Thursday, September 8, 2011

{Part 2} The Surly Pacer: Modifications to Make it Work

The ongoing saga of the Surly Pacer set up continues, and I am finding that I do enjoy riding this bike. The changes that have taken place are definitely helping with comfort and (hopefully) with the longevity of this bike in our household. After writing about round one mods on the Pacer, I figure it's a good point to check in again.
Since the last post, the first thing to get switched out were the handlebars. While I continue to attempt to make drop bars work for me (in various forms, on different bikes), I believe that it is very near impossible for me to find comfort with any model of drops for rides longer than 10 miles or so. I am at a loss as to the why's of this, and I wish there was something scientific or even specific that I could point to as to the reason they don't work, but every time I try, it seems to be unsuccessful in the long term. So, rather than fight with it on the Pacer, I decided that a switch out to the Albatross bars might be the answer.
Somewhat surprisingly, these handlebars do seem to work well. I've been on a couple of longer rides with them and I don't return with aching hands or numb fingers. Stylistically, I think it makes the Pacer look more like a cafe racer type of bicycle than a road bike, but I've never really been one to follow the rules very well, so why should my road bike set up be any different? I have these mounted in the "unconventional" manner (flipped upside down), and it seems to work well.
The other change that has taken place is the saddle. I had mentioned that the temporary Public Bikes saddle was working in the short term, but that it wasn't a long term solution. The main reason for this is that after any sort of distance over 18-20 miles, I begin to go numb in the rear. It doesn't seem to matter if I rise up out of the saddle for a bit or not, the squishier saddle just doesn't work for long rides for my bum. I'm currently trying out a Brooks B-17 Select. While I am a Brooks fan, I have to admit that the leather on this model seems to be supremely hard (I actually knocked on it while we were adjusting it and it sounded like a woodpecker in a tree). I've never experienced this extreme on any of the wider saddles (the B-72, B-67, B-18, or B-66), so I'm prepping myself to deal with a lengthy break in process so many Brooks riders bemoan. I've proofided it up to make it as pain-free as possible, but I have a feeling that I'm in for a rocky few hundred miles (at minimum, I'm sure) to get it to a more comfortable place.
For now, these changes seem to be adequate to make the bike ride-able and comfortable. While "adequate" isn't really the word I'd like to be using, until I have more time to ride some distance, I'll refrain from shouting from the mountain tops about the glorious set up of this bike (though I do find it to be interesting and unique). As with all modifications, one change can sometimes create other issues, so I'm somewhat wary of the outcome. Stay tuned!

**A few more photos of the Pacer's set up can be found here, if interested.


  1. I would say it's definitely a cool look, not the same "run of the mill" drop bar road bike style, and comfort to boot! I'm still tripping about turning the STI shifters on their side, and how well they work.

  2. The STI shifters were a surprise. I wasn't sure it would work very well, but they're surprisingly easy to operate set up this way. I don't know if it's a permanent solution, but who knows? It would prevent having to buy or trade for other levers, so we'll see how it goes. :o)

  3. Your bike is gorgeous and I love the British racing green colour. The select B17 saddle is the best of the range but is designed for long runs and touring.
    My B17 standard broke in after 500 mls but the B17 titanium on my Guv'nor still hasn't broken in 750 mls but is really comfortable.
    Persevere with your saddle and you'll find it the best ever.


  4. Thanks, Robert! I'm enjoying the Pacer quite a bit. I appreciate the feedback on the saddle, too. I'm going to do my best to tough it out so that it breaks in properly... hopefully, sooner than later. :O)


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