Surly bikes – all they are cracked up to be?
After seeing a bloke in a new retro Giro helmet rolling round the city on a Surly with about 3″ tyres yesterday which looks like it had never seen anything but asphalt, and the amount of comments about Surly cross bikes being not as good as the hype on another thread, I am curious whether all Surlys are actually that good or just hype and image.
I also ask this as I have looked at their range a few times and each time decided that I could get something that would do the job for less, or for the same amount I could get something with better tubing etc. What do others think?Posted 4 years agoshermer75Member
I like Surly, and they often make bikes to satisfy a purpose that nobody else does. However, I do get the feeling that by the time they’ve made it over here they are not the same good value as they are in the USA, and when competing like-for-like, eg a regular mtb hard tail vs a regular mtb hard tail, they don’t always have the most up to date geometry.Posted 4 years agomikehowMember
Depends what you are after.
Surly make simple, no nonsense, steel bikes. If thats what you are after they are great.
I built up a Surly Ogre for dirt road touring in remote and wild landscapes its yet to let me down.
If you want to see where the Ogre has taken me check out my blog: http://www.mikehowarth.co.uk.Posted 4 years agoBigDummySubscriber
I have made use of a Big Dummy and a Karate Monkey.
The Monkey was a little disappointing and is no longer with me, although I think that was because of the colour – I really wanted the original Camp Stove Green.
The Big Dummy is the single best bike in the history of awesome. Everything about it is brilliantly done and it spews out fun faster than you can catch it in a bucket. Literally life-changing.
I very much doubt you can make yourself want a Surly by looking at their specs though – every one of their bikes I’ve fancied I’ve just thought “yeah” as soon as I saw it. It hits the same brain-parts as Kona catalogues from about 1998.
To translate my own brain – there is a lot of image going on, but the image that you have of yourself, your bike and how and why you ride is one of the things that keep you coming out to ride.Posted 4 years agomikehowMember
Where Surly excel is utilitarian bikes. Take the Ogre, 29er chromo frame with horizontal drops capable of running single speed or Rohloff, braze on for racks and guards, disk and rim brake compatible.
You’ll be hard pressed to find many other frames that can offer that and for dirt road touring to my mind its pretty much the ultimate base frame to build around, I should know I spent a long time looking round!
Compare the Cross Check with another CX bike and you are likely to go for the other bike if you are purely looking at the spec and price.Posted 4 years agoBigDummySubscriber
They also build niches. I reckon most Surly bikes that have serious mass-market competition are probably out-classed (on a rational, specifications basis).
But by the time that competition arrives Surly have gone on and come up with something else.
You reckon the Krampus looks awesome? It’s currently best in class. In 5 year’s time Trek may well be making something considerably better value to the same pattern.
Specialized, Kona and Trek each have a Fat Bike in the line-up this year. Any of them may well be better than the Pugsley. But Surly first built the Pug what, 6 years ago?
Part of it, in other words, is trusting Surly to come up with stuff that you’re going to enjoy. 🙂Posted 4 years agoDelSubscriber
or if you actually want a ‘proper’ cross bike. the cross check is a lovely frame ( i have one ), but if you actually want to rag a bike around a field every sunday for an hour you’d probably pick something more focussed. i don’t think their full bikes are great value, and really, their frames aren’t either. certainly not at list.Posted 4 years ago
as above though, sometimes you can buy a type of bike from surly that you won’t find anywhere else, yet. they are what they are really. take it or leave it. some of their bikes have been way ahead of their time, some seem to stand still.
they only just got on the disc/cx thing with the straggler, which seemed like a very obvious thing to do to me, and i’d be interested to know how the sales of those stack up to the cross check over the next few years, but hey – i’m not in the bike business.
i’m not all that surprised you don’t find a LT hardtail in their line up as apparently that’s quite a UK specific thing, and they’re trying to sell bikes world-wide.
having said all that, when was the last time you saw someone from specialized, or trek, or giant doing ssuk, and talking crap round the fire after? it’s not encouraging me to support their business out of charity, but you don’t buy things from people you don’t like, do you? same applies to brands.tommidSubscriber
I have a Karate Monkey and I’ve had a 1×1 and a crosscheck. I choose my bikes on merit not on brand or coolness.Posted 4 years ago
Surly make great no nonsense bikes for riding. They are not flash, they are not race bikes they are bikes that last and represent good value for money.
I think some of what they do is lost in translation over here and particularly on STW. They are bikes that are made to be ridden without pretense.
As for the cross check I’d look at it more as a cross bike platform on which you can build a monster cross, tourer, Audax, SS/Fixed or even a 29er MTB. That is why they are liked. If you want an out and out Cross racer then a crosscheck is not for you.thisisnotaspoonMember
A bit like O-O in an Ammerican market? They probably look at the 456 and wonder why? The Ammericans don’t ‘do’ LTHT’s, yet untill cycling became the new golf and FS became cheep, that was all anyone rode.
Whereas in the States there are fire/dirt roads that go on for hundreds of miles, so a dirt road touring is a legitimate niche, whereas over here you can just stick to the (tarmaced) lanes and still do LEJOG in under a week.
That and the USA is a relatively huge market compared to the UK. If one person in the UK wants a fat rear, 29er front with pannier racks and dynamo mounts for “post hemeroid treatment, dirt road night time touring” then there’ll be 100 in the USA, enough for a production run.
If you dont see the point of one of their bikes then you’re not that tiny minority who need/want one.Posted 4 years agoBig DaveMember
I’ve got two Surlys; a Cross Check and a Karate Monkey. The Cross Check is the most versatile and useful bike I’ve ever owned. Its also very comfy and handles well. The Karate Monkey has always been a bit of a let down. My Singular Swift outclasses it in every possible way. That said the KM is proving useful as a tough urban bike/ winter hack, mainly because it can take a hell of a lot of abuse and can rebuilt with any drivetrain/ wheel/ brake combination I want as and when I break stuff.
mate in the trade reckons they are not
Had my Cross Check resprayed by Argos Cycles in the summer. The chap I dealt with was very impressed by the quality of the frame. Not light weight but very well made.Posted 4 years agodragonMember
Surley bikes are just heavy and flexy, unless you want to join the particular niche bike they invented then I’d avoid. If you want something made from steel that’s heavy, and slack angled go find your granddad’s bike, that’s what Surley are selling re-badged. Prices by the time they get to the UK aren’t good either.Posted 4 years agocookeaaSubscriber
They are simply products aimed at a certain type(s) of consumer. you can’t really blame Surly if you are not in their target market, if someone else caters for your requirements (including price point) buy from them…
If I was assembling a round the world tourer or a bike-packing machine then their products would be more on my radar, like the OP I know myself to be a bit of a cheapskate and yeah there are other, lower priced, similar alternatives, but not every Buying decision is based purely on costs, you judge these things on merit when you come to make the decision.
As for Brand Image? Yeah, like any company a proportion of what Surly sell will be to aspirational customers who don’t really need what they are buying or really understand the product, but are attracted by the rufty tuffty, outdoorsy image, the Niche-ness and no doubt see a higher price point as a inferring some degree of “Taste” or “status”… its their money and their choice, you can’t really have a go…
Some people “Lust” after Yeti bikes some get in a Froth over anything with a Cotic logo, most people understand that these are simply products which you might want to buy, if they fit your needs…Posted 4 years agojamesoSubscriber
I am curious whether all Surlys are actually that good or just hype and image.
I don’t believe you can generalise about any brand like that. Some products suit some more than others. Surly / QBP deserve credit for being innovative and trying things out, they’re not ‘highly engineered’ frames but they’re good and they do things ‘their way’, I like that.Posted 4 years agohatterSubscriber
I was lucky enough to visit Surly HQ when I was last in the states and spending some time in Minneapolis does explain where the brand comes from, it’s flat, it’s got a very vibrant bike culture and it’s chuffing cold.
They design bikes that work for the riding they want to do and they aren’t afraid to experiment, that has to be worth a degree of admiration even if the frames aren’t exactly space age in construction.
Innovative small production-run items sold through a distributor and bike shop are never going to the best value, if that’s your number 1 priority, buy a Canyon.Posted 4 years agomrmonkfingerMember
Yes, in a word. Especially if you think solid and versatile rather than latest and greatest.
Several years back I struggled to find a touring frame with big tyre clearance and all the braze ons, for less than the price of the LHT (£300 IIRC). Since then it’s done a fair few thousand miles of commuting and long day rides all over the place and is always a lovely ride. It now sports a child seat and front rack for ferrying our nipper around.
I never actually fitted the touring niche, I’ve never gone touring, I just wanted a decent, solid, road bike, which is what that was.
I’m aware I could have found all that in my grandads road bike, but nobody much else (other than some other niche companies or custom builders, all who cost more at the time) is selling those any more.
I have no reason to suspect their other frames are any different.
Other small companies may also make perfectly nice bike stuff that fits your needs. Etc.Posted 4 years agoSprocketJockeyMember
I am curious whether all Surlys are actually that good or just hype and image.
Oh yeah…Surly is all about image:
If you take their cut and paste / self-consciously fanzine marketing message with a pinch of salt and unless you actually aspire to be like the bloke in the picture above, I think Surly are actually one of the least hyped brands out there.
Their logos fall off just from looking at a hosepipe so they’re about as stealthy a choice as you can buy.
As above they just do great, durable, versatile, no-nonsense bikes. One of the reason why they’re a lot of folk’s go-to choice for long distance touring. I’m guessing that if you’re riding to Ulan Bator then the last thing on your mind is image.
Own an 1×1 and a KM and very happy with both of them. I love the fact that both bikes ride really well but wouldn’t look out of place if I rode into a wormhole and emerged in 1926.Posted 4 years agoscotroutesSubscriberHatter wrote:
Innovative small production-run items sold through a distributor and bike shop are never going to the best value,
Surly are part of QBP, one of the largest bike companies. Like Salsa, they prefer to keep the brand looking a lot more “niche” than it perhaps is.
Having said that, I met a couple of the guys from Surly when they popped over to the UK last year and joined us at the Forth Fatbike meeting. They were a bit taken aback by the enthusiasm they met and the range of trails we rode over here (they weren’t looking forward to endless beaches). They also joined us in the pub afterwards. I can’t imagine any of the head honchos from Specialized, Trek, Giant etc doing the same.
That doesn’t mean the bikes are any better/worse than anyone else’s – it’s just that they have a certain added attraction for some folk.Posted 4 years ago
I’m sure some of the bikes they make are great.
The cross check I had wasn’t great for what I used it for (road and fireroad/light tail riding). I know it’s a “do it all” so I guess they had to make compromises.
But I bought a Genesis after having it for two months, this was cheaper (granted it wasn’t at RRP) but it rides far better.
I think some of the brands like Genesis or Cotic look as thoguh they have had some thought put into them. The Surly was very basic. I’m sure if they’d have thought to just spec an oversize downtube or seattube, it would have helped with the flexyness.Posted 4 years ago
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