There’s a big difference between a custom bike and a customized bike, and it’s been a while since we’ve featured one of the latter. Cory lives in Toronto and built up this Surly Steamroller to combat the often severe Canadian climes and when he sent in these pictures of it, we felt it was too good not to share.
Surly was founded in 1998 by Steve Flagg and Mary Henrickson as an in-house brand under their umbrella Quality Bicycle Products company. To Surly’s credit, they have been instrumental in helping to establish the single speed culture and have designed and manufactured bikes that have carried countless adventurers.
In the true spirit of homespun custom, Cory has modified what was a stock single speed Steamroller frame to more perfectly suit his requirements and make it even more functional than what it was — and provides another testament as to why steel is such an ideal bicycle frame material.
The first step was to add a couple of extra braze-ons, namely a hub brake cable guide to the left fork leg and seat stay, and fender eyelets to the brake and chain stays. The frame and fork was then sent to a Toronto painter for an ultra-durable blue hammertone powdercoat that will withstand a huge amount of commuting abuse.
Cory has been assembling bikes like this since he was young, and although he has collected a lot of the obscure parts for the Surly, he doesn’t consider himself a collector. “I got into spec’ing out bikes like this as a kid and returned to this compulsion as an artist stuck behind a computer at an office day job.
“I passed extra time by scouring the web to learn component history, aesthetics, functionality, and compatibilities. I love mashing things together parts from different cycling disciplines, that otherwise might not inhabit the same bike. For example, on the Surly there are MTB, Road, Townie, and BMX parts that have been combined seamlessly.”
The parts were sourced from various online retailers, eBay for some NOS, and via his co-op LBS, Urbane Cyclist. The cranks, for example, are three-arm Campagnolo Gran Sport, but other components were more considered acquisitions, like the chainring that he drafted and had waterjet cut in sheet stainless steel.
The bottom bracket is Phil Wood, the headset is a polished Chris King unit, the stem is by Rivendell/Nitto, and the handlebars are rechromed vintage CCM 4″ risers. The French inverse CBL brake levers are vintage too. The hubs are both made by Sturmey-Archer, a drum brake on the front and a Sturmey S3X hub in the rear.
There’s plenty of other personalised touches, like the custom stainless fender stays and a polished Moots Ti seatpost, with a clamp modified to accept a Pitlock security bolt. One thing’s for sure, you won’t find a similar bike hanging from a peg in your local shop. But hey, that’s the beauty of a custom bike.
Massive thanks to Cory for the images.