Finding the perfect Touring Bicycle

From Velotraum Cross Crmo Ex to Surly Long Haul Trucker

Velotraum Cross Crmo Ex

After years of adjustments on my Giant ATX MTB and following recommendations of legendary Touring Cyclists, I have found the German manufacturer, who will assemble my dream touring bike. The closest match for adaptation to my expectations, about what a touring bike should look like, was Velotraum (2009) in Stuttgart, Germany. I was quite familiar with the latest trends in the development of drives and at Velotraum I have checked the Rohloff speedhub. A technical master peace, but it is too expensive for my budget. My goal was to assemble a bicycle with a conventional drive, considering between price – performance. After “Anpassung mit der Messmaschine“,  measurements and the agreement on on selecting the corresponding components, the 2000€ deal was set. After a month, or so of annoying incidents regarding expensive transport, the package finally arrived. The big box has contained almost completely assembled(!) Velotraum touring bicycle. The complete costs where much higher than expected,  otherwise a quality made bike, though “heavyweight ”. A slight deviation, regarding components, soon became the object of further adjustments. And boy, did I learn!

Due to previously purchased front rack Tubus Swing, the bike has been customized with the 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. I still wanted to keep the comfort of a front shock absorber and  Cane Creek Thudbuster LT. Here the fun part begins. I ordered another front rack for suspension fork Faiv Hoogar – made in German (high price!). Great stuff! The position of front panniers is ideal because it does not scratch the panniers each time when higher-lying obstacles occur on the road. I just had to solve the problem with reducing the luggage to six bags!  The recommendations of Bicycle Touring legends where logical and adopt generally by many touring cyclists: Keep it simple, but strong and durable! Front suspension sooner or later will be succumbed to the total weight! Replacement of front shock absorber to the rigid front might solve the problem. I sold the super front rack Faiv Hoogar. Most of the equipment replaced was promptly sold. The Velotraum dreams have 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. Three bags and a tent- rear, three bags, and a bag with spare parts – front. Wonderful. The composition may be off for the final testing. After a few times cycling with a fully loaded bike, the total weight of the Velotraum bike, transportation and time-consuming disassembling was so stressful. I realized that my bike geometry also does not fit anymore. Mather affect it never was!  All along I have made things to complicating and weird. Irreversible and quite unique cable routing modifications carried out was leading to crack on the frame. It took me awhile to reorder my thinking deciding to look for more widely used touring bike known as Surly LHT.

Surly Long Haul Trucker

With Velotraum experience, I set about assembling the Touring bike at the very beginning – the correct choice of bike frame was very important for me. Surly frames have everything, even for a picky rider like me. The geometry of the frame used is similar to classic road bikes. The frame has plenty of space for all possible accessories and attachments for mounting the components. The assembling 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 quite disappointing, how the major part of components, purchased for Velotraum, prove to be useless on Surly Long Haul Trucker.

Most of the components did not fit due to the position of attachment holes, or, mainly because of the thickness of the frame tubes. And these facts have pulled together most of the components! So after advice and testing, I had to purchase, all vital components, again. From the former components, I managed to keep only Exal rims with DT Swiss hubs and very good ergonomic Seat SQ Lab. All the major components, except Shimano XT crank, are from SRAM. I still managed to stick to the original plan – the simplicity and durability of my new touring bike. The SURLY Long Haul Tracker. And after Bike fitting at Cycling Science and Tour the Slovenia testing tour, I am happy to admit that all the hassle was worth it. The ergonomic and stability of the fully loaded bike is perfect.

The list of components:

  • Frame: Surly Long Haul Trucker 56
  • Seat: Sqlab 602 Active or Rido R2
  • 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
  • Gear Shift Levers: SRAM GripShift X0
  • Carriers: Tubus Carry & Tubus Logo Ti
  • Bike Bags: Ortlieb, Alpkit
  • Water bottles: Sigg, Clean Canteen, Camelbag

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