This week’s Reader’s Rig belongs to Ryan Ross, who built up a Surly Troll frame he found on Craigslist into his do-it-all bikepacking steed. Read the backstory along with additional photos and details here…

Words and photos by Ryan Ross (@rambler_ross)

My name is Ryan Ross and I’m 30 years old and currently live in Portland, Oregon. I manage two non-profit bike rental shops that benefit children and adults with disabilities. I also operate Adaptive Biketown, which is Portland’s adaptive bikeshare program that provides adaptive bikes at subsidized rates for people with disabilities.

Ryan Ross, Surly Troll

I never really imagined I’d be this involved in non-profit work or bikes for as long as I have, and it certainly wasn’t the track I set out on. I started riding bikes in college and gradually got into touring, gravel riding, mountain biking, and longer expedition-style treks. I get about four months off in the rainy season and use that time to snowbird to better weather. I’ve done more road touring than bikepacking but that will change soon. I’ve done a few weekenders near Portland and did the Baja Divide last January. When I’m not riding I’m working on going back to school and hanging out with the people I love.

I bought this Surly Troll frame in early 2018 for $140 off Craigslist. I had built up a medium Troll as a gravel grinder in 2016 and didn’t like the fit but loved the versatility. So I decided to go with a large instead. When I started piecing it together with old parts and some wholesale new ones, I hit a snag with the headset. The handlebars kept binding about 60 degrees to the left and I couldn’t figure it out.

  • Ryan Ross, Surly Troll
  • Ryan Ross, Surly Troll

I got the calipers out and found out the head tube had ovalized, probably due to a frontal impact in the past. Ahh, Craigslist. This was a huge bummer, but it was happening beyond my normal turning radius so I decided to risk it and to be honest I have never noticed it since, for better or for worse. The bike really is so versatile in terms of wheel size and geometry, I am just as comfortable riding trail as I am riding fully loaded on long days. I have only had it for a year and it has well over 6,000 miles already.

  • Frame 2012 (?) Surly Troll (Large)
  • Fork 2018 Troll, suspension-corrected
  • Rims WTB SX23 27.5″
  • Hubs Shimano Deore
  • Tires Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.3″
  • Handlebar Nitto Bullmoose
  • Headset FSA
  • Crankset SRAM NX 1x 30T
  • Cassette SRAM 11-42T 11-speed
  • Derailleur SRAM NX 11-speed
  • Brakes Avid BB7 with Jaguar compressionless housing
  • Shifter SRAM NX 11-speed
  • Saddle Sella Italia SLR
  • Seatpost Origin 8 alloy
  • Front bags Makeshifter Hangdown, Field and stream 10L dry bag
  • Rear bags Revelate 8L
  • Accessory bags 2 x Mountain Feedbags, Revelate Mag Tank
  • Other accessories Bottle cages galore, peanut butter, banana slug, King Cage on downtube
  • Ryan Ross, Surly Troll
  • Ryan Ross, Surly Troll
  • Ryan Ross, Surly Troll

One last note: it’s so easy to have bike, envy especially on long trips. All of my buddies crushed me on the Baja Divide. They had me wanting fat tires and suspension and 1x setups, but when I look back on it, my Troll did exactly what I set out to do, complaints or not. I still have the bike and I have some great memories, too.

You can keep up with Ross on Instagram @rambler_ross.

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