One bike bought. One to go

Lucia and I have flown to the UK from Cyprus with the aim of leaving with two fully kitted up touring bikes. After reading this Blog Post by Tom Allen, we decided to head to Cycle Heaven in York. The reviews of the shop seemed very positive and after phoning them to see if they would be open on the Easter weekend, I was very impressed by their positivity and knowledge on the phone when I asked them about buying touring bikes.

Ever since I can remember, buying a new bike has been one of the most exciting things in the world. Maybe only beaten by watching the first episode of a new series of Game of Thrones or catching the ever elusive Mew on Pokemon Red (if you get this reference and are in your late 20’s/ early 30’s, you’ll know the excitement of using that master ball on a Mew.)

Before heading to the shop we had narrowed down our search for touring bikes to the Surly Long Haul Trucker or Disk Trucker. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is one of the most popular mid-range touring bikes on the market and has proven itself on countless around the world cycle tours. Surlys are not often found in the UK but are more commonly found in the USA. We like how the Surlys can be easily customised and the style and geometry of the frames look pretty darn cool. 

When buying a bike, I recommend you always visit a store

We spent about three hours in Cycle Heaven. Luckily the shop has an awesome cafe, perfect for a cycling shop. After trying a number of different sized frames, we settled on two Surly Disk Truckers. This is the disk brake variant of the popular Long Haul Trucker.  The debate between disk or V brakes has been had countless times on internet forums and blog pages. The two main benefits of having disk brakes over V brakes are:

  • Having extra stopping power with two heavily laden bikes.
  • Reducing the risk of damaging the rims of the wheels that come with V brakes.

These benefits seem to be worth the effort of learning how to fix and replace disc pads and the extra cost over V brakes.

The main benefit of buying bikes in a shop as opposed to buying online is that the staff in the shop can ensure that the bike is sized correctly. Having a bike that fits is more important than anything else when it comes to bike buying. An ill-fitting bike will likely lead to injury and discomfort on a long tour.

Lucia had to try a couple of different sized frames before the staff were settled that it was the proper fit. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the Surly Disk Trucker in a 50 cm frame for Lucia so we had to order it in. They did, however, have a 52 cm frame for me so I managed to get the bike fitted with the accompanying accessories such as mudguards, racks and bottle cages. It was unfortunate that we didn’t manage to take home both bikes on the same day but ensuring both of our bikes are the correct size is more important.

It would have been a right squeeze with two bikes in the car.


Here is my bike fully loaded and ready to go.

We were very impressed with the service at Cycle Heaven. The three hours of browsing, test riding bikes and eating cakes in the attached cycle cafe were well spent. If you purchase a new bike with Cycle Heaven, all servicing and labour costs are free for the first year of purchase. As we will be leaving in September, we won’t have much opportunity to utilise this offer but we will be getting the bikes serviced before we depart. They gave us 10% off the accessories which was really good of them. I also asked if I could film in the shop as I am planning to make a video diary for our trip. They were really helpful and happy to let us film.

Breakdown of costs

For those that are interested, here is a breakdown of the costs for a new 2018 Surly Disk Trucker and any attached accessories (all * accessories were given a 10% discount by Cycle Heaven). Items were purchased from either Cycle Heaven or Amazon. This isn’t a breakdown of all of the items we will be using for the tour. It’s just the essentials to get me out of the door.

Item Cost
Surly Disk Truker 2018 £1500
Tubus Logo rear rack* £103.50
Tubus Tara front rack* £72
Mudguards front and rear* £36
Bottle cages x 3* £26.49
Ortlieb Front Roller Classic* £85.49
Ortlieb Back Roller Plus £100.54
Ortlieb Ultimate 6m handlebar bag £67.90
Brooks B17 Saddle £60.47
Cateye Bolt 300 USB front light £39.90
Cate Eye USB rear light £19.99
 Basic Metal Pedals  £27.28
Total £2139.56

The costs for Lucia are pretty much identical so in total, we will have spent just over £4000 on two touring bikes. This is a hefty wedge of our budget. It is about £1000 over our original budget for purchasing bikes as we didn’t account for the extras that you need to buy when getting a Surly as it doesn’t come with racks, mudguards or a decent saddle. It does mean that the accessories we have bought are the ones that we actually want and not ones that the manufacturer has decided we should have. It’s now time to properly start saving and start selling our unimportant stuff.

One area I didn’t want to skimp on is the racks. Having done cycling tours in the past with cheap racks, they are one of the first things to go when fully loaded. The German made Tubus racks are some of the strongest (and most expensive) racks that money can buy. It should mean that we can literally take the kitchen sink if we so wish.

Also, having a front rack isn’t essential. It completely depends on the person and the level of comfort that person needs on a cycle tour. Take four panniers and you will be more comfortable but it will be more tiring carrying a heavier load. Two Panniers allow for a lighter load. There is no right or wrong way. We have decided to fit into the slow, heavy but comfortable category with front and rear luggage.

Names on Frames

One other cool purchase this week was our own individual and personalised names for our frames. The Yorkshire based company produced personal name tags for both Lucia and me complete with Yorkshire flag. We paid £15.90 for 4 stickers each with our names on from

We are pretty excited to be collecting Lucia’s bike on Friday.  Once we have both bikes set up and good to go, the plan is to set off on a UK based mini cycle tour for a few days. We’re thinking of cycling the Transpennine Way from Southport to Hornsea across England. I proposed to Lucia back in 2012 in the coastal town of Hornsea so it will be nice to finish our first cycle tour there.

Feel the fear and do it anyway
Episode One - Buying the Touring Bikes

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