my fat bike
At some stage during the winter, while idly surfing on the Internet, I came across the “fatbike”—an Alaskan invention, it is essentially a laid-back mountain bike with 4″-wide flotation tyres for travelling across snow, although of course its utility is equally applicable to sand or mud or any other soft surface. The thought took hold, combining with a long-held yearning to return to those tracks and footpaths of the Scottish highlands, remote from all traffic, which were a central part of my teenage years. My 2010 trike ride along the west coast was wonderful, but I was restricted to metalled roads (I did venture onto gravel tracks twice, and thoroughly enjoyed that).
The thought developed into a fascination, and after considerable Internet research I finally decided that I wanted a Surly Pugsley, but fitted with a Rohloff hub (low-hanging, exposed derailleur gears and heather do not seem a promising pairing). I finally made up my mind and ordered the build from the same specialist who provided my trike, Ben Cooper of Kinetics in Glasgow. Ben had been thinking of building a Rohloff hub into a Pugsley, so the coincidence was serendipitous.
When I specified the build of my new Surly Pugsley I decided that I would opt for the new 100 mm front fork, so that a SON Dynohub could be fitted: I think that the chance of being caught out by darkness is somewhat greater than the chance of the grease in the Rohloff hub freezing solid, so I don't need my front wheel to double as a spare rear wheel. Good thinking, perhaps, but the new 100 mm fork has proven to be extremely elusive, and Ben the bike-builder had a merry time sourcing one.
I initially used a Carradice camper longflap saddlebag paired with a Big Bar Bag from Canadian Arkel. I also have a "gas tank" top-tube bag and two "mountain feed bags" from Alaskan Revelate, very much typical snow bike accoutrements – they are very light and beautifully made. The plan is not to fit racks, so I'll use a lightweight backpack to carry the light but bulky items, sleeping bag and sleeping mat.
I found that the handlebar bag bounces on rough ground and consequently droops—I have replaced it with a handlebar roll from Revelate, and at the same time replaced the saddlebag with a Revelate seatpost bag.
I decided to lower the gearing from the "standard" by replacing the 44-tooth chain ring with a 34-tooth ring, effectively giving me two new low gears, as shown in the table below, as well as setting the direct-drive 11th gear to about 60", plenty for the slow cycling I do on the Pugsley. The chainring-sprocket combination is lower than recommended by Rohloff, but is frequently used, and I have not heard or read any accounts of failures of the hub gear.