[Rodger sent us this photo and write-up about his Surly LHT. —ed.]
Here’s a pic of my 08 Surly LHT. Subconsciously, I think I built it to be the bike-equivalent of the Land Rover Defender safari vehicle. I rode this across America, fully loaded, last summer without a single hiccup.
Brooks champion flyer. It’s few years old now and I’m still loving it. I never put any treatment on it and it’s been totally soaked before — and it’s still fine. I am, however, through tempting fate…the goop goes on this week. The downtube shifters are good. I wasn’t sure about trying these but they worked out well. They only get a little annoying (in comparison to brifters, that is, not bar-ends) when you are standing and slowly climbing a big ol’ mountain. I skimped when I could and I bought a lot of stuff on c-list. The two parts I bought new, but cheap, are the stem and the bottom bracket. The stem in a $15 Easton and the bottom bracket is your basic, heavy (again $15) sealed bottom bracket, I think from Shimano. Works beautifully, even after some 6,000-miles on it.
Right now I’m riding 44’s, fenderless. The first day out on these I crashed bombing fast downhill while trying to make a sharp turn at the bottom. The road-carving capability is just not there on trail-worthy 29er tire (i.e. 700×44). I toured on 35c panaracers. They were fine but I got a lot of flats. I’m switching back to 35’s, adding the fenders again, but I’ll be trying something more puncture-resitant, like a Scwalbe Marathon. I used to tour with clipless pedals but I switched to platforms and I’m never going back. Being clipped in never offered any benefits as a tourer. When you ride from sun up to sun down, you are never pushing it. Let gravity clip you in.
All drivetrain and braking components I ordered from Rivendell. I am not a fan of the Tektro v-brake-specific brake levers. They are not comfortable, in my opinion. And, in combination with the Deore v-brakes, there is no micro-adjustment of the brakes possible (without busting out the toolkit). In the levers there is a simple switch that affords some adjustment but it’s useless. I’d install a microadjuster along the cable somewhere if using this combo. The drivetrain is perfect (sugino x2, rear cassette, shifters, chain, cheap front derailer, reverse rear derailer — all from Riv)
Somehow, the frame handles best when fully loaded. But I guess that’s the idea. All the braze-ons for everything came in handy. I left a lot of room when I cut the steer tube so I could ride nice and high. Spacers are FSA. The BB shell needed to be chased, though. I took it to a pro to handle that.
As far as panniers, I used Ortleib in the rear. They are pretty much flawless, save for the lack of outer pockets. Up front I used old REI rear panniers; they were not waterproof but I kept things dry in dry bags or ziplocks inside them.
Lastly, King headset, surly front rack, tubus rear rack, wheelset is 36 DT spoke, XT hubs, mavic a319, the bars are nice n’ wide 44cm.