It’s a shade heavy and expensive, but if you need a truly bombproof urban assault vehicle, the appropriately-named Surly Steamroller will crush everything in your path.
When it comes to the re-birth of the ﬁxie, Surly’s Steamroller is no Johnny come lately.
The Steamroller was one of the very ﬁrst of the bigger brand street ﬁxies, with a longer wheelbase and lower gearing than a traditional track iron, and more relaxed road bike style geometry.
If anything the Steamroller is closer to an old-style winter trainer – it’s not light and it’s plenty tough.
Ride & handling: held back by its weight
Despite its weight the Surly gets up to speed with the minimum of fuss and once you get it there all that momentum will keep you rolling along nicely.
The downside of that is when you want to scrub speed off quickly so you can ﬂick through the trafﬁc it’s not immediate enough. That weight comes into play on the hills too – when you descend on a ﬁxed you’re holding the bike back and there’s a lot more of the Steamroller to hold back.
Let it rip, and any wobbles feel like they too may gain extra, unwanted, momentum. Descending on the other bikes we rode alongside the Steamroller was much more fuss-free.
It goes up hill okay though, despite the weight.
We weren’t initially sure about the narrow drop bars and cyclo-cross levers, but it was actually a neat set-up, the narrow bars adding a touch of handling lightness.
Frame: chromoly anvil
The handsome frame is 4130 chromoly with a double-butted main triangle. But, well, it is called a Steamroller. It’s tough but heavy and its paintjob should take knocks of city streets.
Equipment: some good quirks, some bad
Saddles are a personal choice but the Surly’s Velo Endzone wouldn’t have been ours. As noted above, the handlebar set-up is idiosyncratic, but it works.
Wheels: tough but ponderous
The wheels are fairly basic, but no city street is going to break them in a hurry; the downside is that they deaden the feel of the ride. The Surly doesn’t really have the spring you’d expect, though a change of wheels or even simply a change of tyres would help liven up the ride.
Verdict: a bit pricey
At £599.99 the Steamroller feels a little over-priced. A hundred quid more buys you the much sprightlier Condor Tempo, and for a lot less you could have the Fuji Track, a Specialized Langster or a whole host of other ﬁxed/freewheel street bikes that are just as capable.