Tag Archives: jamis aurora

Surly Long Haul Trucker Update Review

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*UPDATED*

a Surly Long Haul Trucker Review

A while back I posted a series of touring bike reviews that look mostly at touring specs, bike design, function, and price.  By far my most popular post was the review on the Surly Long Haul Trucker.  So I’ve decided to do a follow up review to have a deeper look into the bike.

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Ortlieb Panniers are on a big SALE NOW (October)!  Get them while they’re available by clicking above, thanks for supporting!

Here is a link to my first review of the Long Haul Trucker.

The Basics

Frame- 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 18.1 inches

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- 26×1.5” on 42-54cm frames and 700c x37mm on 56-62cm frames

Hubs- Shimano XT, 36h

Components- The Surly Long Haul Trucker has a mix of components.  Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear, Deore Cassette, SRAM chain, and a Sugino XD 600 (48-36-26t).

Price- $850 Complete, $419 Framset


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Now I’ll delve into the bike a little bit and talk about some first-hand experience with the bike.

Frame

Strength and Feel:

The steel frame of the Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) is very strong and comfortable.  What you will notice when riding the bike is significant shock absorption from the frame.  As you probably know, this is not a mountain bike and there aren’t any shocks to cushion road blows.  Fully loaded, or as a heavy rider, you will notice a bit of give in the frame. I weight 70kgs (155 lbs) and don’t notice it much, but have had larger friends tell me they get a bit of give in the frame under stress.  Not really an issue to most though and I like it.

Quality:

I’ve inspected 7 Surly LHTs to compare their build quality and have come to the following conclusions.  What you will probably end up with, whether you buy a complete LHT or just the frameset, is a very well constructed bike.  The TIG welds are very smooth and consitent throughout the frame.  You will see there is a lot of clearance for big tires and fenders on the front and rear.  You will find a ton of braze-ons (little frame holes that allow connections to parts like fenders, racks, and brakes), here is a list of them all;

  • Upper bosses and dropout eyelets for racks front and rear
  • Fender eyelets
  • Chainstay spare spoke holder
  • Pump peg
  • Downtube shifter bosses
  • 3 sets of bottle cage bosses
  • rear housing stop for canti brakes;
  • housing stops for brakes and derailers

That is certainly a lot of options.  Here are a couple of issues that have come up with these brazeons.

  • The 3rd bottle cage mounts a little too close to the front wheel if you’re using fenders and there is a lack of clearance on turns because of this.  I’ve had to single secure the bottle cage lower towards the bottom bracket.
  • This design problem is also evident on turns while riding with SKS fenders.  My toes get clipped by the fenders on turns and that is annoying.  I am in the process of moving the fender around and shortening the supports because they, not the fender, are hitting my shoes.
  • The extra set of fender eyelets are a life-saver.  I’ve got Surly Nice Racks on my front and rear and their connection to the braze-ons slightly inhibits the natural resting position of a fender attached to the same hole.  This causes SKS fenders to pop in and out of their quick release cages and mess up the front tire.  With the extra set of braze-ons located just a bit higher up on the fork, I was able to re-attach the fenders to those new braze-ons and eliminate the problem.


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The paint job is mostly top-notch, with the exception of a couple of areas around the bottom bracket and chainstay that got a bit too much paint.  Everything was covered though and none of the brazeons or holes were clogged.  Logo stickers are easily removed with a hair dryer and show no sign of earlier presence.

Design:

The Surly LHT is designed specifically for touring and it is pretty evident in frame and feel.  The relaxed head angle keeps you in a more upright position that a road bike, and a more downward position than a mountain bike.  That sounds just peachy, doesn’t it?  Well, it is.  Even with the stock handlebars, which I will probably replace  because of my wrist problems, you get 3 nice positions for riding (upright, semi-race, and race).  These aren’t the proper terms, but imagine they are and they will make sense.  The other nice part of the design is the long chainstay.  I’m just going to explain this as basically being the distance between your foot and the back hub or cassette.  This translates into how much clearance your foot is going to have on your rear panniers.  I have size 13.5 feet and ride with clipless pedals and have no problem clearing my Ortlieb rear panniers (which by the way are on sale at REI right now, so check them out below).

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Ortlieb Panniers are on SALE NOW! Get them while they’re available by clicking above, thanks for supporting!

So this chainstay length of 18.1 inches translates into foot clearance, speed, and confidence.  Why speed and confidence?  Think about it…if you are constantly worried your heels are going to clip your rear panniers, are you gonna pedal your heart out up those hills, or are you gonna hold off for fear of getting stuck and unclipping your cleats?  More confidence will help you go faster and be more relaxed.  Look at the chainstays for other similar sized bikes:

Surly LHT:  18.1 inches

Trek 520: 17.7 inches

Cannondale Touring:18 inches

Fuji Tourer:  17.34 inches

Raleigh Sojourn:18.1 inches

And for comparison….the Trek 3700 Mtn. Bike has a chainstay of 16.9 inches.

Components

Brakes:

The Surly LHT comes with Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes.  I’m not too happy with the pads on these brakes and have already replaced them.  The originals were making horrible streaks on my rims and the new ones show no sign on the streaks.  I also find them a bit difficult to use from the handlebars, so I am in the process of replacing the mounts and bars with something with more like 5 riding positions.

Shimano Components:

The Surly LHT comes with a series of Shimano components. The Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear derailleur, and a Deore cassette.

None of these components are horrible and none of them have given me any problems thus far.

Other components:

The Surly LHT comes with a SRAM chain, and a Sugino XD 600 (48-36-26t).  I have replaced the chain with a Shimano and use the SRAM for a replacement.  I made the move after reading a lot of reviews on the SRAM chain.   I found the shifting much smoother with the new chain.  The Sugino XD is a very good model for the price of about 75 dollars.  This crankset isn’t going to fail on you and unless you are willing to replace it with a top of the line Shimano or Campy crankset, don’t even think about an upgrade.  Many people are actually upgrading to the Sugino XD 600.

Others

Ride:

I like the ride of the Surly.  A lot of people say the bike is heavy and slow, but it is a couple of pounds lighter than my last mountain bike and is definitely faster.  Of course this isn’t a racing bike, but what I’m trying to get across is that this isn’t such a slow bike as you get the impression it is on the web.  You’ll hear a lot of talk about how heavy and slow it is, but I don’t find it all that true.  I can easily get the bike up to 45kmp/h.

Saddle (seat):

The saddle on the Surly LHT is a Velo Gel.  It isn’t all that comfortable and just about everyone (95%) of the LHT owners I’ve talked to and read about, have swapped out the saddle.  I personally don’t mind it and have been on a 500 mile tour with it, no problems.  I ride with padded pants, that may help.  I will upgrade the saddle before my Korea to Portugal ride though, I want something a little wider and easier on my sensitive parts.

Tires:

I like the feel of the tires and have had no flats, punctures, or pinches in 750 miles thusfar.  500 of those miles were loaded front and rear.  That’s a decent record.  I will upgrade the tires to a little bit wider and thicker when the time calls.

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Koga-Miyata Traveler

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Koga-Miyata Traveler

We’re going to start out look into the high-end touring bicycles with the Koga Miyata Traveler.  This company offers numerous options for touring, but we’re going to look at their lowest price tourer first.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Koga-Miyata Traveler

Koga-Miyata Traveler

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by clicking here…Bike Journey

Frame- Triple butted aluminum frame.

Chainstay Length- 17.71 inches 450mm

Brakes- Shimano Deore LX

Tires- Maxxis Overdrive 37-622 with reflection

Hubs- Shimano Deore LX rear, Shimano Sports hub dynamo DH-3N71 6V/3W (Oooh!)

Components-Complete set of Shimano Deore LX components

Weight- Nearly 38 pounds, loaded with accessories though.

Price- $2,100

Let’s have a look at this impressive bike.

What you get:

  • SKS p-50 fenders
  • 2 Aluminum Bottles/Holders
  • Front/Rear lights (powered by front hub, no batteries required)
  • Pump
  • Tubus LOGO Blackon the rear, and Tubus ERGO Black on the front
  • Saddlebag
  • Integrated kickstand

That is quite a package.  The components are good, the gears have a great low range, it is ready to tour on almost all terrains.  This is a serious bike.  But is it worth the price? Check the ratings.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Koga-Miyata Traveler:

Value:  3.8/5

Quality: 4.6/5

Compliance: 5/5

Overall: 13.5/15

Value.  Although the price is much higher than the other models we’ve look at up to now, this bike is fully equipped and has a dynamo hub on the front.  Figuring in the lack of upgrades needed, it is conceivable that this bike, without all the accessories would be worth about $1,600 saying there are about $500 dollars worth of accessories on the bike.  Now we can compare that figure with what you get on the basic bike.  Compared to other bikes in the $1500-1800 range gives us our value rating.  I like the dedicated line of Deore LX components, but wonder if they are worth that extra money.  A LX build kit can be had for about $700, while an XT is about $950.  A regular low-end Deore kit is $625.  That makes the difference in equiptment about 75 dollars between just about every bike we’ve reviewed and this one.  The total price difference is much more than that, making the value rating low. Granted, this is a high quality, hand-crafted frame, but does that matter to you?

Quality.  High quality frame, lifetime warranty as long as it isn’t used professionally.

Compliance.  This bike is a truly dedicate touring bike.  Everything you need to tour is built into the frame, ready to load up and go.  You can see it in the picture, read it in the specs, and feel it on the road.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Option 8 with the Cannondale Touring 1 & 2

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Option 8

I’m pretty excited to start moving out of the lower-priced models as they were starting to look very similar.  This is our first look at the mid-level bikes.

At NUMBER 7 is the Touring 1 & 2 from Cannondale.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Cannondale Touring 1

Cannondale Touring 1

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

We’re going to take care of both of Cannondale’s touring models, starting off with the Cannondale Touring 1.

Frame- Aluminum……hmmm.

Chainstay Length- 18 inches (good)

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Schwalbe Marathon Racer, 700 x 32c

Hubs- Shimano LX, 36h

Trail- 2.5″ (the larger models)

Components- I’m going to make note of this now because the Cannondale Touring 1 takes us into a new level of components.  This bike comes equipped with higher-grade Shimano 105/Ultegra components.  These are mid-high grade components that are reliable, smooth, and pretty lightweight.  Check out the components post here to learn more.

Price- $1800

I’m excited to move onto the more expensive bikes so let’s discuss the first issue with the Cannondale.  The aluminum frame.  There are so many discussions about steel vs. aluminum that it gets a bit sickening.  We’ll keep it simple here.

Aluminum frame- We can argue about the ease of repairing an aluminum frame all day, but from what I’ve heard and experienced with Cannondale, it probably won’t be much of an issue.  The frame has a lifetime warranty, so if it goes, you can always ship it to Cannondale and wait for it in a nice cafe on the Mekong or something.  The aluminum frame will also give you a stiffer ride, which will probably be uncomfortable on long rides (touring) because it doesn’t give as easily to bumps as steel does.

Geometry- I like the geometry of the Cannondale, nice wheelbase, chainstay, and trail.

Extras- No pedals here, basic clipless models are going to run you around 40 dollars and you’re going to have to buy some.  Touring 1 comes with a rear rack which is a nice addition, could end up saving you 60-100 dollars.

Components- The Touring 1 comes with a nice mix of Shimano components, Ultegra, XT, and 105.  Check out the  components post below for more information.

Moving on to the Touring 2

Cannondale Touring 2

Cannondale Touring 2

Frame- Aluminum (Fork is Cro-Moly)

Chainstay Length- 18 inches (good)

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Schwalbe Marathon Racer, 700 x 32c

Hubs- Shimano LX, 36h

Trail- 2.5″ (the larger models)

Components- Shimano Tiagra

Price- $1300

Let’s look at some of the differences between the Cannondale Touring 1 ($1800) and the Cannondale Touring 2 ($1300).

Components- The Touring 1 comes with a nice mix of Shimano components, Ultegra, XT, and 105.  These are entry-level professional components.   The Touring 2 on the other hand, comes with Tiagra components.  Tiagra are the higher-end beginner components.

The only other issue with the Cannondale touring bikes are a little board noise about rear-wheel failure.  Mostly broken spokes and rim failures.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Touring 1:

Value:  3.8/5

Quality: 4.2/5

Compliance: 4.8/5

Overall: 12.8/15

Touring 2:

Value:  3.9/5

Quality: 4.2/5

Compliance: 4.8/5

Overall: 12.9/15

Notes.  I like the value of the Touring 2 and have given it a high rating because of the components and low price.  Also, the lifetime frame warranty is boosting the quality rating on both bikes.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Surly Long Haul Trucker.

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Choosing a touring bike, the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

I’m very happy to unveil our latest post with a look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker

At NUMBER 7… Long Haul Trucker from Surly.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Before we begin..I just want to mention the Long Haul for Hunger, an 8,500 mile bicycle tour on Surly Long Haul Truckers.  The riders will cover 2 continents in under four months while raising awareness for the efforts of a charity called Mercy Corps.  I encourage you to check out our website for more information.  The Long Haul for Hunger.

I’m a little biased with this bike because it is my touring bike of choice, but I’ll try to be unbiased in this post.  But, it will be difficult…

REI.com for Cycling

Let’s have a look at the Long Haul Trucker’s spec sheet.

Frame- 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 18.1 inches ( really good)

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- 26×1.5” on 42-54cm frames and 700c x37mm on 56-62cm frames

Hubs- Shimano XT, 36h

Components- The Surly Long Haul Trucker has a mix of components.  Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear, and Deore Cassette.

Price- $850

Let’s start with the pros.

If you have been researching touring bikes for the last couple of days, weeks, or months, you’ve definitely come across the name Surly.  The Surly Long Haul Trucker was one of my first posts on this blog, and even the mention of its name has gotten hundreds of hits.  Why is it that this bike is so darn popular?  If any of you have seen the 1980′s BMX cult movie classic “Rad”, you will understand.

Solid bike, solid reviews, solid price.  Well, that is all good.  The frame is indestructible.  The frame is also laid out better than anything else you are going to find on the market.  From fork width, tire size options, seat post, to braze-ons, the LHT has it.

I especially like the forks on the long haul trucker.  They are constructed to accept a tire as wide as 45mm w/o fenders. There are three water bottle mounts as well. On the rear you can find 2 replacement spokes on a nifty clip.

Great gear range with a nice low gear for tackling big hills with a big load.

The cons.

Well, there aren’t many.  The only issue with this bike could be the components.  If you’ve read the components posts, you’ll understand the problems.  I had my LBS upgrade my cassette from Deore to XT because I was a little concerned about the cassette lasting 10,000 miles.  It was a cheap upgrade though, so it isnt a major issue.

The bike also doesn’t come with pedals, so expect about 50 dollars more to get them on the bike.

The upgrade to a Shimano XT and some Shimano pedals set me back 110 dollars.  That brought my basic Surly Long Haul Trucker price to $960.00.  Compare that to the rest of what you’ve seen on this board and I think you’ll be sold on the Long haul trucker.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Long Haul Trucker:

Value:  4.3/5

Quality: 4.7/5

Compliance: 5/5

Overall: 14/15

I’m giving the Long Haul Trucker a lower value rating because I personally feel like it needs a component upgrade before taking it out on a serious tour.  But that upgrade is only bringing the cost of the bike to $960, still almost $400 cheaper than the Trek 520, the closest comparison I have to the LHT up now.  Now, if you’re just going to be commuting and doing short tours where you aren’t hauling a serious amount of gear, then don’t worry about it.  Otherwise, you might want to upgrade the cassette to LX grade Shimano.

Quality.  There aren’t many complaints about the quality of a Surly bike.  I don’t foresee a lot of repairs or replacements being needed on the bike. There is a 3 year warranty of the frame for any defect.

Compliance.  This bike is a truly dedicate touring bike.  Everything you need to tour is built into the frame, ready to load up and go.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Fuji Tourer

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Fuji Tourer

For our 6th touring bike option we have for you the Fuji Tourer.  This is our last look at the lower end of the price spectrum before we head up into the mid-range and high priced models.

At NUMBER 6… the Touring from Fuji.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Fuji Touring

Fuji Touring

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Frame- Steel.  Fuji Elios 2 custom butted Cro-Moly

Chainstay Length- 440mm or 17.32 inches

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Kenda Eurotrek, 700 x 32c

Hubs- Fuji Sealed Alloy Road, 36H

Weight- 27.75 pounds

Price- $900

Hmmm….this bike is eerily similar in specs to the Jamis Aurora.  Same size, same tires, same brakes, same weight, similar trail.  So I’m not going to harp on the same issues, if you didn’t see them, just click back and check over the Aurora review.  Some other things to add which I forgot on the Aurora post is the issue with these brakes.  It’s quite easy to find bad reviews of them and seems like they require replacement.  Keep that in mind when considering the price of the bike.  I think overall this is more of a commuting and light touring bike than a real cross-country tourer.  Not so say it isn’t possible to use for that purpose.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Fuji Touring:

Value:  4/5

Quality: 3.8/5

Compliance: 4.6/5

Overall: 12.4/15

Notes.  I’ve heard some talk about Fuji Touring frames cracking, not many, but enough to lower the quality rating a bit.  Also a lot of broken rear spokes when under load as well as front brake failures.  Again, not a lot of them, but enough to raise a little concern.  The price is pretty low but the quality of components are as well.  As far as compliance, the bike comes equipped with a rear rack but the gearing is a little higher than I like, so that accounts for the low rating.  The compliance rating is a bit low because of the bike’s shorter wheelbase and gearing issues.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Bicycle geometry. A brief look into how it effects your ride.

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Bicycle geometry.  A brief look into how it effects your ride.

Ok, since I started blabbering about and ripping on the Jamis Aurora, I felt I needed to explain the geometry of a bike a little more in detail.  So after some work in Photoshop, I’ve got a graphic and some more information to help in a touring bicycle search.

Definitions first…

Head-tube angle- the angle between the floor behind the front wheel and the steering axis.

Trail- the distance between the front wheel’s center on contact point and the point where the extending steering axis line reaches the ground.

Fork Offset (rake)- the distance that the hub preceeds or follows the steering axis.

Let’s look at the graphic to put it all together.

Bicycle Geometry

Bicycle Geometry

The shaded green thing is the fork.  Remember, the bigger the trail, the more stability.  Small variations in any of these angles can have a serious impact on your ride.  Larger trail figures will give you more stability, but steering precision is compromised.  Longer wheelbases make turning more difficult than shorter wheelbases.  Your touring bike will have a long wheelbases, so don’t expect precise turning.  Your ideal touring bike should also come with a low bottom bracket, which keeps your weight closer to the ground, making it take less effort to move your body from side to side.

Plug all your specs into this website calculator…check the ACTUAL TRAIL CALCULATOR

http://www.wisil.recumbents.com/wisil/trail.asp

Unless I hear otherwise, use 12.25 as the tire radius, that is for a 700 c tire.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Jamis Aurora

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Jamis Aurora

For our 5th touring bike option we have for you the Jamis Aurora.  The 2008 model is surprisingly cheap, and this bike comes in at lower portion of the bottom price bracket and has some great features worth checking out.

At NUMBER 5… the Aurora from Jamis.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Jamis Aurora

Jamis Aurora

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations we will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Frame- Reynolds 520 Steel

Chainstay Length- 440mm or 17.32 inches

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- Vittoria Randonneur 700×32c

Hubs- Shimano Tiagra 36h

Weight- 27 pounds

Price- $865

The Jamis Aurora is a pretty bike, I love the paint job.  But upon further investigation we’ve found some less than attractive things appearing.  A lot of these issues all combine and hinder the bikes ability to handle well under heavy loads.  We will put a post up to explain this in more detail later, but basically, the geometry of the Aurora differs from a lot of the other bikes you’re going to find on the market.  Now for some, this might not be a major noticeable difference, but for others it might be.  Take the bike out and test ride it with other bikes and see if the handling is good for you.  The issue with the Aurora is its front-end geometry and short wheelbase.  Rake and Trail are fork/wheel measurements that are involved with the headtube angle, wheel and bike stability.  I will post diagrams later, but here is the idea; more rake=less trail=less stability.  So let’s look at the numbers of some large bikes that are popular and compare.
Trail Measurements based on stock wheels:
Jamis Aurora—–  2.19″
Surly Long Haul Trucker—- 2.37″
Trek 520—- 2.3″
Cannondale Touring 1—-2.31″
May or may not be an issue for you.  As I said, test ride, test ride, test ride.  This combined with the shorter wheelbase/chainstay might be enough to knock this down to the bottom of my favorites list. A shorter wheelbase would improve handling, but this is a touring bike, and we are looking for foot clearance.
Compare the price of the Aurora to other models in this range, such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker, and I wouldn’t recommend it.  There have been some issues with frame construction quality, especially threading issues and from reviews I’ve read and word from the LBS.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Jamis Aurora:

Value:  4/5

Quality: 3.6/5

Compliance: 4.2/5

Overall: 11.8/15

Notes.  Value rating is a little low because of necessary upgrades, which are similar to those I would make on the Long Haul Trucker.  The quality of the bike has come under some questions regarding the quality of the steel frame, especially the braze-ons and threads.  The Aurora does come pretty ready to tour with braze-ons for fenders and racks.  The gearing is a little high, but not horrible.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.