Surly Bikes Blog en Copyright 2019 2019-05-23T15:45:00+00:00 <![CDATA[Humanoids of Surly: Paula Funatake]]> Name:
Paula Funatake


Portland, Oregon, USA

Who do you think you are anyway?

I am a native Pacific Northwesterner. By day I apply my insatiable desire to "always be improving" by analyzing higher education business processes. The rest of my time I fill with family, a bit of video gaming, friends, photography, volunteering, keeping up the yard (when I have to), and bikes. I have explored my home state of Oregon in various modes - hiking, road trips, back-country skiing, and cycling. The common theme for the introvert in me has been the solitude, the peace, and quiet, sharing time and activities with a few, close friends, and being in awe of the magnificence of nature.
I am a fairly strong introvert (if that is any kind of description) but am my most extroverted when I'm on my bike, almost like the two lives of superheroes (note: I am not one), such as Diana and Wonder Woman. Through biking, I have met some super friends and have experienced many epic adventures.

How’d you get into bikes?

I was the late bloomer in my family, not learning how to ride until 8 or so. I wanted to roll with my friends and they were the ones that helped the most. We had some great explorations, neighborhood criteriums, winter snowball fights by bike (learned about balance and equal-but-opposite-reaction), and building ramps and jumping. The inquisitor in me found an outlet other than destroying the family toaster in wondering what made my bike tick. I thought the coaster brake was a pretty impressive mechanical device - yep, took it apart, got yelled at, and managed to put it all back together . . . and it still worked!
Skipping ahead from my childhood riding (shhhh in the 60s) I arrived at a place, as an adult, where I felt a need to move a bit more than sitting at my desk, rolling back and forth in my chair, and creating technical illustrations. The one thing that I could do straight out the door and wasn't "really" exercise was biking. Not sure of my commitment level, I bought a lower-end touring geometry bike. Turns out I enjoyed riding and found routes that seemed far, but weren't really. During this time, I met some new cycling friends who brought even more fun and were most awesomely supportive - no one left behind, encouragement, camaraderie. Those long 12 mile rides turned to 25, 60, centuries, double centuries, and climbing. Remembering these friends and times brings back many fond memories.
Being a mobile society, my work always had me in the 20+ miles one-way commute so very rare was the opportunity to bike commute back then. Then, as life and luck would have it, my employer moved offices from the way-out suburbs to downtown Portland. I committed to bike commuting and it worked out that I could also accompany my son who was starting middle school and wanted to bike to school (4.5 miles one way). Once committed, I also found the need for N+1 and began building up a few different bikes for commuting and town riding. Commuting led to participating in an annual bike commute challenge, eventually going from participant to team captain. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my enthusiasm and how fun bike commuting could be.
The one thing about bike commuting for me is that it can become same ol' same ol'. I got an itch to try dirt riding with a mountain bike, buying a 29er hard-tail. I met some new friends and dirt riding led to an interest in bikepacking. With an opportunity to join a couple of friends on an epic trip riding the White Rim Trail in Utah's Canyonlands National Park, of course, I said, "Yeah!". Everything about that trip was mind-blowing - the landscape, the chillness of riding such remote terrain, the challenge of self-support - the seed was planted, I was hooked. The next epic trip was a multi-day ride exploring parts of southeast Oregon, including some of the Oregon Outback and surrounding areas. Yep, I needed more.
I love combining my joy of riding with volunteering. My favorite summer volunteer duties are with our Portland Sunday Parkways events where every month a different neighborhood has family-oriented activities coordinated along a car-free route to promote active transportation. Seeing our streets filled with people biking, walking, skating, jogging - all things human powered. My favorite late fall and winter volunteer activity is planting trees by bike with our Friends of Trees, an organization that works with the city and neighborhoods to improve urban tree canopy and restore sensitive natural areas. What a fun, get-you-outside way to combine two awesome activities - riding my bike and planting more greenery!
Throughout this bike evolution, another joy I am provided is the art of fine-tuning - mechanical, functional, and aesthetics. Each bike I have owned has gone through iteration after iteration so the bike is not only an extension but also an expression of me. For a select few, I apply this nexus principle when maintaining and servicing their bikes - tune-ups, precision wheel truing and builds, and just making things look good, clean, and polished before giving their bike back.
My current mission is sharing the fat bike love - showing how much fun a fat bike can be for adventure and exploring the unpaved world. It seems to be working as some friends became excited about these awesome fun machines and have purchased fat bikes for themselves - 2 have Surly Pugsleys now. This has opened a whole new world of exploration for them individually and for us as a group.

Tell us about your Surly

One of my most favorite topics! Thanks for asking.
After my experience on the White Rim Trail with the hard-tail sporting 2.2" tires, and watching my friend on a Surly Ice Cream truck I wanted to check these fat bikes out. My goal was to create an adventure bike, one that would take me anywhere. Visiting my favorite shop friends, asking questions, talking about what I wanted, getting feedback, and taking a few test rides - the Surly Wednesday was the winner! This bike would be the foundation for building my ultimate, solid, versatile adventure bike.
My starting base adventure bike is a 2016 Surly Wednesday in the sweet Robin's Egg Blue. My Wednesday has not disappointed. If the tire wear from pavement riding wasn't an issue, this would be THE bike I ride all the time! If I could only have one bike, this is the one. The little Paula inside screams with joy every time I am out on Wednesday (which has proven to be contagious with my friends who recently acquired fat bikes). She has been a pretty amazing urban assault vehicle as well. Rutted, unimproved roads with puddles? No problem - ride right through. Friends think I need a sign that says, "Splash Zone", as I seek out the puddles and give it just a little extra oomph to splash it big.
Fully loaded, the ride is so comfortable, the handling stable and predictable. Unlike many, I opted to use racks to support my bikepacking and have no regrets on that decision. The flexibility the racks provide has been a huge positive over the added weight - on one shake-down trip, I carried the firewood from the camp host a mile from camp on the racks. No one else had the capacity.
Having Wednesday has opened up so many more riding options - from fun group rides (like that time Kate came to Portland and, with Gladys Bikes, put on a Surly bikes ride), to volunteering (what a great ice-breaker to connect with people), to riding the local trails, to some amazing bikepacking trips (Oregon Outback). And snow. Did I mention snow? While everyone around me dreads snow in Portland, I am all like "Bring it!!!"
I love the fact that with the Wednesday I don't worry about what surface conditions I might encounter when exploring unknown routes. The geometry suits me and my riding style. I love the design thought that went into the bike - especially all the braze-on mounting points, which makes refining the build awesome.
Some of the things I have added to create my adventure bike: Surly 24-pack rack, Old Man Mountain rear rack, dropper post, small fabrications, shorter cranks (170mm, the medium came with 175mm), dyno hub and lighting, and (just because) I had a custom headbadge made (Jen Green Headbadges) - yep, the one that started a movement.

Favorite bike-related memory:

  • From childhood - snowball fights by bike, where I (we) learned the importance of balance and art of the coaster brake skid/drift.
  • From the earlier days - completing the RAMROD (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day) in 10 hours.
  • Most recent - the epic White Rim Trail trip.
  • More most recent - having my friends getting thrilled about fat bikes, buying fat bikes, and joining me in exploring the unpathed.

If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be?

So many places like the Baja Divide, more southwest exploring. Right now, I want to explore more of the backcountry of Oregon, mostly east of the Cascades.

Where can people follow along with you?

Instagram: @paulafuna
Facebook: Pawlah Foonah
<![CDATA[Surly TV Tray - Your Add on Rack Solution]]> As a kid, the TV trays, handed down from Grandma to Mom, were something to be revered.  Almost like the fancy china, they were only taken out for special occasions.  New Year’s Eve, maybe Super Bowl Sunday and then they were gone, not to be seen again until another distant, magical night when dinner would be enjoyed in front of the TV.  I really hope the Surly TV Tray conjures up that same excitement and it becomes more of an everyday type of thing for you.  Step away from that glowing box, ditch the Hungry Man Dinner and let’s redefine what a TV Tray can hold.

What Is the TV Tray?

Very simply put, the TV Tray is a rack platform extender.  More specifically it’s a 4mm thick, stamped and machined aluminum platform that shares a similar footprint to the 24-Pack Rack.  It can be direct-mounted to the barrel bosses on the 8-Pack Rack or can be mounted with 4 extruded/machined hooks to myriad other racks.  The TV Tray allows you to add a porteur-style platform to almost all Surly racks (the Wide Disc Rack and 24-Pack Rack being the exceptions).  The cutouts are arranged to accept the Porteur House bag and the Petite Porteur House bag either lengthwise or widthwise depending on your preference.

What Can You Carry on it?

The world is your oyster, go nuts, etc. etc. albeit with a few restrictions.  The maximum load of all your trinkets and cheeseburgers can’t exceed 30 lbs, or the max suggested load of your rack, whichever is lighter.  The mounting hooks are only compatible with rack struts between 9.5-12mm in diameter, and racks that have a width of 98-178mm (strut center to center).  The last rack rule is that you must have four mounting points for whatever rack you are installing the tray on, and it must meet that pesky ISO 11243 test standard.  For further mounting instructions and limitations refer to TV TRAY INSTRUCTIONS. 

In addition to provisions for mounting our line of red-meat-inspired bags, there are a couple of other features that will help you in containing all those cheeseburgers.  There are notches on the front and rear of the platform that is perfect for hooking a stretchy cargo net to.  Slots line the perimeter of the TV Tray that makes using loop-style junk straps a breeze.  It’s almost like they were put there for that sole purpose.  Strap a basket on there and join the Basket-packing revolution.  What you carry and how you secure it is up to you, but make sure that shit is strapped down; you don’t want to leave behind a zesty road score for someone else.

If you have an old touring rack sitting dusty in your garage, why not breathe some new life into it and give it a porteur-style makeover?  What are you waiting for?  Here is a list of some racks that are ISO qualified and that we have confirmed fit on.  It’s not an exhaustive list by any means but you can get all of these from Mom and Dad when you get your Local Bike Shop to order your new TV Tray.

Surly Rear Touring Rack

Surly Front Touring Rack

Surly Disc Rack

Surly 8-Pack (direct mounted)

MSW Pork Chop 200

MSW Pork Chop 100

Salsa Alternator Standard

Salsa Alternator Low

Salsa Wanderlust

Salsa Wanderlust HD

Check the TV Tray Instructions to see if your non-Surly rack meets the minimum requirements.

<![CDATA[Humanoids of Surly: Aaron Dixon AKA SurlyOldMan]]> Humanoids of Surly: Aaron Dixon - AKA Surlyoldman

Aaron Dixon, the man himself

Who do you think you are anyway? 

I am a father to two beautiful girls, a husband to my wife Jen, a Graphic Designer by trade, and an outdoor enthusiast. Spending time outdoors is one of my greatest passions, whether it is an epic bike ride, camping, or catching fish out of my kayak in a nearby river. I consider a long bike ride that ends with a campfire and good beer to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. 

How’d you get into bikes?

At age 5, I learned to ride on the neighbor's bike, which was a girl's drop cut frame with an, especially low banana seat. I distinctly remember kicking it around the cul-de-sac until I could pull my feet up and pedal. I was incredibly happy that day! I knew right then and there that bikes were one of the best things in the world. 

I truly fell in love with singletrack in college at Ohio University in Athens. My rides usually involved long stretches of gravel roads leading to single track. The trek from my dorm to the trails often left me famished. The cafeteria cereal dispensers were hit particularly hard those days. Those were the days!

Little Aaron Dixon on his bike

Tell us about your Surly:

I have been an avid collector of Surly bikes since 2001 when I purchased my first Surly, a 1X1. Since that time, I have purchased several other Surly bikes. I don’t know the exact number, however, as I consider it bad luck to count your bikes! 

One thing I love about Surly frames is that they have a tendency to get better with time (and I fall in love with all the fun places I have been on them). They say that steel has memory, and I believe it is both physical and metaphysical. Steel has magic and love that you cannot get from carbon fiber.

The other reason I love Surly is that they are an industry innovator of wheel sizes. The wide variety of wheel sizes helps keep the same trails interesting day in and day out. 

Yet another reason I love my surly bikes is their dependability. Like so many others, I am busy with work and family so the less I need to work on bikes the better. I keep the chain clean, knock the dirt off every once and a while and the bikes work flawlessly.

My favorite Surly has gotta be my ECR. The geometry on that bike is magical. It rides so smoothly on single track as well as gravel. It loves to go safely downhill with amazing speed. That bike is a winner.

I love riding the single track here in Ohio. Many people think that it’s flat and boring, but they are wrong! Ohio has lots of rolling single track that will rip your legs off. I prefer riding in small groups, or perhaps with one other person. My buddy Todd is a pretty good dude who keeps me fit trying to keep up with him.

Surly Karate Monkey

Surly Pugsley

Favorite bike-related memory:

When I was at OU I met a fellow mountain bike enthusiast named Dan Peters. Dan and I developed a close friendship riding bikes over the years, and he was my go-to friend for riding. Dan was a strong, technical rider on the trail who had a personality unlike anyone else I knew. He was one of the most likable guys you could ever meet. As we both grew our families and careers, our rides together grew less frequent, though we still found time to get a couple of rides in a month. The last bike ride I took with Dan, he was not feeling well. His energy levels were low, and he was struggling to catch his breath. Despite this, Dan managed to beat me to the top of most hills, as well as push me up an uphill after I snapped a chain. To this day, I can still recall the feeling of him pushing me those 40 extra yards up that hill. The very next day, Dan was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Tragically, it took his life less than 2 years later. Though tough, that ride represents the spirit of our friendship, and strength on the bond we shared over bikes. I miss Dan, and some days it is hard to look at bikes in the same way. He was a major part of my riding and I am grateful for the times we shared.

Aaron in trail builder mode

If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be? (And why?)

Moab has always been at the top of my list. I have had the opportunity to go and plans always have fallen through. It seems so far away from Central Ohio at the moment. Family and work make it challenging to peel away for that one. Someday it will happen. Why?… its Moab.

Where can we follow you?

You can follow me on Instagram:  @surlyoldman

<![CDATA[Single Speed World Championships: Rookie Report]]> Single Speed World Championships: Rookie Report 


“Single Speed Worlds is going to be in Oregon this year. We need to go…” 


The first thought that sputtered into my head was, “what actually happens at Single Speed Worlds?” Though I was aware of the event, I’d never truly understood it. Fortunately, however, I would come to learn that one cannot understand the fun, debauchery, unexpectedness — and all the other adjectives — that make up SSWC without living it.  


To help set the scene here’s some visual stimulation to help you understand the event’s vibe — just a short video we put together with our novice cellphone and GoPro footage.  


The idea of packing up bikes sans derailleurs and heading west had laid dormant for several months, but it came back to life when Pintz GuzldSurly’s Chief, got inspired and officiated the expedition (more than likely while on a ride involving at least a few beer stops). Being the true chizzler that Pintz is, he did his best to procure free entry for the Surly goon squad by donating a Surly Lowside frame that could be raffled off. The folks at SSWC denied this very generous offer and countered by demanding a complete bike. Too rich for our chizzlin’ blood, but thankfully we obtained a discount by doing a little artwork on our entry forms. (Notice the authentic Taco Bell hot sauce stains on Pintz’ form.) 


Single Speed World Championships Entry Form


We assembled our crew quickly, and before we knew it, $Trevor from Wherever, Wood, Pintz and I were bound for Bend, Oregon. After a quick layover in San Francisco, via Minneapolis, we finally arrived, checked into the happiness hotel, and were more or less ready for the week. First things first, though: We needed to get our steel ponies. After a couple of blocks of foot travel, we found ourselves at Bend Velo, the undisputed, #1 Surly dealer in all of Bend — and central Oregon for that matter. To our surprise and delight, Eric and Tori had hooked it up and assembled our bikes prior to our arrival. (Thanks again, Fellas.) Since we had our bikes and nothing but time to kill in a new city, we set off right there to explore the local curiosities, as one does. 


Our friends from Bend Velo

Single Speed Mountain Bikes

Pre "Race" Happenings

When it comes to the week of SSWC, there’s no shortage of rides you can hop on. Before dinner, we elected to hook up with a group ride heading out of Bend to the local trail network. Three hours later, with a face full of dust and completely empty gas tanks, we were done with the ‘Minnie SSWC.’ Most memorable were the amazing trails, including a 15-minute downhill. After some grub at 10 Barrel Brewing Co., we hooked up with the fairly organized and very official beer cruise. We started with beers at Deschutes Brewery and then went on to Boneyard Brew Pub. Side note: It’s truly amazing how car traffic changes its behavior when faced with 200+ people who are buzzed and just trying to have themselves a good time on bikes. We owned the road for once, and man it was fun. 

Bike Pile

The following night the welcome and hosting party took place. For the uninformed, as I was, this is a beer party whose sort-of-secret function is to determine the next year’s host location. Competing for the honor to host the 2019 SSWC were Canada, Durango Colorado, New York and Slovenia. The contest included two parts: Round one consisted of a beer-sliding game where you slide the beer mug across a wet table and your partner has to catch the beer as it slides off the table. This repeats for a while and you get points for the number of catches you make, and making it even more fun, there are rules that no one but the judges seems to know about. The second and final contest round was a project combining art and survival. Teams were given a couple of bike boxes and a few rolls of duct tape. The challenge was to create a boat out of the materials and select a team member to pilot the boat on a course in the Deschutes River — in the dark. Miraculously, no one drowned, and in the end, the team from New York won the right to host next year. As a twist, though, New York handed over the hosting keys to Slovenia, all in an effort to spread the love for the Single Speed Worlds back toward Europe.  

The Main Event 

The course was shrouded in secrecy leading up to the race. All we really knew was that it was a brand-new trail on some private land, mostly unknown to all but a select few. We also knew the starting location was Bend High School. As luck would have it, there are two Bend High Schools in town, and Pintz led us to the wrong one. Since nobody wanted to be late, we traversed town to the other school as fast as we could, just making it in time for the rollout. The course started with a 12-mile sustained climb — nothing like a good kick to the groin to get things moving — and was followed by some of the most fun, dusty, sketchy, amazing trails I’ve ridden. With plenty of checkpoints for food and beer along the way, we were well taken care of. Notable rest stop amenities included: lots of bacon; a mountaintop hookah and couch setup from race sponsor Oregrown; metal stamping at the Paul Components rest stop; and a hike-a-bike summit hotdog stand manned by Deschutes Brewery. If you haven’t done so already, scroll on back up to the top of the blog post and watch the video to get a general feel for the “race.” 

The Calm Before the Storm

Mountain Top Hookah Lounge

Dusty Post Race Face

SSWC Results Board

All things considered, SSWC was a highlight of my year. I met new friends from all over the world, rode bikes without thinking about shifting, kept hangovers in check, and didn’t die.  

See you in Slovenia for SSWC 2019? 

<![CDATA[Friends of Surly Visit From Japan and Homie Fall Fest]]> Super Fan of Japan

I often think of my Surly bikes as workhorses built to be used and abused. I usually ride them stock or build them up from parts pilfered from bins or other bikes. I am always amazed when I see the custom bikes built by our dealers and customers in Japan. They take advantage of the multitude of braze-ons on our frames and turn a Surly frame into a work of art. We have many Surly Super Fans around the world, but I am a Super Fan of our customers in Japan.

Surly Disc Trucker in silver

Photo Credit: Blue Lug 

This past fall our Distributor in Japan visited us with six representatives from some of our dealers in Japan for a Surly brainwashing session. Our first morning together started with some deep-fried sugar-coated dough and a discussion covering the history of Surly and our beliefs. Then members of our product design team reviewed our development process and how we come up with some of the weird shit we make. We even gave them a couple sneak peeks of some top-secret products in development. Only one electronic device was destroyed in the process.

Smashed phone screen

Group shot of Surly Bikes riders

After washing tacos down with barley pops, we loaded up on a fleet of Surly exploring rigs and headed out for an urban dirt ride through the city. We encountered a mix of terrain as we wandered north toward Downtown Minneapolis. The combo of gravel, dirt, stairs and bridges afforded us plenty of opportunities for beverage stops along the way.

Cyclists cross a bridge over a creek

Bikes in the woods

Surly Bikes on the Stone Arch Bridge

Graffiti on a railroad bridge

We eventually made it to our dinner spot — the Red Stag Supper Club just north of downtown.

Red Stag Supper Club

Our next stop was back across the Mississippi to visit One On One Bike Studio for some festing with local friends. Feats of strength happened. Limits were pushed.

One on One Bike Studio

Fortunately for our guests, their stay happened to coincide with a Minneapolis autumn tradition.

Homie Fall Fest

Words don’t quite capture the antics encountered at the Homie Fall Festival.

Surly Lowside and Rider

Surly Bikes in the woods

Rob riding his bike

Surly Bike on rough terrain

Cyclists riding in the woods

Cyclists around a campfire


Costumed man on bicycle


Thanks to our friends from Japan for making time to come visit, including Motocross International, Sico Bicycle Service, Chillnowa, Spark, Scone & Bicycle, Sam’s Bike, Taira Cycle, Blue Lug Hatagaya. Good times.

<![CDATA[DFL The Arrowhead 135]]> Back in September Zeigle bopped over to my desk snapping his finger guns with his classic mischievous smirk on his face. I knew I was in for it.

Z: I think I’m gonna volunteer for the Arrowhead this year.

A: You should.

Z: Cool, so you wanna race it?

A: What?

Z: You have 60 hours to finish! You could make it a party. Have a fire, sleep out! We’ll have whisky for you at the Surly tent!

A: Oh man… Give me a week to think about it

Z: (snaps finger guns and backs away to his desk)


The Arrowhead 135 is a winter ultra across Northern Minnesota in which participants can choose to traverse 135 miles of snowmobile trail by bike, ski or foot. This is typically the coldest time of the year in MN, and as such both bodies and equipment can take quite a beating. Now in its 15th year, the Arrowhead Ultra 135 has the reputation of being one of the 50 toughest races in the world. The average finishing rate hovers close to 50%, less for rookies like myself. So sure. Let’s give it a go.


I should note that I have no motivation in me to race. Long solo arduous miles I’m into, but race? Not so much. But Northern MN sure is beautiful, and I do appreciate a good winter campout. So why not. I sent in my application and all too soon received the official invitation.



Minneapolis had a warm few weeks leading up to the event. It was easy enough to pack up my bike and campout, but eyeing a forecast of -25F and testing out layer combos in the 30’s didn’t provide the same experience. As a result, I had planned to head up to International Falls a few days early for some final layering checks and to test out the local cheeseburger scene.  


I got out for some nice shorter spins both Saturday after gear check and Sunday morning. My layers were great, no adjustments there. Bike felt awesome, too. Monday’s weather was looking like a high of zero and a low of -20F with some fresh snowfall.  


Knowing the temperatures predicted, I didn’t set any rules for myself about staying only a certain amount of time in rest stops or foregoing sleep. I wanted to just commit to listening to how my body was reacting and make the most of the experience. The only time I was shooting for was a good time, and that was rule number one. Make it fun. Rule number two was zero frostbite. Frostbite would counter rule number one.   



Morning of the event I made some hotel room breakfast tacos and packed my food into my frame bags. Lastly, I checked out my Spot tracker. Most trips, I prefer to fall off the radar, but this time I opted for a little techno box and rented one but there were some hiccups from the start. As much as I mashed the button, I was getting no life out of it. Huh. I was prepared to shrug it off and go on sans tracking, but after some additional meddling and phone calls for support, a flash appeared. Chalking it up to cold weather, I made my way to the bike line up, hoping it would stay alive. Time for some fireworks and a bike cruise.  


The third 6 is silent...


Watching the sun come up from a saddle view is always a special thing to me and doing so with a large group of other folks made it all the more enjoyable. Crisp air and pastels all over the place. I was pretty stoked to be enjoying it between fistfuls of breakfast gummy bears, too. It became evident my glasses weren’t going to be so useful for the day. They’d skipped straight from fogging to immediately icing over. After alternating between sunnies and my normal glasses for a while through defrosting cycles, I gave up on both pairs all together and rode through sunny fuzzy blindness for the morning.   


At the Gateway store, I found some familiar faces in varying states of anguish. Frostbite. Layering concerns. Folks feeling the effects of not eating enough. People were beginning to drop. I surveyed the fried food scene, settled into some mini corn-dogs and Gatorade and took my sweet time filling up my water bottles. I was feeling good. Surly-fam Patrick was on the scene, waiting for his dad, Mike, to roll in. He noted that he had an extra bunk if I needed it at Melgeorge. Nice! Knowing the cold may have a harsh effect during these miles, I had started the day keeping an open mind on a decision to pedal through the night or get in a few hours’ sleep. We’ll see what I needed when I got there. I declined offers to salvage food from folks who were pulling from the race, feeling sound in my supplies and energy levels, and made my exit.  


Photo by Burgess Eberhardt


After some light leapfrogging, I settled into a long solo stretch for a few hours. The sun was making its way down as another rider, Ahti, came up behind me and we made our way towards MelGeorge together. My knees were starting to feel the cold and hill combo and I began walking more than I wanted to, focusing on the long game and knowing if I destroyed them before the half way point I’d be unlikely to finish. The last five miles seemed to be some of the longest I have ever ridden. Having spent much of the day with my glasses in my pocket, my eyes were worn out from both straining to find a clean line in the snow and from the fresh flakes coming down. Crossing Elephant Lake, I was alternating between one eye at a time, following Ahti’s blinking light in front of me.  


Arriving at MelGeorge meant piles of food, some good laughs and the best hot chocolate I’d ever tasted. I took Patrick up on his cabin offer and placed my wet gear along a floorboard heater and tucked in for some sleep. I set a few alarms and snoozed through all of them, convincing myself to wait to ride in the daylight. As the sun began to peek up, I was putting the final touches on readying my things. My gloves hadn’t dried and my neck gator was mostly damp. I’d intended on running the same layering combination on my hands from the previous day, but that was not a sound choice now. I swapped to my mitten shell and a thicker wool liner glove instead, wrapped fresh adhesive warmers to my batteries and cell phone and filled my bottles with boiling water. Mike was bowing out due to shoulder injuries from a good crash the day before. As I prepared to leave he warned me to take it easy on some of the upcoming descents and gave me some of his face tape. Weather was looking like a high of -15F and a low of -26F.  


The stories I had heard about this leg towards the Surly checkpoint being hilly and torturous had magnified themselves in my head. I was pleased to find some long mellow stretches between some beautiful climbs, but Mike was right about the descents. The snow was showcasing some body imprints and squirrely wheels. I rode the brakes more than necessary and chose lines cautiously, taking advantage of spilt Peanut M&Ms and Shot Blocks scattered on the trail.  


As I inched my way towards Surly my knees began to light up again and my shifter was starting to stick bringing me down to two useable gears. I closed in on a rider in front of me, Gavin on his Ice Cream Truck, who I’d ridden with a bit the previous day. “We’re already 15 miles in from the last checkpoint” he told me, “and it’s about 40 total to Surly, I added. “Oh I wish you wouldn’t have told me that…” Whoops. I kept my eyes peeled for shelters, knowing distances between each of them and getting excited as they each passed by. As slow as my legs were feeling, it was a gorgeous and clear day. I was thankful to be taken in the scene during the daylight and felt great about my choice. I sprinkled in some more walking in hopes of keeping my knees alive and I kept my ears open, hoping to hear Surly folks around the next corner, or Deerboy peeking out from the tree edge. During my walking segments, I picked up scattered wrappers and hand warmers. Far too soon, I started dreaming of the Hostess pie I planned to heat up on the Surly fire. Dreaming of food was a sure sign that I hadn’t eaten enough, but stubbornly I pressed on rather than pulling over. Soon enough I saw Zeigle on the side of the trail and he assured me the checkpoint was only ten or so minutes ahead and Gavin was already there. I was really feeling the effects of burning through the day’s food intake.  


Photo by Burgess Eberhardt

Recharged with whisky and laughs with the Surly team, I stuck around the tent long enough for my layers to all dry out, filled my belly and defrosted my bottles. As Gavin and I prepared to head out, runners were taking our place in the tent. Temperature was dropping even more. I was feeling warm and ready, but nervous about how much temperature drop we’d be experiencing on the way to the finish. One more big hill and then flat towards the finish, we’re told.   


Immediately upon leaving Surly it was evident my knees were done. Heating them up in the tent and then pushing up a cold climb wasn’t what they needed. You get 60 hours, I reminded myself. I hung on to Gavin’s tail light for a while and then watched him take off on the false flat of drifting snow. At this point my shifter called the quits entirely and I was stuck in a steeper gear than I would have wanted. Though my hands were toasty, the shell of my gloves began to slowly freeze around my grip, like action figure hands that need to be slid onto plastic motorcycles. I began alternating between standing and pedaling for as long as I was able and then giving into walking for a bit. Pedal. Then walk. Then pedal. A snowmobile approached and told me Gavin was waiting ahead. Only 15 miles to go. I pushed on to catch up to him and let him know to go on without me, with one gear and no knees, I’d have to catch him at the finish.  


Upon sighting the Fortune Bay Resort 2 miles sign I began taking stock of what an awesome experience this had been. I met a heap of new folks, got to appreciate this beautiful course and the crew putting in the work to put on such an event. I was thankful for my equipment choices, how warm I was despite plummeting temps. And those stars, oh man. As if on cue my front light burned out leaving a dim back up headlamp to illuminate my path for my last mile. I let out an echoing laugh into the night. Perfect timing. 


As I crossed the finish line the folks greeting me commented, “Well you’re in an awesome mood! We lost you on the tracker but folks out this long tend to know what they’re doing. Looking good! No frostbite on your face either!” Mission one and two accomplished.  



Alerted that my stalled tracker had caused a bit of a panic for onlookers, I took a moment to reach out to family and then tucked into some soup, shower and sleep.


Big thanks to Ken, Jackie, all of the incredible Arrowhead volunteers, Zeigle fam and the entire Surly crew for the support, whiskey and heckling. That was a cold one! Good work out there.


*denotes mandatory gear



Surly Pugsley, stock aside from a Thomson post/Speci saddle and a slightly shorter stem

Xpedo Spry pedals

Revelate Designs/Surly Frame bag

Surly Moloko Handlebar Bag

2 Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbags

Revelate Designs Gas Tank Top tube bag

Revelate Designs Viscacha Seat Bag

4 Problem Solvers Bow Tie Strap Anchors

2 Revelate Designs Washboard Utility Straps

2 Black Diamond Ski Straps

2 Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parkas*

2 32oz Wide Mouth Nalgenes*



Big Agnes Crosho UL sleeping bag*

Black Diamond Twilight Bivy*

Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite Sol pad*

Blue tarp

SealLine Discovery View drybag

Surly Loop Junk Straps

Light and Motion Seca 2000 Race headlight and spare battery

Surly tall koozie for battery

Surly tall koozie for cellphone

Nite Rider Lumina Micro 850 Headlight

3 Planet Bike LED Super Flash Taillights*

Spare AAA batteries

Esbit Ti Pot with lid*

Esbit Pocketstove*

Esbit Fuel Cubes x16 *

2 homemade fire starters

Waterproof matches*


GSI Outdoors MicroGripper

Spyderco Native CPM S30V Knife

Tin foil

Petzl Headlamp*

HydrakPak Stow 500ml soft flask

Stanley 16oz Thermos


Spare tube

Blackburn frame pump

Tire boot

Patch kit

Brake pads





Loose 4 and 5mm hex

Spare chain links

Tire levers



IB profin, CBD, Bandaids, etc.

Trail map

Note of mileage between shelters

Plastic whistle on string*


Adhesive body/toe warmers for light batteries/cellphone/Hydraflask




Swrve Windstopper Belgian Cap

Surly Wool hat

45Nrth Baklava Balaclava, with added wool nose piece

Craft Shelter Glove

Outdoor Research Adrenaline Gloves

Rapha Winter Collar

Smartwool Sports bra

Craft Cool Mesh Super Light Sleeveless baselayer

1 Surly Raglan

Thick wool sweater

Patagonia Nano puff vest

Icebreaker Wool undies

Smartwool Midweight base layer tight

Patagonia Wind Shield softshell pant

Craft Ventair Xwind pant

Surly Tall Logo Wool sock

Steger Traditional Mukluks

Reflective Vest*



Mostly the same, but

2 Surly Raglans

Surly Neck Gator

Switched Smartwool baselayer for Ibex heavy weight base tight

DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks

Arc’teryx rain jacket after the Surly Checkpoint

Outdoor Research Alti Mitts (no liner mitten)

Smartwool PhD Insulated Training Glove


Spare set of clothing kept in SealLine Drybag

Green thin wool hat

Arc’teryx midweight puffy

Outdoor Research Alti Mitten liners

Surly scarf sewed into an ear/nose warmer

Extra DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks



Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter*

3 Justin’s Almond Butter packets

Peanut butter/Oatmeal bites with chia seeds, dried cranberries, protein powder, maple syrup

Butter/cream cheese bites coated in chocolate and chopped almonds

Chocolate covered almonds

Mint Chocolate Honey Stinger waffles cut into pieces

Salami rolls with cream cheese

Slivered tortilla rolls of peanut butter, honey, dried cranberries

Gummy Bears

Skratch Lab energy chews

Hostess Apple Pie

Pearson’s nut roll

Crispy fried chicken thighs

Frozen pickle cubes

SnoShoe Grog

<![CDATA[Big Easy Introduction Spewage]]> Big Easy Introduction Spewage

Today is the Big Day. The “BIG” day. Get it. The Big Easy electric cargo bike is ready for its public debut.

Here at Surly Bikes, we think cargo bikes are great. They allow you to haul more stuff than a traditional bike. Including passengers. In some cases, though, you can overload the bike. It is entirely possible to load up a standard cargo bike where the weight of the whole rig exceeds the fitness or abilities of the operator. Today, we’re going to go over the newest Surly cargo bike, the Big Easy, which intends to address this.

Big Easy shares a lot of design with the Big Dummy. The primary difference is that the Big Easy is a Bosch equipped electric bike. Though, we did revisit handling and fit geometry. The fork has been updated, as well as tubing thickness were reviewed and updated.

Our goals when working on the Big Easy were to maintain the great handling of the Big Dummy. We like longtail cargo bikes as they are easy to load with the large bags mounted to an extended deck and rack. In addition, they tend to ride well. The Big Dummy is known to “Ride Like A Bike”, which is a good thing. Some cargo bikes can have unique handling to them, unlike a traditional bike. For us, the ride is important. If the bike rides great, you’ll ride it more often. And with more confidence.

Here at Surly HQ we’ve experimented with e-assist in the past. We’ve experimented by modifying our Big Dummies with Stoke monkeys and BionX hub motors. These solutions are convenient because we can just add them on to our existing rigs. The issue is that they have limitations in terms of power and range. As well as maintenance. Speaking from personal experience, the Stokemonkey was amazing on my Freeradicaled 1x1 cargo rig, but the whole thing was an exquisite corpse of shoe-horned arm-chair engineering. A real hot mess. It needed to have all its hardware checked frequently. And because it was one bolt-on upgrade on top of another, it lacked a rolled-up cohesiveness and refinement of a purpose-built rig.

Bosch Drive Unit

For the Big Easy, we’ve partnered with Bosch. We’ve designed Big Easy around the Bosch Performance CX drive unit and a PowerPack 500 battery. This drive unit is the most powerful [75NM of torque] of their drive units. The Bosch system is intuitive. Once it’s turned on, when you pedal, it provides support. When you stop pedaling, the additional support the drive unit provides stops. The Bosch system really shines here. The support [especially in TURBO mode] is noticeable and impactful. But when you stop pedaling, it reacts incredibly fast. There is also a cut off limit of 20mph. such that as you get closer to 20mph, the system reduces its support. At 20mph the system no longer provides support. Sure, but why? The 20mph support cut-off means that the Surly Big Easy is a Class 1 vehicle. Which, in legal terms, defines it as a bike. Class 1 electric bikes generally have all the same access, rules and regulations as standard bikes. That being said, make sure to check with your local government to ensure you’re operating your Big Easy legally.

In addition to the stock PowerPack 500 battery, you can add a second battery should you be interested in expanding the range of the Big Easy. All the hardware, wiring, and an extra lock core [keyed the same as the primary battery for your security convenience]. One note – when charging your Big Easy, if you’ve upgraded to the Dual Battery set up – only plug one battery in at a time. The Bosch system will charge both concurrently.  

Sizing and Fit

We've built Big Easy in three sizes. Small, medium, and large. Very similar to our Big Fat Dummy size scheme.  Like our trail bikes, Big Easy also features stealth dropper post routing, should you want to go that route as you dial in and make your Big Easy your own. When there are a variety of users sharing one Big Easy, being able to quickly adjust the saddle height is a nice option. It's also nice to get that saddle out of the way when getting on and off a heavily loaded bike, should you want to make that an upgrade. As well, when navigating traffic, being able to get flat footed and seated may be something you want. Dropper post can help with all these situations.

Big Easy is available as a complete bike only. The frame only works with the Bosch electric assist bike system. Bosch restricts how their drive units can be sold, as such, offering only framesets would be of no value, you would not be able to purchase the Bosch Drive Unit aftermarket. In addition to our own inhouse testing and evaluation process, we use a 3rd party test lab to run a host of domestic and international qualification testing on the whole bike, as well as the components. This ensures not only does the bike work well and is safe, but it’s also in accordance with any existing governing bodies expectations.

Parts Kit

The Big Easy has a different part spec in many cases than our standard Big Dummy. We include Tektro 4 Piston hydraulic brakes. Tektro does a great job designing, testing, and manufacturing their brakes. Specifically, they have evaluated these brakes in an electric assist cargo bike use case. Which is great. they work well and Tektro has tested and evaluated these brakes specifically how we want you to use them with the Big Easy. The headset included is a damping headset from Cane Creek. This small part helps balance the ride and deliver smooth and predictable handling, especially as you load your Big Easy up with cargo or wiggly passengers. We’ve included Tubeless ready 26x2.5” Extraterrestrial tires on a WTB TCS rim. The tire features anti-puncture cap and cut resistant sidewalls. The high volume adds to the overall ride experience as well.

True to form, the Big Easy like all Surly bikes is ready for fenders, and front racks; should you wish to upgrade. The Bosch Performance CX Drive unit also has two powered mounting ports, should you want to upgrade and add front and/or rear running lights to it. They sell wiring kits that work with a host of AM light options. It also works with our Bill and Ted Trailers for really pushing what is possible to haul by bike.

Big Easy. For some, this is exactly what you have been looking for. A highly capable rig, that expands how you will ride your bike, increase the frequency in which you’ll try and do more on your ride, and potentially add passengers to your route. We’re excited to see just how you will use your Big Easy and all the crazy stuff you’ll haul with it. Our goal is that it helps you expand what is possible by bike. Get out of the car and ride more often, with more stuff.

Where and When Can I Get One?

At the time of writing this, these Dealers believe in Big Easy too. They've pre-ordered Big Easy and have bikes en route to their locations, and in some cases may have already assembled them. Some may have not received them when you’re reading this; but these bike shops should be where you check first if you want to check out the Big Easy in person. That said, by the end of February any Surly dealer that is in the U.S. can order you one, so check out our handy dealer locator tool.  
Please note that at this time the Big Easy is only available in the U.S.





Links you may find helpful:

<![CDATA[Humanoids of Surly: Pepper Cook]]> It's Humanoids of Surly time and this month we're taking a trip to the proverbial down under, (Austrailia if you're not following) to catch up with the Surly riding, beer drinking, book reading, Pepper Cook.  If you live in or visit Melbourne, you may know Pepper from Commuter Cycles, the shop that she works at. If you're not from Melbourne, you've probably seen her rolling around Instagram. Pepper can fill you in on the details...


Pepper Cook

Melbourne, Australia

Who do you think you are anyway? 
I'm a Colorado gal with a New Zealand passport and I love exploring campgrounds around the world by bicycle! I work at a super rad touring bike shop in Melbourne, Australia where I have lived for a few years now. When I'm not working or riding I enjoy visiting breweries, learning to carve wooden spoons, and hanging in the garden patting dogs who walk past.

How’d you get into bikes?
I got into riding because I don't drive cars but love to explore new campgrounds, and after commuting for several years I realized you can pop some cool bags on your bike and go further without paying for gas! You get to have a rowdy adventure, eat as much food as you could possibly ever want, and you get to move at the perfect pace for exploring outdoors. I always find walking is too slow and being in motorized transport is too fast to get a good look at animals and enjoy some time in the wind or under the sun. 


Tell us about your Surly. 
I ride a Surly Disc Trucker and I absolutely love it. It's the perfect commuter that doubles as a long distance magical road unicorn. It rides exactly the same whether it's fully loaded or stripped down, and is extremely comfy for riding in the wild weather of Melbourne- mudguard mounts are a must here! I have squishy Compass tyres, a safety pizza reflector, and a Wald basket where I stash small dogs, picnic blankets, camping equipment and beers.

Favorite bike-related memory.
I don't have one specific bike memory, but I think my favourite thing on a bike ever is when you ride in Autumn and it's flannel weather and the sun does that thing where it shines through the tree branches all dappled and you get to ride over a thick carpet of fallen leaves. You can hear the quiet crunching of the different coloured leaves and it's cool enough outside where you don't get sweaty. It feels like you're riding in a time machine that got stuck on pause, or like you're the last person on earth and you'll never have to hurry anywhere ever again.


If you could ride anywhere in the world, where would it be? 
I think the next trip I have my eye on would have to be Japan, for so many reasons. I don't make tons of money working at a bike shop and Japan is one of the cheapest international flights from Melbourne, plus the food and mountains and people all sound incredible!

Where can people follow along with you? 
You can follow me on my Instagram if you search @bookbikebrew 

<![CDATA[Make it Your Own: The Dirt to Work Midnight Special]]> Oh. Hello there. If you're reading this post right now, you probably have some familiarity with Surly bikes, and all the ways crazy people like yourself customize and personalize your Surlys to make them one of a kind and to fit your riding needs. After all, you should be able to create and ride the bike that YOU want, not what the industry tells you to want. That's precisely why we build our bikes to be as versatile as possible. With that said, in order to showcase the endless possibilities of ways to build up our bikes, we are introducing a new recurring segment to our blog, called "Make it Your Own". The idea here is simple - to showcase some awesome, one of a kind Surlys.

If you've got a unique setup yourself, tag @Surlybikes and use hashtag #MakeItYourOwn to your Instagram post, and we might see it and reach out to you. But we can't promise anything. (we're kind of non-commital) 

OK, enough of the ramble. The first "Make it Your Own" comes from within the Surly bunker with Surly Brand Ambassador Aaron's dirt to work Midnight Special. Enjoy.


Didya know-

That the Midnight Special is compatible with two different wheel sizes? Yup, that’s right. It’s kind of cool. Like almost all our bikes, the Midnight Special is a versatile steed ready to be custom built just about any way you can imagine it. Or not, that’s the beauty of our versatility. You have choices, see?  The Midnight Special can take up to a 27.5 x 2.35in tire without fenders, or 700 x 42mm without fenders. Both are great, and both have their advantages. Here, I hope to not only speak to the wheel choices available for this bike, but also the beautiful utility of it.

First up, the build-

I built my bike up from parts I had sitting around (drivetrain and bars). For the wheels, I built up a 27.5in wheelset using a Shutter Precision front dynamo hub and Chris King rear hub laced to some Velocity Blunt SS rims. (26.6mm inner width, just right for this set up, and DT Swiss Supercomp spokes to be light and spin up quick). Wired to the dynamo are a Supernova front and rear light set. I’ve been smitten with dynamo lights lately and, if I could afford it, would equip all my bikes with dynamos. (Slowly but surely)


The drivetrain responsibilities were aptly handled by my Force 1 drivetrain I had from an earlier CX bike. Braking was handled by my Avid BB7SL (Stainless for all the salt we put on the roads up here during our gnarly winters). Now for those familiar with this bike, you might be thinking “Hey chuckles, those aren’t Flat Mount brakes, those won’t work! Check mate you Atheist!” I’d agree and say that you are not wrong. These are not the flat mount brakes you are looking for. But, they work perfectly well and they are my component color of choice-shiny silver. So, I thought hey- let’s make them turkeys fly. Remember, this is mostly a parts bin bike and I’m trying to use what I have on hand. If you search, you’ll find a few manufacturers building Flat Mount to Post adapters. I used TRP. Since building this bike, I’ve noticed Shimano is making these adapters as well. Just make sure you ask your LBS for Flat Mount to Post Mount adapters. (Don’t forget the spacing Flat Mount adapters is specific to front or rear, and the adapters can change depending, on rotor size)

The cockpit was a setup of Dimension stem (Hey- it’s shiny silver again!), Nitto 48cm Noodle Bar, and Velo Orange Grand Cru Seatpost (No Setback option). Bar tape is MSW HBT 300 tape, and so far, I love it. It also matches my Brooks Cambium C17 saddle nicely (All weather FTW).

The fork is a Whisky No.9 CX fork with a 15mm axle to accommodate the dynamo. After months of riding, I dig this fork a lot. I’m not your usual carbon type of guy, but before I get to worked up in a tizzy about the old “this type of product over that type of product” argument, I thought I’d get myself a taste to form my own opinion. The fork has handled flawlessly for my less than flawless riding and I have had no complaints about it. The measurements are really close to that of the stock fork (397 A to C, vs 400mm stock and 45mm offset vs 50mm stock offset <on 56cm frame>) And like I said before, it accepts my 15mm thru axle Shutter Precision front hub.

With all this, I wanted to build a banger of a dirt drop, all weather urban shredder. I wanted to build a bike that could handle all sorts of questionable substrate, dirt paths, trails, and everything in between. A scourge of Minneapolis alleyways.


I built my Midnight Special as a fast-paced commuter as a primary use, and trail 4x4 as a second. It handles both swimmingly. I like to think of my Midnight Special as Chuck Norris’ Ram Charger in Walker, Texas Ranger. Daddy’s little ass-kicker. The 1x drivetrain gives me enough gears to get around the city, (hell, Minneapolis is as flat as a pancake) and my decision to switch from my summer tires (Teravail Rampart) to a more dirt-friendly WTB Bee Line setup handles whatever secret dirt I can find on my commutes. (not to mention the snow to come)


A Dirt to Work Machine.

Which brings me to the title of this blog. Dirt to Work is an ancient practice from the age before fire. Long before it had a name people of all walks of life were forced to walk to work and risk being preyed upon by the angry Pterodactyls. So, they dipped into the woods when threatened. Narrowly avoiding being pecked off by some horrible winged creature. Those were incredibly difficult times. A typical commute would be uphill both ways. And always, always in the snow. So, the people of Earth got together and sacrificed a thousand carbon Tri frames to into a volcano as sacrifice to Crom (truth, I swear). Crom, witnessed this, reared his enormous head and laughed “Silly Humans, you work too damned hard LOL. I shall bestow upon you a gift of such magnanimous power, only one, trve bike company could possibly craft such a tool to behold. A mighty Natch-tubed, steel steed I shall dub, "Midnight Special", and giveth thine to Surly Bikes to craft, and heretofore deliver to the smallest and tallest of people to carry them in their toil, whether that be over the land, paved or path.”


And boom! The Midnight Special sprang forth from a crack in the Earth, delivered in a lightning bolt and a clap of thunder that could be heard through the ages…


Since its discovery, Dirt to Work has been a way for those of us to partake in the age-old ritual of avoiding horrible flying beasts (Which now have internal combustion engines in place of wings) Side effect of over exposure of Dirt to Work is Dirt Fever. To feed their addiction, some fortuitous commuters flee to the woods to cope with dregs of modern society. Sometimes the dirt desire takes the strongest of wills and never let’s go. A moment away from the hustle of dodging car doors and cagers on cell phones is a worth a lifetime of impermeable bituminous existence. The babble of a stream and chirp of birds reminds us better times, waking up with the sun in our hair, shaking bugs out from once sweaty chamois and shoes before gearing up for a ride with junkie like excitement.






Here in Minneapolis, trail access is dependent upon the weather. And because the weather sucks ass most of the year, trails can close for days on end, and often do. Those of us with the crave must find secret ways to feed the dirt monkey on our back. We could just disregard trail closures and ride around barriers, but let’s face, that’s super fucking weak and a shitty thing to do to our trail builders. So, we look to bootleg single track. It’s everywhere. When I travel to other cities, I have my eyes open, and dirt radar on full swing. I’m always amazed at what I find. Little signatures from local shredders. You can almost feel the local presence on a trail you discover in another city. The late night Thursdirt rides with beers at the overlook. The fun repurposing of nearby debris as trail markers or obstacles.  It’s in the trail.

Whether it be Syracuse NY, Charlotte NC, or Pittsburgh PA, finding that sweet little chunk of dirt wedged in between neighborhoods can turn an otherwise normal commute into a kick ass good time.

Now, some out there might be reading this and thinking aloud, “Nah, wait a minute right there, Cristopher Brolumbus! Are you saying that we should poach walking/hiking/dog walking/teen drug spots/hobo camps/ and accidentally ‘discovered off limits trails? That’s Unpossible!”

I’m not telling you to do anything my friend, I’m just saying a lot of local trails are multi use, and if you are nice to people and don’t come off as an asshole, you probably won’t have a problem. And if they’re not cool with it, fuck it, let them be the asshole. Just don’t be THAT asshole. Keep riding.

Thing is, a lot of these trails are bootleg trails. That’s the point, THEY DON’T EXIST. (which, by just bringing up the topic, I’m breaking the first rule of fight club: DON’T TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB)


So, go forth, take your steed. Feed the Fix. Smash the commute.

Escape Common Route.        

<![CDATA[Bikepacking Norway with Jack Mac]]>

You may recall a couple of months ago we introduced you to a fellow named Jack Mac in our Humanoids of Surly segment. Jack is an adventurer from the UK and has been kind enough to take us with him on his recent bikepacking exploits throughout Norway. So sit back and enjoy the words and pictures brought to you by our pal, Jack. 



Hello again it’s me...the van living, LOTR fanatical, weird, undateable, road pirate Jack Mac. So I’m back from Norway and facing an accumulation of debt that makes the Wall Street Crash look like an economic boom. So despite the costs, was Norway worth it?!!! Ohhhh Yes. I have to say that Norway has to be the closest country to a paradise I’ve ever visited. I won’t go into all the political/economic details because I don’t want to bore you and secretly I just say that to sound intelligent and have no clue, but I get the impression they’ve got it pretty figured out. The only downside as an outsider is the extremely high cost of living and my god it would be an awful location to have mechanical issues with the can see where this is going.

Let me tell you, if I’m ever in a room and the words ‘ CV Joint ’ are mentioned in conversation I will just to start screaming. Now, anyone who follows my blog will know I service/upgrade my Syncro consistently and there’s not much I’ve not changed, but I simply hadn’t got round to the ancient CV’s. Well, 4 out of 8 decided to break. I’m not going to dwell on the living nightmare that followed but at £150 + ( $200 ) p/h just for labour....well call me broke as s*#t. The really awful part was being stranded in various locations for almost two and a half weeks of my adventure. As a result, my original plan of rides was completely changed and instead I was forced to rethink everything. It was at this point my boiiiiii Tomasz Furmanek came to the rescue. Tomasz is best known for being a goddamn hero, but also a successful adventure photographer. Me and Tomasz had been talking about kayaking together for months but after hearing of my mechanical demons he offered to pick me up and take me to some of his favorite kayaking/bikepacking locations for some adventures ( Tomasz Furmanek is legit a saint and I highly recommend checking out his amazing work: ). Let's turn our thoughts to bikepacking Norway.

Rocky. Nope, not the hard-hitting star with an appetite for comebacks, I’m talking about big ass, jagged, pedal crunchers in their bajillions. This is not the case for the entire country and in the flat wooded areas you’re provided with a network of beautiful forestry tracks/gravel roads. Furthermore, some of the more remote national parks have rudimentary tracks built during WW2 that are also perfect for mtb’ing. The bikepacker could quite comfortably formulate an exciting route that crisscrossed its way through much of the southern regions. However, if like me you want to escape to the mountains and traverse remote singletrack that leaves your knees screaming for artificial replacement and a heart rate faster than Joey Jordisons double bass pedal then you may find things a little more challenging.

It’s such a tease with some of the most beautiful and unique mountain ranges in the world, but the reality is that for the most part ( particularly in the north ) you’re going to be hike-a-biking perhaps more often than riding. I utilized the app ( free ), which is the definitive app for human-powered adventures in Norway and is essential for anyone planning a ride. Unfortunately, it’s all in Norwegian at present ( although an English version is in the works ), but most information on there is decipherable. In light of my mechanical demons, I focused my rides in areas spanning from Jotunheimen, Hardangervidda and Dovre National Parks ( and later on in Lofoten ). I was fortunate enough to be joined by the Norwegian guru Tomasz on the first two longer rides, which provided some of the most remote/exciting trails in Jotunheimen and Hardangervidda National Parks ( we also spent a considerable amount of time riding in Reineskarvet, which is located in the Skarvheimen Highland between the two aforementioned National Parks....I know what you’re thinking ‘ wow long words ’. Ok, I get it, you want some actual information about riding Norway...something useful...GPS information, elevation, gear recommendations, weather to have the upper hand in a one-to-one fight with a Wolverine...I got your back. However, best to prioritize the important stuff.

Norway is home to the Wolverine, it’s like a badger had a cub with a Grizzly, then after years of a high protein diet was shipped off to military school where young...Bizzly ( was the best I could do ) started hitting the steroids, pumping iron and doing hard time in Askaban. The Wolverine is also known as the Skunk bear ( probably after years of dealing....) or Quickhatch...but on the streets is simply known as the ‘ sharp-toothed, demon-eyed, iron clawed, face ripping, 300kg one rep maxxing, dream incepting son of satan ’. Well, now I’ve got your attention I’m guessing you’re thinking.... ‘ I was so fed up of Jack’s tangents but I’m desperate to know how to defend myself against this four-legged devil ’. Well, don’t worry, they’re super solitary, shy and won’t cause you any issues at all. Enjoy Bikepacking Norway.

The following is a list of general ponderings that may offer some sort of vague guidance on how to prepare for bikepacking Norway, whilst also offering a snappy title that grabs the reader’s attention

1.) If you’re planning remote mountain singletrack ensure you pack light. Some of the routes I explored required 20km + of hike-a-biking. Alternatively, start powerlifting, get more swole than a rhino and pad your frame bag out with 25kg plates. Tank.

2.) Perhaps a little contradictory to the previous point, but take more food than you think you require ( if possible carry as much food from home as prices are extortionate... The harsh conditions and strenuous nature of singletrack meant we burnt through calories super fast ( I didn’t take a stove and stuck to dry food, which saved space/weight for extra a selection of kettlebells ).

3.) Don’t be a helmet, wear one. Norway is basically just a sh*t tonne of rocks so I think it’s honestly really dangerous not to wear one in the mountains.

4.) Rocks again I’m afraid. Due to most of Norway being under snow for much of the year it’s very prone to landslides/falling rocks in the warmer months. Always ensure you camp a safe distance from cliffs/mountains.

5.) I was running the Schwalbe 29 x 2.3 Nobby Nics on the KM and they were absolutely superb ( The Schwalbes took a stupid beating and didn’t concede a single puncture ). However, I think due to the trail conditions in the mountains I’d op for the 3” Knards from my ECR for a more forgiving ride next time ( even if hitting 40mph on the gravel was great fun! ) N.B. I have to say that the Surly Rabbit Hole rim and 3” Knard set up is my favorite of all time.

6.) In terms of bikepacking set-up. I would suggest the most compact/streamline rig with as little dangle as possible for hike-a-biking ( for a full break down of my kit head over to my website ).

7.) Shoes. I generally bikepack with flat pedals ( the ISSI Stomp to be exact ) and a pair of high top vans....#professional. The Stomps were absolutely superb, but In retrospect I’d have worn some sturdier footwear for the trails ( for example the new breed of hiking trainers that are very popular these days ) as I had a few sharp rocks go through my sole and rolled my ankle a couple of times....or go barefoot and change your name to Odysseus.

8.) The app is arguably one of the best options you have for formulating routes, but it’s not ideal being exclusively in Norwegian. It would be well worth familiarising yourself with the map beforehand and be warned that ‘ hiking routes ’ will require a lot of carrying.


Lord of the Rings: A huge metaphor that teaches life starts outside of your comfort zone.
Surly Bikes: Not to be trusted with the ring of power.
Norway: Bikepacking Valhalla.

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