Tag Archive: Surly

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.

Commuter Profile: Tommy Cheatham

Our next Bike Commuter Profile is from a rider that calls himself the ‘Lazy Bike Commuter‘, read on:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Aside from 1.5 mile rides to college, I have been biking to work on and off since Feb 2006. I really didn’t start regularly biking to work until April of this year tho, due to a change in city and job.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I really enjoy biking, and like to do it every chance I get. I also have a tendency to be overweight, and riding a bike more is a whole lot more palatable than eating less (palatable–get it?). My current commute is just a little bit over 8 miles each way if I go the more direct route, I have been known to increase it to 18 each way if I had other errands to run though.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I recently had an appendectomy after starting my new job–my old health insurance lasted 60 days, my new insurance took 90 to kick in, and I was in the hospital on day 67. The going price for that procedure in this area is around $42,000. I managed to get it down to more like $17k, but I can still definitely use the money I’m not spending on gas.

Other benefits–definite weight loss benefits. There is a very good feeling that comes with discovering you have to wear a belt with pants that used to be uncomfortably tight. If course, the increased size of the quads means that if I buy a smaller waist the pants will fit even worse, but I would say that a belt is indeed a small price to pay. I dropped 50 pounds one year.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I work in data operations–very sedentary. Getting out and biking is pretty necessary for me to maintain sanity. The job is in Beavercreek, Ohio, and I commute from Dayton. The rail trail system here constantly amazes me.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

By far my most-ridden bike is a Surly Long Haul Trucker, from the first shipment of “complete” bikes they did last April. It’s a comfortable ride, and it’s plenty fast enough to get me to work on time. The cargo rack is also a high point, and the super low gearing is a life saver when I am towing my Burley cargo trailer with 100lbs of groceries up a steep hill. I also have aspirations of fully loaded touring before too long.

I also have a Santa Cruz Heckler for when I have a chance to play in the dirt, and a Giant TCR1 for when I want to go fast and care less about comfort.

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

I have had two flats while commuting to work. One was during bike to work week, and was discovered while leaving the park where the film crew was. I got to be on the news changing my tire, giving a quick voiceover for my boss that I have proof as to why I was late that day.

The other flat happened 3.5 miles from work just last week. Unfortunately, the spare tube was on the bike at the time. Lesson: Never ride without a spare, or you will be 50 minutes late for work.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

They seem pretty impressed with the whole idea, though I can’t get many of them to consider that the idea could work for anyone but me. They also like to tell me that my saddle looks really uncomfortable (Brooks B17).

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

In my last hometown I tried to be active in our effort to try to get Bowling Green, KY certification as a Bicycle Friendly Community, but since moving I have been little help on that front.

I would also help out with trail maintenance at Sal Hollow, our local mountain bike stomping grounds.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

If I have anything worth saying, it can be found at

Big Thanks to Tommy for sharing his profile, I will mail your stickers shortly. By the way, you can still submit an article, review or your complete bike commuter profile to, I still have a few stickers left. If you have submitted your profile, be patient, I will post it in the coming week.

Not your Mama’s Long Haul Trucker

Awhile ago, I posted that Laura was painting her Surly Long Haul Trucker. Maybe a bit overdue (hey, it’s busy being an Eco-Friendly Bicycling Photographer!), but I finally got around to taking some snaps. She used a special sign paint that was to be pretty weather proof (it’s for signs after all).

The design is a very Japanese-esque vine with in simple black and white. She started with painters tape to do a rough outline of the lines and went in with a small brush to round out the vines and add the leaves.

I think it came out pretty killer!

She has a few more tricks up her sleeves for this bike, so stay tuned!

Fixed Gear Friday: Two speed fixie?

Yes! This is possible with the use of Surly’s ‘Dingle Cog’

From Surly‘s site:

Dingle Cogs are part of a different concept for fixed-gear drivetrains. Having two cogs on the back means you have more options for gear changes when the conditions demand it. For instance, say you want to ride your off-road fixie from your house to the trailhead, but your gear combo is either too high for the dirt or too low for the road. With a 17/19t Dingle on the back, pick two chainrings that are 2 teeth apart, like a 44t and a 42t. When you change from the outer (44:17t) gear combo to the inner (42:19t), you’ll have a much better off-road gear and your wheel position will not change.

Anyone out there riding with this setup?