WHEN I think about bikes, like all people, I think first and foremost of Emily Dickinson. [Ed. note: insert bad pun about the Belle of Amherst.] Obviously. [Ed. note: insert reference to the fact that you can recite ED's poems to the theme from Gilligan's Island. Research whether the Professor taught at a small Massachusetts liberal arts college.] And lest we get too morbid about bikes and Dickinson, this isn't some reference about stopping for Death or death stopping for me- the Ogre has disc brakes and stops just fine. Even in the rain. No, the reason Dickinson comes to mind is the following:
Surly Ogre. It's really quite a brash bicycle and in general, I'm not especially drawn to brashness. I like things to be muted, to be understated, to be 'classic.' I don't like wearing shirts with logos on them, even if they're tiny specks on the breast pocket. I like dark colors. I dye my hair a boring-er shade of brown than it naturally is because I just plain don't want to stand out. I'm inclined toward the humdrum. Have nice things, but nothing too flashy. The Ogre is flashy. The Ogre is what happens if you went to 3D print a bike and left the printer's setting on "exaggerated." It has giant tires. It is beefy. It is beefier than a paleo Bolognese sauce served over a steak on top of a pile of hamburgers. The Ogre suggests that it could be ridden over things and into things and through things. It looks like the kind of bike you'd want to have in case of a zombie apocalypse. Maybe you'd use to ride away from the zombies or maybe you'd grab a chainsaw and use it to ride headlong into them. It's the kind of bike that makes you think writing "grab a chainsaw and use it to ride headlong into them" seems like a prudent response to a hypothetical zombie apocalypse scenario.
I didn't intend to buy a Surly Ogre. I saw it in the shop one day and took it for a test ride on a lark. A lark! It was solid and responsive and I brought it back and told them how much fun it was to ride. And then a few weeks later, I found myself taking it out again. This winter was a tough winter. The spring has seen the birth of many new potholes and I think that maybe the part of my brain the normally eschews over-the-top bicycle purchases was jarred and jostled after riding into one too many of them. Maybe that part of my brain came loose and said to the other parts of my brain "Listen fellas, we gotta do something about this. If we can't convince him to just take the bus to work, maybe we can at least get a less bumpy ride." And then maybe all of those brain parts worked in concert to draw me back to the Ogre and convince me that the things I would normally find to be comic and unnecessary were actually sublime and needed. Or maybe I went to a hypnotist, like in Office Space. I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know that I was determined to have the Ogre and- after much hemming and hawing between the jostled brain parts and the unjostled ones- circumstances conspired to allow me to purchase the bike and so I did.
I plan to use this bike primarily for commuting in an urban environment. It is unlikely that I will find myself riding it in the middle of the taiga or the desert or bush or anywhere extreme and desolate and unpeopled and demanding. I will be riding it mostly on city streets. Maybe on a mixed-use path. I'll take it uphill everyday (FUN FACT: it's not a super agile climber, but neither am I) and I'll load it up with groceries during the trip home. It will more the suit the task and has thus far. In no particular order, here are some things I really like about this bike:
- Disc brakes means that I can stop, especially in bad weather. As a year-round bike commuter, I appreciate that.
- Big tires means it's a pretty cushy ride. Did I say cushy? I might've meant crush-y. You could probably crush things with them, though I've yet to do so.
- Rack and fender mounts mean that it can manage a rack (or two) and fenders, which are essential for any kind of commuting bike (in my opinion)
- The funky Jones bars are funky.
- That it's a Surly and that I think that means something. I guess I've developed some brand loyalty after riding the CrossCheck for a few years. They're probably not the "best" bikes in the world, but I think that they hit the cross-section of functionality, attractiveness, customizability, and price pretty much right.
The heart wants it wants. Is this bike somewhat superfluous? Sure. Do I think it's essential that urban bike commuters take a maximalist approach and only ride to work on giant-ass, off-roady monster bikes? Not at all. It's actually a pretty silly thing to do and there are many more bikes that are much more suitable to do the kinds of things the vast majority of bike commuters, including me, would ever want to do. Will this bike inspire me to off-road adventures? Maybe! (read: maybe not. Unless off-road adventures are redefined to mean riding through the grassy median into the Safeway parking lot instead of on the driveway) But in the mean time, it's a damn fun bike and if I believe in anything, it's that you have to make your own fun. You should also make your own salad dressing. It's much cheaper. Especially vinaigrettes. Some pictures (of the bike, not salad dressing) below:
|Yup. It's a bike.|
|Still a bike from this angle.|
|Hey look, that bike again.|
|Foregound: bike. Background: different bike.|
|Where you sit.|
|That bike from those other pictures is capable of transporting some donuts|