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

60 thoughts on “The Surly Ogre

  1. What size chainrings and cassette do you generally run on your Ogre?

    Also, thanks for all the great information on your Ogre. A friend of mine has been trying to get me to go on a short bike tour with him. This would be my first bike tour, ever. So, I’m thinking about building up a rig with many of the parts I have laying around. Earlier this year, I got a new Niner mt. bike, and I love the position on it. This got me thinking about a touring bike with a position like my Niner. Then, I learned about Jones handlebars, the Ogre, and this website. Your preference for the setup of your Ogre encourages me to proceed down that path. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Erik, I encourage you to do an Ogre build… it’s a great bike!
      I’m super old school with a focus on durability and functionality – as a result, I build my bikes up with a double front 22T-34T… triple rings just don’t cut if for me. I use a bash guard on the outer ring position. If I need to go more than 20 mph, something is wrong and I need to slow my mind down. This bike is built for long distance travel, carrying loads, trail riding, and throwing over fences and pushing over logs. As for cassette, again, super old school, but I built for maximum durability, so I go 8 speed chain and cassette. The 9 and certainly the 10 speed stuff is flimsy in my opinion. That gives me 16 gears… If I need more than that, I should just walk! I absolutely love the bike just like it is… Best of luck on your build!

  2. Long shot but I was wondering if you still had the bike. I have the Surly Ogre with the Surly front rack and it is dangerously close to the disc brakes. It looks like you have that combo, I was wondering if you could post some closeups of how you did it.

    1. Yep, still have the pod girl! Pretty simple really… I just used spacers and spread it apart. Works perfect…

  3. What the specs on your secondary stem that you’ve attached to the Jones loop h-bar for the Otlieb mount?

  4. That is a very broad question regarding the weight. If you go to Surley’s website, you can find frame weights there. All depends on the build. My Ogre is built for maximum durability and longevity on massive trips and weighs 32-35 lbs approx…fully decked out. Hope that helps.

  5. I’m looking to buy a used Orge for a trip at the end of June, I live in San Diego and will travel for the right bike. Thanks, Oh, can anyone tell me the weight of the Orge, approximately?

  6. Down here in Europe is not possible to buy frameset |Surly Ogre frame set because out of stock. Id like to buy 18″ medium size. Does anybody want to sell the bike (used)? Many thanks-

    1. I just bought an 18″ medium black Ogre frame from the local dealer in Sweden (Byob in Bromma) it will be delivered in the end of june so ask your local dealer, I think they should be able to order it.

      1. Thank you for your comment! Yes you are right, the surly ogre framesets are available in all local dealers down here in europe. some containers from states arrived this week. My surly ogre will send me Vienna vendor next week after one month of waiting. I can start setup the bike. Now I am looking for reliable trims. Thinking about andra 40,30 or sputnik (ryde). Id like to buy double wall-duble eyelets, 24mm wide(at least 2,5tire).

  7. No worries… Since I am 6′, of course I can’t be 100 percent certain, but if I were to guess, I’d say a small. I would recommend going to Surly’s website and checking their charts. I think it comes in 4 or 5 sizes total… FYI, the ogre has identical frame spec geometry to the Karate Monkey…that might be worth knowing if you were to refer to any other forums for info.

      1. Thanks again for the quick response. Might have a few more questions if you don’t mind:)
        So I’m 5,6″ and I ride a 55cm in track, and a 53cm for a road/touring bike, so should I go medium or small ogre for touring specific ?

  8. I really want to replace my masi cx that I’ve been touring on now, with an ogre. Does the ogre accommodate 700c wheels that can still use canti brakes ??
    The only thing stopping me from ordering this week, any help here would be appreciated.


  9. I am curious as to the purpose of that partial stem bolted to the front of the Jones bar. And the threaded bit around/in front of the stem.

  10. Fenders are Planet Bike Cascadia, which are far better and cheaper than the German competition, which I was unable to make work. I use the Cascadia’s on all my bikes. Fenders are gool ‘ol Surley… Totally bombproof. Good luck!

  11. 6000 miles later, it has never been an issue. I prefer it out there… Makes room for more hand positions, computer, lights, and if the bike is loaded correctly, the bag rests on sleeping bag or tent or such on front rack. Works better than perfect.

  12. Hello
    I like the jones h bar loop/ortlib setup. I am considering a similar setup, but…wondering. If having the ortlieb handlebar bag that far forward negatively effected handling while touring. What was your experience?

  13. Hey Andy, Glad you are enjoying JRB! Yes, the Planet Bike Cascadia fenders are the best in my opinion. they are cheaper AND better than their German counterparts. I’ve got over 10,000 miles on mine… Hope this helps.

  14. Bought a Surly Ogre about 45 days ago. Thinking I didn’t want to Bike Across Kansas on my road bike (too hunched over for 7 days) or my mountain bike (too upright and the suspension fork robs power). My Local Bike Shop recommended the Ogre with the Jones bar. Wow! It looks like a beast sitting side by side to my Masi roadie. But now it’s the only bike I really want to ride. I’m 49 and the the between the Surly frame and the Jones bar it puts me, like you, in the perfect riding position. And the Jones bar lets me move that position when/if I really feel the need.

    I would urge anyone to give the Surly a try. I was skeptical. Now I’m a crazed fan.

  15. Thanks! I’m loving it right now, I just got into the bad habit of complaining from all the previous bike pains. There’s no frame I’d rather be on, and sizing up to an XL would kill my already nonexistent standover. I can’t see myself ever getting rid of the Ogre, because in my mind nothing can replace it (nothing I would want to leave outside anyways).
    ride on.

  16. Hmm, seems you have a conundrum. Not sure what the answer is.. For me, the Ogre is an adventure do it all touring bike and a long stretched out feel is definitely not how I want the bike to feel. It needs to be all day everyday comfortable. The short stem works for me… Perhaps you do need a monster long stem however… You have a large ogre, and you’re seat rails are that close to the top tube? Wow. I have about 10 inches sticking out.. Never had any issues setting up this bike or the Fargo. For me, they just work. Seems that given your height and inseam, you might be better off with a medium. Also, you thought a larger would allow you to run a long stem? As opposed to what? Seems the large would require a shorter one to me…Best of luck!

    1. I was just using the low saddle as an example wherein I might potentially be able to USE a setback seatpost. But my saddle would be at least 2 inches lower in order to accomodate a layback post and my saddle would still be slammed forward, so it wouldn’t help my knees one bit, I would probably then need some form or arthroscopy if I pursued that position for any time. Proper bike fit requires your COG over the BB which is usually just forward of KOPS and I have set mine up this way with the proper bend in my knee and my seatpost is about five inches up from the clamp. This is completely separate from the reach which is set AFTER the position of the saddle is set. Since my saddle is slammed forward and I climb 20% grades daily with about 20-30 lbs of groceries, I can’t run my bike like a slack all day touring bike setup might be. I also don’t see a lot of people on short frames with high bars doing long tours. Most people are on long haul truckers etc which run very long with a drop bar. A drop bar on the Ogre would allow me to run a stem at least 20mm shorter and probably fit more what you think of as good tour fit even though the reach would be identical. I can’t bomb stairs or pull wheelies down steep grades safely with drop bars so it never entered my mind during the build, but it would be nice to have alternate hand/body positions which is why I’m interested in the Jones.. Hope that makes sense.

      1. I don’t think I specifically said that a large would allow a long stem, actually I was hoping for the opposite, 70mm would be nice. But @ 90mm I am already cramped up on the bike unless I’m sitting straight upright like you would with no hands. Can’t climb any steep hills that way even with my 20t front 34t rear gearing 9×3 XTR, gotta lean forward. So I went from a 90 to a 100 and immediately my back felt better. I’m just bummed that a large won’t allow me to run a shorter stem without crunching me up unless I stay in a bolt upright position – great for descending, bad for rides longer than ~ 20 minutes.

  17. It’s been my experience with folks that found them odd, were ones stuck to outdated ideas, especially when it comes to drop bars. The Jones Bar is the most natural and comfortable position one can acquire on a bicycle, period… IMO.

    1. Don’t they (Jones Bars) hit your knees during trackstands or seated tight cornering i.e. 90 degree+ turns? I’m on a large with 100mm stem and 5’10 w 34 inch inseam. Thought the large would let me run a short stem, but I think the short top tube made that unrealistic.

    2. I don’t see a reply button on your last comment, but to answer, I need my seat between 72.5 and 74.5 cm high from top of saddle in line with seat post/seat tube to center of BB. If I run it at that height clamped in the center of the rails it’s already wayyy too far back. Currently the saddle is slammed forward on the rails, partly because I need to sit on the back of the saddle, and to compensate for the high seat (which puts it further back), in order to resolve my patellar tendonitis knee pain which was preventing me from riding more than every 3-5 days for past 2 years on a medium GT palomar and marin lakspur hybrid, both which were medium, with a 110 stem and saddle slammed forward was still about one inch too far back on that frame (the GT, the Marin was a bent frame and also too small). Soo, I don’t think a layback post is in the cards. it might make sense if my saddle/seatpost was only 2 inches up from the seatclamp, then I might need it far back. With the 100 stem today I noticed my back doesnt hurt and lower back is flat, and I have a nice stretched out feel with a bit more difficulty to pop wheelies and wrist impact coming down, a fair trade. I think for the same reach on a Jones I would need an even longer stem, no?

  18. I too have been commuting on my Ogre with Jones bars and I love it. Most of my cycle friends found them unusual at first but they eventually bought in to the concept. Not that they tried a set for themselves, but, they finally met someone that not afraid to try out new ideas. Buy the bars, you’ll like them, they’re super comfortable.

  19. Well, in regards to the bars, it’s a personal choice certainly. For me, the Jones bar offers a true 45 degree sweep, which, according to my body positition on the bike is the most natural position available. As a result, I can cruise highways on long tours all day long without discomfort. If I am riding trail, they work flawlessly as well. For me, they are the ticket. Again, bar choice is all about what you are after. After touring for literally thousands of miles on drop bars, I realized that there are much better options out there and that the traditional drop does not work for me. Best experiment….

  20. I’m in the market for a new bike and have been looking at the Surly Ogre and Salsa Fargo. However, I’m having (at least) one issue. How can a person find out what geometry is good for themselves? Including something like the handle bars? There’s only one store locally that carries either of those brands and even then they only have one. Unfortunately I haven’t found any of my local shops to be very friendly or helpful towards me. :/

    Also, I’m not restricted to only those 2 bikes. I’m open to any suggestions anyone might have. I only discovered those 2 brands recently. Before a couple months ago, I had not been able to bike for quite while.

    1. Unfortunately, the only sure fire way to determine the answers to the questions you pose is to ride the machines in question and with the cockpit you have your eye on. I made a ton of mistakes (costly ones) over the course of getting the perfect machine together for myself. After riding a Fargo for a long while, the Ogre, in all it’s glory, with it’s current build including the Jones Bars, to me, is the perfect bicycle; it is the most versatile machine I can imagine. Hope that helps….

      1. Hmm, how about this question: how would I know what’s “right” for me? Will it just feel “right” or good?

        About the Jones bars, I guess I’m just curious as to why people like them so much..? I noticed them on the Surly bikes (or at least one of the Ogres) when I started looking at them a couple months ago. They seem to be dramatically different than anything else I have seen before. And, IIRC, there were 2 different Ogres on Surly’s site and 1 had those bars while the other just had the “traditional” bars that you see most of the time. So I was a bit confused as to why there was a difference. Also, in looking at others, I’ve noticed that some have the drop bars like road bikes so that just confuses me more. 🙂

        The whole bar subject kinda confuses me anyways and I’ve never found an answer. As an example, I currently have 2 Specialized bikes. One is a HardRock that’s about 16 years old. Its just a plain old “mountain bike.” The bars on it are just straight for the most part. A couple years after I bought that one I decided I wanted an upgrade to something a little more “off-road-y” so I got a hardtail RockHopper. The bars on it are a bit different. I *think* they’re called riser bars. Well I went into a local shop not long ago and test rode 2 different bikes. They both had different bars that were pretty much the same as the ones I already have. So I asked what the difference was and why. The employee (who I’m pretty sure was the owner) said he didn’t know. Also in case anyone wants to know, I can’t hardly ride the Rockhopper. It feels like all my weight ends up resting on my arms. I can tell a noticeable difference between the 2 bikes. Its weird. Anyways, part of the problem is that I’ve discovered that a mountain bike isn’t really for me.

        I think I’m rambling now. Sorry.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. I am 5’10” with a 34″ inseam I bought an xl frame after having issues finding a L. I have had it for over a year and commute on it all year… The large may have fit better but I have no plans to get rid of this bike ever

  23. 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.

    1. 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…

      1. 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 😉

    2. Jesse,
      Can you please explain the macguyver method – I am trying to run my 180mm rotor in the rear of my 20″ ogre with avid BB7 and I just removed my monkey nuts to shorten my wheelbase/chainstay effective, but now the rotor hits the BB7 and something has to be changed. Let me know or provide links with specific pics/info if possible please.. thanks!

  24. 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.

  25. Awesome! The Troll interests me a swell.. Sounds like you have a bomber setup going.
    Can’t wait to see the pics. I have added you to my blogroll. Good luck, and I’ll check back!

  26. 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:

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