Category Archives: Surly

What Kind of Person Rides a Surly Long Haul Trucker?

"I heart your bike: " Surly

“I heart your bike: ” Surly

Occasionally I check the statistics page of this blog to find out what searches led people to Chasing Mailboxes.

The most common search terms are for the blog name itself and in a close second “Surly Long Haul Trucker.” Third? “Surly LHT.”

Recently I saw that some people stumbled upon this space via the phrase “What kind of person rides a Surly Long Haul Trucker.”

Indeed. What kind of person does ride a Surly Long Haul Trucker?

I delved into my archives and found at least a partial answer to that question. Lots of people! Touring cyclists, randonneurs, commuters… we really like the Surly LHT.

Me and the Surly on the Mt. Vernon Trail

Me and the Surly on the Mt. Vernon Trail

Surly LHT. Blue Velvet Version

Surly LHT on the commute. Blue Velvet Version

Kristen (in the middle) on a Surly LHT on Adam and Crystal's first day of their cross country tour

Kristen (in the middle) on a Surly LHT out for a bike overnight on Adam and Crystal’s first day of their cross country tour.

Surly Long Haul Trucker!

Surly Long Haul Trucker heading out for a bike tour on the W&OD!

Mike's Truckaccino Surly LHT

Mike’s Truckaccino Surly LHT. Commutes and randonneuring

Surly Bicycles on the W&OD

Surly bicycles on the W&OD. Heading out for a bike touring weekend.

Lane, on the Surly LHT

Lane, on the Surly LHT on a weekend “training” ride

Mike and his Surly on the fleche. I think this is an LHT, but w/ a different fork?

Mike and his Surly on the fleche. I think this is an LHT, but w/ a different fork?

Kirstin on her Surly LHT

Kirstin on her Surly LHT. WABA 50 States Ride


David on a DC Randonneurs Brevet

50 States Ride - Surly LHT

Surly LHT on the WABA 50 States Ride

John and his Surly LHT at the D.C. Randonneurs '12 Populaire

John and his Surly LHT at the DC Randonneurs Glen Echo Populaire


Chris on his Disc Trucker at the Hains Point 100

Jesse's Surly LHT. Sorry I only got it from this angle

Jesse’s Surly LHT at Friday Coffee Club. Sorry I only got it from this angle

Justin and John on Pennsylvania Avenue (Photo by Felkerino)

Justin on the LHT and John with his SOMA on Pennsylvania Avenue, post-Friday Coffee Club, I think (Photo by Felkerino)

Ben and Lane talk Surlys

Ben and Lane talk Surlys.

Felkerino calls the Surly Long Haul Trucker the Schwinn Varsity of our time. Perhaps he’s right.

I really like answering this question “What kind of person rides a Surly LHT.” Do you ride a Surly LHT? How do you use it? Let us know in the comments.

The Perfect Commuter Bike: my Surly Long Haul Trucker

Recently, I took a break from riding my Surly Long Haul Trucker because it was just too dirty to ride. Every time I touched the bike I deposited dirt somewhere on my person. I washed it over the weekend (OK, Felkerino washed it over the weekend) and now it’s too clean to ride.

Surly Long Haul Trucker

In the interim, I dusted off my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket and have been tooling around on it instead. I really like my Bike Friday, but spending the week on the Pocket Rocket made me realize why I hop on my Surly LHT almost every day for my commute.

  • Carrying Capacity

The Surly LHT can really be loaded down. I don’t have a front rack on it, but I do use a small Rickshaw Pipsqueak front bag for my phone and camera. On the rear I affixed a Carradice Pendle for days when I don’t feel like carrying much. This bag is also a home for my lock, tools, spare tube, and patch kit.

For days when I want to carry more and use a pannier, I installed a Nitto Campee rack. That rack is awesome. First, it’s beautiful. Second, I almost always use at least one pannier for commuting and the Nitto rack is so sturdy that I don’t feel the pannier pulling the bike at all.

  • Utility

The Surly’s setup also allows me to make any post-work grocery or shopping runs. I don’t even have to plan them. I suddenly realize the cupboards are bare? No worries! I steer my Surly to the nearest grocery store knowing that it can easily tolerate the weight of groceries.

If I had to suddenly evacuate my home, I’d be hard-pressed to choose any other bike besides the Long Haul Trucker. It carries all the stuff I need without making me feel like I’m going to fall over, and the mountain gearing allows me to pedal steadily without any fear of hurting my knees.

Stocking up with the Surly at the White House Farmers’ Market

  • Tire Width

My Surly is a size 54 and all you Surly LHT owners know what that means. Twenty-six inch wheels (and no toe overlap, yay!).

Originally this bike came stock with 38 millimeter tires, but that seemed a little excessive for urban riding and after they wore out I switched to 32s.

I lapsed into not appreciating 32s until this week, when I was tooling around on 28s. I think I might need to see the dentist from all the jarring bumps I’ve thrown myself over on this week’s commutes.

Wider tires that require lower pressure like those on the Surly allow me to roll easily over almost everything. Pothole? No problem. (OK, I’m being hyperbolic here.) But you know what I mean? It’s just an easier ride in the city with those wider and slightly softer tires.

I also don’t have to worry as much about those cracks in the pavement into which a narrower tire (like the 28s on my Friday) can get stuck. Again, the Surly doesn’t even notice these. There were a couple of times this week where I forgot I was riding 28s and almost lodged my tires and myself into a dangerous spot. I didn’t go down, but I felt the bike herk and jerk out of the little crevasse the tire had fallen into.

  • Aesthetics

I like the look of my Surly. I think it’s a cool color. I like the little detailing on the fork. I like that it’s steel. The decals don’t even bother me, though I could do without the “fatties fit fine” on the chainstays.

My Surly and me

  • Price Point

Nobody wants anything to happen to their bike, especially a bike they love (as I love my Surly). However, the Surly’s price point and availability in bike shops means that I don’t feel too terrible about locking it up in a public area. I would be SUPER HOPPING mad if this bike were to go missing on me, but it is not an irreplaceable heirloom bike.

Second, given that it is not an heirloom, I don’t feel too bad about locking it to a pole or bike rack, leaving it exposed to the elements, and risking a little dinging up of the paint. That said, if the forecast predicts rain I always try to cover my saddle with a plastic bag and I did buy my bike a little sweater/top tube protector from a nice person on Etsy to help keep the dings at bay.

  • Comfort

My Surly fits me perfectly. Remarkably, the stock 54 cm build required no post-purchase alterations, not even in stem length or handlebar width.

I have ridden this ride as far as century distances and I have experienced zero pain. That kind of comfort makes me feel like the bike might actually love me back. (Is that possible? Say it might be possible!) It’s hard not to love a bike that offers this kind of comfort.

There you have it, people. The reasons I think the Surly Long Haul Trucker has treated me right and become my go-to commuter bike. Like I say, I might not be riding it for a while as I would hate for it to get dirty again, but the utility, fit, and ultimate comfort of this bike make it hard for me to not ride it.

What about you? Have a favorite commute bike with a feature I didn’t mention? Inquiring minds (i.e., me) want to know what they are.

Bikes to Like: John R.’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

If you regularly read this blog, you probably know of my great affection for the Surly Long Haul Trucker. My Surly has proven itself to be a comfortable, reliable companion that doesn’t talk too much and will always offer to help carry my stuff.

This past year I met John R., who writes the thoughtful and engaging Porta-John blog, and is also rides a Surly for around-town riding as well as century rides. His bike has a beautiful setup and is in my favorite color Truckachino. Of course, I had to ask him if he’d guest post for me. As you can see, he said yes. Thanks, John!

1. What kind of bike do you have?

I ride a 58cm Surly Long Haul Trucker decked out in the truckaccino color, SKS fenders, a Brooks B17 “Imperial” saddle, Jandd and Nashbar racks, and Acorn Boxy Rando and Medium bags. I bought it in April of 2010 at Ace Wheelworks in Somerville, Massachusetts, as a present to myself for successfully passing the Professional Engineering licensing exam (which I hadn’t actually taken yet – thankfully I passed!).

John and the Surly LHT at the D.C. Randonneurs ’12 Populaire

2. Where do you ride it?

Before I moved to DC in February 2011 I generally rode through the northern suburbs of Boston with occasional commutes to my office (If it wasn’t 46 miles round trip, I would have commuted more!). Over the last year I’ve ridden through DC a lot to explore the rich history and culture of my new home, including exploring new shops, bars and restaurants in different neighborhoods, educational trips to monuments and making new friends along the way.

I also really enjoy riding the Anacostia Tributary Trails and through southern Maryland. With any luck I’ll be able to do a handful of commutes to/from work in Tysons Corner this spring and summer.

The Truckachino Surly Long Haul Trucker

3. What do you like about your bike?

The quality that I most appreciate from my bike is that it serves nearly every function that I can imagine, and does all of them reasonable well. Weekend tours, centuries, riding around town, getting groceries, exercise – it is well equipped to handle all of these things. In fact, since I have had this bike I’ve gone from owning 4 bikes, to 2 (and one is rarely used). Don’t mistake me, I would love to increase the number of bikes I own, but given my limited storage space it is a pleasure to have an all-in-one bike like the Surly.

Another look at the Surly LHT

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?

Fun. This bike allows me to explore, to challenge myself, to spend time with friends, and turn mundane errands into adventures. Who could ask for anything more?

5. Fenders or no fenders and why?

Fenders, though I can count on one hand the actual days that I’ve been riding and needed them.

Editors note: Uh oh. Now you’ve done it!

6. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

I’ve had a lot of great memories, but the one that immediately comes to mind is 4 day, 3 night tour Kate and I rode in the fall of 2010 from Plymouth, MA to Provincetown, MA – along the entire length of Cape Cod. We shared a lot of ups and downs on that ride, hills became mountains under our loaded frames, high heat and not enough water, uncomfortable campsites – but also cold beers and ice creams, seafood dinners, and spending time together motivating each other to keep pushing on and sharing an experience that we won’t forget anytime soon.

7. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

I suppose that my bike is called “the Surly” pretty often, but I wouldn’t consider that a name.

The only bike that I’ve played a part in naming was a Jamis Coda called “Shelby”… named because “Shelby comin’ ’round the mountain” – she sure as heck won’t be comin’ over the mountain!

8. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

My Acorn Boxy Rando Bag. It has space for nearly everything, it looks good, and is well constructed by folks right in the USA.

The delicious Acorn Boxy Rando bag

9. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

“Ride me more.”

Bikes To Like: Pedro Gringo’s Surly Troll

Avid cyclist and stalwart commuter Pedro Gringo is one of my favorite people from the flickrverse. I regularly check in on his two-wheeled activities, which range from power naps and puppy rescues to mountain biking and gear tests.

When I saw his fat bike (see how hip I am saying fat bike?), I knew it would make a great contribution to Bikes to Like. Thanks, Mr. Gringo!

1. What kind of bike do you have?

This bike is a weird one. The frame is a Surly Troll. The fork is from a Surly Pugsley. The rest of the parts come from an assortment of other bikes and boxes of parts that I’ve collected over the years.

The front wheel is from a snow bike with a 26×3.7″ tire. The rear wheel is a single speed hub built on a Downhill mountain bike rim with a 26×3″ tire. It has road bike drop handlebars and is set up with the same dimensions as my road bike with the exception that the handlebars are about 3/4″ higher.

The drivetrain is also an odd mix. It has 2 chainrings up front (20/32T) and there are 4 cogs in back (17-23) and Shimano Ultegra STI levers to do the shifting duties.

Surly Troll at Fountainhead (c) Pedro Gringo

2. Where do you ride it?

It is my townie bike. It is great for liquor store runs. I’ve taken it mountain biking many times and have found that it handles VERY well on rough, rocky trails. It is a bit scary on bigger drop-offs.

I’ve done roadie hill workouts on it. Nothing like hauling a 37 pound bike up a 17% gradient to really get your blood flowing. The gearing isn’t really friendly to doing much of a long ride. Top speed is about 17 miles per hour on the flats if I’m pedaling really fast.

3. What do you like about your bike?

Surly’s description of the Troll model ends with this line, “Build it up, ride it for a while, then reinvent it.” I take that to heart.

This bike has started its life as a drop-bar, fat-tire, snow bike that gets ridden all over the place. Next week it will likely be a fixed-gear commuter with fenders. By spring it will have touring wheels, racks, and fenders on it. It will definitely be pulling a 7′ utility trailer later in the year. It won’t do everything, but it does almost everything I love doing on a daily basis.

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?

Huh? (I know that’s more of a syllable than a word. It is, however, people’s reaction when they see it for the first time.)

The Surly Troll at Patapsco (c) Pedro Gringo

5. Fenders or no fenders and why?

Today? No. No-one makes fenders that will fit it. I have been building a set for a while now by going old school with sheet metal, a hammer, dolly and sand bag to pound out my own fenders for it.

So far I’ve just managed to mangle up a lot of perfectly good sheet metal. When it goes fixie in its next incarnation, I’ve got fenders and mud flaps ready for it.

6. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

Crossing Seneca Creek in 30 degree temps in the middle of January because I’m too stubborn to ride a bridge that was built that ruined my favorite creek crossing.

7. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

Tuna Casserole Surprise. When I was a kid, tuna casserole surprise was made by taking a can of tuna and mixing it with whatever was in the fridge, stirring it up, putting breadcrumbs on top, and shoving it in the oven. 1970′s Americana cuisine at its best… or worst when mustard and raisins got their call to duty. “But you said you liked raisins!”

That describes this bike perfectly. The frame is the can of tuna. The mixture of roadie and mountain bike components came out of the fridge. The fat tires are the raisins and the drop bars are the mustard. My brain is the oven.

This bike is utterly ridiculous and should be horrible to ride. I can’t explain why it is so much fun. It must be experienced to be appreciated.

No road needed when you ride the Surly Troll (c) Pedro Gringo

8. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

It is a tie between the unofficial Lance Armstrong “Livestrong” Truck Nut and the Hello Kitty stickers. Neither serves any purpose except to amuse.

9. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

“Feed me, Seymore!”

10. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

Why? I have no answer for that question. There’s no good reason for this bike to have come into existence. I’m glad it did though. I can’t help but have a huge grin on my face while riding it.

Bikes to Like: Mike B.’s Surly Long Haul Trucker

I am a big fan of the Surly Long Haul Trucker. 

Fellow blogger and cyclist Mike B. owns a Surly LHT in my favorite color, truckaccino. Mike is also a member of the Severna Park Peloton in (guess?) Severna Park, Maryland, and has ridden his Surly for both commuting and brevets. Read on to find out what he had to say about his bike.

Mike and his Surly on the Civil War Tour 200K (c) Felkerino

1. What kind of bike do you have?

Surly Long Haul Trucker 54 cm.

2. Where do you ride it?

I commute to work between Severna Park, Maryland, and the BWI Airport in Linthicum, Maryland. I also ride a lot of weekend miles around the greater Annapolis area with the Severna Park Peloton. In 2010 I completed my R-12  and a few other big rides. Along the way I got to pedal through parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Delaware.

3. What do you like about your bike?

The touring bike geometry is perfect for me. Not pitched quite as far forward as a conventional road bike, it’s quite comfortable for a recovering couch potato like me. It’s capable of carrying my commuting payload (laptop, change of clothes and lunch), accommodates fat tires, it’s simple to maintain with bar-end shifters and cantilever brakes, and it holds up well to my less-than-ideal bike handling skills.

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?


5. Fenders or no fenders?

Gentlemen always ride with fenders.

6. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

Not really, just The Surly.

7. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

My steel thermos; it fits in the bottle cage.  I actually have 2 for cold brevets, but I only use one while commuting. I stop at the coffee shop at Andover Road and West Nursery in Linthicum. It’s at the top of a hill and the highest point in my commute. I fill her up, then enjoy a quick half mile descent to my office. (We don’t speak of the first half mile on the way home.)

8. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

Like most bikes, it has magic healing powers. It’s cured me of chronic fatigue, morbid obesity and sore joints. I honestly believe it’s adding years to my life.

Mike’s Truckaccino Surly LHT

Mike, your bike is awesome! Thanks for the great writeup and I hope to see you on a ride again soon.

Bikes to Like: The Surly Long Haul Trucker

First of all, way to go, rain commuters!  That was quite a rain on the homeward trek, no?  Lightning and everything!

Now, on with the show. As I’ve mentioned, certain bikes on the commute really catch my eye. One of those is the Surly Long Haul Trucker, which I also use as my primary commute machine. Here is a photo of my Surly, parked in front of the you-guess-which monument.

Surly Long Haul Trucker. I love you.

I’m partial to my Surly for a variety of reasons:

  1. It’s a reasonably priced touring bike that comes stock with pretty good components.
  2. The fit is excellent, which means pain-free riding.
  3. It’s steel and I like the Utility Blue color.
  4. It’s great for getting groceries, running errands, or just carrying your junk around.
  5. I’m ready to go on a long journey at a moment’s notice, given the overall sturdiness and carrying capacity of this bike.
  6. It doesn’t talk back.

I like seeing other people out there riding the LHT. It’s very validating!  One of the regular commuters I sometimes intersect with during the week has a newer version of the Long Haul Trucker. I believe it is Surly’s Blue Velvet color for 2010.  I haven’t had a chance to talk with the owner about his bike; I’ve only admired from afar. Here he is on his nice setup.

Surly LHT. Blue Velvet Version

The Keen commuter sandals and the Arkel panniers are two great additions to this commuting system.

It’s true that you don’t need a “special bike” to get around town.  However, it’s great to have a bike where I don’t have to carry my stuff around on my back, and that I can feel comfortable maneuvering in traffic. Thanks, Surly, for having made such a sturdy commuter (and tourer, of course!) with your Long Haul Trucker.