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I’m just going to come right out and say it: “This is the world’s best bike.” Not the brand, not the model…but the bike. It’s a continual work in progress, but I
love lust over it constantly. There are things that I think about changing and most likely will, but that will only make it better than the world’s best bike.
A good part of this project was the result of a well planned and executed course of events. Other aspects just kind of fell together. Whatever money I saved through careful shopping and scrutiny, I ultimately blew through impulse shopping and that darned Ebay. I also can’t go further without mentioning the help and guidance received from the crew out at Pedal Pushers Bike Shop in Colonial Park. They are an LBS that gets it: customer service, patience, resourcefullness, and the whole steel frame/touring mindset. Thanks guys!
This is my main bike. If I ever go missing, check the garage. If the Trucker is gone also, give up all hope of ever finding me, but be satisfied knowing that I am probably cruising down some country road with no intention of ever stopping. It’s comfortable, it’s smooth, and it fits. When I get on any other bike, this one is my “frame of reference” and I adjust from there.
It came to be after a few years of riding other bikes, realizing the type of riding I enjoyed the most, and going over what kind of component mix would get me where I wanted to be. A lot of this is documented throughout the blog, around the Spring of 2007. I got some really good prices on a lot of the stuff, and I think Pedal Pushers cut me quite a break in recognition of the free advertising this blog has given them, but it was a promotion that I received around that time that funded it all. Fortunately, it has returned every penny through getting me back in shape and helping me to keep my sanity.
And it is true what they say about Truckers: they ride better fully loaded…
Frame: 2007 Surly LHT 60cm, Dark Cherry. After a few years, I removed the decals. I find it looks classy and understated, and highlights the cherry paint job.
Aheadset: Cane Creek S3
Bars: Velo Orange Casey’ Crazy Bars. For the first three years I had a pair of Bontrager CX 46cm drop bars that I had pulled from another bike. After fiddling with comfort and giving some serious thought to the type of riding I do, I decided to switch to an upright position. That led to Albatross bars that I really like. But the next step up in comfort has been these bars that offer more hand positions, and better ergonomically positioned as well. Those are cork ergo grips and Deda tape, which I’m hoping will darken with use.
Stem: Specialized 120mm with a moderate rise. The polished aluminum sticks out, so I wrapped it with some leftover leather bar tape. I also clamped a chromed keyring on the end to help route the brake cables.
Levers: Tektro BMX. Dirt cheap, but they modulate well and can still lock up the wheels with two fingers.
Brakes: Tektro V linears with Kool Stop salmons. With the drop bars, I had used Tektro Oryx Canti with the Kool Stop Salmon pads, which worked well; but the V brakes have just a hideous amount of stopping power. ‘Certainly with enough safety reserve for loaded touring. Either way, I highly recommend the Kool Stops for any configuration.
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Barcons set for friction
Mirror: Busch and Muller, ordered through Peter White. Don’t let the size fool you, this little guy has great optics, clamps down tight, yet still has the flexibility to make minor adjustments on the fly.
Saddle: In the fall of 2012, I installed a Brooks Pre-Aged B67. I’ve discovered that there is no set formula for saddle comfort, since each rider and each bike is different. In this case, the wide back provides ample support for the sit bones while the softer leather insured a quick break in. So far, its the most comfortable set up I’ve had. I’ve also tried a Selle Titanico, Brooks Champion Flyer, and VO Model 8 on this bike.
Seatpost: A Chinese “GT” aluminum post with 30mm of set back. That’s alot, but Brooks saddles are known for their short rails, and I have long thighs.
Saddle Bag: Carradice Pendle. This had been a Barley, but I found that bag too small for day trips where I wanted to carry some extra clothes along with food. The Pendle is darn near perfect, although the old style straps can be a pain. I would prefer to still have the leather, but with some sort of clip type fastener. There is a plastic sheet inserted on the back and bottom to help the bag hold its shape. A toe strap wrapped around the rack keeps the bag from swaying.
BTW: There is no York Bicycle Club; at least not in York PA.
Chain Rings: 44-36-22. For some of the climbs we have in this area, the 22X34 gearing can really help. Having 44X11 for a top end is plenty for the type of riding I do (slow).
Pedals: MKS Lambda Grip Kings. The GKs provide more arch support, and thus less stress on my feet. With these pedals, one tends to ride with the entire front of the foot on the pedal, as opposed to riding primarily on the balls of the feet. This is particularly important for me since I managed to shatter a tiny bone on the base of my right foot playing soccer. I also like the fact that I don’t need any special shoes to ride. If there is a down side, its that every now and then one of my feet will slide off the pedal if I’m really mashing it and mess up a shift; but that’s the price one pays to be free of clips, cages, and straps. The bike previously had Dimensions with full clips (off the C’dale). I had originally put mini-clips on, but they were actually harder to slide my toes into.
If you look closely, there are two track spikes mounted on the front end for additional “traction.”
To correct a problem I was having with the chain jumping off when shifting into the granny, I installed a Jumpstop on the seat tube near the bottom bracket. This cool little device is nothing more than a guide that blocks the chain from going any further than the gear. It works flawlessly and really helps when you’re grinding up a hill and need to “throw down” in a hurry and under load.
Rims: Rear is an Alex Adventurer with 36 spoke lacing to a Shimano XT hub. Front is an Alex Adventurer 36 spoke laced to a Sanyo dynohub. (More about that later.)
Tires: I just recently switched to Schwalbe Little Big Bens. My initial impressions are good. They mount without levers, have plenty of volume, ride nice, and feel like they are gripping the road just right. These replace Pasela Tourguards, 37c Kevlar, which are great tires for day rides and commuting. I got about 35oo miles out of the rear one before it required replacement, but I was never completely comfortable about the woven sidewalls. They make for a light tire and a comfortable ride, but they delaminate after a few years. I’m not sure they are the best for touring, so I’m hoping the Schwalbes will fit the bill.
Fenders: Woody’s Custom. These always get a lot of attention and seems to be what people remember about the bike. I have had several people comment on my “old bike” because of the wood fenders. The funniest was when I was riding down a trail and passed a couple who were toodling along. A minute later I heard a bike whizzing up behind me, and the guy started asking me about the fenders, out of breath. He had desserted his girlfriend and took off after me! I would have liked to hear that conversation when she caught up.
In the Fall of 2013, I added a pair of solid black Buddyflaps to help with tire spray. In addition to being very good mudflaps, they contribute highly to the old school vibe of the bike.
Racks: The front is a very inexpensive but unusually useful Nashbar. There… I said it. The perfect bike has a piece of Nashbar kit. It’s just surprising how often it comes in handy for strapping something down; and now as a platform for the basket. The rear is a Topeak Super Tourist. I like the fact that it has the lower mounting bars for getting the panniers out of the way. It also has a taillight mount drilled for European spacing (for my European taillight).
Headlamp: Busch and Muller Luxos U wired to a Sanyo H27 Dynohub. Read back through the blog for my saga with different headlamps. As for now, I’m very satisfied with this set up. The Luxos lights up the entire road for riding on a dark night at a reasonable speed, and you can’t beat the convenience of a dynamo set up. Add to that the USB charging feature, and this is perfect for commuting, camping, and touring. You can see the Garmin plugged in to run off the dynamo, but I can also plug in my phone, a camera, or my Nook.
Tail Light: Busch and Muller Topline Plus, also wired into the dynamo. It has two LEDs that create a nice wide light that can be seen from a good distance. For a backup, there is a Planet Bike Superflash. Awesome light that is held in place with a zip tie on the strap on the back of the Pendle.
I run three bottle cages which are nothing special, although the one on the seat post is a Topeak Modula, which expands from a “standard” size via an allen bolt wide enough to accept a 32 oz. Nalgene bottle. That might seem like overkill, but the Nalgene is part of my camping kit, having a Steripen water filter affixed to the top. It makes more sense to carry it on the frame than it does to take up space in a pannier.
Computer: Planet Bike wired Protege 9.0. I did have a wireless Aero, however the B&M Ixon IQ light that I had interfered with the signal. I haven’t tested it with the Cyo, and I prefer the wired unit anyway, since it has autostart.
Cassette: Shimano Deore 9 speed, 11-34
Chain: Shimano HG73 9 speed, 113 links with a Master Link
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore (off the C’dale)
Front Derailleur: Shimano Exage (used)
Pump: Zefal HP 4X (ancient) I’ve had to use this pump perhaps a dozen times in the last twenty years…and it has never let me down.
Seatpost Clamp: Surly Constrictor
Kickstand: Greenfield chainstay mount. I’m told that these will not fit on the newer LHT frames. I like it because it allows you to rotate the pedals without interference.
Below are pictures of previous configurations: