Spring Cleaning

Ol’ Faithful Gets a Good Scrubbing

Spring arrived early this weekend in California, and the spring cleaning bug bit us big time. As if cleaning out the garage, washing the car, re-organizing the walk-in closet, and re-arranging the bike room wasn’t enough, Ol’ Faithful the commuter got a good once-over too. Since our winters in CA are so mild, it really wasn’t much of a job; all I did was wash the bike, clean and lube the drivetrain, scrub the braking surfaces, and swap out a few rusty bolts for shiny new stainless steel replacements. I think she’s good to go for the spring, and I think we’re done for the weekend… :-)

10 Responses to “Spring Cleaning”

  • Seth Hoyt says:

    Great looking LHT, Alan. I’ve admired it before. I’m looking for a new bike this Spring and like the way you’ve got yours tricked out. Can you tell me (again) the specs? And your experience w/handling, the ride, weight distribution, etc. I’d use mine mostly on Minnesota 2-lane roads, plus trips to town (10 miles RT) on crushed limestone trails — which we have in abundance in Hennepin County. Thank you!

  • Alan says:

    Hi Seth,

    I started with a stock build – additions and substitutions as follows:

    Tubus Cargo rear rack
    Pass & Stow front rack
    Sugino XD2 “Quickbeam” crank from Rivendell
    Nitto North Road handlebars
    Shimano D/A 9-speed bar-end shifters
    Cork grips (shellaced)
    “Real” brand MTB brake levers
    SKS Fenders
    Brooks mud flap
    Brooks B67 saddle
    Pletscher Double kickstand w/deluxe top plate
    Kool Stop Salmon MTB pads
    Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires
    Japanese brass bell
    SKS Touring pedals
    2/Planet Bike Superflash tail lights
    Busch & Muller Ixon headlight
    Fenix L2D headlight
    King SS bottle cage

    The LHT is a great all-rounder. It’s stiff, steady, stable, everything you’d expect in a bike designed for loaded touring. The steering is not as quick as some other “city” bikes, but the stability is appreciated when carrying a heavy load. The geometry is optimized for rear-loading, so even though I have the P&S rack up front, I carry most of the heavy stuff on the rear and save the front rack for lightweight bulky items.

    I hope that helps… :-)


  • Ahmad says:

    Hi Alan,

    Spring cleaning is still many weeks away here in the frozen North, but my 1967 Raleigh 3-spd preservers, (although I give the chain about another 3 days before the sand and salt just eat it completely).

    Question for you: I notice you run cantilever brakes, rather than V’s, or discs, which I had assumed to be more powerful. Any specific reasons for your choice on that bike? No need to answer this yourself if you know of a web resource I should be reading.

    Many thanks

  • Joe says:

    The usual reason most touring bikes have cantilever brakes instead of the more powerful V-brakes is because STI brake levers (the ones in drop bars where brake and shift lever come all in one) are not compatible with linear pull brakes (i.e. V-brakes or disk brakes).

    Only specific road brake levers like Dia Compe 287V or some models from Tektro and Cane Creek (don’t remember the name of them) will allow them (but then you’ll have to use bar-end shift levers or some other trick).

    In the case of Alan’s bike, he’ll be the best to answer, but with his handlebar choice (and brake levers) he could easily fit Vs if he wanted to… The Surly, when equipped from the factory, comes with cantilevers because of the brake lever incompatibily issue (it comes with a drop bar and STI’s).

    I wouldn’t be very happy cycling on a fully loaded touring bike, in a long downhill, using cantilevers. In my opinion it’s an ok technology if you have them in some old bike, but not something I would pay for in a new bike…

  • Alan says:

    What Joe said… :-)

    I may put V-brakes or high profile cantilevers on this bike at some point. The low-profile cantis came stock, and while not as powerful as the brakes on some of my other bikes, with Kool-Stop Salmon pads mounted they’re not bad for the type of riding I’m doing. That said, from a performance standpoint, they pale in comparison to the disc brakes on both of my Civias.


  • Andrew says:

    The other reason cantilevers are usually the standard on touring bikes is because they have a greater pad clearance than linear pull brakes, so in case you break a spoke and your wheel goes out of true, it’s easier to limp to a shop (assuming you’re not packing a chain whip, cassette tool, and big wrench on your tour).

    Realistically, though, more manufacturers just need to step up and manufacture the proper hardware to accommodate V-brakes, which are pretty much superior to cantilevers in every way (power, modularity, and ease of adjustment). In some cases its political, because makers of cyclocross-bikes which are probably the best candidates for adopting V-brakes or discs with brifters don’t have much incentive, because the UCI is has pretty medieval rules for competition which ban discs. Ah, the complexities of the bike industry…

  • keith says:

    I already have a Riv SH but I’m thinking about purchasing a Surly LHT as well. I’ve done some reading of past posts on your blog and find you have a 56 LHT and a 60 Sam (I hope that is right). I’m still somewhat new to the biking world and am wondering about the difference between the two. Is it a result of the slope of the top tube of the Sam? The geometry of bikes is still a bit of a mystery to me.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Keith,

    Bike fit is alchemy, not science, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… :-)

    Seriously, we talk about sizes in terms of seat tube length (e.g. 56cm, 60cm), but head angle, seat tube angle, top tube length, bar and stem choice, saddle set-back, etc., all affect fit as well. Personally (and this will be different for each person), I prefer the primary grip area of whatever bar I’m using to be approximately 1-2cm above the height of the top of the saddle. So, depending upon the combined rise of the bar and stem, anywhere from a 56 to a 60 might fit me well. Technically, by most codified “methods”, I fit a 58cm bike. But if a particular model has a long top tube (like the LHT) and it’s set up with bars that have significant rise like the Albatross or North Road, a 56 fits like a glove. On the other hand, a flat bar with a long forward reach like a Moustache requires a short reach stem and larger frame to get the grip area in the same position (hence my 60cm SH with Moustache bars). If I had planned on setting up my SH with Albatross bars, I would have ordered a 56 instead of a 60 because the bars have more rise.

    I hope that’s all just slightly more clear than mud…LOL. Feel free to email directly anytime if you want to discuss further.


  • keith says:

    Thanks, Alan. Actually your response makes matters a bit clearer for me. If I get the LHT, I think I’ll put Albatross bars on it and so I’ll be thinking about a smaller frame than my 56 SH.
    I realize a test ride is in order as well as some answers from my LBS.
    Thanks again,

  • Johan Wagner says:

    Sorry for repeating myself but: what make and model is the front rack?


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