I’ve posted a 3 minute video clip on YouTube looking at the 2008 Surly Long Haul Trucker complete, that’s the model you can buy from bike shops which is designed by Surly. The video looks at the frame, components, and some accessories. I’ll be posting a new video tonight looking at optional upgrades and accessories needed for bicycle touring. This is my 2nd video so I apologize for the poor quality, I’m working on improving my skills.
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!
- 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.
- Height-adjustable like the front rack
- Lots of room
- Numerous mounts for extra stability
- Powder coated available in black and silver.
- 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.
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.
Have a look at the racks mounted to my Surly Long Haul Trucker!
If you want to read more about Surly gear, and my Surly Long Haul Trucker, head over to the My Bike
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Who is going to be the first to email??
As mentioned in the previous post, touring bikes differ from other bikes in certain very important ways. We’re going to delve into those ways a little deeper in this post thanks to my LBS owner June who helped me write this post. He’s owned his shop for 15 years and is a well-toured rider himself.
When you’re gearing up for a tour, something long enough to require carrying a load, you’ve got to consider these important things when choosing your bike.
Frame material- I only ride steel-framed (you’ll see cromoly often on spec sheets) bikes and recommend them to all my customers who are going touring. There is a lot of talk of the reasons people choose steel-framed bikes for touring. Most people you talk to recommend a steel frame because it is easy to repair cracks on the road, even in developing countries, and it is strong. Sounds good to me. I have repaired many a steel frame but can be honest in saying I do not have the equiptment to repair aluminum or and composite frames. I’m sure the same goes for some repair shop in the middle of Turkmenistan.
Chainstay length- So, the next thing you can look for in a good touring bike is foot clearance. You’ll probably be hauling panniers (bags on racks) and don’t want to be kicking and hitting them with your feet everytime you pedal. In order to gain clearance, you want a long chainstay measurement. Chainstay length is the distance from the middle of your rear dropout where the axle sits to the middle of the bottom bracket spindle. You should be looking at something in the 18″ (~460mm) range to ensure good foot clearance from your panniers. I’ll be back to post the specs from my popular touring bikes in another post.
Rims- If you’re hauling heavy loads (including yourself), you’ve got to have sturdy rims. When you look at a touring bike, check out it’s rims, spokes, and hubs. You should be riding with 36 spokes to extra strength.
Road vs. Touring
Brakes- You’ve got 2 pretty obvious options here, cantilever vs. disc.
I would say that 95% of my customers ride their touring bikes with cantilever brakes (the ones that were on your bike as a kid with the pads), and only a handful ride with disc, and they are the ones on Raliegh sojourn bikes. The argument for disc brakes is their power. When you’re carrying a heavy load in the rain going down a dirt road in the mountains of Bolivia, you want your brakes to work, and disc will do the trick. Disc brakes are made of metal and are not prone to weather lubrication like the rubber in cantilever brakes, thus they are suitable for all weather conditions. They are connected to the bike hub and apply force to the hubs and spokes instead of the rims like cantilever brakes. Disc brakes will wear on your hubs/spokes, cantilevers wear on your rims. The placement and size of disc brakes will effect your load racks though, and that is why you don’t see these types of brakes on most touring bikes. There are specially designed racks out there for these brakes, but they are not the norm.
But as far as repair and replacement go, cantilevers are the way to go. These brakes are cheap, light, repairable/replaceable, and powerful in dry situations. Most of us have used these brakes in the rain and know that dreaded feeling and sound when trying to stop on a dime. Other than that, they don’t effect your load racks, are easy to carry replacements, and readily available overseas. They get my vote.