Surly Troll - a tribute to Iohan Gueorguiev

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  • A lot of you may know this already, but this week it was announced that Iohan Gueorguiev passed away last month. He was a bikepacker, video producer, writer, tree planter, animal lover, and just an all-round lovely person. His 'I Want To See The World' Youtube series tracked his progress south from Alaska over the course of years, and they're still some of the very best cycling films out there, professional or otherwise. If you haven't done so yet, please do consider giving them a watch.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0wAPztO­O2U

    I never got the chance to meet Iohan, even if I did work with a friend of his in Toronto, but the news of his passing broke my heart. I've spent most of this week crying and grieving, which is probably a bit odd given that he was a stranger to me. The thing is, Iohan might have been my biggest influence, full stop - his videos taught me how to tour for the sake of touring rather than stats, showed me the value of treating all animals as individuals, and even gave me the push to undertake my own Transamerica tour back in 2019.

    After that ride, I'd intended to carry on in Iohan's footsteps with a full-on, round-the-world bike tour over the course of five years. However, the pandemic and then an unexpected new relationship put paid to that notion, and now I find myself living quite happily in Bristol. However, the long tour itch remains, and I've been gently plotting an attempt on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) that would require a suitable bike.

    On top of that, Iohan's early videos turned my head towards the Surly Troll - it's a truly silly bike, and it's now discontinued. I worked at a Surly dealer for a while, and I entirely failed to sell a single Troll, no matter how hard I tried.

    So, nw seemed like a good time to get my own Troll, and to build it up in my own very small tribute to Iohan and all that he did. I've just got back from paying slightly too much for a 2016 model, which was the last one with the suspension-corrected fork. The previous owner had it built up for them in Thailand and then took it all over - Singapore, Taiwan and the Indian Himalayas, apparently - so it's not in the best shape. The paintwork is a mess, the rims are fairly worn, but it's got good bones.

    I'll keep track of my gradual progress here, but here's the rough plan:

    • Strip down and repaint, probably in the same RAL powder. I might also add a couple braze-ons for a bolt-on frame bag, but tbc.

    • Rebuild as a 1x10, mechanical disc brake setup but with the capacity for V brakes as a backup

    • Maybe get some new dynamo wheels built? The Andra 30 rims are worn and a bit narrow to make the most of the 26 x 2.75 clearances, so Andra 40s would be better. Hubs will stay Shimano either way.

    • Switch to Jones-style bars

    • Maximum crayon - I want this to be silly and colourful, so think (cheap) anodised parts, purple Oury grips etc

    • Carradice Super C saddlebags front and back, and a big ol' cotton duck framebag - hoping Mack can make this for me as they're just over in Weston, and the main triangle is bloody huge

    • Maybe eventually grab a suspension fork for trail rides?

    Maybe building a bike in tribute to a total stranger is a bit off, but it's something I want to do for myself as a way to process my feelings about the whole situation. It'll be a good bike regardless, and will keep me amused over the winter.

    All input welcome!


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  • Don't think it's off at all, he clearly had an impact on you, so have at it, and do some touring for touring's sake.
    Will keep an eye out for further progress.

  • Man, didn’t know about Iohann’s passing. Used to support his videos a patreon and inspired me to do a few short tours and eventually travel to South America.

    Looking forward to this build in tribute to the great man himself.

  • Shit, he died? That's tragic. Loved his videos and personality. He was a very inspiring person.

    Good luck with the tribute build.

  • I bought a Genesis Longitude few years ago inspired by Iohan. I am happy to see this thread

  • Nah, that's cool.

    He was a fucking dude and I only ever watched his youtube videos and it was only recently we found his series and binge watched everything he made.

    The fact that so many people have been talking about his death and how much he meant to them while he was alive shows what an inspiring guy he was. Have at it.

  • Thanks all for the reassurance! It's been kinda amazing to hear so many people talking about him this week, and getting the chance to introduce friends to his videos all over again. Will keep this well updated with progress.

  • And from now on, I get a feeling of punctum when I watch these videos, knowing that he's not riding his bike with dogs by his side, knowing that he's not cooking on a little stove next to his tent either, but that he's dead. It's sad indeed, and I feel like building a bike or riding big miles is a nice tribute. I think I bought my first pair of Marathon tires or my first pair of panniers after reconsidering Touring thanks to his videos.

  • It was such gutting news to hear. I was inspired to ride the gdmbr a few years ago thanks to Iohans videos on YouTube. Practically everyone I met en route said the same!

  • personally, I haven't heard about him since he passed away but literally, after 2 min of watching I WANT TO SEE THE WORLD 1 I felt remarkably touched by him, his way of touring, speaking and feeling with other human beings. Probably the Mexico videos are the best touring video I have seen up to now.

    I have similar plans for next future @passhunting, so I will keep an eye on here in case you need a sparring partner for some adventures :)

  • Looking forward to seeing this build, and the trips that follow.

  • Awesome bike and plan... the Troll is a great frameset. The current group looks pretty crisp!

  • Remember watching his video's some years ago, really hardcore adventures, such sad news!

  • Very rad and very appropriate, following. Going to max out the tire size? Iohan wound up on a fat bike with a lauf iirc. RIP to the man - he'll live on through many other adventure(er)s for a long time.

  • Iohan wound up on a fat bike with a lauf iirc.

    Yes he did. Massive beast of a thing. But he did always seek out the roughest trails where the fewest people were at.

  • Yeah I’m gonna try to, although supplies of 26 inch tyres in the 2.6-2.8 bracket seem to have pretty much dried up.

    Going above 2.4 also depends on whether I have the budget for a new wheelset with wider rims. Very much TBC but would like to head this way.

  • Just remember what he said of tyres...
    "mostly what's available, I am not a die hard fan of a specific tire or brand. I've used schwalbe mondials, kenda nevegals, WTB nanos, maxxis and surly ET. They all kind of suck. Now rocking $3.75 Panamenian supermarket tires."

  • They see me Trolling Trolling Trolling...


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  • Hah! They all do kinda suck in one way or another… will probably end up picking up some Tough Toms in 2.35 because the name makes me laugh.

  • I have Crazy Bob's on mine here and maybe Fat Franks on the Inbred or maybe they were Big Apple and Racing Ralphs for racing obvs.

  • I spent a rainy lunchtime today dismantling the bike, and thankfully no nasty surprises. The rear hub is somewhat loose, so this’ll need investigating, but nothing seized and nothing rusted. There is a tiny dent on the top tube but nothing to worry about.

    The paintwork is definitely beyond rescue - a combination of a rough life and a pretty thin powder coat. I had kinda hoped to preserve it in some way, but it’s buggered.

    My local coater (a motorcycle restoration place in Bristol) has quoted four weeks and £95 for the respray job, which seems fair. Surly has also sent me the RAL code, so it’ll be an exact match. I would try to get it done by EQC in Cardiff but my contacts there are pretty out of date, and Aurum is logistically tricky. Any suggestions I’ve missed?


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  • Not tempted to go for a different colour?

  • Looking forward to this build. Love a Surly, and although I didn't know him personally, or if I'm honest until I heard of his death, I feel like this is very much in the right spirit to pay tribute.

  • Definitely gave it some thought but honestly this blue works well with the secondary colours I have in mind... you'll see!

  • Not tempted to go for a different colour?

    Sur(e)ly it needs to be purple

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Surly Troll - a tribute to Iohan Gueorguiev

Posted by Avatar for passhunting @passhunting

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