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Category Archives: Fat Bikes

Surly Pugsley and Salsa Mukluk Fat Bikes and accessories, gear, bags, and components

A New Surly Pugsley Lands In Lviv, Ukraine

A few weeks ago I mentioned that William Salefski, an American citizen working in Ukraine, saw the article about the Surly Necromancer Pugsley that Zion Cyclery custom-built for me and he decided to wanted one tricked out the same way. He visited Zion, Illinois in early July to pick up his bike and then shipped it to Lviv, Ukraine. Last week he sent me a note to let me know that his bike made it safely to Ukaine and I asked his permission to share a few photos with you.

William Salefski in front of The Lviv Opera House (lviv, Ukraine)

William Salefski in front of The Lviv Opera House (lviv, Ukraine)

Look at the smile on his face! I’ve seen a lot of cyclists with their new bikes—some people have a grin, triathletes usually have a look of pain, but a new owner of Fat Bike always has an ear-to-ear smile on their face!

A Beautiful New Surly Pugs

A Beautiful New Surly Pugs

In his note to me Willaim said, “The roads in Lviv are mostly made of cobbles, and the Pug eats them up. Half a bar tire pressure. There is also some road repairs being done, and the Pug rolls right over the sand. The winter snow will not be a problem.” (By the way, half a bar of tire pressure is equal to about 7.5 psi)

The Cobblestones In Lviv, Ukraine

The Cobblestones In Lviv, Ukraine

Look at those cobblestones! These beautiful cobblestone roads survived both Soviet and Nazi occupation during WWII and they remind of roads in the Paris-Roubaix race (my second favorite bike race in France).

Another Happy Fat Bike Owner!

Another Happy Fat Bike Owner!

In William’s second note to me he said, “Well, the smile from the first ride was the sheer fun of riding a bike that is unlike any bike I’ve ridden before. Having ridden bikes with 30+ pounds of pressure, the Pug feels like riding on a cloud. Over here, it’s even more pleasant since the big tires just eat up the cobbles in the city center. I can ride the Pug faster than my normal commute bike, a Swobo Dixon with Marathon Plus tires, on the cobbled streets. I like it better than my full-suspension MTB on the cobbles. However, ‘nimble’ is not the word to describe its handling. But I really enjoy the different handling. It reminds me of my FJ40: not the fastest or most agile means of transport, but it will roll over anything. I can’t wait to get some snow on the ground to try it out.”

 
 

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45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

I live near North Point Marina on Lake Michigan and have often heard yacht owners say that a boat is a “hole in the water into which you pour money.” Sometimes I feel that way about my Fat Bike, a Surly Necromancer Pugs. In the first two years I’ve owned that bike I’ve spent more money on tires than most people pay for a new road bike. I’ve gone through four sets of very expensive tires—the old tires didn’t wear out, I just kept looking for a better sets. Fortunately, 45NRTH came out with what I believe to be the finest tire ever made for a Fat Bike—the Hüsker Dü. This is the tire that ought to come standard on every Fat Bike!

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

By Fat Bike standards, the Hüsker Dü is a lightweight tire (under 1,250 grams each). While this tire would be the equivalent of a lead weight on a standard mountain bike, it is much lighter than the other choices you will find in a 26×4″ Fat Bike tire. In addition, this tire rolls like a dream! I have used it on mud, sand, dirt and pavement and it has a superb ride. I did not use this tire in the dead of winter since I have a set of 45NRTH Dillinger studded tires for snow and ice.

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

Hüsker Dü tires have a thread count of 120 tpi (threads per inch). Higher tpi tires are usually lighter, more supple and more expensive. Thanks to the Kevlar bead the Hüsker Dü is the easiest tire to change that I’ve ever had—which is pretty good since the first time I took the tires out I got a puncture just six miles into the ride! I am not going to blame the tire for this one—I was riding in an area that no sane person would take their bike in the first place.

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Hüsker Dü Fat Bike Tires

My Surly Necromancer Pugs came 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. The Larry/Endo combo is also good on packed sand (the sand near the waterline around a lake). However, on mud or loose snow I always had trouble getting decent traction with these tires. The Hüsker Dü tires will give you a great grip in adverse conditions while still providing less rolling resistance on pavement or packed trails.

One interesting observation: A few weeks ago I wrote an article about my new Felt F65X cyclocross bike. I use the Felt F65X on routes where I have to travel over both pavement and off-road trails. The Felt F65X is faster than my Pugs on off-road trails when I am riding in a straight line, but I always have to slow my cyclocross bike down in the turns because if I overbake a corner I will wind up in the Des Plaines River. On the other hand, the Hüsker Dü tires on my Pugs have such an amazing grip that I don’t even have to hit the brakes in the turns! If you own a Fat Bike don’t limit yourself to just riding in the winter! Fat Bikes make great off-road trail bikes and beach cruisers as well.

45NRTH Hüsker Dü tires retail for $150 each. I know—that is more than most people pay for the tires on their car (and the tires on their car will last at least ten times longer). However, you need to remember that the Fat Bike market is still relatively small and the laws of “supply and demand” are in full effect.

In case you are wondering how this tire got its name, Hüsker Dü was the name of hardcore punk rock band from St. Paul, Minnesota (the group existed from 1979 to 1987). 45NRTH is headquartered down the road in Bloomington, Minnesota.

 

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New Surly Pugsley Destined For Ukraine

A few weeks ago I stopped in at the local bike shop, Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois, and one of the mechanics told me that they had just received a phone call from a cyclist in Ukraine who saw my article about how Zion Cyclery built my Surly Pugsley Fat Bike with a Shimano Alfine 8-Speed Internal Geared Hub and he wanted them to make one just like it for him. It turned out that William Salefski, an American citizen working in Ukraine, was the cyclist who wanted to Pugs and he was going to be in the Chicago area in July to pick it up. I didn’t know when William was going to pick up the bike, but by chance I was at the shop when he arrived and I was delighted to meet him and welcome him to the world of Fat Bikes.

William Salefski and his new Surly Pugsley

William Salefski and his new Surly Pugsley

William's first ride on his new Pugs

William’s first ride on his new Pugs

Mechanic Grant explaining how the Alfine hubs works

Expert Mechanic Grant Mullen explains how the Alfine hubs works

Packing the Pugs for shipment to Ukraine

Packing the Pugs for shipment to Ukraine

I want to make it plain that I have absolutely no financial connection with Zion Cyclery—they are simply the bike shop I choose to do business with. They are a family owned shop and have a sterling reputation for quality work, great customer service and fair prices. I have visited dozens of bike shops in the Chicago suburbs and these are the only folks I will let touch my bikes!

 
 

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Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump

Regular readers of this blog know that I only review products that I’ve actually used myself in “real world” conditions. Unfortunately, most of the time when I review tire pumps or CO2 cartridges I have to test them out in my garage since it is hard to know when you are going to get a flat tire. However, the first ride I took with the Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump I got a puncture just six miles away from my house! This pump is easy to use and far exceeded my expectations.

Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump

Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump

I bought the medium-sized Lezyne Alloy Drive pump for my Surly Necromancer Pugsley—a Fat Bike with massive 4″ wide tires. Fat Bike tires usually run at very low pressure (10 to 15 psi on off-road trails; 5 to 7 psi on sand or snow), but they do require a high volume of air. Most bicycle hand pumps are designed to work the other way around (high pressure, low volume) and they would take forever to fill up a Fat Bike tire. A high volume pump like this one will fill your tires is 30% less time than most other pumps.

Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump

High Quality Aluminum Construction

The Lezyne Alloy Drive pump is made with CNC-machined aluminum construction, which makes it very durable and extremely lightweight—just 4.5 ounces (128 g) without the frame mount. This pump has a flex hose with a threaded Presta connection on one end and a threaded Schrader connection on the other. The flex hose is stored inside the pump when not in use and the entire unit attaches easily to your bike frame with the included pump mount.

Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump

Flex Hose With Presta and Schrader Connectors

This pump is 9.2 inches long and about as big around as a quarter. The pump is rated for a maximum pressure of 90 psi, but if you ride a Fat Bike, or even most mountain bikes, you are never going to need pressures near that high.

Lezyne Alloy Drive High Volume Hand Pump

The Flex Hose Easily Connects To The Pump

The Lezyne Alloy Drive pump retails for $45 and is available in four colors (Black, Blue, Red and Yellow). You can purchase this pump directly from the Lezyne website or from your local bike shop. If all else fails you can also find it on Amazon.com.

 

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Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

A few months ago I put a pair of Rolling Darryl rims on my Surly Necromancer Pugsley and red (burgundy) Surly PVC RIm Strip that you can see through the cutouts. To add a little more color to the rims I installed red anodized spoke nipples. I thought I was done upgrading the bike—and I was until I saw a pair of Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

During most of the year I ride with Crank Brothers Eggbeater Mountain Bike Pedals, but once the snow and ice starts falling I switch over to wide flat pedals. Back in November I put a pair of 45NRTH Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals on my Pugsley—they have a great grip, but a really thin finish (it started chipping off after just a few rides). Since I am in the local bike shop several times a week anyway, I asked them to help me find a pair of wide flat pedals with a more durable finish and they suggested the Premium Slim Pedals.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Pedals are made from extruded and CNC machined aluminum (6061 alloy) and have a CNC machined chromoly spindle for added strength (with sealed bearings). There are sixteen removable and replaceable metal pins per pedal (eight per side) for a great grip. The pedal body varies in thickness from 14mm to 17mm. These pedals weight 8.3 ounces (236g) each, which is two ounces per pedal heavier than the 45NRTH Heiruspecs. In all honesty, the main reason I bought these pedals was the beautiful red anodized finish. These pedals perfectly match several other red anodized items I’ve recently added to my bike (spoke nipples, rim tape, water bottle cages, and seat clamp).

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Pedals are available in five colors (Black, Silver, Red, Teal, and Purple) and retail for around $100 a pair. These pedals are sold at bike shops all over the United States and you can use Premium’s dealer locator to find an authorized dealer in your area.

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium Slim Alloy BMX Pedals

Premium has a fairly simple warranty on their bike products, they are “100% guaranteed against manufacturer’s defects for life to the original owner.” However, the rest of their warranty says, “If you buy a Premium product and it breaks, bends, or dents because you were jumping it off roofs, trying to learn tailwhips, or sliding down a rail, you’re out of luck. If you break a used Premium product your friend gave you and you can’t prove you bought it with a copy of the original bill of sale, you’re out of luck.”

 

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Dave’s Mud Shovel Fat Bike Fenders

If you own a Fat Bike you already know how those wide tires can throw more mud than a Chicago politician in a tight race. One time I came home from an off-road ride so thoroughly covered in mud that my wife asked me if I had crashed in a mud puddle (boys will be boys). Last winter I used the SKS Grand M.O.M. Oversized Rear Mudguard on my Surly Necromancer Pugsley because it was the widest mud guard I could find at the time—it was wider than most MTB fenders, but not wide enough for a true Fat Bike. Fortunately, Portland Design Works now sells front and rear fenders that are specially made for Fat Bikes—the Dave’s Mud Shovel Fenders. My Grand M.O.M. fender has found a happy home on one of my other mountain bikes and the Dave’s Mud Shovel is the only thing I use on my Pugsley.

Dave’s Mud Shovel Fat Bike Fenders

Dave’s Mud Shovel Fat Bike Rear Fender

The Dave’s Mud Shovel rear fender is 5.5″ wide by 22.5″ long and attaches to your seatpost with a small adjustable clamp (like the one some bicycle taillights use). Folks, if you ride your Fat Bike off-road (and isn’t that why you bought it in the first place?) then you need this fender now! It’s possible that a little mud or snow will find a way around the fender, but to me it seems like it stops about 99% of it. This fender, as well as the front fender, have the signature of their inventor, Dave Gray, on them.

The Front Fender Attaches To Your Seat Post

The Rear Fender Attaches To Your Seat Post

The Dave’s Mud Shovel front fender attaches to your down tube with two sturdy rubber fasteners. This fender is 6.5″ wide by 19.5″ long and will help keep your bottom bracket and crank sprockets clean. To get to my favorite off-road trails I have to ride my bike over a couple of miles of surface streets and normally when there is a lot of slush on the roads my legs get really wet—this fender seems to block a lot of road spray.

Portland Design Works Mud Shovel Fender

Portland Design Works Dave’s Mud Shovel Rear Fender

Both of these fenders are very flexible and at first I wasn’t sure about their durability. However, after a lot of miles on sand, mud and snowy off-road trails I can honestly say that these fenders far exceeded my expectations. As an added bonus, if you ever have an unplanned dismount (crash is such an ugly word) these fenders will probably escape totally unharmed.

Portland Design Works Mud Shovel Front Fender

Portland Design Works Dave’s Mud Shovel Front Fender

Great Tip: The Mud Shovel is easy to clean once you get home, but there is an easy way to keep mud and snow from sticking to your fenders in the first place—just coat the bottom of the fenders with PAM no-stick cooking spray before you go out for a ride. The PAM will wear off after every ride, but it does an incredible job of keeping crud from sticking to your fenders. One more suggestion: Buy your own can of PAM, don’t take the one your wife has in the kitchen cabinet—apparently some wives don’t approve of you taking items from the pantry out into your garage (or so I’ve heard).

Portland Design Works Mud Shovel Front Fender

Portland Design Works Dave’s Mud Shovel Front Fender

Not For Everyone: The bad news is that the front Mud Shovel is so wide that you can not use it if you have a Salsa Anything Cage attached to your front fork. The problem is that if you have anything in your Salsa Anything Cage it will hit the front Mud Shovel when you make a tight turn. However, if you don’t mind trimming the fender with a cutting knife I am sure you could make it work.

One Caution: I own several grunge and mud guards that attach to the down tube of my mountain bikes just like the Mud Shovel does and all of them fasten the same way, i.e., with two rubber fasteners. In the strongest terms possible I want to urge you to take the front Mud Shovel off your bike after every ride—if those rubber fasteners stay on your bike all winter it will probably discolor the paint. I had that happen with a different mud guard two years ago and I still can’t get the stain out.

Great Packaging: Both the front and rear fenders come in a flat package—all you have to do is punch the fender out of the surrounding shell. I was able to install the fenders in about five minutes each the first time I used them, but it is much quicker now (just a few seconds).

Packaging For The PDW Mud Shovel

Packaging For The PDW Mud Shovel

The rear Mud Shovel retails for $28, and the front Mud Shovel for $20. Both of these items are available from the Portland Design Works Website. You can also buy these fenders from your local bike shop.

 

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45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

Our long national nightmare is over—the Chicago area finally got some snow! A couple of months ago the local bike shop was able to score me pair of Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires for my Surly Necromancer Pugsley and this past week was the first time I was able to use them on snow (but they have seen a lot of miles on off-road trails).

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

The Dillinger tires are 4″ wide and weight only 1375 grams (a major improvement over my heavy Surly Nates). This lightweight snow tire has 240 aluminum-carbide studs that grips the ice and a tread pattern that gives the most amazing traction in snow you will ever find in a bike tire. This 26 x 4.0″ tire is available with a Kevlar bead with 120 tpi (threads per inch), and a wire bead version with 27 tpi.

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

The intended tire pressure range for this tire goes from 5 to 30 psi, but if you are riding on snow you probably don’t want to inflate them to over 10 psi, and on the ice I would drop them down to 5 or 6 psi. When riding on dirt and gravel off-road trails I keep my fat bike tires inflated to between 12 and 15 psi.

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

45NRTH Dillinger Studded Fat Bike Tires

After our first snowfall I took my Pugsley out to Illinois Beach State Park (the “crown jewel” of the Illinois park system) so I could try them out on the snow, ride across a frozen pond and play along the shores of Lake Michigan. I rode my bike on surface streets from my house to the beach and on the pavement these wide tires are a bit of work (they grip the road too well). However, the moment I left the pavement and got on a snowy off-road trail it felt like I was riding downhill with a strong tailwind—these tires ride so smooth and grip so well on the snow that I don’t even have the words to describe it! On the way to the beach I followed a very sandy trail that has a couple of small bumps I hate—they are only a few feet tall but most of the time my mountain bike sinks in the sand and I almost come to a standstill. However, with the Dillinger tires I just increased my speed and rolled right over the bumps. I rode for several miles along the shores of Lake Michigan and in some places there was very little snow and in other places it was three or four inches deep (I’ve been in a lot worse before). For the record, riding on the beach with a couple of inches of snow cover was a lot easier than in the places that didn’t have much snow. In some places the sand underneath the snow was on a fairly steep angle, but even when riding off-camber the tires never slipped.

A Rare Photo Of The All Seasons Cyclist In His Native Habitat

A Rare Photo Of The Elusive All Seasons Cyclist In His Native Habitat

At the north end of Illinois Beach State Park there is a small pond that was frozen over and it had several guys out ice fishing near the middle of the pond (always a good sign). I rode across this frozen pond and was blown away by two things: how much traction I had and how little rolling resistance I experienced!

When I entered the park I noticed that there were tracks in the snow from two other cyclists on a trail in front of me—both tracks were from mountain bike tires and it appeared that one of them was studded. I caught up with a guy riding the non-studded tires first—he was a nice guy but was having trouble hold a straight line so I passed him. A little later I caught up with the guy on a mountain bike with steel studded tires—he was riding faster than the other guy so I pulled up next to him and chatted for a while. When I conversation was over I hit the gas and quickly dropped him. Both of these guys were younger than me and in decent shape so I am certain that on road bikes in the summer they would have dropped me, but a standard mountain bike snow tire is no match for a studded fat bike tire in the snow!

The Dillinger tires sells for around $250 with the folding bead (Kevlar), but the wire bead version is a bit cheaper. Unfortunately, since this tire is sold by 45NRTH (my least favorite cycling company in America) it means you probably won’t be able to get a pair of Dillinger winter tires till next summer. 45NRTH received a very small shipment of these tires from their suppliers in China and they sold out immediately—I only got mine thanks to the persistence of the folks at the local bike shop (they spent many hours on the phone tracking down a pair of these tires for me). 45NRTH wants to be a company the specializes in winter cycling gear, but so far their track record shows that they specialize in advertising products on their Website that they don’t have. A few years ago one of the political campaigns promised “hope and change” but the slogan at 45NRTH ought to be “hype and out of stock.”

 

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Lake MXZ303 Winter Cycling Boots

For several winters I’ve worn the Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots and have been very happy with them for temperatures from 10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. For temperatures below 10 degrees I usually wear the Columbia Sportswear Bugaboot (this is not a cycling-specific boot). Lake Cycling has recently updated their MXZ302 boot and have given it enough new features to make me buy of pair of the new Lake MXZ303 Winter Cycling Boot.

Lake MXZ303 Winter Cycling Boots

Lake MXZ303 Winter Cycling Boots

The MXZ303 is a high-end winter boot constructed with a three-part front cover made of water-repellent Pittards WR100 leather, 3M Thinsulate insulation in the toe box, Thermasol insoles, and a Vibram rubber sole that makes walking on snow and ice an easy task. Just like the earlier model, this boot has a side mounted Push/Pull BOA Closure lacing system so you can cinch it up with just one hand. One major improvement in this new model is the storm flap that fastens with an adjustable pinch clip—this really does a great job of sealing up the boot.

Push/Pull BOA Closure Lacing System

Push/Pull BOA Closure Lacing System

These boots are available in both regular and wide widths in even sizes from 38 to 50 (US). You also have a choice for the color of the printed logo on the outside of the boot (silver or yellow). These boots come with a pair of mud cleats (ice cleats) for each shoe and I would highly recommend you install them. I would also recommend that you apply a few drops of an anti-seize compound on the threads of the spikes and your cleats before installation. The anti-seize compound will make the spikes and cleats a lot easier to remove after they have spent the winter in snow, ice and road salt. My boots are size 47 wide and they weigh 755 grams (26 ounces) per boot and are six inches tall. These shoes are SPD compatible.

Storm Flap With Adjustable Pinch Clip

Storm Flap With Adjustable Pinch Clip

These boots claim to be “subzero rated” (a claim printed on the outside of every boot). I wore these boots for a couple of hours yesterday when the air temp was zero (Fahrenheit) with a windchill of -15 and my feet were toasty warm the entire ride. However, I probably should explain what else I was wearing on my feet: I started with a thin pair of RedHead ThermoLite Liner Socks, then a pair of DeFeet Woolie Boolie Socks, and finished up by sticking a pair of Hot Hands Chemical Toe Warmers on the bottom of the socks (this is my normal set-up for zero-degree weather).

Vibram Rubber Sole

Vibram Rubber Sole

Lake MXZ303 Winter Cycling Boots are not cheap—they have a retail price of $280, but several online retailers like Amazon.com and Nashbar.com have them at discounted prices. I bought mine from Bikeman.com, a brick-and-mortar bike shop in Woolwich, Maine that also has an excellent online store (and they ship Internationally). After I received my boots I talked with one of the guys in their shop and was very impressed with their customer service—I will be ordering from them again.

Interesting note: These boots are so new to the market that Lake Cycling does not even have them listed on their Website yet. This is quite a contrast to 45NRTH who announced their Wölvhammer winter boots back on August 15, 2013. The day after 45NRTH announced the Wölvhammer boots I had the local bike shop put a pair of them on “item watch” at QBP, but the same day the boots arrived there they immediately went to “out of stock” status. I had the same problem with the Dillinger snow tires (thanks to the persistence of a bike shop owner I was finally able to get a pair of these tires).

 

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Surly Rolling Darryl Rims (Putting My Surly Pugsley Fat Bike On A Diet)

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.

Surly Necromancer Pugsley Fat Bike

Surly Necromancer Pugsley Fat Bike

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.

Surly Rolling Darryl Rims

Surly Rolling Darryl Rims

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).

Surly Rolling Darryl Rims

Surly Rolling Darryl Rims

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).

45NRTH Dillinger Fat bike Snow Tire

45NRTH Dillinger Snow Tire

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.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Fat Bikes, Product Reviews

 

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Columbia Sportswear Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot

If you are one of those timid folks who rides your bike on a trainer in the basement on snowy days you are welcome to skip this article—but please come in a couple of days for other product reviews. However, if you look forward to riding your fat bike in the snow like a little kid waiting for Santa Claus, then grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk about winter footwear.

Columbia Sportswear Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot

Columbia Sportswear Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot

I live between Chicago and Milwaukee and during most of the winter I wear Lake MXZ302 Winter Cycling Boots—these shoes are SPD-compatible and keep my feet warm down to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a few other companies that make winter cycling boots, but Lake is the only one that makes a wide boot (and I have wide feet). 45NRTH allegedly has a new winter boot, the Wölvhammer. 45NRTH is a new company that wants to specialize in products for cold weather cyclists, but they have quickly become my least-favorite cycling company in the world. A lot of their products are like leprechauns—I would like to believe they exist, some people say they have actually seen them, but I can’t find anyone who has actually been able to get their hands on one. If you would like to buy a pair of the Wölvhammer winter boots you are out of luck—they are already “sold out for 2013.” I had the same problem with the 45NRTH Dillinger studded fat-bike tire—a few of them made it into the warehouse but immediately they were sold out (probably inside sales to the guys at Quality Bike Products) and the next availability date is next summer.

When the temperature drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit I wear the Columbia Sportswear Men’s Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot. Since this boot is not SPD-compatible I use a wide flat pedal with metal pins for a good grip. Last year I used the Odyssey JCPC Pedal, but this year I am using the Heiruspecs Winter Grip Pedals (one of 45NRTH’s products that actually made it into bike shops).

Thanks to Columbia’s exclusive Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology, the Bugaboot is rated for temperatures down to -25 degrees—while I’ve not had a chance to use them in temperatures that low, I have no doubt that they would hold up well in that temperature. This waterproof boot has 200 grams of insulation (Thinsulate) and they have kept my feet warm and dry every time I’ve worn them—these are the best pair of winter boots I’ve ever owned. My size 12 Bugaboot measures 10 inches tall and weight a bit over three pounds (for the pair). This boot appears to be true-to-size.

The standard width Bugaboot is available in three color combinations: Grill/Sanguine, Black/Gunmetal, and Dune/Bombay Brown. The wide Bugaboot only comes in two color combinations: Black/Gunmetal and Turkish Coffee/Golden Glow (see photo above). Color selection also varies depending on the size of boot you wear. I would have liked a solid black boot, but the only Bugaboot the store I went to could get their hands on was the Turkish Coffee.

The Columbia Sportswear Bugaboot Plus Cold Weather Boot retails for $120, but Amazon.com has it for as low as $73 (depending on color and size). I bought my Bugaboots from a brick-and-motor Rogan’s Shoes store, but they are also available at sporting goods stores like Gander Mountain. These boots are also available in sizes and styles for both women and children.

 

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