How is Sanny enjoying the first flush of excitement with the Ice Cream Truck?
One of the great things about writing for Singletrack is that it affords the opportunity to get your hands on the latest and greatest kit without having to shell out your hard earned cash. I don’t write this in an ‘ooh, look at me!’ manner but in recognition of the fact that mountain bike journos are in a very privileged position. We are lucky enough to be able to test the next big thing and embrace new trends before they become yesterday’s latest new standard that belong in the circular file (Steering dampers? Kevlar Disc wheels? Magnesium frames? Who knew eh?) or which might just contribute to a genuine advance in technology and ultimately the fun you can have on your bike.
Case in point: fat bikes. When they first arrived on the scene over ten years ago, they were largely dismissed as (at best) being too condition specific and at worst, just another LOOK AT ME fad. I’ll admit that I was one of the naysayers. However, momentum has built with most manufacturers offering at least one fat bike in their range. With this in mind, I want to see whether a fat bike can function as my only mountain bike. It’s potentially a very tall order.
With no suspension other than in the tyres, no carbon fibre to lighten the load and tyres that in themselves weigh more than your average race wheelset, am I pushing the envelope or just pushing my luck? Enter stage left, the Surly Ice Cream Truck.
Even in the fat bike world, the Ice Cream Truck is definitely at the extreme end of the spectrum. Weighing in at over 35 pounds in the large size I will be testing and featuring 100mm rims and 4.8 inch tyres that wouldn’t look out of place on an MX bike, nothing about the bike could be described as subtle.
Constructed from triple butted custom drawn cromoly tubing, the frame features more tech than you can shake a stick at. Bespoke Salsa branded hubs are bolt thru in design, 150mm at the front (Rockshox Bluto compatible) and a whopping 197mm at the back. The dropouts are of a modular design meaning that you can run the frame singlespeed, quick release or bolt thru (standard on the complete bike) as takes your fancy. The head tube is 44mm internal diameter while the bottom bracket is a humungous 132mm press fit design.
Why the width? Basically, to fit in the extra wide tyres and rims into a symmetrical frame without resorting to an offset rear end and wheels. Up front is Surly’s own brand steel fork with multiple bosses to enable the attachment of racks or bottle cages should you wish to get your bikepacking vibe on. Up close, the metallic blue colour is stunning. While the bike is an assault on the senses for pretty much everyone who sees it for the first time, drawing everything from admiring comments to involuntary exclamations of “WTF?” , to my eyes it just looks right.
Geometry tends towards the long and slack with Surly’s intention being to create a bike with a playful quality that they describe as “frisky and limber” – not your usual description for a fatbike, but in for a penny eh? The drivetrain is a mix of Surly’s own brand O.D. chainset which, joy of joys, eschews one-by fashion for a far more useful 22/36 tooth set up while shifting is courtesy of Mr Shimano’s ever dependable SLX groupset with an XT mech out back. Braking duties are handled by SRAM Guide RS hydraulic brakes. Stem and seat post are courtesy of Kalloy, handlebars are Salsa ProMoto 2 bars while the saddle is a remarkably comfortable Velo number.
So what now for this behemoth of a bike? As my only mountain bike, I’m going to be asking an awful lot of it. Group rides with friends on considerably lighter and faster “Enduro” bikes, yeuch (sorry, but I really do dislike that term!), hike a bike epics in the mountains of the Lakes and Scotland where suspension is normally a prerequisite, bikepacking trips in the company of riding buddies on cross bikes (hmm, I am beginning to wonder whether I am indeed mental for even contemplating this on such a hefty beastie?) and everything in between from blasts on woodland singletrack to exploring new trails near and far.
Jones Loop bars have already been fitted for bikepacking duties as well as an SDG Formula Ti, if only to give the same contact points as on my normal ride. I plan to experiment with 29+ wheels and tyres as the frame will easily accommodate them while there may also be a dropper post added to see whether “The Truck” can cut it when the trail goes steep and gnarr on me. Will it be a match made in Heaven? Well, there’s only one way to find out. Keep them peeled for my forthcoming adventures. It’s going to be a riot!
|Product:||Ice Cream Truck|
|From:||Ison - www.ison-distribution.com|
|Tested:||by Sanny for|