As good as the Troll is, I prefer the steam-rolling capabilities of a 29-er and I’m going join Surly’s 29+ movement – such a sucker for Surly’s anti-marketing marketing – in the form of an ECR. The order’s been placed and I should get my grubby mitts on the frame in January all being well.
While die-hard MTB riders may struggle with the notion of the ECR, finding it limiting over the trail-hungry Krampus, it seems perfect for me. A stable, dependable animal for my ponderous progress off road… plus the all-important ability to load it up with camping junk.
Having to wait until January means I have plenty of time to consider the build. I’m leaning towards Velocity Dually rims, Surly Knards, trusty Avid bb7 brakes, Jones bars, and a similar chainset arrangement to my Troll, Middleburn.
However, I am struggling with the rear end. I need a fairly low range yet reliable set up on this machine. The bike is already heavy – particularly in the mahooosive size I need – not to mention the various stuffsacs and associated crap I’ll lash on to it for these weekend jaunts.
Early positive impressions of the Rohloff have me optimistically eyeing the uber IGH again. However, I don’t think I can find the funds unless someone is very generous on my 40th birthday.
So I’ve looked at alternatives, namely Shimano’s Alfine units.
Tap seemingly innocent queries into Google – ‘ Alfine reliability’ or ‘Alfine low ratio’ – and you’ll be greeted with acres of forum chuntering about this hub. Available in an eight speed and a more complex 11 ratio unit, the Alfine has loyal followers in the MTB community and a fair number of detractors who claim it is not up to the rigours of off-road touring.
I’ve spent a few hours wading though this stuff and it would appear that you can push the design constraints of the simpler eight speed over its pricier brother.
In the interests of a clean drivetrain I’ll take a long, hard look at the simpler eight speed, ideally running a 32 up front and a 22 sprocket on the rear. However, this may lead to its premature death and I might be better off with a 1×10 or 1×9.
Decisions, decisions. Any thoughts gratefully received…