Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First week of a snowy riding

The last week has been a great intro to snow riding. We've had super cold single digits to provide the ice-like experience and we've had good quantities of snow to provide a good range of road surface.

In terms of surface, it's full-on winter mode now. On my commute to the office today, I rode over ice, freshly scraped streets, accumulated/trodden-upon roads, and even some deep uncut snow. I also have a pedestrian over pass that is salted on the ends and provides a nice steep slippery climb and a sleddish descent.

I have three winter bikes going this year: a single speed mountain bike with 1.75" studs (the MB-2), a CX bike with 700x38 studs (the RB-T), and the Rawland with 2.3" fatties.

I like the MB-2 because it's got lights, racks, and fenders, which makes it a nice daily driver/grocery getter/bar bike. I can muscle it through most moderate snow. But once the snow piles up too deep I have a hard time floating the front wheel over the sandy stuff.

The CX bike with knobbies is just for ice. On our BF ride last week we had a couple guys show up with narrow-knobbied 700c bikes and they held up good. Both guys are in good shape aerobically, which I think is the primary reason they held up, but they also had good handling skills, and the snow was relatively fresh, which is easier to cut through with narrower tires.

Once the snow piles up and there are multiple layers which have been driven over, the surface can act weird and grab your front tire. You've really got to finesse the front end/steering in these conditions and narrower tires, I think, increase the finesse factor. Which, of course, makes you a better rider.

The Rawland is great. I think if I had to have just one bike this winter, I would go with the Rawland with the fat knobbies. I really fought the soft spots on the way home last night when I was riding the MB-2. The front tire just kept getting away from me.

Since my commute home last night, it's snowed more and the Rawland just eats it up. As long as you hit deep stuff with decent speed and your weight back, you can power through just about anything on the Rawland. I really enjoyed the ride to work this morning.

I would love to try a Pugsley for a week or two for this kind of commuting. I wonder how long I can put off buying a Pugsley? Especially now that Surly has a built Pugsley that retails for about $1550. And Salsa has the Mukluk, which I can't find a retail price for. But as I've noted before, the more the better -- we want a rich used market for these ultra-fat-tired bikes.

If I could find a way to use the Pugsley in non-snow, I might swing the justification. Maybe if I ratcheted up the Nat'l Forest camping a bit to go more trail than road? What's it like to ride 40+ miles a day on a Pugsley? How does it like moderate loads? It probably likes loading over the back wheel. How about as mountain bike? I think my SOS Sunday ride would not be ideal for a Pugsley. How about a generator hub? Is it possible to swap out the axle on a generator hub and add spacers so it can span the 135 mm OLD of the Pugsley fork?


Not said...

People on the MTBR forums were saying that the Mukluk's retail price is $1500. Of course you can't get one for a while, since they're sold out - hardly surprising at that price.

Apparently it's possible to use any 26"x2.3" or wider tire on the Pugsley's 65mm wide rims. So that increases the tire selection quite a bit. (The Mukluk ships with somewhat wider 80mm rims.)

It seems like modifying a generator hub might be challenging... But Jenson USA has 100mm Pugsley forks for $110, which is probably an easier way to go.
- Ventura

Anonymous said...

John- email me if you want to borrow my pug for a week. I still have the Old Man Mountain rear rack on it so you could still use it for commuting. I have to work this weekend anyway. I let the guys at 2 Wheel try it out and they are considering stocking a half dozen or so but are concerned if they will sell. I think if we have many more winters like these they sure will. I have 2 friends building fat bikes right now here in Spokane.

Dave N

Anonymous said...


There is a 100mm Pug front fork so you could use that to build a generator wheel if you wanted.

It's great as a MTB but not quick or nimble because it is heavy. It would be fine for overnighters and loading down front and rear (look up the Iditabike and Self Propelled Devo/Asana Cycles). The biggest con about the bike is it's heft and the price of the tires. The cheapest you can get them is $86 each.

Dave N

Andy D. said...

A guy rode his Pugsley (and accompanying Endomorph-tired trailer) self-supported across a good chunk of the Australian Outback averaging more than 30 miles a day. It was on sand instead of snow but the effort seems equivalent. More info here: http://www.wildworks.co.nz/csr/route.php

I'm in the same boat wondering how long I can stave off buying a Pugsley. So far net income and spousal oversight have been adequate deterrents, but their powers seem to be weakening.

James Fisher said...

I have taken a test ride on both the pug and mukluk. I have to say I liked the pug better (perhaps it is the BD and steamroller in my fleet). Both bikes perform better than one one expect from looking at them. For reasons not explained they both seem to have a magnetic draw to ruts, puddles and other obstacles. This could be an issue if you had time constraints to get some where. Milltown Cycles in Faribault MN has a nice pug in the window and one mukluk on the showroom floor if you are really interested, I'm sure Ben would ship it.
I was reading some older posts regarding cold toes,
I know ya would have to give up on the spds but keen makes a wintersport II, light, warm flexible. I don't have an issue riding without spds, 500km per month average on the Dummy, I do have an issue with MN winters cold toe is one of them.
Nice blog by the way

Anonymous said...

James- is that Benn Witt you are talking about in MN? Last time I talked to him he was out of Mukluks and Pugs complete until about March. I put a Surly Larry tire on the front of mine that has a more rounded profile than the Endomorph and it cured the self steering problem the Endo has when used up front but the trade off is the float isn't quite as good in deep snow. Riding in sand and normal trail riding it's far better than having the Endo up front. There was also a couple of guys that rode a Pug and a BD from Alaska to the southern tip of South America a couple years back.

Dave N