Question: How long does it take to finish building a Fat Bike? Answer: The world may never know! I’ve never met any Fat Bike owner who has actually finished tinkering with their creation—there is always a “little upgrade” or “tweak or two” in the works. Fat Bikes, like my Surly Necromancer Pugsley, are among the most versatile and customizable bicycles in the world and every time you think the bike is finished you find something else you would like to do with it. My wife has never understood why I need to keep buying upgrades for my Pugsley, but then again, I’ve never figured out why she needs 200 pairs of shoes (that number might be slightly exaggerated). Last week the guys at the local bike shop (Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois) made a few upgrades to my Pugsley, or, to put it another way, they helped me put my Fat Bike on a diet.
My Surly Necromancer (AKA, Surly Black Ops Pugs, Surly Neck Romancer) weighed an incredible 41 pounds the day I brought it home from the shop—this is about six pounds over factory weight because I had a Shimano Alfine 8 Internal Geared Hub installed, along several other upgrades. The bike came with 82mm wide Surly Rolling Darryl rims that weigh 1030 grams each (33.3 ounces). Last week we swapped out those rims for Rolling Darryl rims with cutouts and that took off six ounces per rim. These cutouts now only reduce the weight of the rim, but they also allow you to install a colored rim strip. I used the Surly PVC RIm Strip—they call the color red, but it is actually burgundy. To add a little more color to the rims I had them install red anodized spoke nipples.
My Pugsley came with rather heavy 1.3mm inner tubes that weigh about one pound each, so we switched these out for lighter 1.0 mm tubes (Surly Toobs). In the summer I use Slime in my Fat Bike tires and this adds eight ounces to each tire, but have finally decided that this is not necessary when riding in the snow (I hope).
Thanks to the incredible effort of the owner of the local bike shop I was finally able to get a pair of 45NRTH Dillinger winter tires, the first-ever studded Fat Bike tire. These tires have an aggressive tread pattern and 240 lightweight aluminum-carbide studs. I haven’t had a chance to use them in the snow yet, but I can tell you that they have an amazing grip in the mud. Due to their business practices 45NRTH is one of my least favorite companies in the world, but this tire looks and feels great (I will publish a full review after Chicago gets some snow this year).
This trip to the bike shop helped my Pugsley shed 3.5 pounds—that doesn’t sound like a lot, but you can really tell the difference when climbing a hill. As I said in an article last year, once you start customizing a bike it is hard to stop until you run out of cash. When the guys at the bike shop were ringing up my sale I asked them how much their average new bike sells for at the shop—well, I topped that number by about $40 with just this upgrade. Therefore, I am officially finished customizing my Pugsley—at least for today.