Nils’ Cycle Fab Long Haul Trucker Cargo Bike

A bicycle can often times be a time capsule for an individual’s journey. Be it a tale told through road grime, dust, dents or a augmented addition like a cargo retrofit.

Nils has had this Surly Long Haul Trucker for over a year and a half. In that time it’s gone through various permutations with the documented version being the most current, obviously. A LHT is already a pretty versatile bicycle, yet Nils wanted the ability to carry more weight, lower and honestly, just wanted to try something new. The retrofit was done by the same talent that makes the Haulin Colin racks. It’s actually a pretty simple process. You supply your axle to crown and head tube angle to Colin and he fabs up a steerer extension, a downtube brace and a rack. A few weeks pass and viola. Cargo bike.

Nils' Cycle Fab Long Haul Trucker Cargo Bike

I have to say, this is one of the first bikes I’ve shot in a while that has whole-hearted character, not purchased style. The little brackets he bent by hand to hang his rear light off the Brooks saddle bag hoops and his hand-painted accents on the frame completely tie in with Nils’ character. The dude is tall, with a commanding beard, yet his energy fills the room through his smile and laughter.


During the day, Nils fills his hours as a part time middle school teacher and a part time ceramic artist. On the weekend, he’s out riding in the Angeles National Forest, or just kicking around town on this magnificent bicycle. I’ve met a lot of people through Golden Saddle Cyclery, but for some reason, Nils really resonated with me. Check out more photos in the Gallery and follow along with Nils’ rides at his Instagram.

  • moe

    Full of character. Perfect!

  • Chanel Abril

    Nils has a really neat Chumba too, such a kind dude!

  • Bas Rotgans

    This bike has just about every cycling technology known to man on it, and I love it!

  • BoostahMante

    #partynils Love ya man!

  • barry mcwilliams

    Nils is rad.

  • Jaymie Miguel

    #partynils is the best!!!

  • Nils-Erik Hilliard

    Thanks John, was swell meeting you! You take the best photos; my grubby little bicycle has never looked this good.

  • AdamBike99

    It’s so good to see a great dude riding another great dude'(s) creation, documented by yet another great dude.
    I am currently in the building stages of my own Haulin’ Colin Cycletruck and this photo set is inspiring. Woot!

  • Drew Mabry

    #partynils is the best dude to ride with – so full of stoke and win.

  • Kieran Degan

    Breaking all the ‘rules’, keeping it real. Free of pretentiousness.

  • sturtlovinggood

    That handlebar bag setup is inspiring

    • Baler71

      That second stem wins the internet. Genius!

      • Gibbs Malinowski

        I also have a second stem and bar, keeps my top bar clean. I’ll never go back.

  • Dobry

    “middle school teacher” – somehow I knew it.
    Looks like a fun utility bike!

    • all my middle school teachers were complete turds. this dude looks like a fucking riot.

  • Area45

    Nils may be one of the best dudes in Los Angeles among a sea of good ones.

  • I am so in love with this!

  • Domingo

    I love seeing bikes like this, amazing! definitely had fun enjoying the details in the photos :)

    Also noticed he’s running a dynamo hub on a much smaller front wheel, would the hub work more efficiently in terms of picking up and sustaining the current? I’m thinking ii would have to complete more rotations to compensate for the difference in speed generated by the larger wheel and wide gearing. It seems plausible but would/does that actually happen? Just a thought

    • Gibbs Malinowski

      My wife and I both have dynamos, she rides a haul a day with 20′ me a bid dummy with 26′. Same lights on both bike, no difference noticed.

    • Brian Simon

      The smaller wheel will turn more times to cover a given distance. Therefore, a dynamo on a small wheel will generate full voltage at a lower speed.

    • Nils-Erik Hilliard

      I’ve got some input on this, having recently switched from a 700c to a 20″ front wheel on the same bike. As Brian said below, the smaller wheel rotates more times at a given speed than a larger wheel would to cover the same distance. This means the hub produces its nominal output, 6V/3W in the case of the SP, at a noticeably lower speed. In theory the resistance caused by the hub might be slightly more… on a heavy bike like this I don’t notice it.
      Since my front light doesn’t have buffer battery, when the bike slows down it “flickers” up to full brightness. What I do notice with the smaller wheel is this “flickering” kicks in at a much lower speed–which is great for riding those steep grades late at night!

  • Sweet front cargo system design. Form follows function!

  • hans

    the best best best dude!

  • Daniel Olmedo

    i love the garmin on this rig, why garmin on a utility bike? cause i wanna!

    • because he likes to keep track of routes he takes around town.

      • Daniel Olmedo

        very utilitarian, it fits with the rest of the bike, i’m about it.

  • Kyle Deven

    NILS! Can’t believe I get the pleasure of riding with this dude regularly. Positively the most positive vibes are required when it comes to Nils.

  • rick hunter

    Super Sweet Cargo Jammer

  • so wild.

  • RiverCityBicycles

    Love the extra stem/ handlebar hanger. So rad!

  • callaghan

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  • Missed this one originally, and just realized – Nils raced this at Turkey Trot Cross just last weekend, didn’t he?

  • Kovács Ferenc

    What an inspiring bike! I am seriously considering building something similar so I can carry my dog around; however, I’m a bit concerned about the way this thing rides and handles in comparison with the original setup. Did you notice any considerable change in the way it feels? In what way? Could you tell us a bit about this aspect?

    • Nils-Erik Hilliard

      Thanks! I’m inspired too, getting to ride this thing around every day. Actually, the way this bike rides is remarkably similar to how it was before the cargo conversion, Colin did a great job on this! Steering is slightly twitchier, for lack of a better word, and I’m not sure if this is an inevitable result of the smaller wheel, or a slight change in trail, or something else. However that said, steering is not a problem at all, and this bike feels unremarkably normal– I still ride everything that I used to as if it were a “normal” bike: commuting, around town, up in the mountains, on the fire roads, etc. Basically everything it was not designed to do, but handles in stride. I actually notice the turning radius is much improved, probably by the small front wheel. And now I can carry more stuff with ease :) As to the wheel size: it is a 20″ wheel, though I have a 55mm tire on it so it is pretty big and plush.

  • Tim Dwyer

    Do you think there is enough space to fit a baby carrier designed for a car?

  • Quinn Alonzo

    what shoes r those

  • John, these pictures aren’t working!