Readers’ Rides: Surly Midnight Special Review – Christopher’s Raw Custom All-Road Build


Readers’ Rides: Surly Midnight Special Review – Christopher’s Raw Custom All-Road Build

This week’s Readers’ Rides comes from Christopher in NYC and his Surly Midnight Special which he customized. It’s a real beaut, so let’s check it out in detail below!

Hi, my name is Christopher and I live in New York City. Given the space constraints of apartments here, my partner and I are relegated to each having a single bicycle. I sold my dedicated road bike in early 2020 to build something with a bit more ‘range’, riding style wise and ended up picking up a Straggler. It was the first new bike I’d ever purchased, and it reinvigorated my love for cycling. I don’t know if I would have survived the lockdown and extended pandemic here in the city if I didn’t have that machine to escape with. Since it was my first bike purchase in many years, it taught me a lot about what had changed since my 2007 Pacer was built. I learned a lot more about geometry, componentry how to make informed decisions.

Ultimately, I learned enough to know that the Straggler wasn’t the perfect bike for me- I appreciated the roads it opened up to me but missed the snappier ride feel of the Pacer. Since I can’t seem to stay away from Surlys, I picked up a Midnight Special frameset and decided I would learn how to build a bike up from parts. I could only find it in black, but given the current circumstances or supply I had zero complaints and felt incredibly lucky to even find one in my size. I worked with a custom paint shop to have it stripped and coated with a glossy clear powder coat (this was 100% inspired by @freewheelimages who’s been featured here and did the exact same thing to his MS). A lot of the build kit would come off of the Straggler but I still needed to source some bits. Massive shout out to King Kog for always helping me out- they’ve been a huge part of dialing in both the Straggler and my new MS.

Most of my riding is in the city, or just out of it along River Road and Route 9W, but I get out onto mixed surfaces through the Catskills as often as I can to sleep under the stars with my partner and our friends, so I wanted to build this up as an all-road bike. Something that’s capable of extended hours in the saddle over all sorts of terrain, but also fun as hell when I want to feel fast (I’m not fast) on pure road rides. When it’s not taking me on adventures, it’s taking me to and from work, or just rolling around Brooklyn. At the end of the day, it’s a bike I love looking at almost as much as I love riding it. Actually, looking at it just makes me want to go ride it more. Isn’t that the point?

Frameset: 54cm Surly Midnight Special
Wheels: Mason x Hunt 650b Adventure Dynamo
Tires: Teravail Ramparts 47, light & supple
Drivetrain: SRAM Rival 1x w/ Wolftooth 42t direct mount chainring and Sunrace 11-42 cassette
Brakes: TRP Spyres w/ Yokozuna compressionless` housing
Bars: 46cm Salsa Cowchipper Deluxe
Tape: Supacaz Super Sticky Kush
Pedals: Shimano M520
Saddle: Brooks All Weather C15 carved
Security: Hexlox (seriously best security system I’ve used and looks so sleek)
Small parts: Chris King headset, Thomson seat post and collar, Velo Orange tall stack stem, King Cage Iris cages


We’d like to thank all of you who have submitted Readers Rides builds to be shared over here. The response has been incredible and we have so many to share over the next few months. Feel free to submit your bike, listing details, components, and other information. You can also include a portrait of yourself with your bike and your Instagram account! Please, shoot landscape-orientation photos, not portrait. Thanks!