One of the most highly coveted cycling products this year has been the Surly Nate Tire for Fat Bikes. If you are one of those guys who rides your bike in your basement on a trainer all winter, well, you can skip this article. However, if you own a Fat Bike and love playing in the snow and mud, the Surly Nate tire might end up being one of your favorite cycling purchases of all time.
Both the Surly Pugsley and the Surly Necromancer Pugs come stock with 3.8″ Surly Larry tires on the front and 3.7″ Surly Endomorph tires on the back (often called the Larry/Endo combo). These tires are great for folks who are lucky enough to ride on groomed snowmobile trails and hard packed (consolidated) snow. Those of use who ride on loose and unconsolidated snow usually find this tire combination somewhat lacking—the Larry in the front is prone to washouts (especially if the path is off-camber) and the Endomorph in the rear often loses its grip in loose snow.
The Surly Nate tire has a large and aggressive knobby tread pattern that offers unbelievable traction in unconsolidated snow. While these massive tires have more rolling resistance than other fat tires, I’ve still been able to get my Pugs up to over 20 MPH on the pavement. I’ve also been able to cut a trail through five inches of fresh snow without any trouble—even on off-camber sections of the trail. In addition, I’ve been able to climb snow-covered hills while standing up out of the saddle—something I could never do with the Larry/Endo combo.
The Surly Nate is available with either 27 tpi or 120 tpi (threads per inch). Higher tpi tires are usually lighter, more supple and more expensive. Lower tpi tires are generally heavier, more durable and offer better flat-resistance. The 120 tpi Nate weighs around 1500 grams, while the 27 tpi version weighs a bit over 1700 grams. The 120 tpi Nate is available with either a wire or Kevlar bead.
Due to an unseasonably warm winter I’ve spent more time on my Surly Pugsley Necromancer in the mud than I have in the snow this year. The first time I rode with the Nates was on a 35 degree day on an off-road trail that had snow and ice in the shady areas and several inches of mud and standing water in the areas exposed to direct sunlight. When I started my ride I could see the tracks left by a mountain biker who had started out on the trail before me that day—the tracks turned around after about 30 feet! However, I was able to ride for over 30 miles on this muddy trail and my Nates didn’t slip a single time (but they did throw a lot of mud).
I do need to warn about one of the side effects of these tires. If you go out for a nice ride in the melting snow and mud with a pair of Nates you are going to come home covered from head to toe in mud. You will then find yourself standing out in your snow-covered backyard with a water hose and scrub brush trying to clean your bike. Your neighbors will never understand the smile on your face. In fact, I am not certain of its source myself. Does the smile come as a result of the fun you had on the ride, or from thinking about those poor guys riding their trainers in the basement because the weather is “too bad to ride in”?
The 27 tpi Surly Nate tire retails for around $80, and the 120 tpi version is around $120. You should be able to find these tires in the Men’s Department of your local bike shop. This tire is made in China by Innova.
Once you get your hands on the Surly Nate tire, make sure you look for the Easter Egg (hidden message) just above the bead of the tire. In case you can’t find it, it says, “Deep Fried Meat Fueled Natepocalypse.” I am not sure of the best way to translate this into English.