The Surly 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

2 thoughts on “The Surly Ogre

  1. Let’s see.. First off, I will say that they are both fantastic machines; no doubt about it. If you look at the specs on paper, the geometry of the two are very similar. However, upon getting the Ogre, I noticed that it handled on the trails a bit better than the Fargo did. Conversely, I believe the Fargo did a wee bit better on the pavement. I think ultimately though, it is how one builds the frame up that will dictate how they will compare, as they really are very close. In the end, I chose the Ogre to replace the Fargo primarily due to it’s extensive lug work (racks, etc.) and it’s horizontal drop outs in case I ever want a Rohloff. Additionally, I think Surly is a badass,
    forward thinking company who really embrace the “travel via bicycle” philosophy.

  2. Trying to decide between an Ogre or Fargo for off road touring. Having a hard time deciding. Curious why you liked Ogre better or their differences coming from somebody that has rode each in touring mode?

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