Building a Rivendell-inspired Surly Long Haul Trucker

October 2012

Surly 62cm Long Haul Trucker F&F
Chris King 1 1/8 NoThreadset headset
SKF BAS-600 JIS 110mm Bottom Bracket
Shimano XT M772 Shadow 9sp Rear Mech
Shimano XT M771 Conventional 9sp Front Mech
Shimano HG61 9 Speed Cassette 12-36
Sugino XD-2 175mm Crank, Triple 46x36x24
9 Spd Shimano Dura Ace SL-BS77 Bar End Gear Levers
MKS Sylvan Touring Pedals
SRAM PC 971 Chain 9 Speed
Tektro CR720 Cantilever Brakes + Kool Stop Salmon pads
Shimano BL-R400 brake levers
Tektro Adjustable Front Cantilever Hanger
SRAM Slickwire Brake Cable Kit
Velo Orange 26.0/100mm Threadless Stem, +/-6 Rise
Newbaum Handlebar tape
Nitto Noodle Mod 177 44cm handlebars
Nitto SP72 'Jaguar' seat post
Brooks B-17 Champion Special Honey
Shimano 36H Deore XT (FH/HB T780) hubs on Exal LX17 rims. Wheels built by David C. R. Hunt.
700 x 35C Schwalbe Marathon Supreme folding tyres
SKS P45 Mudguards
Nitto M12 front rack
Wald 137 basket
Carradice Nelson Longflap saddle bag
Velo Orange brass bell

I built this bicycle in my shed. If you are thinking of building a Surly Long Haul Trucker or a Bobish bike, this out-pouring of bike-geekery may be of interest to you.

The Robin Mather
Over the summer, I decided to sell my previous bike because I no longer rode it. It was a custom-built, fixed gear road bike. It was custom in every sense. I built the bike myself in 2004 from carefully selected parts and had the frame and fork made for me by Robin Mather. It was a lovely bike but it was not versatile, nor was it meant to be. However, I no longer commute through London traffic; I no longer want to do circuits around a track, and now living in Lincolnshire, the long, flat roads are as boring as hell on a single speed, fixed gear bike. So I sold it and started accumulating parts for a Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT). I should say that Robin mostly builds very versatile and beautiful bikes, offering a discount to anyone ordering a frame designed to fit racks and mudguards. I think my track-oriented frame was a bit of an exception for him.

Anyway, I chose the LHT because I wanted something much more versatile. I wanted to be able to fit mudguards and racks; I wanted a bike with a larger frame so I wasn't constantly hunched over, to ditch the clipless pedals and ride in any shoes. I wanted to carry luggage and feel relatively self sufficient; I wanted the bike to be ready to ride whatever the weather and whatever clothes and footwear I happened to be wearing. It had to be tough, so I could ride on gravel and dirt, take tyres that were twice the width of what I'd previously been riding and therefore lower pressure and more comfortable. In short, I wanted to be an Unracer.

I've been visiting the Rivendell Bicycle Works website and reading the writing of its owner, Grant Peterson, for a decade, and this time around I have designed a bike based almost entirely on his advice and it's great! By selling my Robin Mather and pulling some cash together, I had a fairly strict budget of £1500 to build my next bike.

Now, were money no question, the frame and fork I really would have liked is the Rivendell Atlantis, but it's three times the price of the LHT and that's before the import fees and VAT (in total, I reckon it would cost about £1700 to have the Atlantis F+F imported to the UK - for that, you could ask Mercian to built a copy). There are no UK resellers of Rivendell bikes as far as I know. Using the Atlantis as my guide, I decided on a Surly LHT. It's a very well regarded frame and fork that is often compared to the Atlantis. It's not a lugged frame, which is a shame, but that's one reason why it's more affordable....