The Custom Long Haul Trucker is (Basically) Done

Here’s a photo of the custom Surly Long Haul Trucker I’ve been working on. I don’t really consider it to be finished (lacking fenders & a bell and I am probably going to change the stem) but it’s rideable and I have been riding it for several weeks now.

I chose a touring bike for bicycle number 3 (see my other bikes here and here) because I want to do more bike camping and because I don’t care about being the fastest kid on the bike path. I also tend to haul a lot of stuff around with me. All of my purses are big enough to fit my large U-lock, which has been the case since before I biked everywhere and carried said U-lock in them. A bike that doesn’t squirm under 35 lbs of groceries/camping gear/potluck libations makes a lot of sense for me.

I decided that I wanted to buy a steel frame and build it myself, which I did with the help of Sunrise Cyclery and Grease Rag Ride and Wrench. The original idea was to find used parts and build this thing inexpensively. However, I’ve been working long hours for a while now, and it turned out that I didn’t have time to dig through used parts bins. It took me a long time just to decide what I wanted and to install all the parts.  In the end the handlebars are used and the tires were a swap, but everything else is new.

After test-riding a stock build LHT at Sunrise, I found a like-new frame in my size on Craig’s List that had previously been an REI test ride bike. Even better, it’s Surly’s blue velvet color, which was discontinued after 2010. Blue is my favorite color. It was meant to be.


I have mixed feelings about doing the custom build. Almost everything on this bike is a completely different system than my vintage Schwinn. This means that I learned a lot of new bike mechanic stuff, which will make me a more effective volunteer for Grease Rag. It also means that the build itself was painfully slow because I needed lots of help and redid a few things. Many thanks to those who patiently coached me through this process.

There was no true “new bike day,” but there was a day when I gave up trying to install the fenders I had ordered, wrapped the bars quickly, and rode it home (I managed to order fenders too fat for the “fatties fit fine” fork. Dang. They will fit on my mountain bike, though, and it needs them.)

I mostly followed the lead of the stock components, with a few deviations. I’ll be writing more about individual components as I get a chance to really try them out. Picking things out for a new build was an interesting process. I’ve replaced and upgraded plenty of bike parts before, but with a familiar bike there’s a point for comparison. Still so much to learn about bike components.

A partial parts list, for those who care about such things:
– Handbuilt (by moi, with coaching by Jamie at Sunrise) 26″ wheels with Suntour rims and Shimano Deore hubs
– Cane Creek SCR-5C brake levers (compact version for smaller hands)
– Tektro Oryx cantilever breaks (at the recommendation of my LBS)
– my old Selle Royal saddle from the Schwinn (I ordered a different women’s specific touring saddle, but it was not a good fit for my body and was returned)
– Ergon PC2 platform pedals

I topped off a utilitarian ride with a little bit of pretty – celeste (aqua) bar tape capped with blue and yellow electrical tape and matching cable housing and water bottle cages.

For now, my most exciting rides have been taking the long way to the grocery store. These photos were taken during a pit stop at Theodore Wirth Park en route to Trader Joe’s. I just finished a big project at work, though, and am hoping to do more riding (and blogging) in the near future.

I still can’t quite think of this thing as “done,” but then again, once one starts tinkering, when is a bike ever done?


6 comments on “The Custom Long Haul Trucker is (Basically) Done

  1. […] for the idea of biking to Winona, where my brother and a good friend live. Once the custom build Long Haul Trucker neared completion, the reality of what I had done set in. I built myself a bike with 27 gears, the […]

  2. Great bike you have there.. there’s no word ‘done’ in terms of bike upgrading.. 🙂 have you got any tweet I can follow?

  3. I ran across your blog in a Google search and am really enjoying reading your posts! How do you like your Ergon pedals? I’m looking at exchanged my road bike’s Eggbeater pedals to a flat pedal and ran across the Ergon as an option.

    • Thanks for your note and the reminder that I need to write a full review of the Ergon pedals! In short: I like them but they are heavy. If you count ounces, these are not for you. The curved surface cradles my foot, which feels more supported with these than with other platform pedals. The grip tape surface is grippy enough for most shoes, but I haven’t found any bike pedals that let me confidently wear slick soled shoes, which is too bad, because I’ve got some loafers I’d love to bike in.

  4. […] I comfy? Yes, mostly. I was riding my touring bike, not my winter bike, because the roads were dry (my winter bike is much slower and less efficient, […]

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