My Surly Disc Trucker that was damaged when I got hit by a car last summer has been reincarnated as the Mountain Trucker.
The distinguishing factors are the 2 inch mountain bike tires and the Soma Junebug drop bars. I first wrote about these back in July when I got them. At the time the Disc Trucker was my general purpose touring bike and I was getting it setup for my Coast Tour which I did in September. I have small hands, and I could not reach the brake levers in the drops on the Surly drop bar with the Teckto levers. I was trying out the Junebug to see if I would like it for touring. The verdict is, probably not. I don't think they offer enough varied positions for all day touring. Also the main position is in the drops, not the hoods, so even though these bars are mounted higher, you still tend to be lower then on the hoods of regular drops.
So now I have the Soma Saga as my general road touring bike, which by the way, is sporting the original Surly drops from the Disc Trucker. With the setup on that bike I have no trouble reaching the brakes. No longer needing it for a road touring bike, I wanted to outfit the Disc Trucker for off-road use. So I put on the mountain bike tires and started riding the trails. Out on the trails the Junebug bars really shine. Both for climbing and downhill I feel like I have really good control with these bars. I always had trouble getting flat mountain bike bars to push around on tight switchbacks. With these wide bars it is much easier to make the sharp turns. At first I though maybe the bar-end shifters would hit my knees, but there is actually a lot of clearance. This setup would be even better with the SRAM Apex shifters I have on the Saga, but that would be anexpensive upgrade because of the MTB style Avid disc brakes on this bike.
The trails around here are perfect for this bike. So far I've necountered nothing that would require a suspension bike. A few small roots but no big rocks or drops to deal with. The heavy steel frame on the Trucker is really pretty much the same as mountain bikes from the late 80's and early 90's, before aluminium frames and front shocks became the standard. It's heavy but probably not much heavier than the full suspension bikes most people ride off road. I do have to remember to adjust for not having front shocks and slide back when approaching a bump. If I get it right and un-weight the front, then it hops right over the obstacle just fine.
So the Trucker makes a good trail bike, but I know it is a touring bike at heart. My plan is to outfit it for off-road touring with a goal of some camping in the Coast Range next summer. At this point I'm not sure what the configuaration will be. Maybe a rear rack and panniers and just a rando bag up front. Or maybe invest in some bike-packing (as they're now calling it) bags. I'm not sold on the frame bag idea as it eliminates water bottles. This means a back pack with both a water bladder and a bunch of gear. I've got just the pack but I prefer not to carry stuff on my back. So we'll see how that plays out. In the mean time I'm having a great time riding the trails and forest roads right here in my back yard.
In 2013 I got the Revelate Harness for the handlebars. I really like this a there is just the right amount of space between the bars and under the shifter cables for a drybag with my sleeping bag. It does not seem to bother the handling at all. I still use my Arkel XM-45 panniers on the rear, so it's not a full bikepacking setup, but it's getting there.
In 2014 I replaced the cheap mountain bike tires with a set of Schwalbe Big Ben. These are nice fat tires that can handle low pressure, but do not have knobbies. I've ridden these on quite a few gravel roads and trails. For touring they are great, but I do miss the knobbies on the trails. One nice thing about not having knobbies is that it is safe to have fenders. Having the fenders on with the mountain bike tires was a bad idea.
In 2015 I added some more bikepacking gear, including a Revelate frame , and Salsa Anything cages. The frame bag is fine, but I had trouble keeping a dry bag of food secure in the anything cage. After that 3 day ride to the coast I decided I didn't see any advantage in the bikepacking gear and mounted the original Jandd Extreme front rack, but I haven't yet toured in this configuration. So we'll see. I may go back to the bikepacking setup, or not.
In 2016 I used this was my most used touring bike. I took it on the MVBC Loop Tour in the Wallows an extended tour through Washington and finally a 2 week tour to Crater Lake and Ashland.. On the Wallowas tour I tried using a set of Compass Rat Trap Pass 52mm tires but had too many flats with the. Here is an article I wrote about the experience. In this picture I was using the "best of all worlds" setup. Traditional 4 panniers, bikepacking front harness and frame bag, and English style saddle bag.