Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Owner Build

Surly ECR 29+

Surly ECR 29+ – Photo courtesy of Surly Bikes

This post is about documenting the build of my Surly ECR 29+ as dirt road touring bike.  The ECR 29+ will replace my Surly Long Haul Trucker and my 2008 Giant XTC 2 which has been my off-road tourer. My touring preference is more dirt road than it is black top hence the decision to go with the Surly ECR 29+. I have also completed the Munda Biddi Trail and I am unlikely to ride it much again plus there is really not much else in the way of single track touring here in Western Australia so the ECR 29+ is more ideal for me than say the Surly Krampus.

Surly describe the ECR as …

a sure-footed, multi-terrain, offroad-obsessed 29+ camp bike. It’s something of a lovechild borne of our Krampus, Ogre and Long Haul Trucker.

At this stage I am in the build research phase which this post reflects. Once I have sold off my Surly Long Haul Trucker, the Giant XTC 2 and my Bacchetta Giro 20 ATT the build will go to the next stage.  Spending the dollars followed by the build and then touring time 🙂

I will update this blog post as I make progress on each stage.

This blog post was last updated on January 22, 2015 and at 0 kilometres on the bike

Having gone through this research process and pretty much committing to an Surly ECR 29+ build I have decided to not go ahead with it.  In the process of my research I learnt about KramPugs (Surly Pugsley running a second set of wheels, 29+ wheels hence the Krampus part of the name) which in turn led me to the Salsa Mukluk.  Whilst I haven’t as yet pulled the plug on ordering a new frameset my current thinking is a Salsa Mukluk as a fatbike/29+ build.  Thankfully a lot my research on the Surly ECR will transfer over to the new bike.

I am leaving this post here as it may be informative and will start a fatbike build post once I finalise my frameset decision: Surly Pugsley or Salsa Mukluk

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Specification

The build spec my Surly ECR 29+ dirt road tourer and the capital costs are detailed in the table below. Unlike it seems everyone else I am not going with a Rohloff hub. I did seriously consider a Rohloff build but the price of ~$1,270 ex Germany compared to my derailleur build at ~ $373 pretty much decided it for me. For amusement sake I have documented the costing below in the drivetrain section.

Complete Bike - Capital CostSurly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer$1,720.00Estimate
FrameSurly ECR, 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. ED coated. Double-butted main triangle. TIG-welded. MRE Green colour. Large frame size.Estimate
ForkSurly ECR, TIG-welded custom-butted 4130 CroMoly, 80mm suspension corrected, 1-1/8Í_ steerer tube, 203mm disc brake clearance.$0.00Included in Frame price
Seatpost ClampSurly Stainless, 30.0mm$0.00Included in Frame price
CranksetSurly O.D., 36/22t 175 mm$328.00Estimate
Bottom BracketSurly Enduro, black$0.00Included in crankset price
Front DerailleurProblem Solvers High Direct Mount Adapter 28.6 mm$47.00Estimate
SRAM X9 10-Speed Front Derailleur - High Direct Mount 2x10$52.00Estimate
Rear DerailleurSRAM X9 TYPE 2.1 10-Speed Rear Derailleur - medium$88.00Estimate
CassetteSRAM PG-1070 Cassette 10-speed 12-36$76.00Estimate
ChainWippermann conneX 10sB (black-coating, brass) 10-speed Chain Black Edition - Black Coating, Messing$60.00Estimate
ShiftersSRAM X9 10-Speed Trigger Shifter - Set 2x10-speed$120.00Estimate
Cables - ShiftersNokon Cable Set for Road/MTB Derailleur or Brake 22$75.00Estimate
StemThomson Elite X4 31.8mm$80.00Estimate
HandlebarJones Loop, 710mm. Anodized. Black?$295.00Estimate
Handlebar GripsErgon GC1 or ESI Silicon as recommended by Jeff Jones$38.00Estimate
SaddleBrooks Cambium C15$0.00On Hand
SeatpostThomson Elite Setback Seat Post - 27.2 mm$80.00Estimate
Brakes - RearAvid BB7 Mountain S Mechanical Disc Brake - 200mm$101.00Estimate
Brake LeversAvid BB7 Mountain S Mechanical Disc Brake - 160 mm$110.00Estimate
Brake LeversAvid BB7 Speed Dial 7 Brake Lever$23.00Estimate
Cables - BrakesNokon Cable Set for Road/MTB Derailleur or Brake 22$75.00Estimate
Front HubEstimate
Rear HubSRAM X9 Rear Hub - Quick Release - Black$72.00Estimate
TyresSurly Knard 29 x 3 120 tpiEstimate
Front RackEstimate
Rear RackEstimate
Front LightEstimate
Rear LightEstimate

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Frameset

2008 Giant XTC Geometry Chart

2008 Giant XTC Geometry Chart

I have a 2008 Giant XTC 2 which has been my off-road touring bike. It is a large or 21” frame and the geometry chart for this model is above. Based on the geometry of my Giant XTC 2 I have gone with a large ECR. The Surly ECR 29+ geometry chart is below along with the measurements for the large frame. Applying the Sheldon Brown (RIP) revisionist theory of bicycle sizing the “frame size” (effective top tube length + head tube angle) of my XTC 2 is 681 (610 mm + 71) and the large frame size for the Surly ECR is 684.5 615 mm + 69. To me a score variance of 3.5 is not a concern. If I add the seat tube angle in the frame size score, a score difference of three (a frame size of 757 for the ECR and 754 for the XTC 2). This is a minimal difference and both the medium and x-large ECR frames have greater differences in their scores. The large frame it is then.

Surly ECR 29+ Geometry Chart

Surly ECR 29+ Geometry Chart

 Large Frame
Seat Tube Length (Centre-Top)508 mm
Top Tube Length (Centre-Centre)582.4 mm
Effective Top Tube Length(Centre-Centre)615 mm
Head Tube Angle69.5
Seat Tuble Angle72.5
BB Drop80
Chainstay Length451 mm
Wheelbase1,127.8 mm
Standover Height822.7 mm
Head Tube Length110 mm
Fork Length468 mm
Stack614.9 mm
Reach433.8 mm

Surly like Henry Ford of days gone by offer any choice of frame colour as long as it is MRE Green in the case of the ECR. If I want a black frame (or a high viz yellow frame :)) I need to get it powder coated.

The real Surly ECR 29+ dirt road tourer frame is a 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel frame, which is ED coated. Surly describe ED coating as “a process that leaves a coating that, externally, provides a solid foundation for paint while also providing an added layer of corrosion protection internally.”

The main triangle is double-butted and TIG welded. The frame is 80mm suspension corrected, has 1-1/8” steerer tube and clearance for 203mm disc brakes.

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Drivetrain

As the Surly ECR 29+ can take three-inch tires such as the Surly Knard consideration has to be given to the chain-line and chain clearance. This means that according to Surly the maximum single ring clearance is at the middle position, 34t and at the outer position 44t. A triple crankset will only work with 2.5˝ tires or smaller. As I wish to run Surly Knard or other similar sized tyres I am restricted to a double chainset.

After considering the options such as a Truvativ X9 triple crankset running just two rings and I suspect having an issue with smaller chainrings being 64 BCD and my needing to mount the smaller chainring at a 104 BCD I have decided to go with the Surly O.D. crank. Also it seems that cost wise the Surly O.D. crank is competitive with say a Truvativ X9 crankset when you factor in the bottom bracket cost.

Hence my crankset is likely to be a Surly O.D. crank is complete with a 73 mm Surly Enduro bottom bracket and 39/26t rings.

This leaves the derailleurs, cassette and chain. My choice of front and rear derailleurs are SRAM X9 10 speed as I am very pleased with the 9 speed X9 rear derailleur I have on my LoGo P-38. The front derailleur is a SRAM X9 high direct mount 10 speed. This requires a Problem Solvers High Direct Mount Adapter – 28.6 mm due to the seat tube diameter.

The rear derailleur is a SRAM X9 TYPE 2.1 10-Speed Rear Derailleur – medium which is at my max capability of 37t. The Type 2.1 X9 derailleur should be an advance on my existing X9 derailleur as it has a roller bearing clutch.  The cluster will be a SRAM PG-1070 Cassette 10-speed 12-36. I am also considering a OneUp Components 40T or 42T sprocket or possibly a Hope 40T sprocket for lower gear inches.

For the chain I am pretty happy with my experience with Wippermann chains and have found that they now have a black chain on the market, the Wippermann Connex 10SB. It is described as being suitable for rough conditions with high wear resistance; ideal in my view for a touring bike.

I did consider going with a SRAM X0 components but was not keen on having carbon on this bike given its role and really the price differential couldn’t be justified in my view.

The final aspect is the shifters. Keeping with my preference to SRAM I will be fitting SRAM X9 10-Speed trigger shifters (2×10) and using a Nokon Cable Set to connect them to the derailleurs.

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer – Rohloff versus Derailleur

In researching and framing my planned build the idea of a Rohloff hub was/is well and truly on my radar … so often seen as the “touring world” mecca hub, it had to be considered.  So I did the numbers (the dollars but not the weights) of a Rohloff hub versus what I am likely to do in the form of a derailleur build. Now of course I can spec up the derailleur build and close the cost gap. If I was to do that it may come down to a line ball decision.  I have also not included the crankset/chain in my costing. My work on finding a suitable crankset with a 54 mm chain-line for the Rohloff indicated a similar price to the Surly Crankset I would go with my derailleur setup so it really does not come into play in the decision.

The pricing is based on supply ex German retailer, and for the Rohloff hub for comparison purposes using the December 27, 2014 exchange rate as provided by I have included postage in the cost. All prices are ex-VAT

Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 TS DB OEM ex – Germany – Delivered – $1,306

The derailleur components prices are based on the ex-VAT prices from the My comparable derailleur setup is $373.

SRAM X9 10-Speed Trigger Shifter – Set 2×10-speed – $120
SRAM X9 Rear Hub – Quick Release – Black – $72
Nokon Cable Set for Road/MTB Derailleur or Brake 22 $75.00
SRAM PG-1070 Cassette 10-speed 12-36 – $76
Postage – $30

Of course I can lower or increase the specification and the costing difference would change but as it stands I am looking at a $942 price difference. I am not sure that the Rohloff has $942 of value in it to warrant the additional weight and the lower maintenance requirements. That said I have had a car park ride of a Rohloff equipped Surly Orge and was impressed with the smoothness of the ride; it is a noticeable improvement over a derailleur setup.

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Cockpit

With the drivetrain pretty much sorted comes the cockpit and this is going to hurt I suspect as I am keen to go with a Jones 710 Loop H-Bar in aluminium handle-bar in black however obtaining these in Australia is looking difficulty if possible and purchasing one from Jeff Jones directly whilst reasonably priced for the bar, the shipping is US$185.00!  That is $60 more than the cost of the bars themselves.  Charlie the Bikemonger in the UK sells the Jones 710 Loop H-Bar for ~ AU$295 delivered which still makes it a very expensive handlebar! At least it is better than Jeff Jones delivered price of AU$382. Some good news on this front. I was in Cycles Bespoke in Bayswater and they will be stocking the Jones 710 Loop H-Bar and the price is expected to be no more than $200.

I will need to give this some more thought I think to be sure this is the way to go.  On another note one advantage with the Jeff Jones 710 Loop H-Bar is the 710 bar is marked to be cut down to 660 if I find it too wide; a nice feature.

For the stem I will likely go with a Thomson Elite X4 as recommended by Jeff Jones. This will be matched to a Thomson Elite setback 27.2 mm seat post. Both in black. I have a Brooks Cambium C15 in my parts box so this will go on the bike. The only downside being it is not black: it may have to get swapped out for that reason 🙂

Handlebar grips are a bit up in the air at the moment. I am a fan of Ergon grips and normally would go with Ergon GC1 grips but Jeff Jones recommends ESI Silicon grips as they offer a more seamless match with the bars and hence more hand positions. They are less than $20 on eBay so I might give them a shot first.

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Brakes

This part of the spec is easy … Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes front and rear simply for the ease of maintenance when touring …. I have learnt my lesson with Shimano hydraulic brakes.  So up front when the maximum stopping power is desired I will have Avid BB7 MTN S mechanical disc brakes with a 200mm rotor and on the rear an Avid BB7 MTN S disc brake with a 160mm rotor, the maximum size specified by Surly.

The levers will be a set of Avid Speed Dial 7 connected to the brake callipers with Nokon brake cable set.

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Wheels

Rims, hubs and tyres, you would think this was a simple straight forward set of choices: wrong.

Tyres are probably a simple straight forward decision. I will be going with Surly Knard tyres for sure but might also consider down the track a black-t0p alternative as well for straight up road touring.  In the short-term for chasing the dirt it will be Surly Knard tyres setup up hopefully as tubeless tyres. I believe this is the right choice and my thinking is backed up by Logan at Peddling Nowhere’s experience. Logan makes a couple of comments which I think confirm my thinking …

Performance wise Logan says

This is my favorite part. We spent at least half of these kilometers offroad, on gravel, pisté, primitive tracks, single track, rock, and sand. These conditions, in my opinion, are home for Knards and the ECR. The tires eat up the vibrations that this sort of terrain dishes out for kilometers on end, especially at speed. I felt for Virginia. After one month we switched her Troll to the largest UST tires we could find somewhere in South Africa: 2.2” Contis. They helped, but still the lower pressure in the 26” tires did not have nearly the suspension benefit as 29×3”. The Knards completely absorbed the egg-sized rocks that seem to be strewn all over these tracks. They simply barrel over almost anything without consequence.

The closely spaced low-block tread is specced for packed dirt, gravel, and dry rocky conditions. They do fairly well in sand, and somewhat muddy environs as well (as long as it’s not sticky mud). But what about tar? No matter how much you intend on stringing together dirt and gravel roads on a long tour, these days there are always paved sections to contend with. I was immediately impressed with how well they rolled on pavement. Not the fastest, but not bad at all.

and at the 1,000 kilometre mark his comment was

We have attacked the Western Cape by way of dirt tracks and gravel roads…routes based upon the recommendations of countless locals, Tracks4Africa, and an off-road motorcycle book called Dirt Busters. The surfaces generally range from chunky limestone gravel to shale to dirt to sand, and they come in varying levels of roughness. But we have also spent plenty of miles on very rocky off-road tracks, sandy washouts, mud, stream crossings and plenty of eroded ungelations. These conditions, in my opinion, are home for Knards, and the ECR for that matter. The tires eat up vibrations that this terrain dishes out, for kilometers on end, especially at speed. Last year, on my Troll, I would get numb-hands after long stretches of bumpiness, but that hasn’t occurred with the current setup. It may be partially due to the 29er platform, but I think I owe the Knards a salute on this. Another big plus is the ability for the tires to completely eat up egg-sized rocks that seem to be strewn all over these tracks. They simply barrel over almost anything without consequence.

The resolve part one of the tyre question, part two is not so simple. Do I go with 127 TPI Surly Knard which are a folding bead Kelvar tyre or 27 TPI Surly Knard which is a wire bead tyre.  There is also a price differential but I am less concerned about that and more concerned about the best tyre choice.  I note that Logan at Pedalling Nowhere ran 27 TPI Surly Knard tyres but …


Working notes:

Velocity Dually 29+ with Surly Knard tyres – Casing at 71.8mm and the tread at 74.9 mm – MTBR posting.  Rack clearances will be an interesting issue.

Velocity Dually 29+ – The Knard looks to be 3 1/4″ from edge to edge – MTBR posting

Velocity Dually 29+ Review – Gypsy by Trade

Velocity Blunt 35 review  – Peddling Nowhere

Velocity Blunt Tubeless Conversion – Mountain Bike FAQBontrager RXL Tubeless Rim Strip

Tubeless Knard/Rabbit Hole Explorations – Gypsy by Trade

Working Notes – Going Tubeless:

Tubeless fatbike conversion – Traditional approach – Cycles In Life

45NRTH Dillinger Review with discussion of ghetto tubeless conversion – riding against the grain

Tubeless Fatbike Guide: Nate to Rolling Darryl – gypsy by trade


Surly Bikes on Tyres

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer – Lights, Racks, Mudguards and Power


Discussion at Mtbr on racks

ECR – Rack ’em Up

Tubus FAT


Big O Manufacturing Surly Krampus and ECR Fender Kit

Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Resources

There is some good stuff getting posted on the Surly ECR 29+. I will link to the various Surly ECR 29+ blogs and other posts that I have found useful or are worth following/reading.

17 Responses to Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Owner Build

  1. Andy 29 December 2014 at 9:09 AM #

    Hi Andrew,

    Are you going for a Rohloff drivetrain? If so I would definitely recommend getting pricing for the speed hub in Australia if you haven’t already done so. I recall a while back they were very competitive with OS pricing. Plus should customs sniff out the hubs value you will be charged some considerable taxes in addition which will bring it well over the $1600 mark possibly with no local warranty.

    Anyway it looks like a great project so keep us up to date please.


    • Aushiker 29 December 2014 at 2:09 PM #

      Probably not going with a Rohloff. As I posted above I cannot justify the $1,000 difference. The difference with a locally sourced dealer is about $1,400 (based on the advertised price at an Australian bike shop) which is even worse.

  2. Phil Jack 1 January 2015 at 12:15 PM #

    Having done the Munda Biddi in October 2013 on a Hardtail 29er with 36/22 11-36 On 2.2″ rubber I would say that that 40T rear setup is definitely going to be required. The plus tyres will give you plenty of traction, but you will notice them being hard going uphill.

    These days running a 26″ x 3.8″ fatty (knees) with 28T single and 10-42 rear is perfect, and I would not go any higher in gearing.

    • Aushiker 1 January 2015 at 12:29 PM #

      Thanks for your thoughts; much appreciated input. I have ridden the Munda Biddi Trail on my Giant XTC 2 and appreciate where you are coming from …

  3. silentbutdeadly 6 January 2015 at 12:35 PM #

    Wheels? How about White Industries Mi6 mounted with the new tubeless ready 50mm 29er+ rim from Alex, the MD50. You could save some bills going down to Hope or Novatec hubs without loosing much in performance or adding much weight.

    • Aushiker 6 January 2015 at 8:41 PM #

      Thanks for the suggestion. I am not familiar with the Mi6 or the Alex rim so will investigate further. Being tubeless ready is appealing.

  4. Kym Murray 11 January 2015 at 8:05 PM #

    “Sheldon Brown (RIP) revisionist theory of bicycle sizing” link seems busted for me, Andrew, just FYI. Figured how to fix it for my purposes 😉

    • Aushiker 12 January 2015 at 8:28 AM #

      Thanks for letting me know Kym. Hopefully now fixed.

  5. Darren. 16 January 2015 at 7:23 PM #

    Hi, I have an ECR too. FYI Topeak racks fit with plenty of clearance, if you’re looking.

    • Aushiker 16 January 2015 at 7:28 PM #

      Cool. Thanks for the information.

      • Darren. 19 January 2015 at 12:08 PM #

        To be specific, I’ve got an explorer 29er disc on the rear, regular explorer on the front. The regular rack fits pretty good on the rear, but the disc/29er has plenty of clearance and is required if you’re planning mudguards.

  6. dd182003 20 August 2015 at 11:07 AM #

    I also have a pretty stock Surly ECR that I rode from Perth to Manjimup on the Mundabidi trail. The bike was great.
    Set up with front and rear panniers it just bombed along. I did make one change and that was not to use the Jones bars. They did not feel right. went with salsa bars. Perfect with cork grips. We are going to complete the rest in October and I have just bought a new Surly front rack to replace the lowrider racks I used previously and a 42 tooth cog for the rear cassette and an 8″ disc for the front and the 7″ I will move to the rear. Fully loaded down hill on the road this beast needs a lot of stopping power. It also responds well to being ridden fast. I needed to raise the tire pressures to about 25PSI when loaded up to get rid of the “squishy” feeling from the rear. Unladen 15-20 psi depending on the terrain. it is quite a balance to find the right tire pressures to suit the terrain. A few PSi on this bike can make a difference so I bring a small digital air pressure gauge to keep track of it.
    Awesome bike for the Mundabiddi. Great fun. Great ride. and not too bad on the road..once you get used to the weight going uphill !

  7. tony 29 April 2018 at 4:47 PM #

    hi. why did you decide against the ECR in the end.

    • Aushiker 3 May 2018 at 1:00 PM #

      As I posted above I went with a Salsa Mukluk which gives me the option of going fat or 29+. Basically came down to more versatility.


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