I’ve had my Surly Troll – ‘Tango’ – for over a year now. It’s carried me across Iceland, on some daft bike packing trips and other short tours, to the pub, to work, to the shops… lots of times to the shops in fact, including grocery runs with four panniers full to bursting.
I like it… I like it a lot. In fact, I like so much that my traditional workhorse-touring bike – a rather classy Thorn Club Tour – hasn’t had a look-in. It sits in the garage, ready for action, yet I keep on reaching for the Troll.
The Surly is not perfect, though. The front fork thuds into potholes and is not as comfortable as my Thorn. While the Troll barrels along off road, I’d prefer something a bit more surefooted. This was crystallised somewhat after riding a fatbike in Iceland and tear-arsing, albeit slowly, around some trails on an On-One 29-er. The latter, with beefy rims and tyres, was a revelation. I didn’t realise that larger hoops could make such a difference on gnarly trails.
The impressive utility of the Troll has hastened a decision for some upgrades, then. Tango will soon go to Keep Pedalling in Manchester to be fitted with a Rohloff rear hub and some other goodies. I’ve been hiding funds down the back of the sofa for a while in preparation as the hub is no small investment.
I’ve ridden two Rohloffs so far. One that was really bedded in and a new unit fitted to the test Ogre at Keep Pedalling. The worn-in hub was a Swiss watch, the newer hub a bit clunky but still surprisingly sweet. Apparently, newer hubs are quieter now (a common complaint of folk making the shift from a derailleur set up).
The bits and bobs for my Troll upgrade go something like this…
Rohloff Speedhub EX 14 speed hub
New 32-hole rim (Mavic XM719, perhaps)
Hope stainless bottom bracket
Middleburn RS8 cranks
Front and rear sprockets, TBC
Rohloff rear rotor, 160mm
New chain (TBC)
Avid FR5 levers
Front dyno hub (possibly a SON)
The new front hub will power a USB converter for keeping the phone charged on tour. This proved to be a pain in Iceland, not just for me but my long-suffering other half who allows me to go on these trips as long as I keep in touch via Skype or txt whenever possible. Added to this, my books, navigation system and music are on the phone too these days in order shed more weight.
Given how often the Troll is used, it will not take me long to run the new hub in. It’ll be coming away with me on another trip next year too… watch this space.
…And if there are any tall folk out there in the market for a decent touring bike for the road, then my Thorn Club Tour is for sale, equipped with Tubus racks and a Brooks saddle. If you’re interested, drop me a line. I’d like to see it go to a good home.
…AND! If you are in the market for a decent hand built set of 26″ wheels for touring and commuting, the set on the Troll are for sale. Deore hubs, DRC MTN 19 box section rims and 36 Dt Swiss spokes on each. Got about 800 miles on them and have just been re tensioned. £70. Again, drop me a line if you are interested.