Monday, January 18, 2010

Long Haul Trucker, by Surly

This post is long overdue. The Long Haul Trucker, by Surly/QBP, is a terrific bike, and a terrific value, even though the suggested retail price is $1,100. 

Officially, it's a "touring" bike, meaning it's good at carrying you and all your belongings on a Lewis-and-Clark-style expedition. Unofficially, it's a good jack-of-all-trades bike: reliable transportation, fitness machine, social lubricant, and access to power.

If I didn't know a lot about bikes, I would think, "$1,100? I could get a used car for that." However, if you bought a car for $1,100, you'd probably have to spend another $500 every year to keep it going. At least.

What makes the Long Haul Trucker (LHT) worth $1,100? It's pretty simple: the parts. A bike is worth the sum of its parts, and the parts package on the LHT is about as good as it gets in the off-the-shelf bike world. Here are some highlights:
  • Bar end shifters - these things will save you $300 and several headaches. The popular alternatives are integrated shifter/brake levers. They work fine, but are somewhat fragile (considering they are often the first point of impact in a crash), expensive to replace, and require precise adjustment. Bar-end shifters are extremely durable, are located out of harm's way, aren't nearly as expensive to replace (you won't ever need to replace them anyway), and have a back-up operating mode that can be used if they come out of adjustment. Simply put, this bike would cost $200 more if it had integrated shifter/brake levers, and you'd likely pay even more in the long run.
  • Cantilever brakes - as opposed to linear-pull ("v") brakes. Cantilever brakes are compatible with a wide variety of brake levers, and allow for a wider variety of handlebar options.
  • Lots of practical, quality parts that most people don't think about: one-piece forged seatpost, wide-range cassette (11-34), UN-53 square-taper bottom-bracket, crankset compatible with good quality inexpensive replacement chainrings available pretty much anywhere in the world, Tektro brakes and brake levers, high grade hubs, name-brand stainless spokes, decent tires, etc. Many of these things used to standard on all bikes, but that isn't the case anymore, you have to look close.
  • Stout chrome-moly steel frame, with lots of well-conceived details, in colors like "Truckaccino Tan" and "Hill Street Blue."
  • Finally, a whole bunch of sizes: 42, 46, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, and 62 cm, with two wheel sizes available for the larger sizes (a first, as far as I know, for production bikes).
So that's the deal, and it's a good one, if you can get over buying a bike from a company named after the "surly bike-shop employees" at your local independent bicycle dealer.


For the nerdy kids...

FrameSurly Long Haul Trucker, 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. Main triangle double butted. TIG-welded
ForkSurly Long Haul Trucker, 100% CroMoly, lugged and brazed. 1-1/8" threadless steer tube uncut
Seatpost ClampSurly Stainless, Natural Silver
Shift LeversShimano Bar-end, SL-BS77 9-speed
Front DerailleurShimano Tiagra, FD-4403 triple
Rear DerailleurShimano XT, RD-M761 SGS long cage
CranksetAndel, Forged arms, Silver. Aluminum rings, 110mm BCD, 48-36-26t
Bottom BracketShimano, UN53. 68x110mm
CassetteShimano Deore, CS-HG53. 9-speed. 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30-34t
ChainSRAM, PC971 9-speed
HeadsetRitchey Logic Comp, 1-1/8" threadless, w/ 40mm spacers. Black
StemKalloy, 1-1/8" threadless. Forged. 26.0mm clamp. Silver
HandlebarsPMT, Aluminum. Silver
Handlebar wrapCo-Union Cork Mix, Black
Brake LeversTektro, R200A standard levers on 52-62cm sizes. R100A Small Hand levers on 42-50cm sizes
BrakesTektro Oryx cantilever, #992. Silver
Cable Hanger, frontTektro, #1271A with noodle. Silver
Cable Hanger, rearN/A,
SeatpostKalloy SP-342, 27.2 x 300mm. Silver
SaddleWTB SST, Steel rails. Black
ExtrasClear chainstay protector. Die extruded cables with anti-rattle donuts. Full CPSC reflector kit. Generic owner's manual,
HubsShimano XT, HU-M770. 36h. Silver
SpokesDT Swiss, 14g stainless. Silver
RimsAlex Adventurer, 36h. Black w/ eyelets
TiresWTB Slickasaurus, 26 x 1.5", Black wall. 42-62cm frames
TiresContinental Travel Contact, 700c x 37mm, Black wall. 56-62cm frame


Freewheel said...

Jim of Planetary Gears makes the case for stockpiling LHTs.

Cycle Jerk said...

I wrecked mine on the ice and dented the frame. The LHT can take it.