Feeling Surly

My bank called me yesterday. They wanted to confirm that I was still in control of my account since some of the recent acquisitions did not “reflect my normal purchase patterns.” Though their concern was warranted, I still only barely I caught myself before shouting “Well duh, you big dummy! Haven’t you seen my blog!?” Check it out, and don’t forget to bring your extended family and all their friends. Well, fortunately I had enough time on the phone to remember how social interaction… you know… “works” and also how nice the tellers are at First American. (This ad was paid for by First American Bank)

So yeah, I bought the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

1). Irritably sullen or churlish in mood or manner
dour, crotchety, irascible, short-tempered

Any of you who know me will be saying “how fitting,” right about now. And for good reason. The Surly and I share some deep, primordial connection in our inability to endure nonsense, which is honestly one of the aspects which drew me to this bike. Every part on it means business and I’m not talking about that happy, fun, welcoming business you get at your local First American Bank… I’m talking, like… I dunno. If this bike took a spill on the road and I said to it “Hey bike, you’re bleeding,” the Surly would look me straight in the eyes, call upon its best Jesse Ventura impression and growl “I ain’t got time to bleed.” And unlike me, where I am soft and lovably puppy-like beneath my harsh exterior, the LHT is unyielding 4130 chromoly all the way through. It is actually the bike Schwarzenegger used to escape the jungle in the first Predator movie.

 I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to build the bike so, last Monday, I went over to Main Street Bicycles in Carpentersville, cracked the box open and got down to it. But before I talk about that I have to give some credit to the shop. The boys at MSB have already helped me more than they can imagine and I appreciate it. It is a great shop with a warm, welcoming atmosphere, excellent bikes, and a knowledgeable staff. If you are looking to pick up a new ride or just outfit that Huffy with a Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain and some Zipps, well, that’s the place to go. (Both of these are options you could easily afford if you set up your very own checking account with First American Bank!)

Some Assembly Required

Alright, onto the bike. I didn’t take too many pictures since you can learn how to assemble a bike anywhere on the internet. That isn’t to say that people don’t still manage to fuck up… but I’ll keep this pretty brief regardless. A special thanks to Pete at the shop for all the help and encouraging mockery.

Some… More Assembly Required

Surly is the first bike I have unpacked with the fork detached from the frame. That means I had to assemble the headset, measure the steertube overhang, disassemble the headset, chop the overhang off and reassemble the headset again. Since I didn’t photograph any of that process, you can just assume I did it. (I did it!) Otherwise the bike was a pretty typical build. The hubs needed some slight adjustments, the shifting needed a once-over (again, thanks Pete) and the brakes needed to be seated properly. The only other part of the bike that gave me a problem was taping the damn bars. Surly doesn’t loop their shifting cables through the frame like the rest of the civilized world (read “upper class world that can afford to flaunt their Gunnars and the like in front of us peons”), so they come out from underneath the handlebar and, if you do it right, the bar tape. It’s a delicate job and if you botch it, well, all bets are off. People have gotten really hurt because they weren’t careful running their touring cables.

If only Bishop did as good a job…

All frustrations aside, the finished product was well worth it:

Fatties Fit Fine

So why did I go for the LHT? Well, the bike has a history of being a tough son of a bitch that doesn’t take shit from nobody and nothing. Simply put, it lives up to its name and my expectations. It looks good, rides nicely and could probably take a bomb blast (if it hadn’t already defused the bomb, of course. Bikes can do that.). Of course, there is more to it than appearances and impressions. The Surly was definitely the most bike for the price. On top of that, it is what the boys at MSB suggested and that is honestly enough for me any day. Sure, some of the other rides I mentioned in my previous post had better components (disc brakes, for example) or nicer amenities (racks or fenders), but as far as I am concerned each of those bikes needed a part or component upgrade somewhere. Not the Long Haul. The weakest components on this bike are the stem and handlebars (which don’t really matter since a few grams of additional weight isn’t critical in touring) and the brakes. Although the Tektro brakes aren’t ideal, they are still good–definitely enough to stop a loaded bike. Surly did an excellent job of saving money in non-critical components (stem and bars) to present the rider with a bike that is ready to tour right out of the box.

So I am going to start adding polls to the end of my posts. I hope that it will get more people to participate in the blog and, subsequently, in my whole experience. Don’t forget you can comment below!

Thanks for reading,


About disastermarch

My name is Nick and I am going to spend this summer riding across the United States on my bicycle. My tentative route takes me through 11 different states, two countries and totals well over 3000 miles. This blog follows the events leading up to an including this trip.
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4 Responses to Feeling Surly

  1. Peter says:

    You did a fine job on your own. I was just there to make sure you didn’t screw up too bad.

  2. Kurt says:

    “(Both of these are options you could easy afford if you set up your very own checking account with First American Bank!)”
    Literally burst out laughing there.
    Fun update, just food for thought, since you’ll be logging long days, aerobars might be nice to clip on so you have another position as an option so you don’t get stiff in the drops or on the hoods, a bunch of mountain bikers did it when they did the Ride the Divide race…

    And shit, dude, make sure you pack a can of bear mace!

  3. Adam says:

    The link for “hurt” is hilarious.

  4. dad says:

    after reading your blog I can tell you must have had great parents. great job.
    love you. your Dad

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