Making Continental Tires…

31 07 2012

Photo: Matt Wragg

If you are interested in how they make Continental tires jump over to Pinkbike and read a nice article by Matt Wragg.

Surly Long Haul Trucker Update…

30 07 2012

Where the LHT is at…

When I built up this 26″ Surly LHT it was going to be a test rig to see what I thought about 26″ & 650B wheels vs. the 700c LHT I’ve owned for many years. I assumed after a year or two of messing around I’d be selling it and going back to my trusty sage green trucker. Instead I’m loving the new LHT and its balloon tires while trying to tweak my old LHT to make me smile again. I didn’t see that coming which is exactly why you have to try out different options to really know what you will prefer. Assumptions based on your previous experiences often don’t hold true.

I’m still working on the 700c LHT, but I’ve done what I can without buying anything new and I think putting some fast supple rubber on the old trucker [Schwalbe 40mm Kojaks] is my next move. I don’t have the $$ to spend on that at the moment so until I do I figured it was time to focus on the LHT that I am stoked to ride and make it better.

Not pretty, but they work so well…

Although I like riding the black 26″ wheeled trucker a few items were bugging me. The most important of which was the classy silver platform pedals were too small and lacked enough grip to keep my feet in place. I don’t like cages or SPD style pedals so I went back to what works for me on most of my bikes – BMX platform pedals. Admittedly they are not pretty and they don’t match the beautiful Velo Orange cranks, but they work which is what counts. Plus when I am actually riding  this bike you can’t see them.

Old Man Mountain Sherpa front rack…

I’m using this bike for errand running and transportation in the city at the moment. For that role it’s surprising how often a rear rack and 2 panniers just isn’t enough capacity to haul what I need. The solution was to add an OMM Sherpa rack up front. These racks are light, strong and the platform is very handy if I am carrying multiple boxes. I’ve used OMM racks on most of my bikes for well over a decade and they’ve never let me down.

Matching OMM racks…

With an OMM Sherpa rack on the rear I think the front and rear racks balance out the bike nicely. They might even draw the eye away from my fugly pedals 😉

Plastic water bottle cages…

I had some lovely silver metal water bottle cages from Velo Orange on this LHT and although they were stunning they would catch on my capris and pants as I pedaled. I bent one out of shape so bad it went into the metal recycling bin. The other will be kept for use on another bike. I’ve got he same VO cages on my Boulder rando rig and love them there because I’m always wearing tights or shorts on that bike so no snagging. Like the pedals I’ve installed these plastic cages I am using fall into the ugly, but practical category.

Black goes with everything…

That’s all the changes for this summer. I have a 26″ wheeled dynohub and light I may mount on this bike. At the moment it’s light out way past 10pm so lights are really not needed this far north. I’ll reconsider come September. The 2.15″ wide Schwalbe Big Apples are faster than you would expect and very comfortable. For city use they are pretty much ideal – not to mention they are paid for! Having said that I am curious what this bike would be like with even faster more supple wide rubber like a 2.0″ Schwalbe Kojak. That would also allow me to swap the Big Apples into my Surly Big Dummy cargo bike – where a boost in speed and comfort would not be a bad thing.

LHT enjoying the summer sunshine…

What about 650B?

I haven’t forgotten about trying out this wheel size. I even have some shiny new Velo Orange 650B rims that have been hanging in my office for over a year. The trouble is that building some 650B wheels and buying new brakes is spendy when the bike is rolling along so well in its current state. Other more pressing bike related purchases always seem to get in the way. So for now that idea is being shelved. I have no doubt that a 650B trucker with Grand Bois Hetres would be a very sweet ride it will just have to wait.

If I was doing it all over I’d have gone with the 26″ wheeled Disc Trucker so I could share any 650B wheels I built between the LHT and my MTBs.

My cat likes the colour of the new LHT…

Bikepacking Packing…

27 07 2012

Scott from Porcelain Rocket has posted a nice video on his blog about how and what he packs his bikepacking bags. If you follow the link you can read his packing list as well.

Surly Nate Tire Review

26 07 2012

Fat knobby rubber…

The Nate is Surly’s 4″ knobby fatbiking tire. It comes in 27tpi & 120tpi versions. I was shooting for the 120tpi tire, but ended up with the 27tpi model instead. Prior to this tire being released the only options for the Pugsley were the Endomorph and the Larry – both of which are smooth tread tires suited for soft conditions use. Of course a lot of fatbikers used the Endo & Larry for trail riding since they had no options. The arrival of the Nate last year sparked a lot of interest amongst fatbikers for new terrain that could be conquered with knobby traction.

The 27tpi Nates have a spec’d weight of 1730g with a wire bead and price of $90 vs. the 120tpi version at 1280g with a folding bead and a price of $150. I would definitely suggest you go with the lighter 120tpi Nates despite the high cost. Saving over 2lbs is worth it for bikes that are already on the portly side and more importantly the reduced rolling resistance because of the softer carcass will pay you back on every ride you do. I only have the 27tpi version due to an order snafu and if I could do it over I’d hold out for the 120tpi tire. Fattires last a long time so it’s worth the investment.

You should also be aware that riders have noticed hundreds of grams in variation between tire weights for the same model. So if you have access to a LBS with a bunch of fat tires definitely weigh them all and buy the lightest. The difference could easily be a pound over a set of tires at no increase in cost.

My Pugsley with Nates…

Even though I’ve had a fatbike for years I was taken aback by the sight of the Nate’s aggressive knobs and the heft of the tire. It’s sort of like bringing a chainsaw with you on a backpacking trip…you are definitely serious about your campfires or in this case traction! My experience with the Nates has been in Vancouver Island’s wet rainforest during winter and spring. That means slick rocks, slippery roots, mud, steep wet dirt climbs and moss. The Nates did not disappoint in the traction department. When inflated properly they’ll hook up on anything other than roots which are near frictionless when wet. Like all fatbike tires you have to get the pressure right to coax maximum performance out of these bad boys. If they are overinflated you’ll bounce around uncomfortably and wonder where all the traction is you read about online. Despite the big footprint and aggro knobs you do have ride with skill and finesse the bike even with Nates to get traction on steep slippery surfaces. The Nates give you a shot at stuff you wouldn’t have a hope of climbing with Endos & Larrys. You still need to bring your “A” game 😉

Descending Nates hook up well and let you ride your Pugsley much more aggressively in sloppy conditions that you could previously. The same applies to braking.

Fat + Knobs = Nate

The downside to the stiff, heavy carcass and big knobs is that the Nate is noticeably slower than the Endos & Larrys. I’ve done 140km days fully loaded on the latter tires. I wouldn’t even consider that with these 27tpi Nates. That’s okay in my books as I wouldn’t use the Nates if I didn’t need the traction they offer so when they are on my Pugsley I have no other choice and long days in the saddle are probably not in the cards. Although I’m sure the 120tpi version of Nates would be better in this regard I don’t think you’ll see me rolling around on any model of Nate just for fun. When it dried out here I pulled them from my Pugsley and they’ll sit in my garage until this coming winter.

I haven’t used Nates in sand, but I hear they kick up a lot of sand and don’t work as well as Endos & Larrys unless you are trying to climb some steep dunes. I’ve read mixed reviews on snow. For packed trails and steep snow climbs they seem to perform well. For floatation missions – especially rolling over a crust they break through more than a smoother fat tire. In slimy mud they shed the goo well, but in sticky clay-esque mud they’ll pack up and you’ll have to clean them out frequently.

Back when my Nates were clean…

The bottom line with the Surly Nate is you get great traction, but there are some downsides. If you can’t make your riding work with smoother fat tires this may be just what you need. On the other hand I think the Endo & Larry are better general purpose fatbike tires and for loose conditions riding.

Other options:

  • 45 North has come out with a tire called the Husker Du [4″] in a lightweight casing and soon a studded version. The non-studded Husker Du has smaller knobs than the Nate so it likely doesn’t have the same traction potential, but it rolls much better. I haven’t tried a set, but I suspect they’ll be a decent year round fatbike tire for folks that want 1 tire to do it all. The studded version offers traction on ice at the cost of weight and rolling resistance.
  • Surly has come out with 2 new 5″ knobby tires called the Bud & Lou – in front and rear specific tread patterns. I don’t know if they are going to prove significantly better than the Nate enough to make the massive weight gains worthwhile, but they will look awesome on your Moonlander 😉

The Amazing Pugsley…

25 07 2012

My best Pugsley “Blue Steel” look…

With new tire and rim options available for Fatbikes I thought it would be interesting to outline some Pugsley configurations for different biking missions to illustrate how versatile this bike is becoming.

Pugsley 29er MTB

  • add in some 50mm Rabbit Hole rims
  • add in some 29er rubber from 2.1″ to 3″
  • run rigid with the stock fork
  • run a 29er suspension fork [up to ~2.5″ tires and steering geo will change a bit]
  • can run SS/FG or IGH no problem

Pugsley Bikepacking Rig and Touring Bike

  • add in some 50mm Rabbit Hole rims
  • add in some 29er rubber from 2.1″ to 3″
  • run rigid with the stock fork
  • for bikepacking use some 29er MTB rubber
  • for touring maybe some Schwalbe touring rubber
  • use soft bikepacking bags or racks and panniers or add trailer

Pugsley Commuter Bike

  • add in some 50mm Rabbit Hole rims
  • add in some 29er rubber from 2.1″ to 3″
  • run rigid with the stock fork
  • add rear rack and panniers
  • add fenders
  • Schwalbe Big Apple or Marathon tires
  • IGH would be great for low maintenance

Pugsley Fat Trail Bike

  • Marge Lite rims
  • Husker Du or Nate  4″ tires
  • rigid fork or a fat suspension fork when the come out for 2013

Pugsley Sand/Snow Machine

  • Rolling Darryl 82mm rims
  • Big Fat Larry 5″ tires
  • I would use an IGH for this type of riding

One Pugsley To Rule Them All!

  • buy Necromancer Pugs with 82mm rims
  • use stock Larry/Endo 4″ tires for bikepacking and general purpose rides
  • add in a set of Big Fat Larry 5″ tires for snow/sand
  • add in a set of Husker Du or Nate 4″ tires for trail riding
  • add in a set of Black Floyd 4″ smooth tires for commuting or touring use
  • one wheel set and swap tires as needed

Pugsley Hacks

  • IGH + SS/FG gives bombproof, weatherproof low maintenance drivetrain with uber strong rear wheel
  • FG front wheel lets you try out a fixed gear bike without having to invest in a new rig plus it’s dead reliable as a backup to your normal rear wheel
  • SS/SS Marge Lite wheels lets you build a very light Pugsley with two different gear ratios that are easily swappable
  • OMM racks are my favourite on the Pugs because they are light, bolt on easily despite the funky offset front and back – plus they are crazy strong
  • add some plastic velcro on mud deflectors to the downtube and seattube with your OMM racks and you have decent fender-esque mud protection with no extra weight and no way to damage them or clog up
  • look for fat bike compatible suspension forks in 2013 & 2014
  • Surly has released 5″ knobby tires that will likely work on the Pugs…not sure ho much benefit they will be over 4″ knobbies give flotation isn’t key for that sort of tire and knobbies weigh a ton as tires get bigger.

Salsa FS Fatbike Update…

25 07 2012

Surly Moonlander vs. Pugsley…

24 07 2012

Surly Moonlander – click for specs…

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

Surly Pugsley – click for specs…


  • 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″]

Remember when these were the biggest tires you could get?

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

Why we ride…

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

Surly Necromancer Pugsley – click for specs…

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

Pugsley – not just for snow…

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

My Green Machine…

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

My Pugsley setup for bikepacking…