Surly Long Haul Trucker Update…

30 07 2012

Where the LHT is at…

When I built up this 26″ Surly LHT it was going to be a test rig to see what I thought about 26″ & 650B wheels vs. the 700c LHT I’ve owned for many years. I assumed after a year or two of messing around I’d be selling it and going back to my trusty sage green trucker. Instead I’m loving the new LHT and its balloon tires while trying to tweak my old LHT to make me smile again. I didn’t see that coming which is exactly why you have to try out different options to really know what you will prefer. Assumptions based on your previous experiences often don’t hold true.

I’m still working on the 700c LHT, but I’ve done what I can without buying anything new and I think putting some fast supple rubber on the old trucker [Schwalbe 40mm Kojaks] is my next move. I don’t have the $$ to spend on that at the moment so until I do I figured it was time to focus on the LHT that I am stoked to ride and make it better.

Not pretty, but they work so well…

Although I like riding the black 26″ wheeled trucker a few items were bugging me. The most important of which was the classy silver platform pedals were too small and lacked enough grip to keep my feet in place. I don’t like cages or SPD style pedals so I went back to what works for me on most of my bikes – BMX platform pedals. Admittedly they are not pretty and they don’t match the beautiful Velo Orange cranks, but they work which is what counts. Plus when I am actually riding  this bike you can’t see them.

Old Man Mountain Sherpa front rack…

I’m using this bike for errand running and transportation in the city at the moment. For that role it’s surprising how often a rear rack and 2 panniers just isn’t enough capacity to haul what I need. The solution was to add an OMM Sherpa rack up front. These racks are light, strong and the platform is very handy if I am carrying multiple boxes. I’ve used OMM racks on most of my bikes for well over a decade and they’ve never let me down.

Matching OMM racks…

With an OMM Sherpa rack on the rear I think the front and rear racks balance out the bike nicely. They might even draw the eye away from my fugly pedals ;)

Plastic water bottle cages…

I had some lovely silver metal water bottle cages from Velo Orange on this LHT and although they were stunning they would catch on my capris and pants as I pedaled. I bent one out of shape so bad it went into the metal recycling bin. The other will be kept for use on another bike. I’ve got he same VO cages on my Boulder rando rig and love them there because I’m always wearing tights or shorts on that bike so no snagging. Like the pedals I’ve installed these plastic cages I am using fall into the ugly, but practical category.

Black goes with everything…

That’s all the changes for this summer. I have a 26″ wheeled dynohub and light I may mount on this bike. At the moment it’s light out way past 10pm so lights are really not needed this far north. I’ll reconsider come September. The 2.15″ wide Schwalbe Big Apples are faster than you would expect and very comfortable. For city use they are pretty much ideal – not to mention they are paid for! Having said that I am curious what this bike would be like with even faster more supple wide rubber like a 2.0″ Schwalbe Kojak. That would also allow me to swap the Big Apples into my Surly Big Dummy cargo bike – where a boost in speed and comfort would not be a bad thing.

LHT enjoying the summer sunshine…

What about 650B?

I haven’t forgotten about trying out this wheel size. I even have some shiny new Velo Orange 650B rims that have been hanging in my office for over a year. The trouble is that building some 650B wheels and buying new brakes is spendy when the bike is rolling along so well in its current state. Other more pressing bike related purchases always seem to get in the way. So for now that idea is being shelved. I have no doubt that a 650B trucker with Grand Bois Hetres would be a very sweet ride it will just have to wait.

If I was doing it all over I’d have gone with the 26″ wheeled Disc Trucker so I could share any 650B wheels I built between the LHT and my MTBs.

My cat likes the colour of the new LHT…


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24 responses

30 07 2012
Relayer

I own 2 pairs of Specialized bottle cages like these (although mine have a touch of red on the stretchy bit) and I don’t think they’re ugly at all!

30 07 2012
thelazyrando

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The VO cages that they replaced were pretty sweet.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikapproved/6033161019/in/set-72157624116957171

30 07 2012
Val Garou

I would be afraid that I’d come out of work or the movies one day to find those beautiful VO cages stripped off the bike. Sometimes cheap and ugly is just the tool for the job.

30 07 2012
Brent

I just spent the week riding RAGBRAI with a friend who rides a LHT. He is new to cycling and I recommended that bike to him. He loves it. He asked me what I thought of leather handle bar tape. I have never used it, nor spoken to anyone that has. Any thoughts on leather?

30 07 2012
thelazyrando

@Brent – I’ve never used leather tape so I can’t comment – sorry. It does look lovely.

30 07 2012
Sarah

Question for you Vik – will the OMM Sherpa FRONT rack fit on the rear of most frames? I’ve got an XS cross frame, and the seat stays aren’t very steep. Won’t be putting panniers on it, so toe overlap isn’t an issue.

30 07 2012
thelazyrando

@Sarah – the OMM Sherpa front rack is 160mm wide mounted on the front of my LHT so it’s wide enough to fit on a 135mm rear frame. I haven’t tried that so you may run into a snag I’m not thinking of, but at least it seems feasible. I’d call/email OMM. They have been very helpful to me when I had any questions.

30 07 2012
Rory Woods

Hey Vik,

Where’d those nifty brifters come from?

Rory

30 07 2012
30 07 2012
Zanuf

Great bike. Great post. Do you know for a fact that 650b wheels (w/42mm Gran Bois) will fit on a 26″ LHT disc? Tell me more!

31 07 2012
AaronM

Brent, Leather bar tape works very well, it’s durable & looks great, even over a long period of usage. Caveat: leather tape doesn’t usually have as much cushion as a cork/foam blend. Some folks do a thin wrap of cork & then apply the leather for those who like the look but want the squish. Personally I find tape/grips that are too fat to be uncomfortable no matter how soft they may be, but hey, that’s just me. If you’re not a tender-palm then leather will serve you very well.

31 07 2012
thelazyrando

@Zanuf – I’ve never done the swap, but I have seen some LHT 650B rim brake conversions online so it should be even easier with a disc setup.

http://velo-orange.blogspot.ca/2011/05/converting-lht-to-650b.html

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimg/7436488938/

31 07 2012
Misha

Brent, leather bartape is sweet, i do like the feeling it provides, not too thick and grippy enough, even when wet. It’s moderately durable, mine (Brooks) has survived few asphalt falls without any major damage, but with some significant scratches (that are almost gone after few weeks). After few months of usage it looks better than new: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andertalci/6887212752/in/set-72157629885564394

31 07 2012
Kyle

Blue Lug has a couple of 650b converted LHTs on their Flickr.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluelug/7335185208/in/set-72157624214818224
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluelug/6775639949/in/set-72157624214818224

Check out the rest of their bike builds for some of the most unique Surly’s.

13 08 2012
16incheswestofpeoria

I notice the tops of your handlebars slope upward, and your brake levers are rotated closer to the bottoms than a shop-stock setup. Care to share your handlebar angle philosophy? Or your angle on handlebar philosophy? I’m getting ready to do perform some mid-season work on my tandem, and I’m thinking about changing my bars in a similar fashion.

13 08 2012
thelazyrando

That’s an optical illusion. The top of my drops are flat and I place the brakes so the hoods merge with the top of the bars to form a roughly level placement for my hands.

When you setup your bike you can try various bar/lever options without wrapping the bars in tape. Try a few until you are happy and then tape the bars.

It’s all down to personal preference.

14 08 2012
Christian

Hi

I note that you switched from V brakes to cantis. I have a very similar set up on my 26′ LHT. I’m runing 2.15 BAs under VO stainless fenders and my V brakes rub the tops of the fenders. Was this your experience and thus the reason for the change to cantis?

Thanks,

Christian

14 08 2012
thelazyrando

@Christian – no I switched to cantis so I could use the Retroshift levers. V-brakes worked fine on that bike.

14 08 2012
Christian

Thanks–no problems with cable rub, especially on the rear?

14 08 2012
thelazyrando

I don’t recall any. It’s been a while so perhaps I am forgetting about it.

14 08 2012
Christian

Thanks Vik. I really enjoy the blog. Best wishes.

17 08 2012
Chris

“I’m using this bike for errand running and transportation in the city at the moment. For that role it’s surprising how often a rear rack and 2 panniers just isn’t enough capacity ”

Can I ask if this means you’re normally riding the bike loaded? Would you find it as enjoyable to ride if it wasn’t loaded? Thanks!

18 08 2012
thelazyrando

@Chris – I ride the LHT unloaded more often than loaded. It rides fine and don’t feel like the unloaded bike is not a fun ride. Having said that the LHT is not a road racing bike so it prefers to roll along at a moderate pace not super fast hard riding.

22 08 2012
Chris

Thanks very much for your reply. I already have a regular road bike but want something more versatile as well. I was a bit worried that the LHT — which actually ticks pretty much all the boxes — would just be no fun to ride unloaded. Encouraging to see you don’t think so. And this morning I took one for a test run in London and really enjoyed it: handles fine, accelerates fine, don’t have to worry about chunks of road surface missing — it was great! I guess I know what people mean when they say it’s like a “tank” or whatever but to be honest compared to my existing bike it didn’t feel like a different species of vehicle or anything too dramatic — I think it’s going to be perfect.

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