I walked into the bike shop this morning looking for new cork grips for the 3-speed and walked out with a new Long Haul Trucker.
This is not quite the impulse buy that it seems to be. I've been toying with the idea of a new bike for a few months now. The impetus (and by impetus, I mean "excuse") is that I need a multi-geared bike that's suitable for teaching (LCI #3276, thank you very much!).
Honestly, I could put different bars on the Rawland and install my flat/SPD pedals on that bike and it would work just fine, but I am a little frustrated with that bike on a few fronts. It needs some maintenance, admittedly, so I'll give it the once over and then we'll give each other some time and I'll reassess my position on that bike.
I've never really seriously considered a Long Haul Trucker (LHT) but the shop had last year's 52cm LHT complete bike in stock, so I test rode it and was very pleasantly surprised. The LHT increased in price about $200 last year, so this one was still priced at the good-deal level. The bike was not sluggish, which I anticipated, and although the bars on the original set up were very high by my standards, I got that dialed in easily and now have the bars level with the saddle.
I will not wax poetic about this bike - suffice it to say that the bike is very nice, and carves through corners very confidently. It is not harsh riding but it's plenty stiff and very sure-footed, and it's agile enough but steers straight ahead effortlessly. It's slow-speed handling is superior, which is important to me at the present moment.
I like that the smaller LHT's come with 26-wheels. That gives me a huge selection of tires to choose from, including some real fatties. Road bikes with fat tires are just all-around bad ass looking, and I would not hesitate to take this bike on some single track with the proper tires.
I spent a sweaty afternoon adding bottle cages and my frame pump, attaching light mounts, and swapping my Brooks saddle from the Rawland to the LHT. Also, considerable pfutzing around with bar and saddle height happened as well. After all that, I ventured out into the swelter to give it a test ride.
It was "all good" except for a faulty seat post binder. Luckily, the gentlemen of Hiawatha Cyclery were there to save my bacon. Apparently, the Surly seat post binders of this era are apparently kind of notorious for having problems. We swapped the original out for a different unit and all was well in regard to saddle height and stability.
I've got this tricked out to be the everyday bike, and expect I'll ride this one a lot, both for getting my butt around town and for teaching. At some point soon, I'll likely add fenders, but I am going to wait until I find the perfect fenders. No 700c's or too-wide MTB fenders compromises for this bike.
This bike has me itching to ride the Luce Line or SW LRT, and I am past due for a repeat of the Cannon Valley trail as well. Also, I got a gift certificate for a B&B stay on the Root River trail at my retirement send-off last night, so that trail beckons as well.