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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.