Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Crescent City, CA
Bikes: '84 Pinnarello Trek Pure(wife's) Kona Africa(daughter) Marin ALP/Hwy One(son)
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Bought my Ute in summer of '08 - green edition. Changed the bars to Mary's OnStar, changed the pedals and seat post, got a pair of those orange bags. Most important, added a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Supreme's 50's
to roll over ANYTHING. Got the same front rack as you. You gotta remember, this bike IS NOT built to carry extra-heavy loads like a BD or the Extra-cycle get-up. While my bike does quite well carrying a full load of groceries, or a couple bags of soil stuff and plants, put more than 70,80 pounds on the tail without loading the front is going to goose your steering. Don't think a different fork will help unless it has considerable weight - would not make sense.
I took my bike touring this summer, Port Angeles, WA to SF. With weight on the front, water, stove, light; and bag, tent, clothes on the back, it drove like a cloud. Stock gearing was excellent for some ass-kicking hills. Have also rode a BD. So heavy, but for it's purpose - has to be. Rode a friends Extra-cycle, on a Trek. Too much flex - a real goofy ride if you ask me.
Both the Surly and Ex are great if you carry loads on a routine basis - but for normal weights and a normal feel - Kona did us right.