In 2007 I replaced my Trek 520 touring bicycle with a Surly Long Haul trucker after discovering that the headtube had ovalized on my old touring bicycle. Within a month of the purchase I left on a fully loaded, self-contained tour tour around Lake Superior from my home in London. That thirty-seven day tour covered 3,677 km allowing me to write a review based on my extended time riding this bike,
My Surly Long Haul Trucker started out as a simple frame replacement. Most of the parts originally came from my old Trek 520. Parts transferred included my Look adjustable stem, my mountain bike gearing and my racks.
The first new piece of equipment I needed to purchase for my Surly Long Haul trucker were new wheels. The frame size I purchased required 26 inch wheels instead of the 700C wheels that I had used with the Trek 520. A set of double-walled rims were purchased. A new set of Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 2.0 tires were installed on the rims.
While having the wheels built I also decided to purchase what I thought would be a luxury item. As a result of toying with the idea of randoneuring for years I had heard about the SON dynamo hub. I had the front wheel built using one of these for the front hub. Combined with an LED light I now had the ability to run lights constantly similar to what a motorcycle does and if I needed to ride once darkness fell then I had a good lighting system to do so without needing to worry about batteries.
My Surly Long Haul trucker was also fitted out with a wider Brooks B67 saddle. When touring I prefer to ride relatively upright so that I can really enjoy the scenery that surrounds me. The upright position seems to mean that a wider saddle provides much more comfort.
As part of the mountain bike gearing the bike was equipped with the special Sheldon Brown Cyclotourist rear cassette. This allowed each gear to be about the same distance apart in terms of percentage change providing me with the ability to smoothly change to a slightly higher or lower gear as conditions warranted.
My initial impression riding the Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bicycle was that it felt slow. Comparing the feeling to the properly setup bicycle computer showed that the speed was actually quite good. During those times when I was riding with friends before the tour the speed seemed to be respectable and similar to other rides on the same routes. I believe that my positioning on the bike led to me having a different sense of speed.
During my tour I rode down one hill at 79 km/hr. In actual fact I was going even faster since my bicycle computer seemed to lose it's ability to track my speed beyond that point. No speed wobbles or other dangerous sensations were experienced. It just seemed like the bike continued to ride smoothly.
In the past riding my Trek 520 it always seemed like my body would have to adjust to the bike during the first few days. During that time it wasn't uncommon to experience some knee pain, a sore butt or aching shoulders. The Surly Long Haul Trucker seemed to suit my body alot better. The fit felt natural as soon as I started riding the bike and remained that way even thirty-seven days into the tour. This finding was important to me because feeling comfortable day after day makes a real difference during a long bicycle tour.
Another difference between the Trek 520 and the Surly Long Haul Trucker concerns the difference in riding unloaded versus riding loaded. With the Trek 520 it always felt like the bike became much more responsive and less flexible when loaded up. It was very much like loading the bike allowed me to experience its sweet spot. By contrast the Surly Long Haul Trucker seemed to ride the same regardless of the amount of weight loaded on the bike.
Absolutely! After riding thirty-seven days without pain or problems the Surly Long Haul Trucker will remain my primary touring bicycle. It carries a load well and has the ability to act as a great commutting bicycle. The name "Long Haul Trucker" suits the bicycle extremely well because you really do feel that this is a bike that could take you anywhere!
Tell A Friend about this page!
Copyright © 2004 - 2011James Noble All rights reserved.