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Surly Long Haul Trucker: Custom Disc Brake Bikepacking Setup – Manual Pedal

Latest image taken – 11/7/2017

After booking Colombia, it didn’t take much thought to decide whether or not I was going to build a new rig for this trip or bring my trucker. After shortly deciding on the trucker being the bike I’d be taking. I had to take a look to see what needed to be changed and swapped with updated parts. My Kokopelli rig was a 10spd drivetrain 32/24, with a 10/36 in the rear that sat on 2.1 tires. It was a solid rig that was capable of handling Kokopelli’s rocks, dirt and sand with no problem. I expected this bike to perform the same in Colombia. You can read more about Kokopelli’s Rig on this link. This bike was fully modified for that trip and retains most of the modifications today.

With my latest concoction, I changed a few things around. I adapted a front disc brake setup. This happened after my original forks brake mount snapped off during a crash in Colombia, that left me with no front brake on descents. Shortly after returning home here in the states, I bought and mounted a disc trucker fork to the long haul trucker frame. After my front brake failed after that crash, I knew instantly disc brakes would have been a far better choice due to the terrain and the load being carried.


I went with the TRP Spyre SLC road disc brake for my bike. TRP crafted a fine piece of aluminum and carbon for this brake. It’s light weight, designed for road and cx but can take on mud and mixed conditions. I think this is a great match for the rider looking for a bit more quality, functionality, ease of use and longevity. I see no issues with this brake on the long haul trucker going forward.

What I like most about it is that it actuates both pads simultaneously. This is different than other systems I’ve seen for mechanical systems. What I mean is, when touring you want your bike to have a solid setup this way you can focus on the riding and being there. Also you want to be able to fix your bike in a barn in any event you have a brake down. A straight cable to the the disc brake and a few turns to mount and adjust the disc brake and set.

Adjustment is a fly with this brake. It will require a hex tool and allen wrench to mount. I have mine mounted up easily to my existing Avid brake lever. The pull is very nice on this brake. I have a Shimano 180mm disc center lock rotor which will provide better stopping power and extended pad life. The Spyre SLC disc brake makes for a nice addition to my setup. It should suit most disc touring frames and comes with additional mounting hardware.


I’ve been wanting to get new wheels built for a while. I had my eyes set on the Mavic A719 rims laced to Shimano XT Disc Hubs with DT spokes. I was also stoked that this was my first official set of wheels I built myself.


For me drivetrain was a battle of trail and error. From the stock triple, to a double to now a 1×11 setup. I think after riding in different locations and getting a feel for the terrain you can get a better feel for a setup that works best for me. I now run a 1×11/42. This new setup is a keeper. It’s clean, light, shifts smooth and low maintenance will be required.


Surly Long Haul Trucker
Surly Long Haul Trucker, 4130 CroMo
Crankset/Bottom Bracket:
Shimano Deore
Shimano XTR M-980 Pedals/ MTB Bear Trap Platform
Shimano XT, Shimano 32t 1x 11/42 Cassette 11spd
Shimano XT SGS (Long Cage) 11spd
Shimano Koyak MTB Crossbar
Thomson Masterpiece, Specialized Toupe
Front – TRP Spyre SLC Disc
Rear – Shimano V-Brake/
Leavers – Avid
Wheels /Hub/Tire:
Mavic A719 32h, Shimano XT Disc Hubs, DT Champion Spokes, WTB Riddler Tire 700×45 front/rear
Ergon GP2 Bar end grips, Outfitted with Revelate Designs bags

Colombia Gear Packing List

The best part of bike touring and bikepacking trips is rounding up gear. For me, I take time doing this and usually start a couple weeks before departure. This setup derived from past experience with gear used, over and under packing. For my first international bikepacking trip I packed half the kitchen sink. If you look at my earlier setups dating back to my 2014 first tour, you would know what I’m talking about. We project rainy days riding in the Colombian mountains so rain gear is a must. Mixed with smart wool tech shirts for hot days and my trusted 4 season Akto. I’m happy to say I have everything I need.

All items will be compartmentalized and packed in my Revelate Designs framebag, handlebar bag, saddle bag & Osprey 18L backpack. Smaller items like food and electronics will be stored in waterproof bags and inside another bag which will be mounted to my handlebar system. I’ll do a follow up after our trip on how it performs. Chime in with a comment below if you have questions about this setup. Would love to know what some of you pack for extended international trips.

Riding Gear:
Endura bike shorts
1 smart wool short sleeve
1 smart wool long sleeve
2 smart wool socks
2 underwear
MTB shoes
Rain gear
Helmet/ Cycling cap

Off Bike/ Casual Gear:
Pants x5
Shorts x4
Socks x6
Under x a lot
Sneakers & Shoes

Tent/ Sleeping Bag/ Air Mattress/ Camp Pillow
Water Bottles/ 3L Reservoir
Tools/ 3x Tubes/ Tire/ Lock
Pump/ Patch Kit/ Chain Links & Master Link
Portable Battery Pack x2/ Lithium Batteries
Headlamp/ Bike Lights
Bike Lock (Not Pictured)

Passport/ Driver License/ Travel Insurance
iPhone & Charger/ Headphones (Not Pictured)
Cash/ Credit Card
Travel Docs & Other Paperwork
Camera Gear/ Storage Cards & Extra batteries (Not Pictured)
First Aid

New England Weekender: Gear List

Planning for bikepacking trips are the best. It can be very strategic or effortless. Over the years I’ve developed a someone what decent, and streamline way to my packing list. Some things to consider are duration, location/ terrain and weather. By designing your packing list around these four essential variables you will begin to see things fall into place. I tend to layout all my gear on my floor a day or two before departure. This can change based on the length of the trip. For extended touring/ bikepacking more than two weeks, always plan ahead.

A little about the trip. This is a New England weekender. A short Vermont brewery bike tour Beginning in Londondale, VT, looping through country roads for on & off road dirt touring. The route passes through Hawks Mountain, and up to Bridgewater for Brewery stops before making it to camp at Coolidge State Forest. The total loop is a short 81miles and can be done in a day or two.

The Hilleberg Akto tent I’ve used for 3 years now, and it’s held up excellent through multiple conditions. I’ve used it in the winter, spring and summer. It’s a bit on the warmer side in summer so I usually pack less clothing to compensate for the warmth. Often times I find myself sleeping on top of my sleeping bag.

My sleeping bag I picked up last minute before I rode the Kokopelli Trail. I needed something lightweight and packable that would fit inside my saddle bag. The EcoPro 50 fit the bill. It’s a great little bag that can be opened up all the way and used as a blanket. I like to do this on hotter days.

I used to ride with my Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest sleeping pad for years. However, I’ve since retired the RidgeRest and included the NeoAir XLite to my arsenal. It’s a game changer. Not only is It lightweight, but it’s extremely comfortable. After long hours on the saddle, you’ll thank yourself for the investment as you gaze at the stars in awe that you switched.

These bags will all be packed in my Revelate Designs Viscacha seat bag, Sweetroll handle bar bag, Tangle frame bag, and Gas Tank. In terms of distribution of items, I put my sleeping system in the handlebar bag, clothing food and sleeping bag in saddle bag, bladder in frame bag, and camera and snacks in the gas tank. With this setup I have plenty of more room for food, clothing and other paraphernalia if needed.

Pack List:

Sleeping System
Hilleberg Akto
EcoPro 50 Degree Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Thermarest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

Clothing on bike
Endura MTB Shorts
Merrell Wicking Tech Shirt

Clothing in tent/ sleeping
Thermal bottom
Thermal Top
Patagonia Nano Puff
1 Pair Merino Wool Socks
1 Pair Tech Boxer Short

Snowpeak 3-piece Titanium Cookset
Titanium Spork
Camp Stove

Spare Tube
Patch kit
CO2 Cartridge

Point & Shoot
Mobile Phone (Maps)

First Aid

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Altra Lone Peak 3.0 & Kokopelli Trail

The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 is a trail specific shoe that boast many attributes as a light hiking shoe. When I decided to go for comfort on my trail hikes I was in the market for something with a nice wide toe box and comfort that can sustain itself for hours on end. I was already running and walking in the Altra Instinct 3.5 which is a very light weight shoe with a wide toe box. If you know Altra, you know that they produce a natural foot designed shoe that gives your feet a good splay in the toe box. This is pretty much how I discovered Altra. I needed a shoe that would aid my toes to splay better over time in the shoe. This will eventually help with posture, your stride when walking, and over all comfort and healthy feet. Talk about embrace the space, they provide comfort, zero drop which in respect is a barefoot styled shoe with cushioning.

My first Altra shoe was the Instinct 3.5. I used this shoe for everything from runs to bike rides along with long day hikes. I wanted something for mountain bike trail rides, bicycle touring and hikes. It had to be something that can meld to me feet and active lifestyle, rather then having melding to it. The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 was the answer. When I first got these shoes I put them on a trail run. Now I’m not a trail runner at heart, but I was stunned at how comfortable they were. Over roots and rocks they over delivered. My next test was to take them on an upcoming trip on the Kokopelli Trail for a 5 day bikepacking trip. They did everything they needed to.

I used platform pedals for the ride which makes it easier to get on and off the bike. The ridged sole gripped the pedals effortlessly. I was surprised to see how well they gripped when we had to cross over wet rocks and other rough terrain. With 6 to 9 hour days of riding, these shoes were so comfortable that I would forget they were even on.

To Sum It Up:

If you’re looking for a shoe that’s extremely versatile, light weight, stylish and sporty, and easy to get on and off. Go for the Altra Lone Peak 3.0. They’re a many color options available for men and women to meld to your lifestyle. Check out the link below to view the shoes we have in stock.

Surly Orge Bike Check with Mickey Cheng

If there’s anyone who is down to take off for an adventure it’s this guy right here Mickey Cheng. Mickey’s one of the most versatile riders I know. He has a big background in MTB racing and can crush it on a road bike as well. Last summer we went on a 5-day bikepacking trip together in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where he rode the Surly Pacer camping, climbing and catching picturesque views. You can read more on that story following this link here.

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Mickey recently built up a Surly Orge and swapped some of the stock parts with his preferred custom components. The Surly Orge is one of those 29er’s that will do it all from commuting, bikepacking, expedition touring, and singletrack. When I took it for a ride I couldn’t help but notice how comfortable and well it handled. It’s siting on 2.1” tires, which in turn make up for it not having suspension. The fork has a very wide clearance and fitting up to a 2.5” tire shouldn’t be a problem. The bike is well made for adventure.

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I’ve learned a thing or two from Mickey on choosing bike components. So I trust his recommendations for parts I use for my rigs. One of the parts he recommends is Paul levers, and when you first ride them you will understand why. They’re lightweight and can be adjusted easily for a 3-2-1-finger pull deal. They also spring back very nicely compared to my avid levers on my Surly Long Haul Trucker. He also talked about the Spyke Mechanical Disc Brake which have dual pistons and stop on the dime. They have a really clean design with a very easy setup compared to single sided mechanical discs.

Enough with the chatter, now, Let’s get to the bike!

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Surly Long Haul Trucker

Transformed from last years setup, the Surly Long Haul Trucker is the “Ultimate Machine.” The bike was recently out on a 5 day bikepacking trip in Virginia and over delivered as expected. Check out this video with the new components that were added to the bike.

5 Day Minimal Gear Packing List

Last year I brought the entire kitchen sink for a 75-day trip across country. This time around, I’ll be going minimal and wanted to share what I’ve packed for a 5-day bike packing trip on Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders for 469 miles from Virginia to North Carolina. We’re planning to start East in Lynchburg, VA to Sparta, NC, and hope to cover somewhere around  200 miles. There are several grades especially when traveling from the east, so swapping my platform pedals for clipless pedals is a must. My camera gear would be the heaviest in my arsenal but I look at this as a necessity. Aside from that, this is a very light collective of gear packed for the terrain we’ll be covering.


I’ll also be carrying Voltaic’s V72 battery that will keep my electronics charged throughout this trip.


In terms of food, I’ll be keeping it simple and light with the exception of a couple of cans of beans and corn. Other foods will include pasta, trail mix, small loaf of bread, peanut butter, jam, apples, avocados, a couple packs of ramen and candy.



In addition to my two 21oz water bottles these two 40oz Kleen Kanteens will house my water for the entirety of the trip.


Nights will be spent getting cozy in my REI Radiant 650 down sleeping bag. It’s rated at 20 degrees for 3 seasons. I often find myself keeping it halfway open if not sleeping on top of it during the fall season inside my Akto






Front/Rear Lights

Puff Jacket/Rain
Jersey/ 2 shirts
Cycling shoes/ Sandles

Pump/Tube/Patch kit/Tire levers
Allen key set

Hilieberg Akto Tent
REI Radiant Plus
Sleeping pad


The Ultimate Machine: Surly Long Haul Trucker

I’ve received a lot of emails asking about the gear I used and how my bike held up during my summer U.S. bicycle tour. I initially wanted to do infield reviews while out on the road but only had the opportunity to squeeze in a few videos but nothing in depth. However, since my trip is completed I can nip this in the bud and give you my perspective on the bike and gear I traveled with. This gear review will be broken into two parts, one with the bike and lastly the gear which you will find in a second post. Stay tuned for that as it will be featured in the gear section and blog. Continue Reading →

Surly Long Haul Trucker Bike Check

While racking up miles and being in different locations daily. Everyone ask how my bike performs and some of the parts I currently run. So I put together a quick bike check video on my Surly Long Haul Trucker while based in Vesuvius, VA for a couple of days about a week ago. For the most part the bike is stock with a few add-ons from my other bikes in the garage. Check it out!

Gear for East to West United States trip

Just a few days away from my trip, here goes a line up of the item’s listed left to right:

Schwalbe marathon folding tire, tripod, camp stove/pot/pan, spork, bowl/ fuel, solar panel, Konovo slide cam, flannel shirt, thermal pants, jeans, bib shorts, Continue Reading →