Tuesday, November 11, 2014

All In The Family

This is the first Surly frame I ever saw.
This is the story about one Surly 1X1 Rat Ride frame and fork.

Somewhere back in the 90's folks were getting kind of fed up with the "NORBA" scene and XC racing in general. Mountain biking was originally a mash-up of messing around in the woods and touring with a dash of competition thrown in for good measure. It was never an uptight, outta sight deal where the big money was what made you cool and attitudes were that you had to have a certain swagger about yourself and your rig or you weren't one of the "cool guys". (Sound like mtb today? Hmm...)

A few folks began to rebel. They stripped their bikes of chi-chis and gears. They used old, beat up hard tail frames, preferably with rigid forks, and became "single speeders". They had competitions, but they didn't really have rules, and anyone could have a go, as long as you didn't mind a bit of tomfoolery and getting your "derby" on. Then a few ambitious souls in the employ of QBP came up with the idea of prepackaging a rolling chassis for the nascent Single Speed Nation which would derby the poser XC filth into the dust. Or something semi-evil along those lines. That's my take on it, at any rate.

The company was originally known as "1X1", and their first "catalog" appeared in 1998. Selling a steel hard tail frame and fork with track ends, cantilever brake mounts, a set of hubs and a handle bar. Then in '99 they became Surly. This frame is a Surly 1X1, and Surly makes a version of this right up to the present time. It's all disc-like and dropped top tubed, but it still is mostly a 1X1 from 1998.
Instructions left with the frame set.

I read about Surly in a mag somewhere, but one time, when I was at the shop I work at now before I worked there, I saw a brand spankin' new Surly 1X1 in the back of the shop. (Wait a minute.....was that as confusing for you as much as it was for me?) Anyway....It was this very frame set, the one in the image above. It was originally "Papa Vinny's" rig. He was the head mechanic then and since has gone off to work for Trek. After his departure the frame was passed on to Carlos The Jackal, who became another employee of the shop. Carlos then passed it on to another former shop employee, who worked there at the time, nicknamed Mr 24. Mr. 24 moved on to "greener pastures" and passed the frame on to A-Lo. He rode it for a bit, and when he left the shop to go work for Velocity USA, (eventually), up there in The Mitten, he left the 1X1 to Brian. (Dude! You need a nickname!) Brian Xtracycled the 1X1 and now he has moved on to become a doctor. He left the 1X1 to another shop employee yesterday.......me.

I became the 7th shop employee to have possession of this frame set. (Brian missed one former owner as evidenced by his note) In a way, things have kind of come full circle with the frame set. I have worked at the shop with all but the first owner, and it was the first Surly I ever saw, so it is kind of cool that way. It has to be one of the earlier 1X1's, since I am pretty sure I saw this first in '99 or so.

Anyway, now I get to interpret this in my own way. I need to come up with some wheels for it, but I think I have everything else, even tires for it. (That's right, I have 26"er tires!) I think I'll get a sprung Brooks for it, (which isn't a bad thing, being a sprung saddle, that is), but otherwise I hope to get this up and running real soon and to carry on the "family" tradition!


Michael Lemberger said...

Begging your pardon sir, and yes, I'm picking the nits, but strictly speaking this is not a 1x1 Rat Ride, it's a Surly 1x1. The former reads "1x1" on the downtube and "Rat Ride" on the top tube. Significant only in distinguishing the first generation from later ones, and only if one cares.

Guitar Ted said...

@Mauricio Babilonia: Technically speaking, you are right, but this frame set is pretty "ratty", so I think its deserving of the moniker.

I'll probably give it a build that won't be very "rat-ride" like to some, but it will be retro inspired. Stay tuned....

BicycleDreamer said...

Great Story... Now just waiting in the "First Ride" Story :)

MG said...

That's super cool... Congrats on the honor!