Choosing a touring bicycle; Surly Long Haul Trucker.


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 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… 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.

7 responses »

  1. Nice review of the Surly, thanks for all the useful information, I didn’t know it was such a well-rounded touring bike. Looking forward to more information on other bikes and your tour across the continent.

  2. Thanks for all the information on the bikes. Your trip sounds really interesting, I’m looking forward to more updates. I’ve been thinking about getting the Surly LHT for a long time, I think your reviews have finally swayed me.

  3. Just started building up my Surly LHT frame this week. I found a Sugino XD 600 crank, with the Sugino crown stamped on the crank arms, I’ve read that’s the best one but don’t really know why. the chain rings are aluminum alloy. I installed a Phil Wood Bottom Bracket and a Crank Brothers Headset. I got a good deal on a set of Mavic A719 36 spoke wheels laced to XT Hubs. That’s what I’ve got done so far.
    I’ve ordered a 3t handlebar, it’s not Nitto but I have a one that came with my Lemond and I really like the shape. Also I have an Ultegra FD coming, Avid linear pull brakes, Diacompe 287 levers and will also be installing an XT RD. I am going to use downtube shifters, I have a two old sets that I’ve had sitting in boxes for nearly 25 years, one is Suntour Superbe Pro and the other a set of Shimano Dura Ace. Not sure which one I will use, guess I’ll use which one will work with a triple crank, if neither will then I will order a new set of Dura Ace down tube shifters. Just seems the cheapest easiest way to go and not have to worry about all of the extra cable with bar end shifters. Also can’t afford nice Ultegra brake/shift levers at this point. I have several stems on hand that I will try and an old Ritchy seat post to which I will mount a Selle Italia Max Flite saddle. I know it’s not a Brooks but I have used these Selle Italia saddles for years and they fit my butt just fine for long hrs in the saddle.

  4. where can I order a the cheapest long haul trucker frame,
    i’m more than 2 years on the road and on my way to the Yucon, canada.
    I will go back to the states,bellingham, is there a shop where I can order the frame for a good price

  5. I have been looking at the surly lht for sometime and will be getting one soon.
    They are not cheap in Canada mind you! Each bike store I visit has higher and higher prices. average $1550 for a built lht. I finally went to a bike shop for a test ride and my husband was very disappointed in the components. For that kind of money the bike should have better parts. They did not have my size so I had to take what my husband had called a childs bike! size 42. Smooth as silk, rolled up a hill like magic….but I was very disappointed that I could not reach the brakes on the drop bars and had to cut my test ride short! I have a bad back, short arms…I was not happy. The bike shop was not too helpful about switching handlebars and stuff. We went onto another bike store that was way more helpful and said it would be more cost effective to build one up, get dove bars on and use beter parts…so that is what we will do!

  6. I have recently decided to buy an LHT. I am going today to try one out and possibly buy. I was curious if you could post a quick list of what components you would upgrade and why? I am a mechanical engineer….but when it comes to bike parts, I’m lost haha. They all seem the same to me and without actually testing each component out, I don’t understand how you can tell which ones will be the best for your needs. I will be using the bike primarily for commuting, but want to commute on a bike set up for fully loaded touring. Comfortable and fast….but able to handle a heavy load with no problem at all. Specifically I need a list of recommended upgrades to the stock 2010/2011 LHT. I would like the list to be a wish list…if you could put any component on the bike no matter what the cost…. what would you use and why?

    Thank you!

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