Words and photos by Kasy Zook (@specialbicycleservice)
My name is Kasy, and this is my Surly ECR. I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest but have lived all over the US, especially in the last few years, as I’ve tried to embrace living my “someday” now.
That’s led me to be a bit of a vagabond, working (as a bicycle mechanic) for a time and then leaving for some cool rides. I’ve done the Western Wildlands Route (awesome!), the Florida Divide (I highly recommend it!), part of the European Divide (Spain was tough), and the Great British Divide (Scotland is as great as you’ve heard).
Even though I work on bicycles, I wanted a bike that would be robust and not need much maintenance.—something I think I’ve achieved with this build. Everyone I’ve met comments on how big the front bag is, but most people seem to get it. I think 30 or 40 people have taken photographs of us. I made the bags myself, and they are designed to fit the space and work together, aiming for the perfect setup. After each ride, I tweak things from lessons learned on the trail.
I started sewing because I either couldn’t afford the things I wanted or they simply didn’t exist. Many years ago, my first project was a side tent for my VW camper, and when I later moved aboard a small sailboat, I made bags and other storage solutions out of canvas. I was a bit daunted by how complex I imagined bikepacking bags were, and indeed, my first bags were a bit rough. These days, I’m pretty happy with the way they turn out.
- Frame/Fork Surly ECR
- Rims Velocity Blunt 35 29″
- Hubs Son 28 36h (front) / Rohloff disc 36h 17T cog (rear)
- Tires Surly Extra Terrrestrials or Surly Knards
- Handlebars Surly Moloko
- Grips Ergon Biokork
- Headset Chris King
- Crankset Shimano LX 5 bolt, 34T chainring
- Bottom bracket White Industries
- Pedals Raceface Chesters
- Brakes Paul Klampers w/ Paul Love Levers
- Saddle Brooks Swift
- Seatpost Thomson
- Stem Thomson
- Front bags Special Bicycle Service
- Frame bags Special Bicycle Service
- Rear bags Seat bag, sleeping pad bag, and mini panniers
- Accessory bags Integrated handlebar bag, two stem bags
- Racks Surly 24 Pack (front) / Surly Nice Rack (rear)
- Other accessories Sinewave Reactor, Clickstand, SuperNova E3 Pro front/rear lights
I started with the DIY pattern for a stem bag from right here on BIKEPACKING.com, which I’ve made many of, and that really helped. It’s great to create bags that fit my bike and meet the varied needs of riding for transportation. I’ve been car-free for more than 16 years and tend to go all out on my bikes.
I was extremely lucky with my timing and put her together just before the pandemic, getting the last of the parts just before they started getting scarce. I see bicycles as one of the few things that can still be simple machines, and I take comfort in knowing I can take care of most things on the trail. My ECR is a bit on the heavy side, but it embodies my three priorities: durability, functionality, and aesthetics. For now, I’m in Alabama, working, sewing, and planning for the next trip.
You can see more from Kasy on Instagram @specialbicycleservice.
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