Hello friends, yes, this is the post that all eight of you have been waiting for, the reason(s) why I sold my Surly Long Haul Trucker.
First, let me get two things out of the way:
- Whatever I say below, please note that I’m not saying that an LHT is a bad bike in the least, nor would I discourage anyone from purchasing one if they wanted to do. And I never regretted purchasing one!
- Unfortunately, there’s no “other” bike that is coming into the picture, not just yet. It was more a downsizing of the fleet than “making room” for something else. While I’d love a custom bike, that ain’t in the cards right now.
Ok, so why did I sell it? Why did I get rid of a bike that served me well for 5 1/2 years, a bike that I did a lot to and a lot with?
In short: I didn’t love the Long Haul Trucker anymore.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the story, which is February of 2008. The frame on my then-current touring bike, my Centurion Accordo, had broke. After I got past the initial shock and despair, I realized that I needed to get a new bike. But what? I knew that I loved touring, and the Accordo wasn’t the most appropriate bike for the job (hence the break). It’s hard to imagine now, but back then I wasn’t such a bike geek and all the esoterica that I go ga-ga now would make my eyes glaze over. I just knew this: The Surly Long Haul Trucker was a touring bike, a lot of people liked them, and through my LBS I could even get a frameset for under $300. With that option I could swap over componentry from the Accordo. Sold! The only glitch in the whole setup was while I should’ve gotten a 54cm frame, that year that size was 26″ wheels only, so if I wanted to use the 700C wheelset from the Accordo I would need to go for the 56cm. And being on a budget I did.
The Long Haul Trucker was the best bike I had ever owned up until that point. It could carry the touring loads I needed, and do it comfortably. And I was happy riding it for several years. Up until the summer of 2011. That was the summer of the Big Tour, a four-plus month adventure across the continent. Oh sure, the LHT never let me down, but I got tired of all the crap I was carrying. Now a cross-continent, open-ended trip necessitated the carrying of more crap that I wanted, and it wasn’t like the loads on the bike made mountain climbing that much of a chore than it already was. But a lot of stuff is just a lot of stuff, more things I had to worry about, more things to schlep from bike to hostel or from bike to bus, etc. I was dreaming of the next tour, one with much less crap, and maybe one with a different bike, one that would be more suited for lighter weight touring.
But returning home, one thing kept me from the dream of a new bike: I was broke. So I did the next best thing: I invested some money into the LHT, adding some nice bling, and setting it up for the lighter weight touring that I wanted to do. And this served me happily throughout the spring and summer of 2012. It was my go-to bike for anything that wouldn’t be as practical on a three-speed.
Then other derailleured bikes came into the picture. First, the Crested Butte in the fall of 2012, then not much later, the XO-3 in spring of 2013. Now I didn’t have one go-to derailleured bike, I had choices. And I found myself choosing the LHT less and less. Yes, it was my go-to for anything revolving touring and camping and anything requiring long-distances since the other two bikes hadn’t proven themselves (yet) in that department. But both the Crested Butte and the XO-3 were more fun to ride. And I couldn’t be satisfied with riding the LHT, even when I was riding it! I’d do a camping overnight, like to Willamette Mission in October. The whole time I’d be thinking about a different bike than the one I was on, wondering “How would the XO-3 handle this? What about a custom build?”
Then two things happened: I did the San Juans mini-tour with a very minimal setup. This meant I didn’t need to carry a lot on a tour, so the XO-3 could be capable of the same load. And then I did an overnight to Ainsworth with the Crested Butte and realized, yes, this is a camping bike.
So I had been thinking about selling the Long Haul Trucker for a bit, but maybe in the spring, when it would be a better time to do so. But my move into the new house necessitated more money than I currently had, so I ended up selling it a few weeks ago, and at a loss. Sometimes you have to do things like that.
And I think I made the right move. I held onto the LHT because I didn’t know if the two other bikes were “ready for prime time”, so to speak. But if I needed to replicate a beast of burden, the Crested Butte would be even better than the LHT in some regards, with its beefy tubing and long chainstays. And I knew the XO-3 could handle moderate loads, so when I figured out how to pare down the kit enough that I didn’t need panniers and such, I figured I could make the XO-3 work for touring purposes. Hopefully this decision won’t bite me in the ass!
It wasn’t the easiest decision, to be sure. As I said above, it was my first “really nice” bike and I had loads of adventures on it. So there’s lots of memories tied to it. But I can’t get hung up over that. The Long Haul Trucker was a nice bike, but it’s by no means rare. I could get another one if I really wanted to. But honestly, I came up against the LHT’s limitations: great for hauling stuff, but not a sprightly bike by any means. This was fine when I wanted a pack mule. But my touring style has changed, and I want something different. And now the Long Haul Trucker has found a new loving home.
Your reasoning for selling is very thought out. While LHT owners might send you to the doghouse the basis for selling is very personal and obviously your own decision. I appreciate your honesty – it’s one of the reasons why I follow your blog. As I age I value a lightweight bike more and more. That and lightweight touring gear.
I’m not too worried about raising the ire of the LHT partisans. 😉 And I was definitely a defender, and still would defend. I hated when people would complain about the “unladen” performance of the bike, as it was never intended to be a sprightly steed. But my riding style and preferences changed. If I didn’t have two other derailleured bikes, I might have changed things around yet again on the LHT. But I’d rather keep the other bikes now.
A good story and I understand the desire to pair done the stable a bit. Thanks for sharing. Brick