Monthly Archives: October 2008

Surly Long Haul Trucker Update Review



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. for Cycling

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

120x60 REI Outlet

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


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.


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. Camping Gear

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.


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). for Cycling

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.



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.



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.


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.

120x60 REI Outlet

Bicycle Touring Racks. Jandd Racks.


Longer, Warmer Days Ahead! Get the inside line on

I think it is easy enough to search around for bike racks if you know their names, so we’re just going to introduce a large variety of models, their prices, quality, and load capacity.  We’re also only going to look at the strongest and best designed (for touring) models each manufacturer offers.  If you have reason to differ in opinion, feel free to let me know via comment.  Choose your racks by yourself based on your own research or by our mini bike rating.

Cycling at REI

(In alphabetical order)


Extreme Front Rack:

Width 15cm / Length 34cm

Weight: 37 ounces

Capacity:  25 pounds

Strength: 3/8 inch aluminum

Est. Price: $70.00

Jandd Extreme Front Rack

Jandd Extreme Front Rack

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Expedition Rear Rack:

Width 15cm / Length 41cm

Weight: 36 ounces

Capacity:  50 pounds

Strength: 3/8 inch aluminum

Est. Price: $75.00

Jandd Expedition Rack

Jandd Expedition Rack

As far as ratings and issues with the Jandd racks, I have not experienced or come across much in the form of problems with these racks.  I would say overall, this rack gets highly favorable ratings around the cycling community.  I think there have been a very normal amount of problems with mounting the front rack, and issue solved by an email I saw posted on the bulletin board from Jandd themselves:

Our racks fit a majority of bikes, however there is not a standardized
distance for fork eyelets so we do run into this problem occasionally.
Since our racks are constructed of solid rod and not tubing, you can
manipulate it if necessary. The lower arms that attach to the lower eyelets
can be bent up to shorten the distance between the rack eyelets and the
above slots. Before you bend the arms, we recommend heating up the rack a
bit. Simply leaving it in the sunlight will do the trick. Next secure the
lower part of the rack as to not put too much stress on the weld when you go
to bend the arm. Finally, bend it up to achieve the desired distance. If
you have any other questions, let me know.”

Country Spotlight on Samoa


Country Spotlight: SAMOA

It was a recent idea of mine to introduce a new section to this blog called Country Spotlight.  Posts in this section will introduce readers to countries around the world with roads and trails awaiting your bicycle tracks.  Photographs, maps, and routes will be shared and I welcome you to post your rides in these countries if you have them.  Please email me any photographs you would like featured on the blog at kbtc @

Country Name:  Samoa

Location: South Pacific

Climate: Hot and Humid.  Rainy season from December to February.  Dry season typically July to September. Expect rain on 2/3 days as it is tropical.

Capital: Apia

Transport: Direct flights from New Zealand, Australia, and the United States are available into Apia.  Flights are not all too frequent, and inter-island flights to Fiji are also available.

What to expect: A super laid-back lifestyle, lots of sun, nearly empty roads, and lots of food.

Where to ride: Around Upolu Island (2 routes), around Savaii Island (1 route)


(what are these?)

Road Condition:

Level of Ease:

Tour Worthiness:

Touring Compatibility:

Overall Rating:


  • The roads in most areas are perfect for cycling.  The roads on Savaii are nearly perfect.  The roads were made during WWII by US Marines, and are really well-signed.  Every tourist site, town, city, swimming pool, and bus stop has a sign.  Speed limits in Apia and Outside the capital are 25 and 35 mph respectively.
  • There are 2 especially steep parts of the ride.  On Savaii, there is a ridiculous climb from Sataua to Papa that is nearly vertical, requiring riders to weave back and forth to make it up!  The climb to A’opo can be challenging on a rainy day.  On Upolu, the cross-island road is an issue, with a more extended climb than that on Savaii.  Other than that, mostly flat.
  • Samoa is a gorgeous country to do a bicycle tour on.  Most of the roads, with the exception of the jaunt to A’opo on Savaii, run along the beautiful coastline.  Palm trees, sand, and flowers everywhere.
  • Samoa is laid out very well for a tour.  I think all in all you could do about 600km here and there are perfectly spaced beach resorts (don’t worry, they’re cheap) along the way.  Each village has shops that carry water, basic food & medical supplies, and bike tubes.

Some awesome sights on the Savaii ride (~200km I think).  Click on the photos to see the larger versions.

Papa Sataua Beach, Northern Savaii.

Overview of the Papa Sataua beach from the bike path

Overview of the Papa Sataua beach from the bike path

Foailuga Beach Sunset

Foailuga Beach Sunset

At the top of Savaii in Aopo

At the top of Savai'i in A'opo

Afu Aau Falls on Southern Savaii

Afu Aau Falls on Southern Savai'i

Some awesome sights on the Upolu ride (2 routes).  Click on the photos to see the larger versions.

The cross-island road on Upolu

The cross-island road on Upolu

Maasina and Salimu

Maasina and Salimu

The famous resort of Lalomanu

The famous resort of Lalomanu


Now that you’ve got the basic information and seen some great photographs from the region, I’m going to jump into the bicycle routes you’ve got available to you.  I’ve ridden around Samoa many times, so if you have any questions, send over an email to kbtc @

Upolu Island: (you can sleep in the bold towns)

These are difficult to read but are designed just to be an outline.  The roads in Samoa are pretty simple and there are only a couple of them, hard to get lost.

Route 1:  Airport, Leulumoega,Falease’ela, Paradise Beach, Matareva, Salamumu,Vava’u, Lalomanu,Falevao (view over the Salimu), Apia.

Route 2: Airport, Fale’ula, Papase’a, Apia, Saletele (gets rough here, bad in rainy season), Salimu, Lalomanu, Cross-island road to Salimu overlook, Aganoa beach, Lake Lanoto’o, Apia, Lepale, Airport, Wharf—>Savaii.

Upolu Route Map

Upolu Route Map

Savaii Island

I used to live on this island, so I know it pretty well.  I like this island more than Upolu, it is quieter and there are more things to see.  You’ll also find more isolated beaches here.

Route One: Wharf, Faga, Mauga, (Fagamalo,Manase,Safune), A’opo, Vaisala, Sataua, Papa (Great beach here), Falealupo loop,  Foailuga, Foailalo (Great beach here), Satuiatua, Taga (blowholes), Vailoa, Wharf—->Upolu.

Savaii Route Map

Savaii Route Map

Click on the images to see the larger files at Flickr.