Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Current State of the Surly Ogre

The guys at Surly did an outstanding job when the came up with the Troll/Ogre concept.  So many times bikes are single purpose built.  While they can usually be altered to fit various needs, they don't work very well.  In comes the Surly Ogre:  a Jack of all trades and a master of most.

A few things worthy of note:  1.)  It does not take fenders and 29er MTB tires well, you can use a decent volume touring tire and fenders fine.  I don't use fenders so I don't care.  2.)  If you use a smaller tire there is clearance with the front derailleur, if you use a mountain bike tire it will rub on the front derailleur so you need Monkey Nuts to provide clearance.  If you plan on using both, set it up with the Monkey Nuts for chain length....I learned this the hard way by setting it up for road and and then needed a new chain when I put on mountain tires.  Aside from that the world is your oyster.

The original idea was that I would use a 45c tire and a 48 tooth chain ring so I could go really fast.  This was also done with the intent of riding it on RAGBRAI.  With the swap of the tire, I could also hit the trails if I wanted.  I was concerned about clearance with the 48 tooth setup, but didn't have any real issues since the trails around here don't have big rocks or stair step type drops.  So for the first year I had a more road specific setup with smaller tire and this worked well for me. My concept of commuting bikes has changed.  I will post pictures next week.

Surly Ogre road/commuter 2012 Irish Tsunami edition major bits and pieces:

Crank set/BB:  Shimano Deore 48/36/26:  This has the Hollowtech crank arms and the chain rings are stamped.  Not the smoothest shifting but I it is hard to find a mountain bike crank with a 48 tooth chain it was cheap.  It cranked.

Wheels:   XT Hubs and Salsa Delgado Cross.  I love these wheels, I have had numerous sets made over the years. Salsa got out of the rim business so I will be sad when these pass.  They take a lot of abuse and can be used for MTB XC and cyclocross.

Tires:  Specialized Borough XC 700x45c:  Low rolling resistance with some knobs on the side for loose stuff.

Shifters:  SRAM X.9.  Nothing fabulous, I took them off another bike.  I feel strongly either way about them.

Drive train:  SRAM X.9 9 speed rear mech, SLX triple front mech, SRAM chain with powerlink, SRAM 9 speed cassette.  I am not a fan of SRAM MTB parts, the rear mech is weird.  It was laying around and served its purpose.  As far as I am concerned a front mech is a front mech.

Brakes:  I used Avid Speed Levers and Avid Single Digit 7 brakes.  These brakes worked well, which is to say that they stopped the bike.  No real complaints.

Handlebars:  Jeff Jones Loop Bar......All I can say is that I love it.  I will be getting one for the Mukluk!

Cargo Solution:  Porcelain Rocket Mission Control and Booster Rocket.  Great, but I realize I need a little more space for running shoes and boots and uniform.........

A change of attitude:  This past winter I started riding a fat bike to work.  This changed my commuting mindset a little.  I went from a 45c (1.75 inches) at 75 psi to 3.8 inch wide tires at 4-7 psi.  Can you say "rolling resistance?"  This added about 15 minutes to my ride (due to big tires and snow/ice).  This just meant I had to get up a little earlier.  I like the cushion of the ride knowing I would sacrifice a little, but I am only going 8 miles, it is not like I am trying to race or knock out 300 miles.  So I decided to go to a lower rolling resistance MTB tire and I think I have a good speed/comfort ratio.

Surly Ogre Current State of Affairs:

I decided that since I needed to replace the drive train (I put thousands of miles on it), I would spend a little extra and go to a Shimano XT 3x10 speed.  This meant new shifters and crank set, I decided that I would get what I want vs. settling for what is in the parts bin or on sale.  I am pleased with the decision even though it cost a little more.

Crankest/BB: Shimano XT 42/32/24:  This has machined chain rings and shifts with ease.  I was a little concerned about the 42 tooth for commuting, but it has not been an issue and feels light years faster than the Mukluk.  By light years I really mean minutes....but who is monitoring?

Wheels: XT Hubs and Salsa Semi 29er rims.  Even though these said not for tubeless, I did it anyway.  These are considerably wider than the Delgado Cross.  I put some Continental Race King 29er tires on.  They roll really well, at least compared to the Endomorph/Larry combo on the Panzer.

Shifters:  Shimano XT M780 3x10. I love these shifters, I took the little things off that show you what gear you are in.  Personally I think they are stupid and get in the way.  I love the way these shift.  They are snappy and when you push/pull the triggers there is an audible click and a rapid shift. 

Drive train: Shimano XT Shadow+ 10 speed rear mech, SLX triple front mech, Shimano 10 speed chain, and Shimano SLX 10 speed cassette. I didn't specifically order the Shadow+ option which has a clutch mechanism to reduce/eliminate chain slap.  The shop ordered the wrong one and didn't charge for the upgrade.  I may never understand/appreciate the benefits, but I will say that the XT performs so much better than the X.9.  The SLX cassette now has allow carrier for the three largest cogs to cut on weight, that is a minor feature for me.

Brakes: I used Avid Speed Levers and BB7 brakes. These brakes are the industry standard for mechanical disk brakes. 

Handlebar: Jeff Jones Loop Bar......I love it and won't get rid of it.

Cargo Solution:  OMM Rack.  I got a new fit kit for my Mukluk Sherpa.  It works really well.

I love my Surly Ogre, it is the first bike I have owned where I really feel like I can kick around on it.  It is ok outside in the sun and if it gets banged up at the bike rack I will not lose sleep, the Army Green finish is forgiving.  It is durable and overbuilt.....just like me!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Riding Out the Storm: A great day to ride a Fat Bike.

Thursday, May 30 showed a reprieve from the severe storms.  I am not a fan of missing opportunities to ride and while I rely on the weather forecast so I can make informed decisions, most of the time they let me down.  Several days last week we were looking at severe lightning storms and high winds at the tail end of the severe weather path cutting through the mid-west.  I chose not to ride those days for a number of reason, only to find they were the most beautiful. 

There was a threat of rain on Thursday, but not much more than that.  I had my Surly Ogre disassembled so I jumped on the the Salsa Mukluk I affectionately call "the Panzer" and plodded off to work.  When I arrived, I checked my phone and somebody was interested in buying a pair of road shoes I had posted for sale.  I agreed to meet him at the government bridge at 4:45 p.m. to make the transaction.  My wife was going to be in the area so she dropped off the shoes that morning.

It rained a good portion of the afternoon but then it cleared up nicely.  I got to the meeting point a little early, the afternoon turned out beautiful and I sat at the end of the island enjoying the warm breeze.  Then I noticed some ugly dark clouds moving in fast.  It was not long before the beautiful sky had gone dark and the warm breeze became a cold wind blowing the branches of a tree horizontal.

I moved to a small building with a slight overhang and waited for the guy.  He was ten minutes late and by the time he arrived it was starting to rain.  I put my phone in my dry bag for obvious reasons, pulled out the shoes and the transaction was complete.....except I was riding a fat bike and everyone wants to talk about the fat bike.  So I spoke for another few minutes and then started moving to my bike.  By this time the rain was horizontal and the wind was gusting 50-60 mph.   

He asked if I was really going to ride in this weather.  I told him yes, besides, I had the Panzer I can go anywhere with that.  Within seconds of leaving the shelter I could feel the rush of cold water running down my back.  The lightning was striking and thunder was near simultaneous.  I was second guessing my judgment and was uncomfortable on the government bridge,  a mass of steel with a mesh surface so you can see Old Man River rushing angrily beneath.  I was pedaling the Mukluk with it's 3.8 inch wide tires as fast as I could in a severe crosswind.  As I turned into downtown Davenport, I thought it was hailing, only to discover the 50-60 mph gusts were not only stopping me in my tracks but pelting me with rain.  I passed a parking garage and thought about stopping.

I was soaked and I knew I would be cold if I stopped.  Who knew how long it would last, so I kept on cranking into the wind.  Then I turned North and started up a steep hill.  As I crested it the rain slowed and the wind stopped.  Just as quickly as it started it ended.  When I approached Van Deveer Park, I realized the destruction that this storm had. 

There were branches and limbs everywhere.  As I continued down Main St, I quickly found huge limbs across the road. 
Passage of Lines!

As I passed through a maze of limbs and branches it occurred to me, had the guy not been ten minutes late, I probably would have been in this area when limbs were falling. Furthermore, I was grateful that I pulled the Ogre apart which forced me to ride the Panzer.

The Panzer was a perfect choice for the commute.  I was also glad I had my light weight Porcelain Rocket gear as I carried and rode my the fat bike over downed branches!!

After I snapped some photos, I noticed House Hold 6 had sent a text "where are you?"  I found it odd that it didn't say "do you need a ride?"  I brought this up when I got home and she said "I figured you made it through 16 month in Iraq, you would figure something out!" 

She is as tough and unforgiving as the weather was!