Thursday, August 11, 2011

Long Distance on a Surly

My Surly Long Haul Trucker, with knee-high rubber boots and stand-up bicycle pump strapped to the back. 200 pounds all together.

The thumbs-up is really popular in Colombia. I think they are on to something.

Since I discovered road bicycling after high school, I have always ridden steel racing bicycles from the 80s (during high school I rode mountain bikes around, slowly). High in quality and low on price, chromoly cycles are made to last.

Unfortunately, many consumers today purchasing new low to medium-end aluminum bicycles might find themselves paying more than twice what I would spend on a bike that will only last a few years. Trek, Raleigh, Schwinn…these are companies that people associate with quality because at one time they made a popular quality product, but most popular brands today make the bulk of their money selling low-end, overpriced, poorly manufactured (that is, Chinese) bikes.

For instance, Schwinn is now owned by a Canadian company charmingly called Dorel Industries. They got it a few years ago from a company called Pacific Cycle, Inc. who had acquired it during bankruptcy proceedings a few years before. Pacific Cycle, Inc. also owns Mongoose, Roadmaster, InSTEP, Pacific Outdoors, and Powerlite (story). These are NOT bicycle enthusiasts.

Surly is a company of a different breed (whose bikes are at least made in Taiwan). A solid bike with great, practical components. I bought my Surly Long Haul Trucker new in September 2010, and have since ridden it from Amsterdam to Turkey, all over Colombia in South America, and then from Miami here to Louisville.

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Through the sometimes terrible roads of Hungary, Macedonia, and Turkey, the landslides and flooding in Colombia (that even four-wheel vehicles could not get through), and carrying the extra weight that comes from touring with one’s girlfriend (yes girls, it is worth it to travel with you, but you do tend to pack more but carry less), I have had no problems with the bike at all.

Tourers aren't the only ones who rave about Surly; heavy people love them too because they can handle weight. I am not heavy, but I am tall at 6'2" and I like a big frame. Extra long and made from 4130 chromoly steel, the Surly Long Haul Trucker can take whatever you throw at it.
(Scroll all the way down for more pictures from the road)

When I finally made it to Louisville and walked into Vic’s Classic Bikes, I couldn’t believe my eyes when there were my favorites old and new: rows of quality used lugged steel racing bikes and also new Surly bikes. Heaven does exist…


Carrying two people, milk, and food. Way to make it work in Colombia.

Lived here, in Manizales, Colombia for about two months.

From inside Manizales--the white peak you can see in the middle of the picture is a volcano that erupted in 1985 and over 23,000 people were killed, making it the fourth deadliest eruption in history.

Mom and daughter out and about in the Netherlands.

Kids all bicycle to school, and no one wears a helmet, ever.

Awww. Bike together, stay together.

by John Wade