Frame size and configuration

So you want to buy a Surly frame and build your own bicycle? That’s awesome! So to get started you need to make three decisions before ordering your frame.

First of all, you need to determine the frame size that fits you. Surly frame sizes range from 42-64cm. This dimension is the “seat tube length”. So how does this help you? It doesn’t! And if you call someone at Surly and say I’m 5′-8″ it doesn’t mean they can say “well you need a 56cm frame”. Additionally, you can search the internet and find calculators, but that won’t really find the “most comfortable” frame for you. You see, finding the right size frame is finding what feels most comfortable for you (it’s subjective in nature). A quick way to narrow it down is to consider the “stand over height”. You can consider your inseam as a ballpark number and know that you will not be comfortable with a frame larger than your inseam. I suggest visiting your local bike shop and sit on different size bicycles. They will guide you finding the right geometry. Refer to Surly’s website and reference their frame geometry section.

Second, the long haul trucker frame comes in two wheel options. Either 700mm or 26 inch. A 700mm tire is a little bigger and is typically a wheel size for road/race bicycles. Whereas the 26 inch wheel is more commonly found on mountain bikes. I suggest the 26″ wheel version because of availability. You can walk into any Walmart, hardware store or foreign country bike store and find 26″ wheel components (rims, tubes and tires) on the shelf.

Lastly, you are confronted with the decision of brake options. Surly offers a disc brake option called the Long Haul Disc Trucker frame. The disc brake option is a great upgrade and totally worth the extra stopping power. The stock Disc Trucker comes with mechanical brakes (a cable actuates the disc), however, building your own bicycle allows you to upgrade to a low cost hydraulic disc brake that is smooth as silk and requires very little lever force to produce substantial braking power. All of that for very little extra cost.

So in summary, hopefully I’ve convinced you to consider the following:

  1. Visit local bike shop and test ride different bike sizes to gauge a frame size that works for you
  2. Choose the 26 inch wheel version frame
  3. Choose disc brake version frame

Proceed to Frame Prep for powder coating


  • Tom

    Are there other Frames to be considered? There must be other Frames to build.

    • Chris Garrison

      Yes, Surly makes a really cool universal frame. It’s called the World Troller. It has S&S couplers and can be set up with or without disc brakes. Neat frame! I’m tempted to build one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *