Monday, October 8, 2012

The Ogre

The Surly Ogre has become one of my favorites based on comfort and utility. 

I would like to quote a hero of mine, Han Solo, who said "She'll make point five beyond the speed of light. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."  Well except for the point five stuff but that is probably more my fault than the bike. 

The Ogre Crossing the Hennepin Canal

Here are the top three reasons I like this bike:

1.  As the Surly web page says, it is very versatile.  I will not go into all the details since Surly did a great job.  I was considering reducing the fleet by getting rid of my El Mariachi due to the infuriating Bushnell Eccentric Bottom Bracket.  The Ogre fit the bill nicely since I had once considered getting a Karate Monkey which is what the Ogre is based on.  The nice thing about it is the thought Surly put into it, allowing me to do just about anything I want.  I can easily mount racks and fenders.  I can use the wheels from my Las Cruces (which are rim brakes) or I can put disc brakes on.  29er MTB tires or 700c road/touring tires.  If I come across $1500 I can purchase a Rolhoff Speed Hub.  Basically the bike can change as my needs change.

Heavy Rear End:  trailers, fenders, racks, Rolhoff mounting plate on non-drive side.  This baby can do it all.

2.  Very reasonably priced.  I bought the frame from a LBS in Rock Island, IL and I paid under $500 so I was pleased.  Even though I bought the frame and built it up, the complete version is very reasonable but geared more toward the MTB side. 

3.  Very durable, like Han said, she may not look like much but I didn't want some fancy finish to worry about.  While I don't go out of my way to beat things up, I am a big dumb animal.  I didn't want to stress about the kids banging on it or parking it at a crowded bike rack.

The Build:  I built it with two things in mind

1.  Heavy duty commuting bike.  The area I live in has concrete streets with big seams in them.  They are uneven and  when it gets hot the tar softens and you can loose a tire in them.  My cyclocross bike can handle the bumps but I wanted a larger tire (700x45c) and my frame would not accept them.  This bike will take any 29er tire.

2.  Gravel Grinding.  Yeah, I jumped on the Gravel Grinding bandwagon.  After all I am in Iowa and there are lots of gravel roads.  Embrace the local culture, that is what travelling the world is all about.  Even travel to exotic Iowa!

Ready To Pounce

I wanted the bike with a 48/36/26 crank set so I could get a little extra power on the flats and descents.  I would have gone bigger but the frame it requires a top pull front mech and 48 teeth was the limit of the top pull MTB front derailleurs.  It has been a pretty good compromise.  I haven't tried it in a single track scenario but chain ring clearance could be an issue.

Aside from the unique qualities that Surly has put into the Ogre there is really nothing fascinating about the bike, the parts are pretty standard SRAM X.9, Avid V-brakes.......except for the handle bar.  I decided on the Jeff Jones Loop Bar over other options to include the Salsa Wood Chipper.  The Loop Bar really makes the bike stand out and it provides a large assortment of hand positions which is nice.   I have found that the back sweep makes them extremely comfortable.  I look forward to trying them on the single track.  It works well with my Porcelain Rocket handlebar bag.  Well worth the money.    

This winter I am going to replace the headset with one that has sealed bearings.  That will be one less thing to maintain.  I really like the Loaded AmXc headset.  It looks sharp.I also plan to put disc brakes on it, then I can use either cyclocross for commuting or the Salsa Semi 29ers from the red headed stepchild so I can take it on the trails.  That will probably be the final step of making the El Mariachi obsolete (I had to have it just sit there, but I don't ride single speed very much).  Since I plan to replace the headset I am going to strip it down and give it a dose of Frame Saver.

Things I dislike:  Obviously I purchased the bike for many of the reasons listed above.  It is a great bike however, there are a couple of minor things that I dislike.  These reasons involve rust.  When I asked the folks at Surly about this they sent me a info paper on their bikes and rust.  Of course they recommend Frame Saver in the frame.  For the outside they state that unless you leave it out in the rain, the rust is not damaging. That said I hate rust.  I am not sure why, it is offensive I guess.  But the Surly full cable housing guides catch water, captures it, and allows for little pools of rust.

  Water Trap

As do the all of the little threaded holes for mounting stuff.

 Bill and Ted Trailer Mount bolt hole = rust

Fork Blade rack mounting hole = rust

The other thing is this. 
I am not sure what this is called but there is a hole into the head tube which makes no sense to me.  

I am not a bike doctor and I certainly am not a rocket surgeon so I don't know what structural integrity this provides. I can tell you one thing, with out fenders water sprays directly from the tires into this contraption, collects and for some reason causes some serious rust that later runs down the frame like a little rusty river.  I am going to hit it with some frame saver this winter and see what happens.

Overall I love the bike and my dislikes are purely cosmetic.

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