Obsolescence

I bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker in the summer of 2015 and if you know Surlys you know.

But if you don’t: the Surly LHT was the first of its kind. There are many options now, and arguably better ones, but the LHT was the the only bike being produced in the nineties and the aughts that was built to bear weight. And I wanted one. For a long time. Every single component–from 26er wheels to canti brakes to barend shifters–was chosen because of its accessibility and repairability.

At the time when I purchased the bike I had the option of a 700c version or a 26er version. 700c wheels are the American and European standard because they are faster rolling (I guess). But anywhere else in the world–Asia, Africa, South America–if you need a new wheel or a new tire or a new tube all you’re going to find are 26ers. And so, that’s what I got–a 26er LHT–a bike that could go anywhere and be fixed anywhere.

I never ended up in Bolivia needing new tubes. But I did ride the shit out of that bike. From NYC to Montreal and back. Across New Hampshire and Vermont and Maine. To the end of Long Island. To work every day on the rutted out pavement of Queens. And still in Denver. On a million grocery store runs. And I never ended up with more food than I could carry on that bike. I estimate it’s taken me about 10,000 miles.

It’s been serviced over the years. But never like I serviced it last week. Everything came apart–the headset the bottom bracket the wheels. I was most concerned about the hubs–they’re ball-bearing-cup-and-cone hubs. Like everything else on the bike, they are meant to be serviceable, not just discarded and replaced. But still, I’ve seen many a cup-and-cone system rusted out and mine were already feeling crunchy. So when I opened up the hubs and cleaned out the grease and found everything shiny and smooth, I smiled. I guess that’s what they said they’d do. And I never took it all the places I thought I would, but I took it some places I never thought I would. And now, thousands of miles later, I am surprised and touched to see the reality: of this bike bearing the weight of me everywhere I go.

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