I purchased my Surly Long Haul Trucker back in 2012 for a bike trip across Canada. Since then the SLHT has been my everyday bike. It has dutifully transported me between home, school, or work everyday over the past 6 years. I love my SLHT, but over the past year I have started to tire of the bent over riding position for short commutes. Most days I wear a suit to work, and with the drop down handle bars I found the riding position not ideal. Additionally, the total daily round trip distance of my commute is only about 8 km. I wanted something that put me in a more upright riding position, looked good, and would not break the bank.

I considered buying a new bike. I wanted something that looked line a Linus Roadster Sport, or the Brooklyn Bicycle Co. Bedford 7. But, purchasing a new bike would set me back at least $500. Also, I didn’t really have enough room to store an additional bike anywhere, and I was not considering selling the SLHT. So instead, I opted to try and convert my SLHT to look and ride to something similar to the bikes above.

After many days of research, a week of waiting for parts, and a half day of putting everything together, here is the final product! Overall I was very happy with how everything turned out. The bike looks great, the riding position is much more comfortable for my short rides around the city, and the bike still handles well.

The inspiration for my conversion came from a few different place. I did some research online, and found a few setups that I thought looked really good. One of my favourite setups was from WayOfTheBicycle.net (picture on the left). I thought the design from WayOfTheBicycle.net looked great and I wanted to try and create something similar. Another post I took inspiration from was ecovelo.info (picture on the right). I liked the open handle bars, and I also wanted to do something similar with the fenders and possible keeping the bar end shifters.

I considered ordering the parts online, and attempting to do the conversion on my own. But I was worried I may order something the wrong size, or that would not work. I went to Gears in Toronto’s Canary District to discuss with them the best way forward. The staff at gears was very helpful, and recommend that I go with:

After my parts arrived in the store, the next step was to perform the labour to rebuild my beloved SLHT. I was a little bit nervous doing the conversion myself, I don’t have a lot of experience working on my bike, and I didn’t want to damage anything. But doing the work on my own was going to save a lot of money, and it would be a good learning opportunity. Since I did not have the tools or knowledge to do this completely on my own, I went to bikeSauce, a DIY bike space located near Broadview and Gerrard in Toronto.

The folks at bikeSauce were super helpful and guided me through all the changes I make. This blog will not contain a complete how to, but in general, these are the steps I took. If you don’t have much experience working on your bike, I would highly recommend finding a DIY space to help you.

1. Remove handlebar tap and all accessories from original drop down handlebars.

2. Remove brake levers. To do this you need to squeeze the break, and insert an Allen key into the slot that appears. The hex screw sitting behind their can sometimes be tricky to find. In order to make it easy as possible you can loosen the brake cables. Once you have loosened the loosened the hex screw you should be able to remove the brake levers.

3. Pull brake cables out from the brake lever. To do this you will need to locate where the brake cable ends on your bike (it will be right where the break pads are). Loosen the screw that attaches the breaking cable to the (anchor bolt) with an Allen key and wrench. You will likely have to snip the end of the cable if there is a cap on it. Then simply bull the cable starting from the brake lever out of the bike. Make sure to save your cable if you plan to re-use them. The parts I bought came with new cables and tubes though.

4. Pull shifting cables out from the bar end shifters. The process is very similar to the steps above for the brakes.

5. Remove handlebars using Allen key.

6. Now that you have taken everything apart, it is time to put everything back together. Start by installing the new handlebars. Don’t make anything too tight incase you want to make adjustments later. Also, important to make sure that the handlebar clamp bolts have even space between them. This can be achieved by slowly tightening each bolt, rotating between each four ever few turns.

7. Attach the new brake lever and shifters, tightening with Allen key. Try and position in their final position, but don’t worry too much about getting this perfect as they are easy to change afterwards.

8. Next I re-connect the front and back brakes. You will need to measure approximately how much cable you will need. Mark this with tape and snip with wire cutters. Make sure to leave extra able which can always be cut off later if you have too much. You will also likely need to cut the cable housing. Again measure how much you need, and make the cut. Make sure

9. Run the cables back the same way through the bike as you found it and re-attach using the same mechanisms.

After all the hard work I was very happy with the results of my conversion. I have kept my old drop down handlebars for use during my next tour, and look forward to playing around with my setup more in the future.