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Stoutly built, adaptable steel all-rounder with a lot of tyre room, double rack mounts and a strong bias towards trail use

If you have your own ideas about how you'd want to equip the Surly Straggler, you could start with a frame and fork for £449.99, but the complete bike package is very thoughtfully equipped and looks like a good starting point for the sort of bike that could theoretically tackle pretty much any terrain you choose to ride. A bombproof frame build and Surly's Knard 41mm knobbly tyres are strong indicators towards its intended territory, but adaptability is without a doubt the overriding key to its appeal.

US brand Surly already has a sound reputation for purposeful, adaptable and durable framesets, and their Cross-Check cyclocross bred all-rounder comes pretty close to the Straggler in terms of all rounder appeal. But the Straggler gets disc brakes instead of cantilevers, theoretically making it more of a draw for serious off road travellers.

But there are other instant appeal factors in the design too. The set-back 135mm (mountain bike width) dropouts use a partially-closed cowled design with stop-screw adjusters, so you can run a single sprocket or slide the wheel back for extra tyre clearance.

There are threaded bosses for mudguards and all types of front and rear pannier racks plus two bottle cages and there's far more tyre room than on most other cyclocross bred frames.

There are 10 sizes to choose from (42 to 64cm) and each get a 72° head angle. Seat angles range from 75° on the smallest size to 72° on the largest. Horizontal top tube length on our 56cm (22in) frame is just under 58cm (22.8in) and the head tube extends about 2cm above the top tube to give an option of a high bar position at the same time as plenty standover room if you straddle the top tube.

Surly categorise the Straggler as a rough roads road bike, a cyclocross bike with no racing pretences, a utilitarian townie, a light-duty tourer, an all-weather commuter. Plus, they say, “When you get tired of one set up, you can swap parts around and turn it into something else.” That looks like fairly accurate summary to me.

Colour-wise, you can choose between the “Glitter Dreams” sparkling finish of our test bike and a much more conservative “Closet Black”. You're probably not going  to be interested if you're a weight watcher as a complete bike weighs in at 11.9kg/26.5lb (without pedals), a reflection of its 4130 cromoly steel tubes and the fact that it's designed and equipped to take a beating in off road environments. The frame is neatly TIG-welded, with a double-butted main triangle. A 4130 cromoly steel fork has a lugged and brazed crown and dropouts, butted blades with low ride rack eyelets and dual dropout eyelets.

The full parts package uses wheels with Alex DX-Lite eyeleted rims, 32 black stainless spokes and Surly's own hubs, allen bolted up front, quick release at the back. A Shimano drivetrain mixes a 46/34 cyclocross chainset with Tiagra shifters and rear mech, a CX70 front mech and an 11-32 10-speed cassette. The brakes are well proven and easy to adjust Avid BB7 cable pull discs, with full outer cables. The seat post and stem are from Kalloy, the saddle from Velo and the handlebar a compact drop and slightly flared Salsa Cowbell.

We'll be putting the Surly Straggler through its paces over the next few weeks. In the meantime, visit surlybikes.com or UK importer www.ison-distribution.com for more details.