The Surly Ogre

Ogre
Ogre

In preparing for a 4700 mile journey from Utah to Alaska to California, I pondered the possibilities of a bicycle for long distance travel that was different than what I was accustomed to seeing. At first tho, I was in fact leaning toward the traditional, because that is what I knew. At the time my first choice was the Raleigh Sojourn.

It had disk brakes, but other than that, was a traditional touring bike in every sense. Alas, the shop I worked at in the time was not able to acquire one. That was a good thing.

Eventually, through many questions and research, I had settled on the fact that the Salsa Fargo was what I was looking for. I had the geometry I wanted, it was made from steel, had disc brake tabs, and was intended for stout componentry. I laced up some 36 hole Halo 29er wheels and bolted on all MTB gear. Even though I was accustomed to riding a heavy Freeride bike, I, for some reason, bolted on traditional drop bars for my trip. I just figured this was what one was supposed to do on a touring bicycle.

4700 miles later, I realized that this was, ultimately, the wrong choice for my riding style and for where I wanted the machine to go.

After arriving in California, I got to working on my various projects, that included woking as a carpenter, and on some film and video projects. I was also preparing for another trip to Alaska in 2012. A month before leaving on said trip, the Fargo got lifted at a local Safeway while purchasing Avocados.

My heart was broken and my trip was destroyed. The money I had saved for the trip would now have to go to a rebuild…

Enter the Ogre…

After unsuccessfully attempting to locate another Fargo frame, a friend suggested I look at the new Surly Ogre. The Ogre seemed to have everything the Fargo had and more. Disk tabs, rack, fender, and cage mounts galore. It was designed to be run single speed, multi speed, Rollhoff compatable, any way you want. It seemed to be the adventure bike that the Fargo wanted to be, but with a stout stature that couldn’t be matched.

Ogre City Scape Tilt

For wheels, I chose a rear Phil Wood tandem cassette 48 hole with 12/13 double butted spokes laced to Velocity Chukker rims. Short of the wheels on my downhill bike, these are the strongest wheels I have owned. For the front, I chose the IRD 36 hole disc only, generator hub.

Phil disc/cassette rear
Phil disc/cassette rear
IRD genny hub
IRD genny hub

Brakes went way of the of the venerable Avid BB7. These babies have proven many thousands of trouble free miles.

I decided to shy away from my past Shimano fixation and bolted on a Sram drivetrain with the durable X9 rear derailleur.

I went 8 speed with IRD friction shifters for the utmost in reliability.

Cranks fell to the simple, inexpensive, and bombproof, Race Face Evolve triple.

Inexpensive and bombproof
Inexpensive and bombproof

The new Schwalbe Mondial tire in 52c are an expedition tire to be reckoned with.

Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 29"X 2.00 (52cm)

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a set of the awesome Jeff Jones Loop Bar. This bar offer a 45 degree sweep, and according to my preferred riding style and body position, is the correct sweep. These bars make the ride.

The Awesome Jones Bar arrangement
The Awesome Jones Bar arrangement

I like Thompson’s stems and this one is a 70cm. The Ogre’s top tube length is exceptionally long, and the somewhat short stem makes the ride just right for me.

Workaround for the Ortlieb Mount

A Kane Creek Thud Buster post mated to a green Brookes B-17 saddle makes for a very sweet ride.

The Army Green paint mated with the  Brookes give the machine a Russian Military look that pleases me.

Venerablke Brookes B17
Venerablke Brookes B17

Ultimately, there is nothing traditional, touring wise, about this bike. It is setup to be at home on pavement and on trails. From bike packing to expedition touring, this one does it all…

…except roadless Alaskan swamps and remote beaches..  I’m pretty sure a Pugsley is up next.

The Ogre
The Ogre

11 thoughts on “The Surly Ogre

  1. Very nice. This is encouraging. I am about to build up a Surly Troll for a trip from Florida to Japan via Glacier Park. It will be my first 26″-wheeled touring bike, though I’ve been on a 26″-wheeled for many years now (Klein Adroit Race set up for road riding). I already have about 400 miles on my new wheels–Salsa Gordo rims with White Industries Mi6 hubs, 48-hole rear, 40-hole front–and I’m happy. Hopefully, the Troll will be on the ground by June. My trip’s details are here: http://www.tohokuforward.org.

  2. Following your lead fitting an Ortlieb Ultimate 5 on a Jones H-Bar, I used the Thorn accessory T bar but also added the Ortlieb Ultimate 4 & 5 Mounting Extension Block – OE165.

    It gives just enough extra room to open and close the Ultimate without any problems whatsoever.

    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/thorn-accessory-bar-t-shaped-105-mm-extension-0-deg-prod11040/

    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/ortlieb-ultimate-4-and-5-mounting-extension-block-oe165-prod10755/

  3. Toured for 3 months in Iceland & the UK during 2013 on a Medium (18″) Ogre. Overall it has performed amazing. My biggest modification from the stock components was adding 200mm disc rotors, front & back. Had to MacGyver the rear caliper mount for the 200mm rotor. I found fully loaded I used the rear as much as the front, which due to the smaller rotor size was burning through pads every 2000km. Not to mention both front and rear disc brakes overheated easily on steep hills causing brake failure. Muuuch happier with the new setup. Just watch out when riding around unloaded (Can we say asphalt faceplant? WHAM!). It also takes up enough extra space to make runs on trains, planes and automobiles a bit of a PITA (and 2-3kg heavier than an equivalent 26″ Troll).

    Next stop for my ogre, up to 15 months in New Zealand & Australia.

    • Interesting… I have considered the use of larger rotors for touring as well. Your comments have urged me to give it a shot.. Thanks! New Zealand and Australia sound fun, but I must admit, Iceland is where I really want to go pedal…

      • Iceland was amazing. It was my fiancé’s first bicycle tour however, and was a pretty extreme for her (interestingly, the tour sparked the proposal!). The locals said they were having a really bad summer. Usually wet, highest winds I have ever experienced (Semi trucks blow over where I live in Alberta) and really rough dirt roads (think paved with bowling balls). Lots of sand as well. Was forced to stick to the ring road and ultimately retreat to the UK (which was having the best summer in 7 years). I intend on going back by myself one day…but with a fat bike ;)

  4. Hi Jesse, I have ridden an Ogre Medium twice. It felt a bit small. I am wondering what size to get. Would you mind sharing your height and inseam so I can compare for my needs. I usually take a Large in MTB frames and ride a 56 road bike. I am 5′ 11.25″ tall and have a 33 inseam. Thanks!
    I am trying to track down a Large to try. I like the Jones bar specced on the 2014 Ogre. Anyone have feed back on the micro shifters that come stock?

    • Found a measuring tape, I have a 33″ inseam. Go for the Large, you can always use a shorter stem and adjust your seat for reach.

  5. My height is 5′ 11″. As for my inseem, I think it was 31″, but that may have been my girlfriends and I am remembering wrong (she has long legs for her height!). There are no measuring tapes near me right now as I am still on tour in New Zealand. I am riding the medium Ogre and have over 3000km on it so far. I had trouble deciding between the medium & large, but frankly would have been happy riding either. For me, the pluses of riding the large would have been a larger triangle for a frame bag. The stock rims (2013) only have an 18mm inner diameter, which is too small. Makes my 2″ mondials only 1.75″. Will be switching to Velocity Blunt 35′s in the future if I don’t ditch the ogre completely for an ECR or Pug. Eighty percent of my riding is on tracks solid enough for my Mondials, but I keep finding (intentionally) those sandy, mushy, snowy, etc places that need big, wide tires. I learned yesterday that it is possible to take a Pugsley frame and run three wheel sets on it: normal fatties, knards & normal 29er. Now I am pondering switching frames and running the Velocity Blunt 35′s since they can handle the knards & mondials. Not sure what that does with the BB height though. Ahh, choices :)

    As for the Jeff Jones bar, I like it, but am running the Surly Open Bar which has been fantastic. I put microshift thumb shifters on intentionally because they are very durable and I prefer them. Again, likely ditching them for a Rohloff, which uses a grip shifter. That however, requires me to go back to earning money.

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