The steel Pacer from US company Surly is a great clubman’s bike that could double or triple as a commuter bike, light tourer or winter trainer, so it’s especially impressive that it sneaks in under £1,000. It’s an excellent all-round road bike as it stands, and it’ll repay upgrading the kit years down the line.
Highs: Classy looks and a classy ride for the price
Lows: Slightly weightier than most of the opposition
Buy if: You’re looking for a very attractively priced steel clubman’s bike
Surly think the Pacer is the ideal ‘commuter, day-tripper and vehicle for exploration’, and ‘just might turn a few heads for how unrevolutionary it is’. Its British racing green colour scheme is about as retro as it gets.
The well designed Taiwanese-made chromoly frame comes with the full complement of braze-ons, slotted cable guides in all the right places for easy maintenance and repair, and generous clearances for multi-use tyre choice.
At 10.42kg (23lb) the Pacer is no lightweight but it’s right in traditional steel road bike territory, and you could realistically expect to handle a fast Sunday club run and finish still feeling fresh enough to head out and do the shopping in the afternoon.
We found it pleasingly fast out on the road, with very nimble steering. It manages to balance this with excellent high-speed stability too, and it was also comfortable, thanks to its 27.2mm alloy seatpost and a padded WTB saddle that proved its worth as the miles ridden mounted.
The 28mm tyres keep the ride pretty plush, and if you’re a heavier rider or you’re carrying kit you can fit 32mm rubber in there thanks to the elegantly curved rear stays, which increase both heel and tyre clearance, and are an example of the Pacer’s mountain bike heritage.
In spite of a comparatively modest price, kit choices are very well considered. FSA’s forged Vero crankset with alloy compact rings gives plenty of low gearing, Shimano’s Tiagra provides the shifters, both mechs and both wheel hubs.
Tiagra never missed a beat and the hubs form the heart of a decent set of wheels, paired with DT stainless spokes and Alex R390 rims. Do keep a watchful eye on the Tektro 358 long reach dual-pivot brakes though. These have an on/off quick release mechanism which has to be fully closed to prevent sudden loss of braking ability.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.