in the army now

 

We’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about riding cool bikes, wanting to ride other cool bikes and what happens when you spend too long out with other women. I can see you all there, on the edges of your seats, holding your collective breath just waiting for an update on the much anticipated Surly Ogre build. Well, wait no more dear reader, the Ogre is finally experiencing life in the cycle lane.

Surly Ogre LHT Crumbals on the cornerSeen here enjoying a much needed break at the very excellent Crumbals on the corner in Marsden, Huddersfield, the eagle-eyed and elephant-brained regulars amongst you may well recognise the On One Midge bars, Cane Creek SCR-5 brake levers and Avid BB5 road disc brakes from early iterations of my Surly Troll.

I’ve also pinched the Brooks B17 World Traveller special edition saddle from my Troll which has started to turn a lovely orangey-brown colour which, whilst not an exact match, works extremely well with the brown Deda bar tape, brown Vavert full wrap mudguards and army green frameset.

Surly Ogre 1The Ogre shares the same horizontal track style dropouts found on the Troll which allow you to slide the rear wheel back and forth to achieve just the right position and, crucially with single speed and internal gear hub (IGH) setups, the right amount of chain tension. I’m almost embarrased to admit that mine was all floppy on chrimbo day.

You see, I was relying on the force applied by simply tightening the axle nuts to keep my rear wheel in place. What I hadn’t realised was that with all the out-the-saddle climbing I’d been doing, the force I was putting through the drivetrain was enough to cause the wheel to slip forward in the dropouts. Not much, but enough to achieve said floppyness.

There are a few potential solutions to this:

  1. Stop riding up hills
  2. Fit some kind of spring loaded chain tensioner
  3. Sling a Surly Tuggnut on

Living in t’ North as I do and given the fact I actually really enjoying climbing (despite my complaining), option 1 really isn’t an option.

Option 2 is out too because it’s nonsense to have sliding dropouts and a derailleur style chain tensioner, besides which I want to retain the clean look.

So, option 3 it is.

Surly Ogre dropout Alfine 8 non turn washerBut wait! Because of how the Alfine hub works, you need to install special non-turn washers which of course aren’t designed to work with the Surly Tuggnut (other inferior chain tensioners are also available). Punch “Surly Tuggnut Alfine” into your search engine of choice and there is plenty of discussion on the forums about how to modify your Tuggnut to work. My favourite solution and the one I ended up going with was really the simplest: just throw away one of your non turn washers.

Surly Ogre Alfine 8 Sturmey Archer crankset Blackspire chainringAs it turns out, you really only need one to do the job of holding the axle in place – taken care of by the left hand (white) one in the picture above. On the drive side of the bike, simply remove the sliver washer, fit your Surly Tuggnut as normal, snug up the thumbscrew to achieve the all important chain tension and hey presto, nothing floppy in sight and you’ve got the ability to crack open a cold one at the end of your ride thanks to the built in bottle opener. Sweet.

It’s important to note here that there are various different coloured non turn washers for the various different shaped dropouts out there and unless you have true horizontal ones like mine, this solution really isn’t for you. I dare say it’s not recommended by Shimano to run your Alfine with only one non turn washer and I’m fairly sure the good folk at Surly wouldn’t recommend any of the above with the probable exception of drinking beer.

Remember kids, read and follow the manufacturers’ instructions [sic].

Surly Ogre Alfine 8 Jtek bar end shifterShifting comes courtesy of a Jtek bar end shifter. Not the one I ordered direct from The States, waited ages for, waited a bit longer for, got tired of waiting for and cancelled, but one I bought second hand from a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who had one lying around in his parts box. With reassuringly industrial indexing at the shifter (not the hub), there is a very satisfying click every time you change gear and none of the imprecise feel I’m told you get with the Rohloff which is indexed at the hub, not the shifter.

Surly Ogre Alfine 8 Tuggnut casette jointSurly Ogre in line cable adjusterThe Alfine hub is particualrly sensitive to gear cable tension, thanks largely to the decidedly el cheapo plastic the ‘cassette joint’ is made from. Once installed, you need to shift to the lowest gear (1), attach the cable inner to the fiddly little cable clamp and pop it into place. Next, shift to gear 4 and you’ll see two little marks in a small window in the cassette joint. The game now is to get them both perfectly lined up. I’m reliably informed this is damn near impossible without the help of an in-line cable adjuster; which is why I didn’t question it and fitted one up near the shifter (it doesn’t really matter where you install it, just so long as you have one somewhere accessible).

You’re going to want to take care of all your chain tension and other rear wheel movement and get it tightened down in its final position before you go anywhere near the cable tension, incidentally. Of course, every time you whip the wheel out for a puncture, tyre change or whatever, make doubly sure to re-check your gear cable tension because I guarantee you it won’t be right (another reason for the Tuggnut – the wheel always goes back in exactly the same place).

Surly Ogre Shimano Alfine ChainsetOh, I almost forgot! Originally I’d planned to fit a Shimano Alfine chainset to match the wheelset but it turned out to be suitable only for 68mm bottom bracket shells and I have a 73mm shell on the Ogre. The solution came in the shape of a Sturmey Archer single speed chainset and traditional square taper bottom bracket – nothin’ fancy. You’ll see on the first couple of pictures on this post that it originally came with a 44t chainring and what turns out to be a nasty silver chain guard; coupled with the 18t rear cog I ended up using, this resulted in gearing that is just a bit too high for my liking.

Surly Ogre Sturmey Archer crannkset 39t Blackspire downhill chainringIn t’ hills I find myself almost exclusively out of the saddle and even hooning down a long descent with the wind behind me, I still can’t make any real use of the 2 highest gears. Not wanting to go through the hassle or expense of sourcing yet another chainset, I simply ordered a new, smaller chainring (104mm BCD for the nerds out there) and took a link out of my chain so I’m now running with a rather fancy looking Blackspire 39t Downhill chainring up front and an 18t cog in the rear. I’ll be heading out on it tomorrow to test out the new combination which will hopefully give me a good balance of high speed on the flats and relatively low gearing on the climbs.

Well, I think that’s about all there is to report for now – more in the next few weeks!

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14 thoughts on “in the army now

  1. Shimano cassette joint… OMG… deep breath… bite tongue. Those non turn bolts and solid axle…. Where’s my medication….

    I find the Rohloff shifting great, I can feel the hub indexing when I twist the shifter, plus I can hear it, not sure exactly what your mate means, I know which I prefer!

      • You would be underwhelmed, probably, but look at the detail and the way certain bits work and you’d see why it’s good. The above things in your post are why my shimano internal geared hub is sat in the shed and hasn’t seen road in some time. The only downside of a Rohloff over any competitor is the price. You do get what you pay for though, and they are more cost effective second hand (both mine are).

      • Yes, Rudy, the red crank forward bike I bought for my wife, has a Rohloff too. It turns out however much you spend on a bike for your other half, they won’t want to ride it any more. Fortunately I knew I could also use it should I want or need to, not often, but he’s my backup bike and sometimes gets used.

        Also I could steal the wheel (cable adjust and axel plate swap required) and use on bluebell e.g. if I trashed my rim and needed a rebuild for example.

      • Yes, I have a 7 speed shimano hub in a 700c wheel, the bike is missing a couple of parts and will remain that way I’m convinced (not worth wasting money on it)

    • Happy New Year to you too, sir. There’s a lot to like about the Alfine, I think; now I’ve got the wheel position all sorted out and the cable tension set, it works perfectly all the time and it’s super quiet. I’m finding the 39:18 just that teeny tiny bit too high (largely because I’m a bit of a lettuce) but it’s a very usable collection of cogs for the kind of riding I want to do with it. Would I take it touring? No. There’s simply not a wide enough range of gears for me. Would I fit one to my off road rig? No. I’m a stay-in-the-saddle-and-grind-it-out kind of climber so I want plenty of low, low gearing. I’m sure you could achieve this with a small enough chainring but you’d have no top end and I seem to remember reading a gear ratio of much less than 2:1 risks damaging the internals due to too much torque. Having said that, you do see plenty of people running them on MTBs so they must work… Also worth remembering mine is the 8 speed and the 11 will obviously have a wider range of gears. Although… the 8 speed is grease filled while the 11 is oil bath and prone to leaking (at least that’s the advice I was given by our trusty shop mechanic).

      • Like you, I’m a grinder rather than a honker (!) I’m not too fussed about the top end of the range using the Alfine but do take your point on the ratio ‘load’. Many folk have used an Alfine 8 – not the more complicated 11 – with set ups as low as 32 23 with no problems. I’d have to go this low on the ECR, particularly when you consider the size of the wheels. Will have another chat about this at the shop… may go with derailleurs after all.

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