Written by: Evan Larsson
Oh, now I get it!
Seeing that it’s late into the spring season with summer, just around the corner, everyone is out and about on their dirt adventures. For me, in the Midwest, it seems to only rain……Constantly! I’ve spent more time on crushed limestone, riding skinnies, than rippin up some dirt. I invite you come with me while I take you on a journey back in time. Back to when precipitation meant only one thing…snow. Oh glorious snow! Don’t you miss it? Don’t you miss the crisp cool air snapping at your face? The local trails, you love, were already dark by the time you left work, your beers were always ice cold along the ride, and every night was a potential adventure in the making.
I’m not sure how all of you got bit by the fat-bug and if you haven’t yet, then do yourself a favor and go ride one. You truly don’t understand how much fun you can have on them until you try. For me it was the snow, the snow and a few knucklehead’s who let me tag along on some rides. After having the privilege of being able to borrow a friends Krampus, it was from that moment I knew, I needed to go fat. But what bike would I choose?
In the beginning, Surly created the Pugsley, and it was sooo good.
This, along with the suggestion of friends, helped me decide on what monster I was going to bring home. I wanted something that’s trail tested and has proven positive time and again. I also want something not super expensive. I don’t want my wife to put me out for buying another multi-thousand dollar bicycle. But let’s take this a step further, let’s combine my first fat-bike with something equally significant….My first single speed! With the illumination of a large cartoon lightbulb overhead, the Pug SS was chosen.
The best single word I could choose to describe the Pug SS would have to be, simplicity. To be on a single speed is a wonderful experience. Add that to the ability to go wherever you want and you’ve got one hell of a machine. There is no asking “am I in the right gear” because the answer is always yes, yes you are. Hill climbs aren’t impossible, they are a new challenge every time. There is no easy gear to click into and spin your way up, you just pedal damn it! Because if you don’t pedal, you walk, and walking uphill sucks even more when you could’ve been riding it. Single speed forces you to ride smarter, you have to attack that climb with everything you’ve got. You now ride aware of yourself more than ever because now you need to! You get to relax and recover a bit on the downhill, because you know what’s coming around the corner, an uphill. It’s such a rewarding feeling to finally conquer a segment of trail that previously beat the snot right out of me. Have you ever had a climb that left you snot-less? Well then you know the feeling… The single speed ride is also amazingly quiet. You can hear the wind whipping around you, as opposed to the sound of your chain slapping steel, while you bang down a line. No slop in the chain as you slowly work your way over a downed tree. You want power to the pedal, guess what, you got it. No lag or delay as you press…just instant on. When things get technical, slow and steady is the name of the game. When making fresh tracks the single speed really helps to keep your power in control while the 3.8” Knards hold you to the ground.
A few weeks back, when I called into fat-bike radio, Gomez asked me what my favorite tire was. My response was, “whatever’s on the bike.” Just run what’cha brung! I look forward to upgrading but I usually ride a tire until it’s done. And these Knards are far from done. I haven’t gone tubeless, yet. I hear great things, but with tubes being used and my ectomorphic body type, I can run the tire pressure at 4-5psi. It took some experimentation, any higher than 8psi and I’d be pogoing all over the place. Higher pressure also made climbing impossible and descents were downright scary. Dialing the air back, I found the Knards to be a fantastic tire. With proper body weight placement and a slow and steady pace got me up most every climb I encountered. The Knards grabbing on the whole way. Only on some speedy descents would I feel the Knards wanting to skip and dip out from under me, which made for an exciting ride.
The MoonLander fork has plenty of braze-ons for whatever setup your fat heart desires. You can mount the beefiest 4.8” tires up front in case you feel that you need some extra print for your foot. When the snow was disagreeable (too powdery or too wet) I preferred to let someone else blaze a trail and I’d follow. If you’re the trailblazer type you might want a little extra up front, just say’n.
I’ve been places and seen things that never would have been possible without the Pug SS. It’s truly a monster that you can control with the simplest of movements. It responds like it’s on a rail, banging corners, and shooting through shrubbery. This monster deserved a name. A giant purple demon that eats everything I throw at it. I call this monster, Grimace. Winter means so much more to me now that I have Grimace, it’s just like being a kid again. I’d sit near the window and watch the snow fall, knowing that an adventure awaits us as soon as I climb on. Every ascent is an achievement and every decent is a reward. Now I get it, it’s just so simple. It’s just so much fun.
Editor’s Note : Look for more from Evan over the next year. He’s currently helping us with our hitch rack testing and I’m sure the rain will stop some time this summer and we’ll get a report on how Grimace handles dry loamy singletrack. Evan is one of this year’s rookie class of Bike Black Ribbon Test Pilots. If you think that you have what it takes to be one of our test pilots, contact us with your qualifications* at firstname.lastname@example.org.