Surly Instigator Frameset

4.7/5 (50 Reviews)
Weight : 6.61 lbs<br>(18") MSRP : $389.00

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Product Description

  • Tubing: 100% Surly 4130 cro-moly steel. Main triangle double-butted. TIG welded.
  • Rear Dropouts: Proprietary Surly 4130 billet. Spaced 135mm.
  • Brake Compatibility: International Standard disk or Cantilever rim-type
  • Braze-ons: Removable cantilever bosses, dual water-bottle mounts, Down tube shift cable routing, tube guides for hydraulic hose or solid housing, ICGS Chainguide mount.
  • Fork Compatibility: Geometry is designed around a 100 or 130mm suspension fork. Using shorter or longer forks will compromise intended ride characteristics, i.e. less BB clearance, faster or slower handling, etc.

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    Reviews 1 - 15 (50 Reviews Total) | Next 15

    User Reviews

    Overall Rating:4
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by Bdub a Weekend Warrior

    Date Reviewed: November 22, 2014

    Strengths:    Lighter than previous Instigator
    Fits 26+ or 650b
    Rear dropout options of horizontal, standard qt 135mm, and the modern 12x142
    Geometry is soooo sweet
    1.5 inch head tube
    30.9mm seat post size

    Weaknesses:    Nothing so far.
    Seat post clamp is comically large

    Bottom Line:   
    *please note this review is for the NEW 2014 Instigator 2.0. I couldn't find the new version so thought I'd add it here.

    Geometry is right in the sweet spot. I'm 5'11" and the medium is perfect. This frame seems much smoother regarding its dampening properties compared to the original, overly -gussetted 26" version. I've got a fox 34 up front so my head tube angle is different than spec but I must say it feels spot on. I'm running a light ish all mountain 650b wheelset instead of surley's rabbit hole rims and 27.5 by 2.35 tires so rolling resistance is much less and tackling hills ain't no thang.
    I HIGHLY recommend this bike to anyone who wants a smooth riding 650b hard tail with the brawn to handle a 5+ inch fork. It is extremely versatile, so far seemingly well crafted and just makes you feel 12 again. Best part, just about any shop can order a frame through one of the common wholesalers.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   Selma Erwin

    Duration Product Used:   1 month

    Price Paid:    $700.00

    Purchased At:   Local bike shop.

    Bike Setup:   Fox 34 27.5, custom hoops CK and Hope, Hope brakes( incredible), xt 1 x10 drivetrain

    Overall Rating:4
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by Scott a Weekend Warrior

    Date Reviewed: June 10, 2012

    Strengths:    Strong, steel, great geometry looks good

    Weaknesses:    none

    Bottom Line:   
    I bought this frame used and built it up as a single speed with the rigid instigator fork and have used it as a commuter/ winter beater type bike. Yesterday rode it on some trails for the first time and was amazed at how well it handled, climbing and descending, jumping on some tough technical trails, especially with the rigid fork. It was a far more enjoyable ride than what my transition vagrant with domain 318 gives me, other than downhill sections of course.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   all of them

    Price Paid:    $130.00

    Purchased At:   from some doucher

    Similar Products Used:   transition vagrant

    Bike Setup:   instigator fork, sun rhynolite rims, race face cranks, singlespeed set up

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by korbs a Cross Country Rider from philadelphia

    Date Reviewed: December 21, 2009

    Strengths:    This thing bangs. Takes a beating and keeps on greeting the next big drop. Solid design and beast looks. I have every confidence in this steel frame when flying down the rockiest decents.

    Weaknesses:    heavy and slightly more difficult to climb with but heck, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. No braze-ons for racks.

    Bottom Line:   
    I Feel like i can do anything on this frame. The rear is slightly too bouncy for my likes but i think thats due to my having 1.8s in front and rear. Riding through the city to get to some of the trails is a breeze.
    I bought this bike so i could get a taste for XC riding with a geared and suspended ride. Ive been using a SS 29er for a long time and have loved it but wanted to take another step in a different direction. By all means a different ride, i feel like a kid again barreling down hills. So fantastic!

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   wissahickon

    Duration Product Used:   3 months

    Price Paid:    $450.00

    Purchased At:   the bay

    Similar Products Used:   Gt zaskar w/ xt

    Bike Setup:   marzocchi all mountain 3, xt drivetrain, avid bb7, dt onyx to sun mammoth, specialized rival, chris king nothreadset.

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by bujiatang a Downhiller from Minneapolis

    Date Reviewed: July 18, 2009

    Strengths:    A solid frame that doesn't squirm bouncing down a mountain. The frame is so crisp, when a friend asked if I would join him on the trail of tears triathlon I thought about putting slicks on this bike and riding it.

    Weaknesses:    no braze ons for a rear rack

    Bottom Line:   
    This bike has a solid frame that handles excellently on mountains in Montana. I bought this bike at the beginning of the summer for a trip out to see the inlaws near Butte. We camped at 8700 feet and rode to and from 9700. The bike handled better than any other bike I have ever ridden.

    I'm saving for a phil wood rear hub, so I can put a disc brake in the back and a drum brake in the front for those long descents by Devils Tower on 85.

    I ride this bike everywhere, some one looking for a solid bike that will not flinch need look no further. It handles bouncing down a mountain nimbly and yet can still keep up with friends on their road bikes riding around the city.

    Expand full review >>

    Duration Product Used:   3 months

    Price Paid:    $450.00

    Purchased At:   craigslist

    Similar Products Used:   Gary Fisher Kai tai (front suspension), Schwinn Hurricane (no suspension), Miata 2700 Elevation, Peugeot Uo8

    Bike Setup:   Instigator straight fork, 2.3 Nokian Gazzalodi core front, 2.3 Specialized rear, rear rack (attached with insulated conduit brackets), Shimano xt deraillures, Phil wood 40 hole front hub (threaded for drum brake), Shimano deore rear hub, avid rim brakes, Brooks B17 saddle.

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by surlychad a Weekend Warrior from Seattle, WA

    Date Reviewed: May 22, 2009

    Strengths:    Great geometry. Chromoly!

    Weaknesses:    None!!!!

    Bottom Line:   
    To start things off I have not ridden on a hardtail in over 7 years. I have been into freeride and downhill riding. That being said, I've taken this bike out and WOW! Amazing! I rode a local trail and it didn't occur to me that I was even on a hard tail most of the time. I hit everything I did on my full suspension frames and felt maybe even more in control. It was a blast. I can say that I have found the reason that I started mountain biking 15 years ago once again. It is a bit heavier than a regular cross country rig but way lighter than my freeride and downhill rigs.

    Expand full review >>

    Duration Product Used:   3 months

    Price Paid:    $389.00

    Purchased At:   Bonney Lake Bike Sho

    Similar Products Used:   Specialized Big Hit Expert, Rocky Mountain RMX, Ellsworth ID

    Bike Setup:   Marzocchi 55, Saint wheels and brakes, Saint Rear deraileur, xt front deraileur, SLX Crankset, King Headset, Thompson post, Selle Anatomica seat

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by a Weekend Warrior from Harrisburg, PA

    Date Reviewed: March 12, 2009

    Strengths:    Beefy, Strong, Dependable

    Weaknesses:    On the heavy side.

    Bottom Line:   
    I'm a Clydesdale + rider, after killing two Gary Fisher Frames, both with identical BB frame breaks I was looking for something with a bit more "beef" to it.

    The LBS worked out a deal where I could replace my broken replacement frame for the Instigator + a bit of cash for my troubles.

    I think Surly puts it best on there product description.

    "If you ride big or are simply a big rider and break just about every thing you throw a leg over you’ll appreciate this level of stoutness."

    As for the bike being heavy, oh yea, its a truck. But lets face it, if I want to cut five pounds from my bike, I will step away from the donuts and ride my heavy bike more often.

    I primary use it for daily commuting, it takes my weight (substantial), full work clothes, and 17" laptop with out any complaints. Th LBS and I even worked out a rear rack for it, being that is the only brase-ons it does not have.

    On the weekends striped down, its a hole new creature. It makes curbs, hops and other urban interference a piece of cake.

    My only regret it killing two Fishers before getting to this. If you have never ridden steal before, try it out. There is something to be said about the flex, it just feels solid under you.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   Upper CO$K Gobbler

    Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

    Purchased At:   Replacement

    Similar Products Used:   Gary Fisher 04 Marlin, Raleigh M80

    Bike Setup:   XTR or better all around, BB5/BB7

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by John a Weekend Warrior from Arlington, VA, USA

    Date Reviewed: May 6, 2008

    Strengths:    Burly, stiff, that beautiful steel feel. Nice handling with the fork set to 120mm.

    Weaknesses:    A little heavy I guess, I don't really care about that though.

    Bottom Line:   
    I love this bike. It is very stable and I have to say, quite confidence inspiring. It kind of guilt trips you into trying things that used to be too gnarly for you. It drags a bit up hill, but I think that that has more to do with me than the bike. In all seriousness, the climbing isn't bad as the big tires give you great traction. It is just more a deliberate process than on some other bikes. Coming back down it is super stable and easy to control.

    I love this bike. My concept for it was to build the sort of bike that made me love bikes as a kid - uncomplicated and easy to ride, with the versatility to do urban stuff or take to a ski resort. If you want to go have fun in the woods on a nice steel bike that you can batter, this is it. If you get more of a rush climbing than descending, it isn't perhaps quite the right tool.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   Varies

    Duration Product Used:   3 months

    Price Paid:    $390.00

    Purchased At:   LBS

    Similar Products Used:   Cannondale CAAD 3 MTB.

    Bike Setup:   Bomber AM SL1, DT rims and hubs, King NoThreadset, Thomson post and stem, Race Face Diabolus bar, 203mm Juicy 7's, LX elswwhere, Chunder Control 2.2 tires.

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by HELLBELLY a Weekend Warrior from Norfolk, Virginia US of A

    Date Reviewed: December 30, 2007

    Strengths:    Same as I said in my review at the one year mark (see below). I have had this bike now for over four years and it still rocks. It is no longer my main rig, but I rebuilt it as a spare bike for friends to ride. However, it is just so much fun I may not let them ride it! It is still a trail destroyer in that its handling is just so spot-on. Steel is real and this beast is super smooth and feels like a full suspension bike going over the rough stuff. It has taken some serious beatings always coming back without so much as a squeak. I said previously that it does not look like anything else out there, but now there are few 29'ers whose frame shape is similar. That said, you could likely run a big front wheel on the 'gator w/o too many geometry issues if yr into that kinda stuff. I will stick with it's bomber 26" wheel manners.

    Weaknesses:    I never liked the hydraulic line guides, but was able to modify them to behave like zip guides now. Mine is an '03 and the later models went to this design. Otherwise, no complaints.

    Bottom Line:   
    All of my earlier statements hold true. Although I now primarily ride an SC Heckler, I cannot deny just how killer a bike the Surly has been and continues to be. I took it for a big ride yesterday and just had a blast! The ballet-dancing pit-bull rocks on. Great value and a great ride!!!

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   Black Mountain/Cove Creek/Freedom Park

    Duration Product Used:   More than 3 years

    Price Paid:    $329.00

    Purchased At:   Outback Bikes

    Similar Products Used:   SC Heckler & Bullit, Ellsworth (Joke)r, Kona Chute, Spot

    Bike Setup:   Medium Black Instigator, '05 Pike U-turn, Mavic XM 321 wheels, Hayes brakes, Descender Post, LX Cranks, 1X9 SRAM X9 drivetrain, Kenda Nevegals, Thomson Stem, Raceface Diabolus bars and BB.

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by edge from northeast

    Date Reviewed: November 19, 2007

    Strengths:    Geo is great for a 6 inch singlecrown fork

    Weaknesses:    None. It's perfect

    Bottom Line:   
    It's been years since I've been on a hardtail. I had no idea what I'd been missing until riding this thing. It rockets up hills when you slam the fork down to 3 inches. Then it, flies down hill when you bump it back up to 6. It's so lively under power. Just a great design. Don't buy what the surly site says about the fork length. This thing was made for a 6inch fork if you freeride. Trust me, it rocks.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   holychute

    Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

    Price Paid:    $300.00

    Purchased At:   esmash

    Similar Products Used:   88 giant at740

    Bike Setup:   Burlylight with z150, saints, thomson, raceface, e13, Hadleys, Hayes carbon, nuff

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by CallMeClyde a Weekend Warrior from Seattle

    Date Reviewed: March 5, 2006

    Strengths:    It's burly, black, and surly.

    Weaknesses:    Haven't found any yet

    Bottom Line:   
    I wanted to build a bike for a little bit of everything from trails to banging around the city to hitting the beach for coffee on the weekend. With some decent components and big fat tires, this thing looks brutal and rides super smooth. It ain't winning any races but it gets there every time and gets positive comments wherever I go. I'm a big guy and have broken a lot of stuff over the years. If I break anything on this bike, it certainly isn't going to be the frame. I could have bought a lighter frame, but I doubt I could have found a sturdier frame for the money. If you don't have big bucks but want to put together a sturdy hard-tail with a bit of attitude, this thing rocks. If you're a spandex-clad cross-country racing weight weenie, keep looking.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   Wherever you go, there you are

    Duration Product Used:   1 Year

    Price Paid:    $400.00

    Purchased At:   Aarons Bike Repair

    Similar Products Used:   '00 Kona Blast, '02 K2 Launch, various old school rigid mtbs

    Bike Setup:   Currently has '05 Minute 3 fork, FSA Pig DH Pro headset, Thomson post, Ritchie Pro stem, LX cranks and ders, XT/DT/Rhyno Lite wheels, Avid mech disks.

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by Wil from charlotte, NC

    Date Reviewed: September 27, 2005

    Strengths:    This is the first bike that i have had a problem with not being able to break. Huck anything with the confidance of steel under you. The frame design is super strong and cheap. You can put 3 inch tires on the back. Plus, it looks mean as hell in black. If you plan on riding xc i would put a long stem on it but if not go super short for the ultimate urban experiance. Over all it is the best bike i have ever ridden. light wieght cross countryers may beat me up hills but look out behind on the downhill. It can do just as much as a full suspension downhill bike but can be pedaled uphill with out having a stroke.

    Weaknesses:    huh?

    Bottom Line:   
    This bike is awesome. Why have a 45 pound urban assualt machine when you can have an instigator? riddle me that. If you want a great bike that can do anything and are on budget get an instigator. If you want a great bike that can do anything and aren't on a budget get two.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   urbano

    Duration Product Used:   3 months

    Purchased At:   500

    Similar Products Used:   Kona stinky D, Santa cruz bullit, speacialized P3

    Bike Setup:   Mar. drop off Z1 , chris king headset, michelin DH comp tires, sram x9, e-thirteen bashguard in place of big chain ring. Sun rhino lite rims, shimano xt hubs and hayes hydraulic discs.

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by brandon fults NOT a Cross Country Rider from bend oregon USA

    Date Reviewed: October 3, 2004

    Strengths:    super burly. best hardtail for the price. light for a steel frame. junk protector bar. Looks rad.

    Weaknesses:    Absolutly none!

    Bottom Line:   
    STEEL IS REAL!!!!!!!!!!! it is different then the konas that everyone has. I have not had a single problem with it. get a surly If you are an urban rider and you are not bill gates. URBAN MACHINE....

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   downtown urban

    Duration Product Used:   1 Year

    Price Paid:    $150.00

    Purchased At:   friend

    Similar Products Used:   none

    Bike Setup:   2003 surly instigater, race face cranks, avid brakes....Urban machine

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by Kevin a Cross Country Rider from Mokena, IL

    Date Reviewed: September 30, 2004

    Strengths:    Price, obviously, though this bike has a solid reliable feel to it that I'm yet to find on another.

    Weaknesses:    Bottom Bracket shell was paint gunked and the stickers come off rather easily. Vanity stuff, really.

    Bottom Line:   
    Updating my previous review, I've upgraded to the soon-to-be-deceased Psylo. Riding it as completely rigid was beastly at times, but the bike went exactly where you wanted on drops and steep turns. The suspension fork lets me do some more things. I can't really describe the feel on this bike (I have plenty of them, too), but this is by far my fave. It's not light (I built it up at 33.5 lbs), but I can still climb on it easily. And the Surly folk are accessible, which always helps. My ratings may be high, but I reach for this bike every time.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   Palos Forest Preserve

    Duration Product Used:   2 Years

    Purchased At:   EP

    Similar Products Used:   Cannondale F400 (not really that similar, but...)

    Bike Setup:   RockShox Psylo Race Fork, Deore cranks/brakes/levers/shifters, etc. Rhynolite/Deore wheels, Michelin DH Comp 24.1 26x2.5 tires, Kalloy post/SI Flite saddle (for those who care), Cane Creek S-2 Headset, Salsa stem, Surly/Nitto 1x1 Handlebars, Crank Brothers Candy SL Pedals.

    Overall Rating:5
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by Tom L a Cross Country Rider from Guisborough, UK

    Date Reviewed: July 8, 2004

    Strengths:    Do it all bike that encourages you to be a hooligan.
    The first bike to really fit me properly for quite a few years.

    Weaknesses:    Price in the UK.
    Seat tube required reaming.
    Rear hanger out of alignment.
    Weight if that sort of thing worries you.

    Bottom Line:   
    The best bike I have ever ridden or owned.
    It climbs everything, albeit a bit sluggish at times due to the weight but gets there if you plug away. Flys downhill and motors over ever bump, tree root or rock. Predicatable in the air, jumping or dropping. Stable on steep chutes.
    I'd mark it down for the minor delivery faults noted above but I'm not going to as I love it so much. I may even buy the smaller version in the new yellow sometime as a jump/street bike or to just hang on the wall.

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   Home

    Duration Product Used:   6 months

    Price Paid:    $500.00

    Purchased At:   Bike Scene

    Similar Products Used:   Ellsworth ID
    On One Inbred
    Dialled Bikes Kobe Ti
    Rocky Mountain Edge

    Bike Setup:   02 Shiver SCs
    M4 Discs
    Strong build to about 32-34lbs depending on tyres used.

    Overall Rating:4
    Value Rating:5
    Submitted by Deacon from Saint Paul, MN, USA

    Date Reviewed: May 13, 2004

    Strengths:    THis frame is sick. The gussets and rear dropouts make this bike a beast. It replaced my Bianchi which weighed pretty much the same, so the weight is not an issue. Great tire clearance, and fits me Perfect

    Weaknesses:    A little overspray, but thats the price I pay for this affordable frame

    Bottom Line:   
    I have this bike setup as a single, and it performs great. I could have gotten a single specific frame, but I found this frame for real cheap and needed a frame that would fit me better than my last one. I've only been riding it for a little bit but this bike is by far my most favorite off road ride. If you cant find or afford anything else definitlely pick this up

    Expand full review >>

    Favorite Trail:   wherever I end up

    Duration Product Used:   3 months

    Price Paid:    $150.00

    Purchased At:   QBP openhouse (scratch and dent)

    Similar Products Used:   Bianchi

    Bike Setup:   16" frame, 1x1 (old) rearhub sun CR-18 3x,Paul Melvin, STX-RC crank, Psylo fork (soon to buy rigid instigator for winter), bontrager stem, ritchey lite bars, old LX front hub Sun CR-18 2x, with other bits here and there...

    Reviews 1 - 15 (50 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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