Friday, 23 December 2011

Surly Pugsley; Update

I have been riding the pugsley for over 4 years now and mileage must be over 5000 miles now, i do not have a trip on it and estimate mileage and keep a note,
Beachriding was something a lot of folk said you just cannot do on a bicycle, sand and salt water will destroy it and it will cost a fortune, so far i have proved that is not the case with carefull choice of componants and some preperation in build and maintenance, in fact i have found a fat bike cheaper to buy and run on the coast than a full suspension bike for riding at trail centres, something that has suprised myself!,
 so time for an update  of the current spec...                         

Quick Spec; 

Frame set;  05 Surly Pugsley
Wheels;  Surly Large Marge rims, Hope Pro 2 hubs
Tyres & tubes;  Surly Larry 3.8"
Bottom Bracket;  Phil Wood 100mm square taper
Cranks;  Middleburn 170mm RS7 XC
 Pedals:  Superstar Nano Tech flats
 Brakes;  Avid BB7
 Drivetrain;  Shimano (steel) LX Cassette 12- 36t,  XT 22/32t  front rings,  XTR 9 speed Chain Shimano SLX rear mech,  XT front mech, Shimano XT full lenght outer gear cables,
 Controls;  Pro Taper 3" bars, 90 Hope stem, Ergon Grips, Avid levers,
 Seat;   Gusset tartan
 Extras;   Edinburgh co op rear rack, JANdd frame bag, Middleburn stainless bottle cage, Surly stainless hip flask and holder (Glenmorangie -:) ), Coyote front rack,

Frame set;
2005 Surly Pugsley, the original MK 1 purple pug, i bought this frame in June this year when it popped up on ebay, and swapped it over with my 3 1/2 year old grey frameset, purely for its colour!, as i think it looks lovely, The purple frameset had been bought and never built,  so possibly the last original MK1 purple frame to be built?,  i had missed the purple colour by weeks when i ordered mine and got the grey frame, this frame was proofed inside with frame saver before i built it. A new Hope headset replaced the FSA which was rough but still serviceable, for myself my pugsley circle was now complete.

Wheel set;
The only original parts (+ brakes) and on a bike are what takes the most abuse,
Hope Pro 2 rear hub (with steel free hub) and Hope Pro 2 Trial single speed rear hub (up front) laced to Surly Large Marge DH 36 spoke rims with DT spokes, (small single speed sprocket is there cause i lost a spacer!)...

These hubs are still on there original bearings, yep that's right after miles and miles of abuse on the beach - with a year out on the back when i fitted an Alfine 8 speed gear hub they are still ok, a wee bit rough in feel but spinning straight, not the lightest rims but dam strong, the front being ridged gets battered into rocks on the coast and it is still fine, happy days -:)

The Avid BB7 cable activated brakes are also original, Ball bearing activated by cables means no seizing with salt water, after 4 years abuse they are seriously corroded now they are due to be replaced,
The rear was sticking on so i added a spring from an old mech to keep it going a while longer...
I use Superstar sintered brake pads,   sintered pads do not soak up salt water and lose efficiency.
£24 for 4 pairs with free postage and you always get some Tangfastic sweeties -:)...

I have settled for using 2x9 mech gears on the pugsley...

I did try a Shimano Alfine 8 speed gear hub but it packed in after about 8 months and 1400 miles, having seemed to have lost its free wheel, the pedals kept turning when walking the bike and a loud grinding noise came from the hub when freewheeling,  the resistance was a lot through the pedals while freewheeling although despite this it would still change gear!.
I have a couple of  theories for this happening, most obvious is contamination of salt water, the other could be running a 24 took sprocket on the hub, largest recommended is 20t by Shimano, maybe the flex of the larger sprocket was too much on a bearing inside?, that is the thing - no one seems to know what it will be that has went wrong with it, i did a film of the noise, someone said it needs new is packed with grease!, another said the chain was too tight, 30 -40mm slack is not too tight!...

You also cannot seem to purchase individual parts for them but have to buy sevice packs, so by the time it is repaired it could cost half the value of a new hub (minus shifter and fitting kit etc)...

I also could not get a low enough 1st and 2nd gear, needed for really soft sand and riding rocks,
This is possible now though easily of course by running a double chainring up front with mech and using the new Shimano Alfine dual wheel tensioner, it is like an inline strong mech, so there is then no need for chain tugs so that means quicker wheel removal with the pugsleys horizontal drop outs.
An inline single speed style chainline makes the most sense for one of these bikes, esp for riding off piste through long grass and heather etc.. also inline chains always last longer, but already having the 36 spoke hole Hope Pro 2 hub which has only needed the free hub replaced -as i damaged it trying to remove a seized on freewheel, (got a good tip for preventing that at bottom of page).
Mechs are ok for beach riding, not alot to get wrapped up in them, i also like the instant engagement of the Hope hub when riding techy rocky sections out of the saddle, these rocks are in places quite hard going to `clean`  feet up, and having a 36 tooth rear 22tooth front gives real low gearing, ideal for this, or really soft sand often found in the dunes high above the high tideline.
I am not finished with using an Alfine hub yet and may go back to one, but probably on another fatbike in the future and not the pugsley, don`t be put off fitting one because of my problems, i ride through sea water!, and no one else on the MTBR Fatbike forum has killed one!.

The Philwood BB is a work of art and worth every penny of its £150 purchase, as it is serviceable and not disposable, replacement bearings are SKS double sealed and cost about £10 a pair from engineering suppliers, i get a good 2000 miles beachriding  out them and never service them...

With this the Middleburn crank arms and XC spider are a nice mate, i run 170 mm lenght arms and slim Superstar Nano Flat Pedals to help reduce pedal strike on rocks, XT chain rings and Shimano XTR Dura Ace rustproof chain keeps things smooth, lubed with Squirt Lube.
gear cables are full lenght XT as are brake cables...
Tyres;  Surlys 2nd tyre, the Larry 3.8"   has proved perfect fitted front and rear for beachriding.
We found comparing them back to back against there original Endomorph it grips rocks better when covered in sand and it seems to last a lot longer - this may also be the second generation of tyres having stronger 120 TPI (threads per inch) than the original 60 TPI tyres which gave vague and wierd steering at speed or on tarmac. 

I use lighter 2.5 " Continental Downhill tubes filled with some Stans juice which helps prevent Hawthorn punctures, i still get a couple of flats a year from really big thorns, rim tape is cloth as won`t perish with salt water like rubber rim tape does.      
The classic `hand on tyre `pic that everyone takes when they get there fatbike!...   


Finishing Kit & Extras;
The pugsley has a low front end so as well as headset spacers i run old school DH 3" bars on the 10 dgree 90mmm stem. Ergon grips i love for ridged bikes...

And they give a few hand positions, ideal when seated a lot cycling, as you are on these bikes...

I ride with a bell on all my bikes, if you have one you use it, and approching people from behind if they do not hear it then at least they cannot moan you don`t have one!...

Tartan saddle gives some national identity -:), they are cheap comfy enough and i do not have to keep it dry like the Brooks that was fitted before, seatpost is a cheap Kalloy that does the job,  rear rack is a £15 cheapy from Edinburgh Bicycle Co - Op  to act as a mudgaurd and a Go Pro camera mount as well as carry the tent or bivvy.  I extended it using a downtube Cycra Gaurd deflector - a wet backside with a chilling tailwind is no fun on a winter days beachride, 2 rear lights?, i always have 2 front and rear if riding from home in winter and returning after dark on the road, just in case...

All fasteners are stainless, as are bottlecage and hip flask holder (optional extra)...

Framebag is a JannDD from the USA, enough room for a decent sized pump, bag of tools and spare inner tube, compact camera,  also enough room for 2 magicshine light batteries, side pocket is ideal for cable ties and car keys, with the bottle cage fitted i do not have to wear a back pack, a kidney bag carries camera stuff if filming and food etc...                                                 

You may have seen a new front rack appear, this is made by Coyote, a cheap alloy rack at £15 on Amazon which doubles as a front mudgaurd and rack for sleeping bag when camping, i removed the rivets on the canti mounts and replaced them with stainless bolts and used stainless P Clips to mount it...

Beachriding  Preperation;
Here are some tips to keep your fatbike rolling through the surf and sand...
Buy a tub of Copperslip for threaded metal parts you want to seperate again, use this away from rubber seals, it is ideal for allen bolts etc...cut down a paint brush to keep inside the tin, easy then to grease threads...

I use Wurth Graphite grease and grease all inner cables, backs of brake pads, axles, repack new sealed wheel and Bottom bracket bearings and inside the cassette on it`s splines so it will not seize to the freehub, if this stuff gets washed out there is graphite that will stop a heat seizure...

Grease every bare metal componant that is exposed to contamination which you can see, this includes;
seat post where it inserts the seat tube,  pedal threads, crank arms assembly points (square taper) and crank spindle  (external BBs), steerer tube, headset cups before fitting and all the spacers and the O rings, as they perish quickly with salt water, also grease the assembly points of brake and gear levers and stem on the handlebars, everything that has to come apart again or joins a different material, even the lock on grips have the bar greased first before fitting!, no really as i nearly could not remove them before,

Regrease all these things yearly and replace control cables and check your bearings, brake pads etc...
do this and you too can enjoy miles of smiles on the coast...


  1. Prettige Kerstdagen en een gelukkig nieuwjaar!!

  2. I do appreciate write-ups like this, despite not owning a fat bike. There's some pearls of wisdom for any off road biker keen on doing their own maintenance [bought and EBC workstand today].

    I'm quite envious of the riding you have down in your neck of the woods [and your workshop, particularly at this time of year!]

    Do you never get the urge for a winter Cairngorm tour?

  3. I do indeed fancy some Highland snow riding,
    with Bothies would be ideal, and with company of other fatbikes would be better!,
    but despite 6 fatbikes here in this little county we all work shifts/offshore/have family commitments and it is so hard to get a few together for some time away, so it is why it is so often a half days riding on the beach here!

  4. Tommy; En al het beste om je mijn vriend!

  5. Thanks for the info. I found you searching for info on the use of an Alfine hub with a Pugsley, as this is a set up I'm considering.

    I bookmarked your site, and will return. I like your style.

  6. hey there, I'm a fellow pugsley rider, and I'm keen on using them middleburn cranks with a philwood Bb as well, but may i know which BB you're running on?

  7. Hi gasdfs, it is the 100mm square taper BB from Phil, mine is non off set as i planned to fit the alfine then later went back to mechs and chainrings. Fatbike,com sell the BBs complete and also the cups - one of which has a flange for the E Type mech, you will also need the fitting tool to screw these up tight in your frame.
    Here is the link;