It was nearly four months ago that Surly announced several new fat bike products, including the Surly Necromancer Pug (formerly known by the much cooler Black Ops Pug name and also by the horrible Neck Romancer name). After one look at the Necromancer I knew I had to have one, so I asked the folks at the local bike shop, Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois to order one for me. Surly seriously underestimated the demand for this bike and for a while it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to get one till next March. Fortunately, Mary Daisy, one of the owners of Zion Cyclery, worked tirelessly to make sure I got my new bike and it finally arrived yesterday.
To call the new Surly Necromancer Pug a “work of art” would be an understatement! Nearly the entire bike is black, including the rims and spokes. The Necromancer has 82mm-wide single-wall Rolling Darryl rims, a Shimano drivetrain and a Mr. Whirly offset double 22/36 crankset. The front tire is a Surly Larry (3.8″) and the rear tire is a Surly Endomorph (3.7″).
Since December is not exactly the busiest time of the year for bike shops in the Chicago area, I asked the folks at Zion Cyclery if I could be present for the build. I had no part in putting the bike together—I was just there to photograph the blessed event. While the Necromancer is one rugged fat bike straight out of the box, I wanted to make a few changes to transform the bike from rugged to nearly invincible. The crew at Zion Cyclery spent a lot of time preparing a list of options for me and we ended up with one of the coolest bikes you will ever see!
The standard Necromancer comes with Avid BB7 cable actuated brakes, and these were replaced with Avid Elixir 3 Hydraulic Disc Brakes and a Shimano SM-RT53 Disc Rotor. Since I plan on riding this bike in a lot of snow, mud and dirt the standard derailleur cables were replaced with a Gore Ride On Sealed Low Friction Cable System. These cables have an uninterrupted housing so they are completely sealed from the elements (it also means I don’t have to worry about oiling the cables after a ride in the rain).
The biggest (and most expensive) change was deleting the stock Shimano Deore rear derailleur and 9-speed cassette for a Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Hub, coupled with a sealed Shimano Alfine Shifting Lever. This change meant they also had to install a Shimano Alfine Chain Tensioner. The internal hub might be considered a luxury item, but if you spend much time in deep snow you will appreciate how much abuse a premium-level component group can offer.
Several other minor changes were also made on my new Necromancer. The standard handlebar grips were replaced with Ergon GC-2 grips. Since this bike does not ship with pedals, I chose to put Odyssey JC PC Pedals on (at least for the winter). I’ll probably switch the Odyssey pedals out for Crank Brother Egg Beater pedals once the snow melts.
Everything on this bike is solid black, except for the disc brake rotor, chain and bolts. I didn’t change the chain, but all 24 of the silver water bottle bolts (yep, the Necromancer has 24 braze-ons) were replaced with solid black Origin8 Alloy Bottle Cage Bolts. Unlike the standard Pugsely, the Necromancer has braze-ons on the front fork so you can put a water bottle cage on each side (plus space for a bottle cage on both the down tube and seat tube). The inside of the bike was coated with Boeshield T-9 to give it a bit of added rust protection. Finally, since I ride in an area that is full of broken glass I asked the shop to put 8-ounces of Slime in each inner tube (if you’ve ever had to change a tube when the wind-chill temperature is -20 degrees Fahrenheit you will understand).
In case you are interested, after the customization this bike weighs in at 41 pounds. That is a lot more than my carbon fiber Trek Madone, but I don’t plan on racing anyone with my Necromancer (except maybe over a few miles of single-track in deep snow).
The Surly Necromancer Pug has suggested list price of $1850. The Shimano Alfine Internal Hub and associated parts was around $450. Once you start customizing a bike it is kind of hard to stop until you run out of cash. While the changes I made could not be considered a necessity, they will make operating the bike in inclement weather a lot more enjoyable.
Cyclists have a tendency to either love or hate their local bike shop. In my case I have to say I love it! I’ve purchased my last five bikes at Zion Cyclery and I have never been tempted to try to find a better price at another bike shop. Their prices are fair, they treat their customers well and their mechanics are the best I’ve ever seen. Over the past few years Zion, Illinois has lost a lot of locally owned businesses—some due to the bad economy, others due to poor management. Don and Mary Daisy have owned Zion Cyclery since 1981 and their son Chris is in the process of taking over. Their business was built the old-fashioned way—hard work, customer service and honest business practices. If you live in northeastern Illinois or southeastern Wisconsin you really need to pay these folks a visit before you buy your next bike.