Surly Ogre - Steel frame 29er bikepacking trekking mountain bike review

The Surly Ogre's name perhaps doesn't give the bike the right image or the image that it needs. Ogres are usually ugly and trudge about swinging clubs and fists with large thick heads and not too clever. However an Ogre can also be strong and wanders about everywhere in the mountains choosing to live alone and be self-sufficient. It is also described as "eats ordinary human beings" on Wikipedia. Ogres are character types from stories of yore harking back to simplier times like that bombproof bike your Gran had that she rode over field and mountain for years on end and never serviced it once and it had those shopper handlebars. In any case the name 'Ogre' certainly triggers the imagination :) linktest Surly Ogre

Technical details

  • TIG-welded CroMoly frame based on Karate Monkey geometry
  • up to XXL size available (equivalent to 24˝)
  • 29˝ wheels
  • up to 2.5˝ tyres
  • 80mm suspension corrected
  • Rack eyelets
  • Fender mount eyelets
  • 1-1/8˝ x 260mm threadless steer tube
  • 51mm disc mount (203mm max. rotor diameter),
  • Removable cantilever pivots, line/housing guides;
  • Three sets of bottle cage mounts, each height adjustable (note: cages cannot be used on fork with some racks, and vice versa)
  • Shimano FC-T551, 26/36/48t. Crankset
  • Shimano Deore 10 speed rear derailleur
  • Brakes - Avid BB7, Cable actuated. 180/160mm rotors front & rear and Avid FR-5 levers
  • Shifters - Microshift SL-T10, Shifts pretty awesome
  • Jones Loop, 710mm handlebars
  • Wheels - Alex Adventurer Rims on Shimano Deore Disc M525, 32h. QR. Black Hubs laced with DT Swiss Champion, 14g Spokes and rolling on WTB Nano Comp, 29 x 2.1˝ Tyres Full tech spec

Read about the company Surly ->

What Surly Say

Exploration, commuting, trailer-pulling, on-road and off-road touring Ride it to the office during the day, rip some local single-track after work, use it to tote crates of freakishly-large tubers next weekend, and tour that stretch of off-the-beaten-path double-track next month. With Ogre, you can do that.

Just Rolling By (one revolution at a time) says:

After having his Salsa Fargo nicked, he built a custom Ogre up.

The Ogre seemed to have everything the Fargo had and more. Disk tabs, rack, fender, and cage mounts galore. It was designed to be run single speed, multi speed, Rollhoff compatable, any way you want. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a set of the awesome Jeff Jones Loop Bar...These bars make the ride. Ultimately, there is nothing traditional, touring wise, about this bike. It is setup to be at home on pavement and on trails. From bike packing to expedition touring, this one does it all…

My take

The Surly Ogre looks like a steel frame 29er. The first thing that catches my eye is how tall it is and how the head angle is quite steep but not that steep and the headtube is relatively short compared to a normal touring bike. This likely gives it that stability but also responsiveness on the ride. This is something you would want more on a bike that is going to be leaning over more into corners and switching direction more quickly - e.g. like on off-road trails. There is also a lot of reinforcing where the down and top tube meet the headtube for super strength.

The amount of places to bolt stuff springs out and the other fittings and fixings on the frame. This is a Swiss Army knife of bikes. It is a subtle transformer. At the rear dropout you've got the possibility to run multiple geared or single speed set ups. The details set this frame apart from a pure mountain bike, something like the On-one Inbred 29er - with Fender and canti brake mounts that don't appear on the On-One. The obsession shows through in the details. This is an American bike. It is about the old skool American values - getting out there, trying stuff, don't being afraid to geek out if it means a better experience.

And then there are those bars. Ok... A part of me does think - why aren't more bikes using these bars if they are so great. They look like a pair of shopper bike bars. Billed as being able to do it all. I would love to try these bars out on single track trails.

Feature benefits

  • The TIG-welded frame is strong and steel can be welded easier than alumnium.
  • The 29˝ wheels allow the wheels to roll over large obstacles such as potholes or rocks
  • up to 2.5˝ tyres allows you a lot of scope to fit the tyre to your specific use
  • 80mm suspension corrected means that the frame has been designed to be used with suspension forks with 80 mm of travel. Anything more or less will put the intended geometry out of kilter.
  • Shimano Deore finishing kit is reliable
  • Jones Loop bars give a great deal of variety of hand positions and plenty of space to bolt things like lights, horn, bar bag etc.

How I tested the product

Surly Ogre Surly Ogre handlebars

I didn't actually test this bike yet. I met someone at the bike hire in Padstow, Cornwall, who had one and had a good first hand look at (it was also a rather small size for me) it but I am hoping to test one in the near future. I know Oakham cycles have them in stock so when I'm next over near Rutland Water I will aim to try one out. I will update this post when I do!


The strength of the Ogre is versatility and obsession over details. With this bike you are tapping into the minds of mechanics and riders who are aiming to give the user the chance to not only build up a bike in one particular style of riding but build up a bike that can do it all. Now, there is always the danger of 'something that does everything ends up doing nothing'. However, the simplicity of the design details doesn't detract from the fact this is still essentially a steel framed 29er mountain bike. It just isn't a mass-market product. It's aimed at the explorers and intrepid amongst us who want to go a bit further, stay over and fettle and tweak a set up. That's class, I would say.

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