Our Reader’s Rig of the week comes from Shaelin Morefield in Truckee, California, who shares the Surly Karate Monkey she built up to take on bikepacking trips in the Northern Sierra and haul her 11-year-old dog out to her favorite place for adventures. Read more here…

Words and photos by Shaelin Morefield (@shmofield)

Howdy there, my name is Shaelin, and I currently reside in the small mountain town of Truckee, California, where I work as a designer for a local architecture firm. I grew up in the dry eastern foothills of the Sierra in a small Nevadan ranching town and have always felt at home in the mountains. I discovered the joys of riding when I spent a year studying in Copenhagen, Denmark, and commuted daily by bike in all sorts of weather.

Surly Karate Monkey

Following that year in Copenhagen, I finished up my final year of school in San Luis Obispo and found a home in its tight-knit bike community. While the bike community in Truckee is extensive, as it seems like nearly everyone owns either a mountain, gravel, or road bike (or all three), it’s not yet as cohesive as it is in San Luis Obispo. However, I’m doing what I can to bring as many people together around the love of the bike. I am also doing what I can in the community to advocate for better bike infrastructure. The safer we feel on our bikes, the more likely we are to ride one—and less likely to drive a car.

I built this bad boy from the frame up this past summer in an effort to create the best bikepacking/beer-getting/singletrack-shredding/BOB-trailer-with-dog-towing all-arounder for my home here in Truckee. So far, it’s done that job pretty well.

  • Surly Karate Monkey
  • Surly Karate Monkey
  • Surly Karate Monkey

To start, I was quite unaware of just how orange the 2020 Surly Karate Monkey frame was – the photos I’d seen online looked to be a bit more yellow to me. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to represent orange on a screen accurately, and I was surprised to open the box and see steel tubing the color of a traffic cone. But I decided to have fun with that and figured the hi-vis couldn’t hurt around cars.

The components are a mix of new and used, depending on what I could and couldn’t find on Pinkbike or Craigslist. Coming from a mountain bike background, I specced it with some typical MTB components like a 150 dropper post, i9 Torch hub, SRAM 1×12 drivetrain, and SRAM guide RSC brakes. I have, of course, added some bikepacking flair with the buttery Brooks B17, svelte Teravail tanwalls, and a sweepy set of Tumbleweed Persuader handlebars with hot pink ESI extra chunkies to top it all off.

Surly Karate Monkey

I had a great time getting bags for this bike as I was able to take full advantage of Oveja Negra’s WACK collection, and they hooked it up with some perfectly obnoxious colors to go with the bright orange frame. And, of course, what bikepacking rig would be complete without a Swift Zeitgeist.

  • Frame/Fork 2020 Surly Karate Monkey
  • Rims 29″ WTB i35 ASYM
  • Hubs Origin8 (front) / i9 Torch (rear)
  • Tires Teravail Honcho 2.6 (front) / Ehline 2.5 (rear)
  • Handlebars Tumbleweed Persuader
  • Headset Cane Creek 40
  • Crankset SRAM XX1
  • Pedals OneUp aluminum
  • Cassette SRAM GX Eagle 10-50t
  • Derailleur SRAM X01 12sp
  • Brakes SRAM Guide RSC W/ Centerline rotors
  • Shifter(s) SRAM GX
  • Saddle Brooks B17
  • Seatpost KS Lev 150mm dropper
  • Stem Nukeproof Neutron AM
  • Front bags Oveja Negra Front-end Loader w/ Sea to Summit dry bag, Oveja Negra Lunchbox
  • Frame bags Oveja Negra Bodega XL
  • Rear bags Swift Zeitgeist
  • Accessory bags Oveja Negra Chuckbucket
  • Other accessories Widefoot Liter Cage, Ass Savers mudder mini, Burley Bike Trailer

Although winter set in before the monkey and I were able to get out for any big multi-day trips, we’ve been able to get in a few all-day epics, including a big loop here in the northern Sierra, an unfortunate out-and-back in the Bishop Volcanic Tablelands, and a gnarly 5,000-foot climb to ridge drop in the White Mountains of California. Spring is upon us here in the Northern Sierra, and thanks to the burly steel frame and option to run a suspension fork, the Karate Monkey will be the perfect tool for scoping out our expansive public lands.

Surly Karate Monkey

Beyond bikepacking, the biggest reason I chose to build up this bike was to be able to tow Cholla, my 10-year-old golden retriever, to and from her favorite place, Donner Lake. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and this might be the case here as so far, she’s not a fan. If only she knew where we were heading! But, as it turns out, a trailer is useful for more than just a dog, including trips to and from the hardware store, uncomplicated ski transport, and a whole lot of beer.

You can keep up with Shaelin on Instagram @shmofield.

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