Meet ‘Sturdy Sadie’, my trusty steed for getting me from A to B regardless of the distance or terrain. She may not be a fancy lightweight girl, but as the saying goes ‘steel is real’ and Sadie is as real as they come. She has taken me to far flung and unimaginable destinations, as well as to work everyday, with out batting an eyelid and I have no doubt of her courage, strength, endurance and reliability!
Sadie, a bright Blue, 26″ wheeled, 52cm Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) I first met back in 2011 and we have since become best of friends.
Despite the fact that at 5’6″ I am slightly to small for her (wouldn’t advise buying bikes online regardless of the perceived cost saving, much better to find a shop you trust and get fitted) I have made a few adjustments to ensure we get along.
I have an inline Thompson seat post and a very short BBB stem with a mean upwards angle on it. Both of which helps to bring my saddle (a Brooks B17s, of course) and my bars closer to my correct position. I used to use a BBB steerer tube extender aka ‘the erection stem’, which gave me an even more upright riding position, but after increasing my flexibility and becoming used to a more aggressive riding position on ‘Loose Lucy’ (my much loved All City Big Block track bike) I have since removed it.
I also replaced the horrible stock bar tape as soon as I got a chance with a matching Brooks one, yes this was before I became a Vegan and now I have them I will be getting every ounce of use out of them. This has lasted unbelievably well and I must thank Arunas from Bike U Like
for getting it looking like new again for our current tour! #ReverseWrapping
As with most complete bikes Sadie came without peddles, so I pinched a pair of Andy’s nearly new DMR v12 Mag platforms complete with a set of indestructible ReStrap straps
and haven’t looked back. Due to the nature of Sadie and the type of riding we do together I prefer the options this setup gives for everyday footwear as opposed to any performance benefit of cleats, while still allowing me to feel secure and enable me to pull up on the climbs.
NB: The neat thing about the v12’s is that all the pins can be removed from each side of the peddle, unlike on cheaper models. So I have the strap side pinless so I can easily slide my feet in and out, while the reverse has all its pins and is great when riding mountain bike trails as I have no worries if I need to bail quickly.
After finally wearing out the original chainset I replaced it with a 165mm Strong Light triple (46t, 36t, 26t). Despite spending most of my time in the middle ring the 26t has been getting a lot of love during our current and very hilly tour of NZ. On the back I have a standard XT 11t-32t cassette.
Shifting wise the bar end leavers have worked flourlessley . They are not fancy by any means, but get the job done every time. The front is friction so you can get the derailleur set just right regardless of what gear your in at the back and avoid any irritating chain rubbing noises. I have the rear one set to indexed as I just prefer that, but you can always switch to friction if needed. The glue holding on the rear leaver grip actually melted during our tour in the USA and was bodged (I mean fixed) with the help of a random black cover and a lot of super glue in the Santa Cruz Bike Church.
Despite having the original cantilever brakes, which are still going strong, the leavers have been replaced by these super comfortable Cane Creek ones (SCR-5’s) due to the hoods on the last set splitting and not being individually replaceable.
The stock XT hubs have been great and despite not being precious with her the wheels have stayed remarkable true. The rear rim wore out and was rebuild by Bike U Like
in advance of our flight to NZ using a Ryde Zac 2000 and is still rolling fine despite the trails and gravel roads.
Tyre wise I just left on the set of 1.35″ Schwalbe Marathon Plus’s I had on for commuting back home and despite no punctures (touch wood) in over 2000 miles of mixed terrain touring I would advice wider more grippier ones like Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour for this type of NZ riding. That said on paved road they are great and zip along no problem.
My previous tyres were also Schwalbe Marathons, but the even more road orientated Supremes in a 1.5″. Two punchers in the whole of the US so can’t complain at all. In total they lasted me somewhere around 8000 miles and I still actually have the front one as a spare!
Mud guards, or ‘fenders’ for anyone in the states, are SKS and despite being a bit boring keep us both as clean and dry as possible when the weather turns.
I only have a rear rack (Tubus) as room for any more stuff would just slow us down, plus why bother when I can just make Andy carry more lol.
My panniers are Ortlieb Classics and are great as they are not only waterproof (well when there not so jam packed they don’t shut) and can be over stuffed easily which is great for food shopping at home or on tour.
If in doubt about what touring kit to get go with the German brand. Even Brooks, the most English of cycling brands, gets their panniers made by Ortlieb!
I must at this point point out that I am one of those people who tends to wait until something breaks before I replace it, hence my last chain and cassette combo did over 6000 miles before I even considered retiring it. The trick is to buy good solid reliable stuff in the first place and having a partner to clean and oil it regularly is no bad thing either.
Sadie is super comfortable to ride for long periods day in and day out and in this setup has worked extremely well for me on almost all terrain including road, dirt, gravel, rail trails and easy mountain biking tracks. Off road in the wet is the only time it’s been a bit dodgy and I could have done with thicker more nobler tyres, but even then she managed admirably and kept rubber side down.
Keep a eye out on our return as I am treating her to a makeover!!