In response to the huge request mail coming in (OK, only two!) here is what I decided to move forward with in the itch to jump into the off pavement bike world.
After last years tour got canceled I did too much reading about people having a great time touring on roads that feature lo-vehicle traffic. There is a lot of Colorado to explore on dirt roads and Forest Service type roads. 4WD and "Jeep" roads out there to ride on. I think that my LHT could handle many of these roads, especially with the proper tires, but I have ridden a bit of these roads and it stresses me to feel the bike taking a beating on these types of roads.
So....the idea and the saving started for an off-pavement machine. I like have a saving goal to shoot for. I have the type of personality that can stash a few bucks here and there if I have an attainable goal out there to shoot for. As long as it is not an outrageous amount of money....I lose interest pretty quick if it is 30K for a new car or 300K for a new house. but I am all over 15 hundred bucks for a new bike. I feel like with a bit of watching my nickles I can get there in a couple of years.....not a lifetime.
With the saving comes the research. That is 3/4ths the fun! I knew I wanted a 29er. And it had to lean towards an adventure style bike, not just a 29er mountain bike. I really looked at three bikes that filled it for me. A bike that I could rack up to haul a full self-supported touring load and handle dirt roads. I will never be a crazy single track guy, that kind of riding does not appeal to me, but I want a bike that could handle it if it comes along during a tour.
The three bikes I looked at were: Co-Motion Divide, Salsa Fargo, and Surly Ogre. That Co-motion is a beautiful bike, everything anybody would want for the exact purpose I had in my mind, but at almost twice the cost of the other two. Crossed my mind, but it took me almost 20 months to stash away the cash for Ogre and did not want to go another 20 months. I was also determined for this bike, since it is in the funny pages of the newspaper of life, I was not going to put any costs of it on a credit card or any type of debt. Nope, gonna go into my LBS and snap out the benjamin's on the counter when it came time to order. Left the choice between the Fargo and Ogre. The Fargo is a great bike but the standard was only a compact double chainring, you had to upgrade to get the triple. I have the LHT and am very happy with it so it swayed me towards Surly. Plus, somebody told me once to keep all your bikes the same color and nobody really knows how many bikes you have!!
Ogre it was! I did so much reading of blogs of guys who had one and how they set it up. The online MTN bike forum has a whole thread for Ogre. 30 some pages of guys who set up their Ogre's in many different forms. Commuters, bike-packers, tourers, kid and grocery haulers, so versatile and eclectic as a base bike!
Here is what I decided with my buddy from my LBS. We order the complete bike from Surly with a few add-ons and changes.
We changed the handlebars from the standard to the Surly lo-rise Open Bar. I like a couple of different hand positions that these bars give me. I'll bar tape up the front curves for alternative hand spots. Ergon grips.
Brooks Imperial Saddle. I have had great luck with this saddle, I'll keep using it until my butt tells me to try something different.
Power-grip pedals and straps. My MTN bike friends told me no way they would work and to stay with flat pedals, but I have become pretty adept at flipping the pedal and getting my feet into them.
Surly nice rack for the back.
Are you looking at that big stem stack? I have a Delta stem riser installed. All my bikes have one installed. I have drank the Grant Petersen kool-aide and want my handle bars the same height as my saddle for an upright position on the bike. Goofy looking or not....it gives me a conmfot ride!!!
I have not gotten many miles yet on this bike (too much work and responsibility going on unfortunately!!!) but I do like the ride and comfort of this bike!!
I already have a paved road tour planned for this summer on the LHT, but a few S24O's on the Ogre and I'll get something planned for next summer that will have some back country Colorado involved!
I am glad I have this bike even if I don't get to use it much in the next year. Fun for the future!!