LHT: Impressions After 200 Miles

I’ve now ridden just over 200 miles on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. It’s still too early to render a full verdict, but I can lay down some initial impressions:

  • Though I’d read some poor reviews of the WTB Slickasaurus tires, they haven’t been a problem so far. No flats, and they seem to roll reasonably fast with no handling problems. I’ve ridden them on both pavement and gravel (though I had to let some air out of the tires on gravel to soften the ride a bit).

  • The WTB SST saddle has likewise been trouble-free. Reasonably comfortable, no saddle sores, no numb bits. Granted, my longest ride is still only 30 miles, but so far so good.

  • I’m not terribly happy with the Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes. Yes, they work, but I really have to squeeze the levers hard to get much braking power. I was going down a steep, curvy, and muddy gravel road the other day, and had to ride the brakes all the way down, and if I’d had to really stop — and not just slow down — I’m not sure if I could have. I was squeezing the brakes really firmly as it was, and it was rather wearying. Not sure what the answer here is — get used to it?

  • No mechanical issues at all, other than some normal stretching in the rear derailleur cable, which I’ve been able to fix with the barrel adjusters.

  • The drop handlebars have taken some getting used to. Coming from a flat bar, they just felt weird at first. That feeling has faded as I’ve become acclimated to them, and they’re starting to feel more natural.

  • I may want to add some extra padding to a few key points on the handlebars, though. Even with padded gloves (plus another layer of fleece gloves over the top) I’ve felt the need for some extra cush. Mostly this occurs in two locations — when my hands are in the drops, with my weight near the shifters, and on the hoods, when my weight is on my palms right at the curve of the bars. The problem has improved a bit over time, so this may just be another incidence of acclimation…

  • The bar-end shifters have also taken some getting used to, but I think I’m going to be happy with them. They shift cleanly smoothly, and are easy to access. I like the friction shift on the front derailleur, which lets me tweak out chain rub at the extremes of the cassette.

  • Frame sizing seems good. I rode with a guy who’s very knowledgeable about these things, and he said the bike fit me well, that I appeared comfortable, with good form, and good power. That’s encouraging.

  • I swapped the frame bag for a rack trunk. Since I had the rear rack installed anyway, the trunk was only 5 oz. heavier than the frame bag, and it can hold a lot more, plus allows me to get rid of the fanny pack I was using for my phone and camera. I mounted my safety triangle reflector on the rear of the trunk, which worked out great — it’s in an optimal position, and doesn’t interfere too much with opening and closing the bag. The bag is an older REI Basic Rack Trunk that I picked up last year off eBay.

  • I still want to add fenders. I hate getting snow melt and gravel road mud splattered all over the frame and my legs. Still not sure which fenders I want yet. 60mm width or 45mm? Planet Bike or SKS? Silver or black?

  • Speed — I don’t feel particularly fast on this bike. It rolls well on the flats, but I don’t think it climbs particularly well. How much of that is the bike, and how much of that is my still recovering fitness from having ridden very little for a month? Still too early to really say for sure…

I’m looking forward to riding more, and giving another report, perhaps at 500 miles or so.

DirtBum Written by:

I enjoy riding bicycles all over -- city streets, suburbia, rural roads, gravel roads, dirt roads, rail-trails, and singletrack. I love exploring the countryside and finding the interesting and historical treasures hidden in plain sight. You can follow my rides on Strava.


  1. Jerry Brick
    January 31, 2009

    The bike sounds pretty good! Specialized makes gloves for road bikes that have a gel insert at the lower outside of your palms,that make a nice cushin for your hands when riding in the drops,I have had a pair for years,and love them.

  2. Steve Kettrey
    February 6, 2009

    Have you considered changing brake pads? The stock pads are crap so I switched to Aztecs which have much better feel and stopping power. You can get them at Performance. A lot of people use Kool Stops, too. I`ve always had decent results with Tektro brakes, but their pads–crap.

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