650b Croix De Fer - Congratulations, it's an apple.

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  • After lurking about coveting some of my favourite forum bikes, and also this one for a while, I've decided to stop thinking about building a utility/light touring bike and just build a utility/light touring bike. The aim is to get a few weekends in towards the end of summer, and then a big trip abroad this time next year.

    This is going to be a fairly slow project I think, and as I am riddled with doubt over what I should build I would love some ideas and advice.

    My main priority is discs (I hate cantis) so I was pretty much settled on a 52cm Disc Trucker, which means 26". Have also looked at the Straggler, Soma Saga & Double Cross, and the Salsa Vaya, but the Disc Trucker looks like it'll be the best fit for me.

    I was thinking of trying out 650b to make use of some nice comfy tyres, as I'm not sure of a great deal of stuff in 26" along the lines of Compass/Grand Bois etc. Though Compass do offer one 26" tyre, I guess.

    But will sizing up to 650b wreck the handling? I was leaning towards front loading, but obviously there's no point if changing the wheel size will neutralise the frame's geometry.

    Would I be better served by starting with a 700c frame (like the Croix De Fer?)

    I'm going to steal a few bits from my current commuter before selling the frameset and wheels, and will look to pick up other bargains where I can including some used bargains here and there.

    Provisional build list is below, with a few gaps to fill. Any thoughts or comments on this whole endeavour would be more than welcome!


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  • I though for a sec that you were gonna try to build a -10kg disc trucker haha but now I see you still haven't got all the weight information. Nice plan! Gonna follow it.

  • Hah! I did that same double take when I uploaded the image. The weight for the frameset is estimated, and I imagine it's far heavier than that!

  • Quick google fu
    Frame 56cm 2.55kg
    Fork 1.25kg (uncut, Surlys tend to have very long steerer tubes)

    The stock Surly cast stainless steel seatpost clamps are a quick way to shed a mars bar worth of weight with a trick milled out Alu clamp :)

    (Karate Monkey owner, will get round to touring/bikepacking on it one day)

  • always thought it was better to size down a 700c bike to 650b than size up a 26''

    paging scoble...

  • I think the lht out there on the web started with the 26" model, not sure why, maybe because of the already quite low bb height. Compass are about to bring out the rat trap pass tyre which is a lightweight 55mm 26" slick. I'd be tempted to build it up around those.

    Also I'd consider the lht a heavyweight tourer, are you going to be carrying 4 panniers and lots of weight? Otherwise I'd consider it a bit of overkill.

  • Oh rad, thanks! Was too lazy to look too far :)

    @roadwarrior Word. I've read that both can be made to work (from different sources), though I admit I've seen 700>650b more often. And so I shrug! I just went back to the Salsa Vaya to look at that again, geo on the 54cm looked better aside from BB drop.

    I guess there's the option of a Croix De Fer & Fork swap, basically what Spotter did?

    @busseynova You're not the first person to point this out. I think I'd thought that burlier frame = longer lifespan, so wasn't too fussed about it perhaps being ott for the type of touring I'm intending on.

    Also I like the way it looks which is obviously the most important part.

  • This is what I think of when I think of a LHT.

  • More google-fu by the op will be needed to meet the op's actual needs.

    From memory a LHT can run a limited size in 700c on the 26" based frame, when touring around the world this opens up options of easily sourced replacement wheels/rim rebuilds and tire choice. Try finding 650b in third world countries !

    I would rethink the bar tape. This is your primary contact point, a bit of cotton tape while light weight might be hard going on hands/wrists.
    Check out planet X for cheap bar tape, consider gel inserts or a double wrap on the tape for long hauling comfort.

    Surlys have a rep for burly which is why some buy them. Steel can be repaired anywhere in the world with ease, may not be pretty but it can be fixed easier than Alu/carbon/Ti frames.

    So far my KM has been a DH racer and XC racer, i think it's earnt a bit of touring light duties for surviving being cartwheeled down mountains :)

  • I'm definitely not going round the world, or anywhere truly remote.

    The build and use will be closer to:


    (maybe not so much skidding)

    As I say, I'm not 100% settled on the Disc Trucker, but it hit a good sweet spot between affordability, fit, and geometry.

    Croix De Fer with a replacement fork might actually (probably) work a little better, albeit for a little more cash so that warrants more consideration.

    From the Surly site:

    Can I run either 26" OR 700c wheels on my Long Haul Trucker?
    No. Each LHT has geometry and braze-on/ brake boss mounts that are specific to the wheel size intended for the frame you purchase. So, if you buy an LHT 26", use 26" wheels. If you bought an LHT intended for use with 700c's, well then use a 700c wheelset. They are NOT interchangeable.

    Not sure how that applies to the DT, but I'd assume the same rationale..

  • Buy my croix de fer frame, problem solved!

    https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/2671­16/

  • Caveat - I used to have a long haul trucker - I would never consider it as a light tourer!

  • @roadwarrior

    Sheeeeiiittttt. I'm gonna think about that (and hopefully get some advice on 650b suitability) and get back to you. Providing of course you'd be willing to post?

  • You (&surly) need to deal with tire size when talking wheel size.

  • Sure thing. I'd actually failed to think about this properly but just looked at a couple of things.

    Surly are saying 26 x 2.1" will fit with guards, and according to this, that works out as a tiny bit bigger than 650b x 38mm.

    Though obviously a pinch of salt is required there as rim width will affect tyre height, won't it?

  • Pinch of peber (small variation)

  • Don't get a heavy duty 26' tourer if all you're going to do is two weeks in summer in Spain. If you're interested in having a 65ob wheelset on (a) Surly have a look at the Straggler.
    It is by no means light but I found that the geo works well with 584-38 ETRTO on wide rims with mudguards. BB ends up a tad low but the thing certainly corners.

  • Why not just buy a Croix de fer? Preferably a 30?

    That's my plan

  • Numerous reasons really, although after more research the 2014 (or possibly even 2013) frame seems to make a good candidate for conversion.

  • Been doing a bit of maths around the BB height of the 2014 Croix de Fer.

    With 65mm bb drop on 700 x 35c tyres the frame was designed for, the height is 281mm.
    On 650b x 38 would put the bb height at 265mm.

    Is that stupidly low?
    I'm not fussed about crank length so will happily use a 165mm crank.
    I'm sure I won't be leaning too far with panniers on the bike, either...

  • @hulsroy tried riding offroad with 265mm height and 175mm arms - some roots caught him now and then, but gravel should be good with 165mm arms.

  • @Thuekr Cool, thanks for the info!

    That doesn't sound too life threatening ;)
    I can always squeeze an extra mm or so with bigger tyres too.

    With any luck I might be able to snag the frameset mentioned upthread and get this moving!

  • Subbed. Looking forward to seeing how this comes out, I'm doing something similar around a cross-check at the minute

  • You want more clearance, not less.

    700c - 650b give you ample clearance, whether 26" - 650b may be a bit tight.

    LHT is a serious tourer, I would strongly advise against getting it if your main priority is light touring/commuting.

  • Nice one! I've been nosing around your thread the last few days too, dead keen to see how you find the 105/XTR drivetrain bits.

    In other news, I forgot about Cotic and so went for a look. The Escapade & Roadrat have reasonably compatible front end geo, and a high BB. They only really differ in top tube length.

    The forks have no braze-ons for front pannier racks, but they can be bought frame-only so I could still use one with Thorn disc forks, though it'd look a dog's dinnner.
    Don't like look of the super-compact as much as that of the Croix, but it could be a good backup choice if I can't get the right Genesis frame.

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650b Croix De Fer - Congratulations, it's an apple.

Posted by Avatar for tyeness @tyeness

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