Gallery: Logan’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

The Surly Long Haul Trucker (aka, the “LHT”) is an extremely popular touring bike. It also seems to be gaining in popularity among commuters and city-dwellers who either build it up from a frameset or modify the factory build to better suit urban riding. I think this popularity owes itself to the fact that the LHT hits a price/quality sweet spot while providing great versatility.

Our friends Tammy and Logan of Rowdy Kittens own a pair of LHTs they built from scratch as car replacements (that’s Logan’s LHT shown above). And if you’re a regular reader of EcoVelo, you’ve undoubtedly seen the LHT I modified from a stock build for use as my everyday utility bike. There are also a number of LHTs in our Bike Gallery, each uniquely set-up to meet the needs of the owner. So while it may not have the panache of some of the new urban offerings with their internal gear hubs, belt drives, wood fenders and so on, this Plain Jane does a nice job of meeting the needs of a wide variety of riders.

29 Responses to “Gallery: Logan’s Surly Long Haul Trucker”

  • Mike says:

    Out of curiosity, why is there so much love for the LHT but much less mention of the Cross-Check? I ask because the CC’s horizontal dropouts allow for IGH drivetrains and theoretically the same amount of customization as the LHT.

    Still, these are some great looking bikes!

  • RDW says:

    Plain Jane? I’ll take that sweet LHT over belt drives and IGHs any day. I really like the basket/bag combination up front.

  • Dave says:

    I think one of the best things about it, is that it’s just a good, standard bicycle. No fancy “innovations” or “exciting” new technology. It’s just a good, solid bicycle (which is the best kind, in my opinion). It’s no surprise the same basic design has stuck around for over 100 years.

  • Alan says:

    @Mike

    “Out of curiosity, why is there so much love for the LHT but much less mention of the Cross-Check? “

    The Cross Check is certainly another very nice bike. I can’t speak for others, but I prefer the LHT because it has longer chainstays for better heel clearance when running large rear panniers, a more complete set of braze-ons for mounting various lights, racks, etc., and more bottom bracket drop for a lower center of gravity. Also, most people seem to prefer vertical dropouts unless they’re specifically going to run an IGH or SS/fixed drivetrain.

    Alan

  • Bob says:

    Another reason LHTs are popular could be the comfy ride. My three-week-old blue LHT with 26in wheels rides like an Escalade (except, you know, for the gasoline). Mike, I find chainstays shorter than 44cm to make carrying panniers difficult. That’s part of the reason I went with an LHT rather than a CC.

  • Alan says:

    While we’re chatting, am I the only one disappointed that Surly won’t put a kickstand plate on the LHT? They say there’s a technical reason for not doing so, but there are a number of other bikes coming out of Maxway (the factory in Taiwan where the Surlys, some Civias, and some Rivendells are being manufactured) that have plates on them. I, for one, think they should step up next year and supply a plate on a bike that so clearly could benefit from having one.

    Alan

  • Logan says:

    Hi All! Thanks for your interest. :)

    @Mike – We had a difficult time deciding between the CC & LHT. Since we were going car-free we decided having a bike geometry built to carry heavy loads (like a weeks groceries) would be preferable. Also, like what Alan mentioned earlier, I have big feet so the long chain stays appealed to me and the vertical dropouts make changing a flat a bit easier IMHO. :) An interesting solution I’ve seen to this problem of frame choice/application has been in Kogswell cycles where they use different forks to change the handling and dynamics of the bike for a range of applications from heavy porteur front loads to fast and light randonneuring. :)

    @RDW and @Dave – Thanks for the complements. Simple bikes appeal to us as well. The bag is a Swift Industries pelican porteur bag. Although designed for CETMA racks it works great with Wald baskets also. This setup will even hold 5 dozen eggs securely :) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rowdykittens/4072421104/).

    @Alan – I’ve also been disappointed with the kickstand plate progress. I’ve read quite a few cautions on the google LHT group regarding chipped frame paint and the crushing of chainstays with too much clamp force. This could easily be solved with an inexpensive kickstand plate.

    Cheers! :)

  • Ed L. says:

    @ Alan

    Here, here! on the need for a kickstand plate for the LHT. The lack of a kickstand plate is one of the few nits I have with my new Handsome Devil, which was the narrow winner in a contest between it and the LHT frame as the basis for my new commuter. I don’t understand why any bicycle frame that is promoted as a tourer or “all arounder” is not automatically equipped with a kickstand plate. Shame on Surly and Handsome Cycles for the lack.

  • Bob says:

    Alan and Logan,

    Count me among the (slightly) disappointed, though I can see Surly’s point. They argue against a kickstand plate for weight and strength reasons. I have spent a lot of time in the past week with my face down by my LHT’s bottom bracket and chainstays, and I can see the result of balancing clearance for the smallest chainring with clearance for wide tires, all while retaining as much strength as possible for loaded touring over rough roads. (The new Soma Saga, which has a kickstand plate, can’t accommodate tires above 35-37mm; this according to e-mail I received a while back from Soma.)

    On the other hand, I find the various kludges for fitting a Pletscher double kickstand frustrating. My first attempt, using the deluxe booted top plate and some old inner tube for padding below, still produced divots in the paint from the ridges on the stand’s bottom plate. I have a Click-Stand on the way, and will try some other approaches with the Pletscher. In the meantime, I wonder just how much of a weight penalty I would have paid for a kickstand plate.

  • Ints says:

    That is a serious piece of utility bike porn.
    Two additional comments; a full basket with front panniers could radically change the steering characteristics and responsiveness, I suggest loading it up for some test riding. Also, three beverage holders? That is more than my car has.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Bob,

    While I saw those reasons mentioned by a Surly rep on the LHT Google Group, it doesn’t really explain how Rivendell is able to offer a kickstand plate on their Sam Hillborne, a bike made in the same factory as the LHT, with similar specs, and at least equal if not better clearance. Perhaps the Surly stays are more stout?:

    Regarding the weight of the plate, it has to be miniscule in the larger scheme, especially if we’re talking about boat anchors like the Pletscher Double.

    Thanks,
    Alan

  • Bob says:

    Alan,

    I haven’t seen a Sam in person. On my LHT there is at most 0.25in of clearance between the inner chainring and the right chainstay, even with some scalloping of the chainstay. I’m no engineer, but I’d say the wider angles of the chainstays, to accommodate up to 2.1in tires (in the case of the 26in-wheeled LHT), have something to do with the limited space. There isn’t even enough space for the rubber boot of the Pletscher boat anchor. I’ve had to shave one of them down at the corner to get anything close to a reasonable fit.

    All of this goes to your argument, it seems to me: if the same factory can do a similar bike with a kickstand plate, what’s the precise problem? The additional 2-2.5cm of chainstay length? Price point? What potential LHT buyer is going to look elsewhere if an $1100 bike is now $1150 because of a kickstand plate?

    Bob

  • Logan says:

    @Ints I have a buddy that calls this my urban assault vehicle. ;)

    I have found the the steering does get a little weird at about 40 lbs front load with drop bars but with the wider albatross bars that same steering resistance threshold is a little higher at 50 lbs front load. This is probably due to greater leverage on the front wheel with the wider bars.

    I like the third water bottle holder (under the down tube) primarily because it holds the reservoir for my compressed air horn. The air horn is great for alerting drivers that are on their cell phone with the windows up and the radio blaring. :)

  • Runjikol says:

    Can’t do this on a LHT.
    http://runjikol.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/home-improvement-big-dummy/

    Enjoy. :-)

  • Lee Trampleasure says:

    @Runjikol You’re right, I can’t do that on my LHT. But then I can put my LHT on a bus rack and I couldn’t do that with a BD. I have, however, bungeed a 4 foot long box on my front Surly Nice Rack, with three feet pointing out and one foot on the rack. Made for interesting cornering :-)

    @Ints Thanks for pointing out “That is a serious piece of utility bike porn.”

  • Runjikol says:

    @Lee
    Bus-racks? That’d be a nice addition here. I don’t think there are any bus racks for bikes in Australia – at least not that I’ve ever seen.

    To be fair I can’t put the BD in anything short of a pick-up truck with a 7ft tray. :-)

    LHT’s are nice bikes. Not slamming them at all – just to be clear.

  • Bob Baxter says:

    As people who follow “Crazy Guy on a Bike” know, Matt Cazalas has covered about 28,000 miles on his LHT in the last two years. When I saw his bike I was so impressed with it that I bought an LHT frame and built it to my specs—it pleases me everytime I ride it, which is almost every day. I use a click stand, I don’t need no steenken kick stand.

  • qx87 says:

    you scraped off the “surly” decal.

    That`s the only thing I dislike about mine, so many ugly font decals everywhere.

  • Joe says:

    @logan

    Great looking bike, and great site. What air horn are you using? Was on a night ride the other day and it would have been nice to have a nice loud air horn to scare off the bears that we kept seeing and getting a little to close for comfort at times.

    Also, I must say I found RowdyKittens to be very inspiring, and the fiancé and I were having long talks last night about considering some of the topics talked about in the blog.

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » Why We Ride says:

    [...] Joe in Gallery: Logan’s Surly Long Haul Trucker: "@logan Great looking bike, and great site. What air horn are…" [...]

  • Ints says:

    @Logan
    “I like the third water bottle holder (under the down tube) primarily because it holds the reservoir for my compressed air horn. The air horn is great for alerting drivers that are on their cell phone with the windows up and the radio blaring. :)”

    Fantastic!

  • Logan says:

    @qx87 The decal removal was a bit of an accident on my part. Surly puts their decals on top of the clear coat so removal is an option unlike other companies. While cleaning the bike frame one day I inadvertently scrubbed a bit too hard and took off much of the decal and decided it looked cleaner with out anything on the down tube anyway. I still have the decals on the top tube at least and Surly sells the stickers if I ever want to go back to a name brand bike again. :)

    @Joe Thanks! The compressed air horn is a Delta Airzound (http://www.deltacycle.com/Airzound-Bike-Horn). This horn has been great for dogs in rural areas. They have a bike mount version and a hand-held version. As a warning the horn is so loud that its easy to use inappropriately. I also have a brass bell that is better for warning pedestrians politely. At least the horn trigger has a safety on the switch so it can guard against accidental discharge. :)

    Cheers!

  • John Henry says:

    Hi from England. There’s a thread on my favourite cycle forum here where many people are saying that their LHTs are so comfortable that they never ride their other bikes! I’ve just bought an LHT frame and it’s ready to be built up – some of the excellent pictures on this site have given me some good ideas.

    I think the great thing about the LHT is that in the best possible way it’s nothing special – it’s just an honest bike with no gimmicks. It builds into a comfortable, practical bike around it, and that’s one you’ll use and love. I’m really looking forward to riding mine… look out for all my other bikes on ebay soon!

    @ Logan: love it!

  • doug in seattle. says:

    I have some questions:

    Do you have brake judder issues with the Surly front rack? My Nice Rack equipped Jamis Aurora bounces like crazy when I break even moderately on anything that’s not smooth pavement. I also dislike the amount of lateral sway when loaded on top (I used to have a basket on top, too) — I have contemplated connecting the top braze-on to the fork crown hole, but am loathe to add even more hardware to the rack. It already has so much, and I am extremely disappointed that I have to fit more homemade hardware to it to attain an acceptable level of stiffness. I am tempted to throw in the towel and go in for a Tubus low-rider, even though I am very into front platform racks!

    Other thoughts, re: front vs. rear load.

    I find that a front loading cargo is far superior for urban transpo. While heavy loads certainly slow the steering down a bit (or a lot), I find performance is far superior to rear loads in every other way. Controlling a heavy load at a stop light is a lot easier when it’s attached to the fork/handlebars. Quick sprints are easier, since the load doesn’t swing back and forth with the frame. Bulky, large, and/or unusual loads are easier to secure. You can really load the crap out of it without worrying so much about stressing the frame and wheels, since the front end is certainly a lot stronger. I also think it looks bitching cool, especially when 24 packs of Deschutes Beer are being ferried home from Costco.

    Of course, there’s no reason to not have both a big front rack and a pannier rack on the same bike!

  • doug in seattle. says:

    By the way — Sweet Bicycle! Right up my alley.

  • Logan says:

    @douginseattle Bummer of a problem. The rack has been rock solid for me. The juddering or shimmying is a difficult thing to diagnose. I believe Grant Peterson has an article on it in the latest rivendell reader if you are interested. I don’t think the juddering is a problem with the rack itself but more of a combination of factors. For instance, I do notice a juttering if I load the rear heavier than the front but on a smaller LHT bike with the same rack a rear load rides fine and no juddering is evident.

    Lateral sway sounds like a problem with the mounts. The set up is a bit overly complex and I was lucky in that the example they use in the instructions is an LHT, otherwise I probably would have not got the spacing right. Russ Roca on his blog Epicurean cyclist reviewed this racks set-up complexity (http://epicureancyclist.com/?p=551).

    Even though I really like this rack I suggest that people should only use gear that works for them. I’d say if you have already tried a few tweaks, sell the rack and get something you really love. Life is too short to put up with gear that you don’t enjoy. ;) Cheers,

  • kevin says:

    i just got my lht and was also miffed that it did not have a kick stand i installed
    a kickstand like the police use that fits on the left side right behind the spare spokes it is not perfect but does the job loaded down you would need to rest the
    front wheel up against something as the weight would causethe stand to move

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  • Ro says:

    I decided on the Cross check over the LHT as the smaller frame size I needed still came with 700c wheels – which meant I could share spares with my partner on tour. I haven’t found issue with heal strike if I wear spd’s but it was a problem in normal shoes, also crossed the front wheel sometimes. I also built my CC up using a LHT fork so I could mount front racks, but this year surly started making the CC frames with front braze ons as standard. Its still very stable and the higher bottom bracket clearance has been handy on some rough off rd trails.

 
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