When we moved earlier this year, I really felt the desire to eliminate driving whenever possible, but since my road bike wasn’t really up to the task of grocery shopping, I needed to get an appropriate “vehicle”. I’ve long admired the many LHT’s I’ve seen, and knew it could be equipped for my needs (thanks to great educational resources like EcoVelo!!) … so I ordered a 2010 46CM “Blue Velvet” complete, and made a few upgrades:
- Nitto B825 Touring Bars, wrapped with natural cork tape and finished with amber shellac and jute twine
- Velo-Orange Headset, stem, spacer-mounted brass bell, bottle cages, and braided stainless cables
- Brooks B-17 Aged saddle and Nitto S-84 lugged steel seatpost (great setback for the Brooks!)
- Paul Components Moto-Lite Brakes and Love Levers 2.5, with Kool-Stop Mountain pads
- Paul Thumbies for the shifters (set to friction mode, of course)
- Surly Nice Racks front and rear with a medium Wald basket on the front
- Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 26″x2″ tires
- Rivendell Sackville Shopsack and Large Trunksack (which perfectly holds a Domke F-5XB with my DSLR kit)
- Ortleib Front Roller Plus and Back Roller Plus panniers for grocery shopping and other carrying tasks
- Pitlock locking skewers and Kryptonite Evolution 4 U-lock
The upgrades may be a bit extravagant, since the stock build is actually just fine, but the changes I made make the bike perfect for me … and still the whole package is a fraction of a car purchase (or even annual maintenance). I’m very grateful and fortunate that my reduced housing and utility costs, combined with a mysterious upturn in work this year, allowed me to afford it all. The Paul Components brakes and levers are amazing, and stop better with less force than cantis (in my opinion). The Nitto touring bars are really comfortable and give me at least three different places to grip, and the (odd/unique) placement of the shifters somehow just works right without being in the way. I replaced the headset because, when my bike arrived, the lower cup had somehow gotten bent (even though there was no damage to the shipping box), and the bearing wouldn’t fit. Rather than try to fix it, I just added a shiny silver one to my Velo-Orange order … and I’m very glad I did. It’s beautiful and very smooth. No need to comment on Brooks … ’nuff already said … but the Nitto S-84 seatpost is a work of art that actually serves the great function of allowing adequate setback on a small frame with a steep seat tube angle. Yes, it’s expensive, but there’s nothing else like it … steel … lugged … strong … beautiful!
My other bike is a Look 555, which I love, but it sorely lacks in the practicality department. The LHT truly is my SUV. It goes grocery shopping, errand running, photo outings … almost anything I used to do in my car! And … although the intent was for a utilitarian application, I’ve discovered that it’s just plain fun to ride. The big Schwalbe tires are “Supremely” comfortable (pun intended), and can go where my road bike can’t … gravel, light trails, horrible roads. The racks and bags let me carry stuff I never thought possible on a bike, and it’s always a new experience to explore new routes for daily errands. I’ve filled my gas tank only once this whole year because of this bike … and it’s looking like that one tank may last quite a while longer! With what I’ve saved in gas this year already, maybe all of those upgrades aren’t so extravagant after all …
Thanks for the great information you always offer at EcoVelo … it’s a lot of work, I know … but there are many, many, many of us who appreciate it!!
—Scott, Velo Zen
[And yet another cool LHT build! —ed.]