This week’s Reader’s Rig comes from Moritz Albrecht, who shares his Surly Long Haul Trucker and his story of carrying on his father’s tradition of building up utilitarian steel bikes for rides near and far. See more here…

Words and photos by Moritz Albrecht (@albrecht_m)

Hi, my name is Moritz. I’m from Halle, Germany, which is in the eastern part of central Germany. I’m 20 years old and I got into bikes because they were always the best form of transport in my area. I obviously learned to ride my bike when I was a little kid, but I didn’t really get into bikes until I was 14. My dad had a pretty good idea about bikes, though, so I grew up with bikes that my dad built from the ground up for my sister or me. We basically had a custom bike ever since we rode them, which in hindsight is quite fortunate.

All those bikes had steel frames, as did all of the bikes my dad owned and rode. You can kind of see a pattern here. I basically got infiltrated with the thought of “steel is reel” from a very young age. I used to ride my bike to school all year round as a young kid, but mostly stopped riding when I was around 13 as the bike I’d been riding wasn’t fun to ride any longer. I asked for a new bike for my 14th birthday and got an old steel road bike off of eBay, which I loved. I started riding all year round and I’ve been doing it ever since!

A year before I finished high school I had the idea to do a trip around the Baltic Sea by bike but I wanted a bike that was capable of doing that, so began doing some research. That’s the moment when I really got into bikes. In the end I got a Temple Adventure Disc for my 18th birthday (a steel bike, of course). I did the Baltic Sea trip and when I came back to Halle I was looking for a job and I happened to find one in a bike shop. I quickly learned so much more about bikes and got to see so many different bikes on which the owner had done some modifications to it to make it work for them. I loved seeing those minor details on those bikes.

  • Dyed in the Wool Basket Bag
  • Safety Pizza

Over time, I got more and more confident about the idea of building my own bike from the ground up like my dad used to do. Up until then I was commuting on my old steel road bike, but that bike didn’t have fenders or a rack and only skinny tires fit. When a colleague said he had a left-over steel frame I said I’d gladly take it. I thought I’ll build a proper commuter bike out of that. It had 26” wheels and horizontal dropouts so I decided I would go for a Shimano Alfine 8 gearhub. As I bought more and more parts, I realized the frame probably didn’t deserve all those expensive components. I started looking for a new frameset, and since I’d always wanted a Surly, I ended up getting a Surly LHT in the 26” version because I already had those 26” wheels. I committed to a build that would cost a lot more than I originally planned, but that’s just what seems to happen when you build your own bike. I tried to make the bike as practical as possible. I wanted it to be a commuter bike that I could also take on trips, long or short.

  • Shimano Alfine Hub
  • Chris King NoThreadSet
  • MKS Pedals

One problem was that the LHT frame has vertical dropouts and I needed to make it work with an internally geared hub. I modified a Rohlhoff chain tensioner so that it would work with the chainline of the Alfine hub. I took the chain tensioner completely apart and rearranged the spacers within the tensioner and also used only half of the threads of the bolt that holds the cage with the jockey wheels so it would come closer to the hub. In the end the chainline was spot on, at least for my eye, and it still works just fine after the 1,000km or so that I’ve ridden. I’m quite proud of that. I also drilled a hole in the rear rack so I could route the light cable through it, and also along the shifting cable into the Pelago Rasket which allows internal routing without having to drill holes.

  • Frame/Fork Surly Long Haul Trucker
  • Rims Exal ZX19
  • Hubs Shimano Dynamohub (front) / Shimano Alfine 8 (rear)
  • Tires Panaracer Pasela
  • Handlebars Schindelhauer Moonbar
  • Headset Chris King
  • Crankset Shimano Alfine Octalink
  • Pedals MKS XC-III
  • Brakes Shimano DXR V-Brakes
  • Shifter(s) Shimano 8-gear
  • Saddle Brooks Cambium C17
  • Seatpost Matrix (27.2mm)
  • Stem Schindelhauer (90mm)
  • Front bags Dyed In The Wool basket bag
  • Racks Pealgo Rasket (front) / Tubus Vega classic (rear)
  • Lights Busch und Müller IQ-X (front) / Busch und Müller Line Small (rear)
  • Fenders Gilles Berthoud 26” (50mm)
  • Other accessories Knog Oi bell, Brooks leather grips, vegetarian Safetypizza, Hebie kickstand

For the Rasket, I got the guys at Dyed in the Wool to make a custom basket bag that’s unbelievably handy because it has sooo much storage. To put the fenders in a neat position, I used M6 nuts as spacers on the M5 screw. Little pro tip right there. I also added a kickstand even though it isn’t as aesthetically pleasing, but the bike is supposed to be practical after all.

  • Surly Long Haul Trucker

I’ve used it now for about four months and it is as utilitarian as I intended it to be. I’ve done a couple of small trips so far and also rode it for 18 hours straight over 303 kilometres just because I wanted to test myself and the bike. It’s been a lot of fun. My LHT certainly isn’t the lightest, but who cares? And with that, thanks for reading my article. I hope I could entertain you a little. Cheers!

See more from Moritz on Instagram @albrecht_m.

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