I recently visited Oakham Cycles to test ride the Surly Long Haul Trucker. I wanted to check it out because it is a go-to bike, good value, used and recommended by many for adventure cycle touring. Having always built and ridden my own bikes based on mountain bike frames and with the abundance of specific adventure touring bikes now available I wanted to compare the bike considered to be the benchmark to other bikes I’ve ridden.
More detailed pics available here
- Frame 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. Main triangle double-butted. TIG-welded
- Fork 4130 CroMoly, lugged and brazed. Proprietary sloping crown with threaded eyelets, tapered and butted curved blades with mid-blade rack eyelets, dual dropout eyelets
- Drivetrain Andel RSC6, 26/36/48t. Square taper interface. Silver
- Bottom bracket Shimano UN-55, Square taper interface. 68 x 118mm
- Front mech Shimano Sora FD-3503, Silver
- Read mech Shimano XT-T780-L SGS, Black
- Brakes Tektro CR720, Cantilever. Silver
- Shifters Microshift BS-M10 10-speed shifter, friction/index adjustable; Black
- Wheel hubs Shimano LX T670. 36h, Silver
- Wheel rims Alex DH19, 36h. Double wall. Eyeletted. Black
- Tyres Continental Tour RIDE, 26 x 1.75˝
Surly Bikes is a designer and importer of bicycles, frames, parts, and accessories based in Bloomington, Minnesota, established c. 1998. Surly is owned by and shares facilities with Quality Bicycle Products (QBP). The company is well known in bicycle messenger and single-speed culture and helped establish the Single Speed World Championship (SSWC). Surly specializes in steel bicycle frames. Frames are made in Taiwan from 4130 chromoly steel.
Distinctive components made by Surly include the Dingle cog, cranksets with separately detachable spiders, reversible chain tensioner, and the “Large Marge” an unusually wide bicycle rim. Surly also sells lifestyle items such as wool jerseys and flasks bearing the Surly logo. In 2005, Surly began selling the Pugsley, the first mass-produced fatbike, a mountain bike with extremely large volume tires—up to 4 inches wide—for deep snow and sand riding. More info
What they say about the Long Haul Trucker
Over the years our Long Haul Trucker touring frame and complete bike has developed a devoted following. People understand and appreciate the LHT’s dependability and everyday rrding comfort, whether they’re cruising to the store or lost in the middle of nowhere.
The Long Haul Trucker was designed in all aspects to go the distance in relative comfort, and to be able to haul a bunch of stuff. Its low bottom bracket and long chainstays provide comfort and stability. We gave it ample tire clearance for larger tires (larger tires soak up a lot of road static) with room for fenders. The frame’s tubing is thicker-walled and larger-diameter than standard road and sport-touring frames, and this pre-tunes it for the weight of cargo. And it’s got all the braze-ons, from rack mounts to water bottle cage bosses to spare spoke holders. Like all our frames, it’s made of CroMoly steel. You’ll probably never need to have the frame repaired, but if you do you’re more likely to find someone who can weld steel than someone who can weld titanium or aluminum. Repair carbon fiber in the middle of Mongolia? Good luck with that.
For the completes we chose components that balance technical ability, durability, and value. This is stuff that works well on a fully loaded tourer, will last you a while, and won’t shoot holes in your wallet. Add whatever else you need, like racks and fenders.
The standard Long Haul Trucker is compatible with good ol’ rim brakes. It’s available as a frameset and as a complete bike, with 26˝ wheels in 42–62cm frame sizes, and with 700c wheels in 56–64cm. The fork has two sets of eyelets on the dropouts as well as at proper mid-blade height, and bosses built into the side of the crown. All this makes the fork compatible with most types of racks, and provides options how you can mount racks and carry your stuff.
Go somewhere. Do something. Ride a Long Haul Trucker.
If you want to carry a lot of stuff while riding your bike long distances, you’d be hard pressed to find a better bike than the Surly Long Haul Trucker…specifically designed for loaded travel, a low bottom bracket for stability, long head tube, long chainstays…a steel frame with all the braze-ons that you would ever need for v-brakes, racks, bottle cages and even spare spokes…Beautiful, aren’t they?..All the Surly bikes we’ve come across (the Steamroller, Crosscheck and now the Long Haul Trucker) are certainly not on the light side. But they are built to last – sturdy and rock solid. The relaxed angles and the longer wheelbase make the Long Haul Trucker a simply brilliant ride.
What I say about it
It isn’t a light bike. It looks simple, basic even. There is something about it that defies convention. The bike shop owner was storing it in a side room like a hidden secret weapon and there seemed to be a certain common understanding about its potential. Its long and sturdy. The parts are simple, commonly available and reassuredly well specced.
Benefits of the features
- The steel construction means you can get it welded anywhere
- The square taper bottom bracket is a tried and tested solution, none of this modern press-in or hollowtech system
- The XT rear mech is solid, effective and reliable.
- Some people don’t like disc brakes on touring bike which is great for them because this doesn’t have them, instead it has a BMX style brake and if it worked on your BMX as a kid, the abuse you gave it, it is going to be fine. But seriously, rubber blocks applied with pressure onto a wheel rim via pulled cables will stop your bike fine and be reliable.
- Shimano LX hubs are reliable benchmark options.
- ALEX DH19 as the name implies are downhill mountain bike rims of yore. Built for strength and long tried and tested.
How I tested the product
I rode it for a short ride near the bike shop. After significant research into a new touring bike even with all the options available now the Surly Long Haul Trucker still ranks very highly and remains the benchmark, so I had to try it.
At first it felt long for me, but then after some time riding I realised how it is designed to be slouched over for hours. It glides along and with that extra weight feels confidence inspiring and eggs you on, which is exactly what you need for long distance riding. The drop bars offer different hand positions. I’m not sure how I would fair over the long term with this system, but the main this is that is gives you options and there is space for a bar bag.
- Steel is real
- Nice geometry
- Tried and tested benchmark with many others vouching for it
- Value for money
- Boring looking
- No disc brakes ever
- A little heavy
- Boring looking
- No disc brakes ever
- They go out of stock quickly
The Surly Long Haul trucker is a bike I had to try out. It is a bike I would own as it is always going to be a reliable option and the main thing is that means minimum resistance to the main aim which is to get out on the road on your bike and have adventures.
Contact Oakham Cycle Centre for more info and mention you read it on my blog