Author Topic: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?  (Read 20130 times)

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Offline delphi99

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2016, 01:58:26 pm »
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.

Yes, the '09 model gearing is 48-36-26t. Thanks for the tip, indyfabz!

Offline delphi99

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2016, 02:11:57 pm »
Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! Great conversation.

I have a Brooks saddle. I like my bar-end shifters. I have a variety of tires that I switch out throughout the year including Schwalbe Marathons. My bike fits me well, I think. I'm in pretty good shape.

I like the idea of getting a lower gear for climbs (22t). A recommendation of crankset here would be much appreciated.
I like the idea of upgrading my brakes to direct pull from cantilever.
I also like the idea of looking into Nitto Noodle drop bars, based on another recommendation that was made to me.

If I were going to make only one upgrade for this trip, I think it would be the lower gearing on the crankset, followed closely by a change in stem length/position and/or comfier drop bars.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2016, 02:59:32 pm »
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?

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #18 on: July 18, 2016, 03:06:08 pm »
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.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2016, 03:17:51 pm »
I like the idea of getting a lower gear for climbs (22t). A recommendation of crankset here would be much appreciated.

Your bike has a triple crankset with a 74mm bolt circle diameter for the inner chainring.  It can accept as small as 24 teeth inner chainring.  That is it.  Current mountain bike cranksets use a 64mm bolt circle diameter crank.  You can put a 22 tooth inner chainring on those cranks.  You can buy a new 24 tooth 74mm bcd chainring for about $15.  Easy to install yourself (friend) if you have the tools.  Or pay a bike shop $10.  New cranksets are $100-200 to get the 22 tooth chainring.  May or may not need new bottom bracket.  Going from 26 to 24 to 22 is all small incremental changes.  Easily worth $25 or less to go from 26 to 24.  Probably not worth $100-200 to go from 26 to 22.  There are also now old cranksets that used a 58mm bcd inner ring.  They go down to 20 tooth.  You'd have to search to find them.  Doubt anyone sells them retail anyplace.  Again you are $100-200 for new crankset and rings.  20 tooth inner chainring is extra nice to have but it would be a bit of trouble and money to get it.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2016, 05:40:12 pm »
If I were going to make only one upgrade for this trip, I think it would be the lower gearing on the crankset, followed closely by a change in stem length/position and/or comfier drop bars.

Again, just MHO, but if you're thinking about stem length, position, or changing drop bars, it sounds like you're not comfortable on your current setup.  If that's the case, then your best upgrade might be a fit session with a professional who knows how to fit bikes to touring cyclists.

I routinely urge lower gears for the really tough climbs (steep, long, tough wind, end of day kinds of climbs).  But you really can walk your bike for a few hundred yards if it comes to that.  When you've been on your bike all day and you ache because it's not quite dialed in right - well, that's the sort of thing that lasts a lot longer and can be prevented by a good bike fit.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2016, 05:47:06 pm »
And just FWIW, a preference for STI is just like any other preference -- personal.
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?

And have you stopped beating your wife?  :)

OK, a bit more seriously, is there some reason I shouldn't be using 27" wheels with aluminum alloy rims?  (You can get those as an upgrade to the older stainless steel rims, which couldn't be stopped well in the rain with rim brakes.)  There's some performance reasons for the other examples you give.  But really, I enjoy my bar-end shifter bike as much as my Ergo shifter bike, and which shifters I use makes approximately zero difference in how well I climb.

Offline DaveB

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2016, 08:56:08 am »
But really, I enjoy my bar-end shifter bike as much as my Ergo shifter bike, and which shifters I use makes approximately zero difference in how well I climb.
My personal objection to barends (and yes, I have them on one of my bikes) is not functionality but accessibility.  The work well but I find them very difficult to get to if I discover I need a lower gear in the middle of a climb.  If you can anticipate your shifts and shift while seated, fine.  If you are surprised by the grade and need to shift while standing, they are awkward at best.

STI/Ergo and "Retroshift" brifters can be shifted any time with minimal hand movement so being in the wrong gear can be corrected immediately.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2016, 09:45:07 am »
On the accessibility front, bar ends (which I use) can present problems shifting on rough roads. When I crossed PA a few years ago there were a couple of days with big rollers on roads with crappy shoulders in places. Several times I wanted to shift during descents and the transitions to the next inclines so I could keep up momentum but I didn't feel comfortable taking my hands off the bars due to the poor road conditions.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2016, 10:14:58 am »
You can shift bar ends without taking your hands off the bars, assuming you are in the drops.

Offline jrswenberger

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2016, 12:30:36 am »
Personally, I find no difficulty shifting on the road, off road, uphill, downhill, or any other time on my bikes with thumb shifters, bar ends or downtube shifters. I guess that's why I don't see any advantage to integrated shifters.

Of course, YMMV.

Enjoy the ride,
Jay
ACA Life Member 368

Offline DaveB

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2016, 10:00:00 am »
You can shift bar ends without taking your hands off the bars, assuming you are in the drops.
That's a big assumption.  Most riders don't climb with their hands in the drops and that's the only hand position that barends are accessible from.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2016, 04:37:47 pm »
Not so, if your bike is set up right.  I can get to the bar-ends on my bike from the bar tops or the hoods by swinging my arm down.  They're a lot more convenient that down tube shifters, at least for me.  I also ride in the drops when I'm climbing because I engage more muscles (into my lower back) there, which gives the quads and hamstrings a break.

You may say I'm an outlier, that They Say you should be in the tops while climbing, and Everybody does it that way.  Except for me, I suppose.  Doesn't that emphasize that the choice of where to put the shifters is a personal choice?

Offline DaveB

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2016, 10:53:49 pm »
Not so, if your bike is set up right.  I can get to the bar-ends on my bike from the bar tops or the hoods by swinging my arm down.  They're a lot more convenient that down tube shifters, at least for me.  I also ride in the drops when I'm climbing because I engage more muscles (into my lower back) there, which gives the quads and hamstrings a break.

You may say I'm an outlier, that They Say you should be in the tops while climbing, and Everybody does it that way.  Except for me, I suppose.  Doesn't that emphasize that the choice of where to put the shifters is a personal choice?
Barends are far more convenient than downtube shifters, no argument there. However, I still maintain that for the majority of riders barends are awkward at best to reach from anywhere but the drops and that most riders do not climb any significant grade in the drops. 

I expect you are indeed an outlier and of course you do have the choice of where to have your shifters.  That said, I still consider barends to be an awkward shifter location compared to brake lever mounted shifters for most riders. 

Offline BrianW

Re: Single best modification to stock LHT for cross-country tour?
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2016, 11:45:13 am »
I have occasional wondered why stem-mounted shifters haven't made a comeback for touring bikes. They used to be common on a lot of lower and medium quality bikes, but purists would only use downtube shifters because of the shorter cable run and "crisper" shifting. Bar ends were out there for (mostly) touring bikes. STI levers came on the scene and quickly dominated the market, mostly eliminating downtube and stem shifters. Bar ends only kept on because of the racing/TT crowd. Does anyone think Shimano would keep making them just for the touring bike market?

I have bar ends on my Co-Motion Pangea and STIs on all my other bikes. Without a doubt I greatly prefer the STIs. I've just been too cheap to change out the bar ends on the Pangea. I've spent plenty of time riding bikes with all of the shifter variants, and STI is by far the easiest. When I started using STI my old C'dale touring bike still had downtube shifters. Created a lot of mental confusion when I'd switch bikes!

To me a good set of stem mounted shifters have the best attributes of downtube (shorter cable run) and bar end (keep hands on or close to the bars) shifters.  Assuming you don't want to go STI, of course, and are willing to give up indexed shifting.