Surly Bikes

Surly Long Haul Trucker with under-saddle growler holder

Surly Long Haul Trucker with under-saddle growler holder

I got to meet with John Fleck, “Minister of World Cycle-Domination” from Surly Bikes while I was in town. Surly is a Minneapolis bike company that has long been connected with bike messenger culture and urban cycling. They were instrumental in developing the Single Speed World Championship into a regular staple event of the new bike culture, and their build aesthetics have always had an urban sensibility. They were among the first companies to mass-produce a single speed bike targeted at urban riders (most bike messengers used track bikes or custom setups), and also more or less invented the fat bike (3″+ tire, designed for sand and snow) which is becoming increasingly popular in urban areas (especially those with a lot of snow, like the Twin Cities). Their Long Haul Trucker touring bike and Cross Check cyclocross-inspired bike are extremely popular with utility cyclists, because they’re solid, generally steel-framed bikes which are great platforms for customization. Max had set up the bike I was riding with a single chain ring, a top tube frame bag, and a few other tweaks; my wife’s Long Haul Trucker has extra dummy levers to allow multiple hand positions, nubs for attaching lights and bells, etc. Surly more than any other company has an aesthetic of building solid, good value bikes which people will want to ride for a long time.

Surly Big Dummy cargo bike

Surly Big Dummy cargo bike

Surly was also early in building dedicated cargo bikes, like the Big Dummy. In places where utility biking is common, you can see the extended rack and bag system being used for all kinds of things, including family commuting–there are attachments which can fit two small kids.

The marketing materials that Surly puts out still reflect a counter-cultural urban aesthetic, and they’ve had great success contributing to and benefitting from the increase in utility cycling in places like Minneapolis.

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