Surly Straggler

Can’t help but think this will be compared to the Genesis Croix de Fer in the UK and not look so good but cheaper overseas and may be more value. $1700

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 20.19.31

Surly’s Straggler is a sturdily built and eminently adaptable steel all-rounder. It boasts a handful of interesting design touches, an unusual amount of tyre room, plentiful luggage rack mounts and a very comfy ride. It has a strong bias towards rough roads and trail use, but weight-weenies should look away now.

If you’re not sure why Surly’s bikes are dramatically different from the mainstream, take a look at their info-packed It explains a hell of a lot about their design and build philosophy. It’s a very enjoyable read that takes you way beyond the marketing jargon you usually find on a bike maker’s website.

The Straggler is effectively a new approach to one of Surly’s most popular all-rounder bikes, the Cross-Check. The Straggler has disc brakes instead of the Cross-Check’s cantilevers, adding extra appeal for serious off road use, fully loaded touring or, in a perfect world, a combination of the two. Both are built around the kind of purposeful, adaptable and durable framesets Surly are known for, in this case inspired by cyclo-cross and touring applications, but the discs add to the Straggler’s appeal as a true all-rounder.

There are other instant appeal factors in the frame design too. The rear dropouts are 135mm wide (mountain bike standard) and have a screw adjusters so you can use a single speed or hub geared wheel or simply to slide the wheel back for extra clearance around big tyres. There’s already far more tyre room than on most cyclo cross or touring bikes.

Frame fittings include threaded bosses, doubled up on the fork dropouts, for full mudguards and every common type of front and rear pannier rack plus two sets of bottle cage bosses.

As per usual with Surly, there are loads of closely spaced sizes to choose from, ten to be precise, from 42cm to 64cm. All get a 72 degree head angle, with seat angles ranging from 75 degrees on the 42 to 72 on the 64. Our test bike is a 56cm (22in) with a horizontal top tube length of 58cm.

The frame shape is unusual. The top tube slopes down slightly to the head tube, which in turn extends about 2cm above the top tube. With the 30mm stack of washers on the steerer that gives you an option of a very high or very low handlebar position and good standover clearance.

Road and trail notes

The Surly guys are refreshingly honest in how they describe the Straggler.

They say: “It’s a day tripper and a weekender. It’s a ‘rough road’ road bike. It’s a cyclocross bike with no pretense about racing. It’s a utilitarian townie. It’s a light-duty touring bike. It’s an all-weather commuter. And when you get tired of one set up, you can swap parts around and turn it into something else.”

It’s that all purpose adaptability that’s the key to its attraction. And that adaptability means it’s built to take a beating on all types of terrain, whether it’s laden with bags or stripped down to the metal and rubber.

I tested the standard build from Surly’s UK distributor Ison Distribution. It weighed in at 11.9kg/26.5lb without pedals. That’s pretty close to the weight of a rigid forked mountain bike at around this price but not as capable as a mountain bike on really demanding terrain.

The Straggler’s obvious rough roads and trails bias makes that comparison inevitable. It bridges mountain bike, cyclocross bike and touring bike, with both positive and negative aspects of all three.

Most of its positive attributes are centred on the fact that it’s obviously built for durability, so you’re not going to be interested if you’re a weight watcher.

The 4130 chromoly steel tubes are cleanly TIG-welded, the main triangle is double butted, the chunky 4130 chromoly fork has a lugged crown and dropouts with curved butted blades fitted with dual rack eyelets.

If you have your own ideas about how you’d want to equip the Straggler, you could start with a frame and fork for £449.99, but the complete bike package is very thoughtfully equipped and looks like a good starting point for the sort of bike that could theoretically tackle pretty much any terrain you choose to ride it over.

Surly’s Knard 41mm knobbly tyres are a strong indicators towards its intended territory, but there’s nothing to stop you fitting skinny treads if your bias is more towards road use.

Inevitably it’s not a particular fast bike on the road with the 41mm tyres fitted, although it is remarkably comfortable and the Knard’s tread pattern features a round close-knobbed profile that runs surprisingly quickly on tarmac.

The weight means that climbing on the road is more sluggish than on a skinny tyred aluminium or carbon framed cyclo-cross bike, but it bears comparison with other steel-framed touring bikes. The Straggler’s high-speed handling on descents is massively confident in places where you’re not quite sure what the surface is going to present you with.

The tyres are fat enough to allow you to run them fairly soft off road for more control and comfort, but you’ll quickly become aware of the limits when the going gets overly rocky or rooty. But away from truly difficult mountain bike terrain its trail handling is superb.

The combined wheel and tyre diameter is 28.5in, an inch more than on a typical cyclocross bike and that helps in terms of creating an easier roll over the bumps, but there’s still plenty room for mudguards.

The finishing detail of complete bike packages is well thought out. The parts package uses wheels with tough Alex DX-Lite eyeleted rims, 32 black stainless spokes and Surly’s own hubs, allen bolted up front, quick release at the back.

The Shimano drivetrain mixes a 46/34 cyclocross crankset with Tiagra shifters and rear mech, CX70 front mech and an 11-32 ten speed cassette, a good option for off road use or laden touring.

The brakes are the well proven and easy to adjust Avid BB7 cable pull discs, with full outer cables. The seat post and stem are from Kalloy; the saddle from Velo; and the handlebar the compact drop and slightly flared Salsa Cowbell.

If you don’t like the ‘Glitter Dreams’ sparkling finish of our test bike you could go for the  much more conservative ‘Closet Black’.

The Straggler has a rock solid character in terms of both handling and have a go at anything durability. Sure, there are times when it feels like a bit of a lump, typically when you’re trying to keep up with a bunch of mates on skinny-rib road bikes. But there are also times when its steamroller personality becomes very welcome.

On trails it’s inevitably much less skittish than a lightweight race bred cyclocross bike, and that’ll give you confidence to explore further afield. With a fast rolling set of touring tyres, it’ll be competing for desirability honours with lots of traditional touring bikes.

The braking is better than a lot of other disc equipped cross-bred bikes because it doesn’t flutter or judder: that’s presumably down to the hefty build of the fork and the bracing tube between the stays out back; adding weight has pros as well as cons.

The Straggler is a bike for those who value a comfortable non competitive ride and a lot of adaptability in one bike. It’s not for those who obsess about weight or who are  always in a rush.

It could even be the only bike you need to own if you’re an all-round rider of the type who currently owns half a dozen bikes and is trying to trim the fleet back to a sensible number.

You might still need that fast road bike, though. Oh, and the mountain bike, and, and, and…


Wonderfully versatile all-rounder that can hit the trails, the streets or the long-haul open road; it might be the only bike you need, except for all the others.

Genesis Croix de Fer tweaked for 2014

been thinking of this bike more – this from their own blog so none of my words …..

2014 'Croix - Tweaked & Refined

Our boundary-blurring and irrepressible Croix de Fer might look a little niche on paper to many, but, in reality, it’s our best-selling model by a country mile. It tentatively falls under the ‘cross’ section, but, truth be told, we really could’ve picked from an abundance of similarly suitable tags. A large part of the models’ success is undoubtedly down to its incredible versatility. Perhaps ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ might’ve been more apt.

The ‘Croix certainly slots nicely into the ‘one bike’ mantra for many of you, sitting directly in the no-man’s land between road and dirt (and everything in between), and that’s exactly how we intended it to be – designed from a ‘see it, ride it’ perspective. A bike for exploring with!

With this in mind, we didn’t want to go changing things too drastically for 2014 – refinements and improvements as opposed to change for change’s sake whilst clinging onto the £1149.99srp…

Probably the biggest and most obvious improvement is the move to an inboard-mounted disc caliper. Many of you had expressed the faff of fitting a rear rack and mudguard to the previous design, having to space out the stays to clear the disc caliper. With the new design they’ll bolt straight on saving you having to rummage the parts bin to fabricate a suitable longer bolt and spacer combo. It also means that the rack no longer has to be a disc-specific model (with built-in clearance for the caliper).

We know a lot of you use the ‘Croix predominantly on tarmac so perhaps found the dedicated CX knobbies a little OTT for daily duties. On the other hand we didn’t want to completely abandon its off-the-beaten-path capabilities. Step forward the excellent compromise that is Continental’s semi-slick Cyclocross Speed 35c tyres. The lower profile diamond file centre tread will hopefully give  a faster rolling performance on tarmac and hard-pack surfaces whilst the side knobbles should mean enough grip and traction for any off-road jaunts.

We’ve upped the gear range via a 12-30T cassette out back. Combined with the compact 50/34T Tiagra chainset up front it should give enough low-range spread for fully-laiden touring adventures into the unknown.

Hayes excellent CX Expert (formerly CX5) mechanical disc brakes take up the stopping duties. They give a nice a nice positive braking feel thanks to the stiff, forged one-piece caliper and include an integrated barrel adjuster for cable adjustments. We’ve offset the slight weight gain in the caliper body with their L-Series lightweight drilled rotor, so the overall is comparable to last years’ Avid BB7 setup. If you want to get really pedantic then I guess you could argue we’ve dropped rotational weight also.

The new M:Part Elite sealead cartridge bearing headset and upgraded Shimano Deore M525 6-Bolt hubs (vs. Shimano M475) should mean smoother steering and rolling for many a mile and drastically reduced service intervals.

So, there you have. Not massive changes by any stretch of the imagination but hopefully all small choice tweaks to improve the versatility, everyday use and overall ride characteristics of what is our best-selling model. If you think we’ve missed something out or you’d like to see certain features or kit integrated further down the line please let us know below – we’re all ears…

Genesis Day One Finish Line – the Reynolds 853 steel Alfine hub gear beauty

20111012-201212.jpg Genesis are launching a new version of their Day One all-rounder with Shimano’s 11-speed Shimano Alfine hub gear. We’re pretty sure that this is the first production Shimano Alfine 11-speed equipped drop bar bike – it’s certainly the first we’ve seen. The combination of an Alfine 11-spd hub and drop bars is made possible by the new Versa 11-spd lever, a piece of kit almost as eagerly awaited as Shimano’s Alfine hub itself.


The bike is inspired by the Genesis Croix de Fer Cross bike that Vin Cox used to set his round the world cycling, hence the ‘163 days’ badge on the seat tube – referring to the amount of time his epic ride took. Had the 853 version of the Day One frame been available when Cox set out on his ride that is what his bike would have been based around. According to the guys from Genesis the inspiration provided by Cox’s round the world record-setting bike extends beyond merely the way this Day One is built up – the frame geometry has changed a touch too becoming slightly more relaxed for a more stable ride.

You don’t have to think quite that ambitiously to get the most out of the Day One Alfine 11, though. Genesis see it as a multi-purpose set-up that’ll turn its hand to pretty much anything, including commuting duties. You can even take the Day One back to its roots by converting it to a singlespeed – removable cable guides are a nice tough offering a neat finish should you choose to go down the one gear route… although don’t forget where you leave them.

The frame is made from Reynolds 853 steel – with heat-treated, air-hardened, butted tubes – whereas all the other Day Ones are Reynolds 520. The fork is cromo – that should lop a chunk of weight out of the frame and compensate for the extra weight of the 11-speed hub– and you get a full complement of mudguard and rack mounts for multiple set-up options.

The wheels are similar to those Vin Cox used on his global ride – or as close as Genesis could reasonably get on a production bike. That means you get the Alfine hub at the rear, obviously, and an alloy front hub laced up to Alex CXD rims with stainless black spokes – 32 per wheel. The tyres are 28mm Continental Ultra Gatorskins and the brakes are Avid BB-7 mechanical discs.

The Day One Afline 11 will be available in October and will cost £1,699.99.


Frame and Fork

Frame Reynolds 853 Steel
Fork Cr-Mo
Headset n/a
Colour White


Shifters Versa 11spd Sti
Rear Derailleur Alfine
Front Derailleur n/a
Chainset iveline 40t 3/32″
Bottom Bracket Cartridge
Chain KMC K810 3/32″
Freewheel Alfine 18t


Hubs Alloy Disc Fr/Alfine 11spd Rear
Rims Alex CXD
Spokes Stainless Black
Tyres Continental Ultra Gatorskin


Brakes Avid BB-7
Brake Levers Virsa Sti


Weight 10.4 kg
Sizes 52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm