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 BUILD COST||COST||COST STATUS|
|Complete Bike - Capital Cost||Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer||$1,720.00||Estimate|
|Frame||Surly ECR, 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. ED coated. Double-butted main triangle. TIG-welded. MRE Green colour. Large frame size.||Estimate|
|Fork||Surly ECR, TIG-welded custom-butted 4130 CroMoly, 80mm suspension corrected, 1-1/8Í_ steerer tube, 203mm disc brake clearance.||$0.00||Included in Frame price|
|Seatpost Clamp||Surly Stainless, 30.0mm||$0.00||Included in Frame price|
|Crankset||Surly O.D., 36/22t 175 mm||$328.00||Estimate|
|Bottom Bracket||Surly Enduro, black||$0.00||Included in crankset price|
|Front Derailleur||Problem Solvers High Direct Mount Adapter 28.6 mm||$47.00||Estimate|
|SRAM X9 10-Speed Front Derailleur - High Direct Mount 2x10||$52.00||Estimate|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM X9 TYPE 2.1 10-Speed Rear Derailleur - medium||$88.00||Estimate|
|Cassette||SRAM PG-1070 Cassette 10-speed 12-36||$76.00||Estimate|
|Chain||Wippermann conneX 10sB (black-coating, brass) 10-speed Chain Black Edition - Black Coating, Messing||$60.00||Estimate|
|Shifters||SRAM X9 10-Speed Trigger Shifter - Set 2x10-speed||$120.00||Estimate|
|Cables - Shifters||Nokon Cable Set for Road/MTB Derailleur or Brake 22||$75.00||Estimate|
|Stem||Thomson Elite X4 31.8mm||$80.00||Estimate|
|Handlebar||Jones Loop, 710mm. Anodized. Black?||$295.00||Estimate|
|Handlebar Grips||Ergon GC1 or ESI Silicon as recommended by Jeff Jones||$38.00||Estimate|
|Saddle||Brooks Cambium C15||$0.00||On Hand|
|Seatpost||Thomson Elite Setback Seat Post - 27.2 mm||$80.00||Estimate|
|Brakes - Rear||Avid BB7 Mountain S Mechanical Disc Brake - 200mm||$101.00||Estimate|
|Brake Levers||Avid BB7 Mountain S Mechanical Disc Brake - 160 mm||$110.00||Estimate|
|Brake Levers||Avid BB7 Speed Dial 7 Brake Lever||$23.00||Estimate|
|Cables - Brakes||Nokon Cable Set for Road/MTB Derailleur or Brake 22||$75.00||Estimate|
|Rear Hub||SRAM X9 Rear Hub - Quick Release - Black||$72.00||Estimate|
|Tyres||Surly Knard 29 x 3 120 tpi||Estimate|
Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer Frameset
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.
|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 Angle||69.5|
|Seat Tuble Angle||72.5|
|Chainstay Length||451 mm|
|Standover Height||822.7 mm|
|Head Tube Length||110 mm|
|Fork Length||468 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, Bike24.com and Starbike.com for the Rohloff hub for comparison purposes using the December 27, 2014 exchange rate as provided by XE.com. I have included postage in the cost. All prices are ex-VAT
Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 TS DB OEM ex Starbike.com – Germany – Delivered – $1,306
The derailleur components prices are based on the ex-VAT prices from the Bike24.com. 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 …
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
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 KNARD & RABBIT HOLE TUBELESS… vikapproved
Surly ECR 29+ Dirt Road Tourer – Lights, Racks, Mudguards and Power
Discussion at Mtbr on racks
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.
- Pedalling Nowhere – Excellent resource on building and touring with a Surly ECR 29+. Well worth following.
- Gypsy by Trade takes an in-depth look at the Surly ECR 29+
- Off Route – Early look at the Surly ECR 29+
- Off Route – Surly ECR 29+ versus the Surly Krampus
- Northern Walker rides a XXXL Surly ECR 29+. Check out his blog for his experiences with the bike.
- The Graceful Cyclists – Surly ECR 29+ rider