Tag Archives: trek 520

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).

REI.com 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.

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.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Trek 520

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Choosing a touring bicycle; Trek 520

For our 4th touring bike option I’m going to go with a very well-known touring bicycle, the Trek 520 from Trek Bicycles.  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.

Trek 520

Trek 520

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to 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.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Frame– Steel

Chainstay Length– 450mm or 17.7 inches

Brakes– Cantilever

Tires– Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase, 700x32c

Components- Deore LX

Weight– 27 pounds

Price– $1,300

The Trek 520 is a very well-known touring bike with a great reputation in the middle area of the price range.  This bike is often used when comparing the lower-end and higher-end models and is a great place to start when looking for a quality bike.    I’ve ridden a Trek 4800 and a Trek 7.2 on tours before and was more than happy with their performance.  I’ve heard the 520 more than lives up to its reputation as a quality, strong, and reliable touring bike.

The issues with this bike include an uncomfortable stock saddle that is far too hard for many riders and slightly sub-par racks and fenders (mud-guards) that can’t support big weight.  The strengths of the bike include it’s stability, strength, and smooth ride.

I suggest comparing this bike to the Cannondale Touring 2, as the price is right on.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Trek 520:

Value:  4/5

Quality: 4.8/5

Compliance: 4.9/5

Overall: 13.7/15

I’m giving the Trek 520 a low value rating because I don’t really like what you get for this price.  $1,300 and you’re still only getting entry-level Deore LX components. It comes in slightly ahead of the Cannondale Touring 2 because the Trek has a complete LX line, whereas the Cannondale swaps in some cheaper components with the LX.

Quality. There aren’t many complaints about the Trek 520.

Compliance. This bike is a truly dedicate touring bike.  It is basically ready to go.

Check out the complete ratings here.