Ode to my Pugsley…

19 01 2013
Who says Pigs can't fly? ;)

Who says Pigs can’t fly? 😉

When I got my Surly Pugsley there were no complete bikes available. I had to buy a frame/fork and then build the bike from a bunch of new and used parts that fell to hand. The Pugsley’s fat tires and offset drivetrain meant there were more than a few moments of uncertainty as I assembled it. Choices of fat bike specific parts were limited at the time. You could pick from any tire as long as it was an Endomorph and the only offset rims were Large Marges. Happily it was actually a pretty easy build once I started turning wrenches.

Taking the Pugs frame and wheels home...

Taking the Pugs frame and wheels home…

Like most people that ride fat bikes I was first attracted by the freakishly huge rubber they roll on. I held off for a couple years after the Pugsley was launched telling myself it was too specialized and I’d never make good use of it because I was not a snow bike racer type. What sealed the deal for me was a test ride on someone else’s Pugs. After you get over the big tires and start pedaling you realize it’s just a mountain bike that can go places its skinny tired brothers can’t. It rides trails just fine, isn’t bad on pavement and can dirt bike tour like a champ.



After that ride I knew I could get a lot of use out of a Pugsely so I dug deeper into the bike design. Like many other Surly bikes the Pugs is packed with features and is incredibly versatile. I liked the fact it had horizontal dropouts because I planned to use an internally geared hub [IGH] and didn’t want to use a chain tensioner. I also liked the fact that there was a derailleur hang if I changed my mind and wanted to use something more standard in the future. The fact you could swap the front and rear wheels made a lot of sense to me. I built my “front” wheel up with a disc brake fixed gear hub so in the unlikely event my IGH failed I wouldn’t be stuck a long way from help. The geometry of the Pugs is pretty standard for a classic mountain bike and it works great from street to trail to sand and snow.

No maintenance? - No problem! ;)

No maintenance? – No problem! 😉

My Pugs has seen a lot of action in the 4+yrs I’ve owned it. We’ve been to Baja Mexico several times. We’ve been to Burning Man and Shambhala. We’ve ridden the Canadian Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail. And of course we’ve ridden a lot of snow and ice in Alberta. My initial build has held up really well. I tore the bike apart last year to repaint its battered finish and was surprised that other than a new chain, new BB bearings and new cables/housing the bike really didn’t need anything to keep rolling another 4yrs.

Riding the CDN Great Divide...

Riding the CDN Great Divide…

I will admit that as new fat bikes and parts have hit the market [including the Moonlander] I get the occasional urge to upgrade my fatty. So far I have resisted those urges pretty well. I did put a Larry tire on the front of my Pugs and swap between different saddles and bars depending if I’m touring on the Pugs or doing shorter techy rides. I’ll probably upgrade to some lighter rims this year and rebuild the wheels using the original hubs and spokes if possible. Beyond that I’ll just keep riding the beast. Not bad for a guy prone to upgraditis! Mostly what’s keeping my wallet happy is the fact the Pugs works so well that upgrades wouldn’t make it that much better.

With a Pugs winter is snow-problem!

With a Pugs winter is snow-problem!

Now don’t read into this post a retrogrouch sentiment suggesting my aging Pugs is the ultimate fat bike and everything that has come since is just hype. If you gave me a Moonlander, a 907 or a Fatback I’d jump on them and probably enjoy the heck out of them as well. They are certainly different to my fatty and in some ways I can see they’d be better. However, looking at the overall picture there are still some things I like a lot about my Pugs and nothing that I have seen yet makes me feel like I’ll reach new levels of awesomeness over my Pugs.

Fat is fun!

Fat is fun!

Click here for all my Pugsley photos and click here for all my Pugsley related blog posts.

So good it makes you all crazy!

So good it makes you all crazy!



11 responses

19 01 2013

Nice one Vik, you’re blog is my fatbiking information mekka. Lots of useful information and cross-links. Thanks and keep that Pugs love going!

19 01 2013
All Seasons Cyclist

The Pugs is a thing of beauty!

19 01 2013

I am getting a 9:zero:7 together, looking forward to taking it on my next road trip up North 😀

20 01 2013

I will pick up my new Mukluk 3 in a couple weeks in Point Roberts. Really looking forward to that. The only question mark with that one is whether I can run my Rohloff on it with the 35 mm spacer to bring it to 135 mm from 170 mm. I don’t mind using a chain tensioner, the Surly Singleater, It’s just the issue of whether the frame can handle the torque from the IGH. I’ve googled it and found inconclusive reports, nothing recent, maybe someone has figured this out since.

It will be a good bike for snow up here and I’m also planning a trip to Bahia de Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez in May with my friends from LA. There is a 40 km long canyon / wash I plan to check out, but I’ll just scope out the route into the head of the wash first — check it out for a later trip down the canyon when the weather is cooler next winter. Only a few people have ever visited that canyon. I’ll need good sand capability, and also thorn resistance. So I will probably convert the Nates over to tubeless with the goo.

I also want to build up a set of Rabbit Holes and Knards on 135 mm hubs, but the rear will have to be 17.5 mm offset due to the spacer, not sure if the Rabbit Holes can do that.

20 01 2013
Aaron M

A good post Vik, unlike you I’ve only recently gotten into the world of fat-bikes. I’ve known about the Pugsley for a while now but previously never thought that it’d be all that useful. Like you it was a ride on a friends bike (yours) that got me hooked. Flash forward to now, I’m living in Edmonton, AB & I ride my Pugs (“Ulfberht” or “Ulffy” for short) every where. Those fat tires make mince-meat out of rough trail, snow drifts, ice ruts, & get stares on every corner. I let out a sly chuckle every time I see those tires. Thanks for carrying the fat-tire torch & allowing me to discover the world of bloated tires.

22 01 2013

@Mark – as far as I know you will be the first Rohloff/170mm fat bike owner. Definitely let me know how it works for you.

The Rabbit Holes will work fine with 17.5mm offset. They were designed to allow a Pugsley to run 29er wheels without and odd spoke tension.

Just curious – if you want to run a Rohloff why not go for a Pugsley that can take a 135mm hub and doesn’t need a chain tensioner?

23 01 2013

Traveling to the USA next month for work and I am seriously thinking of getting a Pugsley. I know little about Fat Bikes is that the best option? It is very unlikely to see snow but it will get sandy and hit the trails.

23 01 2013

The Pugsley is a great fat bike. There are other comparable fat bikes that are also worth looking at like the Necromancer Pugsley and the Salsa Mukluk. Supply is getting low so you may want to line up a bike now and have it shipped to your accommodation address. Unless you are very lucky you won’t just walk into a bike shop and find fat bikes sitting on the showroom floor.

26 01 2013
Dave Hoskins

Hey just wanted to say thanks for all the time and effort you put into your blog posts. Coastkid71 and Gary Buckham got me hooked on the concept of fat with their videos but your blog showed me how well fat can do in our Cdn/BC seasons. There was only one fatbike here in Prince George – an old Pug my LBS had. it was a tough choice between Pugsley and Moonlander with all the recent popularity of the Moonie, but your posts were very persuasive as we’re Coastkid’s and Pugsley was the winner. I just picked up my new yellow Pug on Wednesday and today will be my first big ride on snowy single track. Thanks again!

26 01 2013

Hi Dave – glad I could be of help. Enjoy the new Pugs! It’s a fun ride 🙂

26 01 2013

Nice review Vik, I hope to keep my pugsley rolling for years, a fantastic bike and very capable and adaptable for different stuff

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