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Surly Long Haul Trucker conversion to "comfort" bike

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Surly Long Haul Trucker conversion to "comfort" bike

Old 06-09-17, 06:17 PM
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Cyclist759
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Surly Long Haul Trucker conversion to "comfort" bike

Hi, all...this is such a great forum!

I have a Surly Long Haul Trucker, which I bought not because I'm into touring, but because Surly offered such a small frame size (42 cm), as I'm 5 feet tall. So I'm trying to make her more comfortable to ride. I have Nitto Noodle bars, which are more upright and comfy, but I'd like to go to upright bars since drops don't work for me. I'm thinking of a midrise bar with minimal sweep. Albatross and Northroads might not work since I live with large hills and need to stand up at times. Any suggestions on bars?

I switched my new Brooks saddle with a Selle Royal Avenue comfort saddle; and will replace my Panaracer 26 x 1.5 in. tires with 26 x 1.95 in. hybrid tires to cushion my ride. (Max tire clearance is 2.1 in. for the LHT.)

Is a 1.95 in. tire wide enough for comfort? Is the Selle Royal a good choice? Is there anything else I can do to cushion my ride? I'm a recreational rider who wants to ride more, so I hope I can make this transformation work. I've enclosed a pic of her before the saddle switch.

Thanks very much for any help or suggestions you can give.
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Old 06-09-17, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
and will replace my Panaracer 26 x 1.5 in. tires with 26 x 1.95 in. hybrid tires to cushion my ride. (Max tire clearance is 2.1 in. for the LHT.)

Is a 1.95 in. tire wide enough for comfort?
Depending on the tire you choose, 1.95" wide should be plenty wide enough for comfort. I can give you a short personal anecdote. I previously had 26x1.4 Michelin City Protek tires on my '94 steel mountain bike. It rode like a dump truck with those tires -- they're heavy, they have a thick flat protection rib, and they're not very flexible. I had to keep 80 psi in them or more just to hold my weight up (235#). I just didn't like 'em. I swapped them for 26x1.75 Michelin Country Rock tires, which are a smooth-tread tire that are a TON more comfortable than the Proteks. Much of that is due to being able to run them at 40 psi instead of 80, but the sidewalls are also much thinner, the tread is much thinner, and they're about half the weight. This all combines to create a very supple ride compared with the Proteks.

Do try to read reviews of whatever tire you do choose, and take note of comments regarding ride quality. Some tires are just very stiff in general (often cheaper tires), and there can be a vast difference in the ride quality of two tires that are the same nominal size.

Welcome to the forum! I love the idea of converting a LHT to a hybrid/comfort bike. Those are neat frames.
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Old 06-09-17, 08:08 PM
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You can run a fatter tire at lower pressure which will help make it more comfortable. Not cheap but I really like the schwalbe marathon supreme touring 26 x 2.0 tires.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...-supre-26-inch

The problem with going with any flat bar is that your controls (the brifters) won't work. You'll need different levers and shifters.
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Old 06-09-17, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by hokiefyd View Post
Depending on the tire you choose, 1.95" wide should be plenty wide enough for comfort. I can give you a short personal anecdote. I previously had 26x1.4 Michelin City Protek tires on my '94 steel mountain bike. It rode like a dump truck with those tires -- they're heavy, they have a thick flat protection rib, and they're not very flexible. I had to keep 80 psi in them or more just to hold my weight up (235#). I just didn't like 'em. I swapped them for 26x1.75 Michelin Country Rock tires, which are a smooth-tread tire that are a TON more comfortable than the Proteks. Much of that is due to being able to run them at 40 psi instead of 80, but the sidewalls are also much thinner, the tread is much thinner, and they're about half the weight. This all combines to create a very supple ride compared with the Proteks.

Do try to read reviews of whatever tire you do choose, and take note of comments regarding ride quality. Some tires are just very stiff in general (often cheaper tires), and there can be a vast difference in the ride quality of two tires that are the same nominal size.

Welcome to the forum! I love the idea of converting a LHT to a hybrid/comfort bike. Those are neat frames.
Thanks so much for the welcome, hokiefyd! Your experience makes sense. I did just buy some basic hybrid tires to swap out (Schwinn hybrid 1.95 wide) just to see if and how much it would make things better. Now I wonder if I should have gotten Schwalbe Big Apples. But I've put close to $2k into this bike, so before I spend much more $$, I want to be sure it'll work for me. I recently had her for sale on ebay with a lot of interest, but I took the post down because I had to give her one last try. I do love this bike!
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Old 06-09-17, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
You can run a fatter tire at lower pressure which will help make it more comfortable. Not cheap but I really like the schwalbe marathon supreme touring 26 x 2.0 tires.

The problem with going with any flat bar is that your controls (the brifters) won't work. You'll need different levers and shifters.
Yes, I've read about Schwalbe's tires, this one in particular; thanks for the link. And you're right, I'd have to change my whole upper setup, and I want to switch the traditional cantilevers to V-brakes. The canti's never worked well for me, and I learned on this forum that V-brakes could be a better choice. All these changes are contingent on whether swapping the saddle and tires makes a marked difference in comfort. Thanks for your suggestions, bikemig!
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Old 06-10-17, 06:08 AM
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I recently bought a used Trek 750, and was kind of interested in wanting to run cantilever brakes again. After much adjustment with the old pads, and with brand new Shimano pads, I remembered why I converted my old mountain bike from cantilever to V brakes, and I ended up doing the same with this 750. I found a set of silver (to match the other trim on my 750) Tektro Mini-V brakes; I liked these for the low profile they have. I use them with standard V levers (actually, Shimano ST-EF51 brake/shifter combos) and they work great. I'd recommend regular-sized V brake arms (95-105mm usually) for your bike because you'll be using larger volume tires.

The Schwinn 1.95" tires will probably ride well. They're likely made by either Kenda, Innova, Cheng Shin or similar. Are they these:

https://www.amazon.com/Schwinn-Stree.../dp/B0088X3VL6

If so, they may be made by Kenda because they are pretty much a match for the Kenda Komfort tire. Reviews of those note the smooth ride, so I'm sure you'll enjoy them.
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Old 06-10-17, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
So I'm trying to make her more comfortable to ride. I have Nitto Noodle bars, which are more upright and comfy, but I'd like to go to upright bars since drops don't work for me. I'm thinking of a midrise bar with minimal sweep. Albatross and Northroads might not work since I live with large hills and need to stand up at times. Any suggestions on bars?
Some possibilities:

On-One Mary -- 37mm rise, 21mm upsweep, 85mm backsweep (max, on 31.8 bar)

Soma Clarence -- (sizing for 31.8mm variant) 37mm rise, 19deg upsweep, 34deg backsweep, available in 31.8mm and 25.4mm bar clamp sizes.

Humpert Stuttgarter -- various sizes, rises, sweeps. One might suit you, though they tend to be fairly swept back.

NC-17 trekking -- 60mm rise, 16deg upsweep, 32deg backsweep.

FSA Metropolis -- 32mm rise, 21deg upsweep, 46deg backsweep, 31.8mm bar clamp area. I actually have this one on a Trek DS. It's got very little rise, hardly noticeable. The degree of backsweep places the hands at a nicer, more-comfortable orientation for me. Hand position is about as far rearward as the center of the fork area, whereas the previous (factory) flatbar put the hands about 2" further forward. I'm fiddling with bar/hands position right now, so likely I'll be switching to a bar that has another 2" of rise and another 2-3" of backsweep. That ought to do it, for perfect hands position in a comfortable (relaxed) riding position.


... will replace my Panaracer 26 x 1.5 in. tires with 26 x 1.95 in. hybrid tires to cushion my ride. (Max tire clearance is 2.1 in. for the LHT.) Is a 1.95 in. tire wide enough for comfort?
It's a solid bump up in cushioning for you, sure. It'll be noticeably more comfortable, particularly if you inflate them to a "comfort" zone for your size/weight.


Is the Selle Royal a good choice? Is there anything else I can do to cushion my ride? I'm a recreational rider who wants to ride more, so I hope I can make this transformation work. I've enclosed a pic of her before the saddle switch.
Saddles are so very personal, and the fit subjective.

Myself, I prefer a more-upright, slightly forward riding position. Haven't nailed down the saddle perfectly, yet, but I've got a Selle SMP Martin I've been trying out the past 9mos. Lots of different shapes, out there. It'll all come down to your riding position and what shape suits you best.
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Old 06-10-17, 11:38 AM
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hokiefyd: Yes, those are the ones! From the reviews, it looks like they're Innova, and people seem to like them. Fingers crossed! Re: V-brakes...that's exactly why I want to make the switch; thanks for the recommendation. And if the tires work out, I'll probably do the transformation: new bar, brakes, levers, shifters, cables, grips...upward of $400...yikes. I could buy a whole new bike for that amount, so that's why I'm taking baby steps before the plunge!

Clyde1820: Thank you for all those bar suggestions! I'll definitely check them out. And the good thing about Selle is the 120-day comfort guarantee. You could spend a fortune going through saddles trying to find the right one. Selle gives me peace of mind, and they have a few comfort choices.

Thanks to you both for your thoughtful responses. Next week I'll have my LBS install the new tires and see how it goes. :-)
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Old 06-10-17, 01:15 PM
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I'd recommend switching to Origin8 Tikki mustache handlebars... will allow you to keep your road brifter/shifter set and still ride upright. Get the Nitto Albastache mustache bar if you like the feel of Nitto Albastross upswept bars.
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Old 06-10-17, 01:28 PM
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K.I.S.S. is what I've usually relied upon. Drop bars are OK if fit is tweaked. Little bit taller, little bit shorter stem has worked for me. Unless you mean a full on beach cruiser posture.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...itto+technomic
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Old 06-10-17, 01:29 PM
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AE70C2B9-56A1-4D44-A6AC-B28DC363CD7F-5226-000004E0C61FEEFD.jpgAlbatross bars.

Last edited by brianmcg123; 06-10-17 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 06-10-17, 01:42 PM
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Yet another handlebar: Jones h-bar.

H-BAR

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Old 06-10-17, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
And if the tires work out, I'll probably do the transformation: new bar, brakes, levers, shifters, cables, grips...upward of $400...yikes. I could buy a whole new bike for that amount, so that's why I'm taking baby steps before the plunge!
Don't overlook eBay and Craigslist as sources of good used parts. Craigslist is a little hit-or-miss unless you live in a larger market. I bought a set of Tektro Mini-V brakes on eBay for less than $11 delivered to my door. They were used, and cleaned up great. I wanted silver to match the trim color on my bike, and that color is a little hard to find new. And I really didn't want to spend the money that new required.

These are them...less than 11 bucks...great deal!



eBay's a great source because there are so many styles of nearly every part out there, and you can usually find exactly what you want.
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Old 06-10-17, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Yet another handlebar: Jones h-bar.
Those are neat bars, and I find they provide the best comfort with grip shifters rather than triggers. I find that it can be rather difficult/awkward to push the lower trigger paddle on a typical Shimano twin-paddle system (because you're trying to push more sideways than straight forward). Pulling the top paddle back is simple enough, but pushing the lower paddle can be difficult.
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Old 06-10-17, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by hokiefyd View Post
Those are neat bars, and I find they provide the best comfort with grip shifters rather than triggers. I find that it can be rather difficult/awkward to push the lower trigger paddle on a typical Shimano twin-paddle system (because you're trying to push more sideways than straight forward). Pulling the top paddle back is simple enough, but pushing the lower paddle can be difficult.
Yeah I think if I ever got those kind of bars I'd get lever "thumbies" shifters.
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Old 06-10-17, 03:45 PM
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Do a google search for flat bar long haul trucker and you'll get some ideas of what people are using. My 1984 mountain bike is very, very similar to the 26" LHT's and I just run a typical mountain bike bar with about 10 degrees of sweep back and 38mm rise.
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Old 06-11-17, 05:40 PM
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Hi, all, and many thanks again for your great suggestions about bars, V-brakes, tires, and the like. Wow, $11 for V-brakes...what a score! I wish I knew enough about components to buy secondhand. I'll talk to my bike guy about it.

Here's a bar he had me try out in order to get me more upright. Still too much weight on my hands compared to the comfort bikes I've tried, but with cushioned grips, I assume I wouldn't get numb-hands syndrome like I used to with my Trek FX. He's cautioning me away from super-swept-back bars for various reasons, but I do think it's a personal thing. I simply haven't tried enough bars to know what's best and don't have enough shops around to test out some of the nonstandard bars.

I've also test-ridden and like the current Trek Verve and Specialized Roll. But I'm hoping my Surly works out.
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Old 06-11-17, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by brianmcg123 View Post
Attachment 566672Albatross bars.
Is this the blogger Alan's bike? If so, I read about this transformation back when I was researching Surly...beautiful!
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Old 06-11-17, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
Hi, all, and many thanks again for your great suggestions about bars, V-brakes, tires, and the like. Wow, $11 for V-brakes...what a score! I wish I knew enough about components to buy secondhand. I'll talk to my bike guy about it.

Here's a bar he had me try out in order to get me more upright. Still too much weight on my hands compared to the comfort bikes I've tried, but with cushioned grips, I assume I wouldn't get numb-hands syndrome like I used to with my Trek FX. He's cautioning me away from super-swept-back bars for various reasons, but I do think it's a personal thing. I simply haven't tried enough bars to know what's best and don't have enough shops around to test out some of the nonstandard bars.

I've also test-ridden and like the current Trek Verve and Specialized Roll. But I'm hoping my Surly works out.

Those handlebars are hideous.

If you want to raise the height of your handlebars and reduce the reach, then something like the aforementioned albatross bars or these FSA Metropolis bars should easily do the trick and give you conditions that easily match any comfort bike.


You can get your bars higher with a sharply angled stem of 40 degrees and even though the picture I am attaching is of the 130mm model, there are 60mm models that one can get.


Your Surly deserves some quality components to complement it, not some cheap junk.



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Old 06-11-17, 08:26 PM
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Thanks for the info, Col. Sanders. To be fair, neither of us was thrilled with this bar, either, but it was the only one he had unboxed, and it gave me a feel for a higher upright bar on my bike. I'd hoped a more standard riser bar would work (see pics; first is the Nitto Nordeast bar), but I might need to be more upright. Very hard to assess in the abstract.

Would I be able to install rapid-fire shifters on the Metropolis, Northroads, etc., considering the grips would be in a very different position from a straighter bar?
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Old 06-11-17, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
Thanks for the info, Col. Sanders. To be fair, neither of us was thrilled with this bar, either, but it was the only one he had unboxed, and it gave me a feel for a higher upright bar on my bike. I'd hoped a more standard riser bar would work (see pics; first is the Nitto Nordeast bar), but I might need to be more upright. Very hard to assess in the abstract.

Would I be able to install rapid-fire shifters on the Metropolis, Northroads, etc., considering the grips would be in a very different position from a straighter bar?
Not sure about the Northroads, but you should have little difficulty with the Metropolis.


People using the Northroads or Albatross often go with Bar End shifters.
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Old 06-11-17, 09:33 PM
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Yes, I've noticed only bar ends with Northroads and Albatross. Never seen rapid-fire shifters on them; perhaps the angle of hands and fingers makes the trigger awkward to use.

After looking at a number of cool bars, I'm thinking something simple with a moderate rise with a moderate sweep might work. In the absence of hands-on experience, I have to start somewhere, so why not middle of the road?

Thanks again to everyone who offered ideas...this is all so helpful!
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Old 06-12-17, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by velocipedia View Post
Would I be able to install rapid-fire shifters on the Metropolis, Northroads, etc., considering the grips would be in a very different position from a straighter bar?
Sure. I have them, myself. FSA Metropolis bar, rapid-fire type shifters, Ergon GC1 grips. They work very well, in combination.

Can't say if such shifters would be anywhere near as useful on rearward-pointing "English/Dutch" style bars, no matter what grips were installed. But on something with a moderate swept-back profile they should do fine.
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Old 06-12-17, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
Sure. I have them, myself. FSA Metropolis bar, rapid-fire type shifters, Ergon GC1 grips. They work very well, in combination.

Can't say if such shifters would be anywhere near as useful on rearward-pointing "English/Dutch" style bars, no matter what grips were installed. But on something with a moderate swept-back profile they should do fine.
Oh, I'd love to see pix of your setup, if you don't mind...would help me visualize, and I could show my bike guy as well.

I see what you're saying about those shifters not working as well on extremely swept-back bars. And when I'm tackling hills, I'm not sure how easy it would be to stand and pedal vs. more moderate bars. Possibly why Dutch-style bikes/bars are best used on flatter terrain?
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Old 06-12-17, 06:20 AM
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In general, trigger shifters are designed to be mounted "perpendicular" to you, on a straight bar (or one with a very small sweep). The further you rotate a trigger shifter from that intended position, the harder it will become to use. You can understand that if you went all that way back to a "parallel" bar (like with the townie bars above), a trigger shifter would be more or less unusable. Anywhere in the middle will depend on YOUR individual thumb/finger dexterity. For me, personally, a trigger shifter is not usable past about 25 or 30 degrees of sweep (meaning I'd have to use a different shifter for an H-bar or Metropolis bar. But, everybody is different -- it works for @Clyde1820 and it might work for you, too.

On something like a Metropolis bar, I'd probably prefer Sram Gripshift or an indexed thumb shifter.
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