February is going to be month of the Troll… and, let’s be honest, March too as cash flow will have an impact on the speed of this build.
The Surly Troll has created quite a buzz since it’s launch a year or so ago. Now being thoroughly tested by cycle touring peregrinus Cass Gilbert, Surly describe this machine in characteristic laconic fashion… ‘utility tractor’.
The Bloomington firm acknowledges that the steel Troll is far more versatile, however. Borrowing much from the mountain bike, the frame geometry is designed for a suspension folk, or you can run it with a suspension-corrected monster chromo fork.
The rear dropout, while not pretty, is rather clever. Want to run a rear mech? No problem. Fancy single speed, a hub gear or Rohloff with discs? Sure. Want to run a rack or trailer too? Of course, the more the merrier.
It has huge clearances for tyres up to 2.7inches (26inch wheels, by the way) and proudly displays the Surly mantra ‘Fatties Fit Fine’ on the chain stay. This, of course, refers to the rubber, but could equally refer to the rider as the Troll is a burly brute.
Mine is a 22-inch version, the largest frame. I’m certain that this will suit my 6’6” frame, although I do envisage some stem fiddling as I don’t have a huge reach. This bike is a departure for me in many ways, not least in that I am going to be running flat bars, which will pose one or two bike positioning questions as I am so used to drops.
So what’s it for? At first, this is going to be my ‘rough stuff’ bike. I’m not a gifted rider by any means over technical ground, but I do enjoy rattling along bridleways, trails and forest tracks. The greater clearances and wider tyres will help with the mud I used to encounter on my Dew Drop.
I envisage one or two bike packing trips in the Peak and, hopefully, Cairngorms when I’ll travel ultra light with bivvy and sleeping bag. As confidence and horizons grow, I’m going to replace the front fork with a suspension unit, which may help unlock local trails for me. And you never know, it might carry me across South America one day…
The build started this week with a headset installation. I had the frame faced by those fine folk at Keep Pedalling in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and they are going to take care of the wheel set too.
This is the first time I’ve used my Cyclus Headset press, a Christmas pressie from Mum and Dad. I might have been a bit tentative, but it worked like a dream. An Orbit XLII is now securely in place ready for those forks. Watch this space…