Gallery: Rodger’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

[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.


17 Responses to “Gallery: Rodger’s Surly Long Haul Trucker”

  • brad says:

    Agreed on the platform pedals — I switched from clips-and-straps to platforms a few years ago (Velo Orange’s touring pedals, which have grippy ridges) and love it — we’ve done a few 450-mile tours with them as well as my daily rides and longer weekend trips; my feet have never once slipped off the pedals even in driving rain, and I really don’t notice any difference in pedaling efficiency.

    The Schwalbe tires should make a difference in avoiding flats. I haven’t had a flat in nearly 3 years now, although my Marathons got pretty badly cut up by broken glass and I decided to replace them before our last tour as a precaution. I’m now using Continental touring tires and am just as happy with those so far; they seem every bit as bullet-proof as the Schwalbes but time will tell.

  • Bokchoicowboy says:

    As far as adjusting the v-brakes with drop levers, I too found I was having trouble with my setup. The braking never felt “dialed-in” when I did the adjustments on pad clearance by only manipulating the clamping on the brake cable. I ordered some v-brake noodles by Jagwire that have adjusters built in. Put these on and now my brakes feel perfect and adjust really easy. The parts were ridiculously cheap.

  • Pete says:

    Nice LHT. That bike looks like it could go to hell and back without a hitch.
    One question – can you actually reach that water bottle?

  • Grateful says:

    What about “Power Grips”? Does anyone have experience with Power Grips.

    They look like they would be better than Toe-clips & straps, but still allow one to use flat pedals instead of clipless.

    Feedback on Power Grips ???

  • James says:

    @Grateful: I run Powergrips on my winter commuter so that I can comfortable wear warm boots, and I’ve been happy with them. I am not sure how I would feel about them on a long day or several days on the bike. But I’m a clipless guy when touring.

    How many of you guys are running v-brakes on LHTs (or similar – I have an LHT) with road levers? I’m still running canti’s and while they have been fine, sometimes I do wish for more.

  • Derek says:

    I have power grips on one of my bikes. I use them with GR8s and they work well for keeping your foot in place on a platform pedal.

    If you need the acceleration benefit afforded by clipless, they are not an adequate substitute. If you try to pull up past the 9 o’clock position, your foot will lift up away from the pedal, effectively eliminating that power you are trying to add.

    For a portion of my routine commute I ride in reasonably heavy traffic with numerous stop lights. I have decided that the powergrips do not serve me well in those conditions. I will continue to use them on touring and casual type rides though. I like being able to use any shoe/sandal that I fancy.

    One thing to consider if you go with powergrips is your foot size. If you use anything over a size 10 shoe, I say to consider the model with the longer straps. Sandals typically have a pretty wide footbed and work or winter boots definitely do. You would be better served with the longer strap for those uses.

  • Trent says:

    I love the grip kings!! Super comfy, lots of area to put your foot, and they are spike-less, which I like. My shins like that, too.

  • Marc Charbonneau says:

    Nice looking LHT. I’ve seen very few of them set up with downtube shifters, apparently the XT derailleurs on newer models don’t have an indexing adjustment, making it difficult unless you’re just using friction shifting.

    @Grateful: I use PowerGrips on both my bikes. I enjoy them, especially since I ride with a pair of Chrome shoes that have a stiff sole for biking. As a former clipless user, they offer much of the same advantages without needing specialized biking shoes. Just be aware that once you adjust them properly they probably won’t fit exactly right with your other shoes, and they do put wear marks on your shoes after a few months.

  • mark pringle says:

    Gorgeous bike. I love my own LHT to bits even though it’s pretty standard and boring black. Am getting on well with the bar end shifters but am not that impressed with the Tektro levers. Shwalbe Marathon Plus tyres are fantastic, if a tad weighty. Managed to puncture my rear one the other day mind. Direct ‘hit’ from a nail so not surprising really. I’ve picked some serious shards of glass out before now.

    I too have gone from clipless to platforms (MKS Sylvan Touring) and feel much happier. That said, I’ve been thinking about PowerGrips. My feet have slipped off a couple of times in the wet. Not good in rush hour traffic in central London!!

  • Daniel M says:


    I’m so happy to see another drop-bar bike with these! I’m running them on my Hillborne and couldn’t be happier. I LOVE the shape of Tektro’s V-brake levers themselves; they are beveled/angled towards the outside of the bike and just feel wonderful under the fingers. I can imagine that, coming from brifters, the hoods themselves might not be as comfortable. One of the unexpected benefits from brifters is that all that machinery resulted in the hoods getting longer and flatter. I’m still never going back.

    As for the microadjustment, this is a must for me. I was lucky in that I spec’d my bike with Tektro’s V-brake compatible interrupter levers on the flats, and they turn out to have a barrel adjuster. I needed this feature toward the end of my last bike tour, and was pleasantly surprised to notice them there. Incidentally, I was very disappointed with the performance of my interrupter levers and the cantis on my old Volpe; with V-brakes the stopping power and feel rivals that of my mountain bike.

    I have harped on this at length on this site, but I feel that V-brakes are a better choice then discs or cantis for me and a lot of other people. Biggest drawback is that they don’t work with brifters, but I’m done with brifters for numerous reasons.

  • Daniel M says:

    Platform Pedals / Power Grips:

    I have been using SPD/Platform combo pedals for years and have found that I use the platform side the majority of the time because I usually bike to get somewhere and not just to bike. When I do ride for the sake of riding, I LOVE the ability to pull back and up on the SPD pedal to stay in a big gear without wrenching my knees.

    For my last tour, I switched to MKS platforms, purely for the reason that I’m sick of carrying two pairs of shoes when I tour! I started out the tour with Power Grips and was extremely disappointed. They still have some of the entry fussiness of old-school cages and straps, but none of the benefits of them or SPDs. The strap attaches to the rear of the pedal using the hole for mounting reflectors or cages, so the strap actually runs out from under your foot, then up and around. What this means is that there is always slack in the strap and the second you try to pull up, your foot comes off the pedal and twists a bit. The only perceived benefit that I can think of is that it encourages consistent foot placement on the pedal, but I’m beginning to think of that as more of a drawback. Grant Petersen thinks that immobilizing your foot with respect to the pedal increases your injury risk, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

    Three days into my 28 day tour, I took off the straps and eventually mailed them home. I averaged about 60 miles a day for the entire tour and loved being in my most comfortable shoes both on and off the bike. I must say that I missed my SPDs for their pedaling efficiency (I don’t agree with Grant’s argument on this one) but I did not miss their awkwardness off the bike or the extra weight of bringing both pairs of shoes.

  • Kevin says:

    One more thing about powerstraps is that they can increase the Q factor by a little bit.

  • charles says:

    I own a ride a LHT also and have tried nearly every pedal combo out in “pedal land” and I ended up with a sealed bearing magnesium BMX style platform pedal. Nice and wide with a huge surface area for maximum comfort. I’ve been riding without retention now since about 2003 and won’t go back to any type of “clipless” system. I did not notice any performance difference going to platforms and in fact once my legs got used to not being locked in I have had some of my fastest rides. I love my Surly with its utilitarian blue/grey and tank like construction.
    I also use down tube shifters after getting jabbed in the thigh with bar end shifters and like the fact that they are out of the way and force me to stretch just a tiny bit when I shift. I recently converted back to a seven speed system with 44x32x22 chain rings and love this combo…..its all the gearing I need. My most recent additon has been Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires (700×40) coupled with VO Zeppelin fenders. These work out to about 38mm with my A719 rims and are the perfect blend of width, air volume and speediness.

  • Ralph Aichinger says:

    Really nice bike!

    I like it, that your leather saddle looks actually used, and not like just out of the Brooks catalogue ;)

    Is this the standard colour of this frame or did you repaint it? I like both the culour and the lack of decals a lot.

  • Dan says:

    I have to second Trent’s shout out for the Grip Kings. I install them on every bike I build for my family and friends, and have yet to get anything short of ecstatic praise.

  • doc says:

    I just switched my LHT from drop bar/canti’s to Albatross/V’s, both with Kool-Stops. While the canti’s power was impressive, the V’s are more so. I can lock up both wheels if need be, or just give a light, well modulated squeeze to slow down a descent. I think I’m going to like this new setup.
    Oh, and I’ve been using MKS Lambda Grip Kings with spikes for a few years. I have no desire to try anything else.

  • rodger says:

    many thanks for posting, alan.

    some answers:

    no, i cannot reach the water bottle without getting off! but i usually have two other bottles on there in their regular haunts.

    yes, this bike can go to hell and back, and it does so every time all 215-pounds of me sits on the poor thing. what a champ.

    no, it has not been painted, it’s the original color. they no longer offer it, i believe. i really dislike the surly stickers. they were the first thing i removed. plus it saves weight…aproximately a quark worth.


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