends) but not with a loaded bike. So, my question: what is the single best modification/investment I can make to my Trucker? TIA!

#1 Make sure the bike fits you and your style of riding. This is the single biggest problem I've seen on the road that keeps people from enjoying their ride.

#2 Contact points - butt, feet and hands. Get these organized to your liking...or else the remaining discussions of components are pointless (most are pointless anyways)

#3 As Pat has already said, ride the bike as much as you can before you head out - loaded and unloaded. Yes, you will ride yourself into shape but your enjoyment will start so much sooner with a decent base of fitness.

Enjoy the ride,
Jay

PS - Yes, I know you only asked for 1..couldn't help myself!
ACA Life Member 368

Offline dkoloko

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2016, 12:13:01 pm »

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.


Consider the above a very personal opinion. I have swapped brifters for bar-end shifters on several touring bikes. For most any touring bike gearing, getting lower gears, and tires are primary considerations.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2016, 01:22:27 pm »
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.

Offline dkoloko

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2016, 02:56:19 pm »
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.

Trek, Bruce Gordon, Peter White, and other highly respected assemblers of touring bikes specify bar end shifters. Neither their customers or this touring bicyclist "All...want those new fangled (25 years old now) combination shifter/brake do-hickeys". My comment, as appropriate to this list, is about touring bicycles, not about "how capitalism works", or all the other bicycles a bike shop may sell. The originator of this topic can decide if follow the advice of the number of manufacturers of touring bicycles or your very personal opinion.

Offline RonK

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2016, 07:42:39 pm »
Back when I owned a Surly LHT I made several mods to it, each of which improved it significantly.
1. Changed the saddle for a Brooks B17
2. Changed the cantilever brakes for v brakes
3. Moved the bar end shifters to Paul Thumbies
4. Changed the crankset to an MTB 22/34/44 triple.

Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline Tandem Tom

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2016, 08:31:30 pm »
Though I built up our LHT's the one thing I did for sure was use KoolSTop Salmon brake pads.

Offline dkoloko

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2016, 12:27:53 pm »
Back when I owned a Surly LHT I made several mods to it, each of which improved it significantly.

3. Moved the bar end shifters to Paul Thumbies


Be interested in more information. Paul Thumbies on drop bars? Thanks.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2016, 06:24:54 pm »
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.

Offline RonK

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2016, 09:00:30 am »
Back when I owned a Surly LHT I made several mods to it, each of which improved it significantly.

3. Moved the bar end shifters to Paul Thumbies


Be interested in more information. Paul Thumbies on drop bars? Thanks.
Not much to add really - assuming you have Shimano bar-ends, get a pair of Paul Thumbies and move the bar-ends onto them.

Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2016, 09:25:08 am »
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.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2016, 09:48:34 am »
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.

OP: Ride it fully loaded to determine whether or not the gearing is low enough for you. If not, consider replacing the smallest chainring with something smaller. Don't know what the stock gearing was on the '09 model, but if the small ring is a 26t look into replacing it with a 24t or even a 22t.