Having moved to a new house, where it is now possible to do virtually all of my shopping and errands via bicycle, it became evident that I needed a bicycle that’s up to the task. After all, my carbon road bike isn’t exactly suited for racks and panniers … and I wouldn’t feel good about leaving it locked up in front of the store, either. I wanted a bike that’s strong, well-designed, flexible for other purposes (maybe some light trail or gravel road riding, carrying a small camera kit for photo hobby stuff), and one that would accept a variety of optional hardware for modification down the road. So the research began … actually, it began a long time ago … I just had no justification for another bike, and certainly not one of this type, where I previously lived. I read all the blogs … I read all the reviews … really … ALL of them. And I settled on a model that would fit the bill, along with the right racks, bags, bars, pedals, and so on. I then got the approval from the person in the house who maintains a sense of intelligence regarding extravagant purchases … after explaining that I could dramatically lower our monthly expenses by selling the pickup truck and doing our shopping by bike. The green light given, I ordered everything … learned a lot about bike assembly … and here is the result – a 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker, modified for multiple applications:
It is a stock build, with the following modifications/additions:
Velo Orange Headset
Velo Orange Stem
Paul Components Moto-Lite Brakes
Kool-Stop Mountain Brake Pads
Paul Components Love Lever 2.5 Brake Levers
Nitto B825 Touring Handlebars
Paul Components Thumbies for handlebar mounting of the Dura-Ace shifters
Surly Nice Racks front and rear
Wald Basket zip-tied to the front rack
Kona Wah-Wah pedals
PitLock locking wheel skewers
Velo Orange braided stainless steel brake/derailleur cables
Brooks B-17 Aged saddle
Nitto S-84 “Wayback” lugged steel seatpost
Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 26”x2” tires
Cinelli “Corky” bar tape, finished with natural twine and amber shellac
Rivendell Sackville Shopsack – front basket bag (check them out!!)
Rivendell Sackville Trunksack Large (perfectly fits a Domke F-5XB with DSLR camera kit)
Banjo Brothers Market Panniers for grocery shopping (plastic or paper? NEITHER!!)
The ride is incredibly smooth and stable, via the combination of steel frame and big cushy tires. Even though the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires are huge by road standards, they roll fast, grip well, and are surprisingly light. They float over bumpy and cracked pavement, and simply fly on smoother surfaces.
The LHT is a great bike for … well, for almost anything! It’s designed for loaded touring, which also makes it a great bike for carrying a fairly large grocery haul. It’s also a wonderful commuter bike … stable, solid, and able to carry your briefcase, laptop, change of clothes, and lunch without missing a pedal stroke. And it’s just a seriously fun bike to ride … there’s no worry of where you go, roads, trails, whatever … no problem! The design is such that customizing it is easy with unlimited options for drivetrain, controls, racks, baskets, etc. Commute and shop during the week … go bike camping on the weekend!
Is the bike heavy? Well, compared to my Look 555, yes, it certainly is. But then again, one doesn’t buy a Surly bike if weight is a concern. No, one buys a Surly when one wants to haul cargo, go touring, ride the rough stuff, or have all-day adventures. Is it slow? Again, it isn’t a race bike … but it isn’t a beach cruiser, either. Although not fast off the starting block, it does get up to speed well, even when loaded up with groceries, and never feels like a tank.
As many have said before me, if you decide to buy a Surly LHT, you’ll never regret it. I love all of my bikes … but after riding it for only a couple of months, I can also agree that if I had to choose only one bike, it would be this one.