Blog 12-08-23

People, and society in general, do strange things. We put on special clothing to go swimming, which then gets wet. What? We eat more food than is healthy for us and end up with 2/3rd’s of the UK population overweight. Duh! We build houses on fertile productive farmland thus reducing our ability to grow our own food. Crazy! We are required to wear clothing in public because our natural state is somehow offensive. Really? But some people build brightly coloured single speed fat bikes. Cool! No, very cool! What a strange world we live in. Now the post.

Making good progress with the Surly Pugsley single speed project. And, as you can see from the above, it has turned out rather colourful. Yes, somewhat over-the-top but I was using up any remaining spray paint left over from the previous two projects. Used more magenta and white paint than I would have liked but waste not want not. Should show up nicely when I make some fat biking videos in the sand dunes at the coast, hopefully, before runaway climate change reduces the Earth to a desert planet like Arrakis in Dune, complete with giant sandworms!

With the wheels out at the bike shop for building, it was time to re-assemble the bike. First component to install was the headset which in turn allows the forks, handlebar stem and spacers to be installed. Next comes the handlebars with brake levers, grips and bell all added in turn. Then onto the frame, with the bottom bracket, brake callipers and brake cables, seat stem and saddle. Finally, at least for this stage of the build, both mudguards, or fenders, were installed. This leaves the crank set, pedals and chain but those will be done after the wheels are mounted. This is mainly because it’s difficult to store the bike on the bench meantime.

Once I get the wheels back from BG Cycles in Portobello, dual rim tapes, tubes and tyres will need installed, along with the brake rotors and freewheel in the rear wheel. Once everything is installed, all components will be checked and torqued to the correct settings, the steering will need a final alignment, chain tensioned and brakes adjusted. I’m also keen to see what the final weigh-in will produce. Hoping for something around 13kg without the mudguards will add to that. Once complete, I’ll do a quick road test around the block then check everything again.

There is also an unknown factor I’m hoping will not be an issue. The new tyres are Schwalbe 26″ x 4.00″ Jumbo Jims, slightly larger than my previous Surly Larry 26″ x 3.80″ tyres and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be enough clearance with the mudguards fitted. Research online suggests they should be fine but I won’t be sure until actually fitting them. Fingers crossed. If they are an issue, I can always remove the mudguards and just put up with a wet bum!

There also a much bigger unknown and that is, will the Surly Pugsley fat bike actually be practical or usable as a single speed? Now, riding a fat bike on soft terrain like dry sand at the coast is hard work at the best of times, even with gears. Though when the sand is compacted it’s just like any other bike and can simply fly along. Part of this is deciding on the ideal gear ratio which will always be something of a compromise. Too high a gear and you will struggle in the steeper areas, too low a gear and you will spin-out when pedalling on the flats or downhills. Of course, you can simply get off and walk on the steep parts and chill out and enjoy the ride on the downs and flats. I’ll start with 32T front along with 20T freewheel on the rear and see how those fairs.

Saving weight was a big part of this project. The Pugsley weighed in at 17.60 kg naked, that’s without frame or handlebar bags, rear rack, etc and initially I thought that 15.00 kg might been good target weight to aim for, however, calculations reveal that 13 kg might actually be possible, which is fantastic. Saving weight isn’t just to make the bike easier to ride, it’s also to help save me getting back ache when manhandling the bike, something that is unavoidable when making videos. There’s a lot of stopping and starting when filming, setting up or packing away the camera, and so on. All taking a toll on my poor old back. So, anything that alleviates that is welcome. More soon.

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