Surly LHT Update

25 05 2011

Behold the Long Haul Trucker MK2...

My Surly Long Haul Trucker is one of my most ridden and definitely one of my least modified bikes. Given my tendency to tweak and try new things that says a lot. It was custom built from a frame back in the day when Surly didn’t offer a complete trucker. The LHT worked so well for me for so long I have to admit I felt a bit hesitant to tear the bike down in case it somehow didn’t ride so beautifully for me when it was reborn. My goal was to clean the trucker, upgrade a few parts and keep the same amazingly versatile fun personality.

Fender and mud flap bling...

I wanted to replace the beat up SKS plastic fenders on my bike with something nicer and bit more functional. Sharon had complained about getting spray off the short rear SKS fender so I wanted to ensure the revamped LHT had a nice long set of mud flaps on it. I used the custom flaps I got from Buddy Flaps which fit the Velo Orange fenders perfectly.

Nice fender lines...

As I posted a couple days ago the Velo Orange hammered metal fenders [45mm] went on easily and it was simple to get a decent fender line. I’ll ride the bike for a week and then cut the fender struts when I am 100% on the fender position. I cleaned up the rest of the rear end and reinstalled everything. I love the OMM racks and the Schwalbe Marathon XR tires.

Velo Orange fender up front...

The front fender also got a custom mud flap. You can make DIY mud flaps for free, but I have to say I am really liking having a bit of customization on my bikes and the cost is modest. I’ll probably order a few more sets of mud flaps from Buddy Flaps for some of my other bikes. After some cleaning I reinstalled the cranks/pedals and the rarely used front derailleur.

Dynohub & light...

Most folks will home in on my lovely new metal fenders, but the discerning observer will notice the new B&M Cyo IQ Plus tucked under the OMM Cold Springs rack and connected to a Shimano DH-3N80 dynohub. It’s hard to overstate how useful a high quality light [with vertical cut off] with a dynohub is for 24/7 lighting when you need it. I don’t ever miss using unfocused battery powered headlights and the folks I don’t blind when I’m riding around at night also don’t miss them! I used a light bracket from Rene Herse to mount the light at the front left side of the OMM rack.

A hard Brooks B17...

I put the uber hard Brook B17 that I softened a bit using neatsfoot oil on my LHT. Since I ride this bike a lot I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to break it in the rest of the way so it’s as comfy as my older/softer Brooks saddles. Since all my taillights [Planet Bike and Radbot] use the same mount I just check my light before a ride. If I find a weak one I put it in a pile for recharging and grab another light. I have enough on the go I can always put my hand on a charged one in 5 seconds.

Front lighting detail...

I’m pleased with how the rebuild has progressed. As I noted above I embarked upon this project with some reluctance, but I felt the changes would be an improvement worth undertaking. Now that I can look at the finished bike I think I achieved a nice balance between the old faithful trucker and the new trucker. The dynolighting is a key upgrade as are the metal fenders with full mud flaps. I can still see my old bike in all the components I transfered over to the new build as well as in the scratches and scuffs in the paint. I think keeping the classic sage green paint for a few more years was a smart move. It really anchors the great memories I have had with this bike to the promise of new adventures that the upgrades bring.

An upgrade worthy of a trusty steed...

A few things left to do:

  • minor adjustments after a week or so of riding
  • touch up paint or clear nail polish on scratches
  • polishing frame with Pedros Bike Lust
  • cut fenders struts
  • ride for another 7yrs!

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16 responses

25 05 2011
Kyle

What is that on your handlebars/stem that’s especially visible in the last photo, just to the right of the bell?

25 05 2011
AdamDZ

I never heard of Buddy Flaps. Thanks :) I wanted to cut my own, but yeah, these look better and they’re not terribly expensive.

25 05 2011
Brian Ogilvie

Looks nice! I’ll have to check out the René Herse light bracket. I put my IQ Cyo on my LHT with a bracket from Vélo Orange but it only fits the Cyo in one position, and it doesn’t look as sharp as the one you have.

25 05 2011
thelazyrando

@Kyle – that’s a mounting bracket for a small waterproof bar bag I use on tour.

hm 12

25 05 2011
Chandra

Lovely!

26 05 2011
milly

How does this bike compare to your new Boulder? Is the actual ride comparable? Are they both comfortable in long brevets?

The price point between the two frames is huge. Yet, does the price difference translate into a significant ride difference?

26 05 2011
thelazyrando

@Milly – there is no comparison and that’s by design. It would be like comparing a 2 seater sports car to a 3/4 ton pick up truck. They both have 4 wheels and you can drive then around town, but that’s about where the similarities end. The LHT and Boulder are comfortable bikes, but that’s simply because I use similar riding positions on both. I wouldn’t ride the LHT on a long brevet because it would take too much energy to propel. OTOH my Boulder cannot carry bike camping gear for a month in Baja or a week’s worth of groceries. I could make the LHT more efficient by removing the racks and using lighter wheels with faster rolling tires, but then it wouldn’t be much use to carry things for me.

Also keep in mind I bought the LHT as a frame and built it up custom so it’s not the same bike you can buy complete from Surly. So the price difference isn’t as great as you might think.

Ultimately I think they both perform very well, albeit, for different missions.

If you wanted to setup a LHT for brevets you could and some people do ride them on brevets. Just keep in mind they are loaded touring bikes so they are heavier duty than you need.

26 05 2011
milly

Thanks for your timely, and informative, response! Both bikes are beautiful, and yes, I can see how a Surly could do what a Boulder can’t do: long, heavy touring.

I’ve had my eye on the Boulder (and an Ebisu from Berkeley, CA) for a year now. Although I would love to ride a long, self sustained tour in the next two/three years, my primary focus is randonneuring.

Thanks!

26 05 2011
thelazyrando

@Milly – my Boulder is a custom frame that is very very flexible so in my case touring loads are out. A stock Boulder would probably much better at carrying a moderate camping load. Velo Orange makes a PR rack that can take panniers so you could load two panniers down low with heavy stuff and your sleeping bag/tent on the top of the rack.

Mike Kone at Boulder can give you some ideas on what would be a reasonable load for the specific bike you are looking at.

27 05 2011
doc

I always liked that original Sage Green color.

28 05 2011
Chris Emerson

Yeah Sage Green is real nice.

28 05 2011
Doug@MnBicycleCommuter

The first Surly I ever saw in person was Sage Green LHT with a Nexus 8-sp hub. I was just getting back into biking at the time. I was at a century ride with 4,000 other riders and bikes. It was the Sage Green LHT that I couldn’t stop thinking about. Seeing that bike set the stage for some of my future builds and bicycle purchases.

16 09 2011
Harlan Greene

Hi Vik,

A couple questions about the Buddy Flaps…

1) I’ve made similar flaps myself out of lightweight PVC notebook cover material, and found they worked okay till it got wet, at which point they sort of oscillated back and forth, actually spraying more water on their own than they caught. Are the Buddy Flaps of a heavier material to prevent this? Have you needed to weight the end of the flaps, say with a spare pedal reflector to keep them down? Do they hang straight pretty well, or do they curl?

2) Where they are so long, do they place any significant lateral torque on the fenders in a sidewind or if caught on light brush when turning? Would they hold up to cartopping a bike at highway speeds?

They look very nice and I’m really intrigued by them, but don’t want to break my SKS fenders prematurely. Thanks for your thoughts, and for a great blog. Best wishes, Harlan.

17 09 2011
thelazyrando

@HarlanG:

1) These flaps are made of heavy weight material and don’t move around excessively. I have not weighted them down. My previous front mudflap made from a milk jug was extremely light and caused no issues for me. I didn’t weight it down either.

2) I have my flaps mounted to metal fenders which are much stiffer than SKS plastic fenders and I never carry my bikes on the top of a car so I may not be the best person to ask about this. I don’t foresee an issue though.

31 05 2012
Kevin

Vic – what size tires are those under the 45mm hammered VO fenders? VO says a max width of 35mm with the 45mm fenders, but your tires look wider than that. How wide do you think you can go?

Thanks,
Kevin

31 05 2012
thelazyrando

@Kevin – they are 35mm Schwalbe XRs.

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