December 19, 2009
With 3.7" tires, the Surly Pugsley is best suited for the snow and sand, but like most bikes, it has broken out of its intended niche and has been utilized for commuting, mountain bike races, and touring.
Like all of Surly's bikes, the frame is made of a strong, and economical 4130 CroMoly steel. To accommodate the massive tires, the fork and rear stays have to be much wider than normal, which in turn creates a few extra unique features to the bike. For one, both front and rear dropouts have 135mm spacing, which means a rear wheel hub will fit in both front and back. Horizontal dropouts give you a single speed option, which may come in handy if you wish to run an internal hub, and you still have the derailleur dropout to run a traditional setup. The wider chainstays result in a 100mm bottom bracket shell to keep a smooth chain line from front to back, and this also gives you plenty of room to use a mountain bike triple crankset.
For wheels, you will want to use Surly's Large Marge rims coupled with their Endomorph tires. You have the option to choose between disc brakes or an extra wide 120mm caliper brake. If you go the disc brake route, I recommend mechanical disc brakes, since they are easier to service in the field.
As for loading your gear onto this bike, there are eyelets for a rear rack, and the fork is more than strong enough to attach a front rack with band clamps.
The ride quality of the bike is just as unique as the bike itself. The 26 inch wheels with 4 inch tires cause the bike to sit up high like a 29er, and the large volume tubes provide plenty of suspension for rough terrain. Before taking it out on the trail, be sure to get a feel for the steering.
While the bike is certainly out of the ordinary, it is perfectly suited for loaded touring, especially on a route such as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Photos by Josh Tack.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.