Tag Archives: choosing bicycle components

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


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 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.

120x60 REI Outlet

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.

Shimano Bicycle Components. Too many names! Part II

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Before we begin….Check out 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.

In this post we’re going to delve into Shimano components. We’ve recently reviewed the mountain component sets, and here are the road sets.

Road- These components are designed for road use which means they are usually lighter and more durable.  They are able to take repetition and speed and continue functioning at peak performance.

Entry-level Road Component Group:

Sora. The Sora component group is comparable to the mountain bike Deore set . This group of components is considered to be low entry-level.  This package of components would be found on most of the cheaper stock bikes you see at your bike shop.  It is designed for recreational riders and should not seriously be considered as an option for your long-haul tour.  Most of the components in this package are made of aluminum and could not be expected to hold on long enough for a serious rider or tour.  Expect an unreliable crankset.  While these components may be acceptable for some riders, for a touring bicycle, they won’t do.

Shimano Sora Component Package

Shimano Sora Component Package

Shimano Tiagra- This is the next step up on the Shimano component ladder.  Comparable to the mountain version called Shimano XT, this package features hyperglide (HG) sprockets for slick usage.  It is designed for cross-country riding and trekking.  It is still consider to be an entry-level component set, but more acceptable for touring than the Sora components.  There is a slight weight improvement when upgrading from Sora to Tiagra.  Consider this as ‘decent’ or ‘somewhat acceptable’ for your long-haul tour.

Shimano Tiagra Component Package

Shimano Tiagra Component Package

Mid-level Mountain Component Group:

105–  The 105 component package is where casual riders make the jump into the realm of serious bikers.  Superior performance without serious money.  That describes the 105 line very well.  It is like getting a present without wrapping paper.  The components aren’t super light, but they are smooth and reliable.  Sounds good enough for me.  This is where you should start for a serious long-haul journey.  Anything less than this and you are risking failure.  Sure, if you are doing city commuting, the Tiagra components are fine, and if you are teaching your kids to ride a bike, the Sora will do.  But for touring, this is the starting point.

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

High-level Mountain Component Group:

Ultegra- This is getting to the top of the line.  Designed for hardcore professional racers, the Ultegra components are lightweight, well crafted, and designed. You’re going to get better craftmanship and a pretty much universal weight reduction on most of the components in this set. This package is something to consider if you are really looking to ensure a couple of thousand of miles on your bike with absolutely no problems.

Shimano Ultegra Component Set

Shimano Ultegra Component Package

There’s still more with Shimano….

Dura-ace- This is the serious stuff people…titanium, super light-weight, nickle-plating, etching, you name it, it’s here.  If you’ve got the money, go for it, if not, stick with the 105 or Ultegra.

Comparing the weight of the front derailleur of a 105 or a Dura-ace….232g vs. 180g…

Shimano Dura-ace Component Package

Shimano Dura-ace Component Package

Shimano Bicycle Components. Too many names!

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Before we begin….Check out 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.  Thanks.

In this post we’re going to delve into Shimano components.  Why Shimano?  Well, this are probably the most popular kind of bicycle component on the market, available in just about every bike shop you can find.  High (and low) quality, well-price, and accessbile, sounds great.  BUT, knowing what kind of Shimano components to buy can be complicated.  Shimano has sets of components with names and we’re going to try and simplify it all right here and now.  We’ll divide the components into MOUNTAIN and ROAD.

Mountain- These components are designed for mountain use which means they are usually heavier and stronger.  They are able to take abuse and continue functioning at peak performance.

Entry-level Mountain Component Group:

Deore. This group of components is considered to be entry-level.  This package of components would be found on most of the cheaper stock bikes you see at your bike shop.  It is designed for recreational riders and should not seriously be considered as an option for your long-haul tour.  Most of the components in this package are made of aluminum.

Shimano Deore Component Package

Shimano Deore Component Package

Shimano Deore LX- This is the next step up on the Shimano component ladder.  This package is designed for cross-country riding and trekking.  It is still consider to be an entry-level component set.  The weight on this set is less than the regular Deore, and the crankset is improved.  Consider this as ‘decent’ or ‘somewhat acceptable’ for your long-haul tour.

Shimano Deore LX Component Package

Shimano Deore LX Component Package

Mid-level Mountain Component Group:

Deore XT–  The XT component package starts to offer some higher quality products to riders.  You get an imporved rear derailleur, better quality parts in the crankset, and more weight reduction in some of the parts.  Shimano says that this is the line to go with if you want superior performance without serious money.  This is true.

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

Shimano Deore XT Component Package

High-level Mountain Component Group:

SLX- This is the top of the line.  Designed for hardcore professional racers, the SLX components are very lightweight, extremely well crafted and designed, and expensive.  Almost not even worth considering these options unless they happen to be on sale and you just won the lottery.  We will put up some price comparisons shortly, so look for them by the end of the weekend.  I think it’d be safe to stick around the LX and XT level components for your bicycle tour, but it’s up to you.

Shimano SLX Component Package

Shimano SLX Component Package

The Shimano road component packages and price comparisons are coming up soon, stay tuned and donate or pledge towards the Set Sail the Prairie on a Surly cause.  Your dollars go to the Mercy Corps who is currently working in countries along the route.  Cheers.

Bicycle Components. What you can upgrade.

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Knowing exactly what kind of components you get on a bike is extremely important when deciding on which touring bicycle to purchase.

Let’s look at the types of bike components first, then we will discuss the different options with Shimano.

Some of the components that you can upgrade on your touring bike are (there are others):

Rear Derailleur- This helps when moving the chain between rear sprockets.  It takes up the slack in the chain when moving to a smaller sprocket at the rear or a smaller chainring by the front derailleur. Est. Price for a Shimano Ultegra Rear Derailleur is about $100.  Here’s a picture.

Shimano 6600 Ultegra Rear Derailleur

Shimano 6600 Ultegra Rear Derailleur

Front Derailleur- The front derailleur moves the chain from side to side between the front chainrings. Estimated price for a Shimano Ultegra front derailleur is about $70.00.

Shimano Ultegra Front Derailleur

Shimano Ultegra Front Derailleur

Crankset- The crankset is where the rider is connected to the bicycle.  It is the component of a bicycle that converts the motion of of a biker into the rotational motion needed to move the chain.  This is what the pedal is connected to.  The estimated price for a Shimano Ultegra crankset is about $250.00.

Shimano Ultegra Crankset

Shimano Ultegra Crankset

Bottom Bracket- The bottom bracket allows the crankset to move freely.  The estimated price of a Shimano Ultegra bottom bracket is about $40.00.

Shimano Ultegra Bottom Bracket

Shimano Ultegra Bottom Bracket

Cassette- The cassette is the cluster of gear cogs or sprockets attached to the hub of the rear wheel.  Power is transferred from the biker, to the crankset, to the chain, and to the cassette.  This is where the gears come from.  Typical cassettes have 9 cogs, which when combined with 3 chainrings, gives a rider 27 gears.

Shimano Ultegra Cassette

Shimano Ultegra Cassette