OUR TOURING BIKES - SURLY BRIDGE CLUB
Is the Surly Bridge Club suited for a world trip by bike?
Are you also looking for a touring bike for a trip around the world?
For us, a bicycle needs to be comfortable and able to tackle all surfaces.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect bicycle for traveling around the world, but a robust bicycle with a steel frame such as our Surly Bridge Club comes pretty close. On this page our honest review about the Surly bikes.
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Long story short, our technical knowledge about cycling was nil. Frustratingly, finding a reliable second-hand bike in our (small) sizes led to nothing. In the end we let ourselves be guided by the fantastic team of Steershop in Bruges. After a few emails and a visit, we quickly concluded that the Surly Bridge Club came closest to what we were looking for in a touring bike. Do you know little or nothing about it like us? Be assisted by someone or a business who knows how to tackle things, it gives such a good feeling on the road to be able to rely 100% on your bike.
Before you buy a bicycle, it is important to know what you want to do with it. First write down which destinations you want to visit; on which surface you mainly want to cycle; how long you want to make a bike ride; ...
For example, we found comfort a lot more important than speed, which of course resulted in a different choice of bicycle. So don't just blindly buy a bike, but first think carefully about what you will do with it.
Specs Surly Bridge Club
The Surly Bridge Club is not a touring bike pur sang, because you can just as well use it as a mountain bike. Since we also plan to cycle in South America, we think it is important to be able to cycle with it anywhere in the world (both on- and off-road). The Surly Bridge Club specifications are very close to these requirements. You can best view the specifications of the current models via this link . Our model is that of 2018 and unfortunately you can no longer purchase it.
Key specifications of our Surly Bridge Club:
+ Steel is real! A steel frame is all you need to cycle around the world with peace of mind. You can have it repaired in the smallest corners.
+ 2x10 Drivetrain. We combine a 36/24t crankset with an 11-40t cassette from SRAM. To simplify something technically difficult, if the pedals go around 60x per minute, we can still cycle 4.9 km/h.
+ Hydraulic disc brakes. A blissful upgrade if you will be cycling packed, you need this braking power on descents.
+ Schwalbe MTB Marathon Plus tires. We cycle with Schwalbe 27.5" x 2.25" tires. These roll a little less smoothly on tarmac, but relatively well off-road (although there are better tires). However, we have not yet had a single flat tire on our bike ride from Belgium to Spain, for this reason there is no better choice. A wider tire is also nicer to dampen the shocks. Read a more extensive gear review about our Schwalbe MTB Marathon Plus tires here.
+ Brooks C-17 all-weather saddle. We can be brief about this, recommended!
+ Jones H Loopbar. Niels rides with this handlebar that allows for an abundance of positions on the bike, which is nice for long days in the saddle. Stefanie didn't like it so much and switched to a flat bar.
+ Braze-ons. There is sufficient space to attach bicycle racks, drink holders, etc. to the frame.
As stated before, there is no such thing as a perfect bike. Unless you may have an endless budget. The Surly Bridge Club certainly has its flaws and we want to share these with you.
- The standard version. This one is perfect for shorter bike rides, maybe even a bike trip to one particular place for a longer period of time. However, if you plan to travel longer through different areas, upgrades are necessary in our opinion. We spent a budget of about €2,000 per bike, including all upgrades, which is a lot of money for us.
- The weight. A frame made of steel obviously weighs more than one made of aluminum. For us, this is not really a disadvantage because a steel frame provides the bicycle's sturdiness, but it is sometimes swearing when you have to push the bicycle up a mountain.
- Chain versus belt. The chain and cassettes on our Bridge Clubs require relatively much maintenance along the way and also have to be replaced every x amount of time. If you're willing to spend around £1,000 extra, you can hit the road with a leash (Rohloff or Pinion) and it requires virtually zero maintenance. Then you have the risk along the way, if something happens to the belt, that it will also be much more difficult and more expensive to repair it. However, this almost never happens, making it an investment worth considering. Please note, these Surly Bridge Clubs are actually not compatible with a Rohloff belt, only if you use a chain tensioner.
The slightly more expensive and more well-known bicycle brands are Koga and Santos, although you will generally have to dig a little deeper into your money bag for this. This is especially the case with Santos, because they produce great aluminum bikes with the indestructible strength of a steel bike. That may be something for later, although we cannot currently justify those extra cents for saving weight. We would then recommend investing in a bike that can be expanded in the future with a Rohloff belt.
A brand that is definitely worth checking out is Bombtrack. They have the same tough look as Surly and make great bikes. The entry-level models are slightly more expensive than Surly, but can be a consideration if you have that little bit extra budget.
Many cyclists are also looking for ready-made bicycles. Bike racks, drink holders etc. all included. Ideal if you want to go on a cycling holiday right away and these are often a bit cheaper. If you have a budget of around €800 to 1,300, you might want to take a look at a Kona Sutra or a Trek 520. Here too, we still believe that an upgrade to hydraulic disc brakes would be nice for a trip around the world.
The Surly Bridge Club is a bike that gives you a lot of value for money and, with some upgrades, can serve very well for a world trip by bike. It is reliable, relatively easy to maintain and we also think they look nice and cool, right?
Since you will not only be cycling off-road on a trip around the world, we do recommend that you think about upgrades that mean more comfort in the long term. It is of course up to you to choose which upgrade would be of interest to you. If you cannot do these upgrades because of the budget, then in our opinion there are other bikes that are better suited to start a cycling trip. Out of the box, the Surly Bridge Club is not a bike to take on a world tour.
To conclude, after a bicycle ride of several thousand kilometers in the saddle, we can say with full conviction that we are in love with our Surly's!