It’s a brisk early-winter day here in Nebraska, and while most cyclists are making a hasty retreat indoors for another boring trainer session, others are layering up to hit the great outdoors.
Steve Barr is about to be one of those cyclists making the jump out into the frozen countryside. Why? Because today, he is heading down to Olde Towne Cyclery in Bellevue, NE to take delivery of his brand, spanking new Surly “Neck Romancer” Pugsley, and I don’t know who’s more excited; Steve, (OTC owner) Todd Brisbois, or me.
“Whoa!” was the first thing Steve said upon seeing his sweet new ride. I’m pretty sure it was love at first sight. I’m also pretty sure that Todd and I would agree with him. In fact Steve, don’t let her out of your sight. She might come back snow-covered and dirty. OK, back to why I’m here…
The Necromancer is the latest evolution of the complete build package that Surly offers for their increasingly popular Pugsley. Formerly dubbed “Black Ops,” the Neck Romancer features an all-black paint job with subtle black and gray decals, but the folks over at Surly didn’t stop there. The bike is almost completely murdered-out, to include the rims and spokes. Surly calls it “the stealth bomber in our fleet”.
At first glance, this version of the Pugsley is obviously different. Despite their subdued nature, the graphics really do seem to catch your eye. Weird, I know because they are barely visible, but they just do. Maybe it’s just the light or I’ve had too much coffee. Anyway, the frame geometry has not changed from what has been offered in recent years. However, there have been some changes with the moving bits of this Pug.
One of the first things that I noticed, were the wheels. Surly has moved away from the standard double-wall 65mm Large Marge rim (offered on the original complete Pug) in favor of their single-wall 82mm Rolling Darryl. Wider rim means more tire in contact with the ground, which means better traction, and that’s winning in my book! I am however; kind of bummed that Surly didn’t deliver the Neck Romancer with the “cut out“ version of the Darryl, which has a series of large holes to offer a 170g (per wheel) weight savings and a cool personalization option. The Necromancer’s shoes are right in line with the other complete build with an Endomorph 3.7 in the rear and a Larry 3.8 in the front. A popular and solid combo!
The Necromancer also sports Surly’s new M.W.O.D. (Mr. Whirly Offset Double) crank, an updated version of their Mr. Whirly triple crank. With 22-36 gearing in the front and a Shimano 9-speed cassette in the back, Steve and his new steed are sure to keep right on trucking through even the thickest muck! You want to know what else is cool about this setup? Sure you do! The combination of the new M.W.O.D. crank and 9-speed cassette leave just enough clearance (Clarence?) to accommodate Surly’s new super-oversized 4.7” Big Fat Larry tire! Use of the larger rear cogs might be limited, but nonetheless, it’s doable! Now that’d be fat! Or phat? Wait…
Oh and speaking of clearance, did I mention that the Neck Romancer delivers with the same fork that Surly uses on their new, super-fat Moonlander? Equipped with bottle/gear cage mounts, the new fork has more than enough clearance to fit any tire on the market and then some! It retains 135mm like on previous models, but the front wheel is no longer built offset like the rear wheel. I’ve always been a fan of being able to run a singlespeed cog up front as back up in the event of a rear derailleur failure. This is no longer an option on this version of the Pug. This is really just a personal preference though, and definitely wouldn’t be a showstopper if I were considering one of these!
Aside from a swap to a Cane Creek 40 headset and Microshift thumb shifters, the Neck Romancer shares the same durable and reliable components with the original complete build Pugsley.
OK, now what do I really think? If you’re still reading this, you must be curious…or really bored. I personally think that the Neck Romancer is a pretty cool bike. Its’ stylish, yet affordable features will keep you humming over just about anything without attacking your wallet! Sure there are things that the bike snob in me would change, but with an MSRP of $1850, you can’t beat this bike or even its’ sibling priced at just $1650. Most of the contributors on fat-bike.com built their Pugsley (or other fat bike) before complete builds were available, and paid well over $2500 for their fat goodness. In my opinion, the Neck Romancer is a great value with an attitude that’ll make you feel safe in even the darkest alley.
If you would like to learn more about the Neck Romancer, or any other offerings from Surly, visit www.surlybikes.com.
If you’re in the neighborhood, or just browsing the Internet, check out Olde Towne Cyclery: www.otcyclery.com