Surly Troll Single Speed Trail Build

After touring the Philippines by bike (which you can read stuff about the tour here by the way, i decided to take a rest from long distance cycling and for three months, I’ve taken shorts trips around the metro.

Since 2012, i’ve ridden exclusively in paved roads (well, except for occasional unpaved ones in routes we’ve done) and curiosity of doing trails bit me. Since my Surly Troll was an off road touring bike by design, I had the bike reconfigured into a single speed off road rig.


setup courtesy of Ross Cycles
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Grimace the Troll with his pet Fleegle the Beagle!


Frame: Surly Troll 2013 model

Fork: Epicon 2011 model, 100mm travel


Araya TF840 rims, 32 holes, Surly Ultra New Hubs (Front), Hope Pro 2 Trails Single Speed Specific Hub (Rear), Origin 8 Spokes, WTB Race Nano Tires (26×2.1)


Truvativ Firex 1.1 with Hope 36 chainring, surly cog 18t


Avid BB7


Stem: Ritchey 90mm, Handlebar: On One Fleegle, 25.4 clamping

So far, ive tried this rig at the Filinvest and Malipay Trails down south and handles quite well in the xc portions and the bike is stable with climbs and some jumps (not to high though!). In the future, i look forward to doing tours on the off road path and for now, this build is helping me develop a new skill set for exciting new routes in the future

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Got Goat?
At the Filinvest Trails
lovin mud
loving all that mud!

Featured build: Nerica Joy’s Brompton

It was only in Caliraya, Laguna where we had a chance to ride together. But prior to that I’ve seen Nerica Joy’s posts online about her adventures with her brompton. Though ive heard of people using the bike on long distance trips, very few would do such in the Philippines. And Nerica is one of those few who’d take that long distance adventure using this 16 inch wonder. For this entry on featured builds, Nerica took time to talk about her  bike.

PV: Interesting to see that brompton riders like you go long distance with this bike. Does your bike have a name?

NJ: I call my bike “Tanke” because it’s as heavy as a tank hehe.

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“Tanke” at the 0 kilometer marker, Rizal park, Manila

PV: Quite interesting name! and i agree with you that the bike is a bit on the heavy side given its steel construction. what’s the story behind it? Why decided to have that build?

NJ: The primary reason I got the my Brompton is because I bike to work. Since my work is client-based, I need a bike with a compact fold and easy manueverability for urban commuting. But since I love to do long rides as well, why the heck not use the Brompton?

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view overlooking Taal Lake

PV: I agree about the compact fold and its potential for long rides…i remember the topic of type of bike is a longstanding issue among long distance riders but it’s nice that you always go for personal preference and balance opinions of others with your own needs. so what’s in it? anything special?

NJ: Its sturmey archer rear hub makes it easier to shift gears when tackling steep climbs. Also, its geometry allows me to pedal in a near upright position so I won’t tire easily after long distances. Plus, it is very easy to upgrade the brompton to attach racks and bags. The only fault that I have with my build is that it does not have dual crank (yet). Its current build is best for flat pavements. But that doesn’t mean I don’t use it to climb hehe.

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At Kaybiang Tunnel, Ternate Cavite

PV: yeah tell me about climbs! you basically strolled through the Caliraya climb without breaking a sweat! since you’ve been doing long distance trips for quite some time, what’s the most difficult ride for you?

NJ:  My most difficult ride would be hands-down the Taal Loop via Sungay, Talisay Batangas. After 150 km, we were supposed to climb the dreaded Sungay road going to Tagaytay. I was already exhausted then. This is the time when I wished I didn’t use my Brompton because my build has a 50t crank with 16″ wheels. It was not made for climbing. After  just 1km mark from the bottom of Sungay road, both my legs cramped and I could not recover. If only I had a smaller crank, the climb would be easier. I vowed to return with a vengeance hehehe. 

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Along the Teresa climb, Rizal

PV: Everybody dreads that Sungay climb but im glad you got through it…and hey, it’s just there waiting for your revenge hehe…considering that the Brompton may be a difficult bike to bring if you have a lot of climbs in your route,  what would be the most memorable ride for you?

NJ: My most memorable ride would be my attempt to bike from Manila to Sagada. My favorite part was Kennon Road. The view was so breathtakingly beautiful that I did not feel the heat or the distance of pedaling for 5 hours to the Lion’s Head. Unfortunately, I did not make it to Sagada by bike since I had an accident. But still, the journey more than made up for the inconvenience that happened.

With fellow riders at Jariel’s peak, Infanta Quezon

PV: Ah yes, i remember that when i saw some of the photos online but im glad that you made a speedy recovery and that didn’t dampen your spirit! Why is this build for you?

NJ:  I am more of an urban commuter than a tourer that’s why the B is perfect for me. But don’t let the small wheels fool you. It can keep pace with roadbikes on flat pavement and easy shifting makes it a contender on the hills. It’s great for touring as well as for urban commute.

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overlooking the sierra madre mountains, Rizal

PV: totally agree on this one. I think on my stable, the Brompton is the best commuter out there given the terrible traffic in Manila! and to end, what advice can you give those interested in bike touring?

NJ:  My advice to anyone who  is touring is to just do it (Nike? Hahaha). The adventure begins the moment you walk out the door. You’ll know what you will need the next time.

At Soloviento, Caliraya


Photos courtesy of Nerica Joy

Christmas, the Good Samaritan and the Cyclist

When pedalling long distances, there are so many expectations for the rider. To be self-sufficient, to ride strong, and composed…but many take for granted the role of important people who make our trip successful and perhaps less miserable-The good Samaritan…

I’ve heard of countless stories of how good Samaritans-total strangers-have offered whatever it is needed by the biker. Whether it be food and drink, shelter, mechanical assistance or even company, these Good Samaritans are a beacon of hope for riders heading towards great distances isolated from family and friends for many days.

My first encounter with a good Samaritan was in June 2015 when I and several members of the Centurion Cycling Club did a long distance cycling trip to Baguio (estimated distance is 270km from Manila)…after pedalling the whole night and early day, we made our climb  in the afternoon. And as I recall hard rain hit us at Kennon Road…witnessing rainwater bringing in soil and rock and vehicles rushing through the road…two of our companions who were ahead of us shouted …they took refuge in a small store…The old lady in the counter allowed us to stay in her small space and even offered food and other stuff to buy and allowed us to stay for the night…What I recall is that she warned us not to ride it out as land/rockslides might put everyone in danger…Most of us didn’t make it up that last climb to Baguio (and we have unfinished business with this route)…but we will never forget the kindness of that good Samaritan…

members of the Centurion Cycling Club on that Baguio ride

As time passed by, doing several multiday tours, good Samaritans have always been a part of the success of our trips…offering their space to rest during intense heat or rain, offering cold drinks or coffee,a hot meal, or even a place to stay for the night.

Ate Anitz from Carranglan, Nueva Ecija during Sagada loop 43 (Woman in White)
Sir Jun of Bagabag Airport, Nueva Vizacaya during Sagada Loop 45 (man in yellow)
Ate Ella of Banaue (Woman in white with a Child) during Sagada Loop 45
Ate Doris of Sabangan, Mountain Province (Woman at the center) during Sagada Loop 45

This holiday season, we are reminded of the good Samaritan for two things. Unlike the regular tourist, these good Samaritans are never part of the tourist spectacle. That is, they are never obligated to help or assist or even entertain the tourist-they are regular people who are part of the place we visit. And for that, the cyclist will always be fortunate-to have a much more enriched experience with these people. Often times, these good Samaritans give beyond what they possess-time, resources, effort.

Our good Samaritans Sadeck and Gerald from Mt. Polis together with Buboy Perez

More importantly, as cyclists who travel great distances, we live from what we get (and our success can be greatly attributed to their help), but these good Samaritans live a life from what they give.

Donald Uy (man in glasses and grey shirt at the center) of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan during our Manila-Vigan bike tour

Happy holidays!




Featured Build: Anton’s Fat Fixie

Seriously, I don’t like fixies

They’re dangerous, difficult to use, and for some, it’s viewed as reckless cycling.

Don’t get me wrong though- I respect Fixed riders because we share the same passion as some of us have-But riding Fixed isn’t really for me.

While many see fixies as a lifestyle, some push their rigs to the limit…

Anton is one of them. Meeting him before in a long distance ride at the Sierra Madre Route in Rizal, I found him quite odd that he used single speed. But when I joined the group that he was part of (Surly FFFinas) I was even more surprised he had different bikes that are set up in unique ways but all shared a common characteristic-either fixed or single speed, and fat.

Anton is obviously one of those strong riders out there but very professional. Don’t let the beard strike fear in you! He’s one of the most humble and kindest out there and his knowledge  and skill with the bike will obviously make you believe that anything is possible.

Still good vibes after the Magnetic Hill Climb at University of the Philippines, Los Banos and the notorious ‘Sungay’ Climb, Talisay, Batangas

Good thing I had a chance to chat with him about that Fat Fixie of his


PV: So what’s the story behind the bike?

A: this i got second hand.. Not my idea- wish it was.. Tristan (a friend) built this frankenstein!! The only thing i did was give it life..


PV: hmmmm, I’m curious since we both ride Surlys it appears to me that the Fat Fixie isn’t one, so what is it?

A: It’s a Scott Boulder mtb size 24 steel frame converted into a fixed gear. The rear end was ‘katay’ (cut up and reassembled) by a local frame builder Mr. Avelino Maldea (the legendary Filipino framebuilder) to fit those 3.0 tires on  50mm rims on the rear & 85mm rims up front.. Placed a bmx handlebar to make it like a bmx i used to ride when i was a kid.

Fixed, fat and BMX handlebar!

PV: Wow, I’ve recently had an interest in Single Speed and would like to setup my own ride with those cool BMX bars- a tribute to that reckless youth in me, but what’s strikes me curious is why ride fixed?

A: After riding roadbikes for 10yrs & riding Ss for about 8years(not as long as others, a little longer than some) I kinda got bored riding free wheeled bicycles.. That’s why I liked this (fixed gear) build so much it gave cycling a new life…

After the ‘2 kilometer pain’ segment in Reverse Palace in the Sky

PV: I see, I even rode with you at Reverse Palace in the Sky down South, Magnetic Hill +Sungay  and Another Sierra Madre ride at the East (all at least 120km) and you used this with relative ease…so tell, me what’s the most difficult ride you’ve had then?

A: . I don’t have one in mind, But i have a difficult time waking up early for rides. Basically that’s the hard part.

always having a good selfie with the buddies of Surly FFF-inas

PV: hahahahaha! Well, it’s a testament to your skill and strength that I think any ride is a welcome challenge for you. To end, What advice can you give tourers?

A: For me getting a good bike fit is a must.. Spending hours on a wrong fitted bike is the last thing you want & hydrate 3 days before a tour/long ride. Bow!


Anton’s 1×1 (on top) with the basket

Perhaps one of the things, I appreciate in his builds is that clean look that everyone yearns for. I personally pack heavy and would like a lot of stuff on my rigs but perhaps someday, I’ll setup mine like this one. Just don’t get me riding fixed though (as I am clumsy as ever)




Featured Build: Dindo Flauta’s Bike Friday

I believe that any bike can be converted into a touring bike and from time to time, I’ll be featuring several builds from friends and hopefully, we get to pick up insights for our own dream build for our epic adventures.


I met Dindo Flauta in one of our events organized by the Centurion Cycling Club and I’ve heard of his skill on two wheels before. Not only is he a technically gifted individual because of his knowledge of bikes but he prides himself of being consistent in terms of effort from start to finish…In fact, he was able to obtain the distinction of Super Randonneur twice in Audax Philippines for 2015 and 2016


I had a chance to ride with Dindo to Legzapi City, Bicol (450km away from Manila) and he was the only one with a folding bike.., Out of curiousity, ive asked him constantly about his rig as I have always had a fascination of using small wheels for long distance trips and I owe it to him for helping me setup my folding bike for a bike tour to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte last December 2015…

Dindo (extreme left with his Bike Friday)

PV: So, does your bike have a name and what’s the story behind it?

DF: I named him Lando because that was the maiden voyage of the bike and during our trip (Manila to Aparri), that was the time when typhoon Lando hit the country and that was one challenging ride that we eventually had to abort due to bad weather conditions.


PV: I see, so why use a folding bike for your tours? And why bike Friday?

DF: I have always been fascinated with steel bikes, and with the chance of setting up a bike friday, reputed to be the top choice when it comes to small wheel touring, I couldnt pass on this opportunity

PV: Interesting, I agree that steel definitely has its charm when it comes to touring bikes but I gotta ask, what’s in that yellow bike Friday of yours?

DF: It’s a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro in full Shimano Ultegra 11s groupset. Wheels are custom H+ Son rims mated to Hope Mono hubs on Sapim CX Ray spokes and brass nipples. Saddle is the ever reliable Brooks B17 leather

PV: Lando is definitely a keeper with these specs-I’ve always wanted those Hope Mono hubs and we’ve always argued about the brooks saddle since I’m a C17 fan hahaha…what about the most difficult ride?

DF: Manila to Legaspi City, Bicol Region. It was a 450km++ ride spread out into 3days, a lot of it on rolling terrain and unfavorable weather…

PV: Clearly remember that especially day 2, aside from extreme weather, the rolling terrain was just terrible! What about your most memorable trip with Lando?

DF: – Explored California’s Bay Area from San Jose all the way to San Francisco. It was a mixed terrain of fast highways, dedicated bike routes, rough roads, and the some pretty hellish mountain routes (Mt. Diablo, Mt Hamilton, Golden Gate)- about 300km plus and around 8000m of elevation over two days…

PV: Wow, ive never done a lengthy tour abroad and that must have been really memorable for you…since readers may want to get ideas for their project touring bikes, I have to ask, why is this build for you?

DF: I’m a big fan of steel frames, and folding bikes. Also an avid traveller, so a bike that is easily transported and can withstand being thrown around ports and airports, it was an easy choice

fit for the jetsetter/bike tourer

Looking at his rig, you can really sense a minimalist build while keeping the essential components for his riding needs. Perhaps owing it to his mountaineering roots, his rig observes that pack light philosophy which appeals to many riders out there.

Dindo’s pack light bike Friday