Thursday, October 27, 2022

Close Surly ... kinda close.

A while back (actually over 3 years ago), I wrote about the absence of SURLY in the growing E-Bike lane.

       The "perfect" E-Touring Bicycle ... where is Surly?

The response from Surly was a bit cavalier which is typical for Surly ... followed by "they didn't have anything in the pipeline".

A little later came the Big Easy Cargo Bike that really didn't fit tradition touring bike specification, but it was a interesting bike.

Now there is the recent announcement of the Surly Skid Loader  -  Compact Electric Cargo Bike 
This is refreshing.  
The Skid Loader is smaller than the Big Easy and more in line with the traditional touring needs, but still, I would not consider it a "Touring Bike". 

Now having touring experience with non motor and motor bicycles, I can speak to them both. I can speak to some concerns I have with the new Skid Loader as a touring bike. I am familiar with a "frame specific motor" (Shimano) and the concerns that the frame may not be correct for future motor mount specs AND the issue of proprietary batteries. 

First of all, I like Bicycle frames that are not "throw aways".  I prefer steel.  That is why I went to Surly Bikes when I wanted a better fit for touring from my 1974 Motobecane Touring bike.  The Surly Long Haul Trucker was my choice.  It's a great touring bike that was used for "middle age years" touring.   

After about 15 years, I found myself needing a little pedal assistance, as my age slowed me down and made me search for less hilly routes.  I searched the market and ended up getting a Felt Sporte 95 with a Shimano e6000 motor.  This was not the perfect touring bike. In fact, Felt only made it for a short time.  But I made it into an okay touring bike, and I got about 6,000 miles on it.  I still was watching the market for better options.  I found that I needed better battery availability & longer range. I found I needed more than 50nm of assist for hills.  Then issue of motor mount changes emerged.  I would not be able to put in a newer Shimano motor with more power in the Felt Frame.  This is a problem.  The bike became a 'throw away'.  

Looking at the options, I decided the best option for me was to 'unretire' my Surly LHT and install a Bafang Bottom Bracket Mid-Drive motor.  With this, there was always the option of returning the bike to original if need be or to install a more powerful motor if needed in the future.  So, I still am not sold on the motor specific frames.   

The Surly Skid Loader is a Motor Specific Frame for the Bosch Performance Cargo Drive Unit (20 mph) with 85nm of torque.  This new bike could be a good e-touring bike... and the dropper post could be a good idea on a touring bike if a rolled up tool bag wasn't attacked to the saddle. I also like to internal cable routing.

But the concerns: 
  • motor specific frame
  • proprietary battery
  • 80nm torque (could use more for touring loads)
  • non-gates belt option
  • cost

For a Touring Bike, the converted Long Haul Trucker is still a reasonable option.
  • prefer mechanical brakes
  • prefer rim brakes
  • prefer bottom bracket mounting for flexibility
  • prefer Jones H-Bar 2.5
  • prefer 120nm of Bafang BBS02b

Will Surly surprise us with a E-Touring Bike? 
Do they have anything in the pipeline?  

At this point in the E-Bike Lane, the motor & electronics are the options bicycle frame designers & builders need to be addressing in designs ... kinda like rear dropouts.   



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