Review: Surly Long Haul Trucker Touring Bike

The Surly Long Haul Trucker and Surly Disc Trucker are some of the best off-the-shelf touring bikes you can buy. The Surly’s performance is exceptional, their price is right and they have great worldwide availability.

Surly Long Haul Trucker
The Latest Surly Disc Trucker touring bike!

I originally purchased my Trucker as a frameset, as I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to build it up. My frame then went through many builds over the years as I experimented with parts: different brakes, different handlebars, different wheels and an evolution from derailleur gears to an internally geared hub. Basically, I used and abused bike parts and setups until I got the Trucker to a place that suits me.

When I’m loaded with gear, I liken my Trucker to a sailing boat: it seemingly floats over bumps, and the direction change is slow and gentle. This is the way a touring bike should feel. I think that the geometry of the bike is close to perfect. The steel tubing used in the frame’s construction allow the Trucker to excel as a touring bike.

Surly Long Haul Trucker
The Surly Disc Trucker touring bike has been a solid performer for over a decade.

The Trucker’s geometry is relaxed, which allows the frame to handle panniers comfortably. The chainstays are longer than most touring bikes, which is important for both the bikes stability and for heel clearance from your pannier bags. To understand touring bike geometry further, check out my guide available HERE.

I haven’t managed to break my Trucker on the roughest roads. The only time I have seen damaged Truckers is when people over tighten kickstands to their bikes. Both Surly and I say, don’t do that. That said, 2017-onward Truckers come with a kickstand plate so this problem will now be few and far between on older model bikes.

2017 Surly Disc Trucker Blue Touring Bike 4
The Surly Disc Trucker touring bike from above.

The Why

– 4130 steel frame; it’s comfortable and field repairable (to anyone who knows how to use a welder).
– It’s the ideal touring geometry: when fully-loaded the handling is stable and smooth to ride. The front end is nice and high too. More on geometry HERE.
– There are frame sizes for everyone – the smallest frame has a 50.5cm top-tube and the biggest a 62cm top-tube. There’s a size for all cyclists between 150cm through to 200cm.
– 26″ wheels are available in all sizes but 64cm.
– 700c wheels are available on frame sizes larger than 56cm, as toe overlap and bike proportion are less of an issue with bigger frames.
– It’s light on the wallet (Frame $500 USD / Bike $1275 USD)
– You have a choice of a rim OR disc brake frame (read about which brakes to choose HERE)
– Bar-end shifters are standard (read about why they’re great HERE)
– There’s a very wide range of gear ratios (26-32t the smallest gear)
– There are lots of mounting points for racks and mudguards on the frame and fork.
– The 36 spoke wheels are nice and strong.
– Shimano’s cup and cone bearing hubs are simple to rebuild when the time comes.
– The Shimano XT rear derailleur is durable and shifts well.
– There’s space for three water bottles on the frame.
– There’s a spoke holder for a few spares.
– The Trucker’s long chainstays make the bike feel stable and increase the heel clearance from your pannier bags. Surly chainstays are often 20-30mm longer than a lot of other touring bikes, but many manufacturers are now moving towards longer lengths.
– Surly’s don’t look flashy or expensive to potential thieves.
– I’ve never seen a warranty issue for one (not to say this doesn’t happen).

Surly Long Haul Trucker
The Surly Disc Trucker touring bike from the front.

The Why Not

– The stock rim brakes on the Long Haul Trucker are truly terrible – I highly recommend an upgrade to v-brakes (read about brakes HERE) if you have to have rim brakes.
– The bar, stem and seat are of average quality. Easily interchangable.

Surly Long Haul Trucker
The Surly Disc Trucker touring bike from behind.

Recommended Changes

– A handlebar change may suit you if you’re a beginner, you don’t like the feel of a road handlebar or you’d prefer a more upright positioning (read about touring handlebar setups HERE). Remember to buy one or two sizes up for flat handlebars.
– The brakes on the Long Haul Trucker do need to be swapped to a better quality cantilever, or v-brake setup (read more about touring brakes HERE).
– The Continental tyres are decent enough for touring, but when you next need a set you should ride with Schwalbe because they make the best tyres around.
– If you’re using the road handlebars, I recommend employing some ‘cross levers’ to have braking capability at the top of the handlebar.

My Long Haul Trucker

I loved my Trucker so much that I took it to a frame builder to add some frame features that suit a Rohloff hub and Gates Carbon Belt Drive. If you’re interested, you can read all the details about Rohloff hubs HERE and Gates Carbon Drive HERE.

The modifications I’ve made include:
– An extra bidon braze-on on the downtube to run two oversized water bottles on my frame (this is not necessary anymore with an adapter).
– Rohloff specific cable braze-ons along the down tube and chain-stay.
– A split in the seat-stay to fit a belt.
– Rohloff-specific sliding dropouts.

My modifications were carried out by Gellie Custom Bike Frames, but any reputable frame builder can add frame details as you like. If you’re thinking of doing a similar build to mine, I recommend also taking a look at the 2016 Specialized AWOL – it’s now Rohloff and Carbon Drive ready from the factory which will save you a dollar or two.

Long Haul Trucker or Disc Trucker?

If you’re wondering what I recommend between the Long Haul Trucker and the Disc Trucker; I’m a fan of disc brakes. I have cycled over 30,000km with Avid disc brakes on my tandem and have had no problems with their reliability. The extra stopping power is really handy on heavily loaded touring bikes in wet conditions. The Disc Trucker is the way to go!

If you need more convincing on disc brakes, you can read my brake article HERE.

Ride a Surly frame larger than 56cm?

You have a choice of 26″ and 700c wheels. I talk about the merits of both wheel sizes in my article HERE.


When taking into account the price, performance, and availability of the Trucker, I believe that Surly makes one the best off-the-shelf touring bikes. With minimal changes to the parts spec, you’ll have a very capable and durable touring bike.

If you’ve got any questions for us, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

  1. doesn’t splitting the seatstay compromise the integrity of the frame? my girlfriend and I are also planning a RTW tour on LHTs and you’ve got us really interested in the maintenance free aspects of the Gates belt drivetrain and Rohloff hub… we’ve found a ton of useful information on your blog and find the articles to be as funny as they are pragmatic; keep up the great work and good luck with the tour!

  2. Thanks Matthew!

    I guess that there would be some element of compromised frame integrity. The frame builder who made the modifications to our frame is really reputable, so I have faith in his work. The Fixie Inc seatstay piece is a really well made and precise bit of kit, so nothing seems dodgy about it. Upon riding, I wouldn’t even know that it’s there. There is also no more noticeable flex in the rear end at all. 

    I have seen some really dodgy jobs done to get belts in, including using rubber mallets to flatten chainstays! Ours is not that. If I had lots more money, the best way to put a split in the frame would have to be with an S&S coupler. 

    Anyway, time will tell. Hopefully everything works as planned!

    Good luck with your trip too!

  3. Would have to second the comment that the stock brakes are poor. They really don’t provide enough stopping power when fully loaded to inspire confidence when going downhill.

    I ride 700c wheels and a 58cm frame, and my heels almost never touch the rear panniers. They do knock into the front tire quite a bit, which is probably my own clumsy fault as much as the geometry’s, but really a pain when you’re gassed at the top of a hill, slowly rounding that final switchback, and…haha

    Overall, very happy with my LHT!

  4. I think the Surly LHT is a fantastic bike as well -that’s why I bought a frame set and custom built my own. I must admit, it certainly performed flawlessly down hills at high speeds when fully loaded.

  5. I purchased my LHDT earlier this year and it is a Dream to pedal…… fully loaded or with nuthin’ extra on it…. I’m looking forward to decades of use being on the road together!

  6. Great review almost the same as what I might say about my Disc Trucker.

    I cannot really argue against Schwalbes because I haven’t used them but I am very very happy with Contis and wouldn’t change those necessarily. Currently both of my bikes are running Continentals and they are great. I would change the front derailleur to keep it closer on par with the XT in the rear and I would use Dura Ace bar-ends but aside from that it is a great build for the price. I did end up adding some cross levers but that is probably more of a personal thing.

    I also really like that Surly has fun and truly loves cycling and steel. Plus they obviously make a damn fine touring bike

  7. Hey Alee just found your great peage today and allready consider it as one of the best private travel bike pages I’ve seen so far. I’m really interested in the modifications your frame bilder has done for the Rohloff. I have Stevens Sovereign and think about switching to a LHT. If I could take my Rholoff with me I think it could be the last switch of travel bikes in my life. Cheers Waldi

  8. If you replace wheels, handle bar and drivetrain, like many touring adventures bike riders does, it is’nt really a dislc trucker, but a disc trucker frame. I’m planning on bying a stock trucker, but notice the you and others touring bikers dont use the stock version, and i’m not so sure anymore.

    I’ve never heard anyone replace anything on a Koga world traveller which is my other choice, and is fully equipped for touring..

    What’s you’r opinion on a stock disc trucker vs koga world traveller?


  9. Yes, it is common that people play around with the parts on LHTs, but I wouldn’t let that put you off buying the bike. Parts will always be changed to suit personal preferences – especially on a touring bike! As to why people don’t change the parts on Kogas, I would say that due to Koga having a range you can choose from (unlike Surly), you get the type of setup you want when you buy it.

    As for the differences between the Koga and Surly, you need to think about whether you want disc or rim brakes, an aluminium or steel frame and whether the Surly offers a specification you’re happy with.

    You can check out our:
    – Article on brakes: https://www.cyclingabout.com/all-about-brakes/
    – Article on frame materials: https://www.cyclingabout.com/frame-materials-for-bicycle-touring-aluminium-vs-steel-vs-titanium/

  10. Hi Waldi. Thanks for the lovely comment! The main changes to the bike to accommodate the Rohloff were new dropouts and new cable routing. Let me know if you need more information than that! Alee

  11. Thanks for fast reply. I now from Nicolai Bangsgaard.dk who has travelled around the world for many years and some other around the world bikers,that Koga World traveller stock is one of the most solid touring bike you can buy.
    I’m not so sure a stock disc trucker (Adventurer rims ) has the same potential, but i like the look of it. It’s a very nice bike with a great reputation in US., and great reviews.

    Thanks for your help.

  12. You mention a few times of the availability of both 26″ and 700c does that mean that there is a possibility of switching between the two? As in if you had the 700c tires and ended up in Kazakhstan with a shredded tire you could by a different wheel and the bike would keep rolling?

  13. If you used a Disc Trucker, you would probably be able to switch wheels, however with the smaller wheels you’d end up with a very low bottom bracket and not a lot of clearance for wide tyres.

  14. Hi, i’m not super hip to touring, yet. I really really like the look of that LHT and i’m considering getting one for my first cross-country (USA) ride. Would you mind telling me:

    1. How did you get the frame with no decals?
    2. What racks/panniers/handlebar bag are you using?
    3. The bike looks so awesome with the Rohloff! I don’t know much about it, but when touring with the bike, has the Rohloff/customized setup presented any issues as opposed to the stock setup?


  15. Hi Marlon

    1. I used a high-pressure hose and got in close.
    2. I use the Tubus Tara/Cargo28 racks, Ortlieb Backroller panniers and Ortlieb Ultimate 5 handlebar bag.
    3. I haven’t had any issues at all running a Rohloff or belt drive, as opposed to the stock setup. It all comes down to budget though; this gear is nice, but to get a Rohloff hub in a Trucker it adds US$1500 to the cost of a US$1500 bike! Is it more durable/will it get you further? Probably not.


  16. Thanks so much for your reply.

    Oh, the decals are actually just removable? Like stickers? Or are you joking? haha.

    Yeah, i can’t really afford to run the Rohloff, but damn does it look nice and i bet it is fun to ride.

  17. I see the tubus racks have 80+ lb and 30+ lb capacities. Know of any good recommendations for racks that perhaps have a lower weight capacity (I am an ultra lightweight backpacker and so most of my gear and food will only add up to maybe 30 lbs total) and therefore lower price? Not that the tubus are expensive…they actually seem to be on the cheaper end, but just curious. Any input is appreciated! Thanks!

  18. Often the lighter weight the rack, the more expensive. For a 30lbs gear setup, you can do away with racks altogether! Check out “bikepacking” bags… here’s some great brands: Revelate, Adipura, AlpKit, Bike Bag Dude, Oveja Negra, Blackburn

  19. I’m so happy to find your site! So much of the info I’ve been looking for in one place! I’m looking to buy a touring bike and from my research it sounds like the Surley LHT disc is the the bike I want… I’m only hesitant about fit. I’m not a particularly small woman (5’4″) but I have extremely long legs for my body. The only road bikes that fit me have been “women specific” designs because I need such a short reach (and even within the bikes marketed towards women, I used to race on a more “relaxed” womens’ geometry because I sat so high on the bike that for me it was an aggressive position)… Do you think this bike could fit a woman with such proportions? Thanks!

  20. This may answer a question I had. The LHT has vertical dropouts, but I don’t see a belt tensioner on the bike. So: In addition to the seat stay fitting to get the belt on and off, you had the dropouts replaced, too? Presumably a type that allows the wheel to be adjusted forward and back to accommodate the proper belt tension?

  21. Good to hear you are so excited about the LHT/DT. The bike looks a bit outdated but I can live with that. It is meant for a cycle holiday. You are saying the geometrie is perfect – When I look at the data (http://surlybikes.com/bikes/long_haul_trucker/geometry) I feel the Geometrie is a little “too long”. The top sizes are really big compared to other sizes. Also, I feel the sizes mentioned are incorrect: The seattube sizes are mentioned to be longer for CC than for CT which cannot be right? I would select a frame on the top tube length which would bring on a 56cm (I am 182cm). I am not sure if I can rely on the data here. Any comments on this?

  22. Hi Albert. I’ve had a look at the geometry chart and cannot pick any faults (there is only one seat tube length on the chart). The top tube lengths may appear long, but given the tall head tubes on touring bikes, the effective ‘reach’ isn’t that long for every given size. Also, keep in mind that people often use shorter stems with a positive rise on a touring bike too – reducing the saddle to bar reach even further. Alee

  23. Hey Alee. I was wondering if you know if the Tubus Cosmo Rear rack will fit onto a Surly Disc trucker?
    My wheel size is 26 with Fat apples tires.

  24. Hi Alee! Thank you so much for your very usefull article!
    I wanted to know if you have an idea of:
    1) If I remove the two weels to pack it and take it with me on a train, flight or a tent. Which size it has?
    2) Any consideration about remove the weels every night and put it again every morning. This can hurt any calibration?

    I was thinking of to buy a Tern P20 in Japan but isnt available. The plan B is the Surly Disc Trucker and a trolley.
    Thank you in you so much in advance!

  25. The pack size of the bike will depend on the size of your frame. I use the biggest frame and it’s 115x85cm (LxH) if I take the wheels out, lower the seatpost and remove the handlebar. Add another 15cm to the length if you have a rear rack.

  26. Wow Alee! Thank you so much for the quick response and the size.
    I really appreciate it! You are awesome!
    Thank you again!

  27. Hi Alee, Thanks for the great resource. Some have said that one loses responsiveness with Surly Disc Trucker, as compared to some others (AWOL, Kona Sutra, 520). What are your thoughts? If one doesn’t ride with a lot of gear, is the Surly overkill? Or still good for just weekend rides of 30+ miles? Thanks, Joel

  28. What do you mean by responsiveness? If you are referring to steering speed, the Surly has quicker steering than both the AWOL and the Sutra and is about the same as what the 520 offers. If you are referring to the wheelbase, there is very little difference between all four bikes. If it’s a matter of frame stiffness, you’ll also find they’re constructed using very similar steel tubing.

    The reason it might be referred to as overkill is probably more due to the heavy-duty components that it’s spec’d with. Compared to cyclocross/adventure/light touring bikes, bikes like the LHT/AWOL/Sutra/520 are built like tanks!

  29. Hi all!
    I am from Russia and I try to choose my first touring frameset.
    I stopped on surly LHT/Disk trucker because it is cheaper then others, but if you suggest something another I will consider it.
    I have a height of 176cm, weight 79kg and an inseam parameter of 81cm.
    Because before I did not really bother with the choice of a bicycle and frame size, now I have a problems with the definition of a frame sizing.
    I tried to select a frame by using the Competitive Cyclist Fit Calculator and it suggest me next frame parameters:
    The French Fit (cm)
    Seat Tube Range c–c: 55.4 – 55.8 cm
    Seat Tube Range c–t: 57 – 57.5 cm
    Top Tube Length: 54 – 54.4 cm
    Stem Length: 9.8 – 10.4 cm
    BB–Saddle Position: 66.8 – 68.8 cm
    Saddle Handlebar: 53.5 – 54.1 cm
    Saddle Setback: 5.3 – 5.7 cm
    The calculator advises me a frame with ETTL 540-544 mm which сorresponds to surly LHT 52cm frame size with 26” wheels.
    I want to try the 700c wheels but I don’t know if these wheels better than 26”.
    There is also the difficulty with these wheels, because the minimum frame size on the 700c wheels is 56cm with a standover of 81.19cm, which is more than my inseam parameter.
    And based on the calculator result, I try to choose either 52 or 54 size on 26” wheels or may be try 56cm with 700c wheels. Could you advise which is better?
    Also does it matter if I will use butterfly/trekking handlebar?

  30. Is it stock or modified? Looks as if the side flaps are quite a bit shorter than on stock B17.

  31. Hi, I currenly own Koga Globe Traveller -S which is 700 CC road version of Koga World Traveller bike ( I guess ) I was thinking of getting LHT frame or LHT disc version frame ( do they differ ? ) and swapping parts from my Koga ( Shimano XT group ) with it + getting some good wheel setup for gravel roads ( I plan to go to Armenia – Georgia tour soon – mostly through heavy gravel roads ) Do you think it is a good idea? What handlebar model do you use on your bike ? Thanks !

  32. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/672382c352bda82ccee5a47787f68c65159d801423b7ad0adf35ec547b825492.jpg

    Hi, I currently own Koga World Traveller -S which is 700CC road version of Koga World Traveller ( I guess )
    I was planning to get a LHT frameset or LHT disc version frame ( do they differ ? ) and swapping my Koga groupset with is ( Shimano Deore XT ) + getting some good wheelset for gravel roads. I am going on a tour through Armenia and Georgia mostly through heavy gravel roads and while my Koga is super comfortable on asphalt and light gravel I am affraid it won’t be a good choice for more demanding terrain. Do you think it is a good idea ? What model of handlebar you are using ?

    Thanks !


  33. Hey Alee! I just want to inform you that as of 2017, LHTs’ have a kickstand plate with the complete build. And the kickstand plates can be purchased from surly at any time

  34. I just purchased a 2017 Disc Trucker frameset (on sale because of outgoing colour, but the new colours are dull) but it didn’t come with the kickstand plate, so I have to purchase it separately should I feel the need to attach one. Maybe it is only included in full build?

  35. Hi Alee

    Thanks for this, it was a key input to us selecting Surly DTs for our custom builds. I finished them today and we head out to Thailand in 2 weeks for a couple of months! They have the 40mm Marathon tyres fitted as we discussed on a different thread, you were right 🙂

    The paintjobs are custom and comes from the Ratrod concept in cars.

    If anyone’s interested in the spec it’s:

    – Ross Speirs wheels with XT hubs and Sputnik rims
    – XT T8000 front & rear mechs and Shimano 116 link chains
    – Custom 48/36/26 TA cranks on square taper UN55 BBs
    – Magura MT5 Hydraulic Discs with 160mm rotors*
    – Tubus racks & SKS mudguards

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2b17040c29adb7e2f54b6a987cc819ff6f7aa4c0dced8227b1e90921acb32318.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7eb7f9e505f0a0859176cbdd3e66b092985af32e02c00049caf0c58e328d9400.jpg

  36. Both bikes will happily take you around the world. You just need to work out what spec i.e. components you want. As Alee pointed out the reason why Koga owners appear to change less of their bike’s components as that when ordering a Koga you specify what wheels, brakes, transmission you want where as with the LHT you buy what Surly offers or you but just frame and fork if you want to do something different. I must say the price differential between the two brands is considerable Koga prices being at the top end of the market where as Surly being more competitively priced. Bu they will both take you around the world should you wish to do this. How much cycling have you done?

  37. I would get a Surly Troll instead. They are very robust and have a MTB geometry. They can take up to 3 inch tyres (26″) but are still good on road as well. Lots of people ride with them around the world on really challenging roads in the middle of nowhere. They also have all the mounts for racks front and rear, bottle cages, etc and you can also fit a Rohloff hub if you want as they have dedicated rear dropouts to take a Rohloff hub. The LHT is more road and light trail based not quite so heavy duty as the Troll.

  38. Pingback: My Homepage

Comments are closed.