By Karen Brooks
The first day of Saddledrive—a dealer and media-only event put on by distributor Quality Bicycle Producuts—the whistle sounded (yes, really) and eager attendees stampeded toward the line of waiting demo bikes in a grassy area at Snowbasin Resort in Utah. Among those were some surprise new models from Surly.
First off, the Surly bikes. (drumroll please…) They’ve finally put disc brake mounts on a Cross Check-style steel cyclocross bike! Cleverly enough, it’s called the Straggler.
It comes in a sparkly purple paint job to call attention to how awesome it is. It will have slightly different geometry from the Cross Check—a tad lower bottom bracket drop, and a tad longer head tube for sizes 54cm and up. The size run is also spread out evenly in 2cm increments, with a 64cm largest size added.
The dropouts have an interesting two-stage opening—an angled slot makes a bend to a horizontal run of about 17mm. This is so that the wheel will drop out normally given the disc brakes, but then can be adjusted horizontally for singlespeed use or to lengthen the wheelbase for touring. There are rear-facing set screws, and threaded holes to flip them forward for horizontal use. Here is a helpful napkin drawing by Adam Sholtes, Surly’s product manager:
The rear brake caliper is bolted to slots for corresponding horizontal adjustment.
Note the tires—those are a new 700×41 Knard tread that will come stock on complete bikes and is sure to be popular on all sorts of other multi-purpose ‘cross bikes. They did well on the loose rock and powdery soil at Snowbasin.
The bike also comes stock with the Salsa Cowbell 2 bar, a favorite of mine, and one that proved to be popular on other SaddleDrive bikes. This was a fun bike to ride all around the area— trails, gravel road and parking lot.
Next up is the ECR— something that the Surly dudes had in mind during the process of designing the Krampus. Basically, it’s a bikepacking Krampus, with more touring-friendly geometry and lots of braze-ons for all your backcountry needs.
What does “ECR” stand for? According to sales dude Trevor Clayton, there are about a hundred different iterations floating around the Surly office. A few of the shareable ones are “Enduro Camping Rig,” “Exit Cities Rapidly” and “Einstein Can’t Rap.”
It will come stock with a Jones loop bar. Jeff Jones himself worked with Surly to make the bar a little wider at the grip area, and it can be trimmed down to size. Surly also got Microshift to produce a special version of their thumbshifters that can be switched from index to friction shifting.
The dropouts are the same industrial-strength, multi-multi-purpose ones found on the Troll and Ogre, compatible with just about anything you can stick on the rear end of a bike.
Of course the bike is also festooned with tons of mounts.
It’s not a light bike, but is fun and capable on the dirt, with a more “settled-in” feeling than the Krampus and very suitable for long days spent exploring.
Lastly, we have the return of the notorious Instigator — re-imagined as a “26+ all-mountain hardtail.”
It’s built around a 140mm travel fork (a Fox 32 Float will be stock) and Rabbit Hole 50mm-wide rims with new Dirt Wizard 26”x2.75” tires. With that much volume, the true wheel diameter effectively becomes 27.5”.
It has a 142mm thru-axle rear and ISGC mounts for a chainguard. Who’d want a front derailleur on this, anyway?
On the trails this was a bike that definitely begged for starting trouble, but seemed more than capable of handling the results.
Stay tuned: we’ve got more coverage from Salsa Cycles coming. Check back tomorrow!