PCS Tour – Bike

Ok, here’s some info on my bike, if you care. But, fair warning, it is boring technical stuff.

I’ll be riding my 2008 Surly Long Haul Trucker, or LHT. The LHT is ubiquitous among the bike touring crowd for being a solid bike that doesn’t break the bank. Lots of people love them, and of course there are some haters out there. They are heavy. But the complete bikes (as opposed to the bare frameset that can be had) are sensibly spec’d with reliable components and reasonable gearing for touring.

I bought the complete bike back in 2008, but I can’t leave my bikes alone. So, the only original components left on the LHT now are the rear wheel, the crank arms, and bottom bracket.

In preparation for this trip I replaced the drivetrain, including a new 12-36 9 speed cassette, 24-36-46 Stronglight chain rings, and a fresh chain. I also went to downtube shifters, which, I think I like.

The 12-36 cassette required some tweaking to the rear derailleur which is rated by Shimano for only a 34T cog. I flipped the B-screw around to better ingage the tang on the derailleur hanger as it has to be adjusted pretty much all the way out so the derailleur doesn’t rub against the 36T cog. Once set it works fine.

12-36 Rear Cassette


I also replaced the stock Tiagra front derailleur with an IRD Alpina triple unit specifically designed for compact triples. I didn’t actually try it, but I think the Tiagra may have had issues with the 36-46 chain rings. It is rated by Shimano for at least a 12T difference in the middle-outer rings, and with only a 10T difference I think the inner cage would have conflicted with the middle ring when shifting to the big ring. 

IRD Alpina Front Derailleur


The point of all the drivetrain changes was to lower the gearing a bit, as there are a lot of long climbs in the Sierras. I like my low gears.

I’ve got Nitto Big racks on the LHT. I think they look nice. I did have to fabricate some brackets to securely mount the front rack where I wanted it, namely lower, and back a bit. I think if I was starting over I would use Tubus racks. They don’t make one with a front platform like the Nitto, but I don’t really need the platform. The Tubus racks aren’t as pretty, but I think they’re a bit lighter and probably more rigid.

One other mod I made is to add a second stem to mount the handlebar bag on. I dislike how high the Ortlieb Bar Bag sits when mounted conventionally. I think the second stem looks goofy, but that’s what it takes to lower the bag.

Goofy 2nd Stem


I like fenders. I have fenders on most of my bikes. I’ve had several different sets of fenders on the LHT. The ones on now are 48 mm wide Velo Orange aluminum units. They were actually 700c fenders, which I spread slightly to fit them to the 26″ profile, making them about 52mm wide now. They work well with Schwalbe 26X1.75 tires. I’ve since switched to Compass Slumgullion Pass tires, which are also listed at 26X1.75, but are notably smaller. Therefore I have even extra clearance to the fenders, which is a good thing. The Slumgullions are more than 1-1/2 lbs lighter than the Schwalbe Marathons, and they’re very supple, giving a nice plush ride. They won’t be as flat resistant as the Marathons, so we’ll see how they work. I don’t generally have issues with flats, and run Compass tires on my other road bikes with great results.

I built a new front wheel using a Shimano Dynamo Hub (DH-3N72) that generates power for a Schmidt EDelux headlight and a Sinewave Reactor USB charger. I got a good deal on the EDelux headlight, as they now have a newer, better version out. But I’ve rode quite a bit on my randonneuring bike with the old model and it is more than adequate. After much internal debate I bit the bullet and spent $220 on the Sinewave charger. It fits into the steerer tube and replaces the stem cap so that it is barely noticeable. Anyway, pretty slick and it appears to work well. It will keep my iPhone charged, as well as a small USB battery I can use to top off my iPad when I don’t have access to power.

Shimano DH-3N72 Dynamo Hub


The bike as pictured below (but with the Slumgullion tires) including the small seat bag (tube, tools, and patch kit), pump, racks, water bottle cages, lights, etc., weighs 36 lbs. A beast for sure. But I’m not in a hurry. In fact the more the thing weighs the less distance I need to cover to justify the next meal, right?

2 thoughts on “PCS Tour – Bike

  1. Ted, I don’t like your bike at all, I LOVE IT!!!!! Lots of thought into the preparation. Narciso

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