Show Some Love For The Fatties: Surly Fat Bikes
Surly–the original “go anywhere and over anything” mountain bike.
Originally designed for the snow, “Fat Bikes”, thanks to their big fat sticky hold on the earth, have increased in popularity for trail riders as well. They may not be the fastest if you’re into the racing scene, but they’ve got grip–and that makes downhill a whole lot of fun on any terrain. Most people associate Surly with “fat bikes”, though there are lots of other fat bikes out there these days. Surly remains popular with its new offerings because their bikes work exceedingly well whether custom or stock and there’s no shortage on the fun too.
Surly Bikes introduced the first Pugsley fat bike back in 2005 and they never looked back. Fatties are the staple of the Surly Bike business and anyone in the market for one knows that the Pugsley was created to go where standard “all terrain” bikes could not. Originally built on the heavier side, the bikes had improved traction and flotation provided by large-volume, low-pressure tires making it a great two-wheel mode of transport in wintery states.
Surly continued to improve the Pugsley along the way with a frame that has 135mm-spaced, horizontal rear-loading dropouts with a derailleur hanger. This means you can set it up with a derailleur drivetrain or an internally geared hub. Run it with a single speed freewheel or a fixed cog. You have lots of drivetrain choices.
The stock fork accepts a 135mm rear mountain hub, just like the frame. This makes it easier to install and remove the wheel (a big tire on a big rim benefits from a wide opening), and it allows front and rear wheel interchangeability. This means you can have the ability to carry another full gear cluster, a single speed freewheel, or a fixed cog on the front wheel. And should something go wrong with your primary drivetrain, you have the option of swapping wheels and continuing on your journey or retreating to a place where you can make necessary repairs.
The Surly Moonlander picks up where the Pugsley left off by accommodating staggeringly wider 4.7˝ tires on 100mm rims. Such a large footprint allows you to ride them at very low pressure and they work just like a snowshoe providing greater traction and float over all kinds of terrain–wet stuff, roots, rocks, pebbles, gravel, sand, and many types of snow. What I like about Surly is that where most bikes fall, Surly stays upright. If you have the opportunity to test one on snow, you’ll see exactly what I mean and you won’t want to switch back to a more traditional mountain bike–guaranteed.
The Moonlander is made of 4130 CroMolly steel and features 135mm-spaced, 28mm-offset, rear-loading Surly horizontal dropouts (track ends) with a derailleur hanger–meaning you can set it up as a single speed or geared bike, derailleured or internally geared. The bottom bracket height gives you clearance for bushwhacking and monster-trucking. The dropped and gusseted top tube maximizes standover height. And the tallish head tube allows you to set your rig up with a comfortable riding position for those long days grinding out miles in the saddle.
Moonlander’s fork measures 447mm axle-to-crown–same as the Pug, so all of the fat forks are interchangeable between the two models. The disc mount allows you to use a front disc brake caliper with a 135mm O.L.D. rear hub or with a 135mm-spaced Surly front hub. Mid-blade thru-eyelets and lower rack barrels are included for installing fenders and racks. Bike Attack offers the Moonlander as a frameset and as a complete bike. The complete bike components were chosen for their durability and their suitability to the task at hand. Bike Attack has chosen the Microshift thumbshifters because they allow you to shift even when wearing mittens. To accommodate the Clown Shoe rim/Big Fat Larry tire spec, the frame design pushes the chain line even farther outboard than that of the Pugsley, so we spec’d Moonlander with our new MWOD crank system. The MWOD (Mr. Whirly Offset Double) ditches the big ring and moves the middle and granny ring outboard. The 2 x 9 drivetrain offers the gear ratios most applicable to a bike of this type while avoiding chain/tire interference and works like a charm.
There have been a few changes this year–first is the 120tpi Big Fat Larry tires which now have a lighter casing, allowing greater conformation to the ground it’s rolling over and reducing rolling weight. Also, the fork is offset like the frame to allow front and rear wheel interchangeability. In addition to that, you can opt for an extra large 24˝ size, available as a complete bike and also frameset.
Moonlander, like its name implies, is meant to go beyond where normal bikes, even normal fat bikes, can go. It is designed from the ground up to ride where there are no roads, no trails, no people. Don’t expect a feather-weight frou-frou bike when checking out these fatties. The approximate total weight on our Moonlander is 35lbs, but it’s a ton of fun.