Can You Bikepack on a Surly Long Haul Trucker?

Perhaps you started with pavement bicycle touring and have, over time, come to appreciate the peacefulness of gravel and dirt. Maybe you’ve considered trading in those four panniers for the oddly satisfying creativity and minimalism of the bikepacking style. Well first of all, we should hang out, because you sound cool.

And also, maybe now you’re wondering, can I gravel tour on my Long Haul Trucker? Can I join this offroad trip my friends are planning without getting left in the dust? Or do I have an “n+1” problem on my hands?

Well, as someone who has been there and tried all that, here is the short answer in my opinion:

Oregon dirt road
Harriman two-track trail in Idaho
Sure why not.
Long Haul Trucker on rocky singletrack in Idaho
Ok maybe too far…

For the long answer… Keep reading.

Let me be clear: if you’re here because you’re wondering which Surly bike is best for off-pavement riding, the Long Haul Trucker is most definitely not it. If dirt is your goal, leave right now and go check out the Ogre, Grappler, Krampus, or even the Straggler, or almost any other bike in Surly’s lineup.

But if you already own a Long Haul Trucker and are wondering how far it can stretch onto dirt and gravel, this is the post for you. As the saying goes, “Run what you brung,” and I’ve brung my LHT onto the dirt enough times to learn a few things the hard way.

Since returning from more pavement-focused rides in Southeast Asia and the USA, I’ve been lured into the world of off-pavement bike travel and taken my beloved LHT along for the ride. We’ve cruised gravel, we’ve hit the dirt, and we’ve also gotten our butts totally kicked on rocky technical singletrack. You could say we’ve found our limits.

Yes, riding your Long Haul Trucker on dirt and gravel will eventually hold you back as things get technical. But in the meantime, there’s no reason to postpone that off-pavement route you’ve been eyeing. Give your LHT a chance! It might surprise you.

Related: Naming Your Bike: Ideas to Suit Any Pedal-Powered Personality

Pros and Cons

To start out, let’s list some basic pros and cons of taking a Long Haul Trucker onto dirt roads and trails.

Pros of the LHT for gravel touring and bikepacking:

Durability: The LHT is bomber. Just like it survived being strapped to the roof of that bus in Cambodia, it can take a few hits in rocky terrain. When you’re way out in the back of nowhere, this is one less thing to worry about.

Steel frame: Related to durability, but also to ride comfort. Especially if loaded the LHT’s steel frame is pretty good at absorbing bumps in the road, even a dirt or gravel road.

Mounts and bolts: Touring-focused design has sufficient rack and bottle mounts for flexibility in gear carrying. (Just be sure to dab some Blue Threadlocker on those bolts before hitting that washboarded gravel.)

Wide gear range: The stock gearing (my 2018 model is 3×10) is actually pretty good for loaded riding on hilly off-pavement terrain. The granny gear serves me well on steep climbs while my highest gear keeps me moving on smooth descents.

Cons of the LHT for gravel touring and bikepacking:

Weight: That durable steel frame comes at a weight cost. If you’re serious about switching to a more minimalist gear setup and/or riding rougher terrain, eventually you’ll feel the bike weight more (compared to when you’re hauling everything and the kitchen sink on smooth pavement while touring).

Tires: The stock tires are decent width but not ideal for rougher or looser terrain. They can easily be swapped of course, but the frame clearance maxes out somewhere around 2 inch tires. More on this below.

Drop handlebars don’t offer enough stability in rough or loose terrain.

Bar end shifters can be awkward in rough and inconsistent terrain (this is one of the biggest cons for me).

V brakes (unless you have the Disc Trucker): I’ve never had a problem with the rim brakes stopping me, even in the rain. But the grit from off-road riding will wear your rims down eventually, and the less precise braking feel could decrease confidence on rougher terrain.

Geometry is designed for hauling heavy loads, not shredding singletrack, thus tight switchbacks or quick maneuvers can feel awkward and bottom bracket clearance is a little low.

Stock rims are not tubeless-ready, which will become important if you plan to ride a lot on bumpy terrain and/or in areas with sharp rock or thorns.

Wheel size is 26″ (small frame) or 27.5″, no 29″ available. I’m putting this as a con since 29ers are in vogue at the moment for bikepacking, but I understand it’s really a matter of personal preference.

Modifications for Better Off-Road Riding on a LHT

In my quest to mitigate some of those cons and transform my LHT into a more capable off-road touring machine, I made a few modifications that I would recommend to anyone interested in logging significant off-road miles on their Long Haul Trucker.


This is, so to speak, where the rubber meets the road in terms of having an enjoyable long ride. I recently had a breakthrough when transitioning from touring-focused tires to bikepacking-focused tires and I want to spread the word.

Vittoria Mezcal 2.1″

Wide Tires on a Long Haul Trucker?

Let’s get the frame/tire clearance thing out of the way. You’re not the first to wonder about the widest tire that will fit on a Long Haul Trucker. For the official word, here’s what Surly has to say on the matter.

Unofficially though, the widest tire I’ve fit on my (50cm frame, 26″ wheel) LHT is a pair of 26×2.1″ Vittoria Mezcals. The frame clearance is adequate, without fenders. When inflated the tire does not fit between the brake pads, so I need to deflate to remove/install the wheel and then inflate once the wheel is on the bike.

My Favorite Tire (so far) for Bikepacking on my LHT

By far, my favorite tire for a bikepacking setup (striving for fast and light) is the above-mentioned 2.1″ Vittoria Mezcal. My first ride on them was like a breath of cool fresh air after leaving a hot stuffy room (the hot stuffy room being heavy, burly touring tires). Even on pavement they rolled faster than the Mondials I’d run previously. On gravel and dirt, they were more confidence inspiring and slipped less. Their slightly larger volume, even compared to the 2″ Mondials they replaced, made for a noticeably cushier ride. I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to try this type of tire.

What about punctures? Running tubes, I had zero punctures through 425 miles of Idaho backcountry, including some fairly nasty rocky sections. However, in Oregon I once fixed twelve (yes, 12) goathead thorn punctures in one day.

Now, if you know anything about goat head thorns (which, obviously, I did not), you’ll know I’m an idiot for riding out into the middle of the Oregon outback with tubes, no sealant and no tire liners. It’s not the Mezcals’ fault. After a stop in Prineville for new tubes, patches, and some rubber tire liners, I rode another 500ish miles on Oregon dirt without another puncture.

In summary, the Mezcals are not as puncture-resistant as burly touring tires, but they are way, way more fun to ride on dirt. And with some added precautions, they should be acceptable even for thorn country.

Brief History of My Other Touring Tires

For those interested in touring tires for the Long Haul Trucker, before the Mezcals my tire evolution went like this:

  • Continental Ride Tour 1.75″ (stock tire on my LHT): thousands of pavement miles and a few hundred miles of gravel in Southeast Asia. Only one puncture. Fine for occasional gravel but too smooth, in my opinion, for confident riding on rougher terrain, singletrack, etc.
  • Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 2″: 500+ miles of rougher gravel, plus around 500 miles of pavement, in Patagonia. No punctures! These things are heavy. You might not notice the difference if touring heavily loaded, but if bikepacking with more minimal gear, these aren’t very fun. They are, however, highly puncture-resistant, and probably more confident in gravel than the Contis above.
  • Schwalbe Marathon 1.5″: 3500+ miles across the US, about one third gravel and two thirds pavement. Three punctures. Definitely faster than the Mondials and adequate for gravel, but again, too smooth for confident handling in extended sections of dirt and rough gravel.

I don’t consider myself an expert on tires, and there are certainly lots of other options I haven’t tried. Check out this bikepacking-specific tire overview while researching your next set of rubber.


If you plan to push the limits of your LHT on rougher terrain, here’s one change I highly, highly recommend: Salsa Cowchipper “dirt drop” bars. For only about $40, these just might be the best value upgrade I’ve ever made to my bike. After struggling through over 500 miles of gravel and gale-force wind on the Carretera Austral, and another thousand+ miles of gravel on a cross-US ride, I finally realized that the traditional drop bars on my Long Haul Trucker were not offering the stability I needed for off-road adventures.

The Cowchipper bars occupy the middle position in Salsa’s appealingly named line of “adventure bars”: Woodchipper, Cowchipper, Cowbell. (See what they did there? Clever.) All three offer varying degrees of outward flare, allowing for wider hand position and therefore more control on rough terrain.

The Woodchipper is the most extreme, and some riders say it’s a bit much, designed to be ridden in the drops most of the time. The Cowbell, on the other hand, is rather subtle. For me, the Cowchipper is where it’s at. When riding rougher terrain I move my hands to the drops, where the hand position is just wide enough to offer extra stability. Yet I can still enjoy the variety of hand positions offered by drop bars, which helps prevent nerve damage on long rides.

Salsa Cowchipper handlebars on Surly Long Haul Trucker

Note: I did need to purchase this new stem to accommodate the larger diameter of the Cowchipper compared to the stock bars on my 2018 LHT.

Surly LHT Handlebars for Small Hands

As a small-handed individual, the LHT’s stock drop bars were too deep for me. My hands would cramp up on long descents, and I was never able to find a compatible set of brake levers that helped. When I switched to the Cowchippers the problem immediately went away. I find their shallower drop and flared angles to be way, way more comfortable.

Given their popularity with the majority male cohort of bikepackers, it seems that larger-handed riders like them too.

Related: Drop Bars on a Mountain Bike: Why and How

Saddle and Seat Post

I started my bike travel adventures with a Brooks B17 saddle and never looked back. I still use it for gravel and off-road riding on my LHT and find it totally adequate, even for long tours and ultra-distance race events.

This isn’t specific to off-road riding, but eventually I learned that leather saddles don’t allow for as much backward adjustment of the saddle on the seat post. This explained why I sometimes felt like my saddle was too far forward. I ended up buying an offset seat post like this one and now my Brooks saddle feels like it’s in the right place.

On a related note, if you’re female and saddle soreness is getting you down, check out this guide to fixing saddle issues for women on long-distance rides.


Supposedly, it’s possible to change from the LHT’s bar-end thumb shifters to “brifters.” As far as I can tell, this requires some drive train modifications that are beyond my current level of bike mechanic skill and understanding. For me, I’ve decided that this investment is in the category of “when I really need this, it’s time to just get a new bike.”

Bikepacking Bag Setup

You can absolutely run bikepacking bags on a Long Haul Trucker. I have a relatively small (50cm) frame and the 26″ wheels give me enough clearance to run a fairly standard set of affordable entry-level bags.

Of course there are many companies out there selling quality bikepacking gear. But if you’re taking a Long Haul Trucker on dirt trails, I’m going to hazard a guess that you’re not ready to shell out for the high-end gear just yet. Let’s call it a transition phase. I understand.

Here’s a fairly affordable, entry-level setup that has worked pretty well for me on my LHT (pictured above).

Rock Bros seat bag: Roomy capacity, easy to use, love the shock cord on the top for carrying layers. I use it mostly for clothes and some extra food. If full, the back half can sag onto the tire unless you put something stiff (I use a single flip-flop sandal) across the bottom where the stiff part meets the unsupported fabric part. For more detail, see my full review here.

Rock Bros handlebar bag set: The roll-side bag holds my sleeping quilt and fits between even my narrow (42cm) Cowchipper bars when partially filled. The large straps also allow me to carry my small tent up front, and the smaller second bag is great for food, and the shock cord on top is perfect for stashing layers throughout the day. For more detail, see my review.

Moosetreks frame bag: The size small fills my 50cm LHT frame almost like a custom fit. The zippers are cheap and I keep waiting for them to break, but so far with a little care they’ve survived 4500+ miles. I carry a hydration bladder in the top pocket and something else heavy – like tools or electronics – in the bottom pocket. For more detail see my review.

Rock Bros top tube bag: Handy for sunscreen, tools, chamois cream, and a more water resistant phone holder when it’s raining too much to use my my handlebar mount.

No-name climbing chalk bags as feed bags: These things aren’t made for bike touring as far as I can tell, but they work shockingly well. The snap-closure straps can attach to your handlebars and stem. There’s even a little plastic ring, which the pictures show being used to carry a water bottle, that happens to fit perfectly on the top of my steerer tube in place of a spacer.

Water: One thing the LHT lacks, compared to dedicated bikepacking rigs like the Salsa Fargo or Surly ECR, is bottle mounts on the front forks. It’s possible to work around this though. When I needed to increase my 3 liter water capacity to 6 liters for some Oregon desert riding, I used this setup on my front forks:

You may also want to check out this list of the bikepacking and touring gear I know and love, most of which I first tried and tested on my Long Haul Trucker.

Gravel Touring and Bikepacking With Racks and Panniers

Can you run racks on a Surly Long Haul Trucker and still explore dirt? Of course. It’s not ideal for singletrack, but for gravel roads, why not?

I’ve logged plenty of gravel miles using a rear rack and two panniers. If you choose to do this, I would recommend:

  • A sturdy steel rack, like those made by Tubus, that won’t break on rough terrain.
  • Blue threadlocker to keep those bolts from vibrating loose.

Finally, here is a weird hybrid approach I used after ditching panniers but before taking the plunge into bikepacking bags:

Nonstandard for sure, but it got me through 3500+ miles of riding across the US. It’s a bit faster than panniers due to better aerodynamics and reduced cargo space. I would recommend it for smooth(ish) gravel, but definitely NOT for singletrack or bumpier surfaces, as the dry bag can sometimes tip off-center.

Related: Panniers vs. Bikepacking Bags – The Great Debate

Terrain Limitations

So how far can you push a Long Haul Trucker as a bikepacking rig? As my interest in off-road riding has grown, I believe I’ve finally found the limits. Here’s a photo-illustrated guide to riding a Long Haul Trucker on various types of terrain, with the grades I would personally give it for each:

Pavement: A+

The LHT was born ready for loaded pavement touring.

Bicycle on road in green river valley

Smooth gravel: A

No problem, even with the stock tires.

Rough gravel: C

More pleasant with highest volume tires you can fit (2.1″ in my case) and flared handlebars for extra stability.

Smooth easy singletrack: B

Pretty good except for tight switchbacks and frequent sudden changes in slope (those bar end shifters). Flared drop bars like Cowchippers and dirt-focused tires like Vittoria Mezcal make for more fun.

Rough rocky singletrack: D

This is where I get off and walk. The rigid frame and relatively low volume tires leave me bouncing all over the place. The bar end shifters make it hard to shift and stabilize at the same time. This is hardtail MTB territory.

Biking rocky singletrack in Idaho forest

Hike-a-bike: B-

The LHT hikes through the rough stuff about as well as any other bike, and the durability is a plus when things get sketchy. The only drawback is that it’s on the heavy side, which matters more when you have to carry/drag instead of ride it.

Obviously, a highly skilled rider can ride almost any bike on almost any terrain. The question is, for the rest of us who might be only moderately skilled, can we ride the bike on the terrain and still mostly have a fun trip? Because at the end of the day, if it’s not fun, why are we doing it?

For me, my Long Haul Trucker (with the modifications I outlined above) remains fun on gravel and dirt roads, with some sections of easy singletrack mixed in, as long as I’ve packed it light enough. For sustained sections of anything more technical and/or bumpy, as I experienced in the Idaho Smoke ‘n’ Fire race this past summer, it starts to feel like a silly choice.

As I feel my riding heading more in this direction, I do feel like it’s time to consider a new bike. If and when I pull the trigger on that Salsa Fargo I’ve been coveting, I’ll let you know how it compares. ;)

Until then, to anyone wondering if their Surly Long Haul Trucker is up to the challenge of exploring the growing dirt and gravel scene, I’d say give it a try. May the wind be at your back, the dirt not too rutted, and the gravel not too washboarded. But definitely give it a try.

Update: LHT vs. Salsa Fargo

You could probably see this coming… As of late 2019 I lucked into an excellent deal on a used 2018 Salsa Fargo. Since used bikes in my small size don’t come along too often, I pounced, and now my beloved LHT has a sister.

So, how do the Long Haul Trucker and the Fargo compare? Here’s what I’ve noticed so far.

Agility: The Fargo, unsurprisingly, is easier to maneuver on any trajectory that’s not a straight line. There is a section of super-tight switchbacks on my local trails that I have always struggled to ride on my LHT without putting a foot down, yet my first attempt on the Fargo was completely clean.

Weight: The Fargo, though seemingly a beefier frame, is a bit lighter than the LHT. I’d have to take all the bags off both and weigh them to tell you exactly how much, which I’m not going to do right now, but trust me, there is a difference.

Brifters: On anything but smooth pavement, I like being able to shift without moving my hands. The Fargo wins here. The disc brakes are also nice, though less of a big deal.

Stiffness: I’ve heard that the LHT is tuned for a comfortable ride under heavy loads, and as a lighter rider I can confirm that it does indeed feel a bit stiffer than the Fargo. When I ride the LHT lightly loaded on bumpy surfaces, it’s just not as comfy, especially with tubes. Which brings me to…

Tubeless-ready: The Fargo has tubeless compatible rims, which finally motivated me to try tubeless tires after my LHT and I had a tense encounter with goat head thorns in central Oregon. Tubeless tires are a game changer for off-pavement riding in certain areas, especially deserts, because of their flat resistance. I also like being able to lower the pressure for a more comfortable ride on bumpy surfaces.

When you combine these factors, it’s obvious that yes, the Fargo has an edge for bikepacking on rougher trails. This should be completely unsurprising, since that’s what it was designed for, and the LHT was not.

However, my LHT is absolutely still getting to come out and play. For trips with substantial sections of pavement and smooth gravel, she is still my first choice. When it’s time for singletrack or all-dirt routes, I take the Fargo. I feel very fortunate to have the choice.

With all this said, I stand by my original recommendation: if you see a lot of rugged riding in your future, don’t purchase a new and shiny Long Haul Trucker as your primary bikepacking rig. But if you already have one, or are drooling over a new one and wondering if it can handle the occasional unpaved adventure, then I still say absolutely yes, you CAN bikepack on a Long Haul Trucker.

More About Bikepacking and Gravel Touring

About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 20,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more about me here.

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    31 thoughts on “Can You Bikepack on a Surly Long Haul Trucker?”

    1. Hi, Alissa

      Great piece! Great set-up! I’d like the record to show that I read this article AFTER just recently outfitting my ride with all the bags I’ll utilize – with that said, you and I have essentially the same taste in bags: Moosetrecks and Rockbros (still need to decide on feedbags). I found myself struck with disbelief during the early “bags” research stage with the crazy high costs for products that were less than ideal for wet, outdoor use, especially considering how they’d be housing both electronics and lifesaving cold weather gear. I don’t know about you but stumbling onto Rockbros gear was nearly unbelievable…super affordable and made from and just like my accidentally and vigorously tested (many times) watertight kayaking bags. The only complaint I have with Rockbros is they don’t offer a frame bag as large as our Moosetrecks bags. Anyway, it was great seeing my choices validated on your bike and in your/this piece; it caused an immediate sense of kinship. Great information that’s much appreciated!

      Ride safe and wild, Alissa,


    2. Hi, Very details review of LHT. I have the same size of bike and I want to change my bar to gravel bar for more diverse terrain exploration. Since you have stated the cowclipper is a good option. May I know size of it you are using? If using a wider bar, would it be to wide to use it on the road other than gravel terrain?
      Thank you.

      • Hi Alex, my Cowchippers are 40cm wide and very comfortable for me. I have fairly narrow shoulders. Unless you’re talking about competitive road cycling or something with very specific requirements, I think Cowchippers would be totally fine for the road. The hoods are basically the same width as the original drop bars, and the drops are flared just a little. I find them more comfortable for both pavement and gravel than the bars that came on my LHT.

    3. Hey there, I moved from a Trucker to a Fargo then back to a Trucker, the Fargo geometry for some reason make my knees hurt on longer rides, never had an issue with the Trucker. But anyways nice review, I will definitely try does tyres on my next off road trip when all this madness ends.

    4. Thank you for your experience .
      I have an LHT with Brooks saddle and have never heard your take on that combo (or just Brooks experience ) but I now concur . Something is amiss there compared to the other ride in the shed .
      I can’t say I’ve fallen for the LHT . I’m 6ft 2 but long legs/ arms and shorter torso . Geometry feels like steering a sponge but I’m determined to tweak a little more and you’ve encouraged that so thank you
      Keep up the rides in these strange times and thanks again from the UK.

      • Hi Jude, thanks for your comments and good luck dialing in the fit. I am shaped very differently (5′ 5″ with longer torso relative to legs) so I suspect we have totally different experiences with the LHT, but at least there are plenty of adjustments to be made. Take care and happy riding.

    5. I’m considering buying a LHT for daily commutes and grocery hauling. I think I may fit on a size 46 or 50 (I’m 5’6″, wear 29″ inseam pants). Since you ride a 50, would you mind telling me how tall you are? I don’t have a surly dealer within driving distance…will have to order a frame and am frankly torn about ordering what may a wrong size for me.
      Thanks, DA

      • I’m 5’5″ and I think my torso is a bit longer than average (thus legs are a bit shorter). For me the 50 is a good fit, but definitely not too big. If anything it’s a tad cramped. So based on that I would guess the 50 is a better choice for you, since you’re a bit taller than me, but of course it’s hard to say for sure until you ride it. I can understand the stress! Best of luck and I hope you enjoy the LHT if you go for it. It’s a great bike.

    6. Great article!
      And re: “supposedly you can change bar end shifters to brifters”, it’s an ‘absolutely‘ and it’s not as complicated as it seems. You just ditch the brake levers and bar ends and reroute your shifting cables accordingly. Any two videos on how to set up bar ends and how to set up brifters would demystify the subject. And I hear you, bar ends on dirt is pretty inconvenient in my opinion.

      • Thanks! Sounds like you’ve done it, would you mind sharing what type of bike? Swapping parts and routing cables seems easy enough. But I recall finding some info about how the brifters wouldn’t be compatible with one of my derailleurs due to different amounts of pull. Might be specific to my particular model of LHT.

        • Great piece!

          Topher, respectfully I have to disagree with you (unless of course you’ve done it on a touring bike/LHT, in which case I defer to your hands-on experience).

          I’ve spent a lot of time looking into switching to Shimano or SRAM brifters on a LHT, and I believe Alissa is correct that there’s not really a straightforward solution, unless you’re willing to swap cranksets and derailleurs too. It’s not just an issue of cable routing, but also of compatibility with drivetrain components (cable pull in particular, as Alissa mentions). Most road brifters aren’t compatible with the kinds of derailleurs you find on touring bikes (usually MTB derailleurs), which are needed to accommodate the desired wide gear ranges. I believe that, technically speaking, the Shimano SORA shifters are compatible with MTB derailleurs, and so you could keep your gear range with road shifters, but I think you still have to switch to a 2x setup and I’ve heard in some places that even then, it’s not a 100% seamless setup. So generally there’s no way around the fact that you’re investing in a whole new drivetrain, in addition to the brifters to make it all work smoothly and still be useful for climbing with heavy loads.

          Gevenalle has a relatively uncomplicated solution compared to all that. They make brake levers that literally have bar-ends mounted on the front of them (i.e. where your fingers would go to shift on traditional brifters). My description probably doesn’t paint a very clear picture, so check their website out. By all accounts they’re pretty enjoyable to use, don’t require a drivetrain overhaul and let you keep that tried and tested reliability/mechanical simplicity of bar-ends! It’s not quite as clean a solution as more high-tech brifters, because you can’t route the cables under the handlebar tape, but they are compatible with handlebar bags.

          It’s a more affordable solution with way less drawbacks than trying to convert to road or Shimano GRX levers. Along with some of the other stuff you (Alissa) mention in this article, it’s one of the first upgrades I’m planning for my bike in the new year. They’re designed for gravel and cyclocross, so it seems like relatively cheap way to vastly improve your experience riding over more technical/choppy terrain on a LHT.

          Happy trails!

    7. This article was exactly what I was looking for! My LHT has been the #1 bike in my life since 2012 and I’ve recently gone down the rabbit hole of bikepacking. Your site is super useful and I love reading about the adventures and gear tips! Keep it up.

    8. Great article! I’ve ridden and toured a lot on my LHT and it’s dealt with pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it. I’m drifting more and more into gravel and off-road, so the info here will be very useful. Thanks!

    9. Hello! I love how you utilized the gaping space between the rear tire and the seat post. I will now be doing something similar. There’s even more space on my 54cm 26er!

      I’ve never really done much serious touring, but easy single track and day-long dirt adventures certainly are handled adequately by the LHT.

      I’m also looking for a fatter, suppler meat to swap with my 2.0 Mondials. I’ll be checking into the 2.1″ Vittoria Mezcals for sure if I don’t swing for some noise canceling Rene Herse Humptulips Ridges first (if they fit)!

      Happy trails.

    10. Thank you very much for this – bang on the money for what I’m planning (I’m a 50-something Canadian woman living in France). I have an old DT (3x9sp) and I am hoping to do the GDMBR from Banff to Montana, Lewis and Clark to family in Idaho, then join the Transamerica etc to meander up to Vancouver BC. Would love to add another bike to the arsenal, but I rather like the challenge of making what I have work, and the ole Surly will be great for the pavement. Your recommendation of Vittoria Mezcals has me desperately trying to find stock of them in Europe – all components I’m looking for are in short supply thanks to the pandemic.
      Anyway, brilliant site LOVE LOVE LOVE! And thanks a million.

    11. Great read and photos too. If anyone is wondering, I can totally recommend the Surly Bridge Club. I scored one in my size from Craigs List.

      It does great for on road touring (Did Eugene to Prineville, OR) as well as the rough stuff. Just increase tire size and knobby tread as needed. 2.3 is the minimum, but 2.8 is the max for the 27.5 wheels (it’ll take 29’ers too)

      Also, yeah, same opinion on the Moosetreks frame bag. It started coming apart sooner than I expected, but never quite died :) I recently splurged on a Rogue Panda, also highly recommended – just don’t let the price get in the way, it’s totally worth it.

    12. Hi Alissa. I thought about getting LHT for Smoke and Fire race but now doubting the choice. May stick to my hardtail for now but still doing my research. Thanks for great review and awesome write up.

      • Hi Hiko, I guess it depends on what kind of hardtail you have, but if it’s comfortable for long days then I agree it’s a better choice for Smoke ‘n’ Fire. A lot of that route is gravel but there’s still plenty of trail to deal with, some quite rough. If you’re looking for a rigid bike for that kind of mixed terrain, the Fargo or similar would be a more versatile choice. Maybe I’ll see you at SnF this year!

    13. Hey can you please share with seatpost you used?
      The link does not work anymore.
      ” offset seat post like this one ”

      Thanks a lot for this article! I will modify my LHT in the next couple days.

      • Sorry about the broken link. I don’t think that seatpost is available anymore, but the important part is the setback. A seatpost with setback / offset in the 15-25mm range is what helped me when running a Brooks B17 on the LHT, but it depends on your personal bike fit. Have fun with your modifications!

    14. Hi Alissa. Thanks for all the time you spent writing this article. I feel like it was custom written for me. I’m planning for a GDMBR ride and currently have a LHT (not the Disc Trucker). Originally I assumed I would need to buy a different bike to comfortably travel the length of the trail, but after reading your article I’m wondering if my current bike would be just fine. I would prefer to save the $$ and use my existing bike, but I would be willing to get a different bike if that were the right choice (possibly a Surly Bridge Club or Ogre). I have a couple specific questions that I’d love to hear your thoughts on.
      1) Since you know the LHT and you know the terrain on the GDMBR, do you think the LHT is up for the task or would you suggest a different bike? I just don’t know the character of the trail well enough to make that call.
      2) Could you address the cantilever brakes, specifically? Will they be adequate as long as I have some spare pads?

      Thanks again for this article and all the other information on the website. I’m working my way through all the pages and getting tons of great tips.

      • Hi Chris, hmm, this is a tough one. I think it comes down to how much you want to have the “ideal” ride on the GDMBR versus save money. I feel my Fargo is a pretty big upgrade over the Trucker in terms of how it handles rough unpaved roads, and I was glad to have it for the GDMBR. Could you do it on the Trucker? Absolutely, and people definitely have. Will it be as comfy and fun as possible? Probably not. In practical terms this might look like having to work a little harder to stay stable when the roads aren’t smooth and walking a bit more on the rough sections. Certainly if you’re wanting to go fast the LHT will be working against you. It’s totally capable, and plenty of people have done it on that type of bike. But if this is a trip-of-a-lifetime situation, it may be worth an upgrade.

        Though I do prefer the feel of disc brakes now, cantilever brakes were never a problem for me in terms of being able to stop. I toured some hilly areas of northern Vietnam and Patagonia with a mid-weight load (2 back panniers) and they never let me down. I’m a light rider though, 120 pounds, so total weight may be a factor.

        For me another point against the LHT for the GDMBR would be the weight, and also the bar end shifters. The latter can be tricky on rough terrain, and the former is noticeable to me as a smaller person. The other two Surlys you mention will also be heavy, but they’ll be better-equipped in terms of geometry, shift controls, and disc brakes. Of the two I would personally go with the Ogre for the GDMBR for its ability to run wider 29″ tires.

        Hope that helps. Good luck with your decision and have a fantastic ride!


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