I’ve owned my Pugsley for five years, and like most- have constantly sung its praises. I love my Surly Pugsley. I have delivered pizza, ridden singletrack (singlespeed and geared), floated it across flooded roads, ridden through snowy fields, and thrown basically everything in my arsenal at it with great success; the Pugs stood its ground. I commute everyday on my fat-bike and I didn’t see how anything could give me that much more noticeable benefits in any situation. I was skeptical of the Surly Moonlander when it first appeared. Granted, I was smiling ear to ear, but I worried that it would be heavy or cumbersome to handle. So, I and everyone else waited patiently until December for a chance to get hands on with this new beast. From opening the box and initially looking at the frame in person and the size of the tires on the Clownshoe rims I knew that I was wrong- this was a new breed.
I know that at this point the second round is shipping or shipped and quite a few people have gotten their hands on the Moonlander, but I have noticed a few distinct differences between how the ‘Lander behaves compared to Pugs. This stems from the fact that the Moonlander has SIGNIFICANTLY bigger tires than on my Pugs. So much so that even my mother pointed them out as being larger without the Pugs being around. This allows a lot of things more than just floatation on loose surfaces if you are like me and want to ride your fat-bike everywhere over everything into anything. The larger air volume creates a firmer tire at lower pressure, so the tire can have more traction and cushion, AND have less risk of bottoming out on the rim. I’ve learned a few things riding my Moonlander on my commute that I regularly ride on the Pugsley.
- Riding UP stairs is AMAZING! Don’t ride at them too hard and just climb. It is wild how easy it is with a little practice.
- You can use such large air volume to preload the tires much more than previously possible on the Pugs. This helps hopping over curbs and overall makes the bike feel much lighter.
- Riding DOWN stairs is easier IMO as well. The tires act as air shocks and the bike does more of a rattle motion than bounce down the steps.
- I feel like the symmetrical fork on the Moonlander steers more truly when cornering at high speeds. I will say that I don’t know if this is a testament to the wider tire having more contact on the ground, or as aspect of the 135 offset fork shape on the Pugsley. I will test this more in the future.
I still ride my Pugsley set-up as a singlespeed with a rack and bags. I love my Pugsley and will ride it until it dies. BUT, the Moonlander has been an amazing ride thus far. I have put in a 45 mile day on Iowa gravel, a multitude of miles on in town singletrack, and hours on the streets between home and work, and I have yet to be disappointed. I did change a few things from the stock set-up although I really enjoyed the initial position on my 18″. Even the 17 degree bars felt nice, but I broke my carbon ones jumping off of a picnic table bench I climbed on. I took the opportunity to put on a bar with just a bit less sweep. Remember that if you try any of the things I mentioned earlier. Those activities all probably accelerate the death of components, frames, and maybe you…but they are so fun. Seriously so much fun. Here’s how my Moonlander rolls day-to-day.
- Bontrager RL Big Sweep carbon bar 660mm 12 degree sweep 31.8
- Salsa Pro-Moto Ti stem (matched the length and angle of the stock stem)
- Thomson Masterpiece post
- Specialized Phenom SL saddle
- Ergon GS-1 grips
- King Cage stainless steel bottle cages- one on each fork leg
- Ahearne flask holder and Surly flask- always
- XTR trail pedals- I like the platform size and double side, and they don’t gunk up as bad. In COLD weather I may also ride platform pedals.
- I am running a homebrew tubeless set-up. I have had it going for three weeks or so with zero problems. I have run as low as five psi and had no problem, but with the air volume difference I mentioned; I usually run between six and ten depending on conditions. I think it needs a little refinement, but for the moment it is working and that makes me happy.
- Chris King pewter headset
I’ll know more after racing the Triple D in Dubuque, Iowa