…This time, Skyler forges on with the opinions on a subject worthy of his opinion – his own bicycle… In the previous instalment of this Tech Talk business (which I guess is becoming a ‘thing’ now), I wrote about a few of the good people that have inspired me to forgo the old cycle touring […]
Love this old blog from Dales on fat bikes (see what i am googling recently)
Fat bikes are gaining popularity not just as niche snow and sand machines, but as everyday bikes for use on natural terrain. Cue the Surly Pugsley, one of the first mass-produced fat bikes. Now that fat offerings are available from various mainstream companies, more and more riders are now asking themselves if this sort of bike could be for them.
I purchased one of the last 2013 complete Surly Pugsleys a few weeks ago, as an alternative to a short travel suspension bike, for use year round and to complement my single speed Surly Troll. So far it hasn’t failed to impress, in sand, snow, mud and on natural and man-made trails.
Its maiden voyage saw me trying to climb some of the fireroad trails around the Pentland hills, which were covered in deep snow. It’s was a baptism of fire/ice, and it took a whole new set of skills to the keep the bike on the straight and narrow. I quickly learned the key was to stay seated to ensure the rear wheel kept traction, and stay in the granny gear to keep the wheels rolling consistently. I found that if you stood up, the rear wheel lost grip, and if you shifted up a gear, the big tyres would slowly grind to a halt. All this aside, the Pugsley impressed, and the narrower tyre tracks veering off to the left and right of the trail showed where lesser bikes had tried, and failed, to muscle their way through/over the deep snow drifts which covered the trail.
Later in the week I went riding in the deep mud which had collected around Arthur’s Seat after the snows had metled. The Pugsley was again in its element, and the impressive float of the 4 inch tyres allowed me to scrabble across deep muddy puddles, and although it was difficult to precisely steer the bike, general stability was excellent, and at no point did I feel the need to dab a foot, which was good, because the mud was thick enough to suck the shoes off my feet. It was like piloting a paddle ship, just spinning the cranks in a low gear, and aiming for the far shore.
My third ride was an extended tarmac jaunt across Sustrans National Cycle Route 1, which runs from the Edinburgh city centre out towards Dalkeith. Obviously a long tarmac ride is beyond the scope of what a fat bike is really built for, but what surprised me was how quick the big tyres wanted to roll once they gathered speed, probably because the contact patch was only along the centre inch or so of each tyre if they were inflated past 15psi. It was by no means fast, and I only managed a 10mph average, but this allowed me to cover 20 miles in a couple of hours, and take in the scenery at a leisurely pace. To critics who say these bikes are just sideshow attractions for use one or two months a year, I’d like to disagree, and echo the idea that a fat bike can make a good everyday bike, and felt no more inefficient than a 140mm+ full suspension bike when on the road or path.
My Pugsley was given its first true test at the new Cathkin Braes Commonwealth Games XC course. Although it carries a man-made vibe, the loop includes steep descents, rocky climbs and great views, alongside the staple berms, doubles and sweeping switch-back climbs. It’s still in a slightly unfinished state, so the trail was rougher, the mud was deeper, and the rocks more prominent than they might be in future.
Despite finding myself in a group comprised of riders on 140-150mm travel rigs, the Pugsley never felt less than sure-footed, and easily kept pace with the full suspension rigs. The super fat tyres offered excellent traction through the berms and on the climbs, outclassing even the stickiest 2.5″ tread on the other bikes. Winching up the climbs was no chore with a 22-tooth front ring, and full 11-34 rear cassette, the paddles on the rear tyre hooked up on even the softest terrain, and would only slip on the slickest of roots.
Interestingly, downhill sections were less of a challenge than expected. Run at 10psi, the Larry and Endomorph tyres offered plenty of float, and an inch or two of “free” suspension, which took the edge of rough descents and drop offs of up to a foot or two.
On the steeper sections I was glad I’d replaced the stock BB7 brakes with a pair of Avid’s more powerful hydraulic Elixir models, which scrubbed off speed quick enough, even with the substantial rolling mass of the Pugs’ big wheels and tyres to contend with. My only other changes had been to the cockpit, for personal preference, and I threw on a pair of Shimano’s new Saint pedals, which allowed me to ride with hiking boots in the poor weather, so I could always get off and push if the going got too tough.
The Pugsley truly shined in the unfinished sections, where deep swathes of mud or water cross the trail. The final climb was scattered with deep, sandy patches, which proved troublesome for the average XC/AM bike
So whilst many fat bike riders stick to sand, and to snow, I’m eager to try out my Pugsley as my “main” bike for 2013, and test the idea that fat bikes can be used as proper trail rigs, rather than just as clown bikes for soft, and otherwise impassable terrain.
So it’s so far so good with the Pugs, and I’m looking forward to trying it out at some of the larger Scottish trail centres, to see how it really measures up against the more traditional all-mountain and cross-country machines in our demo fleet.
Most recently, having seen the footage from the recent “Forth Fat” fat bike gathering in East Lothian (which I sadly missed, arriving on the fat bike scene as recently as I have), I’m also eager to schedule a trip to the beach!
If you can’t wait for the Pugsley, check out the Surly Moonlander, currently available in sizes 18-24″. The Pugsley will be available again from late summer in the UK.
Until then, happy trails!
Frame: Surly LHT 58″
Wheels: 700c H Plus Son TB14’s. Schmidt Son 28 front hub. Phill Wood rear hub. 32 DT Swiss spokes. Built by Shifter Bikes
Tyres: Schwalbe Kojak 35
Fenders: Gilles Berthoud 50 (Long) plus Mud flap
Crankset: Shimano XT M770 triple 9speed (170mm 44/32/22)
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT M771 (Duel pull, multi fit)
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT M772 (Long cage)
Cassette: Shimano XT M770 (11-34T)
Chain: Sram PC991 cross step
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace 7700 bar end levers
Brake Levers: Sram S500
Brake Calipers: Paul Touring Canti rear. Neo-retro Front
Handlebars: Salsa Cowbell 3 (44cm)
Bar Tape: Fizik MicroTex with Gel Pads
Stem: Thomson Elite X4 (0°/100mm)
Headset: Chris King 1 1/8
Front Cable Stop: Paul Funky Monkey
Saddle: Gilles Berthoud Aravis (Cork)
Seat Post: Thomson Elite Setback
Seat Post Collar: Salsa Lip-lock
Front Rack: Tubus Nova
Rear Rack: Tubus Cosmo
Bottle Cages: King Cage ss
Bidons: Camelbak Podium Chill
Pedals: Time Roc ATAC 4
This bike from the cycle monkey blog really talks to me ….
It’s not often that we’re asked to build the ideal bike for someone commuting in Siberia. We dreamed up this build for a customer of ours who is a British expatriate working in the snowy climate of central Russia. He intends to do a mix of snow, dirt, and paved riding in sub-freezing temperatures and wanted a dependable bike that could handle a range of conditions but still feel speedy. He ruled out a full fat bike and opted for the more versatile “29+” platform, a tire/rim designation that Surly invented to provide the float and traction of a fatbike, but the fast rollover of a 29er mountain bike. Once we agreed on the type of bike, we set to work planning out the build specifications.
Surly’s Krampus is the bike that brought the 29+ platform into the world, and is still one of the few bikes designed specifically to use 29×3 inch tires on 50 mm wide rims. The Krampus frame is optimized for speedy trail riding, but since its debut, it has also gained a reputation for being a comfortable off road touring bike. Our customer’s riding style is a perfect mix of these two disciplines: a stable, touring-style setup to deal with snowy or sloppy conditions and also a nimble-handling geometry that will roll fast and get him where he needs to go quickly. We sent this Krampus frame off to a framebuilder to get a belt drive splitter installed and also had the frame powdercoated black to fulfill our customer’s desire for a stealth-looking all-black bike.
Love this film showing a wee adventure – makes one desire a one does it all steel bike until we really think about the weight / the components / the compromise. But the escape is always good.
Some spec on the Kona beast which follows in the footsteps of cyclocross, Salsa Surly and a few others ….
At Kona, we love building specific bikes for specific purposes. We see a cool niche, and we pool our collective creativity to come up with the perfect ride. Our all-new Rove is just that. Designed to be the ultimate cyclocross/gravel-grinding/commuting machine, the Kona Cromoly drop-bar Rove pulls in the utilitarian attributes from our best commuter models, spices it with the efficient and comfortable geometry of our long cyclocross heritage, and dashes it with the awesome compliancy and durability of steel tubing. Outfitted with large tire clearance, eyelets for racks, and disc brakes for great stopping power, the Rove will deliver you come dirt, gravel or asphalt for as many Long Sweet Rides as you dare imagine.
met up with tom this morning and then joined him for a wee bit onto the canal to Falkirk. He is cycling the length of Scotland from Mull (of Galloway) up to Muckle in the Shetland Isles … His blog is here http://mull2muckle.blogspot.co.uk/
Filmed this below this morning – what people may have made of me cycling my Brompton whilst filming is beyond me …. it must have been a fairly random view ….
He is sponsored (as below) both reasons to follow him and his blog.
Should say that I’m not looking for individual sponsors for the ride – the idea is to raise awareness of Fair Trade issues and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum as we aim for Scotland to attain Fair Trade Nation status. Oh, and also to encourage you to come to Shetland ! I mean if you do want to donate to anything, my imagination’s been caught by this lot.
The BBC are NOT paying for any of this! I’m taking a week’s holiday for the main chunk of riding, and the final three days I’ll broadcasting from Shetland. Jolene and Richard from Precious Productions are planning to make a film about the whole escapade. I’m slightly concerned that Rich can cycle faster backwards than I can forwards. And for longer distances too.
Owners might be the best salespeople when it comes to bikes … Certainly breadbike.org speak about the virtues of the Surly LHT and our friend Tom Morton who is crossing Scotland on one later in the year (we are filming a small doccie on this) is a fan.
Other people like the one below give an eloquent appraisal of the good (and very occasionally weaker) points of the bike. This one is so well written I thought I would repost it here.
Deciding which touring bike to purchase is no small undertaking. When you’re going to be spending so much time and money on a bike, it’s important to get it right.
Over the past two years, my partner and I have used our trusty Long Haul Truckers to carry us up and over the hills of Wales, along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, across the Peaks and the Pennines of England, and – in our most extensive trip yet – around New Zealand’s beautiful South Island.
But before we did all that, we spent hours poring through internet forums, blogs and reviews in our quest for the ultimate touring machine. We also talked to friends who have been cycling touring and were a wealth of knowledge. A few of them had the Surly Crosscheck or the Long Haul Trucker and rated them highly.
We looked at the Dawes, the Thorns and the Koga-Miyatas among the many touring bikes on offer. But it was the Long Haul Trucker that kept popping up as the touring bicycle to have: a steel frame with all the braze-ons that you would ever need for v-brakes, racks, bottle cages and even spare spokes.
We already had a Surly in our stable, the Steamroller, which had done a good service as a fixed city commuter. The Surly 4130 CroMoly steel gives a comfortable and reliable ride, the paint job was smart, and we knew that we couldn’t go wrong with a Surly.
At Brixton Cycles in London we had a chance to see the Long Haul Trucker in the flesh. Beautiful, aren’t they? We had a great chat with the staff there, who are real Surly enthusiasts. After some discussion, we found the right sizes for the two of us: quite comically I settled for the towering 58cm 2009 model in green, and my partner went for the diminutive burgundy 46cm, of which, happily for our wallet, Brixton had one left over from 2008 at a reduced price. We came away from the shop buzzing with ideas about how we’d build the bikes ourselves, to our exact specifications and needs. New additions to the stable were soon to be born!
The Build & The Ride
All the Surly bikes we’ve come across (the Steamroller, Crosscheck and now the Long Haul Trucker) are certainly not on the light side. But they are built to last – sturdy and rock solid. The relaxed angles and the longer wheelbase make the Long Haul Trucker a simply brilliant ride.
Over the years, we’ve each tried many other kinds of bicycle, from custom-made titanium racing bikes to aluminum hard-tail mountain bikes. Admittedly, we’ve never tried a different model of touring bike, but the Long Haul Trucker has made such an impression that we feel we’ll never need to. Simply put, they are probably the most comfortable bicycles we have ever ridden.
The Surly Long Haul Trucker is not built for speed, but for carrying you and the kitchen sink. It really does handle and feel most at ease when you have loaded it up. This is, I’m sure, a common principle of all good touring bicycles.
We’re ashamed to admit that our other bicycles have more or less been put out to grass since we got the Long Haul Truckers. We have a couple of fixed and road bikes along with a MTB commuter. But, over the last two years, they have just been gathering dust, since the Long Haul Truckers are so comfortable and a joy to ride. While the titanium road
bike is a flighty thoroughbred, the Long Haul Trucker is a sturdy and reliable cart horse.
We’ve even used our Long Haul Truckers as commuting bikes in London. They are slow and heavy but always get you there in comfort and with a smile on your face. It is no racer, but let’s face it, you’re not going to do a sprint finish when touring. Need to take lots of luggage, extra water and a stock pile of food when away from civilization? The Surly doesn’t complain. It just takes the load and keeps on going. You can almost hear it say “More luggage? Bring it on!”
Even at low speeds and fully loaded it handles very well. Nor is going up steep hills a problem. In the fastnesses of Wales and the Pennines we managed a few serious lumps – even a 25% incline – fully loaded, with the front wheel firmly planted on the ground.
I’m told I sound like a broken record when telling people about this bike, but it’s honestly the best way to describe it: It’s like riding a four-wheeled sofa. Heavy, but comfy as anything.
The Build & The Cost
We got hold of our two Surly frames at our local bike shop in London, Brixton Cycles. The 46cm was £50 cheaper than the 56cm, which set us back £350 since it was an older model (2008 rather than 2009). There are no substantial differences between the two frames aside from different lugs on the dropouts, and the colour: the 2008 frame was
only available in a rather fetching burgundy. Otherwise, they’re exactly the same. The 2010 model seems to differ from the 2009 frame in colour alone, and if there are further differences, they must be subtle as they’re not immediately noticeable. And, from discussions with other Long Haul Trucker riders, the ride quality doesn’t differ from model to model.
When it came to selecting the correct size, there were a few different schools of thought to consider. We took the advice of the bike shop to go for a smaller size than usual in a touring frame. The 60cm, and maybe even 62cm frame would certainly have fit me, but our man Barney at the local bike shop advised me to go for the 58cm in order to have
greater control over my steed when fully loaded, especially when getting on and off. I do have a rather long seat post and a raised stem. I didn’t even need to cut the fork down. What matters is that I feel comfortable on the bike, and so I’m absolutely sure I made the right sizing and set-up choices. Even my partner took the size down from her normal size, 46cm, and she just loves riding her Surly Long Haul Trucker.
If you prefer an off-the-peg bike, you can get the Surly Long Haul Trucker built up from Surly for just over £890. We decided that we wanted to build our tourers from scratch, as we had particular ideas about our preferred components. For example, I don’t get on with drop handlebars or downtube shifters, and my partner prefers shallow drops and women-specific saddles. I also looked forward to the process of sourcing the parts and building up our new steeds. And then there was the practical benefit of helping me understand the bikes inside and out, and be prepared for any potential mechanical breakdowns while out on tour.
I built up our Long Haul Truckers with XT groupsets, 44, 32, 22 chainrings and a 11-34 cassette which gives us plenty of low gears for going up the steepest of hills. I chose the Hollowtech II bottom bracket, which I admit I was a little worried about at start (new-fangled technology!), but they are running just fine.
My bike has butterfly/traveller handlebars, which I’m still playing around with to find exactly the right set up. I’m almost there. The wheels, 700c, I bought second hand from a friend who’d built them up himself with a HOPE XC rear hub and SON dynohub on Mavic A319 36 hole rims.
The smaller Surly was set up with women-specific shallow drop Bontrager handlebars and Ultegra STI shifters which work great with v-brakes when you use travel agents. The wheels, 26”, were built with HOPE front and rear hubs on Mavic A319 36 hole rims, by our very good friend and wheel builder.
Both bikes run Marathon Plus 35mm tyres which are pretty much bombproof, which is much needed for touring and commuting in London. Admittedly the tyres are slightly on the slow side (see a theme emerging here?), but it’s not speed we care too much about. Rather, it’s durability and longevity that are important. The Marathon Plus ticks these boxes. As for the racks, we chose Turbus Cargo and Ergo racks because we’d heard good things about them and I was lucky enough to get them on discount through my work.
It’s a bit hard to state the total cost of the bikes. To be honest, we got rather carried away when building our new toys and didn’t keep a close eye on the budget. Plus, we did have some of the parts stored up already along with several great offers we managed to pick up online and through my work. The bike building project began in January 2009
and the first bike was fully built by June of the same year. If you have time to spare, gradually picking up bits and pieces through online offers can save you quite a bit of money. For example, we picked up my partner’s Ultegra shifters for half price, and got the Hollowtech II crankset for over £100 less than the street price.
But I’m pretty sure if you go into a shop and order what we have, you are going over the £2000 mark for each of these bicycles. That said, I’m sure that the off-the-peg Surly would be a great ride still and a great starter tourer to build up when you can afford to upgrade.
The Small Things
The paint job is good quality. I have used my Surly heavily over the last two years and of course there are a few scratches, but the paint job is still sound. I had read that the paint job on the burgundy coloured Surly wasn’t the best. But, we have not had any problems with ours. There was a rather big scratch inflicted by the journey to New Zealand but no paint job would have survived that.
The smaller 46cm frame is rather compact so you can only have one 750ml bottle in the three cages. The one on the seat tube can just about hold a 750ml bottle, and it’s a bit of a faff to get the bottle out and in. The one on the underside of the down tube can only take a small bottle as there is no room for it because of the front wheel.
Since the Long Haul Truckers are on the heavy side, you will be a bit pushed keeping your packed up bicycle within your luggage allowance when flying. We try to add a little bit extra into the box, such as your sleeping bags and tent. But with the Long Haul Truckers you don’t have many extra kgs to play with.
The standard sized bike box you can pick up from your local bicycle shop, is a tight fit for the 58cm frame. Even with front rack and mudguards off your Surly will be bigger than the box. I had to take the forks off as well in order to get it all into the box. The 46cm frame, however, fit nice and snug into a standard cardboard bike box.
My very first ride on the Surly Long Haul Trucker was quite an epic one: a ride called the Dunwich Dynamo, a 110’ish mile long ride over night from London to a beach north east of London. Around one thousand people take part every year in the summer. It was pretty much thrown together in the morning before the ride, a quick spin in the carpark
to see if it worked, loaded it up and off we went.
After around 40-50 miles my shoulders started to hurt. I then raised the stem one spacer and the pain started to go away. And that was it for the rest of the ride. It was just so comfortable. When I got back onto the bike after a quick swim and breakfast it was not painful.
When people see the Surly they are really interested and only tell you good things about it, either from their own experience or from what they have read or heard. I recall that at 4am on the Dunwich Dynamo, I was passing two ladies on a hill, and we all were rather tired at this point. One of them asked me, “Is that the Long Haul Trucker, with the
long wheel base?” This made me smile, gave me a boost and made me rather proud that I had picked such a well thought of and famous bicycle.
The only thing that has broken on the Surly is the rear wheel which was second hand. After nearly 10,000 miles in total, the rim cracked. I think it handled it responsibilities very well since I’m not the smallest of people and do carry a lot in my panniers, including a heavy tool kit, while commuting in London. And we did ride on some rather rough gravel roads in New Zealand. Otherwise they just roll along taking in whatever you throw at them.
The Surly Long Haul Trucker: In Summary
You’re not going to win any races riding a Long Haul Trucker. But it does exactly what it says on the tin. It carries you long distances, with all your worldly possessions (well, almost) in comfort and style. It just gets better the more you load it up.
I’m now coming up to 8,500 miles on mine and when it’s clean it still looks like a new bicycle. In the meanwhile, our other bikes look out jealously from under the washing draped over them; they’re just glorified laundry hangers these days. We were warned that once we’d joined the Long Haul Trucker club we’d have trouble weaning ourselves off… and it’s true!
I know for sure that these lovely, dependable Surly Long Haul Truckers will be in our stable for many years to come. It’s testament to the comfort and quality of the bikes that we really can’t think of anything that we want to change about them. We might just top up the paint job when it’s needed. In the meantime, there’s a lot of world left to explore, so we’ll just keep on Long Haul Trucking.
Surly troll and a rohloff – great …
Time for some more Bike Talk; a part 2 to my initial review.
My Troll’s taken on various incarnations since I first set it up in Costa Rica. It’s that kind of bike; its character lends itself to experimenting with different builds. Run it with discs or V brakes, fully rigid or with a suspension fork, as a singlespeed or with gears (be it conventional derailleurs or an internal hub). Whatever takes your mood, fits your riding style, or suits your pockets.
A couple of recent questions on details of its build have spurred me into listing the parts that currently reside on this chameleon of a frame. Bear in mind that despite the changes and tweaks, the underlying theme has always been the same. At its core, it’s a ‘peace of mind’ build for overseas, dirt road and singletrack touring.
A go-anywhere, ride-anything kind of bike…
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Filming the other day popped into the North Star Cafe in glasgow on Queen Margaret drive for lunch. It’s great tasting and has a healthy/hearty menu. Love the way they have menu written over the tiles and that long mirror.
Nice little street with the most excellent bike shop right nearby – the lovely Carl at BikeLove – he is going to be assembling a new range of Surly fixies for cheaper than the standard range. Give him a call +44 141 945 0999 and see what he can do for you … I am sure he can ship around the UK too….
120 Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow G20 8NZ
Subway: Kelvinbridge SPT Subway Station
Open Weekdays 9am-7pm
Do you know the cafe and the shop? Tell me about your favourite place?
Losing my Fixie fixation …. I like looking at them but who am I kidding – My Klein MTB is set up SS for town use, My Carver Ti is my play thing and I have a Brompton for town and commuting and multi transport use. What I don’t have (and I realised on that trip to Arran) is a touring long distance road bike.
So ones that have grabbed my attention are:
1. Salsa Vaya
2. Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT)
3. Jamis Aurora Elite
4. Pompetamine Versa Pro
5. Kona Sutra
1 Salsa Vaya £1250 (RRP £1350)
- Disc Brakes
- Road / Gravel Use
- Sloping top tube / better clearance
The Vaya is our road adventure bike, designed to take on any surface that someone might consider a ‘road’.
Crafted of Salsa Classico CroMoly, the Vaya is loaded with braze-on’s for fenders, racks, and lowriders. This makes everything from wet weather commutes to full-on touring a breeze.
Stable geometry keeps the bike from being twitchy, and makes the bike a pleasure to ride while loaded. Our two smallest Vaya sizes use 26” wheels to provide better fit, improved standover clearance, and to eliminate toe overlap. The larger Vaya sizes use 700c wheels.
Enjoy a long day in the saddle. Link up pavement and gravel. Hit that limestone rails-to-trails route you’ve always wanted to do. Do a light tour. Or load your panniers to the hilt for a month of two-wheeled exploring. The Vaya will get you there. And bring you back.
Vaya. A true do-it-all road-riding bike.
2 Surly Long Haul Trucker £900
Like all our frames, it’s made of cromoly steel. We like steel for a lot of reasons. Foremost among them is the ride quality a well designed steel frame delivers. It doesn’t hurt that steel is relatively inexpensive, or that it is more easily repaired than aluminum, carbon fiber, or titanium. You’ll probably never need to have the frame repaired, but if you do you’re more likely to find someone who can weld steel than someone who can weld ti or aluminum. Repair carbon fiber? Good luck with that.
We offer the LHT as a frameset or as a complete bike. The ‘Trucker is available in a 26” wheel size across the size run, with an option for 700c in 56, 58, 60, and 62cm sizes. Some people prefer the larger diameter 700c, and that’s cool. 26″ is a more popular size around the world, however, so you’ll more easily be able to find replacement tubes, tires, and rims should the need arise. Smaller wheels are also stronger than their 700c counterparts, so they’ll stand up better to rough roads and heavy loads.
The LHT complete is set up with quality parts meant for the purpose of this bike. Add racks, fenders, pedals, and bags and then, well… go someplace.
3 Jamis Aurora Elite £1130 – 28lbs
- 631 steel – air hardened Reynolds 631, a touring benchmark.
- 10 speed cassette
- rack and guards as standard
Road bikes are too light duty. Mountain and city bikes are too heavy duty. Welcome to the Just Right world of Aurora Elite, Aurora and Bosanova, the town bikes for smart urban speedsters and cyclo-tourists.
Legendary Reynolds steel is our chassis material of choice, for its unbeatably robust performance and the resilient ride-damping you’ll appreciate while loaded up and bombing around on the streets. This is magic stuff, especially for full pannier touring and rough-road adventures.
This year’s rides are simply better and lighter—Aurora Elite gets SRAM’s new Apex group, with double-chainring shifting and a huge gear range that’s lighter and faster than a repurposed triple-ring MTB gearset.
4. On One Pompetamine Versa Pro £1000
- Disc Brakes
- Hub Gears – Alfine 8 speed
Our ultimate commuting, touring and cross bike. Steel frame, 8 speed Shimano Alfine hub gears, Versa VRS-8 drop bar shifters, and top end componentry make this the On-One C2W must have purchase.
Due to popular demand we are proud to introduce a drop bar version of the On-One Pompetamine- our disc only steel framed multi-purpose hybrid.
Versa VRS-8 drop bar shifters are a perfect match for Shimano’s renowned 8 speed Alfine hub gear system, offering unmatched low maintenance performance and a gearing range nearly as wide as conventional derailleur systems.
Breaking new ground in cross over bike speed and versatility the drop bar Pompetamine bikes are fast, reliable and tough enough to take a right hammering- whether that be on rough city streets, canal towpaths, bridle-ways, touring, expeditions or even cyclocross (now UCI are allowing disc breaks these bikes are competition legal).
The Pompetamine Versa Pro has an upraded spec over the standard model shedding weight and increasing riding effieiciency. A Selle Italia Shiver Kevlar saddle, Planet X Ultralight CNC stem and folding Continental Top Contact tyres are just some of the many highlights of what is unquestionably a beautifully well specced build.
Complete bike weight: 24.7 lbs (11.2 kg)
5. Kona Sutra £1000
- Disc and Racks included
- Sloping top tube
Kona’s Sutra touring bike adds a slice of mountain bike mechanics to your world domination plans to guarantee good global karma.
The world of long-haul touring bikes is dominated by traditional English manufacturers and specialist long-haul suppliers, such as Dawes, Thorn and others. Kona brings a sensibility that’s rooted in mountain biking to the notion of the sedate touring bike.
Ride: steady as she goes
With a 30lb all-up weight, the Sutra is definitely on the heavy side, but it is designed more as a yak than a racehorse and it fills that role superbly.
The weight you feel on the climbs is what gives it stability when the big panniers are fully loaded. It’s still much faster than an MTB anyway, and once you settle into its steady stride, it’s a resolute and enjoyable roller.
The steel frame is deliberately stiff to stop it wobbling around all over the place when you’re thundering down a pass with all your worldly possessions on board. Even with a sturdy straight leg fork, it’s still a lot more forgiving over potholes, cobbles and bridleways than an aluminium frame.
As you’d expect from a Kona, unloaded handling is still perky enough to play about on winding paths and woodland tracks. Ideal when you’ve set up camp, or fancy heading out for a local play instead of a once-round-the-planet lap.
On more technical trails or filthy days, the Avid disc brakes give a superb confidence boost, with their controlled and consistent stopping. Traction is only as good as the tyres, though, so if you’re heading off-road regularly then get yourself some more knobbly cyclo-cross rubber.
Frame: retro steel appeal
Kona has gone for big retro appeal with the white panel graphics over baby blue paint. Like the Charge Plug, it has a steel frame, although here it’s a quality, butted pipeset from Italian manufacturer Dedacciai.
Kona has also loaded the Sutra with an impressive set of standard fixtures, including v-brake/cantilever studs, as well as the fitted disc brakes and triple bottle cages for long days in the desert.
There are mounts for mudguards and conventional low-rider front racks, and it comes with tough tubular alloy racks fitted as standard.
Equipment: standout discs & racks
The Avid discs are definitely going to be a big draw for mountain bikers, but from experience make sure you take plenty of pads on any long trip, because wet weather rips through them in double-quick time.
In versatility terms, the included pannier racks are superb. The rear one isn’t the stiffest we’ve used under heavy loads, but its unique design means plenty of clearance around the disc brake for easy maintenance.
The Continental Contact tyres are classics, while the Shimano Deore hubs can be home-serviced and re-greased for years of smooth running.
It looks great, it handles great – loaded or unloaded – and it’ll carry your weekly shop or your worldly possessions all the way to Thailand safely and securely.
Overall weight dulls its sporting edge, but it’s a confident and versatile bike that’s not afraid of a bit of rough.
MORE to come I am Sure
Wow – always had a soft spot for the big dummy but look at this …
Pic lifted from clevercycles and doctored with kiddie seat. And space for one more behind.
Now wouldn’t this be great ….. ?
A Surly Big Dummy (more here) with strong wheels and all the xtracycle bits. Now that Ruby is starting nursery I could drop her off and still have space for the baby ….. And a family trip by bike with all the goodies could be on the cards ….. now mate that with that spare Rohloff Hub and then we are talking.