Surly Pugsley: The Ultimate Beach Cruiser

30 May

The Surly Pugsley is one of the most versatile bicycles on the market today. Most people buy a Fat Bike so they can play in the snow, but when summer comes they quickly find out it is also a great bike for off-road trails. However, if you own a Fat Bike and are fortunate enough to live near a beach you only need to spend a few hours playing in the sand and to appreciate the fact that Fat Bikes are the most awesome beach cruisers ever made!

Surly Pugsley Necromancer Is A Great Beach Cruiser

My Surly Pugsley Necromancer On The Shores Of Lake Michigan

This past Sunday afternoon the temperature in the Chicago area topped 90 degrees and since I live close to Lake Michigan I took my Pugsley out for ride on the beach. Using the stock 3.8″ Surly Larry tires on the front and 3.7″ Surly Endomorph tires on the back (often called the Larry/Endo combo) I lowered the tire pressure down to 5 psi and was able to maintain a steady 11 MPH speed while on the beach (with a maximum speed of over 24 MPH). The major downside to running at such low tire pressure is that if you have to leave the beach your bike is going to feel like is has two flat tires, and turning the bike requires a lot more effort. However, once you are on the sand you will probably enjoy the ride more than any other form of cycling you have ever experienced.

Just like riding a Fat Bike in the snow, momentum is everything! Since most beaches are very flat once you get up to cruising speed you probably won’t have to shift gears until you want to stop or get off the beach. I presume that Lake Michigan is like most other large bodies of water, i.e., the sand closest to the water is the easiest to ride on since it is firmer (having been compacted by the waves). Between the parking lot and the waterline the sand on a beach is usually very soft and difficult to ride on—but once you get next to the water you can really fly!

If you are going to ride on the beach there are a few accessories that can make your ride a lot more enjoyable. If you want to use a seat bag I would strongly suggest the Topeak Wedge DryBag—it is waterproof and easy to clean. Since you probably carry a cell phone you need a JerseyBin Waterproof Cycling Pouch to keep the phone dry and away from the sand (you can still use the touchscreen on your phone while it is in the pouch). Mud fenders, like the SKS Grand M.O.M. oversized rear mudguard, will keep sand and water off the back of your jersey. On the other hand, I enjoy making a rooster tail while on the beach!

While riding in the loose sand I had to put a foot down several times (mainly due to pedestrians getting in my way), so I think the next time I ride on the beach I am going to take off my clipless pedals and go with the Odyssey JCPC Pedals instead (it’s what I use in the snow). Also, a pair of Lake MX235C Mountain Bike Shoes works well on the beach since it has screened drainage holes on the soles to let water out (if you put your foot down in the water). There are a few other things you will need to ride on the beach, such as: sunglasses, bug spray, and sunscreen.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I like to keep a nice coat of wax on my bikes. The wax not only makes your bike shine, but after a ride on the beach you can easily clean the sand off your bike with just the nozzle of an air compressor or soft brush.

If I could only have one bike there is no question it would be the Surly Pugsley! It is a pain if it you have to ride it on pavement, but a genuine pleasure to ride on snow, mud, sand and off-road trails. Pugsleys love to travel where other bikes dare not tread!


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22 responses to “Surly Pugsley: The Ultimate Beach Cruiser

  1. velophileaustralia

    May 30, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Wouldn’t the corrosive effects of the salt be a major issue? Most beaches around my way are on the ocean, which means extremely corrosive environments. Even with a sealed IGH and belt drive there is just so much on a bike that can rust and be damaged by the salty water and sand. I guess if the frame was pre-treated / rust proof, or made from a corrosion resistant material, and you regularly maintained all the other components and used plenty anti-corrosive grease it might be ok. Maybe. I wouldn’t risk it with a nice bike like that. I cheap old MTB beater bike with bald fat tyres is better suited and more practical IMO.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 30, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      Since I live on Lake Michigan (one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world) salt water is not an issue. However, our roads often require salt in the winter due to ice and heavy snow — but I bought this bike to ride in the snow anyway so I’m willing to take my chances. A regular mountain bike, even with “wide” tires doesn’t even come close to the ride on a 4″ wide tire. Also, I did treat the inside of the frame with Boeshield. All bikes are going to wear out eventually, and I’d rather wear my out from heavy use than let it rust out in the garage.

  2. billgncs

    May 30, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    that sounds like a great ride. I have taken my 29er down to 5psi for riding in the snow, but never thought of trying it on the beach.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 30, 2012 at 4:17 PM

      If you were happy riding the 29er in the snow then you will probably love riding it in the sand. You can also get by without having to use big knobby tires — when riding on the sand it is the “float” that matters, not the “grip.”

  3. hughonabike

    May 30, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Strange thought; I bought my Pug 6 years ago while on holiday in Key West Florida (Hi Dane) as a beach bike! I shipped it to Spain where I now live. A while later I discovered that it was, in fact, a snow bike…………I have never ridden my Pug on snow………..everywhere else including Costa beaches, river beds (wet & dry), mountain passes, Via Verdies, town centres and tarmac roads but never snow. Never,ever…………….!!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 30, 2012 at 4:17 PM

      That is funny! Way up here in the Upper Midwest most folks with Fat Bikes have never thought about taking them on sand!

  4. Chatter Master

    May 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Now I have to move AND buy a Pug!

  5. Jeff Shone

    May 30, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    What is the loaded weight of that beast of a bike? 🙂

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 30, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      Due the the modifications I made when I bought the bike it weighs 42 pounds WITHOUT the saddle bag or water bottles. When I have it loaded up for riding int he snow it probably weights about 55 pounds when I leave the house for a long ride.

  6. brendaintheboro

    May 30, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    What sort of wax do you use please?

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 30, 2012 at 4:20 PM

      Turtle Wax Paste Wax — it does a great job and makes cleanup a lot easier.

  7. Mark Shaw

    May 31, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Here in the UK you are never more than I think it is 51 miles away from the coast, only problem is that most beaches in the UK you wouldnt want to ride on, that roosters tail would be full of all sorts of crap.
    Surly bikes are ace but nobody here rides fat bikes or at least I have never seen one, maybe I should get one and be a trend setter.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 31, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      Mark, you are too late to be a trend setter in the UK! You need to visit the Pugsley on Patrol blog at:

      And watch a cool video of a bloke riding a Surly Pugsley in Sand Dunes of Cornwall UK:

      • BigCam

        June 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        I was just going to say I’d never seen a fat bike in the UK, then I saw this comment…

  8. coastkid

    May 31, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Mark Shaw There are LOADS of beaches to ride here in the UK!, and quite a few of us riding,
    22 fatbikes here in East Lothian, South East Scotland, and a half dozon or so around Edinburgh. Have a look at coastrider blog and films on youtube…

    ASC your post hits the spot! , pugsleys are indeed amazing bikes, i too use car wax on my own fat bikes and our fleet of hire fat bikes. I did a post on prepping fatbikes for salt water exposure on my blog somewhere, done right there is little issues,

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 31, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      Coastkid, if you find the article you wrote on prepping fat bikes for salt water exposure please feel free to post the link here! Even though I am a long way from salt water I think it would be great reading (and I think a lot of other folks would like it too)!

  9. coastkid71kid

    May 31, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Here you Go;

    A friend and myself both used and killed our Alfine hubs riding in sea water – but they were never made to do that!. Itwas abit of an experiment. the straight drive train lasts longer.
    We are using Hope pro 2 hubs again and find them fine easily fully serviceable and all parts available,
    I ride a year between tear downs now when i replace all sealed bearings if any are rough,relube cables and thats about it. -:)

  10. All Seasons Cyclist

    June 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    BigCam, you might also want to look at:
    This looks like a great way to see the UK!

  11. st sahm

    July 25, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    That is a gorgeous bike!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      July 26, 2013 at 10:08 AM

      Well, thank you very much! While I love all of my bikes the Pugs is my favorite (but please don’t tell my other bikes or they will be jealous).


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