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What We Ride: Joe Darwal

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Joe Darwal and his Surly Long Haul Trucker

Joe Darwal is a semi-retired professional photographer who now works as a full-time mechanic at the Century Cycles store in Peninsula.

He purchased his Surly Long Haul Trucker frame in January of last year, and spent the next couple of months putting it together with parts purchased in the store and some that he already had at home.

Q. Why did you choose the Surly Long Haul Trucker?

A. I already had a Surly Cross-Check, which is a great all-purpose bike, and my favorite of all the bikes I own, but I wanted something more suited to touring and commuting.

Q. What components did you use when putting it together?

A. It has a triple crankset, Shimano Deore derailers, Shimano Tiagra brake/shift levers, and hand-built wheels with Shimano Deore hubs, Salsa rims, and Continental SpeedRide 700x42 tires. I'm using a Brooks B-17 Aged saddle, and a Salsa Cowbell handlebar. Top it off with a Topeak rear rack, SKS fenders, and a CatEye Padrone computer.

Q. Do you have any other upgrades planned?

A. A company called ESI makes a silicone grip tape that I'd like to try.

Q. What rides do you typically take it on?

A. It's my "pickup truck" of bikes. I ride it to and from work, on Night Rides on the Towpath Trail, and any time I need to haul stuff for a short distance. It feels so stable and comfortable packed and loaded up--I can take a change of clothes for work, lunch, even throw in a couple of six-packs, and it handles it all very well.

Q. Do you have any plans for a long bike tour?

A. Yeah, a friend and I are going to do part of the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O Canal Trail from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC this fall.

Q. Any final thoughts on the bike?

A. There may be lighter bikes, but nothing rides like a steel bike, and a Surly steel bike is especially good at handling anything you can throw at it.

This article was published on July 23, 2015.

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