Gear Stuff, Mike’s bike

Bike Touring Nerdery

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While relaxing in an air conditioned hotel in a steamy and not so savory town of Sayaxché in the Peten region of Guatemala I figured it was as good a time as ever to make the obligatory bike touring blog gear post. Most people do this in the time leading up to leaving on their first tour but by that point I was just about bored to death with bike component nerdery. Well, not really…I reconfigured or thought about changing just about everything regarding my bike and gear. The final set up was more the product of being the way it was when it was time to leave rather then the final perfect set up.

I originally purchased a 26″ Long Haul Trucker on Ebay but had to return it as it was not the size the seller had advertised it as. I then bought the 18″ Troll from Ebay as well. It was a custom build for a decent price but I ended up transferring most of the components to my full suspension Kona. On long rides I often wonder if the Long Haul Trucker would be better or at least how it would ride different. My original plans involved fitting Salsa Woodchipper drop bars. I think I should have stuck with that idea as numbness and a desire for more hand positions is a bigger issue than I woud have thought for me.

I like this bike, I like it a lot but I am not sure if I love it. At times the frame feels too small like I want to be further back from the cranks even though the Salsa Shaft post has a decent amount of setback. I think a 19″ frame, if one existed of this model, would be perfect for me. I also think a little more room in the triangle would be better for water bottles and potentially a frame mounted pump. Or not…

After almost 3 months of my first tour my main impression bike-wise is that these things take a beating. The frame and the racks get dinged and scratched. They get grime and dirt and salt water on them and they will rust. I don’t know how to avoid it, especially the racks. I wonder how long these things can last without being completely babied. I have decided that I will just see what happens with them with a reasonable amount of care. I could attempt to touch up every scratch but I own this bike to take me places not to keep it immaculate. I try to remind myself of that and will see how it holds up.

While riding I have spent a large amount of time mentally configuring an 700c Long Haul Trucker for a potential European tour or maybe even a tour of Western US or Canada. However I would likely just go for the complete build, it just makes more sense price wise. After pondering every minute detail of this bike it would be nice to just get on it and ride.

To my friends and family who are interested in food and culture and photos of exotic places and have no interest in bike frames and components I apologize. This post was overdue and being a blog dedicated to bike touring maybe someone planning their own bike build will stumble upon this in their preparations like the many I found and used in the time leading up to this tour.

I will spare you the pannier, camping gear, electronics, and clothing rants…for now.

  • Frame: 18″ Surly Troll, custom powder coat
  • Wheels: 26″ Velocity Cliffhanger rims. Phil Wood front hub. Rohloff Rear hub. 36 spokes on each
  • Tires: Schwalble Marathon Mondial 2″
  • Crankset: Middleburn 110 BCD w/170 mm cranks. 38t Surly stainless steel chainring. Wippermann 808 Chain. (wish I had gone with 175 mm)
  • Stem: Hope 10 degree 110 mm
  • Bars: Easton EA70 Monkey Bars cut to about 600 mm width
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Bottom Bracket: SKF Square Taper
  • Brakes: Avid BB7 Moutain
  • Brake Levers: Avid Ultimate
  • Grips: Ergon GP1 with Ritchey Pro bar ends
  • Seat: Brooks B17 Standard
  • Seat Post: Salsa Shaft
  • Pedals: MKS Lambda with Power Grips
  • Racks: Tubus Logo & Tubus Duo
  • Bottle Cages: King Cage Isis (perfect with Kleen Canteen bottles) and Topeak Modulo (not impressed)
  • Fenders: SKS P55

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  • anonymous viewer

    Why not go to Turkey and continue the search for Frank Lenz? Just don’t insult any Kurdish chiefs. ; )

  • Alex Gilmore

    You know the best think about this post? It’s over. The triangle needs a little more room for the ENGINE that should be there. Hang in there man. Message what you think the closest recipe for the mexican pork thing would be… may try recreate it.

  • I am someone planning my own bike build who indeed stumbled upon this, so thanks.

    I have been told by a well known south London framebuilder that they cannot attach a Tubus Logo rack, as there is not enough space around the Rohloff and BB7 brakes. Did you encounter any such issues on the Surly?

  • Dad

    John, the three of us use Tubus racks with BB7 and a Rohloff (2 Logos and 1 Locc) and there are no issues with this setup on the Surly. This flexibility of the rear dropout is the best reason to use a Troll as a touring bike IMO.

  • Dad

    and I have no idea why Word Press defaults my response to coming from Dad, it’s Michael….the author of the post :)

  • Thanks Michael, I will investigate further. What sprocket do you use at the hub, 16T ?

  • Dad

    Yes, the 16t with the 38t chainring. I have used every bit of that recently in the steep mountains.

  • Hence your desire for more crankset leverage!

  • Al

    Hi there. Sorry, I am a completely random cyclist looking at your thread because it came up in a search for Surly Troll. I know this might sound weird but to help out your hands and reach issues I would try dropping your handlebars as much as two inches – this will effectively stretch out your back and *might* make you a little more comfortable. Sometimes being counter intuitive works! Happy riding!

  • Mike

    I need an engine in Guatemala.

  • Mike

    Thanks for the suggestion Al.I may give that a try when I get a chance!

  • Sascha

    Hi Michael,

    I noticed I have a similar setup and have found it’s not the frame so much with regards to fit, it’s the Brooks saddle. I have the same sized Troll and seat, there isn’t really enough fore and aft adjustability available compared to more modern saddles, but the Brooks B17 is so comfy so I’ve learned to live with it and adapt…

    Nice bike by the way too…

  • It was mainly for that reason that I ditched my Brooks and went with the Selle Anatomica Titanico. It has much more adjustment and is very comfy. – Logan

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