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Surly Troll

Steel frame & fork / Shimano SLX 2x11 / Cable pull disc brakes Avid BB7

Surly Troll is an expedition touring bike, made for adventure. It's built around a strong steel frame capable of carrying heavy loads, it has all the mounts you could possibly need for racks, bottle cages and anything cages. The top tube is slopped and the tire clearance is large, clear signs that this bike is meant to go beyond the pavement, ready to roll on remote roads and tracks.

The wheels

The frame is made to comfortably accommodate a couple of strong 26 inches wheels with fatties 3 inches tires or 2.8 inches if you wish to fit fenders. 26 inches wheels have a small rim diameter and short spokes compared to a standard 28 inches wheel, short spokes are stronger and make for reliable touring wheels, capable of carrying heavy loads on rough terrains.

26 inches was the standard wheel size for MTB in the 90' and many travelers think that this size of wheel and tire are easer to find in developing countries in case replacement is needed.

The master mind behind this custom build proposes an innovative wheel setup, taking advantage of the generous tire clearance. He installed 650B wheels which have a slightly bigger diameter than the 26 inches but smaller than the 28 inches. A sweet spot in the middle of the two most common standards. 650B wheels roll much better than a 26 inches but are still strong and keep the good reactive handling of small wheels.

Having a bigger wheel diameter means they get closer to the frame which limits the tire clearance. In this case, the chosen tire is a gravel classic 650x47B WTB Horizon, light, comfortable and fast, perfect for gravel and tarmac.

In conclusion, this isn’t the wheel setup to do a tour around the world, but it's the perfect wheel setup for local touring around Europe, weekend trips, commuting, quick after work escapes to the woods, etc. The tires roll fast and are comfortable on tarmac (in good and bad condition) and all sort of light gravel. They will be less capable of handling muddy conditions and technical tracks.

Drivetrain & Brakes

Shimano SLX 2x11 is in my opinion a solid choice within a reasonable price. The chainrings are 38-28 and the cassette 11-42 which gives plenty of gear range for commuting, light touring and carrying loads up and down. Not so much for speed, because this isn't a bike made for speed.

Avid BB7 are super powerful disc brakes. Do they have the ability to stop you and your loaded bike down hill on a rainy day ? Definitely! They are cable actuated without compromising in power. Cable pull brakes require more maintenance that hydraulic brakes but once know how to do, it it's something you can do even on a trip on the side of the road, without much equipment.

This bike is another beautiful build of my friend and bike artist Xavier N. Check out his other creations ! Minimalist Torpedo, Surly Karate Monkey and Cepel Royal Frisco

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