NextBurgh, PA          @VannevarB      About      Pittsburgh Murals
February 04, 2007

Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT)

I picked up my Surly Long Haul Trucker 1/16/07.

Buying Decision
Gearing Combinations : Shifting Pattern.
Components : Drive Train , Wheels , Stem and Handlebars , Brakes , Other Components, Weight & Cost , Lessons Learned .

This is about building my touring bike, based on a Surly LHT frame. I love my two Trek bikes, but they've each been a source of small frustration in that once I'd gotten them, found out what they were, realized what I wanted, and understood the gap between the two - each became a project of turning the bike I'd bought into the bike I should have bought. Sometimes the bike I should have bought wasn't in the marketplace, but I'm hoping that as I've become a little more experienced (ie, older) that perhaps the next bike I buy will be the right bike from the first moment. This will probably be the last bike I buy.

Making the Buying Decision

Here's what I want : I want a long-wheelbase, diamond frame, steel touring bike. I want a strong frame and bulletproof wheels that aren't going to groan under my Clydesdale self and my tendency to pack a lot of stuff. I want an incredibly low granny gear. I also want a moderately high upper gear. I want a bike that fits well, that I can ride all day and continue for a series of days. I want three water bottle holders, unless I can get more. I want really good brakes that are going to stop me as I accelerate downhill. I want to specify what I want before I buy the bike, rather than buying a bike and swapping components. I want to be able to mount all sorts of geegaws (GPS, lights, mirrors) on it, as I've never met an accessory that I didn't want to carry up hills.And apparently, the answer to what I want is a Long Haul Trucker frame built by Surly Bikes.

One of the problems with buying a boutique bike with no established dealer network is it's just hard to find one to ride before you pull the trigger on the order. I was reading a SURLY thread where a rider was talking about sizing issues with his Long Haul Trucker (with a great
photo ) when I noticed an avatar said Pittsburgh, PA - so I emailed the author and he was very nice and offered to let me come ride his bike, just so I could see what the ride was like. I loved it! Even though his frame was small for me, the LHT rode like a couch - which was what I'd heard, but I felt better finding out for myself. The frame I ordered was a 60cm Long Haul Trucker in Utility Blue.

LHT Gearing Combinations

I spent quite a while studing the different options and choices that had to be made - mostly on BikeForums, the LHT GoogleGroup, and a LHT owner's site where LHT owners post their photos and build specs. I decided not go with a quad chainring, although it was a temptation. Finally, armed with my wishlist of components - but not at all sure they were compatible with each other - I asked my LBS, Ambridge Bike Shop to research what was possible and to handle the assembly for me.

I really wanted to have a low granny gear, so I prioritized a rear cassette of 11-34 (which put me into 9-speeds) and a 20-tooth small chainring in the front. In a perfect world, I wanted a 48-tooth large chainring, but it seems impossible to find a chainring combo that tolerates both the 20 and the 48. So I've ended up with 20/32/46 chainrings. The Surly folks are developing a chainring set with an adjustable spider that will accomodate a 20 low and a 48 high, but it won't be out till August 2007 and I don't want to wait for it.

Using the (Front/Rear * 27) format for Gear-Inches, the LHT's low gear = 15.8 gear-inches and my high gear = 113 gear-inches. It'll have a lower low gear than my MTB commuter (18gi), and a higher high gear than my road bike (108gi). Assuming 85 rpm on the pedals, an online gear calculator suggests my low-gear speed should be 4 miles/hour, and my high-gear speed should be 28.6 miles/hour (not very likely). The table below provides the details of the gear combinations.

Long Haul Trucker Components

After studying the options for a year, it still took four hours at the LBS (Ambridge Bike Shop) to nail down all the options and the cross-compatibility issues, and specify what to order - I've had surgery with less preparation than the time it took for the initial specs for the bike.

Stems and Handlebars

I never have enough room on the bars for my hands and my accessories, and I'm going to try a dual-bar implementation like I've seen here, here , here , here , here , here , and here.

FullSpeedAhead Threadless Headset

Profile Airstryke aero bars
Dimension Adjustable stem SM2082 (upper)
Nitto Noodle handlebar (upper)
Dimension stem (lower)



Hubs: XT 36-spoke, black Front & Rear
Spokes: DT 14 gauge, 4x pattern
Rims : DT Swiss TK7.1
Tires : 700C x 32CPanaracer Tserv. 95psi. Presta valves.


XT Front & Rear BR-8342 - 8343
Cane Creek Road Brake Levers
Tektro RX 2.0 suicide brake levers
Quality Bicycle Products
Travel Agents

Other Long Haul Trucker Components

Dimension seat post 27.2 ST-6633
Brooks B73 Saddle, with adaptor ST5303
Lights: Cateye TL-LD1000 rear, Alias HID front.
Computer: Cateye CC-CD300 wireless cadence backlit computer
Fenders: Planet Bike Hardcore (PE2502)
Pedals: Crank Bros. Candy's
Racks: Surly Nice Rack (front), Jannd Expedition Rack (rear)

Esge Pletscher bipod kickstand - I love this kickstand, you can change either tire without laying the bike down.

Drive Train

Wippermann conneX 920 Teflon chain
(blue) matches the Surly Utility Blue quite nicely.
White Industries 175 Crank permits a 20-tooth small chainring

Front chainrings: Salsa 20, Raceface 32 (sweet ramps), Salsa 46

Shimano Barend Shifting Levers (barcon shifters)
XT Rear Derailleur
Rear Cassette: 11/34 Deore LX : 11, 13, 15, 17, 20, 23, 26, 30, 34.

Gear Inch Calculations
and Effective Shift Pattern

This chart presents gear-inches (based on Front/Rear*27) resulting from all possible front chainring / rear cassette combinations.

The effective gear sequence is presented in bold green, with sequence numbersAbout this chart -- I've been puzzling over the best way to present
gearing information in table format, and this is my current best effort. I think it shows the gears the way they'd appear if you were looking down at them while sitting on the bike.
 td>      15
Gear Inch Calculations (F/R)*27
and Effective Shifting Pattern

Weight & Cost

Bike Weight: 32.3 pounds (frame, wheels, front and rear racks, fenders, upper and lower handlebars, kickstand).
Total cost-of-build, one Surly Long Haul Trucker : $2597. This includes frame, components, seat and racks. Price doesn't include lights, rack bag, panniers, water bottle cages.

Lesssons Learned

A relationship with a truly great LBS is invaluable. If your LBS is willing to scrounge and work it, amazing gear combos are available. Shimano TechReps will tell you "can't be done". QBP will tell you what they have done. Not all gear combos are available - couldn't get a 20 low / 48 high. My computer of choice thwarts the spoke holders, but I'll carry the spokes elsewhere.


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