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Saturday, April 21, 2012

New crankset and fenders!! (The Blingification of the Long Haul Trucker, Part 1)

You might find it hard to believe, but at one point I wasn't much of a bike aesthete. My original Portland bike, a mid-nineties Giant Rincon MTB, wasn't much to look at. After buying it I immediately stickered the bejeezus out of it (in an attempt to make it more "theft-proof"). I didn't care how components looked, and generally replaced meh with meh when said meh wore out. Yet, I rode that bike for five years, pretty much into the ground.

Then I got my second Portland bike, a mid-eighties Centurion Accordo road bike. It looked nice, so I didn't bother stickering it. I began to see the value in having a nice-looking bike. And all the bikes I've owned since then have been "nice" to some degree.

I've owned my Surly Long Haul Trucker for four years. It's been much loved, and much lived on in those four years. I've made sure that everything on the bike has been of decent quality, and I've been concerned about how it looks from day one. But there has been one thing that had been off, something that's bothered me somewhat over the past year or two: The crankset.

Now there is nothing wrong with the crankset, it still was functional. But it just looked out of place: a Shimano Deore crankset that very much looked modern mountain-bikey. Me no like the modern mountain bike look.

The last time that anything was done to the drivetrain of the Long Haul Trucker was before the big tour in May. After 5,000 miles, everything was worn. I knew I would need a new rear cassette, chain, and chainrings for the front. But why stop there? I had some cash from the sale of my Worksman Cycle Truck so I had the money for a new crankset. But what would look classy enough?

The answer I found was a Sugino XD 500T triple crankset. This is a very classic looking crankset, sold by the likes of Rivendell. The three rings are 46x36x24, which is approximately the same as what I had with the Shimano Deore, though the small ring on the old was 22 teeth. This means my lowest gear with the Sugino is about 19" vs 17" with the Shimano, not much of a difference!

To round out the rest of the drivetrain overhaul, I got a new bottom bracket (mostly due to the difference in spacing with new crankset), new Sram chain, and new 13-34 seven-speed rear cassette. And I moved the MKS Lambda/"Grip-King" pedals from the Raleigh to the Long Haul Trucker.

But new blingy drivetrain hasn't been the only thing that's been done! Oh no, I've fully went out on the Fancy Bicyclist deep-end and got a set of metal fenders. Like the crankset, I've been wanting some aluminum fenders for awhile, but since my plastic fenders (Planet Bike Cascadia) were still serviceable and I was cheap, I held out. The time seemed right and I had the extra cash (see Worksman Cycle Truck sale from above) so I took the plunge.

On Thursday my friend Ed and I installed a set of Velo Orange hammered fenders. It was a few hours of futzing but we made everything work, but just barely. As you can see from the front, there is not a lot of space with a platform rack, front fender, and 37-622 tire. Ed drilled a hole into my Jandd Extreme rack to anchor fender to rack and prevent movement. We also put the stays between the front fork blades rather than around it (as it normally would be mounted) as the rack conflicted and the stays too thick to bend around it. It works, but everything up there is tight.

I think the Long Haul Trucker looks rather elegant now. And it's amazing how just a few cosmetic changes make a difference. It's not like they make a difference in ride quality (though a new drivetrain means it runs smoother) but it has become more fun to ride. And I want to ride it more. Yes, it's all mental. But if it helps me enjoy the bike...


  1. Good job on the fenders. Whenever I buy something for my LHT, it feels like I'm giving a faithful, family retainer a much-deserved Christmas bonus (err, but then, that's probably just me)!

  2. Looking good, the Sugino cranksets are great IMO: functional and stylin'. But I have to ask, what is the deal with the top tube pad?

    1. Hurm. So when I was a kid and first got into biking what all the kids rode was single speed BMX style bicycles which we just called dirt bikes. The ones we rode were sort of cheap versions of what one would ride on dirt tracks for actual BMX racing and tricks and such (my first one was a huffy) sort of like those BSO fully suspended Mt. Bikes you see these days. Of course we all wanted the more pro ones, but really almost none of use followed BMX racing at all and the bikes were just a form of transportation for us. I at least (and I think most of us) aspired toward a 10-speed. Anyway there were several pieces of kit from the BMX scene that you just had to have. These were mostly pads: top tube and one that went in between the handle bars were absolutely essential. The theory with these was that when doing tricks it'd protect a body part when it whacks against these parts.

  3. The LHT is looking great. The Sugino crank is definitely a better look. And the hammered fenders give it a bit more class. Nice.

    Updating a current bike with a few new components always seems to make it feel fresh and new again.

    I have a few different boxes of stuff sitting around for my LHT. I planned to upgrade it before my big trip this summer. After seeing this post I'm motivated to start working on it. It's getting new brakes, VO fenders, new chain/cassette, new Schwalbe tires, all new cables/housings, handlebar tape, and a new Pletscher double leg kickstand to replace the current single leg kickstand. It will almost be like having a new bike.

  4. The LHT looks much bettermmy friend,LOVE those fenders...they were worth the effort :)

    The Disabled Cyclist


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