Bike Named “Sal”

Building a Mule of a Bike

SalI finally got around to putting the finishing touches on my off-road cargo bike build, “the Mule”. I have never given any of my bikes a name before. It is sort of a tradition of touring cyclists to name their velocipede before embarking on an epic adventure. This bike build is so different from anything I have ever cobbled together in the past, so it seemed appropriate to bestow a name upon it. I dub this bicycle “Sal”, as in “I’ve got a mule, and her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie canal” Sal is a mule of a bicycle!  She is built to haul cargo through radically adverse conditions without complaints. This semi-fat tire longtail mountain bike can handle everything from sandy roads to rock & root strewn downhill runs, from Arctic ice roads to Everglade marshes. It is a sure footed off-road machine that I can rely on to get me through the $hit.

The addition of S&S couplers allows this “longtail” bike to be broken down for International shipping on commercial flights. The complete bike fits into two carboard boxes (28″x26″x8″) and (46″x9″x7″), which are both within the 62″ L+H+W airline requirements for checked baggage.

Sal was built to be an adventure survival bike so she has some extra added features.  You may have noticed in the photo gallery that I am using two headlights which operate from the Son28 dynohub generator.  The smaller of the two lights is mounted on the forward drive-side edge of the Salsa Down Under rack.  Without this light, the primary headlight (which is mounted at the top of the fork) would cast a shadow of the massively wide front tire onto the roadway. The smaller headlight on the rack efficiently cancels out the tire shadow while also illuminating the shoulder of the road directly in front of the bike.  The overall effect is a wide and long beam of light which not only covers the roadway but also illuminates road signs and irregularities in the road surface.  The headlights are also wired to a very bright taillight which is mounted under the Xtracycle Flight-deck by a pair of L-brackets.

Another cool feature is the use of a Surly Troll Fork up front so the extra-wide 2.7″ Nevegal knobby tire will fit comfortably.  This fork plays well with the Salsa down under rack which is a super strong low rider style that sits forward on the fork to allow the use of extra water cages.  With this setup I am able to mount 4 water bottles on the bike not including my fuel bottle.  In fact, there is even room for an extra cage mount to hold my cook pot.

The Xtracycle frame is equipped with P-racks (or pannier racks) so I can use the excellent Ortlieb waterproof Bike Packer panniers on the non-drive side of the bike but maintain the Xtracycle Freeloader Bag on the drive side.  This is important because the Freeloader works with that long-loader rack bar to allow carrying long cargo items or even to tow another disabled bicycle in a pinch.

The Xtracycle framework allows for the use of a disc brake and because I’ll be hauling some big loads, I opted to use a disc in the rear.  However, the wheel was built up using Mavic 721 rims with a machined surface for rim brakes as well as a disc hub so there is an extra set of Tektro M530 Linear Pull Brakes mounted on the rear as a back-up in case of disc failure.

All removable items mounted on the bike are secured with soft shackle carabiners made from AmsteelBlue Dyneema rope which has a breaking strength of 1600 pounds. These keep fuel and water bottles, pump and panniers in place even on rough roads and also is an extra level of security when traveling through crowded streets in developing countries.  Soft shackles can be purchased on Ebay  in many colors for $4.00 each including shipping.  The best ones are made by me 🙂

The rest of the build is pretty straight forward but I have included the parts list below for information purposes.  This is a very comfortable bike.  It rides smooth although it has a bit of tire noise when on pavement.  Off road it instills confidence and has plenty of stability even when heavily loaded.  Using the Surly Troll fork lifted the front end a little so the standover height is about 1 1/2″ higher than a stock Long Haul Trucker. This also added some more bottom bracket clearance which is a good thing for off-roading.  This bike rides much nicer than a mountain bike with trailer and has a massive load capacity. I wouldn’t ride through a Zombie Apocalypse without one 🙂


Manufacturer / Model


Frame and Size

Long Haul Trucker Deluxe (w/S&S Connectors) 52cm $999.00

Fork Surly Troll $110.00


Shimano Deore M591 Crankset with Bottom Bracket (170mm, 48/36/26) $97.00

Front Derailleur

Shimano Sora, FD-3403. clamp 28.6 Silver $42.00

Rear Derailleur

Shimano LX, T661SGS. Silver $95.00

Cog or Cogset

Shimano HG-50, 11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30-34t $28.00


2 chains – SRAM PC-971, Silver. 116 links each $48.00



Cane Creek 40, 1-1/8″ threadless. Black $50.00


Tektro, CR720 cantilever. Silver Front Brake $53.00

Avid BB7_MTN Mechanical Disc Brake for Rear $75.00

Shimano 203mm Disc Brake Rotor $20.00

Tektro M530 Linear Pull Brakes (rear backup brake) $20.00

Brake Levers

Tektro RL340 Ergo Brake Lever Set Black/Black $20.00

Tektro Front Cable Hangar with Adjusting Barrel 1-1/8 $10.00


Shimano bar-end, SL-BS77 2/3 x 9-speed, friction setting $93.00


Leadtec LCS7091 Forged Aluminum Stem 26.0mm bar clamp. Aluminum. 4-bolt face. 17 degree angle, 90 extension, Silver $32.00


Nitto Mustache Alloy Handlebars – Clamp Diameter (26.0 mm) $83.00

Nitto Lamp Holder Bar for Mirror & Bar bag attachment $75.00

Velox Tressostar cloth bar tape $22.52 (4 rolls)


Brooks Cambium C15 $175.00  (waterproof cotton & vulcanized rubber)


Thomson Elite Setback Seatpost $100.00


Headlight – B&M HL Lum IQ2 Luxos B 70 lux $234.00

Headlight – B&M Lumotec Eyc 50 lux $75.00

Taillight – B&M TL Dtoplight XS Plus $36.00

E-werk Dynohub Charger $207.00

Anker External Battery $50.00

Wiring harness for lights – Schmidt part coaxial Fly type 1.9m w/con $12.00



Front Hub/Wheel: Schmidt SON28B dynohub (black), laced to a 36-hole Mavic EX721 rim (black) with Wheelsmith DB 14-guage spokes (all black). $450.00

Front Tire KENDA Nevegal John Tomac Signature Series 26×2.7″ $49.00


Rear Hub/Wheel: Shimano hub r disc XT M756A 36h ISO (black) laced to a 36-hole Mavic EX721 rim (black) with Wheelsmith DB 14-guage spokes (all black). Shimano 9-speed cassette $300.00

Rear Tire KENDA Nevegal John Tomac Signature Series 26×2.5″ $48.00


Sunlite 26×2.35-2.75 Schrader Valve Tubes $16.00

Rox SuperDutE Rim Tape $10.00


Shimano PD-M324 SPD Dual Platform Pedal $80.00

Axle Skewers $27.00


Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus (Hazel) $204.00

Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Plus Medium Handlebar Bag (Hazel) $105.00

Ortlieb Map Case $18.00

Ortlieb Front Roller Plus (Hazel) $153.00

Ortlieb Classic Saddlebag (Black) $31.00

Xtracycle X2 Freeloader Bag (Black) $125.00


Xtracycle Freeradical Extension Kit $224.00

Xtracycle P-racks Pannier Racks $200.00

Xtracycle FlightDeck 2 $75.00

Xtracycle U-Tube Platform $50.00

Xtracycle Longloader Rack $50.00

Xtracycle Rack Locks $50.00

Xtracycle Cam Straps $24.00

Salsa Down Under Front Rack $65.00

Water Bottle Cages x 4 $40.00

Bike Buddy Fuel Bottle Rack $35.00

Zefal HPX Frame Pump $45.00

Da Vinci cable splitters $37.00

Extra cables for splitters, steering tube spacers $25.00


Brake Cables & Covers $6.00


Total Cost of Build = $5340.00

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