From the moment that the original Pugsley was phased out of production, fat-bikers and surly-philes have asked the question “when will Surly bring the Pugsley back?” We asked Sov at our 100th Weekly Dose show back in 2016 if the Pug would make a comeback and he led us to believe that there was a possibility that we would see another derivation of the Pug, but that the bike would have to be something special. The Pugsley was a groundbreaking development in the bike world when it was introduced. In the past when Surly came out with a new bike it meant that the bike industry was about to discover what they’d have to learn to make in the very near future. Surly has created influential waves in the past, but Surly is an almost completely different company today. Most of the folks that were around when the first Pugsley was designed are no longer there. In the past 2 years there’s been a top to bottom changing of the guard within the Surly ranks, so this Pugsley comes to us from a Surly infused with new blood.
The day is finally here when we get to show you what I’ve been test riding for the last two months – The NEW Surly Pugsley! – The first thing I have to admit is it was really hard to not post pictures of this new fatty. I got a taste of our own regulations and had to follow Bike Black Ribbon Test Pilot Guidelines for keeping test gear on the down low during embargo periods. (I think I might be a blogging junkie) The Pug 2 is Orange with what looks like a metallic gold clearcoat. The new Candied Yam Orange is simply breathtaking…My tastes run more towards “I see an orange bike and I want to paint it black.” Is a black Surly too cliche for these modern years? (Bowie)
The New Pug keeps the 17.5 mm offset of its ancestors but the complete comes with a 142 x 12 thru-axle in the rear that allows swapability with 135mm Q/R or bolt-on so you can switch the tires front to back. The rear drops include a dedicated Rohloff Torque Arm Slot and with some limitations, the new pug can run 4.8 tires. The complete comes with the new Enda 4.3 tires mounted to My Other brother Darryl 80mm wide rims laced asymmetrically 100% tubeless ready. Surly tweeked the head tube geometry a half a degree and lengthened the chainstays 12mm for heal clearance and extra stability for loaded touring.
The new Pug was designed and built to carry gear in an off-road environment. This means that almost every bottle cage is a triple anything mount. It has full rack and fender mounts. They even offset the rear rack mounts so the load is carried over the center of the wheel. The fork has two sets of triplet anything mounts as well.
Another new addition to Pug 2 is the Moloko Handlebar. Before this test, I haven’t had much experience with this style of handlebar, but I have to say that I’ve become a fan. The way that the Moloko securely attaches to my Oveja Negra front bag is a game changer. If you’ve ever had an issue when your front bedroll rubs on the front tire, try your setup on a Moloko. It allows the pack to be securely cinched down (actually up) to where it doesn’t budge at all.
This is the bike that will stand up to the pounding of being hoisted up onto the roof of a bus on a tour of Kathmandu and since it’s made of steel, can be mended by whatever they call the guy that fixes pots and pans (in the Himalayas)…I think they used to call them tinkers (in the US)…these days people just buy a new one if something breaks and the old one goes to the landfill. This bike is meant to eliminate the disposable mindset that seems all too commonplace these days. (and not just in the bike biz)
The new Pug will probably outlast most other bikesthat get sentenced to hard labor. Think about solo adventuring with the ability to bring everything plus the packraft, PFD, paddle and fishing gear. Not just in the civilized part of the world, where the landscape is festooned with cell towers and rescue hovercraft stand at the ready; but in Mongolia, or Central Africa, where there’s nothing but you, your Pugsley and a herd of Yak or perhaps the nocturnal Aardvark.
One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of attention, when people talk about Surly frames is their size specific tube-sets and the double butting. There’s a reason that there are legions of cyclists that ride bikes with steel frames. Steel bikes ride great….but they also weigh a bit more than bikes made with other materials. Our size medium test bike weighed in at 34 pounds six ounces. Ten years ago I was riding a Pugsley with a Rohloff hub with a custom A-Train Cycles potreur rack up front and a Surly Nice Rack in the rear and it weighed in at forty-two pounds. I loved that bike and loaded it with anything and everything that you can imagine and rode it everywhere.
During our test period, I alternated riding the Pug and riding my Fatback Corvus. I think that sequencing made the weight difference more noticeable to me than if I had just ridden the Pug full time. That wasn’t really an option because I was riding an embargoed bike. I couldn’t take the Pug out during weekends or on group rides. If I had been able to switch over to riding the Pug exclusively, I bet my brain would have adapted and I might have been able to enjoy it more. I don’t consider the weight of the new pug to be a big deal. Your local bike shop would be happy to show you ways to shave some weight off the bike if that’s the direction that you want to go. We all know that there’s a price to pay for lighter bike gear and it goes beyond what we pay at the cash register. There’s also the possibility that we pay in the durability and sometimes reliability or the ability to repair fancy bike jewelry. The lightest components work great until they break…and then they don’t work at all. There is a balance point between gram shaving and practicality and the Pug is built with a finger on the more durable side of that scale.
New Pugsley Q&A
We compiled a list of questions that we thought that you (our readers) would ask Surly after you read about the new Pug. We shared them with the folks at Surly and their answers are below.
Why did Surly re-introduce the Pugsley?
The Pugsley debuted in 2005 to little fanfare. Few people knew about fat bikes. (After all, Pug was the first production fat bike.) In the beginning, they were, rather logically, labeled as “snow bikes” given Surly is a MN company and all. Over the years we didn’t do much to change that perception. This meant a lot of potential customers dismissed fat bikes as not suited to their climate or as novelties (a la ‘monster truck bike’).
Then the fat bike boom happened. We, like many other bike brands, sold a lot of bikes. Standards were changing and evolving for things like hub spacing, rim and tire sizing, BB and crank spec. Big tire companies like Schwalbe jumped into the rubber game. The fat bike was getting an industry makeover at a frightening clip. All the usual suspects were profiled – carbon, alloy, colorways, and race bits galore. It appeared the sun was setting on our “old school” Pug with its weird offset frame and traditional geometry. Sales were mapping this trend, so we closed out the remaining inventory in favor of our newer Ice Cream Truck and Wednesday models.
We knew all along that we hadn’t told the Pugsley story well enough for people to understand. With that in mind, we hinted to dealers and reps alike that the Pug was in hibernation. Something was in the works. Our product folks had ideas.
Why did Surly decide to do it now?
For one, our decline in Pugsley sales was a larger indicator of an industry bubble rapidly deflating. Fat sales were dropping for all brands. That’s because they capitalized on a trend while few truly invested in the category. Consequently, we saw most brands drop fat from their lines entirely. Surly, however, was the first to bring fat to the production realm. Not because we wanted to create some oddball boom category, but because we believe in the purpose of the fat bike. The timing is right (when most of the industry has shifted away from fat) for us to redesign our iconic model and set out to tell its full story.
We also didn’t want to let too much time pass since that left the model in limbo. In the meantime, we were undertaking a reordering of our bike categories. We decided to eliminate our “Omniterra” (fat bike) category altogether. The primary reason was it lumped fat-tired bikes into a dark corner where the troublesome kids are sent. This made it much more difficult to explain their intended usage and tell the story of year-round application. Wednesday and Ice Cream Truck joined our Trail category since this speaks to the trail bike development that informed their designs. For the new Pug we saw an opportunity to round out our Dirt Touring category. We’ve placed it alongside Troll, Ogre, and ECR as an option whose wheel platform affords maximum potential for wandering off trail and off the grid.
What does Surly think would motivate a consumer to purchase a new Pugsley?
There is a legacy piece to Pugsley. Many people know it. In our travels, we talk to riders who either still own or previously owned a Pug. Nearly all of them wax poetic about how great that bike rides. A lot of cyclists are aware that getting a fat bike can expand your options. For some this might mean riding in the winter, riding snow, when they normally would have hung up the bike until spring. That’s all well and good but it’s missing a greater point.
That greater point we’re working to get across with the new Pugsley is that the fat tire platform is a ticket to practically anywhere you want to go at any time of year. Defined routes and trails are no longer needed. Lots of fat-tired bikes can get you out there. One challenge, however, has been taking gear with you. Frame bags and soft packs work well. However, adding rack capabilities to the mix greatly increases payload capacity. Pugsley affords these options. Its design and features make it the premier choice for exploring the farthest from the beaten path.
We believe there are a lot of customers who want to spend a little time getting lost. Now that the dust has settled from the fat bike boom there is an opportunity to educate serious consumers about the options that a bike like new Pug presents to them.
Describe, who (in Surly’s opinion) is the prospective customer for the new Pugsley?
Maximalist Tourists who want to carry all their stuff across rugged, varied terrain and need the traction, footprint and stability that fat tires offer.
Explorers looking to go far off the beaten path
Survivalists for whom being stranded is not an option
Besides the Handlebar and the Ednas – what’s different between the old pug and the new pug?
We kept much of the spirit and design language from the original Pug – if it aint broke don’t fix it – but made updates to improve things like rack fit and fit geometry. The chainstays were lengthened 12mm (~1/2”) to provide more stability when loaded and to provide more heel clearance for panniers etc. The BB drop was increased to counteract the larger OD Edna tires, however, the BB height remains nearly the same as the old Pug. If you decide to run Nates or other 4” tires you will only pay a 10mm penalty in BB height and will still have plenty of ground clearance. The stack was increased to better match our other updated offroad touring models and to promote a better riding position for long days in the saddle. Headtube angles were slackened out 1 degree to 69.5. We eliminated the jump tube brace and shortened the seat tubes to maintain appropriate standover with the increased tire OD.
One of the biggest changes is a redesigned dropout that looks similar to the dropout used on the Troll/Ogre/ECR and offers a dedicated Rohloff OEM 2 mounting slot and rack and fender mounting positions. The rear end is still offset 17.5mm, but the rack/fender mounts are offset back towards the centerline of the frame to allow racks/fenders to be mounted centered. The dropouts were updated to run 142 x 12mm thru axle hubs with a vertical dump out slot, or 135 x 10mm hubs with our Surly 10/12 Adapter Washers. Another big change was to the seatstay and chainstay profiles. Aesthetically they have less of an “S” bend to them much like the updated Pug Offset fork. They were also redesigned to allow 4.8” tires on 80mm rims when the wheel is pulled back in the dropout halfway. We went back to the Offset Pugsley fork as stock, so in order to run 5” tires front and rear someone would need to buy an aftermarket Moonlander fork. In order to have proper chain clearance with 5” tires a wider Q factor crank (think Moonlander) would need to be used. For people that want to tinker and customize their ultimate adventure rig the options are there!
Explain a situation where front to rear wheel exchangeability could get someone out of a dangerous situation in the backcountry.
A well-prepared rider can pack along tools and spares for a number of repairs. However, drivetrain failures are hard to overcome in the field. And when you’re truly “out there” walking out or calling a friend might not be options. Two primary examples come to mind: 1) Break your derailleur and/or severely damage the hanger; 2) Fouling a freehub body with ice or other contaminants. Interchangeable wheels allow you to have a single speed set-up pre-planned. Shorten the chain as needed and get back on the bike.
Give us real-world scenarios where someone did what’s described in your answer to the question above. (and the consequences if they hadn’t been able to swap wheels)
Ed Note: If you have a story about how a fat-bike’s offset swappable wheels saved your bacon, please post your story in the comments.
How does Surly think the Pug will compete with bikes that are pounds lighter and have all of the same omni-terrain bikepacking capabilities of the Pugsley (with the exception of front and rear wheel exchangeability)
The key here is to get past “bikepacking.” You can do that on a Pug but it’s only part of the story. Pugsley joins the Troll/Ogre family of Dirt Touring bikes in our line. As such, we built in generous rack options that go beyond an ultralight bikepacking approach. Furthermore, that extra weight has a purpose; it directly translates into durability. This should be a primary feature considered by the customer who’s looking to get lost. There are the details. We intentionally kept the 1 1/8” headtube and did not suspension correct this frame. The Pugsley customer is not only seeking durability but reliability. This means fewer systems to fail and maintain, like suspension. Then their options built off the venerable Troll platform. As a frame up build a Pugsley customer can indulge many choices of drivetrain and overall build out.
Ed Note – They never answered the question. Not even close.
What is the Geometry of each frame size?
What frame sizes will the bike be offered?
How many mm’s of offset on the frame and fork? old pug vs new pug?
The offset remained the same, 17.5mm. The new dropouts allow use of a 142 x 12mm thru axle or 135 x 10mm hub.
How much stronger is a symmetrical wheel compared to the current Pugsley offset wheels?
Offset wheels aren’t inherently weaker*, in fact, the spoke triangulation on an offset wheel is better than that on a centered wheel. The rim on an offset wheel ends up being cantilevered which can allow the rim to twist more than a centered wheel. We take this into account with our rim designs and make them stiff enough to counteract these tendencies.
*ED Note – We call BS on this one
Orange Color Name?
Candied Yam Orange
How wide is the BB Shell on the new Pug?
The BB shell remains 100mm
What kind of BB is on the New Pug? Press-Fit?
We kept the same standard English threading
What is the MSRP?
$1,849 Complete *US
$599 Frame *US
When will they be available at dealers?
Late January 2018
The Bottom Line
The Pugsley is back and it does everything that Surly says that it was designed to accomplish. This bike has a ton of practical attributes. The new Pugsley embraces a decidedly non-glitzy or pragmatic world tourist version of what fat-bikes can be. I’ve always thought of bikes as toys. Something to go out and have fun, while enjoying the great outdoors. As kids, we’d call our friends up and say “let’s go play bikes” and that continues to be my mantra. Back in the day…If the new Pug was sold at an old-school brick and mortar department store, like Sears, it might have been stocked in the tool department, rather than in toys. The sign would say something like – There’s nothing trendy or fancy to see here. Just a trusty hammer that’ll drive nails for the rest of your life.
We give the new Pugsley 3.5 out of 5 gnomes