Gravel Grinder News: Surly, All City, Salsa Carbon Bars, & Gore

Gravel Grinder News: Surly, All City, & Gore- by Guitar Ted

Today we have news from the frozen North and a bit of news from GORE regarding their new, “Shake Dry” technology which has been very impressive. First up let’s take a look at what is new for the gravel-back road rider coming out of Frostbike, a dealer only show for Quality Bicycle Products customers. This annual open house occurs in Bloomington, Minnesota every mid-February and features occasional new product introductions from any of QBP’s several in house cycling brands. This time we have news from All City Cycles and Surly Bikes to share. 

The Surly “Midnight Special” is a road plus bike. (Image courtesy of Surly Bikes)

Surly Bikes Introduces The Midnight Special: Back when I was a youngster, the “Midnight Special” was a concert series featuring any one of the 70’s hottest touring acts in the Rock & Roll genre. That’s all changed now days and Surly Bikes is hoping that instead of thinking about long hair and raging guitar solos you’ll think about a steel bicycle and “Road Plus”.

You remember Road Plus, we have talked about that concept as introduced by WTB a while back here on these digital pages. If, however, you are not familiar with the concept, it is really just fat, 650B tires and slightly wider rims. The idea is to allow the cyclist to have a wheel that mimics the diameter of a 700 X 28mm-30mm tire but with more girth and volume. These 650B tires can be run tubeless for a nearly rattle free ride experience on pavement. Riding Gravel explored what this concept can do for the gravel rider in this post which helps to dissect the idea further.

Surly has decided to make a road bike for such pursuits called the Midnight Special. It has the capability to take a tire as wide as a 2.35″ X 27.5″ mountain bike tire or 700c X 42mm tires. That said, the design intent was for 650B X 47 “Road Plus” tires and the geometry of the Midnight Special would seem to indicate a more road-ish intent. That Surly started off their presentation of this bike with a comparison to their Pacer road bike is somewhat telling in that regard.

The head tube angles are steeper than what you will find on most gravel oriented bikes and the 65mm bottom bracket height reflects a more 650B oriented usage, but it could be the all-road bike that is perfect for you. Features include Surly’s through axle drop outs with vertical axle release that are also convertible to quick release with special “washer” inserts available separately. The frame features down tube shifter bosses, fender mounts, and front and rear rack mounts. The brakes use the road standard flat mount style mounts and the color of this bike is “Hot Mustard”, although I would just say it is some sort of white. Hmm……

The bike will be available in frame and fork or fully built options as Surly usually does. Surly says the bikes will be available in limited shops “very soon”. See the Surly Blog Post for 2/13/18 further details.

ALL City
The All City Gorilla Monsoon (Image courtesy of All City Cycles)

All City Cycles Introduces the “Gorilla Monsoon”: All City Cycles has enjoyed a run of bicycles made from steel that have been a hit with many gravel road riders. Starting with their classic Nature Boy single speed model and then the popular Space Horse, the unusual name game, “good for gravel” bike lineage is now added to with the latest addition to All City’s line up dubbed the “Gorilla Monsoon”.

All City
The Gorilla Monsoon utilizes this classic looking bi-plane fork crown. (Image courtesy of All City Cycles)

The Gorilla Monsoon features a 650B wheel intent, a steel frame, and versatility, much like the Surly Midnight Special, but from that point on they couldn’t be more different bikes. The “G.M.” is a different geometry, more in tune with what we at Riding Gravel feel is best for gravel riding, and this bike, in typical All City Cycles fashion, has a more refined set of details. Not least of which is the bi-plane style fork crown.

Frame details feature stealth dropper post routing, three water bottle mounting points, front and rear through axles, front and rear rack and fender mounts, and compatibility with Surly 8 and 24 Pak racks. Tire clearances look like this- Room for 27.5″ x 2.4″ , 650B X 48mm with fenders, or 700c X 42mm. Again, this frame is optimized for the 650B X 47mm tire size.

The bike will be offered as a 1X or frame set. MSRP is listed as $1999.00USD complete or $850.00USD frame/fork. Front chain ring max size on a 1X is listed at 38T, 2X as 42T/28T, or 3X at 48T/36T/26T. Availability is said to be “early April”. See more about it here.


The Gore Shake Dry Jacket with Hi-Viz panels

Gore Introduces New Colors For Shake Dry Jacket: The Gore “Shake Dry” technology in their jackets featuring the same name are incredible pieces of kit. With traditional three layer rainproof jackets you have to put up with some amount of “inner humidity” due to the materials inabilities to keep up with the transfer of sweat induced by exercise to the outer layers of the jacket. While many jackets come with the promise of “breathe-ability”, we all pretty much have ceased to believe the claims.

However; the case with the Shake Dry jacket is different. This is due to the fact that GORE has figured out how to make a rainproof jacket which is a single layer. The water from the outside can not penetrate the fabric, or soak it out, so it permanently beads up on the outside. This is where the Shake Dry name comes from, because after you no longer need the rain protection you can simply snap the fabric dry with a quick shake. The real magic supposedly comes in with regard to how your perspiration moves from the inner jacket to the outer side. This keeps the “garbage bag” effect at bay. It is pretty amazing.

I have spoken with riders using these jackets and they all agree on this point- the Shake Dry technology works. However; the first iterations of this jacket were criticized for their black coloration. GORE was not able to color this fabric in any other color at the onset since that would minimize the effectiveness of the Shake Dry technology, the colors wouldn’t stay permanent,  and GORE was unwilling to compromise on those points, until now.

Apparently the technology has moved forward. Here from GORE’s press release:

The greatest challenge for Gore‘s engineers was permanently dyeing the white membrane. Until now, it had only been possible with black. The Gore boffins have managed, however, to develop the technology that bit further and can now offer GORE-TEX® SHAKEDRY™ jackets in blue and grey for runners and cyclists

The Hi-Viz paneled Shake Dry jacket is now available and Riding Gravel has a sample on hand to test for ourselves. Look for the upcoming review later this Spring.

New Riding Gravel Radio Ranch Podcast: Riding Gravel Radio Ranch page Episode #26 is now available for download to your favorite device or listen direct from your PC at the on the site here. In this episode Guitar Ted and Ben discuss recent reviews and reviews to come on Riding Gravel. Plus Guitar Ted gives some insights into his method behind his reviewing madness. 

Salsa Cycles
Salsa Cycles introduces carbon drop bars. This is the new Cowchipper Carbon

Salsa Cycles Introduces Carbon Drop Bars: Salsa Cycles arguably makes the best drop bars for gravel road riding. They have featured the “not-so-radical” Cowbell, the ultra-flared and swept Woodchipper, and maybe the best gravel road bar ever- the Cowchipper, in two grades of aluminum for several years now. However; other companies have offered swept and flared carbon drop bars for a few years now, so Salsa’s offerings were not the favored racer’s bars anymore.

All that has changed with the introduction of the new carbon drop bar options featuring the Carbon Cowchipper, Carbon Woodchipper, and Carbon Cowbell bars. The other aluminum offerings also continue forward only with different designations. Carbon in the model name is self explanatory. The new “Deluxe” moniker is applied to AL-7050 T-6 Aluminum constructed bars, and any bar with only the model name is 6061 T-6 aluminum alloy. So, a Cowchipper is 6061 T-6, as an example.

Carbon bars feature a stiffer layup than the aluminum bars, but Salsa claims they absorb more vibrations, so this is “okay”. Salsa claims all the carbon versions weigh 75 grams less than their aluminum counterparts. Prices for the carbon bars are $215.00 across the three models, $75.00 for the 7075 T-6 aluminum models, and $50.00 for the 6061 T-6 aluminum bars. You can learn more about these bars and more here on Salsa’s site.

That’s it for this edition of Gravel Grinder News.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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5 thoughts on “Gravel Grinder News: Surly, All City, Salsa Carbon Bars, & Gore

  1. 20 years ago a bought a Crossbike, ditched the Roadbike, and have been using my Crossbike for road and gravel duties ever since. My Crossbike might be my all time favorite bike. Unfortunately, the widest tire that will fit my old bike is 700x35mm. So I am unable to try wider tires. I am also a mountain biker and a couple of years ago I started riding a Plus hardtail with 29X3.0in tires. I find Plus tires ride particularly well on gravel. Instead of cutting through gravel, they tend to float on top and can be very fast. In addition, they provide a bit of tire suspension that soaks up bigger hits which makes the bike very easy on the body. I am smitten with high volume, low pressure Plus rubber. Lately, I’ve been using my mountain bike to ride gravel but it does not make an ideal Gravelbike. I’ve been waiting for someone to produce a light weight, high quality Plus Gravelbike and I am encouraged by the bikes reviewed in this article. I’ve considered buying a Plus bikepacking bike but most of them are just to overbuilt and heavy. I believe a Plus Gravelbike with internal width 30mm rims mounted to 27.5×2.8in tires (like the tubeless-ready, gravel tread, 750gm
    Schwalbe G-One Allround) and mated to a light-weight Gravel frame would be ideal. I believe a light and lively Plus Gravelbike is possible. I hope Riding Gravel continues to explore wider tire Gravelbikes because I don’t think 50mm(2.0in) tires are wide enough.

    1. Hi Plusbike Nerd – I am/have been a committed roadie but coming from that very different perspective I’m actually looking for something very similar to you. The reviews and info on Bike Quarterly are occasionally tantalizing. Lately I’ve been pondering a Jones LWB (Jeff Jones bikes) especially the new Ti LWB Spaceframe model. No drop bars but the Jones Loop bars are very popular. Extremely capable on gravel but even useful for on road touring and road riding from the reviews and ride reports I’ve found.

      1. Just be careful to consider wheel and tire weight. There can be more than 2 lbs difference between a heavy 29×3.0 tire with an i45mm (i=internal width) non-tubeless drilled rim versus a light 27×2.8 tire with a tubeless-ready i30mm rim. Going tubeless shaves a lot of weight from a Plus Wheel. The first bike will ride like a tank while the second bike will be 4 pounds lighter and retain a light and lively feel. That’s why I think 27+ makes a better Gravel wheel. Because it’s smaller, it’s lighter. In addition, there are many more tire choices in 27+ than 29+. However, if you prefer 29+, you could use a light 29×2.6 tire with a tubeless-ready i25mm rim and the bike could still be fairly light. Just remember, as the tire gets thinner, some of that Plus magic gets lost.

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