Interbike 2012

Interbike 2012 Surly Ogre Mini-Review

Surly Ogre

Surly is a brand that everyone seems to love. I have yet to meet one person that has anything negative to say about Surly. Its reputation, at least from what I’ve read online and from a couple of fixed gear friends, is that Surly is “The Stuff”. That said, the Surly booth was packed and everyone wanted to demo their bikes! It was hard to get the attention of one of the booth employees but I didn’t have to wait long to give my ID and to sign my waiver form to try out one of the bikes. After that, the guy asked me what bike I wanted to demo. Now RL had strongly suggested to try out one of the fat-tired Surlys but I was curious as to what the Surly booth employees would recommend if I asked them for a commuter bike.  I figured any of the bikes would be fine to commute on but the Ogre was quickly recommended because it was a geared bike.

Installing Pedals

Commuter Friendly? Or just bag friendly?

I tried medium-large as I like the ride and feel of a larger framed-bike, although normally I ride medium-sized bikes. My first impression within a few minutes? It was stiff and jarring. To be nice, perhaps “jarring” would be too strong of a word but I cannot say that it was anywhere near comfortable. Harsh words perhaps, but for its off-roading looks and supposed capabilities, the bike was not very comfortable to use and I never even took it on dirt paths–I just maneuvered it from the booth, which was on dirt and gravel, to the pavement marked out for those wanting to try out bikes on smoother surfaces.

Downhill fast!!!

Considering my experience with the bike on dirt paths, I wanted to see how it would perform on pavement. The route I took led me down to this hill pictured above and it rode much like a mountain bike. Totally not what I would expect from a so-called “Commuter Bike” unless of course it IS a mountain bike. On the other hand, the weight of the bike allowed it to pick up speed very fast although the tires prevented it from going faster. I wonder if the bike is a mountain bike that Surly fashions to be a commuter bike?

Avid Brakes, Shimano Deore 3x9, Salsa Handlebar

Aside from the bike having a harsh ride, there are plenty of positive things about it. One is the 17-degree bend Salsa Motoace handlebar. It was comfortable and because of my arm reach (I’m 5’10” and according to doctors, I have normal arm reach), I had a very comfortable arm bend that didn’t stretch me out. For me, if I’m on a bike that I’m stretched out on, the bike’s ride can be harsher that it should be so I’m thankful that the effective top tube was within my arm’s length reach.

160mm rotor disc brakes

As for the brakes? The brakes were mighty strong. Too strong perhaps. I don’t know if that’s a plus as it caused me to mis-handle the bike at times but I think with more practice on bikes with disc brakes, having really strong brakes is a plus. I’m used to riding with caliper brakes and disc brakes are far more powerful, as I found out, so you can see why I didn’t expect to have such a short stopping distance.

3x9 Shimano Deore, Truvativ Firex

The bike had 3 speeds in the front and 9 speeds in the back and the Shimano Deore-equipped Ogre shifted smoothly. At first, it wasn’t shifting smoothly, but after tuning up via the barrel adjuster on the trigger shifter during the ride it was all good. The top gear was a 44/11 combination. So with different tires, I’m sure that the bike can be a capable speedy bike. You may have to work out your legs because the bike is heavy but at least the gear range won’t stop you.

So overall, the bike has plenty of characteristics that would indeed make it worthy of being called a commuter bike. It’s got an upright position and is super-friendly to accessories like racks, bags, fenders as you can see below IN BOLD.

Tubing: Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. Main triangle double-butted. TIG welded
Rear dropouts: Horizontal slotted with derailleur hanger, 135mm O.L.D. Features Rohloff torque arm slot and threaded eyelets for fenders, racks and Surly trailer mounts
Brake compatibility: Disc and rim brake compatible. Disc mounts are 51mm IS Rim brake pivots are removable. Note: rear disc brake is limited to 160mm maximum rotor diameter and requires the use of Surly caliper adapter
Braze-ons: Full-length Surly Trip Guide housing line guides for derailleurs and brakes; two sets of water bottle cage mounts, removable post cantilever pivots; upper seatstay threaded barrels, mid- and low-blade fully threaded through-blade fork eyelets; threaded holes for racks, fenders and trailer mounting nuts; Rohloff OEM2 axle plate mounting slot
Chainring clearance: 26/36/46t
Tire clearance: 29 x 2.5″. Individual tire and rim combos affect tire clearance
Fork: TIG-welded 4130 CroMoly, 80mm suspension corrected, tapered straight blade. Low- and mid-blade fully threaded through-blade rack eyelets; fender mount eyelets at dropout; 1-1/8″ x 260mm threadless steer tube, 51mm disc mount (203mm max. rotor diameter), removable cantilever pivots, line/housing guides


Bottom line? Because of the straight-blade fork and the way the frame is designed, the ride quality is hard to ignore. I like the bike fine but I would look elsewhere for a commuter bike to purchase unless of course you outfit the bike with a Thudbuster seatpost and installed a fork with better damping quality.

Sorry Surly…I didn’t mean to take away anything from your otherwise stellar word of mouth reputation.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Interbike 2012: Planet Bike with Chris Follmer

Met up with our long time buddy Chris Follmer who showed us some of Planet Bike’s 2013 offerings.

First up, High Performance saddles that offer titanium rails and cushy gel.

Air Smith pumps.
Built in extractable hose so you don’t snap the stem off your tube.
Presta and Schrader ready.
More COWBELL was the idea, but these are made for your bike. Pretty looking brass gives a classy look.
But they have colors available.

Their KOKO rack now comes in white.

Their Superflash lights all received a new push button, making it sweeter than before. I was telling Chris that if things don’t work out at Planet Bike, he’s got a future in Hand Modeling.

The Road tape is great on the hands.

As we promised, we have a great prize package that Planet Bike donated. One lucky winner will win the contents of the box that Chris is holding. Care to guess what it is?

Interbike 2012 Salsa Fargo Mini-Review

“Got any commuter bikes?”


This is what my interaction was like when I walked up to the Salsa Bicycles booth to test-ride one of their bikes. Awkward, kind of, but I can see why the booth employee said no. The company labels their bikes to be “Adventure Bikes” and not before long, I found out why. I chose the “Fargo” bike as it looked cool and reminded me of a cross between a Randonneur bike and a Cyclocross bike.

Salsa Fargo Sram Apex

Another reason why I chose the Fargo was because it had a really cool-looking handlebar. I ride mostly road bike or singlespeeds so I wasn’t quite used to the “rad” styling of the handlebar at first. I rode on the top. I rode on the drops and even tried to ride with my hands on the brake hoods. All three positions were uncomfortable at first but as I kept on riding, it became more comfortable–I no longer noticed my discomfort.

Salsa Woodchipper 2/Salsa Gel Tape

Perhaps I stopped noticing because of the heavy foot traffic at Interbike that I had to feverishly avoid or perhaps it was because I became more focused on finding hydration booths to keep myself from getting dehydrated. Either way, I eventually fell in love with the handlebar. I know it’s impractical to swap out my road handlebar with the obviously less aerodynamic handlebar on the Fargo because I can’t go as fast. But I know that most of the time when I’m riding, I just cruise and this handlebar was perfect for it! This is something I know most commuters can appreciate.

I love steel frames. It’s technology that hasn’t really needed to be advanced and can most of the time combine the stiffness of an aluminum frame but has damping qualities closer to a carbon frame. I ride a Reynolds Steel-framed road bike and this Cro-Moly frame rode very comfortably.

Salsa Fargo Main Triangle

I know that I’ve got to factor in the “Thudbuster” seat post that naturally damps the vibrations of the road/path and the thicker tires but I gotta be honest…the Fargo rides very smoothly compared to my road bike with 700×23 slicks installed.


Another plus about the frame is that it had plenty of eyelets, as demonstrated by the front fork, to use for front racks. (The rear also has eyelets for a rear rack but not as many as the front)


While I was riding the bike on different terrains like gravel, dirt, pavement and mud, I found the gearing to be very wide and sufficient for all applications.

Wide Range of Gears

I didn’t get to go on a steep dirt climb but when I did take it up a steep street, it rode more like a hybrid and a lot less like a mountain bike. I even took it down a long and windy bike path where I’m sure I easily hit 20 mph. When I did go off-road, the bike maintained its smooth ride–I went over rocks, potholes in the dirt and it was not a shocking, vibrating experience. In other words, no matter what terrain I put the bike in, the ride was very smooth.

Lastly, I didn’t really get to test the brakes all that well. I mean, they were disc brakes so they stopped on a dime but I mainly focused on the ride quality and whether it would be a bike that commuters should consider. As I said before, I mainly commute on road bikes but I would definitely recommend this to anybody looking for a commuting bike, especially those that commute over a combination of dirt and street.

Company Link: Salsa Fargo

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Interbike 2012: E-Bikes are Still Big!

A few years ago we saw this huge wave of electric/e-assist bikes that came out. At one point I thought that it was a “fad” and that it would eventually die out. Well, to my surprise, E-bikes are back at Interbike with further developments in battery and motor technology. Here are a few examples:

Yuba has a beautiful cargo bike that has an electric motor kit that is powered by Bionx.

Bionx is known to be the leader of e-bike technology. In fact, they even offer regenerative braking. So that means if you’re going down the hill while applying your brakes, it recharges your batteries.

Our friends from Urbana have a redesigned e-bike, also powered by Bionix.