the journey is the reward

“Not all those who wander are lost”—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

peregrinations through beautiful and remote landscapes 
by landy, by recumbent trike, by fatbike, and on foot

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.

The new Pugsley first sees light of day outside Ben's shop in Glasgow

Pugsley with saddlebag, bar bags, "gas tank" and feed bags; note too the new 34-tooth chain ring

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.

SON hub dynamo on the 100mm forks

Edelux headlamp - delivers amazing lighting!

The spec is for a Pugsley with hub gears, an Edelux headlamp and a battery-operated tail light which clips to the saddle bag, as well as a comfy Brooks B17 saddle.

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. 

Saddlebag on seatpost-mounted support

Arkel bar bag

Cockpit view; Garmin GPS mount is on left

New 34-tooth chainring and one-sided SPD pedals


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.