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Retro-modern Surly Traveler's Check - build recommendations?

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Retro-modern Surly Traveler's Check - build recommendations?

Old 05-08-12, 04:45 PM
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Retro-modern Surly Traveler's Check - build recommendations?

Update: round one of the build is complete. It still needs the front rack w/ headlights in place, and I would like to swap the stem & spacers out for something more graceful and silver once I have the fit totally dialed in.

I'm running 48-36-30 in the front and 11-34 in the back. I will probably swap out the vintage RD & FD for a modern Deore XT so that I can go down to a 26 granny though, as I found it a bit more challenging to hump this thing up steep hills while loaded than my LHT. Otherwise, it handled pretty well this past weekend and I'm looking forward to actually touring on it.





hi there - i'm new to this sub-forum but not Bikeforums or touring in general. I got a Surly Long Haul Trucker last spring and took it on a couple short and medium-length tours (250-500 miles). It's a great bike that is perfect for hauling heavy loads long distances. But I felt it was a bit sluggish (it's the 26" wheeled version), and also discovered that I like "credit card" touring more than camping outdoors, especially on longer trips. So this spring I bought a lightly-used Traveler's Check (Surly Crosscheck with S&S couplers) and decided to switch it up and see if I prefer touring on a 700c bike with tighter geometry.

Right now I'm thinking through the build, especially the drive train. I'm a mechanic at the Time's Up co-op in Brooklyn, so I've been wrenching for a couple of years now, with a preference for vintage components and friction shifting. I've been wanting to build the Traveler's Check with a retro-modern flavor, using a mix of vintage and modern parts. My main concern is that I have a reliable set up that will handle the stresses of touring as well as being disassembled and reassembled when I travel with the bike.

I'm thinking:
- Velo-Orange Grand Cru 50.4 crankset (46/30)
- Huret Jubilee front & rear derailleurs (long cage touring rear, 28T cog max)
- Dia-Compe silver shifters (bar end)
- 9 speed Shimano HG80 cassette 11-28

A few issues here though:
- I'm concerned that the Huret derailleurs may not be sturdy enough
- Is a 28T max rear cog too small for touring?
- The VO crank is 46/30, supposedly equal to a triple in range. Does that hold true for touring as well?

As a vintage alternative to the Huret derailleurs, I've been looking at a set of NOS Shimano "Deer Head" Deore m700 series front and rear derailleurs. I also have a Huret DuoPar Eco in the parts box that I could throw on there.

Also on my mind - racks. I was planning on putting a Nitto Campee rack on the front and something similar on the back so that I can carry front & rear panniers and a handlebar bag. However, when I travel with the bike, I suppose I'll have to remove the racks. Any suggestions on more compact racks that pack down flat?

sorry for the tons of questions! I've done some searches already and a lot of reading, but hopefully these questions aren't too over-asked.
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Last edited by Catnap; 07-11-12 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 05-08-12, 04:49 PM
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I'd be concerned about the Huret Jubilee derailleurs as well and I'd go with the Shimano derailleurs. Suntour would go nicely with your bar end friction shifters and would be my first choice. Insofar as the gearing is concerned, you are the best judge of what you need. Still for a lightly loaded bike, a 30 front running on a 28 in the rear seems pretty low.
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Old 05-08-12, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
I'd be concerned about the Huret Jubilee derailleurs as well and I'd go with the Shimano derailleurs. Suntour would go nicely with your bar end friction shifters and would be my first choice. Insofar as the gearing is concerned, you are the best judge of what you need. Still for a lightly loaded bike, a 30 front running on a 28 in the rear seems pretty low.
I kind of agree about the Jubilee, after all, anything that pretty can't possibly hold up well. I've actually heard pretty good things about their durability and performance, although larger cogs might pose a problem. If I had the Jubilee, I would try the 28, and if the shifting wasn't up to snuff, adjust the gearing around the derailer, because they are just that cool.

If you find that the 28 doesn't give you enough range, or that the Jubilee (sadly) doesn't work well with it, than the Duo-Par should allow you to run a much larger cassette. It can handle 34 teeth without a problem.
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Old 05-08-12, 07:15 PM
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Where did you ever find the long arm version of the Jubilee!? Quite rare!
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Old 05-08-12, 08:06 PM
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I spent a while watching eBay, slowly piecing together a group intended for a vintage French randonneur bike restoration. Finding a suitable frame turned out to be harder to acquire than the components. When the Traveler's Check popped up, it seemed like a more sensible choice. Which is also why I'm sort of re-thinking the build in general.

If you're looking for a long-cage Jubilee, there's one complete with front derailleur and shifters on eBay right now.

Be warned - Jubilee rear derailleurs won't mount on the common Shimano / Campagnolo-style derailleur hanger (they are compatible with a rare Huret drop-out; arghh). You need a special adapter that is rarer than hen's teeth. I'm going to have to make one from scratch if I want to put the Jubilee on the Traveler's Check. The Duopar is "plan B" if that doesn't work out.


what's everyone's thoughts on going with 46/30 up front versus a more traditional 48/36/28?
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Old 05-08-12, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Catnap
what's everyone's thoughts on going with 46/30 up front versus a more traditional 48/36/28?
I wouldn't worry about it. I rarely spend much time on the big ring when loaded.
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Old 05-08-12, 08:38 PM
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If you're credit card touring why would you need a Nitto Campee rack front and rear, you won't be carrying that much. I'd think a large Carradice saddle bag in back and Marks rack with a Rando or handlebar bag would suffice.
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Old 05-09-12, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by fuzz2050
I kind of agree about the Jubilee, after all, anything that pretty can't possibly hold up well. I've actually heard pretty good things about their durability and performance,
They suck. Shimano's cheapest plastic stuff from a bike from Wal-Mart works as well or better. Every thing else is better. They're pretty, sure, but how much time do you spend looking at your rear derailler (answer: if it's Huret, a lot!) They may have been the best available in 1974, but it hasn't been 1974 in a long time.

There is, though, a version that fits on campy hangers. Whether there are any left, or if they've all overshifted and killed their owners by now, I don't know.
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Old 05-09-12, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by dscheidt
They suck. Shimano's cheapest plastic stuff from a bike from Wal-Mart works as well or better. Every thing else is better. They're pretty, sure, but how much time do you spend looking at your rear derailler (answer: if it's Huret, a lot!) They may have been the best available in 1974, but it hasn't been 1974 in a long time.

There is, though, a version that fits on campy hangers. Whether there are any left, or if they've all overshifted and killed their owners by now, I don't know.
I didn't realize that Huret derailleurs killed of their owners. Dang, that's what happened to all that old French vintage stuff . . . . . And I thought old bike parts just wore out over time or died of neglect.
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Old 05-09-12, 09:10 AM
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I have a surly travelers check.



I find having DOWNTUBE shifters makes it easier to couple and uncouple the bike and put it in the suitcase, especially if you run old school straddle cables. drop the cables, unbolt the stem face plate, the seatpost bolt for the rear cable hanger, and the Hbars are free to be taken off without any monkey business.



I went with this method vs. the cable splitters for the shifters. sufficiently retro. It also allows for very easy handlebar swaps if your riding more offroad and want an upright Hbar.....
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Old 05-09-12, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Catnap
Any suggestions on more compact racks that pack down flat?
Tubus Duo (front) packs flat and fits surly forks fine if you get the spacers right. Salsa Down Under uses a similar mount method, but isn't as pretty (comes in silver, though).

Racktime Foldit is a foldable rear rack. This comes at a bit of a weight restriction, but most loads should be fine.

Salsa minimalist is a packable, front/rear interchangeable rack but it's not rated for touring loads, iirc. Great for commute though; relatively light, too.

Freeload (rear) rack system is pretty packable and sturdy enough. Looks weird though.
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Old 05-09-12, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Catnap
what's everyone's thoughts on going with 46/30 up front versus a more traditional 48/36/28?
It depends on a lot of factors I guess, but I have had some good success with a somewhat similar setup. I went with a 39/26 and an 12-28 cluster for my last tour. That yielded a high of 87.8 and a low of 25.1. It worked out very well for a tour from San Diego to Sarasota. I was packed for cooking and camping, but going extremely light (14 pounds of gear and panniers). Not sure how much a heavier load would impact it's suitability.

The bike I plan to use on my next tour (Colorado Rockies) has a 42/26 paired with a 13-28. That will give a high of 85.2 and a low of 24.5. I won't be surprised if I have to walk in some places.

I think my success with the more limited range of ratios is probably is due to some extent to the lighter packing style, but I have not and don't intend to try it with much heavier loads..
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Old 05-09-12, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
I have a surly travelers check.



I find having DOWNTUBE shifters makes it easier to couple and uncouple the bike and put it in the suitcase, especially if you run old school straddle cables. drop the cables, unbolt the stem face plate, the seatpost bolt for the rear cable hanger, and the Hbars are free to be taken off without any monkey business.



I went with this method vs. the cable splitters for the shifters. sufficiently retro. It also allows for very easy handlebar swaps if your riding more offroad and want an upright Hbar.....

Great suggestion on the DT shifters! most of my daily riders have DT shifters, so I'm comfortable with them. bar-ends are cool, but I get annoyed by their habit of bumping my knees or being nudged out of gear when the bike parked.

nice photos as well - your build is very no-nonsense but retro, i like it!
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Old 07-11-12, 09:47 AM
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So I finished the build last week, or at least the first iteration of it. See first post for pics.

Quick specs:
- 2010 Surly Traveler's Check w/ Soma Classic Curve chrome fork
- Velo Orange Grand Cru 50.4 crankset, 48-36-30
- Shimano M700 "Deerhead" front and rear derailleurs
- Suntour Command shifters, modified to friction shifting.
- handbuilt wheelset, Alex Adventurer 700c rims, Shimano 105 9-speed rear hub and Shutter Precision hub dynamo up front. 11-34 Shimano Deore cassette
- Schwalbe Marathon 700x40 tires
- TRP RRL-SR aero brake levers, Origin8 Pro force cantilever brakes, LOOK ergostem
- Gilles Berthoud "Aspin" touring saddle and leather handlebar wrap
- Racktime rear rack
- Honjo fenders
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Old 07-11-12, 10:03 AM
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hauling stuff up mountains, a 24t 'granny' in stainless steel,
has worked well for a Long time..
48-36-24.. granny half the tooth count of the big ring..
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Old 07-12-12, 03:20 PM
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$.02 the 48t chainring is useless given that you'll rarely use the top two gears and everything below the 48/15 gear is duplicated on the middle 36t chainring. That's the problem with wide range cassettes that start with 11t cog.
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Old 07-12-12, 07:28 PM
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I got off the derailleur bandwagon at 7.. M730 crank 24,40, 50..
liked it so well i got Campag's race triple for my road bike. same combination..
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