Monday, June 4, 2012

Let me introduce you to my corpulent friend

The fatbike with the schizophrenic name: a 2012 Surly Necromancer or Neck Romancer or Black Ops Pugsley.
Welcome to Fatville. Population: me. Lest anyone think that my new position as an Assistant Professor means that I am somehow above embracing strange bikes with odd names, I have brought a fatbike with a goofy moniker into the household.

This is perhaps one of the longest contemplations of a purchase I've ever made. I've been weighing acquisition of a fatbike since I first saw a custom Iditabike at the now defunct Denver Mountain Bike Specialists in about 1989. A custom bike of that sort was out of the question, but my fatbike interest was rekindled when I first saw an original purple Pugsley about the time my oldest daughter was born, nearly seven years ago. Since then, I haven't been able to get schemes involving fat rubber off my mind. This smoldering ember grew in intensity, no doubt fostered by such possibly unsavory online characters as this guy, and this guy, and this guy, and this gal, and foolhardy adventures that will undoubtedly spawn legends in future generations, such as this and this.
The frame is a 20 inch, in case you're wondering.
The Surly Larry 3.8 tire mounted on 82mm Surly Rolling Darryl rims is about as wide as my hand.
After all these years, there was no more containing it. The dam has broken and I now have a fatbike of my own. It's still quite new and the reality is sinking in, but preliminary plans for adventures are starting to gel. In the mean time, much tinkering and fiddling await me...
The Pug came equipped with new, oldfangled top mount thumb shifters, reminiscent of my many bikes with circa 1989 equivalents. I'm glad to see a new model of this great design back in the public eye, as there is no better, more simple way to shift.
A Larry 3.8 with plenty of room to spare in the Moonlander fork.
A Mister Whirly Offset Double (MWOD) crankset allows for some mighty fat rubber. Crank Brothers 50/50 pedals are nice and big platforms.
The unholy Rolling Darryl on the rear end is laced using only the drive side holes.
Scout knows what this bike is capable of doing. She's already daydreaming about how she'll run alongside it, over the mountains and far away.


  1. Right On!!! Not sure what rationale you used to justify the purchase (we bike nerds are a creative bunch if nothing else), but I'm thinking that the crazy number of hours at insane hours of the day spent staring at a monitor while composing your dissertation more than qualifies you for a reward of this caliber. Whatever the case, so rad that you pulled the trigger. I hear you about not quite knowing what you've gotten yourself into (I'm still not sure myself), but in the meantime, isn't it a totally unique experience looking over your handlebars at that massive piece of rubber rolling over everything in it's path. What a great surprise to read this post . . . wishing you all kinds of fun.

  2. When you have as many bikes as I do, rationale for another acquisition is required to take as many twists and turns as a roller coaster. You did nail the dissertation process as a prime excuse. In addition, the realization that there's a lot I'd like to do bike-wise and that the bikes I have, mostly fondly tinkered relics of the '80s, may not be up for the challenges in mind. I've begun to experience the view from behind that massive rolling rubber, and I like it.

  3. how tall are you? I'm looking at a necromancer in the same size. Just hoping it fits me. I'm 6' 2"

  4. Matt, I'm about 6'1.5" in my bare feet, with an 89 cm PBH measurement (via the Rivendell method:

    My 20 inch NecroPug seems to fit me pretty well. The top tube length is comfortable with the stock Salsa Moto Ace bars and the 110mm reach stem. I've lowered the stem a bit since the photos above. There's plenty of stand over room, maybe even bordering on too much for my taste, but I acclimated to bike sizing in the era when frames were fitted larger than they are now. I ride a 22" Big Dummy and many of my other bikes are in 22" or XL territory. I feel as though I'm somewhere between the 20 and 22 sizes in the Surly sizing world.

    Ideally, I would have ridden both a 20 and 22 before I got the bike, but as you likely know, it's difficult to find bikes to test. I rode and liked a 20" Ogre, of which most of the measurements are the same as the Pug, and the rolling diameter of the tires are about the same. I went with the 20" size because of the way I envisioned I'd use the bike, thinking about clearance and maneuvering in soft snow and riding off road, etc. I think I would have been just as fine with a 22, but the slightly smaller bike does seem to handle nicely in the dirt. Haven't had it long enough for snow, so we'll see.

    If your leg and torso dimensions are similar to mine, and if you lean toward smaller, more maneuverable frames, the 20 may be a good choice. If you have a longer torso, or are thinking about using it in ways where nimble handling doesn't matter as much, the 22 may be better. With the lower top tube as compared to the previous Pug design, unless you have really short legs for your height, stand over shouldn't be a problem with either size. I hope this is of some help for you. I'd be interested in what you decide.

    1. Andy -

      Thanks for the reply, very informative!!! I chose the 20", and should be assembled and ready to ride by tuesday. Already contemplating upgrades, and future endeavors. I'll let you know how it works for me. The only question I have right now is I'm wondering how the Surly Nate and Larry will role on pavement. This my first fat bike, where I normally ride a LHT. Thanks again

  5. Andy -

    Just picked up my 20" 2013 Surly Necromancer. The 20" frame fit perfectly, and I can see how this will quickly become my go to bike. I was lucky to find out that the 2013 comes with the rolling Darryl rims with cut outs. Not sure if I received this on accident, but I'm not complaining! The Surly Larry and Nate compliment each other nicely. I ended up upgrading the grips to Ergon gs1. Left the rest stock, and I'm quite happy! Thanks again for he frame advice.

    1. Good score on the new bike, Matt. The holey Darryls and the Nate sound like a nice upgrade from the '12 model. I'm going to be seeking out a toothier rear tire before long, and it's good to hear that the Nate works well with Larry. I went with Ergons, too. They are probably the quickest way to make any bike a little nicer.

      Enjoy the ride!