This is a bike that has history, it has evolved into what it is today from an experiment in fat tyredness from 2010, starting its life as a Surly Karate Monkey that was built with 26 inch fat tyres, an original Surly Endomorph 3.8 inch tyre on the front (with a set of Surly Pugsley forks fitted) and a Duro Leopard 3.0 inch tyre in the back. This version was ridden extensively in single speed mode, exploring the new terrain being opened up by the float the fat tyres were capable of giving, a week exploring the beaches on Skye with my son riding a similarly equipped bike convinced me to finally go full fat and a Salsa Mukluk was bought.
The Karate Monkey was abandoned for a while until I needed a rough and tough urban commuter, a Surly Ogre frame was swapped into the transferable parts, only different parts were the 29 inch wheels (which came from my 2003 Indy Fab) and a 3×9 set of gears fitted, this bike served its purpose well until I was no longer commuting.
By now most of it was worn out, hundreds of sea salty and sandy miles followed by thousands of road salty and gritty commuter miles had taken their toll, it was time for some TLC.
An old friend makes bikes, I have one of his frames already but had always lusted after a Swift, they are generally built as rigid single speed mountain bikes but there are numerous examples of the Swift being built into a multitude of differing builds, including builds like I envisaged.
The frame arrived, it was a thing of beauty, that fabulous blue colour being Sams signature, I looked at what was left of the Karate/Ogre and decided that this frame deserved better, the only things to make the switch was the Chris King headset and bottom bracket, the Avid BB7 brake callipers and the Race Face chainset.
Other parts came from my parts bin, the Cane Creek brake levers from the Singular Kite SS cross bike build, the rear and front mech from an old(ish) full suspension bike that never gets ridden anymore.
Handlebars were originally my favourite Salsa Woodchippers, these were soon swapped out as the extra wide flare was leaving the Dura Ace bar end shifters in a vulnerable position, Salsa Cowchippers are a half way house between the Woodchippers and Salsa Cowbells, reducing the outer width by about two inches either side.
Seat and post were also from the Kite, but the seat soon being swapped for a Brooks Cambium, the lack of care needed by the Cambium vs a traditional Swift or Swallow being an added bonus.
Wheels are new (bought with money) the original White Industries hub still going strong but the Salsa Delgado rims had been beaten into submission, the hubs have been salvaged and headed to a new home, Hope hoops are great value for money and consequently are now fitted, shod with Surly Extra Terrastrial 2.5 inch tyres and inner tubes topped up with Stans fluid.
So the bike now has a new purpose, my build is to allow for a comfortable ride around the farm tracks and dirt roads in the north west coast of England. I’m a fan of the new soft luggage game, but this bike will sport a rear rack and panniers in addition to a half frame bag when I go further afield, a long term plan has been to do a dirty LeJog, the Swift will be the bike for this when this finally happens.
Singular Swift frame in XL, with Singular Swift touring fork (only difference is the fork has three sets of bottle cage bolts for extra water/gear carrying capacity), steerer has been left uncut for now.
Chris King headset and bottom bracket (fit and forget)
Easton 110mm 17 degree rise stem and Salsa Cowchipper 46cm bars, every year my bars are raising up another inch such that the tops of the bars are almost level with the saddle, thus putting the drops in a comfortable position.
Bar tape is Lizard Skins DSP 2.5mm thick, slightly soft and vulnerable to clumsiness but comfortable for someone who has long term nerve damage in their hands.
Shifters are Dura Ace 9spd bar end shifters, solid and reliable.
Shimano long cage XT 9spd rear derailleur, Shimano Deore 3x top pull front mech.
Sram 12-34 9spd cassette, Sram 9 spd chain, mid range.
Chainset is an old triple Race Face Evolve, original granny ring (very rusty now) Middleburn hard coat 32 tooth middle ring, Race Face 44 tooth outer ring (not original)
Shimano SPD pedals, cheap, efficient and reliable.
Hope Hoop enduro 29er wheels, bought because they were cheaper (at trade price) than I could have built individually, no discussion needed.
Surly Extra Terrastrial 2.5 tyres, heavy (1000gms each) but designed to go the distance, actually feel quite lively on dirt, only really showing their weight on long tarmac climbs, I use Continental inner tubes with Stans fluid injected in for protection from thorns from hedgecutting.
Thomson 400 x 27.2 seatpost, faultless for me, Brooks Cambium saddle, now my favourite.
Apidura half frame bag, fitted because thats the one (of many brands that I own) that fits, holds tubes, tools, phone, rain jacket, gilet, food, money, spare gloves.
Revelate gas tank, the original and best, contains camera (Sony RX100) and cable lock.
Nitto small front rack for supporting my Iron Weed Rando bag when its used (a Velo Orange decaleur is also fitted if the bag is in use), struts adapted by use of spare Ortlieb pannier hooks to allow for the angle of the bottle cage bosses.
Front and rear lights fitted low by use of M-parts holders.
Words & pictures – Steve Makin.