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I've been contemplating a new build and it's looking like the funds will be available to me by this weekend. I have narrowed my choices down to the 26" Long Haul Trucker, the Troll and the Ogre (The Velo-Orange Camargue is also in the running but this is a Surly sub-forum).

I've ridden 700c almost exclusively since 1995. First a Trek 730, then a Trek 7.2 FX, then another Trek 730 and now a Handsome Devil. I've been curious about 26" wheels so I picked up a 1996 Trek 820 and a 1983-84 Takara Highlander, which has very similar geometry to the first Stumpjumpers (VERY slack and long). I've discovered that I really like the 26" wheels with 55mm Big Apple tires on them.

Right now I'm 50/50 on 26" vs 700c. I have a set of custom built 700c wheels so I'm good to go wheelwise if I choose a 700c bike BUT the wheels are the wrong color! :( If I choose a 26" bike I can have a new set built in the correct color but it would be a longer-term project. I have a set of serviceable 26" wheels I can use in the meantime.

I test rode a Karate Monkey and a Troll several times and really liked both bikes. I am a bit concerned with the dropouts but even more so with the top-tube length of each bike. I rode a 26" LHT once but it had skinny tires and drop bars so it's not really a valid comparison to how I would set it up. To my surprise, the 26" LHT was very agile and I couldnt' tell much difference between it and my Devil, which is a 73/73 frame with 60mm of trail....very roadish.

Almost all of my riding will be pavement, packed dirt or smooth gravel. At one time I wanted to really get in the dirt but a few tentative rides in rougher stuff weren't as fun as I thought they would be. Most rides will be less than 10 miles and I'm more concerned with simply having fun on the bike.......lot's of slowing down/speeding up, lot's of turns, twists and riding around things.

I prefer the frame style, dropouts and shorter top-tube of the LHT but I am concerned about the 46cm chainstays. I don't know if that's going to hinder the bikes agility or not. I didn't really spend enough time on the 26" LHT I test rode to get a good feel for that. I don't know if a bike designed for "long hauls" will be fun for the style of riding I do.

Any thoughts or suggestions from folks with experience with these bikes?

ETA: I forgot to add that I weigh about 400 lbs on a 6 foot frame so that is why all of the bikes I'm considering are on the stouter side with fat tires.
 

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At your weight, the LHT will carry it much better than the others. But given your rides are 10 miles at most, really won't matter that much which bike you go with. If getting nit-picky, I would go with the LHT based on the fact that you only ride pavement or dirt roads. LHT also gives you better heel clearance for rear racks, which might come in handy for errands. You can also fit it with fat 26" tires (or fairly fat 700c tires if going with the 700c model) for off pavement rides.

Again, I think any of the ones will work. Good luck.
 

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At your weight and your riding style, I would go with the 26" LHT. Some complain that the LHT tubing is too stout, but at 400 pounds, this should be a non issue. I've also heard others mention that the 26" feels zippier than the 700c version.

Self serving promotion: you could also look at other 26" mountain bikes, such as this Breezer I have for sale. It runs pretty short in the top tube compared to other bikes of this size.

See here for an example of how I built it up.

Any of the mountain frames will give you lots of clearance over the front tire. Fine if you want that, but it may look goofy if you want to mount fenders (even with a drop bolt conversion)
 
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