Gallery: Scott’s LHT “SUV”

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.]

18 Responses to “Gallery: Scott’s LHT “SUV””

  • Logan says:

    Hey great set-up & fantastic photos!

    Glad to see someone else using baskets! :) What type of pedals do you have on this bike?

    Cheers!

  • Scott Wayland says:

    Scott: Wow! That is so nice. Very well done. I’m a big fan of Paul stuff as well.

    Enjoy the ride.

    Scott (aka Scott)

  • Scott aka SirLanceI'mNot says:

    Thanks for the kind words! I do love the bike … it spoils me for the others …

    Logan … ah, the pedals … I didn’t list them because I seem to change them out a lot. In the photo, they’re Kona Wah-Wah pedals, which are very nice, very large solid platforms. They stick my shoes so well that I had a hard time moving my feet around! Currently, I’m trying to make a final decision between those, a set of Rivendell Grip Kings, and some Velo-Orange Touring Pedals. Hard to decide … they’re all nice … more riding over varied terrain will make the decision, I suppose. It’s a tough life … ;-)

  • D'Arcy says:

    A truly superb bike Scott. A marvelous blend of function and style.

    It looks like your Brooks seat has some sort of lashing going through some of the holes along the bottom edge of the seat. Do they perform s function? (pull the edges together? Hold something under the seat?)

    Ride on

  • Scott aka SirLanceI'mNot says:

    D’Arcy … thanks! The saddle is a Pre-Aged B-17, which comes laced as you see it. The laces keep the sides from flaring out under weight, which I’ve not really encountered on other Brooks saddles … but the Pre-Aged leather is softened to a degree to help lessen the break-in time, so Brooks felt they’d go ahead and lace it up for us! It’s a nice touch … and, yes, a functional one, too.

  • Chris says:

    The handlebars are brilliant!

  • bongobike says:

    Very sweet! That bike looks like it’s ready for anything.

  • davidg says:

    Great bike. All the lht’s I’ve seen on this site are great interpretations of a wonderfully versatile vehicle. I see my set up mirrored in them. Baskets, wide handlebars, platform pedals (I have nothing at all bad to say about my grip kings), saddle upgrades to english leather. Very nice. great website too, thank you.

  • howdager says:

    great bike, but my comment is about your car. As a rare driver myself I’ve found it better to buy gas in small increments. Gas will start to naturally break down within a few months and leave a nasty varnish that can later clog fuel injection / carburetor internals (ask anyone into vintage motorcycles). Another alternative is to add a fuel stabilizer, such as “Stabil”, which is available at any auto parts store. Good luck with you “car light” endeavors. I’ve also had batteries die from lack of use. Remember to drive at least occasionally to keep the battery charged.

  • bongobike says:

    howdager,

    Just running the engine for a few minutes, let’s say every Sunday, will keep the battery alive. Stabil in the gas tank is a good idea.

  • Scott aka SirLanceI'mNot says:

    Thanks for the tips on the gas situation … I hadn’t thought about that at all. My next step is to sell my car, since we do have another that gets more regular use for distant business-related trips or other shopping that requires cargo space. That will be a more efficient “car-light” scenario … the extra insurance alone in CA would pay for a decent bike!

    Thanks again for all of the kind words!

  • wpm says:

    Nice bike and photography y’all. I’ve yet to see a LHT I didn’t like.

    That said, it seems most people set up their LHT’s for touring with handlebars (appropriately) at the saddle height plus or minus a bit, requiring lots and lots of spacers to accomodate a threadless headset. Why aren’t LHT’s (and Kogswells, before discontinuance) available with threaded headsets/quill stems? Thx.

  • qx87 says:

    nice ride.

    it`s the first time I have seen surly`s rack plus a basket. is it, permanently fixed or can the basket be removed?

  • Jay says:

    Great looking bike! I like the basket on the rack – that’s a really useful way to carry things. I use a similar setup, but I have the basket on top of my rear rack. Can’t see/reach its contents as easily as if it was up front, but I already had the rear rack, and didn’t want to buy a front one too!

    One thing I notice about this bike from the photos is how much it looks just like a rigid mountain bike, like one of those 90′s era Specialized Rockhoppers or something similar. With the 26″ wheels, is the LHT geometry really different from a rigid steel mountain bike?

  • Scott aka SirLanceI'mNot says:

    qx87:
    The basket is only “semi-permanent”, attached with simple zip-ties. It can be removed in about a minute by cutting the ties, if necessary … and put back on in about the same amount of time. However, the basket weighs virtually nothing and has little wind resistance, so if nothing’s in it, it’s almost as though it isn’t there. It also doesn’t affect front pannier mounting … the bags attach to the lower rails, so I can fill the basket and still use panniers. That’s why I decided to go with the Surly racks. With the front and rear bags plus the basket, it makes for quite a grocery haul. Generally, I just stuff whatever I need for a ride into the Rivendell ShopSack, put it in the basket, and go. I thought it might affect handling to have the basket up front, but it really doesn’t … perhaps due to the weight being on the fork-mounted rack, as well as the geometry of the bike. In any case, the options are really nice to have.

    Jay:
    I also debated having both front and rear racks, because it does make the bike a bit heavy … but even so, this bike doesn’t “feel” heavy when riding … only if I have to carry it anywhere, which isn’t often for me.

    Funny you should mention the old-school rigid mountain bike likeness … before buying this bike, I considered a Soma Groove and a Salsa Ala Carte, because I actually really like the feel of that kind of ride. I went with the LHT partly because it could be set up that way, as well as for the many options available for rack/hardware mounting (both front and rear), and because the chainstays are longer. I think the difference in geometry is a little steeper seat/head tube angles and the longer chainstays … a bit more stable feel to the ride. But since the frame allows for really big tires, and a 26″ wheel size, it does make it possible to be set up for a very trail-friendly bike … old-school style.

    As wpm mentioned, it would have been nice for Surly to offer it with a threaded headset and quill stem for ease in height adjustment without needing extra spacers … but the only way I found to get that option along with everything else I was looking for was a custom frame, which would have cost more than the entire bike I assembled, even with all of the upgrades. That’s not to say a custom frame isn’t worth every penny … it’s just not in my budget. I suppose the manufacturers spec what people most ask for … and threaded headsets aren’t exactly mainstream these days. But who knows, maybe they’re making a comeback, what with companies like Rivendell and Velo-Orange!

  • GTPowers says:

    I love your Nitto B825 Touring Bar, it seems to have been build with great attention. My Novara Safari has a bar much like the B825 but unfortunately has caused me some eternal struggle. Some days I love it, others it’s horrid. It’s the combination of twist grips, a long top tube, and a short cut threadless fork. Just as others have noted about the LHT, the Safari is like an old rigid MTB but in the end it is just very poorly executed. Your Surly does the trick. A true inspiration for the rest of us to get to pushin’ them pedals.

  • Doug says:

    Great looking LHT. I really love my LHT. I have to ask…why no fenders? Doesn’t it rain where you live?

  • Scott aka SirLanceI'mNot says:

    GTPowers:

    The Nitto touring bars really are shaped right. I’ve seen some other versions, but these seem to have the curves and angles nailed just perfectly … comfortable in every position. I actually needed to put a longer stem on for them, which seems odd, but this is a pretty small frame with a short top tube, so the overall fit is now just right for me. The look of the extra spacers bothered me a little at first, but it’s not really a big deal, given that the bars are at the right height … and I’m glad I didn’t cut the steerer tube any shorter. It did take some time to find the right location for the brake and shifter levers … most bars like this seem to have both mounted on the lower flat area, but that was just too crowded, so I finally settled on mounting the shifters up high, and the placement really works well, keeping all of the gripping areas clean and accessible.

    Doug:

    I live in Southern California … and although it does actually rain here, it isn’t enough for me to have fenders on full time. I’ve thought about maybe getting some that would be easily removed so I could put them on in January/February when we tend to get a few more showers. That’s a few months away, though … so I have time for research!

 
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