The Jeep

I’m pretty sure I’ve commented elsewhere here on my acquisition of this Surly Disc Trucker frame and fork from my buddy Matt some years ago – and how initially I didn’t really dig it. Then tried to sell it. But didn’t, and since have been grateful to the bike gods for putting the kibosh on that.

Now that I have it uniquely appointed for how I want to ride and use it, it has become indispensable. My buddy Cam, the mechanic at my LBS, dubbed it ‘The Picnic Bike’ due to my penchant for taking it on #CoffeeOutside trips and snack runs and presumably also because of the basket. It’s become the go-to for those kinds of rides and grocery/errand runs in any and every kind of weather.

The Porcelain Rocket Microwave Mini-Panniers are perfect for the camp chair and hammock I keep in them at all times and the dry bags stow easily in the PR basket bag until needed. The RandiJo Fabrications Bartender and Jeff and Joan’s Bags keep all kinds of stuff handy on the bars.

Awhile back the Maxxis Aspen semi-slick MTB tires I’d put on it initially were worn thin and needed replacing. I didn’t want to sink a bunch of money into tires and I had these old IRC TrailBears that had been hanging in my shop for literally years – brand new – I’d purchased them for a 26″ mtb that I no longer own. I wasn’t sure they’d fit on this bike and clear the fenders, but lo-and-behold, here they are.

With the super-aggressive tread of these tires, the bike took on even more of a Jeep stance. It’s already green and like a Jeep will tackle most kinds of terrain – it’s pretty easy to find yourself underbiking on this thing. Like a Jeep it will go down most any road or trail you can find – just don’t expect to go fast. Like a Jeep it will smooth out some of the bumps, but not all of them, and as a consequence anything not lashed securely in place will rattle, bounce and clank around making a considerable racket on the way. On the plus side, that lets the bears know you’re coming. It weighs a ton and isn’t exactly ‘nimble’, but conversely it’s steady and predictable, and you can pack a shit-tonne of stuff in/on it.

At this point it keeps getting better with age/patina and is almost perfect. Additional upgrades I’d like to make eventually are a leather saddle, a bottle cage that will hold a 1L Nalgene and a dyno front hub and lights to make it even more versatile.

Loving The Jeep. Not for sale.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.

The atv path I ride my bike on all the time passes right by a neighbour’s house. He can see the trail through the trees from his driveway.

Over the past few years he’s seen me out on the path on a bike at pretty much every time of year and day and in any weather. When I’m headed towards home along the path it’s uphill, so I am going slow enough for the ‘neighbour wave’ or head nod.

The other day it was raining to beat the band, the mud trail was an absolute mess, and it was cold – hovering just above freezing. A spectacularly miserable day to be on a bicycle. As I was going by he waved from his driveway, shook his head a bit, laughed, and said, “Is there any time you won’t ride a bike?”

“Still trying to find the most-funnest time,” I said, smiling and waving back.

Christmas (T)Roll

So a little less than a year ago, my internet homey Matt emailed me out of the blue to let me know he was liquidating his Surly stock. He had a Troll and a Pugsley up for sale and wanted to know if I wanted any parts or whole.

As a matter of backstory, I bought my Disc Trucker frame and fork from Matt some years ago and after going back and forth with various builds on it then almost selling it back to him or someone else, I finally got it perfectly appointed for me and it’s become a steady favorite in the stable.

Matt knew I was a fan of all things Surly and was excited to maybe have the bikes go to a dedicated Surly fan. As much as I like the Pugsleys, I already have one and since I wasn’t really bike shopping at all, couldn’t really justify adding another to the stable. The Troll was another matter. Being Surly’s 26+ platform touring rig, the way Matt had it set up really appealed to me as – among other things – a ‘shoulder season’ bike for all the nasty that was too nasty for the Disc Trucker, but not nasty enough to merit the Pugsley. Matt was open to a long-term creative financing arrangement and a plan was hatched.

Box of Troll

After many months, a large box was finally deposited on my doorstep last week, just in time for Festivus. I spent a few days building it back up and familiarizing myself with various components and thanks to the Christmas gods and global warming, the weatherman was calling for an unseasonably warm (16ºC!) day today so I made sure to have the Troll ready for it’s maiden voyage. It didn’t disappoint.

Matt’s build spec is spot on and there’s not a thing I ‘d change -I did put my own Selle Anatomica saddle on it – but that’s it. The thing is really fun to ride, fits great and all the components are great at what they do. This is my first bike with an internally-geared hub and the Alfine shifts smooth as butter and rolls smooth too. The Surly Extra Terrestrial tires are great – though I have to remind myself when it comes to wet roots they are traditional slicks – heh, don’t ask me how I know. The whole bike feels stiff and stable like it could carry 200lbs of cargo without flinching.

I’m especially excited about the front Shimano dynamo hub which continuously powers the front Busch and Müller headlight and tail light. I can’t wait to try it out in the dark. I’ve never had a bike with a dynamo hub before – it’s always something I’ve wanted to experiment with. Other notable standouts for me are the SKS Blumen fenders which are super-solid, easy to mount and silent/rattle free and the Harrier pedals with big chonking pegs to grab boots/shoes in nasty conditions. I didn’t think I was going to, but I even really like the weird Ergon cork grips.

I threw my Porcelain Rocket/Anylander panniers on the Surly front rack that Matt had and put my RandiJo Fabrications Jeff n’ Joan’s bag into the Jones loop bars and away we went.

I got the Troll out on my usual loop today and threw a little of everything at it and it didn’t flinch. It’s a keeper. Getting out for a nice long ride today means much less guilt eating all the things this holiday season. Merry Christmas to me.

Hope everyone else out there had as much fun today as I did. Ride bikes in 2021.