Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Faux Surly

Every now and then, I attempt a project that doesn't pan out. One of those was to build a 650b/27.5+ bike from a standard 29er frame. I first tried it with my old Bikes Direct 29" aluminum frame, but it was lacking in tire clearance. So, I purchase a cro/mo frame off of Amazon for $139.00, thinking I might be able to massage the steel chainstays into accepting a 3" tire. (I looked on Amazon, yesterday, and those frames are on sale for $59.99! Of course they waited until after I bought mine to drop the price!)

Unfortunately, that did not work out and I ended up purchasing a bike in order to satisfy my Plus-sized requirements. But, that left me with an extra frame, which I hate to have hanging around, so I purchased a few parts, pulled a few parts from my parts boxes, and built up what I intended to be a 27.5x2.3"-tired "standard" mountain bike.

 Here it is with the 2.3" tires.

But, after a few days, I thought, "Why not put that 3-inch tire on the front? The Surly fork will accept it, and that will give me a bit more bump-compliance on the trail..." So, I put the 3" tire on it, and rode it back and forth to the coffee shop. The big front tire felt good, but now the 2.3" rear tire looked out of proportion in comparison.

So, a quick search for an affordable larger tire, which would fit into the frame, led me to purchase a Maxxis Minion in the 2.5" width (a considerably wider tire than the 2.3" Pacenti, due to the size of the knobs and the construction of the tire). The Minion is a downhill-racing oriented tire, and a bit heavy, but it suits the bill on this bike.

Here is the bike with the new tires, after a commute home from work, this week.

As sometimes happens, the "let's use up an extra frame and some random parts" bike ended up being much more than the sum of its parts. I pretty much fell in love with it, and it's the only bike I have ridden for the past couple of weeks. Looking at how it worked out, I sort of feel like I could have saved the money I spent on my camping rig by building this bike up like this and using it for both trail riding and bikepacking. But, I have both bikes now, so it is an embarrassment of riches, I suppose.

I call the bike the "Faux Surly" for a couple of reasons. First, the fork is a Surly Karate Monkey fork I bought used off of eBay, and it has Surly logos on both legs. Secondly, the green paint on the frame looks very much like the green paint that Surly has used on a few of their frames, through the years.

But, mostly, the frame looks very similar to a Surly Ogre frame, in construction. It has the same headtube gussets as the Ogre, but lacks the nice Surly dropouts. (The dropouts on this frame are massive, though, and it looks like you could cut them out and replace them with the Surly items, if you wanted.)

Here is an REI catalog photo of the 2013 Ogre. Look closely and you can see the reinforcement on the toptube, as well as the gusset under the downtube.

Here are the gussets on my frame.

The Faux Surly lacks the curved seat tube of the Ogre, but otherwise seems identical at a glance. I'm afraid, when I am out on it, that some owner of an actual Surly is going to think I am trying to counterfeit his bike!

I'm considering getting some decals for the downtube that say "Not A Surly"...

Parked in my cubicle, at work...

I think that I could possibly get a 2.8" tire in the frame, but the Minion seems plenty big enough, right now. I'll wait until it needs replacing before I worry about trying to go bigger.

This is the first bike I have built for myself, in quite some time, with an upright bar on it. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but it suits me on this bike. The width is massive (740mm), and I think that may be why I like it. It really feels natural on this bike. I think I'm going to like it on the trail, particularly when climbing.

Now, if it will ever stop raining here in sunny Colorado, I am ready to hit the trails and get this thing dirty.