Surly Necromancer Pugsley (Black Ops Pug)

14 Dec

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.

Surly Necromancer Pugsley (Black Ops Pug)

My New Surly Necromancer Pugsley (Black Ops Pug)

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!

Grant at Zion Cyclery working on the front fork

Grant at Zion Cyclery working on the front fork

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).

Curt at Zion Cyclery making a few adjustments on my Surly Necromancer Pugsley

Kurt at Zion Cyclery making a few adjustments

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.

Shimano Alfine SG-S501 8-Speed Internal Hub

Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Hub

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.


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45 responses to “Surly Necromancer Pugsley (Black Ops Pug)

  1. James Warne

    December 14, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    Brilliant looking bike and well done on all the mods that you performed to it. Can’t wait to see some pics of the bike in action in deep snow!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 14, 2011 at 9:37 AM

      I can’t wait for the snow either! Two months ago the National Weather Service said the Chicago area was gong to have the worst winter in a generation with a lot of snow and very cold weather. However, the temps have been above normal with NO real snow yet!

  2. Joboo

    December 14, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    Let the Fat biking commence!!!
    Sweet Sweet set up!!!!
    Our 8 year old will be the proud owner of this exact same bike (minus your upgrades of course), come August 2012!!!
    Talk about a killer birthday gift this will be!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!!


  3. All Seasons Cyclist

    December 14, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    How is an 8 year old going to get this bike? When I was 8 all I got was a lousy baseball glove!

    • Joboo

      December 14, 2011 at 10:07 AM

      Ha Ha!!!!
      His dad works his tail off so he and his sister (XS 9:zero:7), can join me in our “dark-times” adventures!!! 😉
      Mom makes it so!!!! LOL


    • hughonabike

      December 21, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      I wish I’d got a base ball glove > I think I got a train set!

  4. portajohn

    December 14, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    The NecroPug looks amazing. Enjoy!

  5. tuckamoredew

    December 14, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    That bike is the stuff my dreams are made of and totally out of my price range. Envious.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 14, 2011 at 9:39 PM

      Tuckamoredew, it was out of my price range too! That is why I am going to be driving my old Jeep next year instead of getting a new one. If I can get ten or twelve year of use out of this bike then I guess it will have been worth it. By the way, I just added a link to your site from mine.

  6. Steve

    December 15, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Fascinating. I can’t wait to read your ride reports!

  7. All Seasons Cyclist

    December 15, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    Steve, I can’t wait for the snow! We normally get our first snow around Thanksgiving, but so far we have had above normal temperatures and no measurable snow.

  8. fat-rubbers-guy

    December 16, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    Hey just an fyi: Civia cycles makes a chain tensioner for rear facing dropouts that has an anti-rotation plate built in for shimano gear hubs. Its what they use on their kingfield and bryant models. So no need for a rear der style tensioner and front chain guide.

  9. Anthony

    December 20, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Awesome mods, well done! thanks for sharing. Great endorsement of the local bike shop. My local spot in Northern NJ, Cyclecraft, is a great place, as well.

  10. dsemanik

    December 29, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    Nice job on the IGH setup, your going to have fun with that for sure.


  11. hughonabike

    December 29, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Hmm…………. NecroPug or Moonlander ? Or do I go electric on my trusty old purple Pug. Suggestions please……

  12. Gorge Don

    January 4, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Sweet setup! If you ever come out to the PacNW let me know & we’ll take it on some suitable trails.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 4, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      I’d love to come to the NW, but I can’t imagine what the airlines would charge to ship a Pugsley — it would be like shipping a tank!

  13. AllAboutTheTriple

    January 10, 2012 at 5:13 AM

    Wow. And to think I’m put off cycling in the rain because I lost a few bolts for my mudguards!

  14. blinkpack

    November 12, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Josh here from the BlinkPack blog. That is one good looking pug. Well done. Cheers!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 12, 2012 at 3:48 PM

      Thank you very much! It’s getting some new (drilled) rims in a week or two, along with a set of studded snow tires.

  15. mmadonna1

    November 13, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    I appreciate your visiting my blog. Although I’m not a cyclist (yet!), I applaud your energy and talent. And I just thought bikes were all about wheels and gears! LOL

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      I rarely write about gear ratios — that stuff bores me to tears. However, ask me about riding in the snow and I can talk for hours!

  16. nancymn

    November 14, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    No snow here, but that is one very odd-looking bike. I’m on the hunt for a new bike myself, since my wreck. Thanks for your like on my blog; it’s good to know you are out there writing about bikes so I can get another informed opinion.

  17. genesisfix

    November 21, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Damn that’s a mean looking bike.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      November 21, 2012 at 10:15 PM

      Thank you very much! It is about to get a facelift — I’ve ordered new rims (with cutouts) and am going to use red rim tape. I’ve also ordered the new 45NRTH studded winter tires (4″ wide). I’ll post some photos is a couple of weeks.

  18. smarkberry

    December 8, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    I apologize if you already posted this – what was the total $ sunk into this once completed? GREAT bike!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 8, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      The total came to around $3,000. However, next week I am getting new rims (with cutouts) and new steel studded tires — that adds another $800.

  19. Rich miller

    December 19, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Thanks for the info. I got a new necromancer coming in this weekend. I am not planning any upgrades due to funds but I am a weight Winnie and was thinking of switching out the holly rd for marge lites. I’m not going to ride in any swamps, probably snowy roads some single track/fields and bunch of trips downtown to the pub and store. What do you think should I switch out before I use them or is it just stupid.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 19, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      You might want to talk with your bike shop — they might be willing to buy the stock rims from you. If they don’t want to do that I’d sell them on e-Bay — once you put them on your bike they are “used” and you will never get as much for them in the future — PLUS you will have to pay to lace-up the new rims later (unless you do it yourself). On the other hand, the six ounces per rim is not going to kill you.

      • richard miller

        December 19, 2012 at 9:58 PM

        Leaning toward living with the weight. Will be the first FBI at the shop. And one of the first in town

        • All Seasons Cyclist

          December 19, 2012 at 10:01 PM

          That’s probably a good idea. Some people drill the rims out themselves — might be a good summer project for you. One warning: If you have the only Fat Bike in town you are going to get stopped by folks all the time — they always have questions about the bike — it’s fun.

  20. runcolbyrun

    December 27, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet. Makes me want to have a Fat Tire Ale. Enjoy!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      December 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM

      You would really enjoy this if you like playing in the snow! My wife claims that I act like a three-year old waiting for Santa when there is snow in the forecast.

  21. ssmtber

    January 11, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    Yup…. Im convinced… next bike…. fat tires… lol looks amazing. I really appreciate the specs on upgrades. really helps. leep rolling

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      January 11, 2013 at 11:38 PM

      The Pugs is my favorite bike — it’s heavy, but it rolls over sand, mud, snow, gravel and tree branches.

  22. Mike Harrison

    September 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I have the same bike and I also had an Alfine hub installed(11spd),I have no need for a chain tensioner. Why do you have one?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      September 13, 2013 at 8:33 PM

      There are two reasons to have a chain tensioner. First, if you have bottom dropouts you will need it to adjust the tension. Second, if you have a second ring up front (like I have) then you will also need it to take up the slack. Congratulations on the Alfine! How many miles do you have on it?

  23. john

    January 14, 2015 at 10:58 PM

    Great looking bike! Thanks for your website, it has a ton of information. Just a quick question, what size of pugs are you riding?


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