Surly Long Haul Trucker Showing Some Rust at 500 miles

Rusted bolts on Surly Long Haul Trucker stem holderMy Australian virtual friend Andrew, AKA Aushiker, just wrote about giving his LHT its 500 km winter service.

Everything checked out OK, except that he noted some rust on two stem face plate bolts.

I wrote back to tell him that mine were showing the same thing and that I’d replace them with stainless steel bolts at first opportunity.

My LHT is a Short Haul Trucker

After reading Aushiker’s account of 500 km service, I almost didn’t weigh in.

It causes me to confess that my Surly Long Haul Trucker just turned over 500 miles.

Since mid-January.

That’s pathetic. I’m waiting for the Surly folks to take it away from me for being unworthy of the name Long Haul.

Oops, I found MORE rust

Rusted bolts on Surly Long Haul Trucker crank

When I had my bike up on the rack this weekend mucking with the ring lock, I had a chance to look everything over more closely.

That’s when I saw some rusty b0lts on the cranks (above) and on the brakes.

Rust on Surly Long Haul Trucker brakesSalt air is all ar0und us

I make it a point not to ride through any puddles that I KNOW are saltwater, but some exposure is unavoidable. I’ve written before about how we’re surrounded by salt air, even though I live a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ll replace the bolts that I can and keep an eye on the rest. It’s no big deal, but I hate to see rust. Of course, I guess I could just say that rust builds character, like it did on my brother’s old Sears Spyder.

My Surly LHT Gave Me a Sinking Feeling, I killed My RealLITE and Other Tragedies

Today is going to be a potpourri of stuff that didn’t fit in anyplace else.

My Surly LHT had a sinking feeling

I mentioned that fitter John Palmquist told me that my bike was dialed in and that I shouldn’t be tweaking it. I was a good boy. I didn’t tweak.

On the other hand, I was riding with Jim Beloian the other day and observed that “the saddle feels just a little bit too low, which is odd, because I thought it was OK for the first 100 miles.”

“Just mark the position before you make any changes,” Jim suggested. “That way you can back to your starting point.”

“Beat you to it,” I countered. “I didn’t have a marker with me the other day, so I put a wrap of black electrical tape around the seat tube to mark it. See?”

That’s when I noticed that the tape was compressed about half an inch. The seat post must have slipped over time. Since I was going to follow John’s advice, I replaced the quick release seat binder with the factory model that came with the bike before making any adjustments

I raised the seat about half an inch and have been dinking with it in about 1/16″ increments until it feels just about perfect. Just goes to show that you really can tell if something is out of whack.

RealLITE is murdered

Reader in the Wild Mathilde and her friend from college, Beau Garrido, came over for a ride Monday. She’s going to do a triathlon next weekend and I wanted to see if one of my bikes would fit her. She’s currently riding an old beater bike with a rear wheel that wobbles like a drunken sailor, and the whole thing is not-so-slowly being devoured by rust.

While I was pushing my bike off the porch, the screen door slipped out of my hand and must have popped the RealLITE taillight in just the right (wrong?) place and snapped it right off.


Fortunately, I have a spare, so I’m back in business.

Let’s see if the warranty is as good as it says. (In fairness, I murdered another one several years back and got a replacement back (since that’s all I needed) in a few days.

We stopped at the beach for the obligatory picture

It was a windy day, with gusts over 20 mph, but my Click-Stand did a great job of holding up the bike. I did notice once when I reached for the barend shifter that one of the brake bands had slipped down so far it was almost falling off. I think that’s one of the few problems I’ve had with the stand.

When I got home BOTH brake bands were gone

Tom Nostrant gives you three brake bands when you buy a Click-Stand, so I had one spare, but I figured out that left me one band for two brakes and no assurance that buying more wouldn’t be throwing good money after bad.

Velcro, the modern binder’s twine

Bungee cords were too long. Innertube pieces looked like too much trial and error. When all else fails, what is there to do but to reach for the roll of Velcro. [Note: most of the Amazon ties at that link were 8 inches long. That may be too short for most brake levers. I used a strip that was 11-1/2 inches long and 1/2″ wide.]

When I was a kid, the answer to everything was binder’s twine and bailing wire. Today it’s Velcro

Here’s what it looks like on the brake levers

I put the loop around the inside of the handlebar drops. It cinched down tight enough that there’s little danger that it’ll slip down like the supplied bands. It’s long enough that there’s plenty of overlap, so it’s unlikely to come loose. It’s also faster and easier to slide over the brake levers than the bungee-style bands, which were a bit of a struggle for me.

Winding it up made a bit of a wad

On the first pass, I wound the strap up on itself when it wasn’t in use. I didn’t like that. Because it sticks so tightly to itself, it was hard for me to find the end to unwrap it. It also made a pretty big wad inside the drops. I don’t find myself riding in that hand position often, but I was sure I’d find it annoying.

The solution was to tack the end of the strap to the body, leaving a big loop hanging out. It’s back out of the way and my handlebar bag pretty much hides it.

If you have a Click-Stand and don’t have a Velcro strap to try, drop me a comment and I’ll mail you one as long as my supply lasts.

Bicycle Click-Stand Clicks with Me

I mentioned in the middle of the month that I can’t live without a kickstand or some other way to support my Surly Long Haul Trucker. After describing the benefits and limitations of my ESGE/Pletscher Double-legged kickstand, I said that a Click-Stand was on its way for review.

What IS a Click-Stand?

Think of a small sectional tent pole

The product is made of from four to six segments of Easton Aluminum tubing, from .340 to 4.33 inches around, depending on the model. The top has a rubberized “cradle” that holds the bike up and the bottom has a rubberized tip to keep it from slipping around. The segments are joined together with a bungee cord. A flick of the wrist causes it to click together.

Watch this video

It’s easier to see how the Click-Stand fits together than it is to describe it. I was showing it to my son, when four-year-old Grandson Malcolm wanted to play with it. You can see how easily it comes apart and how it fits back together. “Wow” IS the most common reaction.

How do you use it?

Is it complicated? After all, the beauty of the traditional kickstand is you kick it and it stands up.

The Click-Stand takes a little longer.

First, you have to slip one or both of the supplied brake band over the brakes to keep the bike from rolling. That has the side advantage of making the bike hard to steal. The casual jump and runner is going to be surprised when the bike doesn’t go anywhere and probably won’t think to check the brakes.

Secondly, you flick out the stand (WOW!), place the rubberized cradle under the top tube just in front of the seat tube, lean the bike over slightly and place the rubberized bottom end about 10 inches off the centerline of the bike. Your two wheels and the Click-Stick become a tripod.

How do you carry it?

It’s small enough to fit in a jersey pocket, but I don’t think that’d be comfortable. Bro Mark is going to see if his will fit under the saddle. Since I had a front rack with lots of space, I rigged something that works. I noticed that the five-segment Max-5 would just fit inside a piece of light-weight PVC sink drain that happened to be sitting on my work bench. The white color was a little ugly, so I wrapped it in black electrical tape to make it less obtrusive (and to give me a source of electrical tape if I needed it).

Velcro ties attached it to the rack and another tie made sure the Max-5 wouldn’t escape. It’s very rattle-free.

Will my bike topple over?

I was concerned about how stable the Click-Stand was and if it would have the same problems of being blown over or sink into soft soil or blacktop like conventional stands.

Mr. Click-Stand himself, Tom Nostrant, replied quickly:

Good questions. There is plan for not letting your bike blow over while being supported by a Click-Stand. The amount of lean of the bike is controlled by varying the placement of the foot of the Click-Stand. In windy or gusty conditions I lean the bike over more than typical. I have never had my bike blow over, nor has it been reported to me, but I can imagine it happening. How is that for a semi-answer?

Being able to vary the lean of your bike is helpful in other situations, particularly when parking on a slope, which is tough to do with a two-legged kickstand. The Click-Stand feet are not large, .360″, .380″, or .433″ depending on the model. They can sink in loose soil, though I think to a lesser degree than a kickstand. Because a Click-Stand contacts a bike above its center of gravity, it has a mechanical advantage when compared to a kickstand. Click-Stands & kickstands form different classes of levers. So the foot of a Click-Stand would exert less pressure on the ground than a kickstand supporting the same bike. Not an extremely satisfying answer, again; a Click-Stand will sink in loose soil, but a kickstand would have as well.

The kickstand sinking in would also be more likely to topple the bike. I have been looking for something that I could send along to put on the end of a Click-Stand if you knew it was likely to dig in, but I haven’t come up with it yet. One customer said that he carries the lid off of a two liter pop bottle for that purpose.

How well does it work?

I’m impressed. The brake band for my front brake is a little tight and takes some pulling to get over the lever. That slows me down a little bit, but I’m getting the hang of it. The stick itself deploys quickly. I wasn’t sure if I trusted it at first, but I’m getting over that. With both brakes locked, the bike isn’t going anywhere. The front wheel has a tendency to flop over when I’ve got the bar bag on it, but I’ve found the right angle to keep that from happening.

I stopped in the West Palm Beach’s Woodlawn Cemetery to look for a memorial to the victims of the 1928 Hurricane and spotted this child’s gravestone from 1927. Figuring that it would only take me a couple of minutes to take the picture, I depended on my double-legged kickstand to hold my bike up.

A gust of wind toppled the bike. Fortunately, no harm done, but I don’t think it would have happened with the Click-Stand.

It comes in four basic flavors

  • Click-Stand Classic – This is the original Click-Stand. It is made from .380″ diameter Easton aluminum tubing and can be ordered with either 4 or 5 segments. It folds to less than 10″ and weighs approximately 70 grams.
  • Click-Stand Mini-5 – The Mini-5 is made from .340″ Easton aluminum tubing and is divided into 5 segments. It folds to approximately 8 1/2″ and is small enough to fit into a jersey pocket or pannier.
  • Click-Stand Mini-6 – The Mini-6 is the smallest Click-Stand. It is made from .340″ Easton aluminum tubing and is divided into 6 segments. It folds to approximately 7 1/2″ and is small enough to fit into a coat pocket or small to medium-sized seat or handlebar bag. (This is the one my brother has; in fact, he shot this picture of his.)
  • Click-Stand Max – The Click-Stand Max is made from .433″ Easton aluminum tubing and can be ordered with either 4 or 5 segments. The Max is intended for tandems, cargo haulers, and loaded touring bikes. (This is the one I have.)

Each Click-Stand is a custom product

Before you can order your Click-Stand, you have to provide the company with two measurements:

  1. With the bike stranding upright, measure from the “contact point” where the Click-Stand will support the bike, straight down to the ground.
  2. Measure the diameter of the top tube.

My 52CM Surl LHT measured 29″ from ground to contact point and the top tube was 1-1/4″.

I liked the demo unit Tom sent me well enough to order my brother, Mark, a world-renowned weight wienie, one for his Trek Madone. His bike was the same 29 inches as mine, but his top tube was some kind of funky triangular shape. Tom guessed correctly that the 1-3/4″ cradle would be perfect.

If your bike has bar-end shifters or for any other reason you can’t slip a pair of brake-bands up to the brake levers, you have to order them unassembled. Putting them together is no big deal, but a pair of pliers to do the crimping helps. As it turned out, I re-routed my bar-end cables, so I could have gone with the pre-built ones.

In addition, you have to tell Tom how many segments you want. More segments equals shorter length, but bigger bundle.

Bro Mark’s first impressions

Here is what I can say about the product –
Fast turn around in the customized order. It is light.  It is small.  It is easy to use.  It is everything it said it would be.It holds the bike very easily, as in it holds it firmly and the execution of using it couldn’t be any easier.I will most likely start out carrying it in my jersey pocket (so that it is easier to get to).

Thanks for the early birthday gift, this is really quite neat.  It will be a while before I can get out and use it, but I suspect that at least one person I know will want it.

Here’s an application Tom doesn’t advertise

I was showing the Click-Stand to a guy who carries a car antenna as a self-defense weapon since he regularly commutes through some sketchy neighborhoods where he attracts some unwelcome attention. He liked the idea of the light-weight stand as a substitute.

“I guarantee none of those guys have seen anything like this. When I pull it out and it click-click-clicks into some kind of long, pointy thing, I think it will be a great persuader,” he said.

I could see where it might be useful against an aggressive four-legged animal. Or might be used as an impromptu camera stand for low-level, slow shutter speed shooting.

For more information

For more information or to place an order, go to the Click-Stand web site.

Alan Barnard reviewed the Click-Stand on his web site in November. Our impressions were similar.


I have no affiliation with Click-Stand, but Tom was kind enough to send me a demo unit to review. I liked it well enough to order one for my brother.

I’ll post more impressions after I’ve had a chance to use it for a couple of months.


Bike Computer Magnet Goes Missing in Action

With only about 42 miles on my new Surly Long Haul Trucker, I looked down and saw that the Cateye Strada computer was showing 0 (that’s zero, nada, zilch) for cadence. That was odd, because it seemed like I was cranking about 80 or 90 RPM.

I pulled over and noticed that the magnet in a nifty plastic housing attached to the crank arm with a Nylon zip tie had slipped down and wasn’t positioned correctly for the sensor to read it. I slid it down about half an inch to where it would register again.

Then it happened again

About a mile up the road, I saw the computer was reading 0 (that’s zero, nada, zilch) again.

At the first opportunity to pull over, I stopped and discovered the reason: the bleeping magnet and its nifty plastic housing had gone MIA (Missing in Action).

I decided that it wasn’t worth looking for it. I searched my tool bag for some Rare Earth Magnets I thought lived there, but discovered that I had taken them out at some point. Rather than muck around, I jumped back on the bike and headed north to Jupiter Island.

I had really wanted to see my cadence, because I’m still learning which gear ratios do what on the new bike.

Time for a fix

I wrote about how I used Goop to attach magnets to the crank arm on my old Trek 1220, so I figured I’d use the same technique this time.

I rooted around in the official Biking Stuff Junk Drawer until I came upon two sets of two Rare Earth magnets from Radio Shack. (My brother has pointed out that I can buy them a lot cheaper through Amazon. Working on the theory that even a blind hog can find a acorn from time to time, I’ll concede that point to him.)

I had just bought a new tube of Marine Goop from George’s Hardware up the street, so I grabbed it on the way out the door, along with a small piece of double-edged foam tape to hold the magnets in place while I determined their best placement.

Those magnets are really strong

The first thing that happened was that the magnets jumped out of my fingers and latched onto my pedal. After digging them out, which was no easy task, I stuck them on the foam tape and tried for the best position. I couldn’t get a reading.

That’s when I noticed that the sensor “sweet spot” was right over the hole where the pedal screwed in. I stacked the four magnets on top of each other and gave the cranks a spin.

Eureka! It worked.

Obviously, I couldn’t apply Goop here or I’d never be able to get the pedal off again, so I’m going to see how they work being held together by pure magnetic attraction. [Speaking of magnetic attraction, I met my wife in February about 43 years ago, so there must be something in those natural forces that hold things together.]

To be on the safe side

I’m going to take my brother’s advice and order some spares to keep in the tool bag.

The Surly Long Haul Trucker is a Peterbilt, not a Ferrari

I finally got to bring my Surly Long Haul trucker home. Understanding and Long-Suffering Bike Widow Lila shot this just as I wheeled it in from a visit to Wayne at Bicycle. It arrived the previous Friday, but I didn’t have a final fitting until Monday.

Then I discovered that I had ordered a new 36-spoke rim, but my SON generator hub takes 32 spokes. Getting a new one shipped overnight cost about as much as the rim, but I was anxious to get riding.

When I wheeled it in to Wayne, it was equipped with my Brooks Champion Flyer saddle, Crank Brothers pedals and my Surly Nice front rack. I told him I wanted to move my ESGE/Pletscher Double-legged kickstand and Jandd Expedition rear rack off the old bike, plus find a clean way to mount my lights on the new ride.

He suggested that I let him figure out the details.

Building the wheel

First, he had to build the wheel. (Here’s a video of the whole process.)

I had never watched the whole process from start to finish. It’s not rocket science, but I’m sure glad I let him do it.

He’s built at least three wheels for me and I’ve never had a problem with any of them.

Truing took less time than anticipated

Wayne warned me that it might take as much as an hour to get the wheel trued to his standards.

I knew from following folks with out-of-true wheels that they wobbled left and right, but I didn’t realize that they need to be tensioned so they were perfectly round, also.

Makes sense, but I had never thought about it.

It took him about 20 minutes to get it where he was happy. “It doesn’t take long when you’re working with a good hub and a good wheel.”

I needed to do some tweaking

Wayne found some creative ways to install the DLumotec Oval Senso Plus and Busch&Müller Lumotec secondary generator light to the front of the Nice Rack, but I thought there might be problems down the road (literally). The secondary light was placed where it was esthetically pleasing, but it was installed upside down, which the manufacturer said could cause water to get into it. In addition, because generator lights are relatively low power and conform to strict German standards, they are built with a light pattern that is bright at the bottom, but cuts off at the top like a car’s low beam. Mounting it upside down would invert that light pattern.

The primary light was mounted it a great location for projecting a long, low beam, but I was afraid that water coming off the fender might be bad in the long run. I moved both lights higher. Since I probably won’t put anything on the top part of the front rack, I wasn’t concerned with them being in the way.

Here’s the final result with the generator lights on the front rack at the bottom and my NiteRider Pro12-E and an inexpensive be-seen LED light on a Sidetrack Excess Access bar mounted to the primary handlebar. The object to the right of the lights is my Garmin GPS.

I love the second stem

Wayne did a good job of installing a second stem. That’s an idea I ripped off from several other bikers: like here, here, here, here and here.

Having a second stem and a mini-handlebar below your main one gives you a place to mount a handlebar bag and other accessories without losing hand positions. It sounds crazy to go-fast riders, but it’s really convenient for folks who like to carry cameras, a GPS, multiple lights and stuff.

Here’s what it looks like with the bag

The small Arkel Handlebar bag fits cleanly onto the bag mounts. It’s very stable and doesn’t rattle around. I like it for my cameras because it keeps them where I can grab them easily. Because it’s suspended, the equipment is cushioned from hard impacts they’d feel if the bag was attached directly to the front of rear racks.

The second stem allows it to be mounted low enough that the lights on the handlebar can “see” right over it.

The plastic bottle in the lower waterbottle cage is the air reservoir for the AirZound horn. If I needed the extra water capacity, I’d move the reservoir to the top of the front rack.

I used plastic spiral wrap like you’d use for computer wiring to cover and protect the wires going to the generator hub.

The whole package looks pretty neat

I’m pleased with the way everything fits together. I’m sure I’ll end up taking some stuff off and rearranging it, but, thanks to Wayne and his attention to detail, I’m way ahead.

Here are some reasons why I picked this particular model

  • It came highly recommended by folks who ride longer, for more days and in places where you can’t find a *-Mart store on every corner.
  • It’s designed for touring and delivers a lot of bang for the buck. The base bike was under $1,000.
  • It’s steel and uses shifters that are unlikely to break. “If I was going to go across Cambodia, this is the bike I’d take. If something breaks, any guy with a welding torch can fix it,” said the dealer in Cape.
  • It has lots of braze-ons to attach racks, fenders and lights.
  • It can handle three waterbottle cages.
  • It will allow wide tires that can handle gravel roads if needed. (Trust me, I’ve tried to ride gravel roads on high pressure narrow tires. It isn’t funny. The wider tires make the steel grate drawbridges less squirrely, too.)
  • There is enough clearance to mount full-size fenders. That keeps your bike, drivetrain and equipment much cleaner. It also keeps you from having a trail of poodle poop up your back if you ride the Palm Beach Lake Trail after a rainstorm. (Folks on The Island don’t feel it necessary to pick up after their pets.)
  • The frame is stretched out to allow plenty of heel clearance for rear panniers and it’s designed to allow you to ride long distances multiple days in a row.
  • It has low gears for helping you climb with a load.
  • It has little touches like a spoke holder on the chainstay for two spare spokes.

So, how does it ride?

Well, I’ve got only two 20-mile rides under my belt, so it’s a little early to judge. It ain’t light. When it left The Racer’s Edge, it maxed out their 30-lb scale and that was before adding the rear rack, lights, generator hub, kickstand and bags. My guess is that it’s in the 40-pound range. OK, maybe 45 lbs, but who is counting?

Son Adam asked, “So, what kind of car would you compare it to?”

It’s a Peterbilt, not a Ferrari

“A Peterbilt,” was my answer. “It’s not a Ferrari that’ll go 130 miles an hour, but it’ll do 85 MPH pulling 35,000 pounds.”

And, that’s sort of the way it rides. Once you get it up to speed, it’s remarkably stable and seems to want to keep going. Of course, that’s on flat ground. When gravity starts exerting its force, I may have a different opinion.

Speaking of that, I told Adam to go on ahead when we got to the Royal Palm Bridge. “I want to play with the gears to see how low they go.” Just as the grade was kicking up, I slapped it over into Granny Gear and found myself spinning like crazy. “Wow,” I thought, “this baby IS really geared low, I’m hardly moving.”

That’s when I realized that I WASN’T moving. Forward, that is. I had thrown the chain. I guess those friction shifters are going to take a little practice.

It’s an eyecatcher

When Adam and Chuck Keefer and I stopped at the Palm Beach Inlet to take most of these pictures, the bike gathered a crowd of interested onlookers. [Thanks to Adam for shooting this.]

The fellow kneeling in yellow is Wisconsin Snowbird Jim Beloian who has ridden across the country from east to west and from north to south.

When HE pronounced the LHT roadworthy, I felt a whole lot better.

The decision process and steps along the way