If there was a category of bike called ‘Apocalypse bikes,’ the Surly Ogre might be its poster boy. Bikes like the Surly Ogre—or its sibling bike, the Troll—are the Kalashnikovs of the cycling world. They are designed, simply, to work. To work on pavement and off, in driving rain and desert heat, now and in the long-distant future. If I was travelling to an unknown planet, and could only take one form of transport, the Surly Ogre would be up there in my consideration. You’ll find no exotic materials, just overbuilt strength and nuanced versatility at every design turn, wrapped up in a high quality finish.
Occasionally on this blog I have been critical of Surly bikes, due to their sometimes sluggish handling and dour aspect. But this doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I do. Yes, there are more pulse-pounding bikes out there, but there are few as durable, versatile and potentially long-lived on the mass market as many Surly bikes. They are bikes that you can live with, long term. Bikes that can change their spots, and adapt to life’s many twists and turns.
Perhaps the best way of illustrating this point is to simply list the number of parts and accessories that the Surly Ogre can get along with. And it’s worth mentioning that all the things listed here will not require improvisation or jerry-rigging; they all have dedicated accommodations or mounting points. There are so many eyelets on the Ogre it looks like someone sprayed it with a machine gun. Here goes:
- up to 29X2.5
- up to 27.5X3
- derailleurs—single, double or triple chainring
- hub gears, including Rohloff
- single speed
- 135mm QR
- 142mm thru axle
- 148mm boost thru axle
- front (lowrider, porteur, mini)
Bidon cages (up to 7)
Anything cages or similar (up to six)
Virtually any bikepacking bag
Anyway, we’re here to talk about Nic’s semi-custom Surly Ogre. Here it is.
- Frameset: Surly Ogre XL poo brown
- Drivetrain: SRAM Eagle 1X12 10-50 tooth
- Wheels: Novatec sealed bearing rear hub, SP dynamo front hub, DT-Swiss XM582 rims, DT-Swiss Competition double butted spokes
- Tyres: WTB Ranger 27.5X3
- Brakes: Avid BB7 mechanical disc
- Handlebar: Jones Loop H-bar
- Stem: Thomson
- Other: Sinewave Reaction USB-charger plug
What made Nic choose a Surly Ogre?
I spent a bit of time chatting to Nic about his new(ish) bike, and why he went for what he did.
“So long as you’re ok with a bit of weight, you can do everything with the Surly Ogre,” says Nic. “I like the idea of a bike that I can tour on as well as commute. An everything vehicle. It can be rebuilt in more ways than most bikes.”
Indeed Nic is working on a different wheelset for commuting.
“I’ve still got the stock 29er wheels. I’m going to swap out the rear hub to be able to fit a Sunrace 12-speed cassette on it. I’ll also fit some slick tyres—Compass Antelope Hill in a 700X55.”
The standout feature of Nic’s bike is probably the 12-speed SRAM Eagle drivetrain, a one-by system that gives you a massive 500% range. What made him go down that road?
“I was always keen on one-by systems. I liked the look of them. And when SRAM bought out the Eagle GX, the price was a lot more affordable.”
And how does it perform?
“The range is really good for touring/bikepacking. The shifting is good. Shifting up is super easy. It’s nice.”
Speaking of touring/bikepacking, where has he been on it so far?
“I’ve only had the bike for about 8-months so far. Before the summer was out I did a bit of touring around Daylesford, Castlemaine, Woodend area (in central Victoria). It was mostly on gravel roads, with some trail stuff.”
The Surly Ogre is obviously not going to be really fast on roads, but that didn’t bother Nic.
“I don’t try to be a super quick rider so I was happy to just cruise along on the roads. It’s awesome on trails. The tyres just feel like they’re going to grip and ride up anything.”
What else has he used it for?
“I use the Ogre to get around town. I commute from Preston to Barkley Square in Brunswick for work. I also use it to ride down to the shops. I can fit a week’s worth of shopping in the basket.”
One of the other standout features of Nic’s Ogre is the basket up front, and in particular, the bag that sits in it.
“The basket is a Wald 139, sitting on a Rawlands rack,” he tells me. “The bag is made by Overland Gear Australia. I asked them to make it for me, and I got to be part of the design and build process. It was fun. It’s made from Cordura material, and holds 30-something litres. Often I’ll go home past the shops and buy some groceries. There’s plenty of room in there. The bike is really a car replacement.”
And that, in a sentence, sums up the Surly Ogre. It’s not going to win you any races, but it will be there when you want it, ready to realise whatever idea is in your head. I can dig that.