Continuing their tradition of innovation through theme and variation, Surly will soon release the ECR (Extreme Camping Rig), a bikepacking variant of last year’s surprise hit Krampus.
At first blush, the ECR and the Krampus are virtually indistinguishable. Like the Krampus, the ECR frame is designed to be used with 3 inch wide tires on 2 inch wide rims which gives both bikes supernatural traction, flotation, and confidence. Another clever feature of both bikes is the use of standard bearing dimensions throughout (100mm front hub, 135mm rear hub, 73mm BB, 44mm headtube) which permits transformation between mini-fat and standard mountain bike modes.
The subtle variations between the two bikes have profound implications in their ride characteristics and intended applications. The Krampus is the more playful of the two bikes and it’s geometry, and parts spec make this immediately evident: short(ish) chainstays, long front-center, slack headtube, 1×10 drivetrain, etc. The ECR, on the other hand, has a longer wheelbase, shorter top tube, lower front end, twice as many gears, touring bars, thumb shifters, and more braze-ons than you can swing a dead cat at. This bike begs to be overburdened with gear and taken immediately off the edge of the civilized world.
One of the great allures of touring by bicycle is the prospect of discovering inspiration outside the realm of everyday existence. Sometimes it’s just a matter of leaving the well worn path for a previously unnoticed path. Other times, it’s setting off in a direction regardless of whether or not there’s any path at all. The ECR is likely the most capable, reliable, and versatile bike in a very small array of bikes that could even be considered worthy of such adventures. If and when the time comes to saddle up and ride off into the sunset, I’ll know which bike to reach for!