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Your thoughts about a Surly Long Haul Trucker as an everyday bike/commuter?

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Your thoughts about a Surly Long Haul Trucker as an everyday bike/commuter?

Old 02-25-16, 12:22 AM
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ColonelSanders
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Your thoughts about a Surly Long Haul Trucker as an everyday bike/commuter?

Hello peeps,
In reading various threads on these forums, I’ve obviously seen a lot of stuff said about the Surly LHT, but I would like to have a thread dedicated to it’s suitability as an everyday bike/commuter when it is not loaded up.

How well or poor a choice is it when unloaded?

I often hear people say it is unlively or a bit dead when unloaded, but this is not a universal view and the people saying this may have been 150lbs.

Whilst I hope the responses would prove to be informative for a wide range of people, I do want to state why I am looking hard at getting one and I’m more than happy for people to explain why I may be making a less than optimal choice, considering the below reasons.

My Top 11 Reasons for considering a Surly LHT.

1. I have already bought new 26” wheels designed for rim brakes & 26” tyres & tubes.
2. I will be buying a disc brake 700c bike in a year or two as my n+1
3. I’m currently undergoing a Steel is Real mania that I must indulge
4. I am a very heavy person, 350+ pounds
5. I live in Australia, so many other great bikes in the USA are effectively unavailable to me.
6. I consider the LHT to be the best looking bike in the Surly range and really dislike the drop outs and head tube lengths/looks of other Surly’s.
7. I will ultimately set it up to be a grocery getter.
8. I favour comfort over speed, but dedicated comfort bikes have gone too far in that direction.
9. I will be using a H-Bar Jones Loop as my handlebars
10. I am very much an urban rider, up and down footpaths, rough roads, over grassy fields etc
11. Want to have the option of being able to ride with 2" tyres.

School me.
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Old 02-25-16, 04:52 AM
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Old 02-25-16, 05:16 AM
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Most of the (serious and rational) knocks I have heard about the LHT is that as a basic bike it really isn't that advanced or that refined. it might be super-durable for fully-loaded touring, but for just around-town cruising or trips to the market it might not be as comfortable/compliant/enjoyable as say, a Trek 820 or something (just throwing that out there, no interest in the bike ... pick any tough, steel-framed wide-tire bike from any manufacturer that is deigned for daily riding as opposed to loaded touring.)

If you want a Surly LHT for whatever reason, get it. You can always sell it to someone else who wants one ... it is that kind of market. I expect a Surly to hold value better than most mass-market brands, so less risk to try one.

If you want a steel-framed daily rider/grocery/commuter bike ... I'd look at many brands. As for the weight, no steel frame is going to crumple and fail because of rider weight. Just get really strong wheels and you should be fine.

Not to try to tell you about yourself ... but you seem pretty set on the Surly, and are maybe seeking a little support to quell some minor nervousness. Unless you come across four or five other 350-lbs Surly riders who commute, no one can really tell you what your experience will be.

"Unlivley"? "A bit dead"? Extremely personal perceptions maybe made by people comparing the LHT to a number of other bikes designed to do a number of other things ... and did any of them weigh 350 lbs? "Unloaded" for a 150-lb rider ... fully loaded touring for a 150-lb rider probably means less than 350 lbs all up, rider, bike, and gear.

Also, I don't always trust those kinds of descriptions. I have read so many reviews by bike magazine pro testers which have nothing to do with the riding experience of most riders. What "lively," "snappy," "flexy," compliant" mean to those people probably don't mean anything to me ... i just get on the bike and ride and I am happy.

it is reputedly an extremely durable bike, well suited to what you seem to want it for. Be the guy who takes the plunge and reports back.

Last edited by Maelochs; 02-25-16 at 05:19 AM.
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Old 02-25-16, 08:28 AM
  #4  
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Your biggest concern should be frame, wheel, & axle strength. Make sure whatever bike you get has at least 36 spoke wheels & a heavy duty steel frame. You may want to consider getting wheels that are designed for use on tandem bikes. Good luck & have fun.
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Old 02-25-16, 08:42 AM
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I consider my LHT to be the most well rounded, comfortable, capable, friendly bike I've owned and ridden. Yep, that is a subjective statement, and I'm not listing everything I've owned/ridden over 40 years of bicycling, but that is how I feel about it.

I'm now a middle-aged, somewhat overweight returning cycling enthusiast who has long ago left notions of high performance behind me. I do not need, nor do I want, the latest and the greatest in my bicycle. Instead, I insist on better quality, long-proven technology that is going to withstand the test of time. The component set spec'ed on the LHT is just that, solid gear you can count on to perform well day after day. Run to the store with it, ride the local roads and trails with it (paved or groomed unpaved), or load it to the hilt and cross the country with it. It does all of this, well. It's an ideal general purpose (i.e. multi-purpose) bicycle.

I feel any stock bicycle is a blank canvas awaiting my personal touches, to make it mine. Pedals that serve my needs- check. Out with the stock handlebar system, in with one that serves my ergonomic needs- check. Toss the stock saddle and install a Brooks B67- check. A Topeak rear rack and trunk bag for commuting or day trips, a Racktime front rack and removable basket for those jaunts to the store (or whatever hauling purpose)- check. Upgrade the tires to meet your local conditions and personal tastes. I made the bike my own, I made it suit my needs and my lifestyle. I'm too old to care one bit about someone else saying this bike doesn't compare well to a performance bike, or a mountain bike, or a...

The Long Haul Trucker is just that, built for the long haul. It's got its purpose, and I tweaked it to meet mine even better.

It works for me.

Steve.
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Old 02-25-16, 08:42 AM
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The LHT is a very solid bike. I doubt you will be unhappy with it. I look forward to your review and pics!
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Old 02-25-16, 08:49 AM
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I don't see why not. I considered a full on Touring bike when I was in the market, but ultimately went with something slightly lighter. That said, IMO they are really well made bikes. I wouldn't worry about riding unloaded. At 350 lbs, you are putting more weight on the bike than a 200 lb rider riding fully loaded. Test ride one for yourself, if you can, and make up your own mind.

FWIW, some of the regulars in my local road cycling club ride touring bikes. Despite their reputation as heavy and slow bikes, these riders don't seem to have a problem keeping up. (probably because they ride a lot) Don't recall if any rode long haul truckers, but at least a few rode the venerable Trek 520, which is pretty similar.

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Old 02-25-16, 09:21 AM
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Its rare to hear folks who actually own one complaining about it.
I take most critical assessments of bikes and gear with a grain of salt as much of it seems to be humble bragging rather than actual faults. I'll even go as far as saying some alleged faults can often be advantages for most folks.
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Old 02-25-16, 09:46 AM
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You have listed all the right reasons you should buy one. My good friend, Jon, is a lot like you. He's not looking for fast, he's looking for commuting, comfortable, durable, get-it-done bike. After he bought his LHT, he stopped using any other bike, and I don't think I've ever heard him say a bad thing about his LHT.
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Old 02-25-16, 09:47 AM
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The LHT is a very solid, practical, no-nonsense bike, maybe a bit on the heavy side but a comfy and sturdy ride. Well spec'd from the get-go, and a good all 'rounder, IMO. By far the favorite bike I've ever ridden.
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Old 02-25-16, 09:50 AM
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why not? they're a good quality steel Frame and Fork , lighter than a 60 Schwinn varsity.
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Old 02-25-16, 11:19 AM
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Why not? I use my touring bike as my all rounder. It's a Cannondale T800.

I don't do any loaded touring, so I took the racks off, put some skinnier tires on and swapped the touring gears it came with for a road cassette.

It won't win any races, but who cares? I just ride for fun and commute.

It fits perfect, is comfortable as all get out and I love it.

If you're a JRA type rider, a touring bike is perfect.
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Old 02-25-16, 11:39 AM
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I ride with a guy that uses one as his everyday bike. He's big - probably not as heavy as you, but he's still quite a big guy and he seems to have no problem maintaining a decent pace riding the Surly. I asked him about the bike one day and he said that he bought it after he broke a lighter bike (I'm not sure what he broke, or what bike it was). He's been riding the Surly for several years now and he's certainly happy with it.
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Old 02-25-16, 02:47 PM
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Old 02-25-16, 03:03 PM
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My LHT was a great all around bike. I regularly rode it with me, my son, his seat, and our daily gear. That totals to a mass of about 280 pounds. Though it was dispersed differently than you it handled great in my opinion. I also stopped riding my other bikes once I got it.

I also think it's durable as hell, it didn't survive but it faired pretty well in a horrific accident.

I would get another, maybe a disc trucker.
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Old 02-25-16, 06:35 PM
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The Surly LHT looks like exactly what I'd want in an all-purpose bike *if* I could handle drop bars again. Basically it looks like my old Motobecane Mirage with better components, which was great for everything from daily commutes to occasional amateur intermediate level crits and time trials to 100 mile rides in a day. I'd hope the Surly is a bit lighter, but stable on fast downhills, loaded down, and comfortable would be major factors for me. And I just have a thing for those classic forks.
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Old 02-25-16, 09:50 PM
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I replaced the LHT drop road bar with a Velo Orange Seine bar, flat with a 45 degree back sweep.
Grand Cru Chromoly Seine Bars, Noir - Handlebars - Components
Then I installed a pair of Ergon GC1 grips which are designed for this style of bar. ERGON BIKE ERGONOMICS (2 lenghts- standard and short for twist grip shifters.)
This is a great combination. My hands and wrists are in a very natural position (same position as your relaxed arms/hands hang at your sides), and the flats on either side of the stem are the same as the top flats on a drop road bar. Wrap some tape in this area and you have two good positions on the handlebar.

The Seine bar will require shims for the stem, they are mountain bike bar diameter rather than road bike bar diameter. I prefer proper shims to beer can aluminum for shims. Any bike shop will have them. You need mountain bike brake levers and gear shifters (or downtube shifters), too. The LHT stock Barcon shifters won't work with this bar, nor with the Ergon grips.

I used a similar swept back flat bar but it had a much harder sweep, 70 degrees. My wrists did not like those at all, a very unnatural wrist bend. And it started to make for a very crowded cockpit straddling the top tube at a stop.

A new bike is a blank canvas just waiting to be made your own.

Steve.
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Old 02-25-16, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by steve t. View Post
A new bike is a blank canvas just waiting to be made your own.

Steve.
I like, and agree!

Oh, and post pics of your LHT, please.
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Old 02-25-16, 10:57 PM
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From the way you describe it, a LHT sounds like it is one of the few bikes on the planet that will meet your needs. I've looked longingly at those myself.

Watch out though - that "Steel is Real mania" may last a while. For me it's been over 45 years, and I have no plans to change.
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Old 02-26-16, 01:28 AM
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I'm saving up for one. I commute approx 120+ miles a week. I'm hoping to have mine by June/July
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Old 02-26-16, 02:06 AM
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My best frames ever are still old Schwinns and brazed.

244 lbs. and 5'8", soon to be 50. Wheels are my biggest deal but trueing is $10 here.
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Old 02-26-16, 06:43 AM
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I think an LHT would be ideal for you. Go for it. Post pics when you get it.
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Old 02-27-16, 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
The Surly LHT looks like exactly what I'd want in an all-purpose bike *if* I could handle drop bars again.
I'm likely going to use the Jones H Loop Bar which is swept back 45 degrees, so it should be very different from drop bars.

I'd hope the Surly is a bit lighter, but stable on fast downhills, loaded down, and comfortable would be major factors for me.
In terms of the weight, from what I can see on the interwebs, the Surly LHT seems about the same weight as most other steel bikes.

Even if I went for an aluminium frame or some kind of lighter steel frame, from the frame alone, I doubt that I would save a pound, with 2 pounds being the absolute most.

Originally Posted by ramzilla View Post
Your biggest concern should be frame, wheel, & axle strength. Make sure whatever bike you get has at least 36 spoke wheels & a heavy duty steel frame. You may want to consider getting wheels that are designed for use on tandem bikes. Good luck & have fun.
I gots me some tough 36 spoke wheels just waiting.

Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Most of the (serious and rational) knocks I have heard about the LHT is that as a basic bike it really isn't that advanced or that refined. it might be super-durable for fully-loaded touring, but for just around-town cruising or trips to the market it might not be as comfortable/compliant/enjoyable as say, a Trek 820 or something
If that turned out to be true, I would be very disappointed, but I guess I would have no one to blame but myself.

I have a 1995 Trek 830, but I am hoping that I can tell a difference when I switch to the LHT.

Not to try to tell you about yourself ... but you seem pretty set on the Surly, and are maybe seeking a little support to quell some minor nervousness. Unless you come across four or five other 350-lbs Surly riders who commute, no one can really tell you what your experience will be.

"Unlivley"? "A bit dead"? Extremely personal perceptions maybe made by people comparing the LHT to a number of other bikes designed to do a number of other things ... and did any of them weigh 350 lbs? "Unloaded" for a 150-lb rider ... fully loaded touring for a 150-lb rider probably means less than 350 lbs all up, rider, bike, and gear.

it is reputedly an extremely durable bike, well suited to what you seem to want it for. Be the guy who takes the plunge and reports back.
My concern is that if the tubes are so thick to provide extra strength for a loaded touring situation, that the bike would be very stiff and ride more like aluminium is often castigated for.

I'm hoping those 460mm chainstays offset any ride harshness that the thicker tubing would otherwise cause on a 425ish chainstay bike.

Originally Posted by Jeff Neese View Post
From the way you describe it, a LHT sounds like it is one of the few bikes on the planet that will meet your needs. I've looked longingly at those myself.

Watch out though - that "Steel is Real mania" may last a while. For me it's been over 45 years, and I have no plans to change.
I also like the look of the Thorn Sherpa a lot too, but its higher price over the LHT puts me off a bit.

However if there were people who had experienced both bikes and convincingly stated that for riding around town unloaded the Thorn Sherpa was much better than the LHT, that would probably sway me.
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Old 02-29-16, 01:16 PM
  #24  
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I bought a 2011 Disc Trucker used back in October. When I first read about them and saw them, I was hooked. Even though the little bit of touring I've done has been of the credit card variety, this is the type of bike I've been wanting. I kept the drops, but added interrupter levers. I have changed the stem so that it is shorter and more upright. I sit pretty upright. I'm 66 years old and weigh in at about 240. I do not care how fast it is, just how comfortable it rides and believe me, its comfortable.
I do not think you'll be disappointed. Good luck.
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Old 02-29-16, 03:37 PM
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LHT owner checking in here. I've had mine for about 5 years and it's my most ridden and most versatile bike. It's also the bike I've put the most effort into making 'my own'. As another poster already said; the LHT is a wonderful canvas to modify to your needs.

Mine is set up for touring but I ride it unloaded all the time. It's a heavy bike and it's liberating because I don't worry about adding functional improvements such as fenders and racks... it just adds to the character of the bike.

The 'stiff feel' of the LHT frame is a myth. This has everything to do with tire selection and pressure. One of the great benefits of the LHT frame is that it has ample clearance for large volume tires which can be run at a lower pressure therefore increasing comfort over rough roads.

You mentioned that you're planning another road bike purchase in the future, excellent, make the LHT your 'do it all' bike and then your next bike can be a lightweight. When I switch from riding my LHT to my 'fast' bike it feels like cheating.

As with any bike purchase: fit is the most important aspect so make sure to get that right.

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