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…



65 responses

24 07 2012
Dan Sloan

you mean a fat bike cant ride on 2′ of snow and then crush dry singletrack like an all mtn machine? I read it on the web so it must be true ;)

great comparison keep up the good work

24 07 2012

This must be the single most useful article on fat bikes I have ever read. Thank you!

24 07 2012
Rob E. Loomis

I’ve been thinking about this since the Moonlander arrived on the scene, so thanks for writing it up. Seems like most of the benefits of the Pugsley center around the ability to swap out different tire sizes, which is something I never seem to do, but I guess having the option is worthwhile. I just feel like if I was riding a fat bike, I’d want fat tires. Still, even in the standard tire width, I wonder if the Pugsley doesn’t win out. When is a fat tire too fat? Seems like any trip that involved a significant amount of pavement might go better with a Pugsley, but, with no fat bike experience, I’m just guessing. Also the front/rear wheel swapping sounds neat, but has that ever been an issue for anyone? I could see it if you wanted to run single-speed and have two gearing options. But a breakdown in which tire swapping could save your trip seems like it’d require a very specific kind of wheel failure which left your rear wheel completely functional except the gearing. If it happens, you’d certainly be glad to have a spare wheel on hand. I just wonder if it’s at all likely. Maybe moreso with an IGH because there’s not a lot you can do to field service them. I just wonder if it doesn’t make more sense to go with a stronger, undished front wheel. Of course if the front is already as strong as the rear, then the strength of the front wheel won’t likely be an issue.

I think if I lived in the sort of terrain where the Moonlander excels, that would be my choice, but as it stands, to get to the beach or the swamp, I’d have to cover a lot of miles on pavement and/or dirt, and it seems like then I’d be happier on a Pugsley. To get to snow, I’d have to move (sometimes a day or two in January, but hardly enough to base a bike purchase on).

So much to think about. Today I’m favoring the Black Ops Pug, more for the color than components, given that I’d probably build it up myself. So that just leaves the question of offset or centered fork. And whether there’s any value to being able to run an extra fat front like you could with a Moonlander fork. And the fact that I’ll change my mind again tomorrow. And then there’s wrestling my bank account into submission. But someday, fat bike, someday…

24 07 2012

@Rob – here are the wheel failures the Pugs front to back swapability solves [assuming you have a SS or FG front wheel]

– derailleur ripped off/damaged
– IGH failure
– freewheel doesn’t engage [frozen or contaminated with dust/sand]
– shifter destroyed in a crash or stops working

What else could happen to your wheel to stop you rolling?

– spoke breakage [carry spare fiber fix spokes]
– chain breaks [carry tool and spare powerlink]
– rim failure on a fatbike is virtually unheard of
– maybe a QR failure??

Fat tires hold very low pressure so you can literally sew them up from a tear with a backpacking awl. Tubes just need patches.

That’s why I like a Pugs with an IGH. The IGH is immune to all the normal problems [mud/snow/sand/getting ripped off by stick/etc…] and the one rare problem with an IGH is an internal failure where it won’t shift [never heard of one that wouldn’t freewheel] and in that case you swap wheels and keep rolling.

24 07 2012
Chris B

I’ve owned a pugsley from back in the purple sizzurple days, and now a moonlander. I was originally sold on the ability to swap wheels, but in practice it _never_ happened. I think this is the reason Surly don’t offer the offset fork on the moonlander or neck romancer, and other company’s fat bikes don’t either. It’s more a hypothetical selling point than a real one. Heck, I don’t even like changing the tires to adapt for conditions, much less buying new wheels.

On the other hand, I’ve definitely used the extra flotation of the moonlander to get over some gnarly, loose ground. Which is why I bought a fat bike in the first place. And the extra width lets me keep up higher pressure for the same flotation, which equals less rolling resistance and more miles with less energy. Which is why I’m riding a bike not walking.

So my vote goes to the moonlander. For actually riding it over the terrain it and the pugsley designed for, it wins hands down.

Vik, I wonder if you’ve had a chance to ride a moonlander over some loose terrain yet? It’s a significant improvement in sand and snow, but I’ve found where it really shines are the big marble to baby head- sized rocky sections that make up many beaches here.

24 07 2012

@Chris B – I don’t expect or plan to swap wheels on my Pugs. Just like I don’t plan to use a first aid kit or call for help on my SPOT beacon. I like having that capability when I am too far from help to walk out easily. I’ve read about more than one Pugs rider who swapped wheels when the had a wheel failure. I have also read about more than one fatbiker on other brands of fatbikes that had derailleurs ripped off and had to walk a long way home. I suspect it’s a feature that some people don’t need and most people don’t understand/appreciate. When I was riding back in Calgary in -20 deg C I certainly never wanted to walk for 2hrs back to the car if my hub froze up and would only freewheel.

I haven’t had a chance to ride a ML. I have no doubt the floatation can be handy in certain circumstances. I also have no doubt that certain people need that extra floatation.

Have you tried a Pugs with 82mm rims and 5″ tires? It might be just as good for most of your riding and then you have the option of using narrower rims & tires as well. If you are comparing the old Pugs with Endos on 65mm rim you are not appreciating the full performance of the current Pugs.

If the new 50mm rims where available this past winter I would have built up 29er wheels for my Pugs instead of buying a 29er MTB. Swapping tires or wheels is easy and frankly necessary to get the most from a fatbike. Nates and Larry/Endos are night and day different and good for different missions.

24 07 2012
Anthony DeLorenzo

My fatbike sees 100% snow riding, so if I was buying one today it would probably be the Moonlander just for maximum floatation (I’m a big guy). As it is, I already had the Pugsley so I built new wheels with Rolling Darryls and Big Fat Larrys and that has been the ticket for me.

I have been on a ride where a freehub froze up and we swapped wheels. I am also heading out on an expedition soon where my partner is riding a Pugsley with a different SS gear ratio on each wheel that can be swapped around. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker to have that ability but if you do it’s nice.

24 07 2012
Dan Sloan

I think the floatation is over rated
you will not be able to ride in loose snow for any distance. the fat tires work best on packed trails, as mentioned above the rolling darrel and even a regular Larry has plenty of width, as far as higher pressures equaling lower rolling resistance its simply not true, tests have confirmed that a tire with lower pressures rolls over small imperfections and objects where a higher pressure tire will bounce up and or back decreasing the speed .

24 07 2012

@Dan – You are right about the limits of flotation even for a 5″ tire on a 100mm rim. It’s not like you can ride through 2′ of bottomless powder, but you can ride snow/sand that wouldn’t be much fun to walk through.

I think where a 5″ tire has benefits is at the extreme end of the floatation game…I don’t think many people are actually riding there. You’ll note that when the Pugs first came out all sorts of incredible expedition rides happen to places nobody could get to on a bike before. With the release of the Moonlander I can’t recall a single report of anyone doing something wildly new or pushing that frontier further.

The more important benefit to a 5″ tire is that you can ride more varied terrain without having to adjust pressure compared to a 4″ tire. That’s handy.

The key question I have is what is the practical difference between a 5″ tire on a 82mm and on a 100mm rim? That will answer what a Moonlander buys you over a Pugs.

24 07 2012
Rob E. Loomis

A destroyed shifter is something I would handle by manually shifting into the most favourable gear and then leaving it there. Maybe that’s not possible on all rear hub set-ups, but it’s how I’ve handled shifting issues on my IGH in the past. Freewheel failure could be an issue, I just don’t know how likely it is. Possibly more likely in places where snow happens and sub-zero temperatures in general. Derailler-related failures don’t worry me because I doubt I’d be running one. I’m not saying that front/rear swappability has no value. I’m just trying to gauge what the value is. There’s nothing that prevents manufactures from making all bikes with 135mm forks so every bike can have swappable wheels, but I’m not aware of this being a feature on any other bike (which isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of bikes with this feature. I’m not aware of lots of things.). All other things being equal, a swappable wheel would be a plus, but a swappable wheel comes with trade offs:
–Can’t use the fatter, Moonlander rims.
–Can’t use a traditional front hub.
Those two are mutually exclusive assuming that there are no 100mm front forks that will accommodate a Clownshoe. Those are both issues for me, though because I’m trying to decide if the extra width of the Moonlander tires would be more of a detriment when I don’t need them then they would be a plus when I do need them. And I like running a dynamo hub, which would also rule out a 135 offset fork.

Definitely if you wanted to go fat sometimes and 29er sometimes, the Pugs wins. But if you want to go fat sometimes and super-fat sometimes, then it seems like the Moonlander wins because I think it can handle the standard Pug rims as well as the extra wide.

One of my issues is that I don’t look at this from a mountain bike perspective because that’s something I’ve never gotten into. I look at this as an all-terrain bicycle that will roll over the most obstacles. I guess I see the ability to put 29er rims on as a way to do a different kind of riding, and I see the ability to put fatter tires on as a way to increase the kinds of terrain you can ride on. Maybe that’s not accurate and comes from my lack of experience with 29ers or mountain biking in general. I’m not sure when I would want to replace fat tires with 29er tires. But I can see wanting to go from fat to super-fat in some situations (although I have a harder time seeing how I would arrive at a “super-fat situation” and actually have those wheels on hand given that my bikes don’t often get driven to their destination.).

24 07 2012

@Rob – the freehub problem crops up cold conditions as well as in standard MTB/expedition touring. It’s happened to quite a few GDR racers for example.

The Moonlander can’t take any rims narrower than 82mm so rules out the 65mm and 50mm Pugsley options – that rules out some nice light wheels. That also rules out converting your Moonlander to a “Normal” MTB or touring bike.

The Moonlander doesn’t use a tradition front hub or fork – all the Surly and Salsa fat bikes use 135mm front forks. Only the Pugs has wheels that are swapable.

The swapability only has value to folks who ride far enough from help that walking back isn’t an option. Even for those folks 95% of the time it won’t do anything for you. Just depends on how much you care about the potential for a long walk. When I can get that capability with very little downside I can’t imagine not taking it.

If you only ride soft terrain and you want max float go for a Moonlander for sure. The downside if big heavy wheels/tires you won’t want to use for other kinds of riding. So then you need other bikes.

It’s sort of like having a Jeep with a 12″ lift kit and enormous sand tires. Awesome on the dunes and it can be used elsewhere, but it’s not much fun to drive when it’s not in the dunes.

OTOH – if you want that one fat bike frame in your garage to fill numerous missions the Pugs can do that right up to 5″ rubber [same as the ML] on 82mm rims.

Interestingly if you look at the fatbike forum I’ll wager less than 50% of the riding people show pics of and talk about actually requires fatbike capability.

24 07 2012
Anthony DeLorenzo

@Dan In my part of Canada we are riding on snow 6 months of the year. When it’s good it’s good but when it’s not, the line between good trail and bad can be really thin and believe me, every bit of extra width helps. Wider rims and tires do make a difference especially for a larger rider who needs more flotation.

24 07 2012

All this talk of fat bikes on the blog has made me go out and purchase a Salsa Mukluk 3…

You maniacs! You wrote it up! Ah, darn you! Gosh darn you to heck!

24 07 2012

@Mike – enjoy the Muk! :)

24 07 2012

Hey Vik, nice post and interesting ensuing discussion. I’ve come to the same conclusion that you have regarding the Moonlander. That doesn’t, of course, mean that I don’t want one!


25 07 2012
Steve Jones

and…Who should buy a Krampus? compared to an Ogre?

25 07 2012

@Steve – the Krampus is a good bit more expensive than the Ogre with a 1 x 10 drivetrain and seems to lack the touring brazeons of the Ogre. That’s not set in stone until we see the production frames though. None of that is a deal breaker – especially if you are into lightweight bikepacking vs. 4 pannier touring, but not everyone can be happy with 1×10.

You could also buy a Pugsley and fit the 29+ Krampus wheels which would get you a fat bike & 29er instead of a 29er & 29+.

For many people the Krampus or a Pugsley with 29+ rubber will be a better option than 4″ or 5″ fatbike setup.

If I was shopping for a 29er like the Ogre I’d take a good hard look at the Krampus.

25 07 2012
Dan Sloan

I didnt say there wasnt any difference, just not enough to justify all the other downsides for 99% of riders. ( heavier, special crank & frame, not good for dry trail riding. etc.) I just swapped my original large mage wheels for rolling darrels, drilled, the weight loss is substanial and the tire width is over 4″ @7psi.
I also studded up a nate and a larry with grip studs and its unstoppable except when the powder is over 4-6″ deep, which , by the way is not fun to ride in unless you have to.

25 07 2012

Great post Vik. On my Mukluk I’ve recently gone down to 65mm Marge Lites to lighten up the bike. For my conditions they are perfect and like you mentioned before, I’m not riding my fatbike in terrain that needs fatbike capability. I’m riding my fatbike because it’s too damn fun not to! Whatever version you chose, if you “get fatbikeing”, you won’t regret it.

26 07 2012
Steve Jones

Hmmm…interesting options now for sure.
Just built up a Troll so am happy playing with that for now. I want to whisper 350b in Surly’s ear though. It’s the sweet spot for shorter guys who want bigger wheels.

26 07 2012

@Steve – Surly already has models like the Troll and 1×1 that are 650B compatible. There are lots of 650b rims and tires available relative to say fatbike tires or 29+ tires. So I think the 650B arena is covered. Surly doesn’t make 26″ or 29er tires/rims because they exist in the wild already. Anyone who wants a 650B Surly can have one already.

26 07 2012

Vik has convinced more than a few to pick up a fat-bike; speaking from experience! I wasn’t really looking to upgrade my pug anytime soon, but now that I know i can fit 82 rims and BFL tires, i might have to think about it a bit. of course i would have to move from the 8sp alfine to the 11 in the process. i am surprise the old gen frames (like your’s and mine) can clear the 82mm/5in combo. on the other hand, krampusizing my pugs would kinda be pimpy as well. …. geez, thanks Vik!

27 07 2012
Brad Hawkins

I don’t understand. A little while ago, this blog was convinced that skinny 29r rims would not work with a Pugsley. Now not only is this fine but you can run 5 inch tires with all but the fattest rims? Believe me, this is exactly how I wanted to set up a mountain bike but after reading this blog up until this post, I was convinced that this solution would not cut.

How was this knowledge arrived at? Did Surly explain it? Is there a bike shop near you that worked it out? Let us know.

27 07 2012
Steve Jones

Vic,I wanted a 650b Surly but in practice it didn’t work smoothly.It wasn’t a clearance issue..Couldn’t get 650b to play well with V brakes on the Troll because of the positioning of the brake mounts on the fork AND it’s a small frame. When you get down to the smaller frame sizes it a’aint so easy. Same with fenders.I think you work with bigger frame sizes which give a few more possibilities.Tested it out with various combos at my LBS. I didn’t want discs.
that’s my preference.So decided better to use 26″ and that’s what I went with, I think 650b would work better with the larger frames. Rivendell seem to have a similar philosophy.( 29er’s are a bit big for my human frame!) My Troll’s a 16 (and I’d say a small one at that) compared to my other MTB’s..There is clearance for the rim and tire as you point out, so I might experiment with the Mavic brake adaptor thingy later (but it adds weight.) if I get my hands on some bigger wheels of the 650b variety which are RARE here at the moment!
So yeah, a 650b Surly is kids workable but I’d still like to see a purpose design one. Look at what Ritchey’s doing now.The Good News. The Troll is a sweet ride…it really is. Completely surprised me at how well it balances and corners.Made me smile from the first ride.Although you can build it up in any flavor the feel is definitely MTB. Got an Alfine 8 on the back and I barely notice the extra weight.Built to survive the rainy season and next winter.

27 07 2012
Steve Jones

Sorry I meant …kinda workable. Which is still bad English!! :)

27 07 2012

@Brad – a skinny 29er MTB rim is possible, but you get poor spoke tension on a Pugs. So it’s not something I’d recommend.

Surly just released the details on a new 50mm 29er rim that has offset spoke holes allowing for a Pugs 29er wheel with decent spoke tension. That rim isn’t available until the fall, but now that it is in the mix a strong 29er Pugs wheel is a reality.

A 50mm 29er rim isn’t skinny for 29er MTB rims, but it is skinny in the fatbike world so I guess it depends what you are using as a reference.

Things change!

27 07 2012

@Steve -you are right I don’t understand the challenges of small frames. I’m in the 18″-20″ range so that skews my thinking.

If you were starting over would it make sense to start with a 16″ Ogre which would have more clearance at the expense of dropping the BB a bit with 650B wheels?

27 07 2012
Brad Hawkins

Aha, the 50mm rim is offset. That does sound like the perfect solution! Thanks for explaining. Love the posts and the rando/bike camping angle. Looks super fun.

28 07 2012
Steve Jones

Good thinking Vic, a 16″ Ogre and 650b might be good. I was already committed to my Troll build ( had the frame and parts ) as the Ogre was annnounced. Still, I’m loving the ride with 26″ and big apples so no complaints.

28 07 2012
Brad Hawkins

26 inch wheels with Big Apples equal ~680mm diameter. 650b plus hetres ~670mm diameter. 650b plus 2.2’s equal about 695, and 26 plus Larry’s (the JRA shop owner has one with 40mm rims) fit on a Troll. I’ve seen it happen. Wait, it might only be on the front. You should contact him. JRA in Seattle. I also understand that the best XtraCycle combo is a Karate Monkey with 26’s because the bottom bracket is nice and low. My Dummy sits relatively high and isn’t as great for stop and go in the city because of it. Have fun with the wheel sizes

28 07 2012
Steve Jones

Brad, that’s very interesting. I hadn’t done the math ( rim plus tire ) but will investigate.

3 08 2012
Weekly Dose of Fat 8-3-12 | FAT-BIKE.COM

[…] Different uses for the versatile Pug. – Moonlander vs Pugsley […]

18 10 2012

never having owned a fat bike. i am trying to filter through the blogs and figure out what would work for a guy like me. i jump curbs, ride on grass and pavement,what to ride on sand at the beach. i am 6 foot weigh 210lbs. and i am 63 yrs old. am i nuts to think there is a fat bike out there for me? there aren’t a lot of bike shops on long island that even know what a fat bike is ,no less what to reccomend.

18 10 2012

@Arnie – based on the info you provided it would be a safe bet for you to buy a Surly Pugsley or Moonlander. A Pugsley would be fine as a general purpose fatbike. If you want the max flotation on sand than get the Moonlander. There are likely a few Surly dealers in your area. Find one and get them to size you and then you can order a fatbike.

14 11 2012

I live in Calgary Alberta. We tend to have inconsistent weather in the winters. I have a 29er with ice studs, a single speed road with studs and am looking for a dedicated fat bike for all-mountain style shredding (think back-country skiing with a bicycle). I’m looking to ride it up and down snowy trails (no roads). Which surly fatbike would be best? A Krampus, Moonlander, Pugsley or Necromancer Pug?

14 11 2012

@Cam – the Krampus is not a fatbike so I would take it off the table. It can only ride trails a normal MTB could ride. You can build Krampus 29er+ wheels for a Pugs, but not a Moonlander should you want to. The Pugs and the Necro are really the same bike with a different build spec so I’ll treat them as one option. Choosing between the Pugs and the ML it comes down to how much floatation do you want? If the trails you ride are all packed down or only have a couple inches of snow on them than the ML doesn’t offer much benefit over the Pugs. OTOH if you will have to ride deep unconsolidated snow the ML’s wider tires/rims will let you ride longer before you start walking.

Keep in mind though that you’ll do a lot of walking/pushing on any steep terrain with a fat bike. The fat tires offer some increased traction, but they can’t do miracles. These are also rigid bikes with just a touch of cushion from the big tires. If the terrain is rough you’ll feel it.

To give you some idea of what to expect. I owned a Pugsley in Calgary. Riding the flatish hiking trails at Weaselhead Park in the winter was no problem with 4″ tires as long as they had been skied on or hiked. If there was a few inches of snow on top of that we could cruise nicely. However, if we left the 2′ wide packed down section the fat tire would sink and we’d crash in the unpacked snow. We could handle some climbs if they weren’t too steep, but steep climbs would have us walk. Coming down same thing or you could skid down a trail if you had the balls and a clean runout, but you weren’t braking much. They now have studded 4″ fat tires which would allow better climbing/descending, but I’ve never tried a set.

In general I think the Pugs/Necro is the more versatile option unless riding in lots of deep snow/sand is on the menu at which point you really want maximum floatation and should get a Moonlander.

15 11 2012
Joshy P

Awesome thread going here!

Wondering if anyone has actually tried using a 29 x 2.1 size tire on Surly’s “small” 50mm rims? I’ve read that its possible in theory if you glue down one of the tire beads to the rim. I am interested mounting some studded Nokian Extreme 294s on a really wide rim at low psi, for winter riding on snowmobile trails.

Snowcat rims are 44mm wide but can be hard to find (not sure they are manufactured anymore?) and I am trying to go wider than the Velocity P35s. Need something lighter than a downhill rim!

Full disclosure: I do not have a fatbike! I am trying to squeak some fat studded tires into my existing 29er frame to avoid buying a new bike for winter riding! However this thread is making me very jealous…

26 02 2013


Are you using a Rohloff IGH on your pugsley, or are the alfine/nexus (plastic) hubs good enough for snow/wet/sand use?

Shimano has their IGH listed under “pavement” … :-(

26 02 2013

@Matthew – the Alfine 8’s in both Pugsleys are going strong after 4yrs of use.

Pug first ride
26 02 2013


Thanks for the feedback, and I may have been totally wrong about the composition of the Alfine hubs.

Can you suggest, or post your specific, drive train suggestion for a IGH Pugsley? I was considering a full custom build, but would I still need an MWOD crankset w/ 82mm rims, if I’m using an IGH? Since obviously there is no derailing…

I don’t’ know much about fat bikes, or large rims in general, so I’m really just concerned about what kind of drive train options I have for an IGH, as that’s how I would go for sure.


26 02 2013

Found it :-)


26 02 2013

@Matthew – what I use is a Phil 100mm BB [square taper] and a Shimano MTB triple crank with only one ring. You can use any MTB triple. No need for one of the fancy MWOD cranks. I use cheap SRAM 8 spd chains. They are $16 and last a long time.

Other than the 100mm BB the parts and install are pretty straight forward.

18 03 2013
Josh Spice

100mm hoops DO fit on Pugsleys. I had them on mine with Larry’s. No clearance issues with the frame or my 2×9 drivetrain, spaced as far out on the driveside as the Mr Whirly’s allow. Not sure a ‘4.0’ tire would fit, though. For example, Escalators are much bigger than Husker Du’s.

12 05 2013

Which bike is better for a 7ft 340 lb man?

Which bike would you recommend, the Pugsley, the Necromancer, the Moonlander or the Krampus.

I am leaning towards Pugsley Necromancer because the Moonlander is too fat and the wheels are probably less strong because they are larger diameter.


12 05 2013

@Marc – the Moonlander comes in XXL which may fit you better than the XL in the Pugs/Necro. You’ll have to look at the geometry numbers and see what you think.

I don’t think either the ML or Pugs is weaker stronger. The rims are the same diameter and the slightly larger tires on the ML don’t affect strength.

13 05 2013

@Marc – If you find the XXL ML fits in terms of size I would talk to Surly about its weight capacity. Typically wheels are the weak spot of any bike in that regard, but you want to be sure that you don’t buy a bike that can’t support your weight before you make a choice.

19 09 2013

I’m 75 with a busted tendon in my left foot and arm (5’10” and 180#, not exceptionally strong, but tough-minded (aka stubborn), and I want something I can carry in a tiny STOL airplane, so this means I might have to cut the Pugsley frame. I’m gonna be riding a Moonlander with an 8-gear internal hub soon, just to try it out.

I like to get far into the backcountry, but walking more than a hundred yards or so is pretty much out for me. I want a bike I can get out with if the need arises. I don’t care much about speed; I want reliability and climbability. I wonder if I need to invest in the 14-gear hub, and if Surly offers internals as an option from the factory (or if I should just try to build something). I need something that can handle soft ground, sand, and mud, and maybe snow in some situations. I am not a bike wise guy, but have ridden my mountain bike on decent single tracks. I come from a backcountry background, but am city-sour. If y’all can help me, I’d be grateful. Good blog, good comments. Thanks!

19 09 2013

@Twister – buy a complete Surly Moonlander. There is only one spec and it uses derailleurs. They will be fine to start and then you can buy a Rohloff 14 speed geared hub down the road if you want. You can send the frame to Bilenky to get S&S couplers installed so the bike easily breaks in half.!what-is-a-retrofit/c22f8

5 11 2013

Lots of good advice here, and I think I know the answer to my question but…
I think I want a Moonlander. I’m a full-time mechanic/hoarder and have plenty of dry-time bikes, but I live in Wisconsin where there’s slush/snow on the ground 7 months a year, snow plowing is erratic, and there’s a couple of frozen lakes to play around with. Is there any reason I’d want a Pugsley instead?

5 11 2013

The Moonlander is really awesome for one thing 5″ tires on 100mm rims for max floatation. If you want to ride deep snow that’s the ticket.

The Pugsley can use a wide variety of rims up to 80mm with the skinnier 5″ tires. The Pugsley is more versatile.

16 11 2013
Chris Byron

I’m in the same mindset as most – caught between a pugs necro (ops now I. Think) and going to a ML. I’ve ordered a BFL for the front as I like to ride pastures covered in snow (it is a great way to tire dogs out). Yet, I have to walk sections where the snow has collected. I hate walking on a ride.

I commute on the pugs in winter. My daily ride goes from uncleared path, trail, to street. The pugs works, but with a quiver of rides, I really don’t need to compromise.

We’re getting a pretty serious dump today. I’d love to blast out tomorrow and stay clipped in for the duration. Hmmmm, looks like I’ve just talked myself into spending a few grand.

16 11 2013

@Chris – you can put BFLs on RDs on both ends of a Pugs. There are also a bunch of new ~4.6″ tires which will work on a Pugs with RDs.

29 11 2013
Jared Loftus

I love the IGH and fixed capabilities of your set up, but information on actually building a bike like that is seemingly difficult to find. The offset frame seems to confuse things. Would you be able to provide a spec list or point me in the direction of figuring this out? Thanks so much!

30 11 2013

@ Jared – do you want to build a bike from parts or modify a complete bike? The cheaper/easier way to go is to buy a complete bike that is IGH friendly [horizontal or sliding dropouts or eccentric BB] ride it until you wear out the stock drivetrain and replace it with an IGH.

3 01 2014
Phat assssssss..... - Page 2

[…] Posted by Captain Commuter Edit: found this useful piece Did find this while looking around. It's a bit out of date as the Pugsley doesn't some with an […]

28 03 2014

Thanks for this very informative post and discussion. I have just moved from the USA(Washington state) to Nova Scotia; and have been trying to make up my mind with regards to which bike would really be more practical and versatile for winter riding in Canada. I of course have been drooling over the thought of having a Moonlander and thus being unstoppable on epic sand and snow maneuvers. But after reading this page I have come to accept that the Moonlander may be over kill and over budget for my riding needs. Thanks again for all the boots on the ground intel.

24 07 2014

what are your thoughts on Walmart’s Mongoose beast it looks exactly like the surly Pugsley

15 08 2014

@Frank – I’m skeptical and I have never seen a Wal-Beast so I wouldn’t be too interested, but I know there are reviews posted online that might answer your question.

3 09 2014

Is there any point, other than just the fun of owning a fat bike, to adding a fat bike to a stable which includes a hardtail 650b MB, an LHT, a road bike on skinny rubber, and my commuter ANT, when my riding is 90% commute (year round in CT where there is snow and ice – and right now I don’t ride on snow/ice) and 10% road or easy forest trail riding? I’ve never been on one, they look intriguing but is it a worthy use of the $?

3 09 2014

@retrocrank – if you are just commuting you can extend your season with a knobby/studded tire on your LHT or ANT. The $$ spent on a fatbike won’t radically change your commute options.

So if you don’t plan to ride offroad in the winter I don’t see a practical reason to get one.

OTOH – if you just want a fatbike and you’d have fun with it – that’s enough reason right there. ;)

3 09 2014

That last bit is really obvious to me….they just look like a blast. Thanks for the input. So the equation now is, does the fun factor outweigh domestic commentary on yet another bicycle…..

10 09 2014
Andrew N.

Will an IGH allow you to run even tension on an offset frame? And still have the rear wheel in the center?

10 09 2014

@Andrew – if you use offset drilled rims like the ones Surly sells matched to the bike’s offset you can get pretty close.

Here is an Alfine 8 in a Pugs with 65mm offset rims:

The same IGH and rims in a Moonlander wouldn’t work so well, but you’d probably want to use wider rims anyways in a ML.

Here is an Alfine 8 in a Moonlander using 100mm Clown Shoe rims:

10 09 2014
Andrew N.

Thank you Vik. Looks like I have a lot to learn. I’ll be renting a pug for a day to really test one out. If all goes well I’ll get a 2014 and after i use up the original drive train I was thinking of switching to IGH. Bike packing and touring are my primary interests. Any advice?

10 09 2014

@andrew – if you can afford it get a Rohloff .If not get an Alfine 8.

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