Surly Troll Fork Review - 2018 Full Rigid Bike Conversion Series

March 2018 | Nicholas Weissman LaFrance

During my tenure at a bicycle shop in the hip city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Surly was one of our most sought after brands. Renowned for the robustness of their products, their bicycles and components all seem to be produced with this quality in the forefront. Their Big Dummy cargo bike is rated to carry 200lbs of cargo alone - yes, in addition to the rider’s own weight! So, when it came time to spec a new rigid fork for my new do-it-all custom beater bike, their Surly Troll Fork was my obvious choice. Due to the brand’s reputation, I expected nothing less than something so durable, it could out-last my earthen existence.

First Impressions
The fork arrived at my shop in a plain, rectangular cardboard box. Its unassuming appearance hinted of the no-frills integrity that I’ve come to expect from the brand. Sliding it out of the box, I hefted it just to get a feel for the weight and was actually surprised. It felt much lighter than I had expected it would be, at least in terms of feel alone. It was by no means a featherweight, but certainly not as heavy as I had expected a bruiser of a mountain bike fork to be. The website advertises the weight to be 3.1lbs (before cutting the steerer), but when I hung it over to our official scale, it clocked in at 2.77 lbs. Overall, it felt of good quality from the start and demonstrated all the initial signs of a good product: smooth and even welds, a hard glossy paint job with no globs of enamel, and a resilient stiffness.

 

Performance & Features
Installation of the fork went smoothly; the crown race was set, steerer was cut, and integrated into my 1997 Gary Fisher frame with no problems whatsoever. I paired the fork with a Cane Creek 40 sealed bearing headset. After all the adjustments were made and safety assured, I took my new steed, dubbed “Arthur”, out for a maiden voyage through the rugged streets of urban New Hampshire.

This isn’t my first go-around with a Surly fork, so I had biased expectations. Before I rode the frame into oblivion, my full rigid Haro Mary had been spec’d with the company’s 29er fork (the Krampus), which had proven itself to be incredibly stiff while also being durable enough to withstand the most brutal of beatings I could throw at it. This included innumerable hucks-to-flat.

During my first few times traipsing around town with my new bike and fork, my initial expectations were met. Though the overall riding has been smooth, the big and small bump compliance is understandably non-existent and there is not an ounce of flex to be had. The full force of every big hit is conveyed up into the handlebars and directly into my rugged man paws.

 

Durability
I bombed long sets of stairs at the library while leaning way back over the rear tire and I aimed for every pot hole dotting these New England streets; the Surly Troll fork absorbed all these impacts as if it they had been the most inconsequential amounts of disturbance. Being paired with a sealed cartridge Cane Creek 40 headset has made the front end seem like it was a single unit of crafted metal instead of multiple components bolted together.

After a week of commuting and sporadic trials sessions, it’s pretty apparent at this point that the Troll will hold up as well if not better than the Surly Krampus I had lovingly abused for many years and still resides in my parts collection. Additionally, the paint job shows no signs of tarnish even after having layers of sand and grit wiped off it daily; so I harbor no expectation of premature cosmetic wear.



Final Thoughts
My foremost opinion is the steadfast belief that the Troll fork is a very smart offering on the part of Surly; this is the fork you’d want on your bicycle if you were going to tour through the most remote parts of the world or endure the rigors of urban New England commuting. Built out of stiff, durable, weldable steel; it accommodates what is arguably still the most popular wheel size in the world, 26ers, while also keeping the common 1 1/8’ diameter threadless steerer.

With 18 different braze-ons, the numerous bolts make the fork look as if it has tiny mushrooms garnishes. Of course the primary intended purpose of these is to allow for the mounting of both fenders and a rack simultaneously. In my case, I’ve used them as lower light mounts for casting a beam closer to the ground and further out without blinding drivers with my 1500 lumen torch.

Overall, this is a stellar fork that meets a variety of needs; it excels at trials, touring, commuting, and the occasional off-road adventure. I expect to have this in my service for many years.

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