Bicycles

Surly Long Haul Trucker – Touring Bicycle Review

on


surly demo complete bicycle

Deciding which touring bike to purchase is no small undertaking. When you’re going to be spending so much time and money on a bike, it’s important to get it right.

Over the past two years, my partner and I have used our trusty Long Haul Truckers to carry us up and over the hills of Wales, along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, across the Peaks and the Pennines of England, and – in our most extensive trip yet – around New Zealand’s beautiful South Island.

But before we did all that, we spent hours poring through internet forums, blogs and reviews in our quest for the ultimate touring machine. We also talked to friends who have been cycling touring and were a wealth of knowledge. A few of them had the Surly Crosscheck or the Long Haul Trucker and rated them highly.

We looked at the Dawes, the Thorns and the Koga-Miyatas among the many touring bikes on offer. But it was the Long Haul Trucker that kept popping up as the touring bicycle to have: a steel frame with all the braze-ons that you would ever need for v-brakes, racks, bottle cages and even spare spokes.

We already had a Surly in our stable, the Steamroller, which had done a good service as a fixed city commuter. The Surly 4130 CroMoly steel gives a comfortable and reliable ride, the paint job was smart, and we knew that we couldn’t go wrong with a Surly.

At Brixton Cycles in London we had a chance to see the Long Haul Trucker in the flesh. Beautiful, aren’t they? We had a great chat with the staff there, who are real Surly enthusiasts.  After some discussion, we found the right sizes for the two of us: quite comically I settled for the towering 58cm 2009 model in green, and my partner went for the diminutive burgundy 46cm, of which, happily for our wallet, Brixton had one left over from 2008 at a reduced price. We came away from the shop buzzing with ideas about how we’d build the bikes ourselves, to our exact specifications and needs. New additions to the stable were soon to be born!

surly lht in wales fully loaded touring bicycle

The Build & The Ride

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.

Over the years, we’ve each tried many other kinds of bicycle, from custom-made titanium racing bikes to aluminum hard-tail mountain bikes. Admittedly, we’ve never tried a different model of touring bike, but the Long Haul Trucker has made such an impression that we feel we’ll never need to. Simply put, they are probably the most comfortable bicycles we have ever ridden.

The Surly Long Haul Trucker is not built for speed, but for carrying you and the kitchen sink. It really does handle and feel most at ease when you have loaded it up. This is, I’m sure, a common principle of all good touring bicycles.

We’re ashamed to admit that our other bicycles have more or less been put out to grass since we got the Long Haul Truckers. We have a couple of fixed and road bikes along with a MTB commuter. But, over the last two years, they have just been gathering dust, since the Long Haul Truckers are so comfortable and a joy to ride. While the titanium road
bike is a flighty thoroughbred, the Long Haul Trucker is a sturdy and reliable cart horse.

We’ve even used our Long Haul Truckers as commuting bikes in London. They are slow and heavy but always get you there in comfort and with a smile on your face. It is no racer, but let’s face it, you’re not going to do a sprint finish when touring. Need to take lots of luggage, extra water and a stock pile of food when away from civilization? The Surly doesn’t complain. It just takes the load and keeps on going. You can almost hear it say “More luggage? Bring it on!”

Even at low speeds and fully loaded it handles very well. Nor is going up steep hills a problem. In the fastnesses of Wales and the Pennines we managed a few serious lumps – even a 25% incline – fully loaded, with the front wheel firmly planted on the ground.

I’m told I sound like a broken record when telling people about this bike, but it’s honestly the best way to describe it: It’s like riding a four-wheeled sofa. Heavy, but comfy as anything.

loaded touring bike by surly

The Build & The Cost

We got hold of our two Surly frames at our local bike shop in London, Brixton Cycles. The 46cm was £50 cheaper than the 56cm, which set us back £350 since it was an older model (2008 rather than 2009). There are no substantial differences between the two frames aside from different lugs on the dropouts, and the colour: the 2008 frame was
only available in a rather fetching burgundy. Otherwise, they’re exactly the same. The 2010 model seems to differ from the 2009 frame in colour alone, and if there are further differences, they must be subtle as they’re not immediately noticeable. And, from discussions with other Long Haul Trucker riders, the ride quality doesn’t differ from model to model.

When it came to selecting the correct size, there were a few different schools of thought to consider. We took the advice of the bike shop to go for a smaller size than usual in a touring frame. The 60cm, and maybe even 62cm frame would certainly have fit me, but our man Barney at the local bike shop advised me to go for the 58cm in order to have
greater control over my steed when fully loaded, especially when getting on and off. I do have a rather long seat post and a raised stem. I didn’t even need to cut the fork down. What matters is that I feel comfortable on the bike, and so I’m absolutely sure I made the right sizing and set-up choices.  Even my partner took the size down from her normal size, 46cm, and she just loves riding her Surly Long Haul Trucker.

If you prefer an off-the-peg bike, you can get the Surly Long Haul Trucker built up from Surly for just over £890. We decided that we wanted to build our tourers from scratch, as we had particular ideas about our preferred components. For example, I don’t get on with drop handlebars or downtube shifters, and my partner prefers shallow drops and women-specific saddles. I also looked forward to the process of sourcing the parts and building up our new steeds. And then there was the practical benefit of helping me understand the bikes inside and out, and be prepared for any potential mechanical breakdowns while out on tour.

I built up our Long Haul Truckers with XT groupsets, 44, 32, 22 chainrings and a 11-34 cassette which gives us plenty of low gears for going up the steepest of hills. I chose the Hollowtech II bottom bracket, which I admit I was a little worried about at start (new-fangled technology!), but they are running just fine.

My bike has butterfly/traveller handlebars, which I’m still playing around with to find exactly the right set up. I’m almost there. The wheels, 700c,  I bought second hand from a friend who’d built them up himself with a HOPE XC rear hub and SON dynohub on Mavic A319 36 hole rims.

The smaller Surly was set up with women-specific shallow drop Bontrager handlebars and Ultegra STI shifters which work great with v-brakes when you use travel agents. The wheels, 26”, were built with HOPE front and rear hubs on Mavic A319 36 hole rims, by our very good friend and wheel builder.

Both bikes run Marathon Plus 35mm tyres which are pretty much bombproof, which is much needed for touring and commuting in London. Admittedly the tyres are slightly on the slow side (see a theme emerging here?), but it’s not speed we care too much about. Rather, it’s  durability and longevity that are important. The Marathon Plus ticks these boxes. As for the racks, we chose Turbus Cargo and Ergo racks because we’d heard good things about them and I was lucky enough to get them on discount through my work.

It’s a bit hard to state the total cost of the bikes. To be honest, we got rather carried away when building our new toys and didn’t keep a close eye on the budget. Plus, we did have some of the parts stored up already along with several great offers we managed to pick up online and through my work. The bike building project began in January 2009
and the first bike was fully built by June of the same year. If you have time to spare, gradually picking up bits and pieces through online offers can save you quite a bit of money. For example, we picked up my partner’s Ultegra shifters for half price, and got the Hollowtech II crankset for over £100 less than the street price.

But I’m pretty sure if you go into a shop and order what we have, you are going over the £2000 mark for each of these bicycles. That said, I’m sure that the off-the-peg Surly would be a great ride still and a great starter tourer to build up when you can afford to upgrade.

largest long haul trucker touring bicycle pictures

The Small Things

The paint job is good quality. I have used my Surly heavily over the last two years and of course there are a few scratches, but the paint job is still sound. I had read that the paint job on the burgundy coloured Surly wasn’t the best. But, we have not had any problems with ours. There was a rather big scratch inflicted by the journey to New Zealand but no paint job would have survived that.

The smaller 46cm frame is rather compact so you can only have one 750ml bottle in the three cages. The one on the seat tube can just about hold a 750ml bottle, and it’s a bit of a faff to get the bottle out and in. The one on the underside of the down tube can only take a small bottle as there is no room for it because of the front wheel.

Since the Long Haul Truckers are on the heavy side, you will be a bit pushed keeping your packed up bicycle within your luggage allowance when flying. We try to add a little bit extra into the box, such as your sleeping bags and tent. But with the Long Haul Truckers you don’t have many extra kgs to play with.

The standard sized bike box you can pick up from your local bicycle shop, is a tight fit for the 58cm frame. Even with front rack and mudguards off your Surly will be bigger than the box. I had to take the forks off as well in order to get it all into the box. The 46cm frame, however, fit nice and snug into a standard cardboard bike box.

My very first ride on the Surly Long Haul Trucker was quite an epic one: a ride called the Dunwich Dynamo, a 110’ish mile long ride over night from London to a beach north east of London. Around one thousand people take part every year in the summer. It was pretty much thrown together in the morning before the ride, a quick spin in the carpark
to see if it worked, loaded it up and off we went.

After around 40-50 miles my shoulders started to hurt. I then raised the stem one spacer and the pain started to go away. And that was it for the rest of the ride. It was just so comfortable. When I got back onto the bike after a quick swim and breakfast it was not painful.

When people see the Surly they are really interested and only tell you good things about it, either from their own experience or from what they have read or heard. I recall that at 4am on the Dunwich Dynamo, I was passing two ladies on a hill, and we all were rather tired at this point. One of them asked me, “Is that the Long Haul Trucker, with the
long wheel base?” This made me smile, gave me a boost and made me rather proud that I had picked such a well thought of and famous bicycle.

The only thing that has broken on the Surly is the rear wheel which was second hand. After nearly 10,000 miles in total, the rim cracked. I think it handled it responsibilities very well since I’m not the smallest of people and do carry a lot in my panniers, including a heavy tool kit, while commuting in London. And we did ride on some rather rough gravel roads in New Zealand. Otherwise they just roll along taking in whatever you throw at them.

female touring bicycle - the surly long haul trucker touring bike

The Surly Long Haul Trucker: In Summary

You’re not going to win any races riding a Long Haul Trucker. But it does exactly what it says on the tin. It carries you long distances, with all your worldly possessions (well, almost) in comfort and style. It just gets better the more you load it up.

I’m now coming up to 8,500 miles on mine and when it’s clean it still looks like a new bicycle. In the meanwhile, our other bikes look out jealously from under the washing draped over them; they’re just glorified laundry hangers these days. We were warned that once we’d joined the Long Haul Trucker club we’d have trouble weaning ourselves off… and it’s true!

I know for sure that these lovely, dependable Surly Long Haul Truckers will be in our stable for many years to come. It’s testament to the comfort and quality of the bikes that we really can’t think of anything that we want to change about them. We might just top up the paint job when it’s needed. In the meantime, there’s a lot of world left to explore, so we’ll just keep on Long Haul Trucking.

best touring bicycle for rain and foul weather - long haul trucker

About the Author: Henrik Risager (aka “woollypigs“) is a pootling touring cyclist, who discovered the delights of cycle camping in 2009 and has since toured with his partner in Wales, England, Croatia, New Zealand and his native Denmark. He always stops for cake and daydreams about where the next tour will take him.

About Henrik V. Risager

Recommended for you

42 Comments

  1. Darren

    July 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Thanks for the review Henrik. I too have a Surly LHT and agree with your sentiments. I purchased a 2010 model off the shelf and have spent the past 10 months “tweaking” it to suit my requirements and fetishes. My frame is finished in Truckaccino and carries Tubus racks that were made affordable thanks to the strong Australian dollar and Wiggle.

    I had a chuckle at your comment regarding the old bikes now being glorified laundry hoists. My Kona phd hangs in the garage and looks pretty but has hardly been ridden since the LHT entered my stable.

    I’m planning on hitting the UK and Europe next summer for 6 months, so, if you see an Aussie on a baby poo brown LHT in London in early April 2012, tap me on the shoulder and say hi.

    Cheers,
    Darren

    [img]http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/IMG_7802.JPG[/img]

  2. Bill Wolfe

    July 26, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Here’s my Surly – got it this spring. About 2,000 superb miles so far, mostly local weekend rides and camping. Planning a more extended tour late summer or fall, when it cools down. I waited for the blackflies to leave the Adirondacks, but now the heat has been oppressive. See pic below – sometimes you find some good junk on the road!

  3. Jeremy Vaught

    July 26, 2011 at 8:05 am

    A solid review. Thanks! I’m in that stage of looking for my first touring bike. I had never even heard of a Surly before this search started and now I can’t seem to find much else. :) They’re everywhere! And very highly spoken of.

  4. Laurie

    July 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    The best feature that i encountered when deciding to buy a LHT, was the frame and forks option only. I left the forks top tube full length and fitted 2 head stem bar mounts instead of spacers, ( 1 right side up, 1 upside down), so i have a smaller dummy bar to mount accessories on, (bar bag, lights) etc, and not clutter the main butterfly bars or lose hand positions. The long wheel base handles aussie dirt roads and corrogations with ease. Very stable.

  5. Everitto

    July 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I have several Surlys and cannot speak highly enough of them. I have the Big Dummy and the Trucker. They are both heavilly modified from the stock form… The reconfiguring is part of the fun.

  6. Len DeMoss

    July 27, 2011 at 1:30 am

    I’ve been riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker for the past 4 years for my touring. I love the bike. At the time I was working as a p/t bike mechanic and bought an LHT frame at cost and built it up. I remember talking with the Surly guys at Interbike one year and they said riding an LHT was like being in a big old Cadillac and I would be able to sit and eat a 5 course dinner while pedaling. They really weren’t wrong. This is a great touring bike. I’ve since added Paul brakes and had the frame cut for S&S coupling by Bilenky in Philadelphia. While expensive (a lot more than what I paid for the frame and all components), it allows me to take the bike with me whenever and wherever I want to fly and at no extra cost. Here in the States, almost every major US airline charges an exhorbitant fee (Delta $600 r/t) to take your bike. Now since the bike all fits into a standard airline approved size case, I pay no extra charge for international. I go to Bangkok every year in Dec and do self supported touring with a friend from UK I met on a mountain in Vietnam. We then ride until mid-March when he flies back to UK and I continue touring on my own until late April/May and then fly home.

  7. Jared Cripe

    July 27, 2011 at 1:31 am

    I actually ride a long haul trucker and it is a great touring bike.

  8. Linda K Imle

    July 27, 2011 at 1:33 am

    My first touring bike was the LHT, I rode it down Route 66, start to finish, and I have to say that it is one of the best bikes I have ever owned. I sold the bike this year because it didn’t have the S&S couplers I wanted so I could easily pack it and take it with me on my overseas trips. So I took the components off of it and purchased the Surly Travelers Check, which is the LHT frame with the couplers. Although I miss my first Surly, the LHT, I am just as please with the Travelers Check and I did take it to Italy with me in May of this year.

    Although I own two Klein’s, my mountain bike which is an Attitude Comp and my road bike which is a Q Carbon, the Surly is the one I ride to work most days. It rides like a Cadillac, feels like a full suspension bike and is easy to pack and unpack. I think the quality of workmanship is equal to my Kleins, with the finished welds and the attention to detail.

    When I bought the LHT in 2007 I went to my two favorite bike shops. I wanted assistance in getting the bike I wanted and at one of the shops I found they were not interested in something that new. I went to my friend, Bill Fleming, at his shop, Chain Reaction Cycles and asked for his assistance. Although he was not very familiar with the LHT at that time he took the time to assist me.

    The day the bike was here and ready for me to pick up I went back to Chain Reaction to take it home. Another cyclist was admiring the bike and I am pleased to say that he ordered one on the spot. Since then many people have bought the LHT. I have noticed the other bike shop carries them in stock now, as well as REI, I have seen them on the rack in our local store.

    I am glad that I was one of the first in Alaska to own the Surly LHT. It is a great bike and I had a ball riding the LHT from 2007-2011. Now I ride its kissing cousin, the Travelers Check, and I am enjoying it just as much, with an added bonus of not having to pay Delta Airlines $200 each way to take the bike with me when I travel!

    Do I recommend this bike, ABSOLUTLY! I may not be a professional cyclist but I am a 67 year old woman who,loves to ride long distances and really appreciates good equipment!

    Linda

  9. Barry Stewart

    July 27, 2011 at 1:34 am

    I purchased a LHT a year ago and did one self supported tour with it last summer. 250 miles across the panhandle of Idaho. I really like the bicycle. I handles really well loaded and the gearing is great for hills. I purchased the surly front and rear pannier racks which are practically bomb proof. I have the 26″ wheel version. I think better tires will be needed later though. I have the Arkel GT50 rear panniers and the large handle bar bag. I hope to do short tour this summer if time permits.
    I would highly reccomend it.

  10. John Chang

    July 27, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Thks Darren,

    My cycling buddy recently bought Surly Long Haul Trucker (26″) thru internet @ S$1,500 good deal.

    At present am using triple-butted Alu MTB and butted Colnago Mexico (700C Columbus tubing) for the time being.

    In the past travel from Singapore to Laos using Fastrack Scandium Full sub MTB and still with me.

    Your invaluable advice,experience and information are most appreciable and will still be.

    Warmest Regards,
    John Chang

  11. Kristopher Meyer

    July 27, 2011 at 1:46 am

    One could not go wrong with choosing a Long Haul Trucker (LHT). I am going on my second season with mine now and have raked up 8,000 miles. Bought the bike for touring only and loved it that much that I have made it for my everyday commuting bike. When the LHT is all tuned up the machine is a baby and sweet. Works the best than all of the other 3 bikes that I have owned. If the frame could only accept disc brakes I would have another one for my commuting needs.

    Thanks for sharing and safe cycling,

    Kristopher

  12. Bill Wolfe

    July 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    [img]http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/LHT2.JPG[/img]

    First ride on my new Surly LHT, at Bear Mountain (NY) Hudson River in background. (Feb. 2011).

    Two thousands miles later still loving it – mostly weekend camp trips, but planning a real tour in September/fall.

  13. Mike Langsdale

    July 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Just finished a tour of the West Coast on my SLHT and the bike performed beautifully. Good review to read, makes me happy I purchased the right bike.
    Thanks!

  14. James Berkeley Hws

    July 28, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Many many thanks for passing to Sundowner871@yahoo.co.uk this article. I’ve been considering retiring my Dawes Galaxy 95 model for the past year or so. The problem is, what do I replace it with? I am one of this extremely annoying oldies who could read your book on bikes and still come away non-the-wiser for it. And that’s not down to you it’s just me. I need someone to say, look, buy this bike mate, it’s what you’re looking for and I promise, you’ll love it!

    Over the past year, believe it or not, I’ve also considered buying a replacement Dawes, I’ve also considered the Koga Miyata and even the Thorn EXXP. Then I was told of a shop in Canton Cardiff [Wales] that sells Long Haul Trucker frames. I believe they do build on request, but due to the cost they sell more frames and then it becomes self build. Now having received this wonderful article I am not only sold on the Long Haul Trucker, but also I now know the parts I’ll need to buy to put it together. Since I am retiring I now have a build project to keep me busy for a few months and it will also help me to understand my new bike better. So many many thanks Darren and I hope one day to see you out there somewhere. Cheers Darren. James.

  15. Dennis Angers

    July 30, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Just finished touring the Gaspé Peininsula, about 500 miles. Great ride!
    When I bought the bike I had a 46-34-24 crankset installed to get lower gearing. That came in handy climbing the 5 km hill at Rivière Madeleine.
    The Brooks Flyer saddle kept my butt comfortable and the Avid Shorty brakes did a great job controlling the bike and the 50 pounds of gear coming down some pretty steep hills.
    4th tour with the LHT and very happy with my purchase.
    Finally, kudos to the folks at Old Spokes Home in Burlington, Vermont who sold me the bike and took the time and patience to do a great fitting job.
    [img]http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/052.JPG[/img]

  16. Emily

    August 4, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Take a look at the Soma Saga – they aren’t sold pre-built (you have to build up the components yourself), but the frame is the same geometry as the LHT, the paint job is nicer, and there is a kick stand plate welded on….for the same price. Having ridden both a LHT and the Saga, with 600+ miles down I’d choose the Saga any day!
    [img]http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/DSCF8172.JPG[/img]

  17. Pingback: How Much Does It Cost To Gear Up For A Bicycle Tour?

  18. jim

    August 20, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I also own a Surly LHT and many of the the things you stated in the article are what I have found to be accurate. It is a fun bike to ride while so many bikes are performance oriented, this is just fun. And it has the two major features I look for in a touring bike — low gears and the ability to carry a load and be stable, perhaps just as stable as riding without any load. It fits both criteria for me.

  19. Zul Md Zain

    November 2, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Thanks Henrik for a very comprehensive review and invaluable pointers. I am in the process of building up my own LHT. It’ll be ready in one week time. I have never heard of Surly bike before. It was my bikeshop owner who recommended it to me. I am planning to tour Borneo ( Sarawak and Sabah) and Vietnam with my new LHT next year.

  20. Ibrahim Kadri

    November 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Nice review. I just finish building my LHT. Anybody want me to accompany you for touring please drop me an email brahym@gmail.com.

  21. Amy

    November 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I wanted to save money by upgrading my road bike for my first tour this summer. We changed the rear derailleur and cluster to low gears but I knew it would never be right, so I bought a LHT and never regretted it for a moment over 1,000 miles. It is really built for the job, stable and comfortable.

  22. Brad

    November 18, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I recently bought an LHT frame (2010 Blue) and built it up with components I had from another bike, plus some new parts. I have not actually taken it on a tour yet, but plan to in the future. I have taken some long rides, however, and it is very comfortable. Now, as many others have experienced, I only want to ride the LHT. My other bikes are sitting, collecting dust. It is a great bike, and I plan on riding it for a long time.

  23. Jay S

    November 28, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Henrik, My wife and I will be touring Wales this summer on our LHTs. We have a basic idea of our route but would love to hear any suggestions you have.

    Thanks,
    Jay
    k6jrs@arrl.net

  24. Jeff T

    December 13, 2011 at 2:53 am

    Ostrich Pannier is another great pannier to look into. I wanted a one-compartment pannier that had no plastic attachments or zippers. They strap on to your front or rear rack by leather strap and buckle. They are very easy for me to get into, and are not to big, yet large enough for a fully loaded tourer If you have four of them. I literally searched for weeks to find a pannier like this. I will say that being homeless on my bike for the last 5 years I have met enough other tourist who swear by their Ortlieb’s that I would recommend Ortlebs also even though I have never used them.

  25. Best Car Loans Australia

    January 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    they last forever, i got one myself!

  26. Yeoh Cheeweng

    February 15, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Surly sells the Trucker Deluxe which has S&S Couplers. How stable is the bike compared to the normal LHT? I would think that that any extra parts to join two halves of a frame would impact adversely on the strength, stability and comfort.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      February 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      I’m not sure how the S&S couplers perform on the Surly bikes, as I have never tried them myself. They are, however, supposed to be just as (or nearly as) strong as a regular bicycle frame when they are fitted together properly.

  27. Eoin

    February 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I bought myself a LHT little over a year ago. an awesome machine to say the least, requires very little TLC but it will always do you right!!!

    i am 187cm and the ride position on the large frame was ideal for me, accompanied by Brooks B-17 made it more comfortable than the chair i am writing this in!!

    i installed the surly ‘nice racks’ front and rear, quite expensive but held their shape and strength throughout, on average i was carrying 44kgs of essentials. i had double bar tape for comfort and i only thing i had to replace was tyres.

    i joined two friends for 4 months of their 10months circumnavigation (www.endurecyclechallenge.com).we covered 12,000kms in the 4months that i was involved.

    the bike still sparkles in the garage now that i’m back in perth and i actually feel guilty for not taking her out since i finished the trip last July, i can’t bring myself to sell it though

    Enjoy your LHT’s

  28. Uncle Mike

    April 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I just sold a bunch of camera equipment on Ebay to finance a new bike. I had a hard time deciding between a Trek 520 and the LHT.

    The bike I have now is a 29 year old Schwinn Le Tour, which I bought new in 1983. I loaded it with panniers last year and did some short weekend trips. I have some longer trips planned for June and September this year and I wanted something better for climbing hills. The Schwinn’s 6 cassette, double crank and my 60 year old legs need something a little newer.

    One of my local Trek stores got a 2012 520 in a couple weeks ago and then this week got a 2012 LHT (someone ordered it). I think I’m going with the LHT because of the slightly better gearing and better hight adjustment for the handle bars. The 520 handlebars are just too low for me and would be too much trouble modifying it.

    Now I’m having a hard time deciding between the LHT and the Disc Trucker!! I’m leaning towards the Disc Trucker for the added braking power….because this Sunday I wrecked my bike on a fast downhill turn and broke my collar bone. So no matter what I get, I won’t be riding it for another 6 weeks. :(

    My only concern with the Disc brakes is repairability out in the middle of nowhere.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on Disc vs. regular brakes?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      May 25, 2012 at 5:47 am

      Uncle Mike,

      Where do you plan on taking your touring bicycle? If you are going to a remote place like South America or Africa, you probably want to get the bike without the disc brakes. But if you are planning to use the bicycle in North America, Europe or Australia, going with disc brakes might be a great way to go.

  29. ishay

    May 18, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Hi
    If i need to choose between Surl LHT and Koga traveller, what would you recommend me ?
    KOGA T – http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bicycles/koga/touring/koga-traveller/burwood/nsw/102080161

    Thanks

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      May 25, 2012 at 5:18 am

      The main difference between these two bikes is that the Surly LHT is made of steel and the Koga Traveller (unless you make a special order for the steel frame) is made of aluminum. And when it comes to long distance bicycle touring, steel is usually better. Steel is strong enough to carry the extra weight you will be carrying and it is flexible, which makes your time on the bicycle that much more comfortable.

  30. Matt

    May 28, 2012 at 8:31 am

    After riding my LHT for a year with progressively heavier loads, I rode Oregon Coast bike trail last summer with 60 pounds of gear, only 35 pounds too many. The bike was supremely comfortable on the 75 mile days.

    I had a tough time balancing my front panniers, which resulted in some wobble at my prime cruising speed. A bit faster or slower, no problem, but the most comfortable cadence brought on the wobble. My solution? Ditch the front bags.

    All in all, the bike was super comfortable to ride. Never a saddle sore n the Brooks B17.

  31. Ishay

    July 15, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Hi,
    I’m in t he process for building my dream touring bike on LHT with Rohloff 500/14 gear hub at the rear and SON 28 dynamo hub at the front.
    I would appreciate recommendation on front and rear panniers, should be really heavy duty, water proof and easy to use.
    I’m going to install chain rings 40 T at the front and 17 T at the rear, it is the recommended combination by Rohloff, anyone has any comments on it?
    I would appreciate any comments on Surly LHT with Rohloff 500/14 gear hub.

  32. Max Rogers

    December 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I own a 54cm Surly LHT that I occasionally tour on when I don’t feel the need to switch an other bike over to a triple. ( I’ve got a fancy 700 long reach brake bike that I run as both a double and a triple). Now here’s what I got to say about the Surly LHT. It’s a tank. And if you, like so many people in the pictures runs large panniers in the rear, you’re going to be able to carry so many things. IMHO that’s dangerous.
    It took me 3 tours totaling over 5500-6000 miles before I could leave things behind. Maybe it took longer. I used to lug all kinds of things around that were unwarranted even though I might not have known it at the time. For a lot of people, including myself, it’s too easy to get carried away with their Surly LHT. I once rode 480 miles on my 54cm Surly LHT with 2.1 Continental Town and Country Tires. It was a silly thing for me to do to my body.
    Finally, since the Surly LHT is a bit of tank, it’s smart to look for smaller bags that are modest, and light tires. It’s also smart to build your own wheels. You can do it!

  33. Pingback: Trek 520 – Touring Bicycle Review

  34. Tim

    May 10, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Hello. THanks for the review. I am looking at a 46cm LHT for my GF. Was just wondering how tall the rider of the 46cm in the photos is?
    My GF is 5foot 6″ and Im worried this will be not her sizing… Sadly my LBS does not have any to try before we buy.
    Thanks. Tim

  35. Agustin

    August 28, 2013 at 11:50 am

    You may not win many races on the LHT, but you will have fun, and get some admiration from MAMILs on carbon-everythings along the way!

    This weekend I rode the Banff Gran Fondo (143 km in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta) and had a blast on the LHT. It’s true that it feels more “at home” when fully loaded, but it does alright naked, too!

  36. Peter Yoong

    September 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Darren

    I read about your recently review on the Go-Motion Pangea with S&S Couplers and I like the idea of able to slip the bicycle to half for easy transporting during flight.
    I got two questions.
    1) What do you think about the Surly Trucker Deluxe (With S&S Couplers)?
    2) Do you think S&S Couplers can hold up for a world tour?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thanks

    Peter Yoong

    • Bicycle Touring Pro

      September 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Peter, I don’t have much of a personal opinion on the Surly Long Haul Trucker because I have never used that bicycle myself on any bicycle tours. I have seen the bike in person and ridden it for just a short distance (around the block, etc), but I don’t really know how it compares to other touring bicycles. Note that this review is not written by me, but by a BicycleTouringPro.com reader. I do know, however, that it is Long Haul Trucker is a very popular touring bicycle (maybe THE most popular touring bike in the world) – but I think this is due more to its low price than to its high quality.

      I know that S&S couplers can work wonderfully on a round-the-world bicycle tour. But can the S&S couplers on the Long Haul Trucker withstand a world tour? I don’t know! I think it will probably depend on where you are planning to do in the world, how long of a bike ride you are talking about, how much gear you are carrying, etc. I would guess that the bike could withstand a trip around the world though. You might need to replace some parts/components along the way, but that is to be expected for any long tour.

  37. Jim

    November 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Wow, surly lovers are everywhere. I own a 2013 disc trucker. If i do go on a long ride (yeah right), i will take off my extra gear and ride the surly. I am not good at deciding whether or not it is heavy. I just ride it and can’t stop. I don’t know if it is comfortable. I enjoy cycling and running. But to address someone else who did not know what to do if he could not repair the disc break. No problem, install an extra rim break, front or back, for back up if you are riding long distance. The frame and fork can take rim breaks. Surly has simply thought of what is practical and what people need. I mean really, how many of us are blood doping and riding in the Tour De France? Yeah right, not I.

  38. Joe a

    February 15, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I have a 2013 surly lht and wanted to comment on the extremely poor brake performance. The stock pads are a joke. Even with new jagwire pads I am still seriously disappointed with the brake system, esp in wet or snowy weather. What sux is that I love every other thing about this bike. Would anyone like to offer a solution to this problem. Wishing I had a disk trucker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>