With the release of the Surly Moonlander last year the Pugsley has fallen out of the fatbike spotlight and some people have questioned what’s the point of the Pugsley when you can have 5″ tires on 100mm rims? The truth of the matter is that the Pugsley is the better fatbike for most riders and the Moonlander suffers from hyper-specialization that renders it far less versatile than the Pugsley. I figured it was worth breaking down the differences between these two models so the choice was clearer for a prospective buyer.
- 28mm offset drivetrain
- horizontal 135mm rear dropouts
- symmetrical front fork [starting 2013 the ML gets an offset fork]
- uses front 135mm hub with a front disc brake mount
- requires specialized crank
- only 100mm rims work [narrower rims can't achieve adequate spoke tension due to large offset]
- max clearance is for 5″ tire on 100mm rim
- 17.5mm offset drivetrain
- horizontal 135mm rear dropouts
- offset front fork
- uses rear 135mm hub with rear disc brake mount
- wheels are swapable front to rear
- can use any 100mm BB + crank
- 50mm to 82mm rims work
- max clearance is for 5″ tire on 82mm rim
- smallest tire/rim is 2.1″ on 50mm 29er rim
- note: Krampus 50mm rim + 3″ tire will fit [OD = 30.5"]
What does this mean in practical terms?
- the Moonlander can only use wide tires and rims making it a flotation machine
- the Moonlander can’t be fitted with skinny 29er MTB rubber for trail use or even lighter Marge Lite 65mm/82mm rims with 4″ rubber
- the pre-2013 Moonlander can’t swap front and rear wheels making it less reliable for expedition use. Starting 2013 you can swap wheels front to back.
- the Pugsley can use skinny 29er MTB rubber on 50mm rims all the way up to 5″ rubber on 82mm rims making it versatile from summer trail use to floatation missions on sand/snow
- the Pugsley can swap front and rear wheels allowing for a very reliable derailleur + SS/GF or IGH + SS/GF combo perfect for expedition use where a breakdown would have serious consequences
Who should buy a Moonlander?
- folks that are pushing the limits of floatation on sand, snow, mud or bogs
- riders that gotta have the newest/biggest/baddest machines even if they don’t need ‘em
Who should buy a Pugsley?
- fatbikers that want to ride trails, bikepack and be able to ride sand/snow
- riders that value versatility over the maximum in flotation
- expedition fatbikers that can’t afford a drivetrain failure
- riders that want a fatbike and 29er without having 2 bikes
What about the Necromancer Pugsley?
- this is a Pugsley with a Moonlander fork
- you can run 5″ rubber on 100mm rims up front, but rear clearance is still limited to 5″ tires on 82mm rims
- you can run 2.1″ 29er rubber on 50mm rims like a normal Pugs
- you can’t swap the wheels front to back
- the Necromancer comes stock with non-cutout 82mm rims and an upgraded parts spec vs. the normal Pugs
- if you want a Pugs with nicer parts and don’t care about the swapping of wheels score this baby
The Hot Ticket
- buy the stock Surly Pugsley [if you don't care about expedition reliability go with Necro for better spec and RD rims]
- upgrade #1 – set of Nates or Husker Du tires for a knobby trail traction option
- upgrade #2 – set of Rabbit Hole 50mm wheels with 2.4″ – 3″ rubber for trail riding/bikepacking
- upgrade #3 – set of Marge Lite rims or Rolling Darryls [swap in for stock rims using existing hubs]
- upgrade #4 – set of Big Fat Larry 5″ tires for flotation missions on your Rolling Darryls if you ride soft stuff a lot
- this will give you 2 wheelsets plus a few tire options for dial a bike versatility from one frame/fork
Why my Pugsley rocks?
- IGH is immune to weather and damage on trail from crashes, vegetation or during transport
- IGH rear wheel is uber strong due to even spoke tension
- Front fixed gear wheel can be swapped to rear for total backcountry reliablity
- old style frame is larger for bigger frame bag
- Jones Loop H-bars for all day riding comfort