Tag Archives: pugsley

Surly Nate Tires For Fat Bike Fun In The Snow And Mud

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.

Surly Nate Bicycle Tires

Surly Nate Tires

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).

Surly Nate Tires after riding in the mud

Surly Nate Tires After Playing In The 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.


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Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Fat Bikes And Winter Cycling

Throughout most of the year I ride with clipless pedals on all of my bikes. I use Look Keo 2 cleats on my road bikes and Crank Brothers Egg Beaters on my mountain bikes. The Egg Beaters are great for riding in mud and sand, but I’ve had the cleats on my shoes clog up while riding in heavy snow and slush (usually after I had to get off the bike and push). When I got my new Surly Necromancer Pugsley a few weeks ago I decided to try a new pedal and the guys at the local bike shop suggested the Odyssey JCPC Pedal.

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Fat Bikes And Winter Cyclists

Odyssey JCPC Pedal For Winter Cycling

The body of the Odyssey JCPC Pedal is made of an injection-molded fiber reinforced polymer composite that is extremely durable. This pedal is heavy by road bike standards, weighing in at a little over 8 ounces per pedal. However, these pedals shed mud, snow, sand and slush better than anything I’ve tried. The metal pins on this pedal are like superglue for your shoes—I’ve not had my feet slip a bit with these pedals. In fact, I liked these pedals so much a bought a second pair for my old ice bike (a mountain bike with steel studded tires). In case you are wondering, I’ve not noticed any damage done to my cycling shoes as a result of the pins on this pedal.

These pedals are available is several colors, including the standard Black, White and the just introduced Red, Blue and Ocean Blue. If you are the artistic sort you can mix the colors—just take the pedals apart and you can have Red on one side and White on the other. The pedal comes apart by removing 16 metal pins with a 3mm hex. This might seem rather frivolous, but since you can also use these pedals with the metal pins on just one side you could use the different color to easily identify which side has the pins poking through. Personally, I would not suggest riding with pins on just one side since you lose a good bit of traction when you ride without the metal pins under your shoes.

The Odyssey JCPC Pedal retails for around $35. If your local bike shop does not carry them you can find them at numerous places online.


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Surly Necromancer Pugsley (Black Ops Pug)

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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