Winter Bike Project: Surly Pacer
I’ve lost an old friend. Racing down the mountain, flying along behind Andy, hit a hole. Things like this happen in my fast paced, caution to the wind, cycling lifestyle. Uh? Oh no, Andy’s fine. It’s my beloved Specialized Sequoia that has ‘bitten the dust’. I must have been doing many miles per hour when I smacked that hole. My headlight flew off in one direction, taillight in another, rear wheel went wobbly, rear derailleur went wonky. She hobbled back with one gear as if to say “I’m okay Jack. See?” But my fear is that there is some unseen crack in the carbon seat stays or forks that will reveal itself as I’m bounding down the steep side of some Parkway peak. So I’m putting the old girl down. Sniffle. Truth is she was pretty worn out anyway. I’ve ridden her across the state of North Carolina and on countless shorter tours, centuries, metrics and casual day rides. She’ll be replaced by Surly’s most overlooked bike, the Pacer.
Many bikes nowadays are made of carbon fiber, wind tunnel technology and pixie dust. This ain’t one of ‘em. If you’re in the market for a new road bike and your local bike shop is steering you towards “the same model Lance rides”, ask yourself this: How many races have you been in lately? If your answer is zero, then your options for choosing a new bike have just increased tremendously, and the Pacer, or something like it, may just be the bike for you.
I’m choosing the Pacer for a few reasons. My dedicated touring bike is a Surly Travelers Check and it has proven itself to be rock solid. Pretty? No. But a tough bike and comfortable despite having a tighter geometry than a true touring bike. Price is another important factor. I’m not sure where Surly’s frames are built; they may be welded together by little Indonesian children. But whatever, they’re strong and inexpensive. So I’m sold on Surly.
I’ve learned my carbon/aluminum lesson; I’m going with genuine unadulterated Chinese or wherever steel. Also I like the company’s no nonsense approach to building bikes. The Pacer will be my daily ‘knock around with friends’ bike and I’ll keep the TC set up with racks and fenders for carrying a bit more weight. The Pacer will also pull double duty as an Ultralight tourer for quick minimalist S24Os.
My wife tells me the Pacer is the ugliest shade of blue she has ever seen. “Sparkle Boogie Blue” is what Surly is calling it. Coincidently my eyes are also “Sparkle Boogie Blue” so I’m a bit offended by my wife’s comment. I’ve tried explaining to her that Surly goes to great lengths, hiring a team of colorists and spending billions of dollars on surveys and focus groups to choose the ugliest colors available. This makes it seem as if little or no thought went into choosing colors. This is why Surly is one of the most unpretentious bike companies out there. They put a lot of effort into being unpretentious. You gotta pay a little extra for that, but it’s worth it.
Follow along here as I build one of these swanky rides with a collection of new and salvaged parts. Thanks to Andy at Bryson City Bicycles for helping me get my greasy paws on this great frame!
And as always, thanks for reading, Jack