Sometime this Spring, I made two different observations which led to the Troll decision. First, the LHT was starting to show its age. There is some rust forming along the seatstay bridge, not a frame killer but more a source of fade, like an older car which starts to need random servicing. Also, given my bike collection, I have some repetition; I could do what I do on the LHT with another, more-spirited bike like my even older Crosscheck. I decided to change.
What has facilitated the swap is the 26"-sized wheel. My LHT is 26", as is the Troll, so changing over wheels was no problem. The crankset and brake set were in good shape, and transitioning to a mtbike frame also gives me another chance at a Jones Loop Bar, one that didn't agree with me that well on the LHT. the only specific kit I needed for the Troll was a new headset and new BB to deal with wider chainstay placement for potentially *wide* rubber on the Troll. I'm running my old 1.75" Conti TravelContacts, but this bike screams for some 2.15" or wider rubber.
For the tour, my set-up was as follows:
- 16" Troll frame with a predominant Shimano Deore LX drivetrain and V-brakes
- two random wheels, both sporting Shimano hubs and very used Conti TravelContacts
- Jones Loop bar with Paul's Thumbies and Garmin 60cx that getsh the job done
- VO seatpost and Brooks B-17 saddle
- Orblieb Backrollers on a Tubus Logo. Tent, Thermalite, sandals and rainjacket attached to that
- no fenders. I had the rear one mounted with some brake clearance issues. I bought an $8 "mudguard" or something that didn't do much. A touring bike needs fenders.
- much more nimble frame that LHT. Feels lighter, livlier and more fun than ponderous LHT.
- very stable at speed. I hit speeds in excess of 40mph with touring gear a couple times b/c I was so confident. That isn't to say that the LHT isn't rock solid as well, but descents were *fun* on this rig.
- carried weight well enough. With a primarily rear load I did get some front end waggle, which if I didn't try to induce, never caused any issue. Next time I will try to put a little weight on the front via a rack or under-the-bar roll like the bikepackers are doing.
- for me a proper size, which keeps my frame rather small but stiff for dragging the weight.
- a Hell of a rig on mixed terrain. *SO* in its element on the chunky stuff. It immediately makes me want to find some more.
- while the lack of compartments keeps me busy staying organized, the Ortliebs did a great job keeping things secure and dry. We had heavy rain one night and I suffered no concern about my gear.
- MtFeedBags provided extra storage up front. I used the left one for food and sunglasses, the right for camera. Good system, and the Jones bar has the extra handholds to make it happen.
- potential for big rubber. Have I already said that?
- still undecided about the Jones bar. When I was climbing or graveling- basically mtbike applications- I enjoyed their positions and options. When I was plowing across wide expanses of road sections my hands got tired. Basically I found myself not using my abs (what abs?) and leaning too heavily on them. Still undecided.
- the front end waggle wasn't a prob, but I never experienced than on the LHT. It's the difference between a touring and mtbike rig, I presume.
- had to ride older 1.75 Contis. Didn't have the $$ for new fat Schwalbes.
In the end I'm very satisfied with my decision. I don't think the Troll is quite the road grinder that the LHT is, but the Troll also opens up newer avenues of mixed-terrain, fire roads, trails and such. With road rubber it did 90% of the necessary tasks that the LHT road machine does, and brings a much livelier feel. Other than making decisions about bars/cockpits and such, the Troll is an upgrade to my stable, and I already look forward to find other applications for its skillset.