Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Surly Long Haul Trucker

A Surly Long Haul Trucker moment at Quy Nhon Beach, Vietnam. Nikon D300, 12-24mm, ISO 200.

My bike is a Surly Long Haul Trucker (size 50). Laura’s 46cm LHT is similarly equipped. I did contemplate switching to flat handlebars, grip shifters and V-brakes (similar to my mountain bike setup), but decided to leave the bike in its almost stock configuration with the following exceptions:

Changed stock 75mm Kalloy stem for a longer 90mm size (no additional cost);
Swapped stock bar end shifters for Duraace downtube shifters (no additional cost);
Traded in stock WTB saddle;
Added top-mount interrupter brake levers;
Bought a Brooks B17 saddle;
Installed platform pedals with Zefal plastic toe-clips;
Installed Tubus Cargo Rear Rack;
Used Ortlieb’s Classic Roller Rear Panniers and Handlebar Bag.

The changes were suggested by Joe Cruz, an experienced hard-core bike tourer, in this article: The Ideal Adventure Bike. Joe certainly knows what he is talking about and I was happy to follow Joe’s LHT setup. If you are in doubt about how to set up your tour bike, give the article a read for some advice.

Waiting for our first flat to be 'professionally' fixed. Nikon D300, 12-24mm, ISO 200.

One that I should have done was to change the stock WTB Slickasaurus tires which were not up to the job. The Slickasaurus’s are specified as ‘Commuting/Light Touring’ tires, and I think they are fine on roads which are well maintained. Certainly in the 3 months of riding our bike in Singapore, we didn’t have any problems with the tires. On our first ride outside Singapore, in Pengarang, Malaysia, Laura flatted her front tire rolling over a piece of coral or shell. This really shattered our confidence in the tires but we had no time to find a suitable substitute. On the first day of our Vietnam bike tour, we suffered three more flats. The first on Laura’s rear tire within 45mins of starting our ride; and then two more flats at the end of the day, one on each of our rear tires. All punctures were from debris penetrating the tire and tube. On the morning of the second day, we tried to buy local tubes and tires, but could not find any. We pumped up the tires to the max pressure and babied the tires the rest of the tour. I ordered two sets of Schwalbe Marathon Extreme tires when I returned home.

The bottom line is that you can tour on any bike. You can save a lot of money by finding a used mountain bike. If you want to buy a new bike, Surly's Long Haul Trucker offers good value in terms of quality, reliability and price; just make sure you change the stock tires before you leave home.

20 comments:

jeremy said...

hey where did you get your surly long haul?

Ken said...

We got them from Lynten at T.R. Bikes in Singapore.

Abang Zam said...

Hi Kent. Did you use a 26 inch tires for your Surly LHT?

Ken said...

Yup. But it's not a choice. The Surly LHTs in the smaller sizes come with 26" wheels and the larger sizes (I think 54 and up) are 700cc.

Tim Morrison said...

Hey Ken,
On your Long Haul Trucker, did you stick with the stock wheels?

Thanks.

Ken said...

Hi Tim,

I did stick with the stock wheelset, because I couldn't trade them in. They really are built for strength, and in my case, probably overbuilt (I'm 135 lbs). On hindsight, I should have traded them in and built up a lighter wheelset using 32 spoke XT hubs with a lightweight cross country rim.

Ken

Tim Morrison said...

Ken,
Thanks for the info. I'm considering the LHT for a bike tour I am planning in 2012. I've researched brands like Co-Motion, Seven, Rodcycles, Thorn, etc.

If I went with the LHT, it would represent a considerable cost savings. For me, it really isn't about the $ of a bike from Co-Motion or other brands so much as getting something that I can rely on when I am out on tour.

One recommendation given to me was consider a bike like LHT but consider upgrading the wheels.

Thanks for your perspective,
Tim

Ken said...

Hi Tim,


Sure thing.

Keep in mind that I'm not really a bike tourer, and I've only done this one tour, and my comments only reflect my limited experience. I did get a lot advice from a few hardcore bike tourers, including Joe Cruz, and I re-posted an article he wrote elsewhere in my blog.

Thanks for reading!

Ken

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Anonymous said...

hello, can you tell me what is your size and the size of your women? I'm looking for a surly LHT frame but I don't know if I take a 46 or a 50 cm because I'm 1,66 m.
thank you

Kenneth Koh said...

Sorry for the late reply. I was out on the road cycle touring Northern Thailand.

We sold our LHTs as we discovered that long distance touring wasn't our thing. Our new setups are simply road bikes with Revelate Design bags attached.

When we had the LHTs, I was riding a 50cm with a longer stem. I'm 1.71m. My wife is 1.62m and rode a stock 46cm bike.

Hope that helps.