Very few bike brands predominantly use steel on their bike frames, considering its heaviness. Bloomington-based Surly Bicycle Company, however, doesn’t shy off from steel, and they take pride in every bike they build. But are Surly bikes good?
Surly bikes are good because their frames are 100% Chromoly steel, making them strong, durable, stable, comfortable, versatile, and easy to fix. Moreover, these bikes come in a wide range of sizes at affordable prices.
But since these bikes have steel frames, their biggest downsides are their weight and speed. Steel makes them heavier and slower. But since they enjoy more advantages than disadvantages, as I’ll explore in detail, the advantages make them good overall.
Before we can review Surly bicycles, let’s briefly look at its history to help you understand the manufacturer’s milestones.
In a rush? Find our most recommended Surly bicycles on the hotlist below:
4 Best Surly Bikes
- Surly Long Haul Trucker: Best Surly Touring Bike
- Surly Cross-Check: Best Surly Urban Commuter Bike
- Karate Monkey: Best Surly Mountain Bike
- Big Easy Cargo E-Bike: Best Surly Hauling Bike
Surly Bikes, popularly known as Surly, is a bicycle brand and manufacturer headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA. The bike company was founded in 1998 as part of Quality Bicycle Products.
Surly began as a single-speed bike manufacturer and later transitioned to fat-tire bikes. In 2005, the company produced its first fat-tire bike, the Pugsley Fat Bike.
Today, the company makes a variety of bikes at their Taiwan factory in four classes; pavement, touring, trail, and hauling. The most exciting thing is that all of its bikes employ Chromoly steel.
While Surly’s dominance in the U.S is apparent, the brand is closing in on the markets in Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Are Surly Bikes Good or Bad?
Let’s break down the good and the bad of Surly bicycles.
7 Reasons Surly Bikes Are Good
Surly bikes are generally 100% cyclist-driven, and that’s because the manufacturer focuses on the rider by employing Chromoly steel as its primary raw material.
They convert Chromoly steel into the most rider-friendly choices through their innovative and skilled team of artisans and fabricators. As a result, the bikes have these seven advantages:
1. Strong and Durable
No frame material has the strength of steel. Steel is tough. It doesn’t break or bend easily, and it’s highly fatigue resistant. That means it can tolerate huge weights and aggressive riding.
So, steel can last almost a lifetime unless the material rusts, which is possible following exposure to wet conditions for more extended periods.
Chromoly steel may not be as rigid or stiff as aluminum, but it’s pretty solid, and that makes it stable. Its stability lets you safely go over bumps, trails, and rough gravel.
It also means you can ride in wet conditions. That’s part of the reason why steel frames are popular on touring and fat-tire bikes. The material is also popular on mountain bikes because of this reason.
So, if you want a relatively stable bike, you cannot go wrong with any of Surly’s models.
Steel has powerful shock-absorbing properties. So, the frame itself absorbs a reasonable amount of shock when riding on a rough road.
Besides, these bikes also feature more compliant steel forks that absorb a significant amount of bumps to allow you to ride more comfortably.
Surly molds its steel frames to allow different users to use them. For example, their pavement bikes are perfect for road racing, urban commuting, and gravel riding.
On the other hand, its touring bikes are suitable for all-road touring and all-season commuting, load carrying, and off-road bikepacking. That goes for the other Surly bikes.
Generally, Surly bicycles serve more than one purpose, making them versatile.
5. Easy to Fix
Though Chromoly steel is solid and durable, it doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. However, the advantage is that if it ever gets to a point where the frame snaps or bends, you can quickly fix it.
Steel is weld-able and moldable, and even local artisans can fix it, unlike aluminum and carbon.
6. Wide Size Range
Surly makes all its frames in multiple sizes to accommodate riders of varying sizes. All you have to do is consider the Surly bikes size chart for the cycle you are interested in. So, no matter your height, you can get a matching Surly bike frame.
7. Mid-Range Price
Chromoly steel is not expensive as carbon or titanium. It may be slightly costlier than aluminum, but it is pretty reasonable.
Surly bicycles generally target the mid-income class. They are not the cheapest bikes on the market, but they are also far from becoming the costliest.
For example, you can get a commuter option for under $1,000, a touring bike for under $1,500, and a mountain bike for under $2,000.
So, if you are looking for a high-end bike at a mid-range price, get a Surly.
Though steel is pretty impressive, it doesn’t lack a few shortcomings, which may worry you as a cyclist. Generally, steel comes with these disadvantages:
- Heaviness – Surly bicycles are pretty heavy, and it’s all because of their Chromoly steel. So, if you want to ride a lightweight bike, Surly is not an option.
- Slowness – The fact that Surly bicycles are heavier means they are slow. So, if you are looking for a racing bike, Surly may not be a good option. Their road, gravel, and touring bikes are heavier than most.
- Corrosion – While steel is pretty strong, it contains iron, which may rust. Thus, even though Surly’s Chromoly steel is powder-coated, it may become vulnerable to corrosion over time if the coating fades away. That’s why you need to keep the bike away from all forms of wetness.
So, Are Surly Bikes Worth the Money?
As shared, Surly bicycles are neither the cheapest nor the costliest bikes on the market. They are in between, thus affordable for most people. But even so, it’s essential to know if they are worth paying for, especially when you consider that they are heavy and slow and could potentially corrode.
While these downsides are apparent, there’s no denying that Surly bicycles are worth the money. Very few bikes are as strong, durable, and stable as Surly bicycles, for starters.
Secondly, these bikes are comfortable, versatile, and come in various frame sizes. So, they are irrefutably worth the money!
Surly Bike Range
Essentially, Surly makes the following four groups of bicycles:
1. Trail Bikes
Surly trail bikes are prepared to take on just about any trail, and they come in these two options:
- Surly mountain bikes
- Surly fat bikes
Are Surly Trail Bikes Good?
Surly trail bikes are the perfect embodiment of versatility and strength. These trail bikes can take on all kinds of trails and are super strong enough to tolerate huge weights and body sizes.
Other than their frames, they have robust wheels, seat posts, and handlebars. Plus, their brakes are pretty powerful, and they enjoy better tire clearance.
Generally, Surly trail bikes are best for commuting, trail adventure, and bikepacking, as it’s the case with the Karate Monkey.
2. Touring Bikes
Surly touring bikes are just what their name suggests. These bikes are for long-distance riding, and they come in many options such as:
- Dirt road touring
- Long-distance cargo touring
- Off-road bikepacking
- Front-load touring bikes
Are Surly Touring Bikes Good?
Surly touring bicycles are undoubtedly built for long-distance adventures and commuting. These bikes are built to carry huge loads and feature multi-terrain wheels to take on all terrains.
Their only issue is that they can be heavy due to the steel. Other than that, they are pretty good.
One fantastic choice for long-distance and shot tours, commuting, and adventures is the Surly Long Haul Trucker.
3. Pavement Bikes
Pavement bikes are designed for modern roads, but they can also take on the rough off-road. Surly makes the following three classes of pavement bikes:
- Surly commuter bikes
- Surly gravel bikes
Are Surly Pavement Bikes Good?
Surly pavement bicycles are your go-for bike when you want an urban commuter that can crush gravel too. They come with multi-terrain wheels and top-tier groupsets to enable you to ride smoothly across varying terrains.
An option like the Surly Cross-Check, which doubles up as a commuter and gravel bike an example of what a multi-terrain pavement bike is all about.
4. Hauling Bikes
Surly hauling bikes or cargo bikes are modified touring bikes for hauling large cargo. They are equipped with a robust steel frame and rims, large tubeless tires, sturdy fork, and strong brakes.
Are Surly Hauling Bikes Good?
Surly hauling bicycles are all about strength, endurance, and adaptability. Their robust frames and wheelsets enable you to ride long-distance, while their cargo carriers allow you to load more weight than you can on most bikes.
Some hauling bikes like the Big Easy Cargo E-Bike are electric-powered, which means you don’t have to do all the pedaling. In that case, they are much easier to ride long-distance given that their batteries have a more extended range.
People Also Ask
1. Are Surly Bikes Worth It?
Surly bikes are worth it because they are strong, durable, stable, and comfortable to ride. Even though they can be heavier and slower, they make up for that with strength, endurance, and performance.
2. Are Surly Bikes Made in USA?
No, Surly bicycles are not made in the U.S but in Taiwan. However, the company’s head office is in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA.
3. Are Surly Bikes Heavy?
Surly bikes are heavier than most bikes of the same type because they come with Chromoly steel. For that reason, they aren’t the best for racing.
4. Are Surly Bikes Fast?
Unfortunately, Surly bicycles are not fast, and it’s primarily because of their Chromoly steel frames, which makes them heavier and slower.
5. Who Owns Surly?
Quality Bicycles Products (QBP), the company behind Salsa Bicycles, owns Surly.
Are Surly Bikes Good? Closing Thought:
Surly bikes come in robust steel frames that are undeniably stronger and more durable. Steel also makes them more comfortable and stable, and the bikes come in a wide range of sizes.
So, yes, these bikes are good. However, they are not good for racing but for commuting, adventures, and recreational riding.