21 May 2014

Surly ECR with Rohloff SPEEDHUB and belt drive


We built this Surly ECR for a customer in Mount Pleasant, SC who is bikepacking through the backcountry of Colorado this summer and planning a future tour along the Rhine River in Germany. He has toured extensively through Europe in the past but was considering a new Rohloff SPEEDHUB-equipped touring rig to make his future adventures as enjoyable as possible. He had been comparing a number of 29er frames before the ECR was released last year, including Surly's Ogre model. He was drawn to the larger volume tires of the 29+ platform, but the Krampus frame didn't have the right geometry and mounting points he wanted. Once the ECR became available his decision was pretty easy, and he contacted us to put together this bikepacking-specific ECR with some unique modifications and a custom paint job.



Surly’s ECR is designed specifically for bike camping and offroad touring. Like its counterpart the Krampus, the ECR is based on the 29+ platform, which uses three inch wide tires on 50mm wide rims. The wide tires ensure plenty of traction and provide some shock absorbing qualities without having to run a suspension fork - which adds cost, weight, and a need for routine maintenance that most people try to avoid on touring bikes. Unlike the trail-riding specific Krampus, the ECR has a shorter fork, lower bottom bracket and longer rear end for stability. It also has plenty of mounts for racks, fenders, and bottle cages as well as dropouts with a Rohloff mounting feature and special bolt holes to haul Surly's trailers. It is essentially the big tire sibling of Surly's touring-focused Troll and Ogre frames. With these features, the ECR is ideal for loading up and taking off for a rugged adventure, which is exactly what our customer plans to do.


Since our customer wanted a Gates Carbon Drive belt system, we sent the frame off to a local frame builder to have a tube splitter installed in the right side seatstay. Our customer also asked for a downtube-mounted Rohloff shifter to keep the shift cables away from the handlebar bag he planned to carry. For this unique request, we asked the framebuilder to weld a small section of tube on the upper part of the downtube for the twist shifter to mount onto. When the frame came back from the framebuilder, we sent it with the fork and rims to a powder coater for a light beige color our customer wanted in order to make his bike one-of-a-kind. When paired up with the rest of the black components on the bike, the beige color creates the eye-catching quality he was looking for.


For the wheelbuild we started with Surly’s Rabbit Hole rims, which were powder coated beige to match the frame. We laced the rims to a black Chris King ISO disc hub in the front and a black Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 in the rear. We used Sapim Race spokes and Brass nipples for both wheels, providing a balance of strength, stiffness, and comfort.

Touring bikes are built with strength and durability as top priorities. These qualities are even more important on offroad adventure touring bikes. When trekking through the backcountry, a broken component could leave you completely stranded with no hope of being able to hitch a ride or coast to the nearest bike shop. With these considerations in mind, many offroad tourists have adopted the SPEEDHUB and belt drive as their drivetrain of choice. The SPEEDHUB’s hardened steel gearwheels never break and need no maintenance other than an annual change of the oil bath they sit in. All shifting components are protected within the hubshell, meaning they cannot be damaged by rough trail conditions or intense daily use on a tour. Additionally, the Gates Carbon Drive belt has no moving parts like a chain, so it doesn't stretch and lasts significantly longer.


Comfort is also a priority on touring bikes because of the long days spent in the saddle riding over potentially rough trail conditions. We worked with our customer to select handlebars, grips, and a saddle that would not become painful on his ride. Salsa’s Bend 2 bars have enough backsweep to put his hands in a natural position, while ESI foam grips provide plenty of cushioning. Selle Anatomica’s Titanico X saddle is made of supple leather that flexes to provide comfortable hammock-style support. To round out the build kit, we added an array of durable components including Magura’s MT2 Brakes, a Thomson stem and seatpost, and Race Face Turbine cranks and Atlas pedals.

When we took the bike out for a test ride, we found the downtube mounted shifter very easy to reach and twist. The shifter placement and paint job made for the unique-looking ride that our customer had imagined. If you’re interested in a similar adventure touring bike of your own, please contact us to start a conversation about what kind of build will suit your needs.

Build Details:

• Frame: Surly ECR
• Fork: Surly ECR
• Headset: Chris King
• Stem: Thomson Elite X4
• Handlebar: Salsa Bend 2
• Shifter: Rohloff
• Grips: ESI Foam
• Seat post: Thomson Layback Seatpost
• Saddle: Selle Anatomica Titanico X
• Seat Clamp: Surly
• Front Hub: Chris King ISO Disc
• Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
• Spokes: Sapim Race
• Nipples: Sapim Brass
• Rims: Surly Rabbit Hole
• Tires: Surly Knard
• Cranks: Race Face Turbine
• Pedals: Race Face Atlas
• Bottom Bracket: Race Face
• Chain ring: Gates Carbon Drive Center Track sprocket
• Rear Sprocket: Gates Carbon Drive Center Track sprocket
• Chain: Gates Carbon Drive belt
• Brakes & Levers: Magura MT2
• Rotors: Magura Storm

14 comments:

  1. This would fit my plans very well. I would not need the downtube mounted shifter, and maybe a nice three tone Silver/Burgundy/Black paint.

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  2. Give us a call or an email if you want to discuss the logistics of putting one together.

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  3. So excited for my ECR. Getting more pumped everyday! So glad I went with the belt. Thanks Neil

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  4. Any chance to see a pic of the tube splitter on the right seat stay?

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  5. No problem. Just added the photo to the set.

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  6. Does Rohloff void the warranty putting a belt drive on the bike? Is Twenty 2 Cycles the only 29+ frame currently approved for belt drive use? That's what I got out of Rohloff's website anyways: http://www.g-boxx.com/pdf/Frame-Manufacturer-Overview-1.pdf

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    1. We have had modified Krampus and ECR frames tested, and they passed Rohloff's stiffness test so the warranty remains valid. They're not included on the list because they are not belt compatible in their stock form.

      Ventana should start shipping a 29+ version of the El Gordo by the end of September. Look for upcoming posts on this.

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    2. Thanks for the quick follow-up Neil.

      It's interesting to me that a lot of the other 29+ frames out there that come stock with a seatstay (or equivalent) joiner like this don't get their frames on that approved list on Rohloff's website. A couple 29+ bikes I have in mind are the Muru Mungo and Carver's Gnarvester. I'm interested in these frames, but not if running a belt + Rohloff combinations will void my warranty.

      Maybe they don't have the proper equipment for the test? Or worse I suppose would be that they failed the test. Seems like the IGH is popular for these style bike for the backpacking potential... If I were making the frame I'd want to be on that list.

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    3. I'm with you, but many manufacturers are not interested in the Rohloff hub or the time input to coordinate sending a frame off for testing, so it's often consumer driven when production frames get tested. Also, most frames with a piece of plate material instead of a chainstay are too flexible to pass the test, though this is not to say that the frames you mention would not pass.

      Rohloff, belts, and bike packing definitely go well together!

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    4. Thanks for the info Neil... perhaps i'll send a request to the particular manufacturer if I decide to go with their frame. If they get enough requests maybe they'll start considering it!

      And thanks for sharing a bunch of bikes for us to drool over! Lot's of sweet bikes!

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  7. This might just be my dream bike right now. I even love the shifter location! I really like the matching frameset and rims and the earthy tone. Great job!!!

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  8. Very clean. Are those cranks 175mm?

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  9. Hi Niel,
    this is perfect combo!
    CDX 39t ring just fits to ECR frame? No need for modifications?
    Could you reveal what particular splitter was used? I guess it is Paragon but what size/type?
    The reason I ask is that I would like to make this conversion in Europe and it is better to make it here from the shipping perspective.
    Thanks Michal

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