Monday, August 12, 2013

The Return {and short revised review} of the Surly Pacer

Last year, I said goodbye to my Surly Pacer. I wasn't all that sad to see it go because frankly, I felt I was getting a similar ride/function out of my Sam Hillborne. It just wasn't as fast as I'd hoped, and I saw no purpose in hanging on to an "extra" bike that may or may not get used. No love lost, I thought. We ended up trading it to a friend who was planning on building it up for his then-fiance. After their break-up, our friend was left with a frame he couldn't use. He'd tried selling it on Craigslist, and thought he had a buyer in a neighbor, but it just didn't work because she was unsure of what she would use to build it up (since it was traded as just a frame/fork/handlebar set up). Not having a plethora of "spare" bike parts (like some people, who shall remain nameless), it just seemed out of reach for her.
The stock Surly Pacer, minus a handlebar/saddle change
Meanwhile, as has been discussed, I've been attempting to figure out a faster/lighter road bike for myself. I've been busying myself riding the Trek Lexa SLX and attempting to get the set up right, but was finding more and more that I was fatiguing early.  I suspected that this could be due to the frame material, but having since taken the Trek on much longer rides, I don't think that was the issue at all. However, at the time of confusion, I had been looking into titanium frames and custom made steel frames, but they are a bit cost-prohibitive at the moment as we try to recover from the expense of Sam's E.R. visit. Then the light bulb went on for Sam. "Why don't we just see about getting the Surly back and putting lighter parts on it?" Sam asked. He does have his moments, I will admit, but all I could remember was the weighted feel of the ride on the Surly. I wasn't entirely convinced this was the answer. Still, being able to get a frame at no-cost (sans a promise to help out with projects around our friends' house) couldn't hurt anything. I figured that even if it didn't work out, at least we'd have parts that could be used on another frame at some point down the line.
Revised Surly Pacer
I was a bit surprised by how much the revisions made affected the feeling on this bike. I recall initially falling in love with the stock Pacer, but quickly discovering that it wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. I think the biggest fault with the bike was merely its weight. As a standard set-up the bike had heavy wheels and a steel fork. When it came back into our possession, the first thing to take place was removing the steel fork, followed by a switch to much lighter wheels.

The new-to-the-bike parts consist of a SRAM Force compact crankset, SRAM derailleurs and shifters, an older (but lighter) Shimano wheelset, a carbon seatpost, and a Reynolds Ouzo Comp fork (when I took photos, there was an Easton fork on the bike, but the steerer was cut just a bit shorter than I preferred, so it was switched out - though both forks work equally well as far as performance). It's unbelievable to me the difference the changes made to the feel and ride of the Surly. It has more pick up, it's definitely lighter, and it feels as though it was meant to be going faster out on the roads.

As for speed-to-speed comparison, I have had very similar ride times on both the aluminum Trek and the (revised) steel Surly over similar distances. In truth, I think any variance has more to do with my mental or physical state of being on any particular day than the bikes themselves.

There are many differences between the Trek and the newly revised Surly Pacer (even as far as frame geometry is concerned), but I think it's interesting that a bike that felt heavier and perhaps even a bit sluggish in its original form has the ability to be transformed into something that really could hold up on a group ride or fast paced solo ride.

In all of this, I think if someone were looking for a faster road bike, it would make sense to get the frame alone and build it up, rather than taking a stock set up from a shop (unless it was built as desired by the purchaser). As for me, the Surly probably won't be staying as part of the bike fold (the geometry creates some issues for my damaged hands), but it has been an absolute pleasure to see it transformed into a great road bike and I can see how it would be easy to love this bike again.

10 comments:

  1. Nice Surly. TBH, I preferred it the "old way", but that's mostly due to the fork swap,

    Well done.

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    1. Looks-wise, I prefer the original as well. It really did lighten the bike up significantly to change the fork though. Lighter isn't always what someone is after, but in this instance, it worked out well. :O)

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  2. I enjoy reading your blog, but the use of italics for bicycle terms and named is distracting and unsavory. I'm sure I'm not alone on this. I also realize that this use of italics is not unique to your blog, that Lovely Bicycle and certainly other blogs also employ italics in this manner.

    Nevertheless I hope you take heed, because it is un-worldly and unsavory, and unfortunate for an otherwise good blog.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your input. I apologize that it is disruptive to your reading...that is certainly not my intention. Sometimes I use the italics only with the first mention of the brand so that it is clear to anyone reading (who may not necessarily be familiar with a particular brand) that it is a brand name. Sometimes I use the italics every time the brand is mentioned though, so I can see how this could be a bit annoying to some. I do think brands should be clear, but perhaps a link to the manufacturer's website would be less disruptive (as I often do both instead of just one or the other). As a whole most people reading here are aware of brands but for those few who show up and don't know a brand name, I just want a way to be clear about the name. I can't make any promises, but I will work on a solution that is perhaps less unsavory. I truly appreciate the input. :O)

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    2. Thanks for the reply! On reading my initial post, I feel like I was cranky and harsh. The italics as a first introduction would be neat, and a link would be cool too. I see now why you use italics . . .

      Anyway please dont feel too obliged, as like I said, I left a cranky post for no reason!

      I still enjoy the blog, regardless.

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    3. Alexander,

      Again, I was not insulted, and I appreciate input - so, even if you thought your comment seemed a little cranky, I'm not that thin-skinned, so I can definitely handle it (and I didn't take it that way, regardless). It will certainly make me more mindful of my sometimes mindless habits too. :O) <--- Sometimes I wonder if the never-ending smileys are annoying too... but, I do it because I usually am smiling as I write the comment.

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  3. Really enjoyed reading this. I've had my Pacer two years and absolutely loved it from the beginning. Instant smile the moment I got on board. However, the frame was not the best fit. (As it happens, I've since bought a custom frame.) I bought the Pacer as a complete bike from a local bike shop but "curated" the build myself -- nothing on it was the stock build that Surly provides. It's just a beauty of a bike. So many great adventures! Am really sad to be selling it now. http://velovoice.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Pacer

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    1. Hi Rebecca. I ended up selling the Pacer as well due to fit issues... which was such a shame because I really did love the ride. I think building from the frame up was the best decision though as it allowed me to lighten the bike up quite a bit and completely changed the way it rode.

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    2. Hi, I have a Surly Cross Check that I build up with light wheels (Campy Neutrons), 105 compact groupo (10 speed) and a Ritchey logic carbon fork. Not a lightweight bike by any stretch, but I do love the ride and it does go fast enough that I can ride along with some of my friends that do own CF bikes. Did I mention I love riding the bike!? And have used it recently at 24 hrs of Solstice here in Canada with some very fast lap times (I'm an average rider at best, but my best times were on said Cyclo Cross bike with HED Belgium wheels believe it or not). If you want a flexible bike, that can be used for road riding (with the right wheelset), off roading (with the right wheelset), that rides nice and performs well, I give the Surly Cross check two thumbs up. I can see the Pacer doing a bit better on the road as well due to a more compact design. jules.ottawa@yahoo.ca

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    3. Hi Jules, I have a Cross Check, as well as the Pacer I'm trying to sell. ;) It's even less a perfect fit than the Pacer and heavy as heck. I bought it as my "first road bike" but it was hard work and my upper back, neck and shoulders hurt if I rode it more than 20 miles. Swapping out just about everything but the frame on the advice of my fitter helped, but I was never going to enjoy long rides on it and that's how I came to buy the Pacer.
      However... I found the Cross Check bomb-proof which is what you want when you commute in London! So I kept it... and then a change of jobs meant cycling in the course of my work often involved gravel and dirt trails. Perfect! Yes, it's a work horse but one with a nice ride so I use it for rural commuting and errands and leisure rides up to 20 miles.
      http://velovoice.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page_9.html

      I've been thinking for at least the past year that I really ought to shine the spotlight on my CC on my blog, as it is such a useful bike. But I've been busy writing about my other bikes. Meanwhile, the CC quietly goes about doing exactly what I need it to do in my life. :)

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