As soon as The Official Intergalactic Surly Regional HQ announced the Midnight Special I knew I had to have one.
Fat road- what’s not to like? Yes the geometry is more road than off road- but I reckoned some fatter tyres, a slightly more relaxed set-up and this bike was gonna be as much fun off road as on.
My Straggler 650b was my donor bike for the build the only new components being a headset and some fatter tyres (Panaracer 27.5 x 1.9 Gravelking SK). As this was going to be my commuter as well on went the dynamo hub, light, mudguards (sorry fenders) and rack. Surly even make some little adaptors to let you run quick release wheels in this bolt they frame. Remember, it runs bolt thru hubs in ‘open’ dropouts.
We built it on Sunday and at 4.30am Monday left for it’s shakedown ride. 90 miles on and off road from Lancaster to home. A mixture of riverside paths, open fells, rocky bridleways and road, if the bike and I hadn’t bonded by the end of this then there was no hope for us.
First impressions were great- the larger volume tyre certainly didn’t slow me down and was noticebly more comfortable. Off road the only adjustment made was to let some air out of the tyres which stopped me bouncing off rocks. Conditions were ‘interesting’ it had been raining heavily since we left Manchester, trails were streams, it was windy and cold on the tops and 4 hours in all feeling had left fingers and toes.
All in we rode for 11 hours and it rained for at least 10 of them!
We rode rocky stuff that i’d only ever cleared on a mountain bike, steep hills i’d only ever done on a road bike and the Midnight Special breezed it all.
By the time we got home I knew this bike was a ‘keeper’, now I just need to figure out why it’s called a Midnight Special (answers on a postcard please.)