I often talk to people for whom a Surly Long Haul Trucker is a near-ideal bicycle choice, but the "touring bike" categorization throws 'em off. They tell me: "I probably would never do any bike touring," as if that's the only thing a LHT can do. It turns out that the qualities that make for a good touring bike also make for a good commuting bike, all-rounder bike, grocery-getter bike, etc, and the LHT fills any of these roles nicely.
Of course, the stock configuration isn't for everybody. Sometimes the customer has a certain concept in mind, be it aesthetic, functional, or both, that can't be gotten straight outta the box. For that, more often than not, the LHT is a good starting point:
Those who insist on tidy and unambiguous categorization may be tempted to label this a city bike, and I'll admit that the classic Frenchie city bike (or modern renditions thereof) was an aesthetic influence. But, beyond frequenting coffee shops and bakeries in high-style, nothing more than a Minnehaha grocery pannier or two is required to transform this rig into a no-fooling-around errand bike or commuter. Taken a step further, underneath the shiny bits, this is still the same rough-and-tumble loaded-touring bike that should be your first choice for a self-supported Trans-Am expedition. In fact, with a set of voluminous Ortlieb or Arkel touring panniers, and maybe a Wald basket up front, this thing is ready to go, right now, as far as you care to pedal it.
More photos of this beautiful bicycle here. Thanks to Mark in Sioux Falls for buying this bike and giving me permission to use his photos of it.