The Monkey Lab’s Surly Troll Is A Touring Bike That Could Survive The Apocalypse

Cycle Monkey are the USA distributor for high-end touring components like Rohloff hubs, Gates Carbon Drive and SP-Dynamo hubs, as well as touring bikes by Tout Terrain and Shand. Their bike build blog (The Monkey Lab) features some nice custom builds using some of my favourite touring parts.

For this Surly Troll build, or “Trohloff” due to the fact that it employs the 14 speed Rohloff rear hub – it wasn’t just a case of ordering all the bits and throwing it together. This customer wanted to be able to split the frame in two so they could reduce the cost of flying, and also wanted to pair a Gates Carbon drivetrain to their bike to reduce any maintenance.

So The Monkey Lab sliced open the frame, added some S&S couplers, added a frame splitter for the belt, and powdercoated it all white again. The results are great!

Surly Troll Trohloff Touring Bike 02

The Surly Troll is designed with Rohloff use in mind with its horizontal dropouts and torque arm slot. The key benefit of a Rohloff hub is that your gears are all enclosed in a sealed unit, impervious to mud, grit and grime. They’re almost completely maintenance free when compared to a derailleur drivetrain.

Surly Troll Trohloff Touring Bike 05

With a frame splitter installed into the seatstay, this Trohloff can use a Gates Carbon belt. Given that I managed to get 30,000km out of a single belt while I was travelling around the world, this drivetrain is the real-deal for touring. The only maintenance I ever performed was a quick belt clean with some water and a toothbrush every month or so.

Surly Troll Trohloff Touring Bike 07

This bike uses another of my favourite bits of off-road touring gear, the Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost. On roads with lots of holes and corrugations, this seatpost dampens most of the vibrations and big hits coming up through the bike to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Surly Troll Trohloff Touring Bike 03

This Trohloff makes use of a Tubus Logo steel rear rack (another of my favourites), Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres (yet another of my favourites – what other tyre can survive 25,000km of use?) and Planet Bike Cascadia fenders.

Surly Troll Trohloff Touring Bike 06

A dynamo system has been set up with a switch on the handlebars to power either USB devices or the dynamo light set. The Busch und Muller Luxos U is a fantastic integrated system that takes care of everything. Given how many devices people carry these days, it’s always nice to be able to top up your electronics while going about your day.

Surly Troll Trohloff Touring Bike 04

SP Dynamo PD-8 hubs are proving quite reliable over time, and given they offer a significant cost-advantage over a Schmidt – they’re becoming more and more popular.

Surly Troll Trohloff Touring Bike 01

The Surly Troll is a pretty ideal bike for off-road, world-conquering adventures. The 26″ wheels will fit large volume 2.7″ wide tyres. The frame can be run with a Rohloff or derailleur drivetrain depending on your budget. It will run v-brakes, cantilevers or disc brakes. There’s a trailer mount on the dropout and braze-ons all over the bike for porteur racks, Anything cages, OS bidons, fenders and racks. And with the couplers and belt drivetrain – it’s even more sweet.

Thanks to Cycle Monkey for providing the images and putting together such a tough bike!

Build Spec

Frame: Surly Troll
Fork: Surly Troll
Headset: Hope Threadless
Stem: Thomson X4
Handlebar: Salsa Salt Flatbar
Shifter: Rohloff twist
Grips: Ergon GP-4
Seat post: Crane Creek Thudbuster
Saddle: Brooks
Seat Clamp: Surly
Front Hub: Shutter Precision PD-8
Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
Spokes: Sapim Race
Nipples: Sapim Brass
Rims: Velocity Cliffhanger 26″
Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Mondial
Cranks: Shimano Deore XT
Pedals: Shimano XT Touring
Bottom Bracket: Hope, mountain
Chain ring: Race Face
Rear Sprocket: Rohloff
Chain: Gates Carbon Drive Belt
Brakes & Levers: Avid BB7
Rotors: Magura
Front Light: Busch und Muller Luxos U
Rear Light: Busch and Muller Toplight Line Plus
Fenders: Planet Bike Cascadia
Rear Rack: Tubus Logo Evo

  1. You mention that there’s a switch to power either the lights or a USB charger. I thought dynamos produced enough power for both? I guess it’s not an issue unless you want to cycle all through the night, but I’m interested to know why there is a need for the switch?

  2. The switch is a feature of the B&M Luxos U light. I’ve found that although it’s possible to charge devices and power lights simultaneously, you need to be going pretty quick (30km/h+) to get a solid charge and max lighting.

  3. You have 3W of power at 6V to use at max output. You CAN power your light and charge something at the same time, but it’s not going to give you maximum charge or maximum illumination. Better to charge your device, or better, an external cache battery, during the day, and then use the dyno to run lights at night.

  4. This frame was out of stock for the Cycle Monkey build, so they did it themselves! They were splitting the frame for the belt anyway, so cost-wise it was going to stack up pretty similarly.

  5. Luggage on flights in most of the world is charged by weight. How does splitting the frame reduce this cost?

  6. You’re right that most of the world charge by weight – the oversized baggage fees generally apply to North American flights, and North American airlines. That is why so many custom manufacturers in the States build their touring bike with couplers, while manufacturers in Europe/UK/Aus will not.

    Bikes with S&S couplers can circumnavigate the oversized baggage fee by fitting in the maximum permitted luggage size that is 26″ (66cm) x 26″ (66cm) x 11″ (28cm).

  7. Can u really get a 26″ bike to fit into a box 26″ * 26″ * 11? Even with a split frame this does not sound possible! 2 wheels and 2 frame components all side by side would be wider than 11″ and probably taller than 26″.

  8. Flying in the states is prohibitively expensive with a bike. I package it up and fedex/ups it to my destination hotel (call the front desk so they’ll be expecting it!). For the return trip, Fedex/ups again and have them pickup at the hotel front desk. Usually <$80 round trip and don't need a special bike. (I do have a hard-sided bike case though)

  9. Such a beautiful bike and all the comments are about bike carriage on airlines! Philistines.

    There doesn’t look to be 10mm of travel left in the rear drop out to get that belt off?

    What 26″ wheel rims are available for the Rohloff hub and for 36H? Rohloff specifically state not to use Mavic and yet these are the only decent lighter weight rims I can find. Rigida Andras weigh nearly one kilo and these Cliffhangers are 600g. The Mavic XM719 26″ 36H disc rims weigh in at 430g each. If you have a pair of them that’s a saving of nearly 400g in weight compared to these and a kilo if using the Rigida Andras! For 26″ don’t you need a rim with angled spoke drilling as the spokes are so much shorter given the larger flange of the Rohloff and the smaller rim 559?

    Also what sprocket and front chain ring ratios were used on this bike?

    Width of BB?

    Could a chain guard not be fitted such as a Hebie to give ultimate protection for the belt? Would do the same if fitting a chain.

    I am planning to Trolloff my Troll very soon.

  10. this is a bike i’d love to invest in. What is the price of a bike like this, including the beltdrive, usb-hub, etc. the whole lot, does anyone know?

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