Tuesday, January 30, 2018

We Always Knew You Would Come Back Again!

The rebooted Pugsley. Image pinched from Surly Bikes Blog
Background: It was sometime in the mid-2000's. My bossman took me to Frostbike, (back when it was relevant) and we rounded the corner to the view of QBP's front door, There it was. I could see it as plain as day from a city block away. A purple steel frame with these enormous, cartoonish skinwall tires parked in the snow bank just outside Q's front doors. I busted out laughing. My bossman wondered at this and I pointed at this bike with the gargantuan tires stuffed in it. Of course, it was Dave Gray's prototype Pugsley with skinwall Endomorph 26 X 3.8" tires.

Fast forward about five years. QBP announces via Salsa Cycles that fat bikes will be available as complete rigs in a box for the first time. Surly quickly follows suit with a complete Pugsley offering. Fat bikes were hitting the trails and unridden paths all over. Stock was preciously slim and the bikes and accessories specific to fat bikes were hard to get. Technology raced ahead leaving old standards in the dust. Then everyone and their brother had fat bikes by 2015. The "bubble burst" and even the poor, barely changed Pugs with its 135OD spaced frame was being "closed out". Surly introduced the Wednesday, but despite all appearances to the contrary, Surly said that the dear old Pugs would someday come back, albeit in a new form.

Well folks, the day has come. Pugsley 2.0 has arrived. Some things have indeed changed, and some things haven't, but the basic premise of the bike remains- the swappable front to rear wheels and back country, expedition intentions of the original Pugs are still here with version 2.0.

Hey Doode! I think yer fork is bent! Image pinched from Surly Bikes Blog
The magic lies in the fact that anyone with two rear hubs, a bunch of spare parts, and the ability to lace up some special wheels and that can buy a special crank set can still put together their own fat bike. Or you can buy a complete Pugs 2.0. Either way, the focus is still on redundancy, versatility, and capability with a new dash of fat tire clearances.

You can read up on all the changes here on Surly's post on this bike. I won't delve into all that nitty gritty here, but I wanted to talk about why this bike appeals to my mind.

First off, Surly doesn't necessarily buy into the term "fat bike", and now they feel "Omni-terra" is a bad  description too. (The Pugs is now part of the "Dirt Touring" category.........yeah, that'll work! )  Although, they liberally sprinkled the description for this bike with the term "fat bike", so maybe they are just foolin' with us. Dunno.....

And frankly, I don't care, and probably neither do you! Anyway..... The whole "bombproof" survive-the-apocalypse nature of the Pugsley is pretty cool. The idea with the offset "bend" in the frame allows the wheels to be dished in such a way that the cassette is pushed outward enough that the chain can clear a big fatty-fat tire and still be using all 11 speeds back there. The offset also helps you use standard 135mmOD or through axle 142OD hubs, which are a dime a dozen, not special, and easily sourced the world over. The front fork takes the same set up, only if you are smart, you lace up your single speed hub there and put a cog on it. If/when you blow up your free hub body, or rip off your derailleur, you can bail yourself out by swapping wheels, shortening your chain, and using the track end tips on the rear to tension the chain all proper-like. Then you pedal home, not walk. Single speed, yes, but mobile!

Surly also did something long necessary to the Pugs- they finally tweaked the geometry. Thankfully they did not make another trail bike with fat tires. (Yawn!) They actually made an expedition worthy geometry which I think has been overlooked by almost every fat bike design since 2015. The head angle was only slackened by a degree, so front loading the bike won't be adversely affected. The rear chain stays were lengthened by a whopping 12mm. This gives your heels clearance with panniers, but it also gives a fat bike more stability in looser terrain. It helps keep the rear tire from "punching through" delicate top crust on snow as well. I think longer wheel based fat bikes are better "trail busters" too.

Previously limited to maybe a 4.0"er on 80mm rims, the new Pugs can handle 4.8"s!
Another sore spot for the old Pugs, and honestly, this is why I never got one, was that those older Pugs were limited to a 4.0" tire, and for this big guy, that ain't gonna cut it! I need float and I need float now! Ha!

Well, Surly must have thought similarly because the bike can easily handle 4.3" Ednas on 80mm rims and with a bit of gear tweakage and axle placement, along with a proper fork, the bike could run 4.8"ers if you so wanted, on 80mm rims. That's wheel versatility, and that is something I could live with.

Of course you get rack mounts, Three-pack bosses, and full run cable housings. Front derailleurs are a possibility with skinnier tires, maybe with 4.0" fat tires? Not sure Ednas would clear, Surly isn't 100% clear there as yet. But no matter, the point is versatility is built in and expected to be made use of.

In fact, 29+, 27.5 fat, 27.5+ and obviously 26 fat should all be possibilities with this new frame. (Note- 29+ has been confirmed as a fit by Surly.) I like that, as one bike with many wheel sets can be a thing that might be useful to me. Yes, I said, "to me", as I am seriously considering this rig as my Snow Dog replacement bike now.

I was thinking about a Wednesday frame/fork and swapping over parts off the Snow Dog, but now I think the plan is to let my son ride the Snow Dog because he is quickly outgrowing his newest fat bike, which will end up becoming Mrs. Guitar Ted's after he's done with it. I'll talk more about this later.....

Interestingly the new Pugs 2.0 is being ridden in the Arrowhead 135 now, so we should get a read on how it does with that soon. Until then, you can check out this brief report on Bikepacking.com here.

1 comment:

Rydn9ers said...

I'm pretty sure the "sneak peek" on Sunday wasn't supposed to happen but it sure did light the interwebs up with talk and build anticipation for more. Now if I can only talk the other half into another fat bike...