2017 Surly Ogre Review: ETs, Molokos, 27.5+, and a braze-on fiesta…

Following the Troll’s recent revamp, it was only a matter of time before Surly’s 29er all-rounder, the Ogre, underwent a similar transformation. Read on to discover details of its 2017 incarnation and thoughts on its frameset, set up with 27.5+ wheels. Also included are musings on the relative merits of different Plus sizes, depending on the style of your backcountry explorations.

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In case the title of this post sounds like we’re speaking in tongues… let me explain. Surly’s popular, globe-trotting Troll recently saw a significant revamp. The updated model ushered in clearances for dirt-chomping 26+ tires. Its eyelet-riddled fork added provision for Anything Cages both forward and aft. Its rear spacing introduced Surly’s new Gnot-Boost dropout, compatible with a range of hub standards, both old and new. Last but not least, the Troll’s geometry was rejigged into a rigid specific design, forgoing the option of running a suspension fork in lieu of a larger framebag.

2017 Surly Ogre

Just a few days ago, Surly announced the 2017 Ogre. It sports a similar slew of updates as the Troll, albeit with 29er wheelset that can now be swapped out for 27.5+ tires, the most popular diameter in the Plus-size fold. Surly have only released the first few details so far. Here’s our take on its changes and an account of our hands-on experience with the frameset, having used it bikepacking, commuting around town, and on local trails. We’ll add a link to a geometry table when it’s available.

  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review
  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review

First things first. Let’s talk wheels. Being a fan of the Plus size wheel format, I was delighted to see that thanks to a new yoke, the 2017 Ogre now accommodate 27.5+ tires, the wheel size that’s fast becoming the de facto norm. Clearances are on the generous side too. During my test riding, I ran both chunky, 3in WTB Trail Bosses and the slightly narrower Ranger Tough – a great touring option, incidentally – with plenty of room for mud clearance or a buckled wheel.

There are, however, a couple of caveats. For one, you’ll need to run a single chainring or an offset double, like Surly’s OD crankset, to enable sufficient clearances between the chain and tire. Specced with a standard 29 inch wheelset, the 2017 complete Ogre comes with a standard 48x36x26 Shimano LX triple, so it’s an after-market change you’ll have to make.

Given its horizontal dropouts and the lack of an eccentric bottom bracket, running 27.5+ wheels will also lower the bottom bracket height, due to their smaller outside diameter. Although the BB drop is the same on both new and old Ogres (68mm), running a 27.5+ tire will decrease its height by at least 10mm, depending on the tire you’re running – putting it at around 295-300mm mark. Although this sounds significant, the reality was that given my uses for the bike — relatively mellow desert singletrack, dirt road touring, and commuting — pedal strike didn’t prove to be the issue I was expecting. Only on the occasions when I hit rockier trails did I notice the difference. In hindsight, I’d recommend speccing 170mm cranks to make up for some of the shortfall, especially if you’re headed for chunkier terrain and ride with flat pedals.


Here at BIKEPACKING.com, we’re big fans of the wide rim and Plus size wheel format, whether it be 35mm rims and 2.8in tires or 40mm+ with 3in rubber. Racing aside, we believe Plus tires are a great choice for exploratory, backcountry touring, especially for those running a rigid setup. They strike a practical balance between full fat and conventional tires. They’re confidence-inspiring offroad. And whilst unable to match the breadth of terrain covered by a fat bike, they’re encourage adventures in places previously overlooked by many bicycle tourers. But there’s a question we’ve often asked: with so many wheel diameters to choose from, which is best for what? Given the ever-shifting landscape of tire widths and wheel sizes — as well as their availability both at home and abroad — here’s our thoughts…

For a world trip, particularly one that includes the African continent, there’s still advantages to running a 26in wheelset. Despite the prevalence of courier agencies, nothing beats the convenience of buying parts locally to keep you on the road – 26in remains the firm favourite of hardware stores the world over. Given the availability of WTB’s Ranger Tough in a 3in width and other options, the new Surly Troll has rekindled our interest in the 26in format. For smaller riders, 26+ wheels offer significantly more clearance between the tire and the seat post than other Plus sizes, allowing space for a larger seatpack. In the case of Surly’s range, the Troll comes in an XS size, unlike the Ogre.

29+ remains a solid choice, especially for taller riders. At 6’1″, it’s my wheel size of choice; smaller riders may run into real estate issues between tires and bags. Run as part of a rigid setup, a 3in 29+ tire is extremely capable off-road. In many ways it rules surpreme across rough terrain, thanks to its ability to roll over the largest of babyheads. Options for long distance, bikepacking-friendly tires are relatively good, including WTB’s Ranger Tough and Maxxis’ Chronicle. In larger cities at least, standard-width 29er tires are globally available, should you need a bail out option for your midfat rim.

Although smaller in diameter than a 29+, 27.5+ still takes the bite out of rocky trails, helps negotiate sandy arroyos, and adds noticeably to rider comfort, without adding excessively to a bike’s weight. Spares tires are that bit lighter to carry too. 27.5+ is a size that will likely work for those of both large and small stature, making it a good choice for couples of differing heights who want run to run compatible wheel sizes. The 27.5+ format is becoming increasingly available globally; in a worst case scenerio, a damaged wheel can be replaced with a 29in wheelset, as the outside diameter is similar. There are more suspension forks available and rear racks with suitable clearances are easier to source. For those heading overseas, a 27.5+ bike is easier to box and or cram into the underbelly of a bus than one with 29+ wheels. Given the ever-increasing range of 27.5+ tires on offer in Europe and the US, many backcountry trips may be best served by this in-betweener size.

The dropouts themselves will be familiar to anyone with experience of the Surly touring lineup. Like its predecessor, the new Ogre can be run with derailleurs or as a singlepeed, along with various cargo-pulling configurations — like a BOB trailer or Surly’s two-wheeled siblings, Bill and Ted. As with the last generation of Ogres, the dropout features a slot for anchoring a Rohloff internal hub. Whilst we applaud Surly for its trademark versatility, it does come at a cost to practicality. In terms of removing the rear wheel and tensioning the chain, it’s certainly not as user-friendly as an eccentric bottom bracket and a Rohloff-specific dropout. Also of note is an increase in the welding surface. I’ve come across a handful of riders on long, demanding trips across South America that have had cracks develop at the junction of the chainstay and older generation dropouts. Hopefully this improvement will address the issue.

Surly Ogre Review, 27.5+

As for its 12mm x 145mm Gnot Boost spacing, there are inevitable pros and cons to the system. One the one hand, it allows the use of either 12 x 142mm thru axle or 12 x 148mm Boost thru axle hubs. By using Surly 10/12 Adapter Washers, as I did, 10 x 135mm bolt on or 135mm QR hubs are compatible too, reassuring in this ever-shifting world of ‘standards’. The downside? It’s not a captive thru-axle design, so you’ll lose out on the inherent stiffness of the system. To run a 27.5+ wheel, you’ll also need to pull the wheel back 12.5mm in the dropout. Surly supplied me with a prototype Monkey Nut that helps position the wheel. It works really well and there’s been no slippage to report. For QR hubs, you’ll need to deftly hook the cassette around the chain, a task that inevitably involves oily fingers. My advice? Go tubeless, so wheel removal rarely becomes an issue. Bear in mind too that Surly recommend lowering the tire pressure so sidewalls don’t rub against the canti-studs. At this point in time – given the quality of disc brakes and the ever decreasing availability of rims with braking surfaces – I’d be happy to lose them altogether. But I’m not going to complain too vocally.

In terms of the frame itself – 4130 cromoly steel, of course – the headtube sees a small but welcome extension, in lieu of a longer, suspension compatible rear fork. As a rider who gravitates towards a fully rigid setup, especially for dirt road touring, I see this as a welcome refinement and a more clear way of differentiating the Surly lineup. The result is a bike built for purpose that features a considerably larger framebag space. The one on my XL test bike is simply enormous, on par with the Jones Plus. If a plush suspension fork is a necessity for your bikepacking adventures, the more trail-orientated Karate Monkey is likely a better fit, or there are plenty of other options on the market.

Surly Ogre 2017 Review

Headtube and seat tube diameters all remain the same — 1 1/8″ non-tapered and 27.2mm respectively — which means parts unearthed in your garage can likely be pressed into service. I’m glad to see Surly have kept the Ogre ‘old fashioned’. When it comes to setting up a touring or commuting bike, there’s nothing more satisfying than recycling old possessions.

Clearances are drawn for 29×2.6in tires – depending on rim choice and tire tread – assuming the ‘legal’ 6mm spacing on either side of the tire is to be maintained. In reality, there’s scope for more; we even managed to squeeze in a 3-inch Knard, albeit with a razor tight clearances at the back. Still, a 2.6in tire, like Schwalbe’s Nobby Nick, on a 35mm rim sounds like a great setup to me.

  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review
  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review

As we’ve mentioned, there are eyelets for three water bottles on the frame, complimented by a three-pack mount above and below the downtube. The fork sees provision for up to four bottles/Anything Cages though if you want to run a front rack too, there may be a conflict of interests. I tried it with a Nitto M18 and found room for 4 water bottles by using longer, replacement struts. I also fitted Surly’s excellent 8-Pack rack, which limited me to two Anything Cage mounted behind it. Running a full soft bikepacking bag setup will give you the most options. Having a fork covered in barnacles may not be to everyone’s aesthetic tastes, but it sure is practical.

  • 2017 Surly Ogre
  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review

Taller riders should be aware that sizing on the new Ogre has also seen a change. XL and XXL have now become meshed into one – at 640mm, the XL Ogre’s effective top tube sits squarely between the two older sizes. Seat tube length remains identical to the older generation XL. Beanstalks and Clydesdales may feel a little short-changed. Still, a generous headtube length and an upright stem should ensure even leggy riders can dial in an upright handlebar position to match their saddle height. At the other end of the scale, more petite bikepackers will need to check out the Troll, as there’s no XS frame in Ogre flavor. Elsewhere, sizing remains similar between the two generations, if just a hair longer in the effective top tube lengths.

Surly Ogre 2017 Review

  • Surly-Ogre-Review_7
  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review

As for the ride itself, the Ogre really won us over. A total of four riders spent varying amounts of time riding my test bike. Everyone returned with extremely positive reports. Although the new version is 1cm longer in wheelbase than the legacy frameset – and a touch longer still if running a 27.5+ wheelset – the trail figure is relatively similar between the two generations. Don’t assume that the loss of a suspension compatible frame has turned the Ogre into a staid tourer. It’s quite the opposite. Even with 27.5+ wheels, the Ogre threads through singletrack in an extremely engaging way, while its longer wheelbase adds subtly to its stability under load. Surly’s choice of frame tubing felt well suited to my demands and weight, including multi-day bikepacking, grocery shopping, and kid hauling. In the interests of one bike simplicity, I ended up leaving my Wald 137 basket attached, making it the consummate all-rounder. The 27.5+ wheelset I was running — Ranger Plus tires and Scraper — kicked up to speed nicely on pavement and kept their speed well. I’d consider it better suited to road miles than an equivalent 29+ wheelset and only a little more slovenly than a 29×2.4in tire.

  • Surly-Ogre-Review_27
  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review

Spec-wise, the Ogre’s most notable changes include its new, tubeless-friendly 2.5in ET touring tires, now available in a 29in format. Rims for the production model are a somewhat modest 25mm wide. Given the unlikelihood that I’d choose to run the Ogre with narrow slicks, I’d have far preferred a rim that lies in the 35mm internal diameter ballpark.

The new Ogre also swaps out my all time favorite handlebar, the Jones’ Loop H-Bar, for Surly’s oddball Moloko – a chromo alternative that sports a 34 degree sweep and a 735mm width, as well as two protruding horns that offer a dizzying variety of riding positions or, if need be, impaling options should the advent of the apocalypse present itself. The main observation I’d make is that the forward sweep is greater than the Jones, requiring a shorter stem. Factoring in the longer top tube on the XL I tried, this extended my reach more than I like. If you can look beyond Moloko’s freaky looks and their hefty weight, it’s an interesting option for those who favour a full gamut of hand positions and if necessary, handlebar real estate for a spectrum of electronic gizmos.

Still, whether you are a Moloko fan or not, there’s not doubt that $1700 for the complete bike makes it a compelling build. As a sidenote, I’m glad to see the inclusion of a Shimano drivetrain – if only because Shimano BBs are so much easier to source outside the US – as well as the likes of low maintenance, 10-speed Microshift shifters and my favourite BB7 brakes. There’s one caveat though. As my desire for backcountry exploration has increased and my need to ride quickly has consequently diminished, the Ogre’s 48x36x26 chainrings seem over-geared to me.

For reference, here’s the majority of the 2017 Surly Ogre complete build kit:

  • Frame: SM/MD/LG/XL
  • Colors: Rover Brown
  • Rims: Alex Adventure 2
  • Rear Hub: Shimano Deore
  • Front Hub: Shimano Deore
  • Tires: Surly Extra-Terrestrial 29×2.5″
  • Crankset: LX 48/36/26
  • Front Derailleur: Deore
  • Rear Derailleur: Deore
  • Bottom Bracket: XT
  • Cassette: HG50 12-36
  • Handlebar: Moloko 735mm 34° Sweep
  • Saddle: WTB


  • Non suspension corrected frame maximises framebag space.
  • Fun and nimble ride.
  • Easily built up with parts that lie close to hand.
  • Accomodates both new and old hub standards, as well as a Rohloff.
  • Riddled with eyelets on the fork and frame, for all your water carrying and rack-mounting needs.


  • Rims on stock bikes are on the narrow side for running big volume tires.
  • Whilst very versatile, horizontal dropouts are more fiddly to use than vertical ones.
  • Running a 27.5+ wheelset lowers pedal clearance, resulting in potential pedal strikes over chunky terrain.
  • 48/36/26 triple is overgeared for loaded, backcountry explorations (but good for fast touring and commuting).
  • XL and XXL sizes are now one; some Clydesales may feel short changed.
  • Price$1699 USD complete, $700 for the frameset
  • Sizes available S, M, L, XL
  • Size tested XL
  • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
  • Contact SurlyBikes.com

Wrap Up

Given that we’ve only tried the frameset, this isn’t a comprehensive review of the complete Ogre. But having ridden spent a considerable amount time on a bike set up with 27.5+ wheels, it’s hard not to wax lyrical about it. The new Ogre is fast and fun through singletrack. It’s extremely versatile. And it hits a very inclusive price point. All in all, it’s a very capable all-rounder: I’ve happily commuted on it, hit local trails on my way home, or escaped at the weekend to sleep under the stars.

As for the Ogre’s new build, there’s lots to like and just a couple of quibbles. Given my propensity to stray off-road, I’d have far preferred wider rims to come as standard; 27.5+ possibilities aside, this is a bike that cries out for a 35mm rim and 2.4-2.6in tire. In a similar vein, I’d liked to have seen a standard mtb double rather than a touring triple. It’s not that I have an issue with triples; more that it feels overgeared for the riding I do, while a double offers a touch more chain clearance with larger volume tires.

Whether a rigid specific frame suits you or not is down to personal taste. I certainly see it as a good thing (and if you don’t agree, there are plenty of suspension corrected offerings on the market, like Surly’s Karate Monkey, Advocate’s Hayduke, or Bombtrack’s Beyond +). Given the riding I enjoy most, I’ll gladly forfeit the ability to run a suspension fork in return for more framebag space, especially when running large volume 29er or Plus tires. Speaking of which, the 27.5+ wheel size has really won me over. It adds significantly to comfort, traction, and flotation, while maintaining a more ‘normal’ mountain bike feel on both pavement and trails.

All these factors considered, the new Ogre frameset builds up into one of my favourite touring bikes to date, at a price tag that’s affordable to almost everyone. Technical trails aside, I’d recommend it for almost anything you care to throw at is, from an overnight bikepack to a long, trans-continental odyssey…

  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review
  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review
  • 2017 Surly Ogre Review

Rider’s Background

I’ve been embarking regularly on two-wheeled explorations for the last 18 years. Most recently, I connected the length of the Americas via the road less traveled, and explored Mongolia on a fat bike. Given my love for mountain biking and backcountry touring, my ideal journey fuses the two, keeping to quiet dirt roads and singletrack where possible.

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 165 lbs
Inseam: 35”

  • Alexander Sollie

    At 6’7″, a true XXL is critical. I understand that it makes very little financial sense for companies to extend their size range that far from the average, but it is a bummer that they ditched the XXL.

  • Great review. I’m more excited for the Ogre than any of the other updated bikes. If Kelley had been in the market now as opposed to a year ago, I have no doubt we would have gone with an Ogre over the Krampus. But, c’est la vie!

  • Surly is doing very smart things as they tease apart the touring bikes from the mountain bikes in their lineup. I’m really impressed to see them go rigid specific. My experience was that their old suspension correction wasn’t actually compatible with any modern suspension anyway. Great write-up, Cass!

  • Agreed. Their lineup is coming into its own with the latest iterations. A couple of years ago there seemed to be a lot of trailing question marks. Although I would like to see the 27.5+ option. And Krampus/KM specced with a Sus fork. That would really distinguish the rigid specific options.

  • After a lot of debate, I finally decided to build up one of the new KM frames as a 27.5+ Jones loop trail/dirt road/bikepacker machine, but just found out today that ETA got pushed back to April-May. This new frame seems to tick almost all the same boxes and makes me question which frame would be better..

  • Dan Forsyth

    I love some of Surly’s ideas, and was considering buying a new Karate Monkey. It’s just a shame the prices in the UK are more in pounds than they are in dollars in the US – meaning they look poor value for rigid bikes.

  • Mark Troup

    I am very much not in the market for a new bike right now… but if I was, the Troll, Ogre, and Karate Monkey might be number one, two, and three on my shopping list. I think Surly is just killing it right now.

  • Olly Roberts

    Only a megre 6’4″ here, but I still agree. It’s hard to get a good fitting bike if youre tall.

  • Chris Leydig

    Wow, I wish these were available 2 years ago, I think I have plus-envy. I’m 6’2 and have a lg, 2015 troll – I’ve put a lot into it – I run it 26×3, 27.5×2.3 or 29x40mm, depending (all with dropouts maxed). Even got 2 additional forks for it: one carbon, one 80mm susp. Bikepacking, mtn biking, cross – it does all these things, but I’ve been reeeallly been tempted by the ever-increasing +tire options to trade-up. I keep having to remind myself to love what I ride. I’d appreciate further musings on all the +options in terms of handling/speed/weight since you’ve been able to ride so many of them.

    I’m familiar with the pros for larger rubber in terms of speed/rollover etc, but how would you describe the handling? On a previous bikepacking trip that had some technical climbs, I found my 26+ more suitable than the 29er rigs my buddies were riding. Places they dismounted I found my way through. Not chalking it up to skill, but any merits for riding smaller +tires?

  • Harry Major

    Rememeber that UK prices include big ol’ dump for VAT and US prices are listed tax free

  • Cass Gilbert

    A couple of friends of mine who are similar in height to you found the XL worked well (I run my handlebars and seat post unusually high) but you’re right, it’s a shame to loose the XXL.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Thanks Skyler.

    The Surly Venn diagram of overlapping uses can be really hard to get your head around. Differentiating the models like this makes life a lot clearer and let’s each bike excel at what its primarily being used for. Especially since, as you say, finding suspension forks to fit the ‘touring’ models is often a non-starter.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I haven’t had a chance to ride a Troll with a Plus-size setup. But comparing the ECR to the Ogre in a 27.5+ setup by way of example… the Ogre feels threads considerably more easily through singletrack. It feels a lot livelier. I definitely still see the benefit of 29+ when it comes to big, rocky descents, sandy arroyos etc… But it’s an incremental one, not a game changer. If there was a ‘one size to rule them all’ situation, I think 27.5+ is a great sweet spot for a lot of people and uses.

    All this said, if 27.5+ and 29+ hadn’t come to market, I’d probably still be very happy with my old Troll… I love that bike!

  • Smithhammer

    Don’t forget the ECR – one bike to rule them all. ;-)

  • Lewy

    Did you put much time in on the ET tyres? I am planning on using one on the back of my ECR if the height difference isn’t too drastic.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I didn’t try the complete bike, so no experience with 29×2.5in tires I’m afraid.

  • Stephen Poole

    So Cass, where do you see the pros and cons for + versus fatbikes? I’m hoping to traverse some probably still under construction routes in Ladakh and Zanskar later this year and debating whether to take 26, 26+ (if these would clear on an older Troll), 27.5+ or maybe 26×4. Last year the spares situation in HP had improved hugely, but I’m still not sure about non-26″ anything over there, and courier delivery won’t work.

  • Tim Clarke

    Is that a Bob Ibex? Looks like lots of space to spare. Im curious about if it would fit 29+?

  • david roznowski

    Great article. I was wondering what kind of baby seat was that? I have a surly that I want to put a baby seat on for my granddaughter.

  • James

    whats the front basket set up?

  • Wald 137 and a Swift Industries (logo/link below) Sugarloaf bag)…

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s a Thule RideAlong. Very nice seat, with some ‘suspension’ for dirt roads!

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s a Bob Yak with the extended (29er) neck. I haven’t tried it with a 29+ wheel, so not sure what the clearances are like.

  • Andrew Holstedt

    It comes stock with a QR fork? The wheels from my old bike convert to QR easily, but the boost adaptors out there seem pretty janky.

  • Alasdair Dingwall

    My ibex fits with plenty room to spare on my krampus. Running chronicles on rabbit holes.

  • LivelyAnt

    Great article. With the stock triple crank what do you feel would be the max 27.5 tire size that would provide enough clearance? Any ideas of when these will hit local shops?

  • Tom Urquhart

    It is a bummer…hopefully they keep building the ECR at least. I’m 6’8″ and the XXL Ogre still wasn’t big enough for me. Had one for a few yeas, went custom and realized how poorly the Ogre fit…

  • Cass Gilbert

    Yes, 100mm QR fork.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I’ve since had a chat to a friend, who used ETs on his Troll for a tour across South America. He reckons they lasted 10,000km, over half of which was off pavement.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I think you’ll need an offset double to run any 27.5+ wheelset. Though you might be able to squeeze in a 2.8 with a standard mountain double… possibly…

  • Lewy

    Sounds like my type of tyre then. Thanks for the update.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Hi Stephen,
    I’m still a big fan of full fat for true exploratory backcountry bikepacking. In my mind full fat excels most where conditions are at their worst, so it kind of depends where you’re headed. Certainly, the freedom to roam is intoxicating! I’d still be tempted by full fat for true ‘expedition’ riding.
    From a personal perspective, Plus size suits my needs these days as much of my local riding includes arroyos, some trails, lots of forest roads, and a bit of pavement.
    From what I know, 26+ just fits the older Troll, if you run a 35mm rim and maybe a 2.8/3in tire. But it’s a big of a squeeze. Still, I’d definitely squeeze the biggest tires and widest rims I could if I had an older generation Troll. The days of touring on ‘skinny’ 2.1s and 25mm rims are over for me!
    For destinations like India, I’d probably just bring a spare 27.5+ tire and stash it in a hostel, for peace of mind more than anything. It’s rare you can’t repair a tire enough to limp on to a town where you can catch a bus back. So far, Ranger Toughs get a big thumbs up from me.

  • Stephen Poole

    Thanks Cass! My friend in Manali said the road from Darcha over the Shingo La into Padum should be complete this year and there’s a road down the Zanskar River from Leh to Padum being built too, apparently by a monk with a bulldozer. If the two roads aren’t finished they should be close, so I’ll ask again closer to departure. As there’s been a lot of snow this winter there may have been more erosionthan normal, and thus a fair bit of pushing or carrying. As well as Zanskar, I’m also hoping to get to the lakes in eastern Ladakh and a few corners of Himachal Pradesh, etc.

    Last year I did a short tour in HP, and even on the “national highway” up to Dharamsala 2.1″ tyres were pretty uncomfortable in places, so I’m intending to take something bigger. Due to a bit of serendipity I should end up with a fatbike frame next week, all being well, which can fit basically any size wheel up to 4″; I have a Rohloff.. I’m thinking 26″ Duallys ought to accommodate anything from 2.1″ or so (in an emergency) through 26+ to ~4″, so one solution would be to take two or three sets of tyres over there and stash them somewhere, say ETs(?) for better roads, and 26+ and/or 4″ for the uglier stuff. There’s a few months for testing here in Oz before I go, so I’ll just have to go on a few tours – there’s no alternative! :-)

  • Cass Gilbert

    My take? I think bringing several sets of tires will overcomplicate your life. Go for Plus or full fat and call it done! Also, I wouldn’t fit a 4in tire on a Dually; it’s too narrow a rim.

    Also, bear in mind that a 26+ wheelset will drop your BB height to a level that the frame might not be designed for. 27+ is likely a better fit/height.

    All this said, if it’s a fatbike with a wide Q factor, go with full fat tires and let it do what it does best! 65mm rims are likely the best option for versatility. They’ll take a 26in downhill tire if push comes to shove. Yes, 4in tires are slower on pavement. But they’ll still get you there (-:

  • Stephen Poole

    Thanks again Cass. The frame has a not-so-wide BB shell, so Q won’t be immense. The Duallys are on the way already, but there have been reports of successful ~4″ tyre use on them, i.e., on twentynineinches.com. Rim width might not be optimum for wide tyres but the BB height should be okay – I hate high BBs anyway. There’s some serious testing to do over the next few months. B+ is also possible if 26″ doesn’t gel 100%. ;-)

  • colavitos_ghost

    ECR might not be coming back, it seems. Not sure, though, as Surly can be a bit light-lipped when it comes to forthcoming changes in their line of bikes.

  • Smithhammer

    Bummer. Though it makes me all the more glad I bought one when I did. I haven’t ridden anything else that quite has the feel of the ECR…

  • Raphael

    hey, thanks for the great review. which size is that ogre?chears from hamburg

  • Bob

    Does wheel removal/reinstallation in Surly’s Rohloff-compatible dropouts have drawbacks similar to those with the Pugsley dropouts, about which you’ve written elsewhere? I’m thinking of the need to loosen then reposition and tighten bolts holding the brake caliper. Thanks.

  • Raphael Bitsos

    hey Cass, great review, thanks. which size is that Ogre? Chears from Hamburg

  • Jutta Roggen

    Would you recommend the Troll or Ogre 27,5 for someone 5 feet, 4.5669 inches tall? I will use it for bikepacking, touring, light mountainbiking, commuting.. so a bit of do-it-all-bike. Other options are Genesis Longitude/Bombtrack Beyond Plus/.. but I keep coming back to Surly.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Sounds like you have it figured out! I’d still press for a one tire solution. The difference isn’t that great (IMO) unless you’re hitting pavement for thousands of kilometres…

  • Cass Gilbert

    Decimals and inches??! Yikes!

    You’ll have extra space between the tire and seatpack on a 26+ setup. But you’ll also have the choice of far more tires to choose from with a 27.5+ setup. Unless you’re heading on a RTW trip, I’d be tempted to stick to 27.5+.

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s an XL, so the largest size for 2017. There’s a section in the copy where I talk a bit about sizing differences between the old XL and the new XL.

  • Chris

    You have mentioned that the basket is a wald 137, but what is the front rack? It looks a lot like surly’s 8 pack rack but you have the option to manipulate where the front stays are mounted. It also looks like the rack is mounted to the front “brake mount” below the crown. I like the appeal of this rack and I am waiting vehemently for this frame to become available for purchase. Thanks!

  • Jutta Roggen

    Thank you! sorry for the decimals, just copy pasted a conversion :)

  • Jutta Roggen

    When is it available?

  • Jutta Roggen

    ah found it: 30/4.

  • Raphael Bitsos

    thank you, yes i read that but i wasn’t sure which size you had

  • Cass Gilbert

    No, it’s fiddly. But not nearly as much as on the Pugs.

  • Cass Gilbert

    No worries! I was going to add that bear in mind a Troll with 26+ wheels will raise the BB, an Ogre with 27.5+ will lower it, respectively. It’s only really an issue on chunky singletrack.

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s a Nitto M18, similar to a Rivendell Mark’s Rack. Much lighter and more minimal than the Surly 8-Pack. The Nitto is great for a small basket, the Surly is better for large ones.

    It’s mounted to the midblade eyelets or eyelets above the fork dropout, depending on how you configure it – rather than the brake mounts.

  • Matt

    Is the fork still 9mm QR? I noticed that surly snuk 15mm TA on the Karate Monkey and Krampus.

  • Alexander Sollie

    Has anyone seen a complete geometry table for the new Ogre yet?

  • Cass Gilbert

    Yep, still QR.

  • Cass Gilbert


  • Dennis

    At 61 years young I am a novice to bikepacking, but took the full plunge this year when I ordered a Ogre frame, which starting me down the path of my first bike build. I am very happy with the results component choices so far. One of which was the decision to go 1×11 on the gear train. Now I have not made a serious bikepacking trip yet, but on some steep extended climbs in Mt Tam the bottom-end has not let me down. That said I am feeling like I will need to go a few teeth smaller at the crank once the bike is loaded for packing. As it is now I have more than enough top-end, and feel like I can give up a little at the top to get where I need to be for packing. Push come shove I will go to 2x if needed, but would like to keep trying to tune the 1x into a pack ready mule. I have a cross check for around town, and a Farley Fattie, so the Ogre does not have to be dual purpose. I’d be interested in any comments or suggestions along this line. Very new to this and would appreciate feedback.

    Load capacity was a focal point of the build for me, so on the subject of wheels, I went with the Velocity Cliffhangers in 29. Tires are Michelin Wild Rock 2.4’s. From all my research I could not find another wheel that matched Velocity’s load bearing capacity. Also invested in a Chris King BB. I’m 6’5″ / 230.

    And before anyone comments on it . . . yes, I installed the front tire bassackwards. I’m allowed at least one rookie error yes? http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/969ee9c680e24363d528c89c79806d9d318af5986ee2a890a873e8a443355c19.png http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/69ce6f95a7e87998c4ece4d513ab001fdf34907de51f83e2f8852ea02767feb2.png http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7763d99f2adc7e7803744ae2b44ba8ad1349bdb0caa630a5bb85848341dec1ff.png


  • Raphael Bitsos

    I am 5’10” with an inseam of 32″. I am not sure wether to go for the L or M frame ETT wise. right now i am riding a bike with an ETT of 567 and i feel cramped. Unfortunately there is no chance that i could testride eather frame here..i am leaning towards size L. What would you recommend? The Bike will be for touring and commuting.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Hi Raphael,

    I’d have thought an L sounds good but I don’t feel qualified enough to give concrete sizing advice – and I don’t know the full sizing details for each frame. I’d drop Surly a line and see what they say. Or perhaps ask the shop where you order your bike?

  • Raphael Bitsos

    thank you for the fast response! i will contact surly than, i am going to order the frame online…therefore there is no one really around here to ask

  • Michael Johnson

    Cass, I’m curious as to what length stem you were running on this? Do you think a shorter stem (80cm) has an adverse effect on handling? Like you I’m leggy and with a large there is just too much post showing and too many headset spacers. This wouldn’t be used extensively for technical singletrack, more so for rambling around on dirt roads.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I was going to add that if I’m between sizes, I tend to size up for touring, to gain a larger framesize as much as anything.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I’ve actually run a variety of stems and handlebars on this bike. Personally, I like a relatively short stem (90mm or less), even with a Jones bar and its considerable backsweep. I think it rides really well in this configuration.

  • RBC5000

    Just picked up my new Ogre complete build today partially due to this great review! The bike rides great, I am really looking forward to seeing where this bike takes me. http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9a977fca77572e749b1cceebc94e60e763418fda097ead1d86ad52a33692fa98.jpg

  • Dylan Witwicki

    Are there any other options than the Surly OD crank for running a 2x with a 135 rear hub? The stock chainrings are a bad ratio in my opinion and I have never had any luck finding replacement chainrings for my krampus. Could you use a boost spacing crank?

  • Karlsson

    Can someone confirm that if one build it up with a single chainring the tire clearance should be ok with 27.5/2.8?

  • Jaakko Lipsanen

    Great review Cass!

    I’m looking to upgrade my cyclocrosser to a plus-sized bike and the new Ogre seems to hit all the boxes for me! I’m planning to do some smaller trips maybe to Morocco and Iceland, but also hoping to take the bike to a tour around South America in a couple of years. I know that you’ve done quite a bit of biking in SA, so I’m curious about what you think about taking a 27.5+ bike to a longer 6-12 month trip in SA? How is the situation with spare tires (and wheels) in local bike shops?

    I’ve also considered 26+ and 29+ sizes, but my gut feelings are that 26+ would compromise too much on the ability to roll over obstacles in technical terrain and that 29+ is a bit too big for me (I test rode the original Krampus and, while it wasn’t properly adjusted for me, it did feel a bit too big/”monster” for my 5’7″ stature).

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s hard to know what availability will be like in a couple of years time – but I can only see it become better and better. In any case, I wouldn’t let it put you off too much. It’s easy to carry a spare tire and then ship it ahead using the encomienda service if need be – cheap and quick. As for wheels, you’d be pretty unlucky to damage one severely; at that point, it would probably entail a trip to a capital city or relying on the likes of Fedex et al to send out a replacement rim. Worse comes to worse, you can pop a 29er wheel in there.

    As for which is ‘best’… Honestly, they’re all incredible capable tires for what you have in mind. But the way I see it, 27+ is definitely a really nice sweet spot in terms of size and weight, with the added bonus there’s lots of tire options to choose from, and the wheels fit relatively easily into a standard bike box or bag. I’d say it’s an excellent option for your height too.

    I haven’t had the opportunity to try a Karate Monkey yet – that looks like a great option if you see a mtb-style bikepacking tour – like the Colorado Trail – in your future. Otherwise, I think the Ogre is a really capable all rounder. I just brought mine back from Peru where it was perfect on the dirt roads out there. Enjoy!

  • Jaakko Lipsanen

    Thanks for answering! I know that I shouldn’t stress about spare parts so much – I’ve never broken a wheel or had a sudden tire failure in ~18k km of touring. But it’s still a scary thought!

    But 27.5+ it is then! I’ve actually thought about doing CT and AZT as well, but since my tours will probably never be just one specific route, I anticipate that most of time I’ll be on dirt roads. How do you think that Ogre would fare on CT or AZT? Would the low BB height be a significant problem?

  • Cass Gilbert

    I heard a Boost-spaced XT double will fit, but the OD offers more tire clearance.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Great to hear, I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it. Be great to hear how the two of you get along.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I’d say the Ogre would be ok on either of those trails, but you’d have more fun on a bike with a suspension fork. I rode a section of the CT on an ECR, which also has a low BB, can still really enjoyed it. Note that I fitted a 170mm crankset to the Ogre, helping to make up for some of the shortfall.

  • Janek Kosior

    Great review ! Can you list a build kit of a pictured bike ( not the default Surly build) is that OD crankset ? is this bike ok for long distance touring on mixed roads – some asphalt roads and some unpaved/ gravel ?

  • Yes, that’s the OD crank. It really depends on what wheel/tire combination. But, yes, the Ogre is a pretty versatile bike…

  • Janek Kosior

    Can you recommend me some good wheel/ tire combo for mixed roads for Ogre ? The one that will take me through decent roads as well as off road. Thanks !

  • The stock set on the Ogre (29×2.5 ETs) should be pretty good for that, actually. A dream set would be I9 hubs laced to their backcountry 360 rims, perhaps with some of the new Teravail Cumberland 29×2.6 tires… Or the 27.5″ with WTB Ranger Tough 2.8s…

  • Janek Kosior

    What about SRAM X0 hubs ?

  • Janek Kosior

    I guess 6’1” must be 185 cm in my world :) Wasn’t that frame a bit too large for you ? According to Surly’s spec LG frame fits my size… I am just in the process of buying either ECR or OGRE and I dont want to buy frame which is too small :( and there’s just no way I can try them first..

  • Janek Kosior

    Would DT Swiss 350 with 100 mm / 5 mm QR be ok on Ogre’s fork ? I have one gathering dust on my shelf. 9 mm is the OD of bits sticking out of the hub and axle going in and through is 5 mm right ? :) Have I just answered my own question :)

  • Allen

    Hi, I’m running 36 hole Deore hubs, Blunt 35 rims, and ET tires on my new Ogre. Seems pretty versatile to me. I do have my eye on those Teravail tires as well

  • Jerry

    I’ve been using my ogre for commuting and dirt road touring, but i’m excited to take on some more intense singletrack bikepacking. With the complete build, I only have 25mm rims and clearance for a 2.5″ tire. I’m trying to decide if I should just get a 35mm rim and throw on 2.6 nobby nics or try to get a 27.5 x 3″ on there like you did (buying the Surly OD crankset + a 27.5 wheelset is pricy). Any advice?

  • Greg Fuller

    Hey Cass,
    I’d like to point out that Surly’s “Gnot Boost” dropouts on the Ogre do allow for unloading the wheel straight down once the skewer or thru axle is removed, like a “normal” bike. Surly’s pre-2017 designs didn’t do this, but the new dropouts do allow dumping the back wheel downward, not out the back. I only wanted to point this out because you mention the “acrobatics” required as a con. The Surly Troll, Ogre, KM, ECR, and Wednesday all feature a version of this design. Thanks for the thoughtful review!



  • Cass Gilbert

    Hey Greg,

    It’s true, you can drop out the wheel if it’s a 12mm Thru Axle rear wheel. But given that I think most people are likely to be using QR on this particularly model (to match the front hub, which is 100mm QR spaced, or as part of the complete build, as you mention), I’ve certainly found it a more fiddly than a standard system to use. But not unduly so. Like anything, you get used to it and its little quirks. And the flip side, I like how accommodating it is with the variety of dropout standards/systems that now exist.

    It’s interesting to see that the latest incarnation of the ECR has moved to a 12mm thru axle rear hub.


  • Cass Gilbert

    As much as I like 27.5 plus, I’d be tempted to try a wide 29er tire on a 35-40mm rim wheelset.

  • Cass Gilbert

    I find a sit between the two sizes with Surly. I personally prefer a slightly larger frame, as I like a longer headtube and more framebag space. As you can see from the images, there’s still plenty of seat post exposed/standover, so it works for me (though I’m pretty leggy). An inline seat post and swept back bars keeps the reach as I like it.

  • An Nguyen

    Hey Cass, great review. I could be a bit late to the show, but I’m getting a complete Ogre 2017, thanks to this great review. However, when you squeezed in a Knard 29×3.0, which rim did you use? Was it the Surly Rabbit Hole 29+, 50mm? And how was clearance on the front, stock fork?

    I’m thinking about replacing the wheel with a pair of Surly Rabbit Hole, then do Nobby Nic 29×2.6 at the back and Dirt Wizard 29×3.0 on the front. Do you think that it provide enough clearance for some bikepacking tours through dirt, somewhat wet mud and trails?


  • Cass Gilbert

    Hi An,

    A friend of mine fitted the RH/Knard and said it worked, but it was a tight fit. The Dirt Wizard is likely to be a little skinnier.

    As for the rear, I’m not sure a 50mm rim with a 2.6in tire will work – I think this combination exceeds their claimed clearances. But I don’t have that combo to test out. Maybe best to drop a line to Surly.

    However, if you’re itching for 3in clearances and/or 50mm rims, I’m not sure that this is the best bike. I’d simply fit the equivalent tires in a 27.5+ flavour, or look at a bike like the new and revamped ECR. As is, the Ogre rides great with 27.5+.

  • Sailor

    Hey Cass, I guess you have ridden an Ogre size LG too. How did you feel with the size XL? Didn’t it feel too long for you as a touring/bikepacking rig? We are about the same size, so that’s why I am asking.
    Great review, thanks!

  • Aulis Veikko

    Is that a large, RBC?

  • Cass Gilbert

    I’ve only ridden the older version Ogre as an L. I made it work but it always felt a little small for me. I find the new XL with a shorter stem and/or swept back bars works great. I have plenty of top tube clearance, as you can see from my saddle height – which is relatively high for my height as I’m on the leggy side!

    Nothing beats trying one out though…

  • RBC5000

    Hi Aulis, yes this is a large Ogre.

  • Aulis Veikko

    The lines look really good. Thank you!

  • Lee ashdown

    I just picked up medium frame Ogre with 3″ Chronicles. It’s gonna be mostly a commuter til spring rolls around then some weekend trips. This is a really comfortable ride and I love the Moloko bars. Surly and my LBS did a great job

  • An Nguyen

    Hi Cass, thank you so much for your info. My Ogre just arrived, complete bike. The bike feels very confident and engaging on mud (deep, wet mud), gravel and singletrack.

    The ET 29×2.5 is quite a blast to ride. I could have accelerated from 0kmh to 35kmh in less than 30 seconds, and another 1 minute or more to achieve 50kmh on asphalt. In general, maintaining a 30-40kmh on road in a long term is quite comfortable. More than enough to humiliate the roadie fellows I sometime go touring with.

    On wet mud and gravel, it’s very stable to maintain 25-30kmh (of course, mud splashing like crazy). Also thanks to the steel Surly Moloko, steering at that speed is quite OK. I’m gonna give the Surly Cheater Bar a try, though.

    The 24-pack rack looks really nice and feels really solid on this Ogre frame also.

    This is for the first, short 100km. I’m gonna go full bikepacking on this Ogre for a 1000km, on and off-road soon to see how it would fare against climbing mountains, riding on beach sand, mud and gravel for multiple days.

    Thanks again for your review and your reply. You rock!

    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e9366cf86b757d6a83ae6e31d2ad11ffc1a7185e4153b4ba668b4926d7ded600.jpg http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2fcdbc8fdf072aefdffed6a0ae7c80e6464c85394a164836fe1ec511d5aa3bbc.jpg http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a921d10acab391fddf43550b16ef003b6b102d0bc40a35b9533af03b9fe43f64.jpg

  • Aulis Veikko

    Any ideas as to the best option to run a through axle, up front? Either converting the original fork or buying a new fork. I’m wondering how the newer Krampus through-axle fork would work, or if there is another steel option that also has cage mounts.

  • Orion Brandwood

    Just wondering what rear rack that is that is shown in some of the pictures?

  • Elhanan Maayan

    can you fit an alfine 11 on it?

  • Elhanan Maayan

    do you think it can take a 48T chainring the same distance this is (the external chainring that is )? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/10ca57cf18f7bd5ad96737e2e05cac607457a74761c02bc7f24e2dd38f847919.jpg

  • An Nguyen

    Hi Cass,

    Which WTB Scraper did you use for this B+ setup, i40 or i45?

    And how did the WTB Ranger work on pavement (asphalt)? From where I live, it would require me to pedal through 40-50km of asphalt (and some concrete) per trip to get into the trails. I worry if WTB Ranger would wear out too fast (B+ tires are quite expensive to replace often). At the moment I’m reading reviews for WTB, QBP, Trek and Schwalbe B+ tires (the only ones I can get in Vietnam). Do you have any tire recommendations for my case?

    One last thing, you mentioned before that one of your friends fitted a RH/Knard 29+ in the front and that was tight fit. It means that one could actually ride the bike with that front weel, correct? I’m considering putting a WTB i35 with Dirt Wizard 29+ in the front to get a bit of “chopper bike” fun around the trails. :D


  • Adam Boston

    Wondering the same thing.

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s a rack by Riv:

    Probably overkill for most of the touring I do, but it’s what I had. I’ve now moved to a lighter alternative from Rat King frames. Tubus’ Vega offers just enough clearance for a plus tire too and is a good deal lighter than the Riv, though a smaller top deck.

  • Adam Boston

    Thanks for the reply! You do the Lord’s work.

  • I love my surly ogre. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7162f3ad298b407e4e30d49359386e941a812e2773092382be66089bb85e62cb.jpg Really comfortable and the geometry is percfect for me

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