16000km on this brute

Well I just collected my shiny new bike that’s supposed to take me 16000km from Dublin to Beijing. It certainly looks up to the task!  Here she is:


A Surly "Long Haul Trucker" - built to last and certainly not designed with style in mind. Fixie owners look away!

Name is yet undecided!

So why did I choose this particular model?  Certainly not for looks anyway  I’m not particularly fond of the look of the bike,  but that’s not really  important. It’s all about its suitability to long distance touring and carrying heavy loads (Yes, yes,  my J-Lo “Ghetto booty” makes up the bulk of that load).

Firstly,  it’s a steel frame: Steel can be welded easily if it breaks.  Aluminium,  which the original bike was made of can’t be.  Also,  steel is stronger than aluminium,  which is why the tubing is much narrower: you need less steel for the same strength.  Steel is also very durable and ductile so it can absorb the bumps easily.


Slender steel tubing makes for a strong yet light with bike with plenty of space for 3 bottle cages.

Secondly,  the wheels are 26″ in diameter. 26″, or mountain bike wheels, are standard outside of Europe and North America. Most touring bikes come with larger 700 wheels,  which are faster but since they’re not widely available beyond Europe,  spares won’t be widely available.  Also,  shorter spokes are stronger,  and these wheels have lots of them (36 I believe). They appear to be thicker than standard spokes, adding strength too.  The frame comes with handy spoke holders with two spares, although I’ll probably be bringing 10 spares at least.


26" wheels with lots of thick spokes make for a very strong wheel. Perfect for carrying 85kg of me + 40kg of equipment


Spare spokes on handy frame mounts. This bike was built for long distances!

Another great thing about this bike is the long wheelbase.  This makes it more stable and so easier to cycle.  This also has the benefit of preventing my clown feet from striking the pannier bags on the back or the front wheel/fender.

The components on the bike are built with endurance in mind.  The gear shifters are simpler,  older designs. This makes them longer lasting and easier to repair. Also as they’re not integrated with the brake levers like most modern shifters,  replacing them is more straightforward and cheaper. It might take some getting used to not having the gears in the usual place but that’s hardly a big deal. The front shifter isn’t indexed,  which is very rare in my experience. For my purposes this ideal though as it allows more adjustment overall. 


"Old school" gear shifters. Simple, durable, flexible. Deadly.

I was a little concerned about the drop style bars before buying the bike.  My road bike had drops that have little space for different hand positions.  Mark Beaumont suffered terribly with nerve damage on his round the world cycle even with large butterfly bars and I’ve had similar, although much less severe nerve problems from long cycles. The last thing you want is to try fixing a broken spoke or cooking on a camping stove with a numb hand.  I was quite surprised by the bars on the LHT though.  Wide with shallow drops for a relaxed position. The drops are also much longer than the road bike drops meaning more variety in hand positions.

The brakes are simple,  older designs too.  I have a post on balancing brakes on my road bike.  Again,  the road bike is more complex but the LHT’s simple and older style brakes make them easy to maintain,  more durable and long lasting.  The only thing I can fault is their stopping power is much weaker than the original mountain bike,  but that’s the case on the road bike too. Once some rubber gets onto the rims,  they should become grippier.

All in all I’m delighted with the bike.  I have to say a huge thank you to my colleagues in Google for their very generous donation towards the bike.  I couldn’t afford such a fantastically capable piece of kit without your generosity.  Whenever I think of how lucky I am to have gone xxxkm without a puncture/broken spoke/other bike problem I’ll think back to the overwhelming surprise I got at my desk in Dublin.  Thanks guys!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 16000km on this brute

  1. Ronan says:

    Fantastic stuff Stephen, glad you got it sorted. Looking forward to the event next week to raise more money for the great cause

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s