Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

So very much is happening these days, it's a wonder we have time for a new decade.  Lots of stuff to talk about today, way too much to hit everything sent in or found by the button pushers in Sector 7G here at Surly Intergalactic Dog Grooming, Wedding Planning, and Bike Stuff.  There is no common theme here, so let's just dig in.

Occasional messages make it through to us from our Colorado field correspondent and officially unofficial Surly rider Chris Alabama.  Chris’s house, like many of yours, is less of an actual home-type house and more like a garage/stable/storage unit for a multitude of bikes, including several Surlies.  Not long ago Chris picked up a Big Dummy and has been sending reports.  His latest reads:

“Ridiculous amount of stuff. My friends moved out and didn't want all this misc stuff.   


This actually happened yesterday:


1. Luby asked me to help him with some finishing work at the new dirtlabs, so I loaded up the Dummy with construction tools, lunch, etc.


2. While at dirtlabs bike shop owner came in to drop off a fork and saw my Big Dummy. He asked a bunch of questions. He said a couple is doing their gift registry through him and they're building a Big Dummy; friends/family will just call him and pay for a pre-selected part.


3. My phone rang. A buddy called to see if he could come by and check out my Big Dummy.


4. The buddy pedaled over with his fiance. They said they were going to get one . . . as a gift registry! Hah!


5. Luby paid me with a bench vise, bench grinder, and a helmet he got out of the free bin at the Q, so I had to strap all that (in addition to all the tools I came with) to the snap/skate deck.


Success! I've really only done two things with that bike--answered a bike-load of questions, and free-loaded an insane collection of stuff.


Good times.  Bama isn’t the only fruitcake in the Christmas basket that is Surly.  As I have noted here previously, we tend to attract a diverse crowd, inhabited by a larger than usual number of people who, for lack of a more accurate overarching term, I will admiringly call Freaks.  I do not mean they are ready for a life in the circus.  Frankly it’s getting harder all the time to figure out who is truly a freaky freak and who is just keeping up with the joneses.  Everybody’s got tattoos, piercings, motorcycles, terrible looking shoes and bad attitudes.  Oh, and customer service has gone down the toilets in this country too.  Why I…    Wait.  What was I talking about?  Oh yeah, the Freaks.  You know the type.  They pursue stuff they’re actually interested in.  They think for themselves.  They are sometimes intense, sometimes painfully shy, and often you simply won’t meet them because they’re not where you are, but rather somewhere else, somewhere that is not easily accessible and they are there in part to get away from people like you.  Sorry, but it’s true.  Anyway, because of these dispositions these people tend to live along the edge of society in many aspects.  They do not interact in ways that may be easily understood by most people.  They go places and do things and make their own equipment when they cannot find it or afford it.  They ride places that shouldn’t be rideable and test their limits not because they’re super competitive, ego driven A-types (though some are), but rather because they like the personal challenge, isolation and danger.  The Freaks do the stuff you won’t even think about until, like 24 hour racing, that freaky thing becomes mainstream and jerks like you and me start doing it (see also: people climbing Everest simply because they can afford to hire someone to drag them to the top). 

Among the multitude of people who I feel fit the category I have just outlined are the guys who just finished Riding The Spine.  They rode north to south along the ridge of mountains that are the result of tectonic plates rubbing up against each other, like insistent cats, pushing so hard they push the earth up.  Cool.  Basically, these guys rode the Continental Divide (though not religiously adhering only to the highest routes) along two continents from almost the top of the world to almost the bottom.  Best of all, they didn’t do it for a cause but rather because they wanted to do it.  They thought it up and figured out how to make it happen, without all the whimpering for free stuff and puffing up about the ride really being about a cause like everybody else does.  Goat, who rode this odyssey in bare feet, wrote recently to let us know that the trip is finally complete.  Goat, however, is not going home like the others.  Goat writes,

I am turning around

heading north

fixing to meet up with

cyclo escalla andina

(some fine folk who are biking carrying full on climbing gear -- traveling the length of the andies -- climbing everything)”


 See what I mean?  One of the guys on this trip rode a Big Dummy, putting it through the most grueling real-world testing available.  Goat was riding a Chalupacabra, a custom Big Dummy-based cargo bike that sports Large Marge rims and Endomorph tires.  I look forward to updates from these guys about their future endeavors. 

Here's this guy, using our Pugsley to bring home the bacon, though he's technically 'bringing home the venison.'  Lots of people in Wisconsin seem to know this guy.  I don't.  

Surly has changed our socks.  The designs are the same, but they're now DeFeet Wooleators with our designs.  Why did we do it?  Because we like the way they fit, the wool content is higher, and we found we can offer them at the same price as our previous socks. 
Minor changes to the lineup:
>3" cuff height has been discontinued due to lack of interest, even from racer geeks, in wearing little tiny socks.  That's a step forward for civilization. 
>We got around to adding the Blockhead sock, which is brown with a black zigzaggy  stripe around the cuff.   We offer 4 designs total.
>They now come in 4 sizes, small, medium, large and extra large.  Small fits roughly 36-39 (euro) and  the XL fits up to about 48. 

This just in: Fixed gears are all the rage, and the surge of their popularity (in addition to bringing back color combinations not seen since the 80s and salvaging Brooks saddles and toeclips from the rubbage bin of existence) has sent numbers-crunching supply chain eggheads at distributors such as our overlords The Qube Pharm into conniptions as they stumble all over each other to saturate the market well after it has peaked.  Next on the horizon: Tall Bikes!  How do I know?  Because there is now an iPhone ap that enables pseudo-gutterpunk-wannabes to play tall bike jousting without the danger, excitement, or exercise involved in actual bike jousting.  I will point out here and now that I very much like fixed gear bikes.  I like tall bikes too.  I like road bikes and mountain bikes and old bikes and new bikes.  I have met very few bikes I didn’t think were rad.  It’s the people that make me stand-offish.  As my pal Dave has said, “Just because we both ride bikes that doesn’t make us friends.”

 Perhaps next in line to make it to the mainstream is bicycle sidecar racing.  The bikes, known as Sidehacks, have been around for a long time on motorcycles and on bicycles (particularly in BMX), but bicycle sidecars have never, to my knowledge, been in regular production or wide distribution.  Mostly these bikes are labors of love, custom built by the people who want to use them.  I was recently having a conversation about sidehacks with my pal Adam who designs bike stuff.  We thought it would be cool to do a contest where people have to build their own sidehacks within a limited budget, then we’d all meet and race them and get stupid and have a great day.  Adam was excited, and had been thinking about building one anyway.  He was “on board,” as the mouth breathing bean counters in the stagnant corporate backwater of the Qube Pharm say, but his excitement was tempered after he stumbled on this.  Remember Adam, and the rest of you: Everything you love and anything that is cool now will be co-opted, repackaged, and sold to people you hate.  


 In other noose, I have for several years heard murmurings about the doom of self induced apocalypse we seem to be headed for, brought on by our addiction to oil and convenience and waste, or, to put it bluntly, our addiction to selfish living.  I am not quite paranoid or pessimistic enough to believe that such a fate is inescapable, however I find it interesting that among people stockpiling bikes as the vehicle of this future world the Long Haul Trucker seems to be taking a role of some significance.  Feast your eyes, for example, on this bit of musing, culled by our man Fleck from Minneapolis’s own Hiawatha Cyclery Blog:

“If you are already a bicycle-enthusiast, you are likely well on your way with several worthy steeds in your stable. If you have a few decent bikes and some basic fix-it skill, you can keep them going for many years with a stash of extra tubes (and patches), tires, chains, cables, bolts, bearings, and a few bottles of oil and grease. On the other hand, if we take the long view, we can predict (and observe today!) that roads are not getting any smoother, so your 16-lb triathlon bike is probably not the best choice for post-apocalyptic mobility. What we really need is a modern analog to the 3-speeds that the Brits rode on their bumpy roads after WWII: something versatile, universal, hard to break, and easy to fix. In my opinion, the bike that exemplifies these virtues is the Surly Long Haul Trucker, preferably with 26" wheels.

I'm not going to get into specifics about why I think the LHT is a great choice for a bike to ride into an uncertain future, because there are other bikes on the market that have similarly desirable features. I just happen to think the LHT is among the best, and also one of the most affordable. Consider this: If you are starting from scratch, you could buy two LHT complete bikes (suitably equipped with racks, fenders, lights, and bags), one in your current size, and one in a slightly smaller size in case you shrink in the future, along with a dozen or so high-quality tires, a case of tubes (50), a half dozen each of brake and shift cables, some chains and cassettes, a couple middle chainrings, a few pounds of grease, a gallon of chain lube, and a basic tool kit. If you're really worried, get a couple replacement rims, spokes, hubs/freehubs, headsets, bottom brackets, and derailleurs. But if you have two identical bikes with a stash of extra parts and lubes (not to mention future scavenging), you should be able to keep at least one operational bicycle cobbled together for many decades. Depending on how crazy you want to get with your hoarding, the whole package should set you back around 3000-4000 2009-dollars. That sounds like a lot of money, but not if you consider that it is basically a lifetime bicycle supply, and not if you consider that you could as easily lose that money through investment losses or from inflation, with nothing to show for it.”

I for one am proud to work for the company that makes the official bike of the apocalypse.  And really, his reasoning works pretty well in the here and now.  Think about it. 

If you have written or called in the last month or so you may have heard back from Surly’s newest slampiece, Trevor “T$” Clayton.  This is him back in the day.   

A couple weeks ago when we were sitting directly underneath an Artctic high pressure front and temperatures were in teens below zero Farenheit,  I interviewed Trevor as way of introduction to you people.  T$ is a good fit here for a number of reasons, among them his knowledge and love of and commitment to bikes, his skillbilities as a cyclist, his enthusiasm for camping out in less than ideal conditions without much more than a pile of leaves to keep him from them, and his strange and unique but somehow effective taste in fashion. He sings/yells for a band called Hondo here in the MPLS. 

KB) State your name.

TC) Trevor Fucking Clayton

KB) From where do you hail?  

TC) I Hail from the misanthropic, wind swept plains of the Midwestern frontier. Originally birthed in the Unholy city of Minneapolis.  

KB) How many bikes in the stable? 

TC) 4 Surlys round out my stable of 8 fine steeds. 

KB) Tacos or disco? :   Disco is dead, Fish Tacos are divine.  [Circle gets the square.  That’s a Daily Double, since he was not only correct that Tacos was the correct answer, but as well noted that fish tacos spring from a well of divine grace.  –KB]

KB) Have you ever actually used up the ink in a highlighter marker?  

TC) No, but do you remember the High-Lighter "stash marker"? that was cool... 

KB) What sorts of riding/bikes interest you? 

TC) I like simplicity in my rides, no fuss, only the wind in my hair and the dark lord in my heart. I often think what my zombie apocalypse bike should look like. If I need to carry a rifle, a machete, camping gear and medical supplies; what bike would I trust "the rest of my life" with? It's a really tough decision. 

KB) How was the ride in this morning? 

TC) So Pure... Evil, Cold...



Five  Four  Three Ways Brauer Is Singlehandedly Saving Cycling:

3) Brauer doesn't care what clothes he has on, if his socks match, whether his shoes match his toe straps.  Sometimes he doesn't even care if he has clothes on. 
2) Brauer rides more than you.  He doesn't race much but when he does he is formidable competition.
1) Brauer is respectful to the point of reverence of people who ride, no matter how much or how little, as long as they ride.


Recently overheard in the Surly office:

Unnamed person #1) Do you remember your birthday a couple years ago?
Unnamed person 2) Yeah, I was wasted. 
Person 1) You drove me home!
Person 2) I did?  Wow, that was a poor choice.


The DreamCrusher