Building my Surly Troll / World Troller part 1 looked at the decision process leading to choosing this go anywhere touring bike frame. It also covered the use of S&S Couplers and reasons to chose a Surly Troll over the Surly World Troller.
In this article, I cover my choice of brakes as well as personal and practical components including saddle, handlebars and racks.
Brakes for a Fully Loaded Touring Bike
After riding touring bikes with rim brakes, I knew for sure that I wanted to run disk brakes. I find ‘V’ Brakes a pain. They can be running fine one minute and rubbing the rim the next for no obvious reason. If they’re adjusted so there’s a decent gap between rim and brake block they won’t rub but also won’t stop you efficiently. If they’re set to within a few millimetres of the rim they’ll be efficient but will start rubbing for no good reason. They need constant adjusting and even then a ‘happy medium’ between stopping power and trouble-free operation may not be found.
Disk brakes come in two forms; Mechanical or Hydraulic, for cycle touring forget the latter. Hydraulic are more responsive but should they go wrong they’re a nightmare. Mechanical disc brakes are the way forward for cycle touring. Excellent stopping power, easy to adjust and a doddle to disconnect and reconnect which is especially handy if you’re breaking your bike down for travel.
TRP Spyke Mechanical Disk Brakes
With no personal experience with disc brakes I put the brake choice in then hands of the lads at Ghyllside Cycles. Kevin and Calvin recommended TRP Spyke Discs with Avid FR5 levers. The TRP Spke isn’t the cheapest neither the most expensive but they’re ultra reliable. They have excellent stopping power and I’ve not needed to adjust them to date (1000+ miles).
Cycle Touring Handlebars
Touring tradition means drop bars but this touring bike isn’t about tradition. I get on well with the top and hood positions but I’d seldom use the drops. On my Surly Long Haul Trucker I have Bullhorn handlebars. It’s the range of different hand positions that I like about the bullhorns but what else is available? My bike builder Ghyllside Cycles recommended two; the Jones Loop and the Humpert Vario.
I’ve seen touring cyclists using these style bars and have heard rave reviews for both. I spoke with a cyclist who was using the Jones Loop at the Ribble Valley Cycle Touring Weekend last year. He absolutely loved them on his Surly Ogre. His plus points were the all-day comfort and the power he had on the hills. He commented on how hard he could pull on these bars as he hill climbed.
Jones Loop Handlebar
I’ve not tried them but the Jones Loops geometry doesn’t look like it would be right for me. I’ve got a freakishly long reach therefore the swept back design of the Jones Loop would position me very upright. I’m fairly broad shouldered too and although Jones say that the Loop offers several hand positions the crossbar grips are very narrow. I like the two cross members for mounting options but the lack of a forward reach position is a real negative for me.
Humpert Vario Handlebar
These instantly appealed to me as the design is similar to the bullhorn handlebars I’m used to. In fact, the Vario offers more than the Bullhorn design. The bar ends are fully adjustable and can even be removed completely. If you want the option of a more upright position the bar ends can be rotated backwards and upwards. The main handlebar provides one level and the bar ends offer a raised and more relaxed higher position. Alternatively, if you prefer a secondary position to stretch out, rotate the bar ends forward. Adjusting the bar ends is easy and they can be positioned to suit you exactly. Imagine the options you’d have with the Humpert Vario combined with an adjustable stem.
Cycle Touring Saddles
It’s rare to consider anything other than Brooks saddles when building a tourer. I’m a fan of the B17, I have one on my Surly LHT and get on well with it. However, I also find the Charge Spoon very comfortable that I have on my road bike. In fact, I think the Charge Spoon suits my anatomy better than the B17. That said, the B17 is more comfortable than the Charge for riding day after day. So, I’m looking for a hybrid between these two saddles.
The Brooks Cambium is a sleeker more race like design than the classic B17. It is also maintenance free whereas the B17 does take some care and breaking in. I opted for the C15 which is narrower than the C17 and so far it’s proving to be very comfortable. It’s hard to rate the comfort of a saddle until you’ve really spent some time on it, I’ll report back later but first impressions are good.
Pannier Racks for Cycle Touring
I like the look of the Surly front and rear expedition cargo racks but they’re very heavy. Ghyllside Cycles recommended the Tubus range, they’re a strong but light design that’s tried and tested. On the front I went for the Tubus ‘Big Apple’ rack in black (big brother of the Tubus ‘Tara Lowrider’) built for wider tyres. The ‘Big Apple’ weighs in at 403 grams and costs around £80 whereas the Surly front rack weighs 1382 grams and costs around £100. The Surly rack is a lovely looking piece of kit and is obviously well engineered, but how much weight are you realistically going to carry on the front?
Rear Pannier Racks
For my rear rack I went for the matching ‘Tubus Evo’. As with the front Tubus rack, the design is well thought out keeping the panniers low and well balanced. A big plus point is the excellent heel clearance it offers, the Tubus ‘Evo’ mounts your panniers much further rearward than a lot of other racks. I have the Tortec ‘Expedition’ rack on my Surly LHT and I’m forced to adjust my foot/pedal position to avoid contact with my panniers. The Tubus ‘Evo’ weighs 775g, is rated to carry 40kg and costs around £100. As a comparison the Surly ‘Cargo’ rear rack weighs 1260g, is rated to carry 36kg and costs around £125
I consider these Tubus racks really great value for money. They’re not cheap but are no way overpriced. The likes of Tortec Expedition are much cheaper but the design and build are no where near as good. The Surly racks are well built and designed but are much heavier than the Tubus, more awkward to fit/remove and more expensive. However, you may want to consider the Surly pannier racks if your planning fully loaded expedition touring.
Build Costs To Date
- Surly Troll Frame £450
- S&S Couplers, installation, repaint and decals £625
- Rohloff with external box & OEM2 axle plate £970
- SP dynamo hub £95
- Ryde Sputnik rims, DT Swiss DB spokes, brass nipples and wheel build £160
- Crank Set SR Suntour £40
- Chain KMC 8 speed £20
- Surly Extraterrestrial Tyres + tubes £140
- Bottom bracket – Shimano UN55 £25
- Surly Tuggnut £25
- Pitlock front and rear wheel locking skewers £40
- TRP Spyke brakes £160
- Avid FR5 brake levers £15
- Shimano brake cables £15
- Humpert Vario handlebars £50
- Brooks Cambium C15 saddle £105
- Tubus Big Apple front rack £70
- Tubus Logo rear rack £100