When I get this feeling, I need 29+ wheeling.
My first bike was a Raleigh Port Townsend. I beat it to death.
That Raleigh went with me all over the United States. It was the star of the first year of this blog, although few posts from back then still get trafficked. Over the course of three tours, thousands of miles, and close to four years, I formed a deep emotional connection with an amalgam of steel, aluminum, and rubber. I was in love. I loved, and lost.
I killed that bike mercilessly by not doing enough maintenance (not the worst crime…). I have had a lot of bikes since then. The Raleigh Roper was a bit of a letdown- it was heavy and didn’t fit me well. Then I got a Soma Double Cross Disc, and I still ride that bike all the time. I had a Surly Karate Monkey, which I eventually sold and traded into a Soma Juice. That bike was brilliant, and the victim of a downsized stable just this past month.
I’m keeping the Double Cross. And only one other bike… my Surly Pugsley.
Why do I love the Surly Pugsley? It’s hard to explain… It’d be hard to explain exactly why I love pizza over all other foods, or why Ocean’s Twelve is my favorite in the trilogy. Part of it is experiential, based off of good times spent in the saddle. Another bit of it is, admittedly, the weirdness of the bike. It’s unique, in a sea of carbon copy carbon fatbikes. The Pugsley is a pretty awkward predecessor, and that resonates with me.
But, there are tangible reasons:
- 135mm rear hub spacing means I have the best hub selection possible. Sure, I can only run offset-compatible rims, but the ones from Surly are plenty nice. Lots of 185mm+ hubs have been literally exploding on the Fatbiking forums – i’m happy to have a time-tested hub spacing standard.
- Surly designed the Pugsley for 29+ clearance before 29+ tires existed. I can also run 26in fatbike wheels, 29er wheels, 27.5+ wheels, 700c wheels…
- Rack mounts, fork bottle bosses, track dropouts, an English-threaded BB, a 27.2 seatpost, and a standard 1 1/8″ headtube means I can really mess around with this frame. Thousands of compatible components, from almost three decades or more of manufacturing history. The frame is a beautiful blank canvas for amateur tinkering.
Glitter purple paint helps, too. Alright, I admit it, I’m smitten… but like any great relationship, it was always going to take work. If I was going to ride a Pugsley for 365 days out of the year, I needed to commit.
Enter the 29+ conversion, commonly referred to as the ‘Krampug!’
The Krampug is a Pugsley with 29+ wheels. You have to have a rear wheel built for the 17.5mm Pugsley offset, but otherwise, no modification is necessary. Your local bike shop’s most likely distributor, QBP, even carries 29+ wheels with the Pugsley offset- it’s a ‘feature’ the frame didn’t even know it featured, until the Surly Krampus was invented a few years back.
The 29+ Rabbit Hole wheelset takes the beautiful Maxxis Chronicle, and I’m really happy to have Maxxis tires underneath me again. Like all my other Maxxis rubber, the bead on these set flawlessly. After wrestling with a lot of other premium tires, this was a breath of fresh air.
A Krampug conversion gives me “summer wheels” and “winter wheels.” I have a fatbike when it’s snowing, and that lets me keep riding trails all year. In the summer, when the air is thick with vitality, I can liven up the Pugsley with 29+ wheels and tires and race around until January on something a little quicker.
So, what’s the current Pugsley (Krampug) loadout all about? Adventure!
I’m still running the 2-speed drivetrain. Lately, I am slamming almost all of my local climbs in the ‘big’ gear, 31/18. That said, it is really nice to have the 24/25 climbing gear when I’m pushing a full bikepacking setup, or when I’m looking to climb a really mean set of hills. It’s a great drivetrain, if you have masochistic tendencies and are irrationally biased against complexity.
My wide handlebars got even wider. I had a 750mm Salsa Salt Flat bar, and upgraded to a Thomson titanium handlebar that I snagged off of eBay.
The Thomson bar (really, a work of art) only comes in at 730mm wide… but I wanted wider. I asked Parker at Laughing Dog if he knew of any solutions, and went ‘retro’ with some bar widening plugs.
Control Tech makes these. There’s an expander plug in the base, and the top sits relatively flush with the bar end. The result? An extra 40mm of width, for only 37g. That puts these bars at an obscene 770mm, with the plug hidden perfectly under my ESI grips.
You may have noticed a new lever on the bars. Don’t worry, that’s not a shifter- it’s a Gravity Dropper seatpost!
This thing is still very new, so I’ll probably have much more to say later on (good or bad).
I have really come to appreciate why a dropper post is standard for most mountain bikes these days. Ripping around in truly gnarly downhill sections at the freshly cleared Amethyst Brook/Robert Frost logging roads and the snowmobile trails criss-crossing Tim’s land drew a sharp lens on the usefulness of a dropper. Getting low, moving my hips around, and staying flexible when things get rough is a HUGE asset — and a lot of fun!
I love the dropper. There’s a ton of goofy utility that comes with it, too.
- Let shorter people try out your bike!
- Get really comfortable at stoplights!
- Practice your bunny hop!
- Get truly aero on road descents!
- Dismount easier when you’re carrying two fatbike wheels on your back!
The list goes on. I’m a fan. I’m not going to try to sell people on it for loaded bikepacking until after Iceland, but I can rest assured the GravityDropper’s all mechanical utilitarian design won’t fail on me in the middle of nowhere. And even if it does… it locks in the “UP” position.
I have over 125 miles on the Pugsley this past week alone. I cannot stop riding it. I’m so infatuated, it’s blinding me to any other hobbies and pursuits. And you know what? That’s okay!
It’s been a long year. It’s good to be back on a bike full-time. Trip reports incoming!