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Bikes. Parts. Chaos.

It's catalog season here at Surlyville and it has me thinking about...well, the catalog. I thought I would use my knack for finding old files to bring you this blog post.  This can be challenging since the filing system in the early days was well...lets just say they were focusing on getting this thing off the ground.  A few years back, I went through and unearthed all of these files from CDs, zip drives, and floppys. I love going back and looking at the old stuff, it helps to let me know where we have been and I use it as a reference for new neat shit we create. One of the cool things about Surly is that we don’t forget about where we have been. It helps us know where we are going. In many ways we are still the small group of folks who started this company in 1999. Some have left but many are still around and that helps keeps us grounded. Of course we could not have done it without all of you folks out there. Thanks!  

I found a lot of cool stuff in the archive that I thought I would share. I think catalog covers are a good representation of what the brand has been up to. In this post, I will be covering the old stuff up to 2006. My next post will be from 2007 on. So here they are all in black and white simplicity. 



 Surly Bikes 1998 catalog cover - black text, with rear, right side image of a bike - black & white

This is the first catalog we ever did. Back then, Surly was comprised of one guy, Wakeman and the help of a lot of folks at Q. We weren’t even named Surly, just simply 1x1. The idea was born as a reaction to the industry trend of adding more and more gears making things excessively complex and high-maintenance. This is where the 1X1 was born. We don’t need more gears just one gear with the right ratio. If you haven’t tried a 1x1, you should. They are still tough as nails, versatile and generally awesome to ride. 


Products included the 1x1 Frameset, 1X1 hubs, 1x1 Torsion Bar, The Blowerdrive, and the Singleater.

Check out this ad spread in the catalog. 

A 2 page spread from a 1998 Surly Bikes catalog, showing a black & white ad for the 1999 MMFMSSS bike race

What is cool about this catalog is that it was obviously pasted together with a copy machine. 



This was  the name that officially became Surly. No, we don’t make beer folks. (except for Adam and I). The "wizard" was responsible for the name. 


 Surly Bikes 1999 catalog cover - black text, with rear, right side image of a bike - black & white


The 1X1 used to be named the “Rat Ride” which was a reference to a bike that shop rats would want to ride and ride it they did. 





Later that year... 

Surly Bikes catalog cover - black text, with a pencil drawing of a car engine - black & white


You see here the motor on the cover. Get it? A hot rod motor for a bicycle company. Yeah, I didn’t either but It looks cool and adds a bit of irony. Maybe there is a bit of Enginerdery in this as well with the Engineerds admiring the engineering that goes into one these babies. I know they made funny cars and hot Rods out of CroMoly steel so there is a connection there. The Jethro Tule was introduced in this catalog.

The name Rat Ride has always made me think of  comic illustrator Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. When he wasn’t building hot rods he was drawing rod monsters. I enjoy his work as it was the jumping off point for much of the 60’s rock posters among other things. Here is Rat Fink (just for fun).

Animated illustration of a sharp-toothed rat, riding a chopper motorcycle, and the words, Brother Rat Fink, on top

People introduced: Grayboy and Hurl




Seems we are getting our new logo here out there. Wakeman designed it. Simple and effective.


Surly Bikes 2000 catalog cover - black text with white background


Products added: Cross-Check Complete (our first complete bike) Cross-Check Frameset, Steamroller Frameset. 



Big Year for Surly.  Cross...well...No explanation is necessary. 


Surly Bikes 2001 catalog cover - black text with white background


Later that year its the logo again...driving home that logo that we all know and love. This seems to be the year which we may have sent it out to print. Paper is a lot less copy machine like. We also have chosen a typeface. House Gothic. I have stared at it for many hours. 

Surly Bikes 2001 catalog cover - black text with white background


This is pretty neat. It is one of the original drawings for the original Instigator logo, a detail image reveals it was done in magic marker. 


Black and white graphic of the Surly Instigator bike logo

A zoomed in close up view of text written in black marker


Here is a screenshot of the Surly website...takin' it to 11.


A screenshot of the Surly Bikes website, designed with a speaker background, with a bike image, above a body of text




Products Introduced— The Instigator Frameset




This cover is super cool. It is done by Grayboy who has been here since 1999. I am always amazed by the talents of our Engineers who cannot only design and built amazing bikes and parts, but are also artistically talented. I love the eyeballs in this one. Reminds me of Rick Griffin a bit. 2002 was the year Corson and Nick Sande joined us.


Surly Bikes catalog cover - black text, with a pencil drawing of a car engine - black & white



Products Introduced— The Pacer Frameset, Track Cogs, The Fixxer, New Hubs, Track Lockrings, Constrictor Seatpost Clamp




Another cool Grayboy cover and an interesting take on the frame shape. I love shading in this one. This was also the year we introduced the Karate Monkey frameset which was the first 29er mountain bike that was worth a shit. I really like the fact that we needed to fill a page with a beer recipe. That is perfect on so many levels. 

Surly Bikes 2003 catalog cover - black text with a pencil drawing of an animated, cyclops person on a bike-black & whiteSurly bikes 2003 catalog page, showing a beer recipe - black text, with white background

Products Introduced – Karate Monkey 29” frameset, Tugnut Chain Tensioner




A bear on a bike dodging beer bottles that he presumably drank. Definitely a circus feel here which is totally appropriate as it sometimes feels like a joined a circus (all in a good way). Also the year flasky came to us. Wonderful mang. 

Surly Bikes 2004 catalog cover - an animated drawing of a bear riding a bike in a circus - black & white

Products Introduced–Long Haul Trucker Frameset, Instigator Fork, Pacer Fork, 1X1 Fork, Karate Monkey Fork, Cross-Check Fork, Steamroller Fork, Wool Jerseys



Who likes poodles anyway?  Kidding...kidding.  Lots of stuff going on here another great cover by Grayboy. This was also a big year for us as we introduced the Pugsley frameset, which strangely enough did not start to catch on until a few years back. Now even Wallmart makes bikes that are fat. It is a stretch to call them bikes but nonetheless they are out there. 

Surly Bikes 2005 catalog cover - animated pencil drawing of a unicycle person with spiked hair - black & white


Products introduced– Pugsley Frameset, Pugsley Fork, Large Marge Rims, Nice Rack



Another cool Grayboy cover. More circus/clown stuff, a punk rock clown in a jack-in-the-box bike. We always kind of had a thing for clowns. The Endomorph was born in 2006 and it was the year we introduced the Conundrum.  Leave it to Surly to produce a quality unicycle. Sov and Peter also joined us in 06. 

Surly Bikes - 2006 Catalog Cover - Pencil drawing of a Jack in a Box bicycle - black and white

Products Introduced –Pugsley Fork, Endomorph Tire, Singleator Tool, SOV 9000, Snacky


I have posted these old catalogs on our site if you want to check them out.

Well that takes me about halfway so tune in next time for the rest.