22 January 2012

Rohloff-Equipped Surly Ogre 29'er Mountain/Touring Bike

This Surly Ogre is a great example of an economical Rohloff build done for a customer in Ohio. He was looking for a no-fuss bike that he could ride off-road on his local trails and also take on long-distance tours. The Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 was a natural choice for the drive train. Having ridden a Big Dummy for several years, he was familiar with the quality and value of the Surly brand and looked to their new Ogre frame for his new bike. Parts were chosen to give a good balance of performance, durability, and value.

We laced the Rohloff rear hub and White Industries MI6 front disc hub into a pair of Salsa Gordo 29'er rims. Given the choice of large 2.35" Schwalbe Big Apple tires, we needed a rim that would minimize tire roll in corners, and the 35mm width of the Gordo offers this. Sapim Force triple butted spokes and brass nipple round out the build. These spokes have a thicker elbow to minimize breakage in this highly-stress area. The standard Rohloff wheelset lacing pattern of 2x rear, 3x front was used.

Surly specializes in affordable, durable steel frames that can serve a variety of purposes. Since they have several avid Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 riders on staff, you will find Rohloff-friendly features incorporated into some of their frames that you won't find on other stock frames. They currently offer 3 models with Rohloff-specific dropouts, two of which offer clean Rohloff cable routing options: Big Dummy, Troll, and Ogre.

The Ogre is the 29" version of the popular 26" Troll. It has mountain bike geometry and is sturdy enough for loaded touring. Surly designed this frameset to have maximum setup flexibility: horizontal dropouts with a derailleur hanger on the drive side and Rohloff OEM2 anchoring point on the non-drive side, top tube and down tube cable routing, disc and rim brake mounts, rack and fender mounts, dedicated trailer mounts, suspension-corrected fork, and large tire clearance. The cable guides have a neat shape that allows 1, 2, or 3 cables to be cleanly attached using a single zip-tie.

Check out this Soma Juice build for another value-oriented Rohloff option.

Build details
  • Frame: Surly Ogre 4130 CroMoly steel
  • Fork: Surly Ogre 4130 CroMoly steel
  • Headset: Cane Creek 40
  • Stem: Salsa Pro Moto
  • Handlebar: Jeff Jones Loop Bar
  • Shifter: Rohloff
  • Grips: Ergon GP1 for Rohloff
  • Seatpost: Salsa Pro Moto
  • Saddle: Selle Anatomica Titanico
  • Front Hub: White Industries MI6
  • Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
  • Spokes: Sapim Force
  • Nipples: Sapim Brass
  • Rims: Salsa Gordo
  • Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple
  • Front Skewer: Shimano XT
  • Cranks and Bottom Bracket: Surly Mr. Whirly
  • Chainring: Surly Stainless Steel
  • Chain: Wippermann Connex 8sX
  • Brakes: Avid BB7 with Speed Dial 7 levers and Jagwire Ripcord housing
  • Rack: Surly Nice
  • Fenders: Planet Bike Cascadia


  1. Fantastic! I've bought this frame with the same building idea on my mind. Congrats!

  2. I'm building the same thing, with a few minor twists. The neu Son28 front hub with The PlugII, Rohloff 36hole with StansFlow rims, Tubus racks, SuperNova 800 lumen lights. I'm betting the Ogre will prove to be a top shelf world expedition touring bike.

  3. Great Build ! I have a Surly LHT but find myself heading more off the paved trail lately. A build like this may be in my future.

    (wondering of the needed budget for a build like this?)

    1. This one came in right around $4k with the extras. A stripped down build with a few parts swaps could start in the low $3k range.

  4. This looks great. How are the Big Apples on durability? I'm planning my next long bicycletour now, and I would like to go on a 29er, but I'm a bit uncertain on which tires to choose. Can't see that Schwalbe are making the marathons for 29ers? Wish I could go for the Rohloff too, but I'm afraid it's too expensive for me.
    Good luck with your bike.

    Frank, Norway

    1. I have been very pleased using the Big Apples for commuting over for the past 4 years. No flats and the tread has worn as expected from a road tire. I'm on my second pair, but I switched from wire bead to folding bead and sold the wire ones long before they were worn out. I've also done some moderate off road riding on them - no good when it's wet, but decent when it's dry. Schwalbe gives higher durability and puncture protection to its Marathon line though. The Dureme model is available in a 700x50c size and the Plus and Green Guard models in a 700x45c size. These are not quite as wide as the Big Apple 2.35", but not far from the 2.0" width.

  5. Beautiful bike, beautiful build! I got a steal on a Rohloff hub already built into a Stan's ZTR Flow rim last year, and it's been looking for a home. I was thinking Karate Monkey, but I haven't found any reasons _not_ to put it in an Ogre instead.

    Thanks for supplying the inspiration, Neil! (and my parts list ;-)

  6. Waauw...what a bike. I'm planning to build myself a Surly too. Doubting between LHT 28" and Ogre (which are a rarety in Europe).
    How is this bike handling heavy loads? Say 40 lb on the back? Is it still stiff enough or is there a lot of flex?
    The chainstay lenght is shorter than a LHT. That is what bothers me. But if you say it's more than stiff enough...

  7. The Ogre has larger tubing compared to the LHT and is built to handle the rigors of off road use, so it should be stiffer. 40lbs of load isn't that much though. Either bike should handle this easily. Tire clearance is much larger on the Ogre and the cable routing caters to the Rohloff cables. There is also a provision to anchor the Speedhub axle and the horizontal dropouts allow for tensioning the chain. The LHT can still be set up with a Speedhub, but you would use a chain tensioner or a threaded-in eccentric such as the Phil Wood Philcentric or Trick Stuff Exzentriker, zip tie the cables to the frame, and use the torque arm to anchor the axle to the frame. Unfortunately, I do not have any extended ride experience on either one of these bikes to give you long-term feedback - the bikes all get built up and shipped out to customers :-).

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  9. Hello!
    I'm sorry for my English. This is not the first language for me.
    I apologize in advance for many questions.

    I have been reading your blog for a long time and I can't help admiring the bicycles which you create! Partially they gave me an idea of ​​what kind of bike I want.

    The matter is that now I want to assemble my own bicycle for travelling. It will be based on Surly Ogre frame and the Rohloff hub. But I have some difficulties. Will you please help me to solve these problems?

    If you do not mind, you can look at the configuration that I have gathered: http://goo.gl/L50xc

    I have some questions about some components and I would be very grateful for your help.

    First of all I am very concerned about the choice of the bottom bracket and cranks. Your bike has a Surly Mr. Whirly. If I understood you correctly, the chainring which was in set I have to throw away? But I still do not understand how you made the right chain line.

    As it is written in the official document the chain line is 58.4 mm. http://surlybikes.com/uploads/downloads/Surly_Crankset_Dimensions.PDF, but Rohloff hub requires 54 mm. Perhaps you use an adapter ring, but I do not know which exactly. Tell me, please, how have you solved this issue?

    Another hurdle is that the bottom bracket "Surly" is rather expensive. Since you are extensively experienced will you please advise me another solution of reliable bottom bracket and cranks for travelling with the right chain line? Maybe GXP or ISIS.

    Secondly, I chose Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 TS DB OEM2. Tell me, please, is my choice correct?

    Thirdly, I have a problem with the rims. I know that Mavic A719 rims are good for traveling. But the Mavic does not have a version for disc brakes and it sickens my aesthetic philosophy. Maybe you know the better choice?
    May be I should choose the rear wheel is 36 spokes?

    Fourth, how much better 42 teeth for the chainring, instead of 40?

    These are the priority issues to me, and that is what I am very worried about. But you can also add some of your comments concerning the subject.
    I will be very grateful for any help.
    Thanks in advance!

  10. Hi,

    Your parts spec looks pretty nice for this build.

    It's been nearly a year since we built that bike and I do not remember how we set the cranks up. I see that the Mr. Whirly spec sheet lists the position of the outer chainring at 58.4mm I do not remember the chain line looking like it was off and we always check this. We must have done something to get it lined up properly. Sorry I cannot remember this detail.

    We build a lot of bikes with Race Face cranks (mainly the Turbine model) and Shimano Deore cranks. Normally, any mountain bike triple crankset will work well with the chainring located in the outer ring position. There are many other options available at a variety of price points. The Surly Mr. Whirly cranks offer more chainring compatibility through the use of their three different spiders, but this is really only an advantage in my mind if you want to use a Surly stainless steel chainring in a size larger than 36T. The stainless steel rings do last quite a while. In the US, the cranks are available without a chainring, so there is no throw-away part.

    Yes, I would recommend the TS DB version of the Speedhub for use with the horizontal dropouts on the Ogre.

    The Mavic A719 rims are good. The DT Swiss TK540 rims are also a good choice. The 32 hole version is available in an all black disc brake version. We build a lot of wheels with Velocity rims, normally the Dyad or Cliffhanger model for touring. Not sure if these are available in your country, but the are available in all black/non-machined.

    The chainring size is up to you based on the gearing you need. 42T vs. 40T offers a 5% difference in gear ratios.

  11. Howdy,
    Great build! I've got a friend working on a very similar setup, which we were initially planning to do with the Rohloff Speedhub 500 12mm thru-axle variation in 148 mm rear wheel setup, but Rohloff said they would not gaurantee that configuration with the 148 mm width and 12 mm thru-axle. What variation Rohloff did you put into the Ogre frame you show, and have you had any problems during the time/miles that have elapsed. Thanks much for your assistance! John in Pennsylvania

    1. look over here, it is my set, maybe it will be helpful https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1q6Qg0cz2KH2N4l55TtChRUzGlGl9ndr_rsiPKtXwSbE/edit?usp=sharing