Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (1)

Ok, we’re not sure the new Surly Instigator is officially going to be called 26+, but based on Surly’s Krampus, it only makes sense. The original instigator was one of the first hooligan bikes built specifically to pull wheelies, land to flat, and most importantly, have fun. Surly is keeping the spirit of the original alive, though tailoring it more towards aggressive trail riding with its massive 26×2.75 tires on 50mm rims. The result? The same effective tire size as a 650b. Interesting.

In addition to the new Instigator, Surly also introduced the ECR 29+ bike camping rig, and the new disc equipped Straggler Cross bike.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (5) Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (6)

Like the Krampus, massive tires are made even wider by mounting them to Surly’s 50mm wide Rabbit hole rims. In this case, the tires are Surly’s new Dirt Wizard 26×2.75 tires with an aggressive tread pattern. Even with the massive rubber, there is still plenty of clearance in the frame.

The frame uses a threaded bottom bracket that is equipped with ISCG 05 mounting tabs.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (4)

Because the tires work out to be the same size as a 650b wheel and tire, a 650b fork is needed as well. The bikes at Saddle Drive had White Brothers forks, but the final spec will be a 140mm travel, 32mm Fox Float. There were quite a few 44mm head tubes at the show, including this one.

Surly Bikes Instagator Saddle Drive (2) Surly Bikes Instagator Saddle Drive (3)

Stock, the bike will ship with a 142x12mm thru axle rear that uses the Shimano Direct Mount derailleur system. As a frameset, the Instigator will use a chip dropout system capable of running standard QR, Thru axle, and more.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (14)

No light weight, the Instigator as built runs 31.94 lbs.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (7)

Love the Cross Check but ready to trad in your Cantis? Check out the new Straggler – a steel, single track capable cross bike with disc brakes. The Straggler was built to take advantage of Surly’s new Knard 700x40c tire, which looks like it will be a very popular tire for this segment. Smooth rolling yet still offering plenty of grip, the 40mm tire slots in at a size that will fit a lot of similar bikes.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (10) Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (11)

The Straggler is fitted with a bunch of braze ons for mounting up accessories, and still allows for the use of disc brakes. Surly and Salsa are both using a lot of the BB7s brake which they requested To match the bikes better.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (12)

Straggler has full cable housing for both brakes to keep things running smoothly.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (8)

The purple paint really sparkles in the sun.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (9)

The rear dropouts either function as a vertical dropout, or you can remove the set screw and thread it into the front of the dropout pushing the wheel back as a horizontal dropout.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (13)

25.97 pounds here as built.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (18)

The other new fat tired monster is the 29+ ECR. Call it the Enduro Camping Rig, or any other suitable acronym, but the ECR basically takes the 29×3.0 Knard tires on Rabbit Hole Rims and builds them into a frame with bike packing pedigree. The geometry is different from the Krampus as this is built for long days in the saddle, but still with hugely capable tires.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (19) Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (17)

ECR has nearly every braze on and mount you can imagine, including the Troll’s horizontal dropouts which have a direct mount for Surly’s flat bed cargo trailer.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (20)

The bikes at the show were equipped with Jones’ H-Bars, thumb shifters, and BB7-s brakes.

Surly Bikes Saddle Drive (15)

This medium ECR weighed 33.18 pounds.


  1. Very cool new offerings from surly. I’m sure you could just trade out those super huge tires and run some normal 650b wheels/tires to save some weight… But why would you want to? The ECR is probably going to have a lot of extreme bike tourists salivating…

    However. Those stock weights are REALLY not a selling point. But Surlys aren’t built to be lightweight anyway. The new Instigator looks like a really, really fun bike.

  2. The amusing thing is other than update the instigator for 44mm headset cups and geometry for longer forks, nothing has really changed… the old ones were 650B compatible (as are the 1×1’s…) already having been designed for 26 x 2.7s.

  3. I like how Surly tries all this stuff with different sizes. I still think a road bike with 29 or 30″ road wheels for taller men would rule. You could then have bike that looked awesome and rode maybe even faster than a standard road bike. I think that big men would start to win all races though. Seriously, 700c wheels are too small for most men 6’3″ and up.

  4. Oi Surly.. how about 27.5″+ to match 29″ OD? A 29er semi-fat front.

    “The bikes at the show were equipped with Jones’ H-Bars, thumb shifters, and BB7-s brakes.” .. and a stem that was stolen off a nearby pro-road race bike?!

  5. @Nick, standard derailleur housing should never be used on brakes. Compressionless brake housing is the thing to use. You probably already know this but, I just want to clarify in case someone reading your comment misunderstands or doesn’t know the difference. Derailleur housing used on brakes can split under load causing the brakes to fail completely. Compressionless brake housing however is basically derailleur housing that has been reinforced to allow it to function safely on brakes. You are absolutely correct otherwise, compressionless brake housing makes a huge difference in braking feel and modulation on mechanical brakes.

  6. @Nick – Absolutely not. Derailer housing is not compressless, and should NEVER be used as brake housing, as any junior mechanic knows. Compressionless housing is built like Nokon, which is individual metal pieces, or is basically traditionally built housing which has been reinforced, usually with Kevlar.

    While compressionless housing is an excelled solution to spongey brakes, I cannot stress enough how bad of an idea it is to use derailer housing.

    And as for people complaining about full length housing leading to spongey brake feel, you guys do realize that there are hydraulic options, even on the road, and even for single speeds or road bikes without integrated shifters, right? The worst thing that Surly could do is offer the bike with cable stops, eliminating the ability to use any of the new hydraulic options (or the aforementioned compressionless housing).

  7. Am I missing the release dates here?

    Also, while I love Surly for the ride quality, price, outside-the-box thinking, colors, and almost any other reason … why, oh why, do they keep putting downtube shift cables on CX bikes?

  8. As cool as all 3 of those bikes are, I’m most excited about the 700×40 Knard tire. That’ll be perfect for the riding I do with my Cross-check.

  9. Surly came up with a clever option with their Straggler dropout. use the set screws in front and you can run single speed without requiring a tug, but wheel removal will be a hug pita. hope the screws are beefier than the traditional ones. they must not like swinging dropouts for a reason. do they loosen up?

  10. @Aaron – Agree on weights. My 36er weighs less than the ECR, and that’s almost all in the wheels so I can’t imagine what that ECR frame weighs…

  11. @mudrock: Agreed, that dropout looks like a hassle. Seems like it would have been easy enough to borrow the Alternator dropout from Salsa (their sister company). I’d rather just have a fixed dropout, but as far as SS/fixed dropouts go, the alternator design is hard to beat. Then again, Surly always does things their own way, and that’s part of what makes them awesome.
    Also, don’t care much about weights. Surly’s aren’t really intended for folks who are gram counters. They’re built to last. My fat-ass (6’5″, 275) has been hammering a cross-check for 7 years (on road and off, but mostly gravel) and it’s still going strong. I’ll probably only replace that old thing when I can’t handle the new bike lust anymore…

  12. @Will…my thoughts EXACTLY. I have my Karate Monkey currently set up with an Alfine hub and some 38c WTB All-Terrains. I love that thing and take it almost everywhere. I’m also looking forward to seeing the new 700c Knards, thinking they might really compliment the type of riding I do on my Monkey.

  13. Surly keeps pushing the envelope and doing something different. If you want something lighter, just wait until every other bike manufacturer copies Surly next year with aluminum and carbon and whatever else they come up with. If you want to try something cool – get a Surly.

  14. @ will and nelly- check out the continental speed ride and cross ride tires both 700×42. they’re very inexpensive and light and quality. May be too light weight and not be able to handle really sharp rocky trails though.

  15. @bmalmq – Because it’s not really a cross bike, even though it’s billed as such. It’s basically a sport-touring bike, with geometry more in like with an old Trek 420 or a Rivendell than any cross bike out there. The stops remain for downtube shifter users, and others who prefer a more traditional looking bicycle.

  16. @gravity – Crosscheck. I think that’s a CX bike and it has the same routing. Also, at least according to Bikerumor, the Straggler is also a CX bike. Either way, I understand your point and agree. Salsa/Surly are very far away from the “traditional” style, but are trying to make their frames for a variety of users. I guess I’m just thinking of cross bikes as, you know, cross bikes and not commuters with cross geometry.

  17. I’d love to put that Straggler fork on my Space Horse and pair my front brake lever to a TRP Hy/Rd. when’s the launch date?

  18. @feg: I’ve currently got Clement XPLOR MSO (700×40) on my Cross-check. They are fantastic, but they’re a bit expensive and are wearing fairly quick.
    Off topic, I had my first Krampus sighting, and holy crap, what a fun looking bike! The pictures don’t do it justice. If only I could afford one…

  19. I want that Instigator!!

    What a great idea, the municyclist world has been hoping someone would produce a fatty 26″ tire to replace the aging Duro Wildlife and the now discontinued Gazz, and lo and behold, Surly pulls out another win!

    So is the Instigator a Knard tread and casing? Make it burly, the ultralight 120 TPI Knard 29 x 3 casing is too wimpy for dirt work, a nice standard casing like the Knard 26 x 4 120 tpi is perfect.

    I’ll take one in a heavier casing, puleeze 🙂

  20. So is the new Instigator a ‘new coke’ thing?

    My Instigator is my favorite seriously aggressive trail bike by far.

    Doesn’t even look like the same bike now with no gussets, KM lookin’ seat brace, and the ‘buy a new headset style and string a new rear wheel’ spec. Looks like the only real improvement was getting shift cables out of the muck.

    What am I saying, they’re marketing geniuses.
    When they re-release the “Instigator Classic”, I’ll probably end up buying two…

  21. Really eager to know the retail price of the Surly Straggler.
    Unfortunately, going to college and losing my QBP hookup 🙁

  22. Any idea on dropper post compatibility on the Instigator? Its difficult to tell but it doesn’t look like that seatpost is any bigger than any other surly. If not, that would be a bummer because that would be a great candidate for one.

  23. C’mon, quit perpetuating the ‘+’ tire size thing. Should we call road or cross bikes “29-“? Dumb. A 29×3.0 tire is a 29″ tire. A 26×2.75 tire is a 26″ tire. Maybe if the Instigator is a 26+, we should call fat bikes 26++. Or we could just call them fat bikes, and say they come with 26” tires.

    That said, I can’t wait to get my hands on a new Instigator.

  24. Even if you haven’t been riding since the 80’s you gotta love the crown and drop-outs of the Straggler fork! +1 for Skinny Knards! Nothing wrong with canti’s but, imo, with the addition of disc’s this year, make (the new Cross-Check) “…as attractive as rum cake at an AA meeting!” More good honest work from the Surly crew.

  25. The straggler has to be able to run full length housing for hydraulic brake systems. Shimano will be releasing a drop bar ultegra level hydraulic disc brake soon.

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