Category Archives: My Surly long haul trucker

A daily blog about my Surly long haul trucker. Photos, reviews, and information about the popular touring bike.

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 😄 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.

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.


REI.com 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.

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 😄 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 😄 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 😄 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.

120x60 REI Outlet

Surly Nice Racks.

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REI.com for Cycling

Surly Nice Racks (Front and Rear)

A look at the bike manufacturer’s brand pack racks.  http://www.surlybikes.com

It’s time to move onto racks.   Before we get into our full rack reviews (coming next), I’m going to spotlight my own, the Surly Nice Racks.  Don’t forget to stop by the bike ride page to learn more about my charity ride from South Korea to Portugal on my Surly Long Haul Trucker bike.  Donations and sponsors much appreciated!

Surly Nice Racks

Surly Nice Racks

Front Rack:

  • The Surly Nice Racks are made from Cro-moly steel for ease of repair.
  • Front rack is designed to be loaded high and low.  Low mounted racks provide more stability, and higher mounted racks provide clearance on rocky or bad roads.
  • Cargo rack on top for gear like your tent, stove, camera, etc. Extra storage!
  • Front rack mounts to mid-blade fork eyelets that is on the Long Haul Trucker and other touring bikes.  Mounting gear for bikes without this eyelet is included.

Rear Rack

  • Height-adjustable like the front rack
  • Lots of room
  • Numerous mounts for extra stability
  • Powder coated available in black and silver.

Disadvantages:

  • Not really compatible with disc brakes
  • The Surly Front racks tend to be more expensive (but they offer more storage options that competitors)

The average retail price for these racks are about $125.00.  I picked up both of my racks for 250,000 won in Korea, which is a little more than $250.00.  That price included installation.

If you are installing on your own, here’s the link to the instruction manual.

What makes them different?

  • The Surly Nice Racks allow you to load gear all over the bike.  A lot of other models of racks do not have front racks that allow top-loading.  The other manufacturers usually offer low-load racks that keep weight low.  These are use to ensure greater stability, but if you are on a seriously long ride, you need that extra space on top of the front wheel for storage.  Look at the comparison between the Tubus Tara and the Surly Nice Rack.  Granted, these are just some options.
Tubus Tara Front Rack

Tubus Tara Front Rack

Surly Nice Front Rack

Surly Nice Front Rack

See how the Tubus Tara rack has a single bar over the top of the tire?  The Surly has a full rack which can hold lightweight goods (sleeping bag, mat, clothes) that won’t weigh down the front-end and effect steering, but will free up space on other areas of the bike.  Even if you don’t like the Surly racks, look for a rack with over-the-tire space if you are going on a long tour.

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Have a look at the racks mounted to my Surly Long Haul Trucker!

Surly Front Rack Full

Surly Front Rack Full

Mid-fork Mounting Bracket

Mid-blade Mounting Bracket

Front-fork Connection (with SKS Fender Mount)

Front-fork Connection (with SKS Fender Mount)

Top view

Top view

If you want to read more about Surly gear, and my Surly Long Haul Trucker, head over to the My Bike
pages.

My Surly long haul trucker, post 2.

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Day Two:  10KM.  I got my Surly equipped with some clipless Shimano pedals today and picked up my shoes.  I got cleats put in them and also had my shop put an odometer (speed computer).  Had a bit of rain yesterday to put the fenders to test, but other than that I got about 10km in.  Had a ride down the cheongyecheon and was averaging about 35km/h with a head wind.  Not too bad, but I had nothing loading on my racks.  I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at the clipless pedals, this is my first time riding on something other than platforms, and my pedal power has increased immensely.  Pedaling un-attached I averaged about 28km/h, clipped in I was at 35.

Have a look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker’s numerous brazeons for connecting my racks and fenders.  Four used and 2 more leftover!

The front fork of my LHT

The front fork of my LHT

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

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I’m happy to announce that my Surly Long Haul Trucker has finally arrived from home.  If you don’t know already, I have been living in Seoul, South Korea for the last three years.  It is quite difficult to get touring bikes here as the population is generally obsessed with mountain biking.   Nonetheless, I got my Surly LHT here and am going to put up some posts here to keep you all up to date.

My model is a 58cm olive frame.  I got the bike completely packaged by Surly with a couple of upgrades (the crankset) and some accessories.  If you don’t yet know about Surly, click here to head over to their website, and then go check out the review here on this blog.  Here is a look at the stock bike…

Blue Surly long haul trucker

Blue Surly long haul trucker

And now here’s the first look at my 58cm olive Surly Long Haul Trucker…not gonna see the whole bike until I cover all the parts first.

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

Day One:  5KM.  Used the Surly today to/from work to get a feel for it.  Though I don’t have clipless shoes yet, I had to get a ride in.  First impressions are great.  Super smooth ride, took bumps and holes with ease.  Saddle is comfortable thus far and the 58cm seems to fit me perfectly.  I am almost 6 feet tall and am happy with the adjustable seat post.  Also was surprised by the weight of the bike.  I was under the impression that this was gonna be a load of a bike, but it is actually lighter than my last mountain bike I had.  No problem carrying it up 5 flights of stairs.  More to come tomorrow…

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

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I’m back from Hong Kong, actually I didn’t make it, the flight was cancelled and I refunded my ticket.  I was quite disappointed but when I came home I had a message saying my Surly Long Haul Trucker has arrived from home.  I’ll be picking it up after the holiday and will get some pictures up shortly.  This reminds me, if you have a touring bike yourself, get some pictures and send them my way with the info about your bike.  I’d love to put up some posts with other people’s rigs, reviews, and pics.  Email at recklesscognition@gmail.com.  Who is going to be the first to email??