09 April 2013

Rohloff-Equipped Surly Disc Trucker Commuting/Touring Bike

We built this bike for a local customer in Oakland, CA for commuting and bike packing.  He had come across the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 as the ideal drivetrain for a reliable, hassle-free daily transportation bike and came to us to test ride it and discuss build options.  The Surly Disc Trucker offered a value priced frame with Rohloff-specific features and disc brakes for all-weather braking performance.  We built the rest of the bike up with sturdy, economical parts.

For the wheels, we laced the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 and a White Industries MI6 front disc hub to a pair of Velocity Aeroheat rims using Sapim Race double butted spokes.  The Aeroheat model is the 26" version of the Dyad rim that we use regularly for commuting, light to moderate touring, and cross country mountain bike wheels.

Surly is known for providing durable frames out of chromoly steel at reasonable prices.  The Disc Trucker is the disc brake version of their popular Long Haul Trucker touring frame.  As any fully-equipped touring frame should, the Disc Trucker frame and fork come with a variety of mounting points for racks, fenders, and even a place to carry spare spokes.  Having the rear disc caliper positioned between the seatstay and chainstay eliminates common interference issues between a rack and the disc caliper.  Smaller frame sizes use 26" wheels (42-54cm), and larger sizes are offered with a choice of 26" (56-62cm) or 700c wheels (56-64cm).  With long chainstays and a relaxed head angle, the geometry lends itself to a stable, comfortable ride.

The Disc Trucker joins the Big Dummy, Troll, and Ogre in Surly's lineup of frames with Rohloff-specific features.  The left dropout has an extra threaded hole for a bolt that the Rohloff OEM2 axle plate sits against to secure the hub's axle instead of using a torque arm.  The frame does not have a means for tensioning the chain built in, so we used Rohloff's high quality chain tensioner on this build.  Using a chain tensioner has the advantage that you don't have to make any adjustments to account for chain wear/stretch because the tensioning spring automatically compensates.  Overall, the Disc Trucker offers a solid, affordable platform for building a Rohloff-equipped bike.

 Build details

  • Frame: Surly Disc Trucker chromoly steel
  • Fork: Surly Disc Trucker chromoly steel
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40
  • Stem: basic aluminum
  • Handlebar: Soma Sparrow
  • Shifter: Rohloff
  • Grips: Ergon GP1
  • Seatpost: basic aluminum
  • Saddle: Brooks Swift
  • Front Hub: White Industries MI6
  • Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
  • Spokes: Sapim Race
  • Nipples: Sapim Brass
  • Rims: Velocity Aeroheat
  • Tires: Schwalbe Marathon
  • Front skewer: bolt-on
  • Cranks: Shimano Acera
  • Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN55
  • Chainring: Shimano
  • Rear Sprocket: Rohloff sprocket
  • Chain: Wippermann 808
  • Chain Tensioner: Rohloff
  • Brakes: Avid BB7
  • Braks Levers: Avid Speed Dial
  • Rotors: Avid G2 Cleansweep


  1. Sweet build!

    I know this shouldn't bother me but... isn't the schwalbe rear tire on backwards?

    Thanks for posting!

  2. Good eye! Looks like we may have overlooked that. I don't think it makes much difference in how it rides, but normally the tire would be mounted the opposite direction like the front one.

    1. Absolutely! I've ridden Schwalbe's backwards a few times with nary an issue. My comment was more from an aesthetics point of view :)

      Again, swell bike, it's nice to see such great Rohloff builds!


  3. The Schwalbe Dureme on my rear wheel is on backwards and I've been riding it that way because it's simply to much hassle to reverse it. All of my riding could be done quite well on slicks so the backwards tread has not been a problem.

  4. I am thinking of a similar setup with a disc trucker frame and rohloff hub. I am trying to decide between a 26" wheel size and 700cc. The bike would be used for both daily commuting and some overseas touring. I have seen many comments elsewhere that suggest going with a 26" wheel because of the availability of replacements outside US, and that the wheel would be more robust overall. I haven't seen any comments on whether the smaller wheel helps with packing / shipping on an airline of if that makes much difference. Wondered if anyone had any thoughts on any of these points.

    1. It is easier to pack smaller wheels, but if you're using a full sized bike box, it doesn't make too much difference. On travel bikes, it's more difficult to fit the larger wheels into the case, but still doable. I would probably make the decision based on the other factors - roll over/comfort, replacement parts, etc.

    2. Ty, Ive just made up a 26" with a Rohloff and Son Dynamo front Hub, made for a long bike ride (UK to South Africa), 26" with 36 spoke definitely for spares in more remote places, 700c is not easy to find outside of Europe the US and Australia. And as Neil rightly says, 26" wheels are easier to pack if you end up flying.

  5. With the 26" wheel, you can put on fatter tires than the 700c. That's something to consider if you'll be off road a lot.

  6. What size is this frame? I'm considering a 42cm.....

    1. If I remember correctly, that one was a 46cm.

    2. Excellent. How often do you have small frames in stock? I'd like to check out a 42....

  7. I need help on similar project. I'm building my first touring bike using Disc Trucker and Rohloff. Problem is I dont know which model of Rohloff I actually need and do I also need some accessories for fitting it to the Disc Trucker. Can you help me?

  8. Sure - disc hub, OEM2 plate, rotor, chain tensioner. We've got everything in stock. Shoot us an email if you want to get an order going.

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  10. This right here is my holy grail of touring bikes! Going to start building it from ground up by BRASHLY copying some specs from your rig ;) (hey i live in the frozen north of old continent so i cant order a bike from you guys)

    1. Glad we can be an inspiration! We ship around the world if you wanted to explore ordering the bike through us.

  11. Hello--

    I stumbled upon your site as I was researching a Rohloff setup for my LHT. I have the caliper version of the LHT and not the disc setup. Can you tell me if my LHT needs alterations to use the Rohloff or any additional parts or adapters? I would like to take it a step further and use the Gates carbon belt. Do I have to worry about anything with the setup of the crankset or bottom bracket? Any suggestions on the gearing and the size of the rear cog? Thanks!

    1. For chain use, you simply need a hub kit with a torque arm. From there, everything will install easily. You could choose to use a chain tensioner or a thread-in eccentric such as the Phil Wood Philcentric or Trickstuff Exzentriker.

      For belt use, you would need to install a tube splitter in the seat stay in order to be able to fit a belt into the rear triangle. You would also need a way to tension the chain, either through a thread-in eccentric or another frame modification - removing the BB shell and replacing it with an eccentric shell.

      Cranks and BB are usually not an issue.

      2.35-2.5 external sprocket ratio is typically preferred for touring.

    2. Thanks Neil, another potentially stupid question...after installing the Rohloff onto the Disc Trucker, are their enough holes left to install a rear rack?...it's hard to tell from the pics. Thanks again.


  12. Neil -- do you have any preference between the Phil Wood Philcentric and Trickstuff Exzentriker?

    1. We haven't worked with Exzentriker as long, so the comparison doesn't carry equal weight, but setting up the Exzentriker is a lot easier in my mind. You also get infinite adjustment instead of discrete positions. This may come at the risk of slipping potential, but we haven't seen that in the field so far. We have a lot more customers out on Philcentric units and, outside of one powerful rider who kept breaking the small screws that hold the cups together, haven't had any complaints.