Surly Long Haul Trucker

(I first posted this on mtbr in 2008.)

54 Surly Long Haul Trucker with Kenda Nevegal 2.35’s.

For me, an adventure bike needs to be the following things:

- Versatile. I want to be comfortable pedaling for ten hours on asphalt, gravel or dirt, day after day; I want to be able to mount slicks and go on a training ride with the local road club when I’m far from home; I want to be able to ride pretty demanding singletrack; I want to be able to ride with panniers; at home, I want a bike that is decent on full grocery runs. In practice, a bike is probably going to be good at a small number of these things, but I want to be able to do them all and have the bike be at least reasonably up to it.

- Easy to ride. The¬†geometry needs to be such that it doesn’t take much vigilance from me to pilot. There are going to be times when I am at 17,000 feet, bonked, cold, and in the dark. My bike can’t be yet another challenge. The thing is, I also want to be able to go fast on flat paved roads, or twisty road descents. And I want the bike to have good enough manners off-road. And when I’m in really dense urban areas, I want to be able to see traffic and be maneuverable.

- Durable. Basically I don’t want to even think about the fragility of the bike. I’m not totally convinced that an aluminum frame is wrong for adventure touring, but if there is even a slight chance that I’ll need someone to weld the thing while on the road, I don’t want the option excluded. More realistically, if the derailleur hanger or the fork or whatever get bent, I want to just bend them back (within reason).

- Not overly precious or prissy. The bike is going to get roped to the roof of buses and the back of pack mules, clipped to a steel basket for a gorge crossing, or tossed in the bucket of an empty dump truck. I want to be able to shrug off the inevitable dents or nicks. Some airlines still allow you to check the bike unboxed. When it’s an option, I want to be able to do that without caring that it might get scratched.

- Not have cost me a lot. The bike could get lost or stolen, and I don’t want to be devastated. This is going to be relative, of course, but, for me, certainly under US$2000, while under US$1500 would be even better.

- Repairable on the road, all over the world. Stuff is going to break, and I want to be able to substitute and improvise with what is available to me locally until I can have specialized gear shipped.

Given this wish list, I have not found anything better than the LHT.

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Vietnam postcard

[From January 2009.]

This grit swirl hornblow scooter mayhem, haze and heat leaning on French and traditional Mekong architecture, I’m filthy sweat beyond report grinning my way through the transition from Vietnam’s central coast to the greater delta area. Cambodia and Laos on the horizon.