Is the Surly Ghost Grappler the ultimate do-it-all drop-bar trail bike?

Surly's latest steel bike is said to be suitable for everything from singletrack sessions to bikepacking excursions

Surly Ghost Grappler hero shot

Surly has released the new Ghost Grappler, a drop-bar off-road bike with trail-ready geometry that wouldn’t look out of place on a mountain bike. It’s designed to take on everything from bikepacking adventures to singletrack sessions and gravel riding.


Surly says this new steel-framed bike builds on the customised setups it’s seen riders experimenting with over the years and “captures a more confident, nimble and reactive off-road/drop-bar experience.”

The Ghost Grappler can be seen to take up the mantle in Surly’s range of the ECR (Extreme Camping Rig), which similarly covered bikepacking and more technical riding. According to Surly’s website, no future production of the ECR is planned.

The Ghost Grappler will be available as a frameset retailing for £850 / $799 / CAN$1,149 or as a complete build with a dropper post and Microshift Advent 1×10 drivetrain for £2,200 / $1,899 / $2,599.

Bikepacking to singletrack

Male cyclist riding Surly Ghost Grappler along gravel track
The Ghost Grappler is said to be suitable for lots of different riding types.

The Ghost Grappler can be seen to fit into a an emerging category of drop-handlebar off-road bikes, following the recent releases of the Cotic Cascade and Sonder Camino.

The Cascade and Camino have similar cross-terrain and cross-discipline ambitions to the Ghost Grappler. They are said to be suitable for bikepacking, with frames inspired by mountain bike geometry, yet are still described by Cotic and Sonder as gravel bikes.

Surly doesn’t describe the Ghost Grappler as a gravel bike first and foremost, but the Ghost Grappler is positioned as an off-road-ready alternative for bikepackers and for trail riders who prefer the familiarity of a drop-bar.

While people have been experimenting with fitting drop handlebars to mountain bikes for years, Surly says putting drop bars on bikes designed for flat bars isn’t always comfortable.

Logo on Ghost Grappler downtube that says
The Ghost Grappler uses Surly’s proprietary Natch steel tubing.

Looking at the proposition of designing a drop-bar bike ready for trail riding from a different starting point, maxing out the tyre size on a cyclocross bike may not be the strongest or safest choice on technical terrain, according to Surly.

Consequently, Surly says it has blended what it knows from developing drop-bar and flat-bar bikes to optimise the Ghost Grappler’s geometry, achieving a “comfortable and stable sweet spot” and “optimal drop-bar hand position”.

The bike has a higher stack height and longer reach than similar-sized bikes in Surly’s range, which is said to improve fit and handling. Compared to the outgoing ECR, the Ghost Grappler’s stack height has increased by 20mm and the reach has increased by 9.5mm in a size medium.

Adaptability and mounts galore

Close up of mounts on Surly Ghost Grappler front fork
There are mounts across the Ghost Grappler, including on the front fork.

The Ghost Grappler has a number of design features to make it adaptable and suitable for different types of riding.

Surly says the steel frame, built from the brand’s proprietary Natch tube sets, has a double-butted main triangle, plus top-tube gussets for added strength, and so the bike can handle rough terrain.

There are mounts dotted across the bike, providing plenty of spots to attach bags and bottles, as well as racks and mudguards. The front forks have four mounting points on either side and mounts on the underside of the down tube.

Close up of rear triangle on Surly Ghost Grappler
The seatstays have a vertical section with bottle cage mounts.

The seatstays have unusual vertical sections coming up from the dropouts, and these have mounts for bottle cages, too. This feature is on all frame sizes apart from extra-small, where presumably the vertical section isn’t long enough for a bottle cage.

Surly has built the frame with its Gnot Boost rear-spacing design, allowing riders to run standard 142mm or Boost 148mm mountain bike rear-axle standards.

The bike also has horizontal dropouts, so riders can run the Ghost Grappler as a single-speed bike. But despite the dropout design, the frame has thru-axles on the front and rear wheels for “ideal stiffness and handling”.

While Surly has specced its complete Ghost Grappler with 27.5in wheels, it says you can run the bike with 29in wheels too. The frame has 2.8in clearance with 27.5in wheels – with or without fenders – and 2.1in clearance on 29in wheels without fenders.

The Ghost Grappler can be fitted with a dropper post and Surly says there is “stealth” cable routing.

Surly Ghost Grappler geometry

Seat tube angle (degrees)7373737373
Head tube angle (degrees)69.569.569.569.569.5
Chainstay (mm)425425425425425
Seat tube (mm)316386437.2488539
Top tube (mm)560590610640660
Head tube (mm)160180200220240
Wheelbase (mm)1,0571,0881,1091,1401,162
Stack (mm)585605623641660
Reach (mm)381405420444458

Surly Ghost Grappler specs and prices

Woman riding Surly Ghost Grappler down rocky slope
The Ghost Grappler is available as a frameset or in one complete build from Surly.

The Surly Ghost Grappler is available as a frameset or in one complete build.

The complete build features a Microshift Advent 1×10 drivetrain and Tektro cable-actuated disc brakes. Surly has specced the build with a flared Salsa Cowchipper handlebar and a TranzX dropper post, providing 100mm of travel. The wheels are 27.5in WTB rims on Novatec hubs, wrapped in Teravail Ehline 2.5in tubeless-ready tyres.

Ghost Grappler frameset

  • Frame: Surly Ghost Grappler Chromoly steel
  • Fork: Chromoly steel
  • Price: £850 / $799 / CAN$1,149

Ghost Grappler complete build

  • Frame: Surly Ghost Grappler Chromoly steel
  • Fork: Chromoly steel
  • Wheels and tyres: WTB ST i40 TCS rims on Novatec hubs / Teravail Ehline 27.5 × 2.5in
  • Drivetrain: Microshift Advent
  • Brakes: Tektro Mira MD-C400
  • Dropper post: TranzX shifter-activated
  • Price: £2,200 / $1,899 / $2,599