I had never been a big biker before Evan and I undertook this massive trip around China, so I don’t have a lifetime of bikes with which to compare the Surly Long Haul Trucker. Still, I did just ride nearly 17,000km on an LHT, so I thought it might be worth writing a review of the experience.
Evan and I both bought LHTs because they were the most well-reviewed bikes in our price range (around $1,100). I think that’s probably still true. Still, there were a couple things that needed to be switched out immediately, namely, the saddle, pedals and tires. At the suggestion of the guy who sold me the bike, I also switched out the crank and headset. My replacements and additions were:
- Shimano Deore crank
- Chris King NoThreadSet headset
- Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires
- Shimano PD-A530 pedals
- Brooks B17 Imperial saddle
The frame: The Surly Long Haul Trucker itself (a.k.a. the frame) held up like a champ. Over nearly 17,000 km, we rode through some pretty rough terrain — dirt roads, rocky roads, washed-out dirt roads, seemingly endless stretches of cobblestones that felt like they would shake me apart at the joints, etc. I would never have felt comfortable or confident riding on this sort of stuff with an aluminum frame simply because a cracked frame would mean an immediate end to the trip. I still have my doubts as to whether taking a busted steel bike frame to the village welder would result in a rideable bike anyway, but the thought that it was possible in theory did wonders for my peace of mind.