Surly Pacer – Pragmatically Cool and Nothing I Wasn’t Looking For
I’ve developed an allergy to carbon. Lycra too but that’s another story. Needing a replacement for my aluminum and carbon Specialized Sequoia, I just could not bring myself to spend hard earned cash on another bike that will need replacing after only a few decades of hard use. I wanted a bike I could ‘ride hard and put up wet’ as the cowboys say. I wasn’t looking for a feather-weight racing bike; I don’t race. I wasn’t looking for an overly-built truck-cycle either. I have a dedicated touring bike.
The first bike I took a serious look at was the Surly Pacer, a no-nonsense steel old school roadie. At first glance I was sold. The Pacer had none of the design features I wasn’t looking for, such as silly space-age materials, goofy aerodynamic shapes or ‘technological advances’ in bicyclery. It’s a bicycle, not a Mars Rover.
Being the thrifty fellow I am, I ordered the frame through Bryson City Bicycles (support your local bike shop!) and set about stripping parts off my Sequoia and bolting them to the Pacer. Andy
(BCB’s co-owner and head wrench) was a great help and did the more complicated parts of transplant procedure. This is the second bike I’ve done major work on and the most important thing I’ve learned is: I really hate working on bikes. On my first rebuild I pressed my own headset, installed a bottom bracket and even pulled my own crank, and as fun as that may sound, I just found it too tedious.
The Pacer frame weighs about 4 ½ pounds and add 2 pounds more for the front fork if you choose to ride with one. That’s 6 ½ pounds for folks in Alabama. 24 1/2 pounds completed; not a feather-weight, but not bad for a bike with no fear of pot holes, room enough for 32c tires (28c with fenders), braze-ons for fenders and even a pump peg. The pump peg alone is worth the price of the bike.
The Pacer’s color, ‘Sparkle Boogie Blue’, is not as crippling ugly as the Traveler Check’s ‘Brown Low’. Out of the box it’s not very attractive, but built up with shiny things attached I think it works. I’ve added a set-back seat post and a stem from Velo Orange. And of course the saddle is my old worn in Brooks. Andy dressed up the cables, chopped the steering tube down to size and generally made the thing ridable.
The Pacer’s ride is snappy and responsive with its tighter geometry and narrower tires compared to the Travelers Check (Cross Check) but not as snappy as a more modern style ‘racing’ bike. The front fork rake seems forgiving of road vibration but admittedly not as cushy as the Sequoia’s carbon and “Zert” inserted fork. The Pacer will allow me to run a wider tire that should more than make up the difference if I choose, but really, I’m not so delicate that road vibration is an issue.
The Pacer seems to be manufactured solid, with clean welds and a good paint job. I’ll do a more comprehensive review after a few thousand mountain miles but my initial impression is very positive. This is a great bike (frame) at an affordable price, practical and unpretentious.
Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!