Serious steel for people who don't take themselves so seriously. Their bike frames and parts are durable, versatile, and outlast the next model year. Founded in 1998 and located just south of MPLS.
Surly bikes stand for a no-nonsense approach to shaping metal. Surly is the driving force behind the “steel is real” movement, making everything on two wheels tough-as-steel and producing extremely durable bikes. As "hard and tough" as Surly sounds, they still give a lot of thought to producing a comfortable, responsive ride at the right price. Every Surly frame and fork is 100% 4130 CroMoly steel—never titanium, carbon fiber, or aluminum. As the brand name implies, you won't find any sissy colors with these bikes. With Surly, you'll see the same shades as those that get deposited on your tires—like brown, green, or black. Everything about these bikes is hardcore.
If you're into building your own bikes, Surly actually sells more frames than completed bikes.
Should I get the Cross-check, Long Haul Trucker, or Pacer?
Think about it this way:
Pacer - club rider, backpack commuter, gravel racer. The Pacer does not have as many braze-ons for mounting racks and bags as the others, plus the geometry is not designed with fully-loaded touring in mind, so while it will handle long distances well with lower weight cargo, heavier loads will affect it's handling and your heels are more likely to hit rear panniers on this model.
Cross Check - light duty tourer, pannier commuter, and versatility for practically any build you dream up. Versatile as all get out, but somewhere between touring and "road" geometry.
Long Haul Trucker- cross country tourer, heavy duty commuter, practically begs you to bring the kitchen sink. All the bells and whistles. Low BB and long stays make it good for racks and bags but not as good for technical off-road trails. Sure, there's a lot of cross-over between them in what they CAN do - they all make excellent commuters for example. They simply excel a bit more in one area or the other than the next.