For my ~50km round trip commute to Sidney the most appropriate bike in my fleet is my Surly Long Haul Trucker. So I swapped in a dynohub + lights and made a few more changes to dial it in for this mission. The LHT is a versatile bike that can carry lots of stuff in any weather day or night. It’s overbuilt for lightly loaded riding so it doesn’t respond efficiently to hard efforts. Instead it encourages a steady speed in the low to mid 20kph range. I can sprint over 30kph, but the LHT does not get in sync with my pedal stroke and I get quickly tired.
I really hate charging batteries for my bike lights and have been let down many times by batteries that were supposed to be charged, but ran out earlier than expected. Happily I had a 26″ wheel with a Shimano dynohub available as well as a B&M IQ Cyo Plus light. It’s nice having lights 24/7 without having to give them a second thought.
These B&M lights have a vertical cutoff so light goes where it’s needed – down on the road and not into the eyes of oncoming riders, pedestrians or vehicle operators. I mounted it inside my front rack so I can still attach panniers and so it’s protected when I lock it up at a bike rack. I leave the light on 24/7 as there is virtually no difference in drag at the hub either way.
Fenders and large volume balloon tires make riding in the wet on dirt and gravel trails comfortable and both my LHT and I stay clean.
This is my current drivetrain setup. 1 x 9 with a 36T chain ring x 34T cog low gear. I left the front derailleur on the bike for now. It will get removed during the next major overhaul. I can’t see needing higher or lower gears.
I started riding with flat pedals for their versatility and comfort. I have since switched to clipless pedals and stiff bike shoes. Interestingly I have set all my commuter PRs on the flat pedals.
OMM racks are strong and light. My Brooks B17 saddle is comfortable without any padded bike shorts.
Metal full coverage fenders work very well with long mudflaps that nearly reach the ground. This keeps my bike and I clean – not to mention other riders who may be behind me on wet days. I have dual rear lights mounted for redundancy. I use the top Radbot 1000 on slow flash most of the time because it uses little power and the flash mode is not irritating to other folks I run into. The Superflash on the bottom is a backup and for particularly dark or foggy rides. Because it has an annoyingly fast and bright flash mode I use it set to steady in consideration for other people who have to look at it. By using two lights I can just let them run out of power and recharge them at my connivence since it’s highly unlikely both will die at the same time.
These Retroshift brake levers with shifters are nice since I usually ride on the hoods or just behind them. Living in the PNWet both my GF and I use rim brakes on our bikes for year round riding. They stop us just fine and we aren’t wearing through rims.
I generally don’t care about ride data, but since I am using the LHT to get to work this keeps me on track for an on time arrival. It also lets me keep track of my mileage so I can plan effective preventative maintenance.
This bell is nice because it doesn’t use up any handlebar real estate and it has a nice sound. As long as I ring it early enough it lets other folks know I am coming without startling them.
Although this looks like a bike light it is in fact a visual communication device. If someone is coming at me with one of those highly irritating powerful fast strobe lights I activate the Idiot Blaster 4000 to give them some negative feedback. This is much easier than trying to explain my displeasure as we pass at 50kph relative to each other.
Most of the time I leave this device off. It’s loosely mounted so it can be swivelled up or down depending on how much emphasis the situation requires.
Lately I’ve been using some stiff soled bike shoes and Time ATAC clipless pedals. I use flat pedals on most of my bikes, but I already own these shoes and they fit easily into some goretex rain covers I also own. Since there is no walking on my commute the stiff soles and limited versatility of the pedals isn’t a problem. Conventional wisdom says clipless pedals allow you to put more power into the bike. At least for my commute all my best times have been achieved on flat pedals and street shoes.
I’m not sure if I will keep using these shoes and pedals for my commute. On one hand they work well for that purpose and having rain covers means my feet stay warmer and drier as we head into winter. On the other hand every time I go to use this bike for a non-commute ride in street shoes I either have to swap in flat pedals or deal with a crappy shoe to pedal interface. Since this bike gets used for more than commuting that’s a hassle.
I will definitely switch back to flat pedals in the spring once the weather improves.
The Schwalbe Big Apples in 2.15″ width [~55mm] are comfy and deal well with mixed surfaces like pavement, wooden bridge decks, gravel and dirt. However, they are not a very supple tire so they don’t roll as fast as I would like. I swapped in some 26 x 1.75″ tires from Compass Bicycle. These feature the same supple construction as the Grand Bois Hetres and Cypres models I’ve used and loved. I immediately saw a 12% speed increase on my commute and set a new PR with these tires. At 1.75″ wide [~44mm] they offer a comfortable and fast ride. Not quite as comfortable as the much bigger volume of the Big Apples, but pretty decent. The only downsides are that my LHT handles better with a larger tire and the fender gap is now off. I’m hoping that they’ll make a 2″ width tire.
I’m using one or two of my Ortlieb front panniers on the rear of my LHT. I don’t need the capacity of full sized rear touring panniers. Since they are waterproof I don’t have to worry that my laptop will get wet on the commute.