Let me answer this question first: no, this is not a Krampus with holes drilled in it. While ECR closely resembles its 29+ brethren, it is a completely different beast. The frame is different, the geometry is different, the build kit is different and the fork is different.
Built for loaded touring, exploring and “Escaping Common Reality”, Surly designed the ECR from the ground up with versatility and cargo capacity in mind. It has eyelets for pretty much anything you can imagine: Up to five bottle cages, three sets of Salsa Anything Cage mounts, mounts a cargo rack out back, fenders (if you can find some wide enough), lowrider or cargo racks on the fork, a Rohloff hub, even a Surly trailer mount. All of this is made possible with Surly’s stout 4130 steel tubing (‘natch) and unique rearward-facing dropouts shared with the Ogre and Troll models.
The main draw here of course is the wheels and tires. Like all Surly’s, Fatties Fit Fine—in this case a 29×3.0 Knard tire mounted on a single-wall, 50mm wide Rabbit Hole rim, both of Surly’s own creation. You can run these tires at silly low pressure, something around 20 psi is a good starting point, and enjoy more traction than a wolverine on Velcro. The Knard tires look aggressive, but they roll extremely well on pavement but still offer enough grip for mud and rocks.
The build kit is 2×10 with a Surly Offset Double that helps clear those big tires when in the small chainring and low cogs. It doesn’t have a larger Q-factor than normal cranks, but rather it’s designed to remove the large outer ring, and move the granny and middle rings outward for more clearance, Clarence.
When I’m in the backcountry (or the urban wilds) I like to keep things as simple as possible, so the mechanical disc brakes and thumb shifters are straightforward parts that can take a beating and keep working. I love being able to run the shifters in friction mode to take all the need for fine tuning out of the equation. What works better than a cable and a spring?
Surly also partnered with our buddy Jeff Jones to spec a new, wider version of his popular Loop H-bar. The loop gives you a huge area to mount lights, bells, stuff sacks, cameras, crossbows or Geiger-counters, depending on how wild your adventure is. The 45-degree backsweep is comfortable for long rides and you can move your hands around for alternate positions.
When loaded the ECR is strong like bear. Stable like yak. The frame is stiffer with a payload than my Karate Monkey with none of the dreaded shimmy of an overloaded frame. As big as the tires are, they more than smooth out the ride.
So far I’ve been loading up the ECR to Evade Christmas Responsibilities and Experience Cold Riding. I’ve Encountered Curious Responses and Escaped Ceaseless Rainshowers. Want to see how it goes? Expect Certain Reviews in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times!