My Commuter

I receive quite a few inquiries about my daily commuter, how it’s outfitted, why types of bags I use, etc. Here’s my current set-up, subject to change at a moment’s notice:

  • 56cm Surly Long Haul Trucker — Stock Build with Mods
  • Tubus Cargo Rack (Rear)
  • Pass & Stow Cargo Rack (Front)
  • Nitto North Road Handlebars
  • Shimano Bar-End Shifters
  • “Real” Brake Levers
  • Cork Grips with Amber Shellac
  • Japanese Brass Bell
  • SKS Fenders
  • Brooks Mud Flap
  • Brooks B67 Saddle
  • Pletscher Double Kickstand with Deluxe Top Plate
  • Sugino XD2 “Quickbeam” Crankset
  • MKS Touring Pedals
  • Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Tires (37-622)
  • Kool Stop Salmon MTB Brake Pads
  • Busch & Müller Ixon Headlight
  • Fenix L2D Headlight
  • 2/ Planet Bike SuperFlash Tail Lights
  • King Stainless Steel Bottle Cage
  • Klean Kanteen Water Bottle
  • Arkel Bug Pannier/Backpack with Optional Laptop Insert
  • Elastic Cargo Net

The remaining components are stock. Depending on what I’m carrying, I occasionally change out the pannier, but for the most part, the Arkel Bug is my goto commuting bag. If you have questions, fire away in the comment area below.

20 Responses to “My Commuter”

  • Nat says:

    Thank you! I’ve been meaning to ask about the bars.

  • sygyzy says:

    Thank you very much for posting this. Is the Busch & Müller Ixon Headlight dynamo driven?

  • Alan says:

    You’re welcome!

    The headlights are both battery-powered. I plan on adding a dynamo hub to this bike before next winter. It may sound sound strange, but one of the reasons I run battery-powered lights is for taking photos; stand lights aren’t necessarily bright enough for the look I’m after. I highly recommend dynamo lights for general commuting.


    PS – I use rechargeable batteries in all of my lights….

  • Tim says:

    Nice bike Alan,
    I also commute daily on a trucker with some similar modifications. I think I first happened upon your site last year when I was researching the Surly and have been checking back ever since.

    After several months of riding with the stock drop handlebars, I exchanged them for Nitto North Road CrMo handlebars (even though they seem more like Albatross bars when I match them up against your North Road/Albatross comparison post). The Nitto bars are comfortable and offer a few hand positions, but I never felt like I had a good grip when going fast downhill on bumpy streets. Because the main grips are almost parallel to the top tube, my hands tend to slide forward when downhill braking, and I was afraid an unexpected pothole could loosen my grip if I wasn’t holding on super tight. So, I just switched to Wald touring bars #8095, and they are a great improvement. They have about a 45 degree sweep back angle for the grips, so my thumbs naturally keep me hooked in on the downhills, and I don’t have to keep such a tight grip. And they are just as comfortable when putting around.

    By the way I also have SKS chromoplastic fenders with a front fender mudflap cut out from a detergent bottle and bolted on.

  • Teddy says:

    Hey Alan, I’m also riding a surly lht, and this is pretty much the exact set up i want to have eventually, everything aside from the bars. What i’m wondering is how much does this entire set up weigh?
    At my current state, with everything stock, and a topeak explorer rear rack, I find it terribly difficult to drag it up the many flights of narrow stairs in my apartment. Do you think that this entire set up you have here is terribly heavy, especially when it comes to lugging up the stairs after quite hilly city streets? I barely make it up as it is right now.
    Thanks for your time ,

  • Bob Baxter says:

    What’s your opinion of the shellacked cork grips?

  • RDW says:

    Alan, what are the brackets you use to mount your Fenix lights? Don’t think I’ve seen those before.

  • Alan says:


    “What i’m wondering is how much does this entire set up weigh?”

    It’s around 34 lbs.; pretty typical for a fully-outfitted, steel-framed commuter or touring bike in this price range. It’s not a lightweight bike, but if one wants frame stiffness, carrying capacity, toughness (frame and wheels), all-weather capability, and lights, there’s no way around the weight. It would be easy to build a commuter that weighs far less, but you’d have to give up some items from the above list.

  • Alan says:


    “What’s your opinion of the shellacked cork grips?”

    Love ‘em. I’ve had them on a number of bikes and they’ve worked well for me. They can be a little slick if you wear plain wool gloves in the winter, but they’re fine if your gloves have rubberized palms.


  • Alan says:


    “Alan, what are the brackets you use to mount your Fenix lights? Don’t think I’ve seen those before.”

    The bracket in the above photo is part of the Pass & Stow rack. The mid-fork mounts shown in the SKS fender post from the other day were custom made by Mike Flanigan at A.N.T.


  • Doug R. says:

    Good Horse Alan!

  • jamesmallon says:

    Never shellacked cork, except for the wine corks I use as bar plugs; however, I have shellacked cotton bar tape on all my bikes, and I’d use nothing else. I haven’t had to do any maintainence on the tape for two years, and I have been known to drop my bike… On the other hand, the only thing that grips them in the wet is leather: either cow-leather, or your own palms. For a 29er project I have been daydreaming about shellacked cotton tape over 2mm cork from a cork board.

  • Joe says:

    Have you ever shellaced cork tape?

  • Winga says:

    Hi Alan.
    About the Sugino Quickbeam crank. Are you using a front derailer and which one. I tried removing the top ring of a triple and had issues with shifting but I was using derailer built for double. Thanks

  • Pat McG says:

    Really nice set up. The related posts were great!

  • Alan says:


    “Have you ever shellaced cork tape?”

    I have. Maybe others have had better luck, but I didn’t like how it turned out. The tape I was working with was not absorbent enough and the the shellac looked runny/smeary. In the process I learned that most “cork” tape is actually synthetic or rubber with cork bits in it. In my experience, cotton tape is much more shellac-friendly.


  • Alan says:


    “About the Sugino Quickbeam crank. Are you using a front derailer and which one.”

    The front derailleur is a Shimano Tiagra triple. It works perfectly with this crank.


  • bongobike says:

    Given the quality of the frame and components, and the way you care for that bike, I would say your great great grandchildren will still be enjoying it. :)

  • Saddle Up says:

    I’ve had good results with shellaced cork tape.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » A 1×9 Conversion says:

    […] I swapped the Sugino XD2 “Quickbeam” crank and 110mm Shimano UN54 bottom bracket on my LHT for a Sugino RD2 track crank (for 3/32″ chain) and 103mm Sugino BB-103 bottom bracket. […]

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