Early in 2009 I purchased my first and only “proper” touring bike, a Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT). Since then I have made some changes to the bike but otherwise continue to use it as my touring bike and as my commuter when I need to carry a load of clothes etc into the office and now in 2012 it will take up duties as a shopping bike as well. I am trying to get greener in my life focus.
This blog post is about documenting my experiences of riding the Surly Long Haul Trucker as a commuter bicycle and more importantly as a touring bike.
Why Did I Choose a Surly Long Haul Trucker?
My original intention had been to build my own Surly Long Haul Trucker but the world financial crisis in 2009 and time killed that option. The price of a frame at the time of making the decision to order a new built Long Haul Trucker was Australia AU $990 whereas I could buy a complete 2009 bike in Truckaccino for AU$2,129. This combined with really not having the time to put into my own build lead me down the path of a complete bike with the intention of modifying it over time.
Before deciding on the Surly Long Haul Trucker I considered a Vivente Randonneur but was turned off by the attitude at Balmoral Cycles in Victoria Park plus they where happy to sell me a wrong sized bike). Also the other recommended dealer, Cycle Centre, East Perth, took nearly four months to get back to me when I asked about a bike! All this plus I just could not get excited about this bike led me to consider two other alternatives. The first was a Fuji Tourer (poor dealer response in WA but could have got one from Melbourne but with freight there was little cost advantage and again the whole experience did nothing to inspire confidence in buying one of these) and a Cannondale Touring 1 or 2 (just too expensive I am afraid, but at least the local Cannondale representative really tried to help).
All this kept leading me back to the idea of a Surly Long Haul Trucker, something about this bike and Surly bikes in general grabs me. So in March 2009 I placed an order with Churchill Cycles in Myaree, Western Australia for my new Surly Long Haul Trucker and took possession of the bike on in April 2009.
This order got me a standard bike which I have progressively modified and add accessories to suit me over time and still continue to do so as discussed below.
Specifications – Aushiker’s Surly Long Haul Trucker
This section of the post is about detailing the specification of my Surly Long Haul Trucker as I have it today rather than the bike as it was when I purchased it in 2009. As I make changes to the bike I will update this blog posting. The specifications or build details are detailed in the following six component areas. Clicking on the links will take you to that section of the post.
As one can see from the photo above the stock standard Surly Long Haul Trucker comes rather naked; lacking lights, water bottle cages (bidon cages), racks, mudguards and for some users including myself a bicycle stand. To overcome this nakedness I have added a few bits and pieces to my LHT. These changes are documented below.
While it is not my intention to ride at night on tours, I do use my Long Haul Trucker as a part time commuter in addition to touring duties, so lights are both required and desired. I wouldn’t for example like to get caught out on a tour without lights. Initially I went with various battery powered lighting options but never found them ideal so in November 2011 I took the plunge and went with a dynamo based system consisting of a SON 28 dynamo hub laced into a 36 spoke Mavic A719 rim. The front light is now a Busch & Mueller Lumotec IQ Cyo Senso Plus and the rear light is a Busch & Muller Toplight Line Plus. I have also added a PedalPower Super-i-Cable to provide power to my electronics including my Garmin Edge 800 and mobile phone. More details can be found here. This has worked out really well so far.
Mudguards (Fenders to our American Cousins)
I have fitted to the Surly Long Haul Trucker a pair of silver SKS Chromoplastic P50 mudguards. The P50 fit 700c 38 – 45 mm tyres which has worked out well for me so far other than loosing a couple of the special mounting bolts. I really need to invest in some Loctite I think.
Water bottle cages (Bidons)
With the Surly Long Haul Trucker in touring mode I take a dual approach to my water bottle cages. On the down-tube I have a normal aluminium water bottle cage as this allows me to access my preferred water bottle, a CamelBak Podium Big Chill on the go. On the seat tube my preference is to fit a water bottle cage designed to take 1.5 litre PET bottles. Initially I went with a Topeak Modula XL water bottle cage which I used on my Esperance to Perth road tour. It turned out to be a poor choice of large water bottle cage as it fail. I have subsequently replaced the Topeak Modula XL water bottle cage with a BBB Fuel Tank XL which has shown to be a much more robust cage.
One thing to keep in mind with water bottle cage choices is the size of the frame. Smaller sized Long Haul Trucker frames may not take a water bottle cage such as the BBB Fuel Tank XL.
Front and Rear Racks
In tune with the robust nature of the Surly Long Haul Trucker I have gone with Tubus steel racks front and rear. The front rack is a Tubus Lowrider Tara and the rear rack is a Tubus Cargo Expedition. The racks where easy to fit to the Long Haul Trucker and have performed well so far with no durability issues.
Whilst I appreciate that the debate about kickstand versus no kickstand is a bit like a discussion about religion (or helmets), I am going with a kickstand. Having considered the option of the Hebie Bipod stand 605 NL and the ESGE Bipod kickstand I fitted a Hebie Bipod stand 605 and 699 40 mounting plate. Dan’s Bicycle Blog has a comparison of the two models which I found useful. Ken at Palm Beach Bike Tours also has a good reflection on his use of bike stands. I went with the Hebie for a couple of reasons: (1) Price and ease of ordering from Bike24.net; (2) there is a mounting plate available (the Surly Long Haul Trucker does not have a mount for a stand); and (3) I like the look of the design.
One of my objectives with my Surly Long Haul Trucker when it is not being used for touring (and well touring too) is to make it “self-contained” so speak. That is I want to be able to grab the bike and my helmet and just ride off to the shops or whatever. Part of that is having the setup to be locked at the shops or wherever. To that end I have in March 2012 fitted an Abus Amparo 4850 CL NKR frame lock to the bike. This lock adds 760 grams to the weigh of the Surly Long Haul Trucker but I doubt I will notice it that much. I use the Abus Amparo 4850 CL frame lock in combination with a Abus Cobra cable which I leave in my handlebar bag ready for use.
Surly Long Haul Trucker Brakes
The Surly Long Haul Trucker comes standard with Tektro 992 “Oryx” brakes. After a winter of riding and still using the stock pads, I come to the view that these are not great brakes and even worse in the wet but that they may benefit from upgrading the pads to Koolstop pads. Well I did upgrade the pads but never really got to try them out as I took the plunge and upgrade the brakes to a v-brake system. The front and rear brakes are now Avid Single Digit 7 v-brakes and the levers are Cane Creek Drop V in black. I also took the opportunity to upgrade the cabling to Gore RideOn sealed low friction cables. Oh I also fitted Koolstop Tectonic v-brake shoes. Early test riding has shown an incredible increase in braking power.
For reference purposes the front cable hanger is a Tektro #1271A with noodle in silver.
With the exception of the saddle, the controls on the Surly Long Haul Trucker are as per the original build.
The Surly Long Haul Trucker comes standard with drop bars, the brand being PMT. They are wrapped Co-Union Cork Mix tape. The bars have been fine for me and the tape hasn’t done to badly. I have managed to damaged it on a recent tour have now replaced it with Fizik bar gel and tape (comes in a kit).
The standard Surly Long Haul Trucker headset is a Ritchey Logic Comp 1-1/8″ threadless, w/ 40mm spacers in black. The stack height 30.2 mm. The headset has worked fine so far, so I have no intentions of changing it.
As part of my preparation for the Dreaming Tour I have replaced the headset bolt with a Pitlock Ahead lock. I purchased a Pitlock Set 03/GA FW + RW + Ahead Lock kit as I also wanted to fit a Pitlock to the front wheel to secure my SON 28 dynamo. The combination of the Pitlock skewer lock and the Ahead lock hopefully will do the trick.
The stem is the standard Surly Long Haul Trucker stem as supplied. It is a forged silver Kalloy 1-1/8″ threadless stem with 25.4mm clamping. The angle and length works for me so I have no changes planned.
As you would expect the Surly Long Haul Trucker was sold without pedals. My preference is for SPD clipless pedal with a platform. This allows me to ride the bike without having to put on my clipless cycling shoes. As a result, the bike is currently fitted with a Shimano M424 SPD pedals as they are clip-in both sides, offer a wide supportive platform and can be used with non-bike shoes if necessary.
I will continue using these pedals until they need replacing and then will review my options. I will probably look for a lighter pedal, but one with a platform and double sided.
The standard saddle that came with my Surly Long Haul Trucker was a WTB SST with steel rails. I pretty much replaced the standard saddle immediately with a Brooks England B17 which had been fitted to my Giant CRX 1. The WTB SST saddle was just not for me. However the Brooks is sensitive to getting the adjustment correct and whilst I have just got away with the standard seat post this may not work out for all. I have now replaced the Brooks England B17 with Brooks England B67 saddle to make the dirt road riding a little more comfortable.
The standard Surly Long Haul Trucker seat post is a silver Kalloy SP-342 (27.2 mm x 300 mm) post with a Surly stainless natural silver clamp. If you are fitting a Brooks saddle, the standard seat post may not provide sufficient setback. The Velo Orange VO Grand Cru or similar seat post may do the trick.
My Surly Long Haul Trucker came with a Shimano UN53 68 x 110 mm bottom bracket. So far it has performed well with no known durability issues.
The rear cassette as supplied on my Surly Long Haul Trucker is a Shimano Deore XT CS-M770 9-speed with clusters of 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30-34t. Whilst, no changes are planned, I have found the ratios are not quite tight enough for my commuting so may consider other options once the time comes to replace the cassette. In contrast when touring the ratios work fine. Not quite sure why this is. In preparation for my Dreaming Tour as a precaution I replaced the original cluster which had done 9,676 km with a new Shimano Deore XT CS-M770 9 speed. I will in due course re-fit the original as still has life in it for sure.
The Surly Long Haul Trucker came standard with a SRAM PC971 9-Speed chain which has performed well as by chain wear rates show. The PC 971 chain was replaced at 5,833 km with a SRAM PC 991 9-speed chain. In preparation for my Dreaming Tour I replaced it early at 3,843 km with a Wippermann 9 SX 9-speed chain which comes with a Connex link. I plan to refit the PC 991 down the track as it still has some life in it.
My Surly Long Haul Trucker came with an Andel 26-36-48t crankset. This crankset has silver forged arms with aluminium rings and 110mm BCD. I initially thought that the chainring sizes may not be ideal but over time I have got comfortable with them and will probably stick with this sizes until they need replacing due to wear.
The front derailleur that came on my Surly Long Haul Trucker is a Shimano Tiagra FD-4403 triple and the rear derailleur is a Shimano Deore XT RD-M761 SGS long cage. The derailleurs are married up to the Shimano Dura-Ace SL-BS77 bar end shifters and this combination has worked well for me. The front is a friction only shift which I find easy to use and adapt to when I come back to the Surly Long Haul Trucker after riding my other bikes. I operate the rear derailleur in index mode but have the option of flicking it over to frictionless.
As mentioned my Surly Long Haul Trucker is fitted with the standard Shimano Dura-Ace SL-BS77 bar end 9 speed shifters. When I first got the bike I did wonder if bar end shifters where for me but over time and some 9,000 odd kilometres on it I am quite comfortable with the shifters and actually like the nature of them on the touring bike. Just seem to go with the easy going nature of touring.
Surly Long Haul Trucker Frame and Fork
My frame is as 58 cm Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bicycle frame painted in truckaccino, Pantone colour code RAL 1019. The frame is described by Surly as “100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. Main triangle double butted. TIG-welded. The frame comes with three braze-ons for mounting water bottle cages or in my case water bottle cages and a pump. There is also provision for spare spokes to be carried on the rear stay. I had to remove my spare spokes from this position to accomodate the Garmin Edge sensor. The rear triangle also has braze-ons for mounting a rear rack and mudguard.
I have chosen to not apply any frame protection. At the time of writing and after 9,000+ kilometres I have no sign of rust or evidence that deciding to not protect the frame was an error of judgement.
The frame, after over 9,000 km is showing some signs of paint damage. The worse is as per the photo on the top tube. As much a reflection of my “loving care” as anything else.
The fork on my Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bikeÂ is the standard Surly Long Haul Trucker fork, a 100% CroMoly, lugged and brazed fork with a 1-1/8″ threadless steer tube uncut. It is designed to allow for the fitment of mudguards (fenders) and a front rack.
Surly Long Haul Trucker Wheels and Tyres
Wheels and Hubs
My Surly Long Haul Trucker came in 2009 with what was at the time the standard Alex Adventurer 700C 36h rims. The rear hub as supplied was a Shimano Deore XT FH-M770-S rear hub mated with DT Swiss 14g stainless steel spokes. The front rim was also a 36h Alex Adventurer 700c 36h with a Shimano Deore XT HB-M770-S front hub mated with Dt Swiss 14 g stainless steel spokes. The Alex Adventurer rims are a double wall design with the following specifications: ERD 603.1 mm ETRTO 622×18 mm, with an inner rim width of 17.5 mm and an outer rim width of 24.5 mm.
The Alex Adventurer rear wheel and the Shimano XT rear hub at the time of writing has done over 9,000 kilometres and the front Alex Adventurer wheel and Deore XT HB-M770 hub has done 8,843 kilometres on the bike before it was swapped over to my Extrawheel Voyager trailer. Neither the wheels nor the hubs have given me any issues nor have they required any maintenance. To date I am very happy with their performance.
As indicated on December 11, 2011 I completed an upgrade to the Surly Long Haul Trucker, swapping out the front Alex Adventurer wheel for a 36h Mavic A719 rim with DT Swiss Competition 2.0/1.8/2.0 mm 288 mm spokes and a SON 28 dynamo hub. This swap over occurred at the 8,843 kilometre mark.
As part of my preparation for the Dreaming Tour I have replaced the front skewer with a Pitlock locking skewer. I purchased a Pitlock Set 03/GA FW + RW + Ahead Lock but in hindsight with the use of the Extrawheel Voyager trailer I cannot use the rear Pitlock.
The original tyres on the Surly Long Haul Trucker where a set of Continental Contacts 700Cx37 which I removed at 4,722 km. They just didn’t perform to a standard that I considered acceptable for a touring bike. At the time the Continental Contacts needed replacing I was planning my Esperance to Perth road tour so on March 26, 2010 I fitted a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Cross HS 334 700Cx38. Up to June 2012, these where the tyres on the bike. In June 2012 in preparation for my Dreaming Tour I have replaced the Marathon Cross tyres with Schwalbe Marathon Mondial HS 428 47-622. I keep a track of my bicycle tyre wear rates and puncture rates here.
With my fitment of SKS Chromoplastic P50 mudguards I am pushing my luck with the 47-622 (28 x 1.75″) Marathon Mondial but with a little tweaking of them mudguards they are on the bike. I wouldn’t be able to go any bigger but without removing the mudguards or fitting a larger size.
Surly Long Haul Trucker Resources
Surly Long Haul Trucker Pages at Aushiker.com
Besides this page I have a few supporting pages related to my Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bicycle. These pages are:
- My maintenance record for the Surly Long Haul Trucker. I use this page to record all the maintenance I undertake on the bike and history of changes to the bike.
- In August 2010 Product Safety Recalls Australia issued a recall of Surly Long Haul Truckers due to a safety issue involving the cantilever brakes as fitted to the bikes. Details of the recall can be found here.
- I also keep an Excel spreadsheet summarising the capital costs of my Surly Long Haul Trucker. The spreadsheet can be downloaded from Dropbox by clicking here.
- My Surly Long Haul Trucker also has its own Picasa web album where you can find more photos of the bike in all its glory.
Surly Long Haul Trucker Discussion Forums
If you would like to find our more about the Surly Long Haul Trucker or other Surly bike models there are a couple of good discussion forums on the web. In particular I strong recommend the Surly Long Haul Trucker & Cross-Check Owners Group which is a Google Group. It is a great resource and place to talk Surly Long Haul Trucker.
In addition to the Surly Long Haul Trucker & Cross-Check Owners Group there is also a manufacturers sub-forum at the Mountain Bike Review forums.
Surly Long Haul Trucker Owner’s Blogs and Reviews
If you are interested in reading more about the Surly Long Haul Trucker here are links to some of the blogs and reviews that I found interesting or helpful.
- This is the first durability review I have found on the Surly Long Haul Trucker and it is a good read. It can be found over at Ozsoapbox.
- Cranky Cycling has an informative write-up of a build of a Surly Long Haul Trucker.
- Like myself, Jon has kept a costing spreadsheet on his 2009 Surly Long Haul Trucker. Funny thing his costs are not much different to mine!
- Ken does not tour on his Surly Long Haul Trucker but he does ride it a lot and does some great write-ups on modifications he has made to this bike. Ken’s blog, Palm Beach Tours is well worth a visit.
- At Crazy Guy on a Bike there is a pictorial gallery of loaded Surly Long Haul Truckers. Well worth a look for ideas on setting up your Surly Long Haul Trucker or for that matter other touring bicycles.