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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.


Our fearless leader Pintz Guzzld recently put fists to keyboard to tell us how his personality-rich Pack Rat/Straggler mashup came to be. Set up as a single speed for front-loaded rambling, it’s yet another fine example of all the strange fun that awaits when you take a Surly and make it your own.

Blue Surly Straggler bike three-quarter front view built single speed with large front rack and basket and frame bag

Close-up of frame bag with yellow patch applied and mix of Surly bike decals, ‘Straggle®’ and ‘Rat’. The Rat decal from the Pack Rat bike

What Did You Do to Your Straggler?

The Straggler has always been my bike of choice for urban riding. My main uses are commuting and wandering around Minneapolis and surrounding burbs. A couple years back during development on the Pack Rat, we altered some Straggler frames for ride evaluation. Andy Skoglund (ed. note: former Surly Engineer) connected with a local welder to chop the headtubes and replace them with 44mm headtubes on a couple frames. This allowed the use of a Cane Creek AngleSet to test different head angles. Some forks were also reefed on to change offset. The goal was to determine the best ride experience with a front load. The ride evaluation results helped guide final Pack Rat geometry.

Detail showing front rack and basket mounted to fork crown, sidewall of front tire, frame bag lower straps to downtube and dynamo wire going from front hub to front light

Explain The Front-Load Philosophy, Please

Personally, I have always been a fan of riding loaded up front as it provides a more balanced ride experience. The rear wheel carries most of the rider and component weight on an unloaded bike. Carrying your gear on the front also allows you to see the load and access it while riding if needed. The slightly steeper head angle on the Rat Straggler improved handling for how I use this rig.

Single-Speed Simplicity

I built the bike up to be reliable and always ready to roll with little maintenance. Set up as a single speed with stainless steel chainring and cog ensures the drivetrain will have a long life with an occasional chain replacement. Generator hub with front and rear lights means I never have to worry if I am going to be out at night, and it improves visibility on cloudy or rainy days. In the winter I add fenders.

Drive-side rear hub, single speed cog, chain, quick-release, dropout detail, rear disc brake caliper and rotor

A Rack and Basket with Seating for One

The Velo Orange front rack was modified to mount to the mid-blade fork barnacles. I also used a spare rear rack mounting bracket to mount the headlight to the rack. The Wald basket is mounted to the front rack with zip ties. Baskets work well for ease of loading and unloading whatever bag or box I need to carry. I also put a piece of closed foam on the bottom to keep stuff from shifting and to protect fragile products. It also doubles as a seat cushion during energy-drink breaks. The netting keeps everything secure on rougher terrain and curb drops.

Front view of bike, black riser handlebar with grips, brake levers, bell, front rack with light mounted on one side and basket

Personal Effects

The Jandd frame bag carries my tools, tube, pump, and Abus foldable lock with plenty of extra space for snacks and spare clothing. On my 56cm frame I also still have space for two water bottles if needed.  Teravail Rutland 650x47 tires maximize the frame clearance and allow confidence when jumping onto to occasional singletrack. I also added a handlebar feed bag I made from leather scraps. This is handy for more snacks, sunglasses or misc. items I may want to access while riding. Also, the sweepy Persuader bars are high and wide, which is just how I like them. Job well done, Tumbleweed.

Paul Riding his bike home

Side-view showing frame bag with yellow patch applied, blue frame and white Surly decal and two water bottle cages

Rear view of bike showing homemade leather handlebar feed bag, rack/basket, handlebar with bell, brake levers and lock-on grips with blue collars and saddle

Front view looking down at front rack/basket with webbing to secure items, handlebar with grips, brake levers and bell

Sip, Swim, and Sleep Outside

Recently a friend asked if I wanted to do a short overnight trip from home. The plan was to ride with our ladies out to a local brewery for some beverages and food, then continue on a short distance for a campout. Most of the route was flat and the distance was less than 10 mile each way. The Rat Straggler easily handled the lighter gear by just adding a Revelate seat bag. Bonus was we had a refreshing lake swim along our route. Generally this would not be my go-to bikepacking rig, but for this trip it was perfect.

Straggle Rat at a camp site

Surly Straggle Rat rear three-quarter view of single speed bike with two water bottle cages, frame bag, handlebar feed bag, and front rack with basked in front of boarded up building