Finding the perfect Touring Bicycle

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After years of adjustment MTB and following recommendations of legendary touring cyclists, I too have found the manufacturer that will compile my dream touring bike. For this I traveled over a thousand kilometers away. The closest match for adaptation to my expectations, on what a real touring bike should look like, was relatively unknown assembler – Velotraum (2009) in Stuttgart Germany. Let me say that I was already familiar with the latest trends in the development of drives and also have checked Rohllof drive. But too expensive for my budget. A goal was to assemble a bicycle with a conventional drive considering between price – performance.
After measurements and talking on selecting the corresponding components, the 2000€ deal was set. After a month, or so of annoying incidents regarding transport, the package finally arrived to my home. The big box has contained a completely assembled (!) new touring bike. The complete costs where much higher than expected Otherwise, a quality made bike, though “heavy weight ” and with a slight deviation, regarding components, from the agreed, soon became the object of further adjustment. And boy, did I learn?
Due to previously purchased luggage racks, bike has been customized with a front shock absorber. I soon discovered that driving under full load was rather unstable for my constitution-weight, mainly due to the location of the front bags (Tubus Swing). Because I still wanted to keep comfort of front shock absorber and Cane Creek Thudbuster LT. Here the fun part begins. I ordered another front rack Faiv-made in German (high price!). Great stuff! Position of front panniers was still ideal, because it does not scratch the panniers each time when higher-lying obstacles an the road occur. I just had to solve the problem with the amount of luggage that I wasn’t able to reduc to six bags! A real beginner school…

I remembered recommendations of Bicycle Touring legends and began to wonder, why and where the hell did I missed those tips and start compicating. Instructions where logical and adopt generally by many touring cyclists: Keep it simple but strong and durable!
Front suspension would sooner or later succumbed over the total weight! So I ordered a rigid front fork which might solve the problem and of course the replacement. has followed. Bye, bye front shock absorber, bye , bye super front rack Faiv. Most of the equipment replaced was promptly sold further.
Velotraum story has continued in endless combination: Tubus Logo rear and Tubus Ergo and Salsa Cargo front rack. I was able to impose baggage as far as I wanted because everything was very robust. Rear three bags and a tent. Front three bags and a bag with spare parts. Wonderful. The composition may be off for the final testing. What about weight? Huh …I was wondering how to transport the bike, because it was time-consuming disassembling of the front luggage racks. It bothered me as the total weight of the Velotraum bike as well as irreversible and quite unique cable routing modifications carried out. After a few times using fully loaded bike, I realized that my bike geometry also does not fit anymore. Mather affect it newer was! All along I have unfortunately made all things to complicating and weird. Soon I decided to sell all together. Bike has found a new owner and I decided to look for more widely used touring bike and components known in the world as Surly LHT.

Part II

With Velotraum experience, I set about assembling the Touring bike at the very beginning – the correct choice of bike frameis very important!. And Surly frames have everything you need even for a picky rider like me. Since the geometry of the frame used is asimmilar to classic road bikes. All frames have plenty of space for all possible accessories and attachments for mounting the components. All work was done with the help of the guys at Pici Bici. The only disappointment I had experienced was the usefulness of the components I took off from Velotraum frame, thinking that they will fit the new frame LHT. The reason is the diameter of the tubes. As Surly LHT Frame is thinner in diameter, as on Velotraum. (so it is lighter) I hope they have the same durability compared to Velotraum. But forget Velotraum, as the new owner is more pleased as I was and let start the story revealing around Surly LHT.
It was already quite neurotic and disturbing fact on how all special combination of components I have purchased for Velotraum, mounting on Surly LHT- they all where too improvised if not useless!
Most of the components did not fit due to the position of attachment holes, or, mainly because of thickness of the frame tubess. And these facts has pulled together most of the components! So after several months of testing and adjustment, I had to purchaced, again, all vital components. From the former components I managed to keep only Exal rims with DT Swiss hubs and very good ergonomic Seat SQ Lab. So far, all the major components except Shimano XT crank, almost all vital components are from SRAM. But somehow I stilI managed to stick to the original plan. The simplicity and durability of my new touring bike. The SURLY Long Haul Tracker. And after few testing tours I am happy to admit that all the hassle was worth it. The ergonomic and stability of fully loaded bike is perfect. So Leonard lets go peacetraveling.
The list of components.
Frame: Surly Long Haul Trucker 56
Seat: Sqlab 602 Active
Seatpost: Cane Creek Thudbuster ST
Headset: Chris King
Handlebar stem: Scott
Handlebar: Ergotec AHS Comfort.Basic
Brake levers:  Avid
Brakes: Shimano XT
Fenders: SKS Chromoplastic
Kickstand: Pletscher
Rims: Exal
Hubs: DT Swiss 340 & Pitlock
Spokes: Saphim 36
Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Plus
Bottom Brackets: Shimano Zend
Cassette: SRAM X9 – 24-11
Crank: SHIMANO XT 10/44-34-24 & Bash guard­-Driveline
Pedals: MKS Touring Zefal
Chain: Rohloff 9
Front & Rear Derailleur: SRAM X9
Gearshift Levers: SRAM GripShift X0
Carriers: Tubus Carry & Tubus Logo Ti
Bike Bags: Ortlieb, Alpkit
Water bottles: Sigg, Clean Canteen, Camelbag

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