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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Fatbike for winter commuting/riding? Use old hybrid?

    I'm planning on biking this winter, both for semi-regular commuting (about 10 km) and for general riding. I live in SW Ontario - not a lot of snow, and winter only really lasts from about late November to late March at best. Some years, lots of snow; other years, I might shovel the snow only a few times. If it does snow, it tends to be heavier, wetter snow. It does get wet and icy. Relatively cold, but not freezing.

    Since getting back into cycling, I've been fascinated with fatbikes (what are those?!), and would like to consider a Surly Pugsley. However, even a used one is a bit pricy. On the other hand, I have an old hybrid that currently takes 26"X2.125" tires.

    If it doesn't snow that much, would a Pugsley be overkill? Would it be impractical and too tough riding it on just bare road (that could be icy mind you)? I'm not really an off road type, but I would ride some snow covered trails out in the country just to try! And I'd probably try it out on some rougher trails in warmer weather just because...

    Or, would it be more effective to just get some winter tires for my old hybrid? Note that I'm not overly keen on putting much more money into my hybrid: it's a decent bike, but it's getting old, and I was never 100% happy with it.

    No fatbikes nearby, nobody I know has one, I haven't even seen one in person around here, so I have no idea on how easy or hard they are to ride and maintain.

    ... maybe I'm just suffering from N+1 syndrome...

    Thanks in advance.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  2. #2
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    I don't know if a Pugsley would be overkill but is that such a bad thing? There must be a park or trail near you that could use some Pugsley time this winter.

    In my case, I'd love a Pugsley but Toronto rarely gets lots of snow. We mostly get slick icy roads because rain fall and freeze ups always follow after snow days. I'm thinking more along your line of a used bike with studded tires. I think studded tires are about 2"? Maybe a bit more?

    -- your fellow N+1 sufferer


  3. #3
    MIKE is my name! puchfinnland's Avatar
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    studded tires are the real thing and very much needed here in finland.
    they are "off the shelf " items here.

    I speak from 15 years of experence now.

    as for a bike- find a"step through" womens bike with 26"-you just try to unmount a mens frame with a winter jacket and boots.

    shimano nexus 7 IGH- weather tight.

    yea! deraileurs are far more efficient but when the freewheel an cogs get full of ice its not efficient at all,

    I as an american laughed every time I saw a man on a womens frame bike...
    Im not laughing anymore!
    I kissed the ice many a morning on the way to work.

    mike
    Last edited by puchfinnland; 08-31-12 at 04:12 PM.
    My name is Michael, and I am a recovering bike addict, It has been 11 months since I purchased a bicycle for myself..
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  4. #4
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    I have ridden in Anchorage for the last 6 winters. I only "need" a Fat bike about 10 days a year (and did not have one until a month ago). Most of my winter communte is about 1/2 '86 Rockhopper with studded tires and wider rims, and a '90 Trek hybrid with 700C studded tires. There are times when the going gets difficult, but not often impossible.
    "Where you come from is gone;
    where you are headed weren't never there;
    and where you are ain't no good unless you can get away from it."

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Hmmm... thanks. Well, I'll see what comes up in terms of used fatbikes. In the meantime, I'll consider studded tires. My old hybrid actually has a pretty low top tube so step through is not too bad of an issue.

    An IGH would be great... maybe I should just get a frame and get an LBS to build me a custom one...
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Hmmm again... I just checked, and that Surly Pugsley I saw earlier seems to be up for private sale by the owner again. Tempting...
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  7. #7
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    Last winter's commuter: 1990 Trek 790 Hybyd, converted to drop bars. I ride Nokian 700x40C studded tires in the winter.

    "Where you come from is gone;
    where you are headed weren't never there;
    and where you are ain't no good unless you can get away from it."

  8. #8
    Senior Member JAG410's Avatar
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    Pugsley's aren't just for snow. They do great year round. Buy a Pugs, then put studded tires on your hybrid. Then you have options depending on snow/ice. Studded fatbike tires are $175-225 each, whereas basic 26" ones can be had around $40. Big difference.

    I <3 my Pugsley.

  9. #9
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Yet another +1 for studded tyres in icy conditions. That's what they're made for.

    Regarding IGHs, pay attention to shifter cables, they tend to freeze like nobody's business. The mechanism itself is great for winter, but you may want to have a larger rear cog. Off the shelf IGH equipped bikes are geared a tad high to my taste. And one needs lower gears more in winter conditions.

    --J
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  10. #10
    Member Forrest74's Avatar
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    Consider a second set of 29er wheels to run studded. I'm in a similar situation, looking at a Beargrease at the moment.

  11. #11
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    I don't know if a Pugsley would be overkill but is that such a bad thing?
    You want a fatbike BECAUSE it is overkill. It is overkill in every sense of the word. A fatbike is overkill on two wheels and a mouthful of steroids. It isn't just a winter bike, it is a fatbike. When you ride one, you will understand what that means.

    I own a 2012 Salsa Mukluk 2. I bought it as a winter bike and instead, it became one of my top 3 bikes (out of 10), and I ride it weekly. It is the only bike I ride during the winter (northern hemisphere of the USA: Wisconsin). I ride it a lot in the spring and summer, it is surprisingly nimble and adept at dry weather riding, and it's wide tires and sturdy frame redefined urban riding for me. I never have to worry about things like train tracks, pot holes, drainage grates, or curbs anymore.

    The trick to riding a fatbike on ice is using the snow that is often on top of the ice. A rubber tire on nothing but ice will pretty much act the same way, no matter how wide the tire is, especially when trying to balance it all on two wheels. Fatbike tires can run on extremely low air pressure, but ultimately it comes down to physics when it is nothing other than tires and ice (I'm talking solid frozen sheets of ice, not shredded/crushed ice or slush, in those fatbike tires do OK). When dealing with pure ice that has a dusting of snow on it, you get enough "float" from a fatbike that you can easily ride over it all as long as you don't do anything too aggressive that pushes the snow from under the tire and which leaves nothing but rubber & ice. I live next to three big lakes and I rode over them all of the time during the winter after they froze. They became a great shortcut instead of using conventional roads, but I only rode over them when they had a layer of snow on them.

    I don't think the Pugsley is the best fatbike. It's frame is heavier than an aluminum one and more prone to rust. I personally do not believe that the Pugsley frame & fork is as well engineered as the Mukluk 2. I was also not a fan of the Pugsley's offset drive train, or the chain rub of many of the other fatbikes, including the Salsa Mukluk 3.

    No matter what the fatbike make or model is, I do not like Surley's Endomorph tire (because Surly has made fatbike products for so long, many other brands use their components, including Salsa. My Mukluk 2 has a stock Endomorph on it). The Surley Endomorph does not have a good tread depth, causing it to spin in snow once the precipitation gets packed in the very little knobbing the tire has. The Endomorph tire is the only thing on the Salsa Mukluk 2 I plan on replacing before the next winter. If you decide you want to get a fatbike after all, just make sure it doesn't have an Endomorph tire on it. But don't compare what you think other bikes might be in relation to a fatbike until you actually ride a fatbike.

    Also, because the tires on a fatbike are so large they have a 3 inch rise over the rim, making a 26 inch fatbike tire into a 29er-height tire...but unlike regular 29ers, these tires are 4 inches wide. Think about it.....
    Last edited by MadCityCyclist; 09-14-12 at 10:51 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadCityCyclist View Post
    But don't compare what you think other bikes might be in relation to a fatbike until you actually ride a fatbike.
    Thanks... but this is the tough part! Nobody carries any fat bikes, even for testing. I'll have to wait for several weeks to see what can be brought in.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

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    I like thin. My preferred tires are 700 - 32. Fat tires slow you down in any snow that hasn't been cleared. You will get more exercise, if that's a plus. My commute is often at 4:30 in the morning, so I can be moving before the snow crews get much done.

    The only time fat tires are an advantage is on bike trails that haven't been cleared. If it was fat tire bikes that packed the snow down, thinner tires might cut through it, and that's difficult. In any other snow situation, the thinner tires are less work.
    mainlytext.com/bike.html Bicycling in winter, the entertainment version

  14. #14
    Senior Member Hendricks97's Avatar
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    I bought a Necromancer Pug back in February (convinced the wife its a safer winter bike) and Ive ridden it just about every day since. It is my daily commuter regardless of the weather because a) its the most fun Ive ever had on 2 wheels and b) my commutes only 5 miles so I dont even get to work up a sweat unless Im pushing hard. Ive taken it on anywhere up to 45 mile rides so far and enjoyed every minute of it. However, once the snow hits here and turns to ice, I will most likely be on either a hybrid or a cross bike with studded tires.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadCityCyclist View Post
    I don't think the Pugsley is the best fatbike. It's frame is heavier than an aluminum one and more prone to rust. I personally do not believe that the Pugsley frame & fork is as well engineered as the Mukluk 2. I was also not a fan of the Pugsley's offset drive train, or the chain rub of many of the other fatbikes, including the Salsa Mukluk 3...
    I called around again... nobody in Michigan (USA is closer than most of Canada where I live) within a 3 hour drive has a single fat bike to try. They're all waiting for their 2013 shipments.

    Can somebody educate me more on the the "offset" that the Pugsley have, or the chain rub? I'm assuming in certain gears the chain just rubs against the wheel because the tire is so fat?

    I'm a fan of steel (Surly), but I can appreciate in this case the argument for aluminum (Salsa) - lighter when the bike is already so heavy; corrosion resistance. Anything else I'm missing?

    I also know that the Mukluks cannot take IGHs. Is that really that much of a consideration? I'd like to think that I would like it, but if I'm realistic, I probably wouldn't change a Pugsley's gears either.

    Ironically, there's a shop two hours away from me in Canada that has a Salsa Mukluk. He said it's the "1" in blue: I'm pretty sure he means the Mukluk 3. I'm going to see if I can get some time to head up and test ride it.
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  16. #16
    Senior Member JAG410's Avatar
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    The Pugsley frame is offset 17.5mm towards the driveside. This means that both front and rear wheels are dished 17.5mm, so "standard" hubs can be used and the frame has been tweaked accordingly. The wheels are still in the centerline of the frame and it rides totally normal, but the driveside dropout on the front and rear is 17.5mm further out that you're used to. The big benefit is the ability to swap front/rear wheels if need be, and hub cost. There is no chain rub in any gear, with most tires. I had the 4.8" Big Fat Larry's on mine (65mm rims) and didn't have rub.

    The Mukluk's are nice, but handle completely different. The Mukluks are more upright like a hybrid, whereas a Pugsley is full mountain bike geometry and rides like it. The 2013 Mukluks have alternator drop-outs if you want to run singlespeed, but no one makes a 170mm IGH yet, so that's still not an option. The 2012 Mukluks had chain rub in stock form, and drivetrain mods were necessary to fix it. Supposedly this isn't an issue with the 2013s, but I haven't seen one yet.

    I'd also look at the 9zero7 and Fatbike bikes as well. I still like steel though, and a can of Frame Saver is all it takes to nullify the corrosion issues.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Picked one up!

    Hey... I picked up a demo Salsa Mukluk 3 (2012 model) for about $300 off regular retail! I've got to deal with the "chain rub issue" - it's my front derailleur that's rubbing against the chain in the highest gear ironically - but what a cool bike. It's weird - riding towards a 4" curb, and then riding right over it! Cool!

    Full shot.jpg
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  18. #18
    Member Forrest74's Avatar
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    Nice bike Ozonation! Good luck with it and keep us posted on the commuting aspect.

  19. #19
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    Another advantage fat bikes have over traditional bikes in the winter: you don't get the wheel caught in ruts like a 700cc tire, you just ride over the ruts like they're nothing...especially with the right air pressure.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Ozonation's Avatar
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    Thanks... I'll keep you updated. Work and travel have been keeping me busy, so I haven't had much time to do any biking, never mind fat biking (what a ridiculously cool name... fat bike...)
    Rivendell Sam Hillborne and Hunqapillar; Brompton M6R Sage Green; Salsa Mukluk 3 FAT Bike; Nerdy Academic; Nikonian; Wing Chun; and a Patridge in a Pear Tree.

  21. #21
    ride for a change modernjess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozonation View Post
    Hey... I picked up a demo Salsa Mukluk 3 (2012 model) for about $300 off regular retail! I've got to deal with the "chain rub issue" - it's my front derailleur that's rubbing against the chain in the highest gear ironically - but what a cool bike. It's weird - riding towards a 4" curb, and then riding right over it! Cool!

    Full shot.jpg
    Congrats! Welcome to the club! I've come to the conclusion that anyone who disses a fat bike has never ridden a fat bike. Winter! Bring it!

  22. #22
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    I have a 2012 Mukluk. Love it and I ride it more than my Salsa Fargo. I've taken it out mountain biking a few times, on crushed limestone trails, and city streets. I can't wait for winter. I really need better tires like Husker Dus but can't afford them. Rode on mountain trail and in the city on Sunday doing 20 miles total. 10 of single track and 10 through the city. Pugsley does ride like a mountain bike where the Mukluk rides like a Cadillac with monster tires. I just hate the twist grips on my Mukluk.

    Hope you have tons of fun. They just aren't for winter anymore.

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I will let folks know how much I love my Pug in the snow... for ice riding I will use my winter bike which is studded front and back and runs an IGH.

    A Pugsley is a great machine on anything but ice but no bicycle is... with disc brakes one could run chains on the stock tyres.

    I know a good number of folks who ride their Pugs here in the winter on stock tyres but all have said ice is still ice and with such low contact pressure the fat tyres slip just as bad as any non studded tyre and spin out quite easily in the rear.

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    I was in Toronto 2 weeks ago and saw someone riding his Pugsly on a MUP. Was also wearing a Surely sweater of some sort.

    I should've approached and ask on how he likes his bike. Those tires looked massive. I was coming from vacation and had used a 20ish lb MTB and I couldn't imagine on how heavy those fatbikes are.

  25. #25
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biscayne05 View Post
    I was in Toronto 2 weeks ago and saw someone riding his Pugsly on a MUP. Was also wearing a Surely sweater of some sort.

    I should've approached and ask on how he likes his bike. Those tires looked massive. I was coming from vacation and had used a 20ish lb MTB and I couldn't imagine on how heavy those fatbikes are.

    My Pug curbs out at 32-33 pounds... my IGH and generator equipped winter beast is 42 pounds, and my Extrabike is 100 pounds but has all wheel drive and might be the best winter bike of them all.

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