Bikepacking on very rough dirt roads? Bikepacking anywhere? Surly ECR could be for you.
It’s safe to say the 29+ wheel and tire platform is gonna be here for a while. It’s not really a 29er, and it’s not really a fatbike, but you can’t really talk about these new bikes without making the comparison to both.
What is 29+?
First let’s define “fatbike:”
You know, those big balloon tires you’ll see on a Salsa Mukluk? Those are usually 4″-5″ wide, mounted on the same rim diameter as your traditional 26″ mountain bike uses. (559 ISO)
These 29+ models use a comparatively narrower tire at 3″ wide (still pretty big!) and apply it on the rim diameter you’re used to seeing on a 29″ mountain bike. (622 ISO) What you end up with is a 3″ wide piece of rubber almost 31″ in diameter. We could almost call it a “31er” in much the same way 29ers get their name by having tire rubber measuring out at 29″ or so.
What’s the Surly ECR? What’s the difference between an ECR and a Krampus?
Surly came out with the Krampus first, a couple years ago, to my knowledge this was the first bike of its type. Kudos! A trail bike more or less kinda like the Karate Monkey, but with these big ass tires. The idea being it’d be a bike that could shred, stick to trails like glue, and take on softer terrain than a regular 29er could do. A lot of folks saw that as a “great bikepacking bike” though the Krampus wasn’t really outfitted for it, and was maybe a little tall and long for big days in the saddle.
So they made the ECR. It sports a lower BB height for improved stability, shorter top tube length, a 2x drivetrain, and braze ons for friggin anything. A 29+ bike that is truly made to go camping.
What’s “ECR” stand for?
We don’t know, and Surly hasn’t defined it.
We like these options best: “Extreme Camping Rig” or in Mary’s case, “Escape Children Rapidly”
What sort of terrain is the ECR built for?
Rough, out there bikepacking terrain. Roads that have been closed for years, rutted out and jacked up stuff. Jeep roads with piles of rocks, sand pits, etc. The 29+ wheels are straight up faster in that stuff than a conventional mountain bike. And more comfortable too. I will definitely be taking one of our demos out for sections of the Stagecoach 400 during our upcoming scouting runs this season.
The genius of Surly’s ECR doesn’t stop at the tire size & geometry, but also in the frame design’s compatibility with mainstream drivetrain components. A smart little chainstay yoke gives the ECR (and Krampus) a 73mm bottom bracket shell, which means it can run most “regular” cranksets. While chainline is compromised because of the big tires, Q-factor remains the same as a “regular” mountain bike. And that’s a good thing for knees, hips, and ankles on long bike rides.
It has more braze ons than you can shake a stick at, with as many as 5 water bottle/Anything cage mounts (FIVE!) and provisions for BOB trailer, racks, fenders, you name it. It can run a Rohloff hub or go singlespeed.
Component spec and tricking it out
The ECR complete carries a MSRP of $2175 (cheep!) and comes out of the box ready for a bikepacking trip. Jones Loop bars, thumb shifters, and a nice 2×9 drivetrain with a special cassette that has a bigger-than-usual 36T cog.
We tricked out our demo bike (size Small) for Mary’s use with a Fizik saddle, trigger shifters, and a lighter cassette. The single biggest improvement to the bike- and cheapest- was setting it up tubeless. The tubeless conversion took us maybe 30 minutes, and yielded a net loss of 10 ounces per wheel (wow!) while improving ride comfort and traction. If you buy a Krampus or ECR from us, we’ve gotta do this…
Want to ride one?
Get in touch with us and we’ll make it happen. We’ll have this and other 29+ models as well as Salsa Mukluks on our upcoming Bikepacking trips and Bikepacking Forums. HOLLER!