A number of people have asked me to compare and contrast how I use my Rivendell Sam Hillborne, Civia Loring, and Surly Long Haul Trucker. Your wish is my command… :-)
Among these three, the Hillborne is the most well-suited for longer rides outside of the city. The frame is nicely compliant, providing plenty of shock absorption for rough roads and trails. It has the widest gear range which makes it the most suitable for varied terrain. The cockpit is more stretched out than the other bikes, and the bars provide multiple hand positions, both of which are advantageous for long days in the saddle. Rivendell defines the Hillborne as a “Country Bike”, a moniker I feel perfectly describes this back road beauty.
The Civia Loring is my step-through grocery getter. It’s perfect for toodling around town and running short errands. The front rack defines this bike. When combined with the double-legged center stand and fork-centering spring, it makes a perfect platform for picking up this-and-that as I go from one place to another. The upright riding position, step-through frame, and internal gear hub make the Loring exceptionally confidence inspiring for riding slowly when in close proximity to pedestrians and automobile traffic.
My modified Surly LHT is my daily commuter and cargo hauler. It has an incredibly stout frame with completely rigid racks front and rear. It will easily haul anything I can strap to it. In its current incarnation it’s 100% business with a stripped down, minimalist 1×9 friction-derailleur drivetrain, flat bars, 37mm Marathon tires with Chromoplastic fenders, and a dual LED headlight system. It’s a tough bike that gets me to work and back everyday with absolutely zero fuss. Of the three, it’s probably the most versatile, though it doesn’t do what the other bikes do as well or as enjoyably.
From outside the confines of the world of using bicycles for transportation, these bikes undoubtedly appear to be very similar. It’s only when a person who predominately rides for transportation looks closely at these bikes that the differences start to emerge. So while any of them could cover most of my needs with very little modification, it’s a real privilege and pleasure to have a trio of specialized steeds that so perfectly cover the spectrum of how I use bicycles.