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The Surly Preamble: Entry-Level Versatility

Meet the Surly Preamble: a versatile steel charmer, designed with new riders in mind and destined to spark a passion for cycling. Join Immu as she assembles a custom Preamble, readying it for adventures along the picturesque beaches of Southern Thailand.

The Surly Preamble: Entry-Level Versatility

Earlier this year, the Surly Preamble rolled onto the scene, drawing comparisons to the Bridge Club but with a distinct, commuting-focused flair. Some riders speculate that it might be the successor to the beloved Cross-Check, regardless, the consensus is clear: a decent quality bike for under 1K is always a win. Since the introduction of the Surly Preamble, the online cycling community has been buzzing with a flood of opinions—positive and negative.

In a market saturated with bicycles specially designed for niche interests, many companies concentrate on producing highly specialized bikes loaded with features aimed at experienced cycling enthusiasts. But what about newcomers to the sport? The Surly Team has admirably filled this gap by adopting a more inclusive approach to make cycling accessible to beginners. The Surly Preamble stands out with its reasonable price and quality build, offering an excellent introduction to the #steelisreal concept for new cyclists. This move by Surly is thoughtful, isn’t it? It opens up the world of cycling to those who might just fall in love with it.

As a Surly Humanoid, I always anticipate the unveiling of new models, witnessing the creativity and innovation that have consistently fueled the cycling community for decades. Having relocated from bustling Bangkok to the serene coastal haven of Trang in Thailand, I was excited to embark on a journey of building up a Preamble, envisioning leisurely rides along the shorelines. However, my experience with this delightful bike extended far beyond our initial coastal aspirations. Despite some negative feedback following its launch, we've accumulated a wealth of thoughts and insights during our trials, which I'm excited to share.

A Versatile Canvas

Surly's website succinctly captures the essence of the Surly Preamble with the motto, "Nothing more is needed. Nothing less will do." It's a sentiment that resonates with those who appreciate the simplicity of a bike designed for any purpose. Not everyone seeks a bike laden with features; in fact, consider your very first bike—it likely embodied simplicity. The Surly Enginerds had a clear vision when developing the Surly Preamble: to craft a robust steel bike that prioritizes only the essential attributes.

The Surly Preamble embodies the primary ethos of the Surly Team: to create an accessible bike at an exceptional price point. It's not just any bike; it's your canvas to #surlymakeityourown. Tailor it to suit your needs—whether as your inaugural bike, a versatile road companion, a city cruiser, a gravel adventurer, or a reliable commuter. Its adaptability knows no bounds, accommodating casual jaunts through parks, leisurely coffee shop stops, daily commutes, or even overnight gravel escapades. The Surly Preamble seamlessly adapts to diverse surfaces and conditions, truly finding its home in various cycling scenarios.


Frame Construction: Crafted from 100% Surly Chromoly steel, featuring Natch tubing, a double-butted main triangle, TIG welding, and E.D. coating for enhanced durability.

Rear Hub Spacing: The Surly Preamble boasts a versatile 10x138mm Surly Gnot Boost QR, accommodating both 10x135mm and 10x141mm QR hubs.

Tire Clearance Frame: XS-SM frames: Support for 650b x 41mm tires, with or without fenders. MD-XL frames: Compatibility with 700c x 41mm tires, with or without fenders.

Tire Clearance Fork: Ample space for 650b x 47mm or 700c x 44mm tires. Mounting Options: Equipped with two standard bottle mounts and rack mounts for added versatility.

A Path Into The Surly-Verse

The Surly Preamble acts as a gateway, allowing its owner to smoothly transition to other Surly models based on their evolving cycling interests. For those drawn to road cycling or gravel riding, the Straggler or Midnight Special are excellent next steps. If bikepacking calls to them, the Bridge Club offers the perfect setup. And for enthusiasts ready to explore mountain biking, the Karate Monkey provides an entry into that world. Essentially, the Surly Preamble introduces riders to a wide array of possibilities, helping them discover a passion for Surly bikes.

Mr. Beach Boy: A Personal Journey

My journey with the Surly Preamble—a build affectionately named 'Mr. Beach Boy'—has been a testament to the bike's versatility. This custom-built Preamble is not just any bike; it's a reflection of my adventures, equipped with a meticulously selected Shimano 12-speed drivetrain for smooth shifting across diverse terrains, Velocity Rims that offer the perfect balance between durability and performance, and Panaracer Pari-Moto 650b Tires for that ideal grip and comfort on both pavement and off-road trails.

The cockpit is adorned with a Sim Works Wild Honey Bar, wrapped in Grepp Bar Tape for that extra comfort and control during long rides. The steering is precise, thanks to a reliable Tange Headset, while a comfortable Fabric Scoop Saddle ensures that every journey, no matter how long, is a pleasure. For the pedals, we chose iSSi Thump Pedals, known for their robustness and reliability. And, to carry our essentials, a Front Support Rack from Build Dream was the obvious choice, blending functionality with the aesthetic appeal for this Surly masterpiece.

To add a personal touch and truly make it mine, I opted for a two-tone hand-painted design inspired by the sweet pastel sunsets of Trang, turning 'Mr. Beach Boy' into not just a means of transportation but a piece of moving art that captures the essence of our coastal life and adventures.

I've received numerous inquiries about the compatibility of 650b x 47c or wider tires with the Surly Preamble size SM. To address this, I conducted a trial using Ultradynamico Cava and Rose tires in 650b x 47.99, and the results suggest that it's not advisable to exceed Surly's recommended tire size. It's recommended to stick within the guidelines of no more than 44c tires.

Encountering a comment on social media that aptly describes the Surly Preamble as a 'fun-ass bike,' I couldn't agree more! Our initial ride with this bike left a lasting impression. While it may give off the vibe of an easy commuter, don't be fooled—this bike packs enough power to take you wherever your adventures lead. This bike brings me back to the days of my first Hybrid Bike, a trusty companion for daily commuting that eventually opened the door to the world of touring and bike travel.

Affordability & Accessibility

The pricing strategy for the Surly Preamble has left a lasting impression, standing out as a pleasant surprise alongside the launch of this new model. Surly is making the complete flat bar version available at a starting price of USD $899, with the drop bar version priced at USD $1199. Additionally, the frameset is offered separately at USD $549. It's important to note that these prices may vary by country.

Among the complete build options, the Surly Preamble emerges as the most budget-friendly choice among all Surly models currently available. For those eager to join the Surly Crew without breaking the bank, this presents an excellent opportunity to become part of the community with a limited budget!

Wrapping Up

In a nutshell, the Surly Preamble has splashed into the cycling scene, creating waves of excitement and sparking lively debates. Is it the Cross-Check successor or a pavement adventurer akin to the Bridge Club? The buzz is clear — an under-1k gem is always a triumph.

Our Preamble journey kicked off in the coastal charm of Trang, dreaming of beach rides and daily commutes. Surprisingly, this bike exceeded our coastal dreams, showcasing versatility across various cycling scenarios. Despite initial skepticism, our trials uncovered a Surly standout.

Addressing the big question, the Preamble carves its unique space, welcoming those new to Surly simplicity. An introductory chapter for steel riders, it aligns with Surly's inclusive ethos. Lastly, its wallet-friendly pricing opens doors for budget-savvy riders. The Surly Preamble isn't just a bike; it's an invitation to dive into cycling simplicity, versatility, and affordability. A distinctive gem in Surly's legacy, it adapts to your cycling whims—whether cruising the beach, daily commuting, gravel adventuring, or city cruising.

✓ Pros
Cost-Effective: High-quality cycling at an affordable price.
Highly Versatile: Adapts easily to various cycling environments.
Customizable: Offers significant potential for personalization.
Quality Construction: Built with essential features for durability and reliability.
Beginner-Friendly: An accessible introduction to steel bikes.
✕ Cons
Tire Size Limit: Constraints on tire width limit terrain adaptability.
Load Limit: Not suited for heavy touring or extensive gear.
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