The Ogre Needed Bigger Shoes: A Review Update

Yesterday I went out to Greensfelder to see how the forest was holding up and to preempt any downed trees in case the work week picked up. I threw on the Dakine Builder Pack with chainsaw (not included) and rode Eagle Valley onto the Northern end of the Green Rock to cut out a known downed tree. Along the way I sawed out another smaller tree crossing at the intersection of the Northern Green Rock at the Otis Brown/Pawnee climb and Scenic Overlook climb.

Now the Surly Ogrebuilt up by Maplewood Bicycle here in the STL – has been great with the Ritchey Speedmax Cross 40c tires but I knew I’d be pushing my luck trying to run those on the rocky trails in the park. Seeing how March is already here I decided to try my luck and put the skinny tires away for the season and put some beef shoes on the Ogre.

The Duke proved to have very thick ankles as it took about a half an hour to change both tires. Getting the rear out of the horizontal drops, coupled with the Shadow XT derailleur configuration and Planet Bike fenders made for some mental dot connecting. After about 5 minutes of figuring out the true hangup, it was determined the horizontal slider with the Shadow derailleur was the deal breaker. Anyway, I got the wheel off and then proceeded to speed up the arthritic process by trying to unmount the skinny tires from the tubeless-compatible Bontrager rims. Without two plastic tire levers I seriously doubt I would’ve succeeded before breaking a wrist. Do not head into the backcountry without tire levers with these rims!

Speeding up the story here, I managed to fit the expensive pieces back together and headed out this afternoon to take the Surly Ogre for a more serious off-road test run to see how I’d feel and how it would react to 20 something miles of semi-technical singletrack, lots of hills, and generous amounts of fall-line to simulate parts of the Berryman.  This was designed to help me figure out the highlights and weak spots of performing rolling trail maintenance on the Ozark Trail, specifically the Eastern side of Berryman as the Gateway Off-Road Cyclists is now the official adopters of this 13+ mile section. GORC is on the hook to keep the trail in as good of shape as reasonably feasible, meaning clearing limbs, deberming tread, fixing creek crossings and keeping vegetation cut back.

For any GORC members that perform trail maintenance on the Berryman, please report it on our Volunteer Hours form AND on the Ozark Trail Adopt a Trail section of their website. If we as GORC club members don’t report our hours to the OTA, they will have no idea that we are keeping our end of the bargain.
Larger volume tires made the guy even happier.

The Ogre did not disappoint. The hefty 33lb weight (with full-size rubber) actually kept the downhill speeds up and it handled beautifully with the Jones Loop bar giving me endless amounts of control. Slow speed climbing was very stable with the bar’s ergonomic shape and Shimano’s super low 2×10 XT gearing. Only on really sustained steeper sections did I have to drop all the way down to the 26×36 (monkey heads!) and that was simply due to its weight.

The larger volume 2.1 Maxxis Ignitor tires changed its demeanor. The Duke responded like an obedient hunting dog. The large Brooks leather grips took the edge off of the rigid fork and was a non-issue. The fender legs did rub a bit if the bike shimmied side-to-side, for instance, if a line of rocks knocked it about, but they never got hung up. And the Surly Nice Rack is stout enough that I could probably cut firewood and haul a cord back to the campsite!

Greensfelder is about as Ozark Trail-like as you can get near St. Louis so I’d have to say the Duke of Surl is ready for its first long-range mission. The Duke will be deployed hopefully this weekend for some Middlefork reconnaissance.

Pidgin did the final edit and signed off on the release of this story.  She is big into search rankings so please forgive her endless product linking.  I’ve since taken away her Bluetooth linkup in the Chicken Shack.