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Surly vs Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom Steel(21 posts)

Surly vs Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom SteelJMD
Nov 7, 2002 12:26 AM
So I am a steel junkie. I have a steel road and mtn frame and want a steel cross frame/fork. Both my frames are nice high end tubesets and are a dream to own and ride. But.....I am looking to build up a cross bike that will be raced and commuted on and taken back in the woods on pretty technical trails very often (esp over the off season) I am considering getting the Kelly Knobby Cross or a nice higher end steel frame with SS drop outs (considering gunnar as well). But lets be honest here - Is the only difference bet these 2 frames going to be weight? I have ridden my friends Surly and liked it - wasn't crazy about the geometry, but not bad. I have not ridden the knobby cross but have heard nothing but praise for the geometry and build of the frame. I hear that the kelly is a little quicker than a typical cross frame - that may be good since this bike will also see considerable road fixed gear use. I also want to be able to run fat tires on the trails (38mm)Any ideas???? Any knobby cross riders care to shed some light on this???
Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom Steelbuffalosorrow
Nov 7, 2002 5:17 AM
True the surly is more of an all around bike, to accomidate the uses of varied individuals, touring, cross, road, commuting, urban assualt and messenger types. Great deal. But if your are looking for a more race ready frame, I would lean towards the Kelly. From what I understand the geo is closer to that of road, so it would make some sense that its comfort levels compared to that of the surly would be in your favor. Some other options are the Steelman, nice frame, IF, Gunnar, I think the Kelly would be the best deal.

I do not own a Kelly, but a custom Graham Weigh (UK) modeled after the IF. I went with horizontal drops to run fix and single speed and all the top cable routings to get the gears in motion if need be. I am very 'at ease' on the frame, I have no complaints, only praise. Although its ride vastly differs from my colnago dream cross.

If I was in the market for a new cross frame I would look very closely at the Kelly, if I did find an amazing deal on one I may have three cross bikes. Otherwise I would have another Graham Weigh custom built to suit.

I would load a image, but my scanner is acting funny.
Nov 7, 2002 6:53 AM
There are some pretty substantial differences between the Surly and the Kelly with the most obvious being price...

- Surly mystery 4130 tubing vs. Kelly TT OX Platinum tubing (weight and stiffness)
- Surly is a do it all bike vs. Kelly is more race oriented. Surly has braze on's, curved fork, two water bottle mounts. Kelly has no braze on's one water bottle mount, straight blade fork.
- Surly is made overseas, Kelly you can talk to the owner of the company when purchasing.
- Surly one color, Kelly multiple colors

I hope that helps. I own a Knobby X and ride Midwest singletrack on it 2-3 times/week. The bike is set up with an MTB drivetrain and Ultegra shifters. I tackle everything from granny gear climbs to rolling downhills with the bike and have been very happy. As for being a commuter bike the Knobby X has replaced my Trek road bike as my daily ride. I use both a backpack and messenger bag depending on the weather so the lack of braze ons for a rack doesn't bug me (however I could see it being an issue for some, hence you might want to add these options to your order). As for tire size, I haven't gotten more radical then Michelin Muds 700x30 (which most people claim is closer to a 35c tire). They fit fine in between the chainstays.

I can't thing of much else here. Don't want to get into the geometry issue as that is really dependent on the rider...
Nov 7, 2002 2:14 PM
Steve_O - thanks for the info - You are using this almost exactly as I would. So I can pretty well aim this question right at you - I think based on the geometry that I could use this on the road as a commuter and off season fixed gear ride ( which will be 80% of my riding until Mar) and then throw on 38mm Ritchet Mt Cross tires (which fit fine according to Kelly) for singletrack. I am in the east coast and have really technical rocky rooty stuff. Now I certainly won't be racing on this frame in singletrack, but I would like to be able to get in 2-3 hr technical rides in on this frame. Do you think the Kelly Fits?
Nov 8, 2002 9:00 AM
The Kelly would be a great bike for what you are describing. I can only comment on the gearie version of the bike but it has worked well for me! A little over 3k miles on the frame between commuting and offroad riding. No problems beyond some component failures ;-)
re: Surly vs Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom SteelPoptart
Nov 7, 2002 7:16 AM
haven't ridden one, but i've been told the surly is a slightly overbuilt/heavy run-of-the-mill crmo frame and the ride is a little stiff. it is well built and you can't beat the price ($400 frameset). i love the green paint if you can find an older model. would make a great commuter and would probably be fine for gravel roads and fire trails and the like, but there are better choices for technical trail riding.

there seems to be another level of bikes (around $600) between the kelly and the surly that you might want to look at. the soma double cross and interloc cross both have slightly upgraded (631/crmo and tange prestige) tubing that is tuned/shaped. a san francisco bike shop designed the soma to be a slightly racier version of the surly. the bianchi steel cross frame is also available at this price if you want some italian steel.

then you have the kelly and gunnar at about $750. the only thing i have to add here is that some people complain about the soft paint of the gunnar while the kelly has a more durable powder coat paint. other than that, i think these are both excellent choices.

if you can go above $1000, then you can get into frames that have a real racing pedigree like if/steelman/sycip, etc. seems like a waste of money unless you're going to race.

personally, i've narrowed my choices down to the kelly and gunnar, along with the airborne carpe diem if my ship comes in.
re: Surly vs Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom SteelFarmpunker
Nov 7, 2002 9:54 AM
I own a 2000 Surly which is slightly different from the newer frames. It's Reyonolds 631. I like it, but it does seem a little vague and heavy. The ride is nice and complient.
For a really cheap higher end steel frame, punch "Marinoni Fango" into this forum's search and you'll find lots of info, plus some pics. A Centaur Fango with carbon fork (don't quote me on that part) is 2300 CDN, or about 1500US. I believe the frame can be had, with steel fork for under 500US. And the frame can be made to your specifications for no upcharge, or so I've been led to believe. Like I said: search the archive for more and better info.
re: Surly vs Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom Steelatpjunkie
Nov 7, 2002 12:16 PM
Kelly's are made of superior metal and built by superior framebuilder(s). (Compared to the Surly) Because of this they will produce a sweeter ride (no offense to Surly owners). Hey any of you steel freaks, someone is selling a complete IF (53 I think for 950 in the classifieds.) A steel steal!
re: Surly vs Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom SteelJMD
Nov 7, 2002 1:54 PM
Where?????? I saw you post this this on another thread yesterday- - I'll take it - Where do I send the check??? I even searched - no 53's for sale at all and nothing close to 950 complete either
where? sorry it's a 54.atpjunkie
Nov 7, 2002 3:52 PM
here's the address
where? sorry it's a 54. ps He's dropped the price to $850atpjunkie
Nov 7, 2002 3:52 PM
looks like it is 850 for the frame. (nm)rockbender
Nov 7, 2002 4:18 PM
No it's a whole bikeatpjunkie
Nov 7, 2002 5:27 PM
at the bottom of the classifieds. Full Ultegra, Profile Bar, ITM Stem, Thompson Post, Avids, King F and D/A R hubs to Open Pros.
850. look for NEW PRICE in the ad. Steel for a Steal.
No $850 for frame 2k for bike (nm)snuz
Nov 8, 2002 7:50 AM
If it was $850 for the bike it would be between my legs right now. Dented top tube though.
re: Surly vs Kelly Knobby Cross/Custom SteelAsh
Nov 7, 2002 4:14 PM
Wait a couple of more weeks until I get my custom Wanta frame and check my review of it.

The main reason to consider it is that his prices are just so incredible. $595 frame/fork for FOCO, $495 frame/fork for Zona. Full custom

I had it made with a shorter top tube than normal for my long legs/short torso, slightly sloping top tube, taller head tube extension, and using those Surly Track rear facing track ends that come with a hanger

I'll be honest, I don't knowjack about cross, but I have several high end steel road and mountain frames so I will have something to compare it too.
Wanta?....Isn't he....dontnomuch
Nov 7, 2002 8:05 PM
one of the dudes in Boyz II Men?
Wanta?....Isn't he....atpjunkie
Nov 7, 2002 8:43 PM
have no idea, I don't think I'd want to claim it if I did. Yer killing me.
Nice work last week, Props to the SS! Great course didn't ya think?
Hey atpjunkie.....dontnomuch
Nov 8, 2002 4:19 PM
Are you racing the Urban Cyclocross this Sunday? It's a drive, but I'm thinking of doing it. Plus, with all this rain we've gotten, it might be "real" 'cross race, for a change.

Let me know.

Hey atpjunkie.....atpjunkie
Nov 8, 2002 5:32 PM
I thought about it. I still have this plugged ear. I'm going to have it checked by a doc tomorrow. I don't check e on weekend. 619.255.8165 call me Sat if you are going. Maybe we can carpool.'


I'll be here at the office for about another half hour (it's 5.35ish)

ps broke 2 more spokes. Hopefully wheel will be done.

pps rain is hell down here, trail was so sticky clay I couldn't even ride. did a 45 minute poratge drill I guess
Hey Don't NOatpjunkie
Nov 11, 2002 1:25 PM

did you go? how was it?

Kelly Knobby Xsnuz
Nov 8, 2002 7:43 AM
I've had a Kelly Knobby for several months. Since it is my first non-mountain bike I won't try and discuss the merits of the bike, others he are much better rounded in cyclocross. I can tell you the reason I like the Kelly is because of its stiffness and light weight. I used to look down on weightweenies, but not anymore. The Knobby is so easy to ride that I think I'm becoming a lazy rider. It's lightness, along witht he short top tube, make the bike unbelievably easy to maneuver. I pretty much shift my hips and flick my wrist and it goes where I want it to.

I got my bike for about half price on E-Bay. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to afford it. The wheels and components wouldn't have been my first choice, but I'm very happy with the ride. I recently rode a Gunnar cross for a couple of days, and it was a very sweet ride. Not as stiff as the Kelly though, at least the way this bike was set up. Gunnar has the bad paint rep, as far as chipping, but I don't know anything about it. Kelly's paint is sweet, but I wish clear coat came with it. Decals pretty flimsy.

I think the Kelly goes for $850. If you want custom I'm guessing its a little more? If you want a custom bike and know exactly what you want, Strong Racing Frames in Montana offers probably more freedom (tubes, geometry etc,) than anyone. Might be getting a little out of your price range though.

Oh one last thing about the Kelly. I absolutely hate the Avid brakes that came with it. I don't like their feel and can't stand the loud, annoying, cheap sounding squeal. Nothing like investing 2k in a bike and having it sound like a Walmart Special.