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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    north woods of Wisconsin

    On the road with the Pugsley

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    A coolish February day in the 30s, yesterday, but our recent thaw has left the pavement dry, so I had a nice long 27 mile ride on the Surly Pugsley, including three miles of rather squishy dirt road.

    Yup, the Pugsley is a fat bike, so what am I doing riding it on the road? Truth is, a lot of Pugsly owners ride their Pugs on the road, using the Pugs as a do everything utility/commuting/touring bike and, in fact, a lot of cross continent rides have been done on fully loaded Pugsleys.

    So how different is riding an elephant like the Pugsley over distances compared to a gazelle of a road bike? Actually, quite different in ways you might expect and some that you might not.

    For sure, if you're a performance freak worried about maintaining your average speed, the Pugsley is not for you, though it is not as slow as you might think. Riding the lumbering beast just feels slow, but once you get those big ponderous wheels up to speed, the Pugs develops tremendous momentum with minimal pedaling effort to keep it up to speed. Oh, yeah, those big wheels "keep on turning", laughing at anything that dares to get in our way. It's the kind of bike that I sometimes just ride on the gravel and sand shoulder alongside the pavement for kicks. That seam between pavement and shoulder can be a disaster for some bikes to negotiate, but not the Pugs. Just bounce off to the shoulder when the mood strikes. Nice to have that insurance with the Pugsley, should I ever have to bail to the shoulder to avoid a collision with a car or other object.

    One surprising benefit of those big Pugsley wheels and the momentum they produce is the drastic reduction needed in shifting. Over the same 10 mile route of gently rolling hills and sections of flats, with the Pugs, I actually cut my need for shifting gears in half or even less compared to one of my road bikes. My Pugs has a double chain ring, up front, but even on some of the steep hills I do, I can stay in the big ring. The only time I even bother with the small ring is for my trail riding.

    Another benefit of those big stable wheels and the momentum they produce is that the Pugs is much less affected by wind than my carbon road bike. A strong head wind is a much nastier spoiler for speed on the road bike and a severe cross wind that might take for twitchy and dangerous on the road bike has no effect on the Pugs. On the road bike, I always check the forecast for wind speed and direction. With the Pugs, I just say screw it and ride. Same for rain in the forecast and even snow.

    Ever been in tight quarters in heavy traffic where even the slightest mistake in steering on the road bike can be dangerous? Nothing more stable than the Pugs when you need to thread the needle, especially if that needle is on crummy pavement.

    One improvement I've made to the Pugs to make it an all day rider is the addition of a Jones Loop H bar. The Jones, coupled with the steel frame, makes for a ride that completely eliminates hand numbness and fatigue, thanks to the variety of hand positions possible.

    All in all, for road work, the Pugs has been a game changer for me. It's forced me to get off the preoccupation with average speed, efficient this or that, maintaining a schedule, keeping up with the Joneses or whoever else is riding that day and just the whole techno-geeky computerized biking scene in general. It's taken me back to my younger days of just get on the darn bike and ride. Go explore somewhere. Come as you are. Just grab your helmet and go. It's given me a bit of that reckless “try to stop me from riding” attitude. I can take anything you throw at me and do it with a smile on my face.

    And when the pavement gets tiresome, I just aim the Pugs into the woods. Don’t need no stinkin’ roads, anyhow.

    Love my Pugs.

    Last edited by north woods gal; 02-24-2017 at 11:20 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Looks like a fun ride, sure wish they'd had them when I still had knees, would have enjoyed tearing up the beach on one.

    Electra Townie 7D

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Traveling Nomad
    I loved this post, NWG. I could feel your joy and the love you have for this very cool bike!

    On our ride today, a guy passed us going the other way on a fattie. He was flying! Of course, he was going down the hill, as we ponderously peddled up it with full panniers after three shopping stops. He sure looked like he was having fun.

    I love the handlebars on your Pugsley. I can see how those would provide a variety of hand positions.

    Thanks for sharing!

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Nice! I hope I get the chance to ride in snow again. That Pug looks like a mean winter machine!
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.


    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Karate Monkey!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Thanks, girls. Yeah, fat is different, in some ways good and some ways not as good, but still doable, as with this road work. Certainly the biggest departure from regular bikes for me, so far, but loving it. Have always wondered about recumbents, too, but not sure if I would have that much use for one. Fat bikes overlap so nicely with regular mountain bikes and even touring bikes, so very practical for me. Our MTB trails tend to be on the rough side, so if last summer is any indication, will probably be doing most of my trail work with fat bikes, come spring.

    Shiela, I actually have other fat bikes with bigger, more aggressive tires, one even with studded tires, that I use in the deeper snow and on glare ice. Those tend to be a bit much on pavement or gravel, though, hence the Pugsley. The Pugs, though, is a bona fide fat bike, through and through, so it is a mean machine, too, in the snow.



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