Thursday 7 November 2013

Can you build a cheap Fatbike?, Here is a sub £500 Fatbike!...

Now winter is here i have shelved the 3" Knard tyre 29+ wheels i was given by Tyler from Surly Bikes after Forth Fat for my next Pugsley build project next year as the xc trails here inland from the coast turn to slop.
I fitted the Surly stock complete Pugsley build Marge rim wheels i bought secondhand to return the bike to a regular fatbike. I also removed the Pumpkin orange goodies along with Phil Wood square taper BB, Middleburn cranks and the direct mount and XT front mech to add to the goodies pile for the new Pug project.

I was thinking about how cheap can a fatbike be built for now in the UK sourcing second hand the specific fatbike parts and using regular items either spare or buying used from eBay or classifieds?.
There is now an increasing amount of used fat specific parts popping up for sale.
People go on about the cost of owning one puts them off owning a fatbike.

How about a Surly Pugsley like this for under £500?

 Read on and i will list the costs and build of the bike.

Frame; £140
This is my old frame set - Scotland's first fatbike which was Thunder bird Grey. It was sold to friend Mike and has clocked up over 6000 miles by myself and then Mike.
I had cracked the frame trying to remove a seized seat post. It had a tig weld repair that eventually re cracked so Mike sold the frame for £100 and bought a new replacement. The new owner had the frame repaired at Kinetics in Glasgow.
Unable to afford a build at the time the frame was put up for sale on the UK fatbike forum. Up for grabs for a week with no takers until i bought it...

To cover the costs of the frame repair by Kinetics, the owner just wanted to re coup his costs so i payed the asking price of £140...

You may think, that is cheap, no danger of another frame set that cheap. A few weeks ago a small Pugsley frame set with a Kris King headset sold on eBay for £190. So the fat specific stuff is turning up for sale cheaper now. Large Marge rims and 4" tyres have been on the UK Fatbike classifieds too.

The frame set as you see it now was powder coated black for £30 by Pentland Powdercoaters near Edinburgh. The stickers were free from Surly. But this was only done to match the Pumpkin orange build for the KramPug 29+ wheel set build. So i am not going to add this £40 cost as it had previously been painted.

The frame once i received it by courier was sanded and sprayed Massey Ferguson Grey for free by friend Eddie who had just sprayed a VW Caddy the same colour, so just cost £10 for the Surly stickers.

Now it would be great if it was still Grey!

                                                                                                                                       Build Cost; £150

Wheels; £100
Local fatbike owner and friend Dave G bought some Hope Hub Marge rim wheels for his Pugsley so stuck his old wheels with QR spindles up for sale. £100 lighter and i had a wheel set. The rear is a stock Shimano LX. a bit of a weak point with the Surly if you ride it on the coast exposing it to salt water conditions.
These wheels have already had a new free hub fitted.  The Shimano LX free hub seems to be more prone to failure a lot more often than the more expensive Shimano XT hub.
I have an XT hub from the Moonlander, which uses the same spoke lenght so i can always get my friend Colin to re lace this onto the rim in exchange for some beer!.
                                                                                                                                       Build Cost; £250

Tyres; £40
I have a pair of  Surly Larry tyres, but the rear is near slick after over 3000 miles use!.
The front  was ok though as half worn. Dave also had an as new Surly Endomorph tyre and i bought it for £40 along with the wheels...

I have 3 or 4 Surly `Toobs`,  but i use Scraeder valve tubes (so i can use Tyre Weld puncture repair foam to repair a flat on the coast if needed),  so i drilled the rims for the larger valves and used two used Continental 2.7 inner tubes that came off the Purple Pugsley when i replaced it`s tubes along with bearings a few weeks back.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Build Cost; £290

100mm Bottom Bracket and Drive Chain; £95
An area that can cost a lot of money is sourcing a 100mm Bottom bracket, cranks and front mech.
I found the £65 (delivered) UK priced Truvativ Howitzer 100mm BB for sale at £35 delivered from Germany!, and in only 4 days over a weekend too!, superb service form Bike Discount. com in Germany
How can they sell an item for half the UK price and get it here in 4 days over the weekend!.
I treated the new bearings to some marine grease to extend their life as they were near bone dry!...

I need to find the bearing size of these as only stamped Truvativ on the seals, so i can get replacements, thus making the Howitzer bottom brackets rebuildable.

Next up is a crank set to match the Howitzer. Planet X are selling the Truvativ Blaze triple crank set for £30

An E type front mech was needed. CRC (Chain Reaction Cycles) in Ireland are clearing their 9 speed stock, suits me as i added the front mech at £8

And an all steel Shimano HG50 cassette for £13

Not the lightest crank set/BB set up but bombproof, low maintenance and as long as you change the chain before it`s wear limit  is reached you will get 4 chains to this steel set up.
Rolling on the smooth Surly Endomorph rear tyre, and the half worn Larry tread pattern up front i am leaving the big chain ring on. I was using this on the road today with the tail wind!...

Chain was already bought in a multi pack, a SRAM 991 which cost  £18,00

A complete Shimano brake cable set cost £9 also at CRC
                                                                                                                                       Build Cost; £394

Second hand finishing kit; £53

Bidding on eBay over the summer has seen some some silly prices for the used items i was looking for, but eventually i won a pair of 07 Shimano LX trigger shifters for £18. These are ideal for the drive chain used. They are tough and only one way levers so less inside to go wrong!.

Avid Mechanical BB7 brakes are my chosen choice for beach riding.
Simple and if the scew adjuster for the inside pad is kept copper greased then they keep working in saltwater. I use Superstar sintered pads. cheap and ideal.
These took a lot of patience to score a pair at a sensible price as i was constantly out bid over the summer months from the max i was prepared to bid for used brakes that may well also need replacement brake pads.
Eventually i won a pair of calipers with discs and levers for £35
                                                                                                                            Build Cost; £447

Remaining parts in stock on the spares shelf...

The following parts i already had to finish the build;
Bars;  Funn 720mm wide, 25.4mm clamp
Stem; Hope 90mm 25.4mm clamp
Grips; Ergo (swapped out for regular grips on the Karate Monkey Single speed)
Seat;    1960`s Brooks professional
Seat post; Race Face Diablous 27.2mm
Inner Gear cables, cable crimps
Middleburn bottlecage

I estimate if needed to buy the above then i could have saved £40 on the Larry tyre and £10 on the new Brake cable as i have Brake inner cables and loads of Orange outer casing and cable ferrules allowing £100 for the above.
So a final outlay cost of £447 + existing parts i had already, but it could have been a £400 build if i wanted.
The price payed for the wheel set could have cost more - i did get them for a good price. Even if £200 for the wheels i could have kept the build to £500. The frame price is also the cheapest price i have seen a genuine 4" clearance capable frame set for sale.

Second hand complete build prices;
Friend Ritchie just bought a complete Purple Pugsley for £600 and it was on the UK Fatbike Forum classifieds for a day or so, so there is fat to be had for not a big outlay... -)

Happy to have my old Pug rolling again as it was when i bought it and although it would now look better in its original Grey paint i liked the Black and Pumpkin orange  theme which is going onto the new build....
Once i build my new bike i will strip the bike and get it powder coasted grey again. That will cost £40 inc white stickers, but that won`t be for a few months.

I cycled the old Pug to work mid week and took a detour home. It rolls well on the rear Endo/Larry front combo and was glad of the big ring on the tarmac with a tail wind...

An old cast road sign being reinstated north of Becky`s Strip Byway. Noticed a few other ones have been repainted lately...

This old timer still has a few rides yet to do...

So does the bike... -)


  1. Really interesting, I wish to try fat bike and maybe building one if my Karate Monkey becomes too stiff for me.
    But I have a question: Where have you found colored Surly stickers for your Pugs?

  2. Hi, The Surly stickers are available in a few colours now in packs for some of their bikes, Pugsley sets come in Black, white, orange, yellow and silver, any deaer with an ISON account can get you them. Not all are in stock here in the UK. I got mine sent from the USA

  3. hello, I often have problems with tyres ripping at the rim on regular bikes cause I have a rack and load it up alot, do you think the really fat tyres are cool for everyday shit aswell as touring? or are they just really for dirt tracks and moiuntain biking etc? cheers

  4. Hi, your fatbike tyres will be fine loaded up with luggage. Some wners have done some huge trips with big self supported loads


  5. i cannot build one but i think you can find lots of the components at the really good deals site i use which updates daily.