Gallery: Alan’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

This is my new Surly Long Haul Trucker. The LHT is a popular bike for loaded touring and it also makes a capable city/commuter bike. Mine is mostly stock, but I’ve added a few accessories and modified the cockpit to suit my preferences. Additions include a Brooks B67 saddle, Nitto bars, cork grips, Real brake levers, MKS touring pedals, Nitto bottle cages, SKS fenders, Brooks mud flap, Tubus rack, and Japanese brass bell. —Alan

My LHT was purchased at Gold Country Cyclery in Shingle Springs, CA. Thanks Rick!


Like most enthusiasts, I like nice bikes. I mean what bike nut doesn’t get excited over the artistry of Sacha White or Joseph Ahearne. There’s a lot to be said for a bike that’s custom built specifically to fit your physique, with every detail carefully attended to. Such a bike can be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase and acquiring one usually involves a major investment in time, effort, and expense.

I’ve been lucky enough to own a full-custom bike, and I’ve also owned many semi-custom bikes based upon production frames, but built-up from bare framesets with each component spec’d to my liking. Most of these bikes have been a joy to own and ride. Besides being a pleasure to look at, photograph, and work on, for the most part they’ve performed flawlessly on the road.

But there is a drawback to expensive, high-end bikes. I always take good care of my equipment, and custom bikes, more so than run-of-the-mill production models, demand to be handled with kid gloves. Somehow I can’t get comfortable riding a really nice bike in the rain everyday, locking it up to the bike rack in front of the grocery store, or hanging it on a hook in the baggage car where it will bang against other bikes. These restrictions handicap the day-to-day usefulness of these bikes and limit their full potential as tools (of course, others may not have this same aversion to using their custom bikes as their daily rides).

Because I’m now using my bikes as tools for transportation, I find myself gravitating toward less extravagant production models that are only slightly modified for personal preference. My thinking has changed from always looking for the optimal, to looking for a certain mid-level functionality that will get the job done without going overboard and triggering that urge to baby the bike. My Pashley, my Brompton, and my soon-to-be Surly LHT fall into this category. Unlike high-end custom bikes, they’re workhorses that I’m not afraid to use and abuse… and even put a few scratches on.

Gallery: Rick’s 1993 Moulton AM Speed SE

[My good friend Rick Steele (owner of Gold Country Cyclery) gets all the cool toys, and this rare Moulton may be the best yet. —Alan]

Here’s a few shots to show how my minimal restoration or upgrade is going..

Really the frameset is in nice shape with only a couple minor blems..  I do need a new headbadge with SPEED on the bottom.  I don’t know how the headbadge got so worn looking..

It would have had Campy Delta brakes if they could have reached a few more mm’s..

Went to an ITM 44cm C-C HB, one that would fit the “Fixbone” stem.. Few new bars will..  Campy Record 9spd Ergo shifters, Centuar 10spd FD cause I had one, and an 8/9 speed Veloce rear derailleur to ensure best compatibility with the AM 9spd cluster.  Took a lot of work to find the right chain length and b-tension adjust to get the darn thing to shift all cogs in both rings. With straight cut cogs set, the chain had to be lengthened..

At my 6’2″ height, 35.5″ actual inseam and long reach I was surprised how well this 55.5cm frame fits.. As good as any I have owned.

Gotta like that Record CF seat post too :-)

This bike’s a keeper as long as I can still ride..

Rick Steele

Gold Country Cyclery
3830 Dividend Dr. Suite B
Shingle Springs, CA 95682
Ph:  (530) 676-3305
Fax: (530) 672-0501
Email :

Smoke Crazy

It’s been two days in a row now that I’ve wimped out on bike commuting because of the smoke from our 1000-some odd fires here in California. I’ve never seen it so bad; I have to keep telling myself it’s smoke because it looks just like fog or cloud cover. Problem is, I’m getting downright cranky from not riding. It’s funny how, once you get accustomed to riding 7 days a week, a couple of days off seems like an eternity. I just may go against my better judgement and take the bike tomorrow anyway.

I’d be curious to know if my fellow NorCal bike commuters are braving the bad air.

Planet Bike

Planet Bike is a cool company. They offer a nice line-up of cycling accessories and their Superflash is by far the best little self-contained tail light on the market. What makes them unique though, is their policy of donating a full 25% of their company profits to grassroots cycling advocacy organizations:

Bicycling is good for both you and your community.  If we can transform our towns and cities into safe and convenient places to bike, we will use less gas, become more fit, and reduce traffic congestion.  This is the kind of world we at Planet Bike hope for.  That is why we support organizations that are turning this vision into reality.

Planet Bike helps out by donating 25% of company profits to grassroots bicycle advocacy groups. These groups of people lobby local, state and federal government to make our communities more bicycle friendly.   Learn more about how these folks are Making It Happen.

Since 1996 Planet Bike has donated over $500,000 to grassroots bicycle advocacy, and we aim to donate a total of $1,000,000 by 2010. Most of our money goes to the Thunderhead Alliance, a coalition of 128 bicycle advocacy groups across the nation that are working together to promote safe bicycling.

Grassroots advocacy has helped deliver some big wins for bicycling in the last few years. Help us keep making it happen. To further strenghten bicycling in your community, here are 5 Things You Can Do.

Parents for Pedal Power

Photo © Evening Standard

A group of enterprising parents, working with their local schools in the London suburb of Richmond and supported by a grant from Transport for London, have developed a bike sharing program for transporting their children to-and-from school. The bikes, all Dutch cargo bikes, are left at one of the schools and can be borrowed for short trips by participating parents. According to organizers, the bikes have been in constant use since the program’s inception.

The program, called “Parents for Pedal Power”, has been so successful that it won the Cycling Community Award from Transport for London. The award “recognises the vital role these initiatives play in making cycling open and accessible to all Londoners.”

See the MSNBC video coverage here.

Driving + Cycling

[This commute story is from Dale Oswald. -ed.]

I live in a medium-sized metro area with a lot of tech jobs going away. Though the economy is suffering, there are still jobs out there, but they’re with smaller companies that pay less and are scattered about. My situation put me at a new job, farther away from work (32mi/50km). Despite the lower pay and longer commute, I am fortunate to find work that matches my skills, experience and temperament.

My medium-sized metro area also has spotty transit coverage. My commute starts on one side of the city and ends at the other. Park & Ride busses aren’t scheduled to make this kind of connection, and using local buses doubles my transit time. I only use transit when no other option is available. Combinations of bike and bus don’t work well, either.

Walking out your door in street clothes and arriving at work ready to go is simpler and faster than changing clothes, locking up your bike and covering the seat, walking back and forth from your work area to where you change, doing extra laundry and managing your clothing in variable weather.

My solution is to drive about 20 miles and ride 13. The night before, I load my bag and lay out my cycling clothes. I drive an older car with little theft value that is large enough to put my SWB recumbent inside. I park in a shopping plaza near a multi-use trail, then use the trail plus suburban streets to ride to work. The process starts at 5:45 am and ends at 8:00 or so. At night, I leave my desk at 5 pm and am home by 7 pm. When all is said and done, this combination takes me about 1:50 longer than driving, but it’s all riding time. And at today’s fuel prices (6/08) I have reduced my daily fuel cost from US$11.25 to $7.

The only glitch in this is that the last half mile is on a busy arterial with no shoulders. I found a way around by obtaining permission to cross private property (church grounds) to the back of my place of employment.

Commuting to work will always be more of a hassle than driving or using transit. Walking out your door in street clothes and arriving at work ready to go is simpler and faster than changing clothes, locking up your bike and covering the seat, walking back and forth from your work area to where you change, doing extra laundry and managing your clothing in variable weather. Yes, you can minimize this by getting your systems down pat, or if your work facilities include a locker room and shower. It’s also easier if you can work and cycle in the same clothes. But it is worth it to me, for the health benefits, money saved and the clearer conscience on reducing my footprint on the earth.

© 2011 EcoVelo™