Our Reader’s Rig of the week comes from Cody Johnson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who shares the first-generation Surly Moonlander he’s been riding for more than a decade. You can get to know Cody and his all-terrain, all-season steel tourer and grocery-getter here…

Words and photos by Cody Johnson (@theurbanastronaut)

Howdy folks, my name is Cody Johnson, and I hail from the wintery landscape of Minneapolis, Minnesota. When I’m not fixing bikes for folks at the local shop, I am usually exploring new routes, drinking coffee, and taking photos of stuff that catches my eye. In the winter, I tend to stick closer to home because I don’t have a car. These excursions typically involve a campfire and mid-ride coffee. In the warmer months, I embark on longer rides and bikepacking races. Last year I finished the Trans Am Bike Race and am currently formulating new adventures to take on soon.

Surly Moonlander

Sometimes, a bike is rad because of what it is and the parts that make it whole. Sometimes, a bike is rad because of what it can do and the stories attached to it. I would be inclined to say that this bike I have the pleasure of sharing with you today is firmly in the latter category. This old machine is a first-generation Surly Moonlander, and it has been through times both good and bad.

  • Surly Moonlander
  • Surly Moonlander

I had been planning on purchasing a fancy full-suspension bike for riding local trails when I walked into a shop about 11 years ago, and this sparkly monster was propped up on the sales floor. Those giant tires seemed to hold a far greater promise of adventure than any high-tech gadget and buzzword combination could ever hope to achieve. It has been a trusty companion since that fateful day. I was a broke design student in college at the time and used it for commuting on weekdays, trail riding on weekends, and exploring everything in between whenever possible.

Surly Moonlander
  • Surly Moonlander
  • Surly Moonlander
  • Surly Moonlander

My first century ride was aboard this rig, fully loaded with old camping gear, en route to where I married my wife. It has seen quite a few miles and many adventures since then. It is currently set up for winter fun and errands. Bags and cargo mounts are used for commuting and bikepacking, but get swapped for full racks when hauling groceries or firewood. I’ve found that MSR Evo snowshoes can be strapped to loaded bags on the cargo mounts utilizing the bindings of the snowshoes. The snowshoes help to stomp out snow trails around the city after a big snowfall so folks can ride them afterward.

  • Frame/Fork 2012 Surly Moonlander
  • Rims Origin8 90mm Tubeless
  • Hubs SON 28 dynamo (front) / DT Swiss 350 (rear)
  • Tires 45NRTH Wrathchild 4.6
  • Handlebars Salsa Woodchipper
  • Headset Cane Creek 40
  • Crankset Surly Mr. Whirly w/ Surly Stainless X-Sync 28T ring
  • Pedals Shimano PD-M540
  • Cassette Sunrace 11-42 10-speed
  • Derailleur Shimano Deore with Wolf Tooth Goat Link
  • Brakes TRP Spyke with Cane Creek levers
  • Shifter(s) Microshift bar end, set permanently in friction mode
  • Saddle WTB Silverado
  • Seatpost Ritchey Comp alloy
  • Stem MSW Alloy
  • Front bags Chrome Urban EX
  • Frame bags Revelate Ranger
  • Rear bags Revelate Viscacha
  • Accessory bags Revelate Polecat (x2), Jerry Can, and Mag 2000
  • Racks Surly Nice Racks front and rear
  • Lights Supernova E3 Pro 2 front and matching E3 rear light
  • Other accessories Widefoot Cargo Mount under downtube, Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cages on fork legs
Surly Moonlander

The drop bars and friction shifter are my favorite parts of the current build. The flare of the Woodchiper bars lends some needed leverage to slow speed turns with all that rubber. The friction shifter is great for dumping gears fast when the going gets sticky and is incredibly winter glove friendly. Bonus points for being able to keep shifting when the derailleur hanger gets a little bent from an errant branch.

  • Surly Moonlander
  • Surly Moonlander

This old bike never fails to bring a smile to my face whenever I ride it, and it is my hope that it brings some joy to your day as well. Cheers!

You can find more from Cody on Instagram @theurbanastronaut.

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