Surly Skid Loader hauls like an e-cargo bike, handles like a commuter
Well known for building rock-solid steel mules that can move a load over solid or supple ground, Surly this week debuted the Skid Loader, an all-new electric bike that splits the difference between an electric cargo bike and a standard city ebike. The caged-out rear wheel can shoulder up to 100 lb (45 kg) of cargo, while the compact wheelbase, dropper post, standover height and 27.5-in wheel platform allow the rider to hop on, cut and maneuver more like on an everyday on/off-road commuter. Whatever the mission at hand, the Bosch mid-drive is there to deliver up to 50 miles (80 km) or 20 mph (32 km/h) of pedal assistance.
With all the bike options on the market today, sometimes you just want a bike ... one that you can ride, everyday, anywhere. But if your needs involve something that can carry cargo, whether for regular dedicated load hauling or automobile-replacing errand-running, you may quickly find that you need at least two bikes ... because who wants to muscle a big, heavy cargo bike around during rides on which there's no load to carry?
The Skid Loader is designed to be the versatile jack-of-all-trades that can handle cargo while still offering agility and near-normal geometry for regular, everyday riding. While the Skid Loader still has a long tail to make room for its beefy rear rack, Surly shrinks the frame significantly compared to its stretched Big Easy e-cargo bike. It describes the wheelbase, which measures 46.8 in (119 cm) on a size medium, as "closer to normal," promoting ride feel and handling more similar to a regular bike.
The Skid Loader's 27.5-in wheels open up a wider selection of tire options than the 26s found on the Big Easy, and the standard spec sheet includes Surly's own 2.5-in-wide knobbed ExtraTerrestrial adventure tires.
The new Surly ebike is presented as an urban-centric platform with the capability to hit some dirt outside (or inside) city limits. With its built-in cargo capability, it can replace car rides – maybe even a car all together – when carrying tools, groceries or other common loads to and from home.
The 600-W Bosch Performance electric mid-drive helps to handle those loads and level out hills, powering an estimated 15 to 50 miles (24 to 80 km) worth of motor assist per charge. The 500-Wh battery pack is readily accessible on back of the seat tube, and the system can also accept a second battery, allowing users to roughly double their range. The highest of the four selectable modes allows for an e-assisted top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h).
A rugged chromoly steel frame and fork combine to provide a sturdy carry platform, while components like the Trans-X dropper post, 10-speed drivetrain and Tektro disc brakes make for a flexible, maneuverable ride. Surly "barnacles" down the fork and tubes provide easy attachment points for front racks, water bottle mounts, fenders and other accessories, helping the rider put the bike's 400-lb (181-kg) max payload (rider and cargo) to work.
The Skid Loader definitely looks like an intriguing cargo-ready electric all 'rounder, but at US$4,799 it's far from cheap, even for those that plan to use it as their one and only do-it-all quiver bike. On the other hand, it is well cheaper than a new or lightly used car, so if you plan to use it that way, money banked.
Surly's video does an excellent job of showing the types of usage the Skid Loader is all about. The company says in introducing the clip, "You can ride your bike wherever the hell you want, but this is what we think this bike is best at."