My buddies Abe and Chuck joined me today at a fun event at Surly Brewing. The bike maker by the same name (Surly) joined forces with the brewery for a fun little event called the Surly Masher. There was music, door prizes, silent auction, fat bike testing, and of course beer.
We arrived mid-way through the event, got a beer and checked out the silent auction tent. There was come really nice stuff up for auction, but we passed on that, and simply entered our names into the door prize drawing. From there we headed over to the test track to try a couple bikes. I tried two different Surly frames, the Ice Cream Truck and the Pugsly. This was the first time that I had tried a fat bike on snow, which was a totally different feel.
I tried the Ice Cream Truck first, and it was touted as a true mountain bike feel, with a lot of mobility and speed. I found that I was slipping and sliding a lot, and any time I fell off the side of the track I had a hard time getting back up without putting my foot down. It was a fun bike, and I could tell it had some speed, but it felt very difficult for me on thick snow. Then I tried the Pugsly and wow, what a difference. The Pugsly is a touring frame, so it’s longer from front to back. I found that the longer frame gave me a lot more confidence and capability on the course. I was able to pull myself out of ruts a LOT easier, and get myself back on course. Even though I doubt I could go as fast, or be as maneuverable, I felt like I was more stable and more comfortable.
This is all really useful information for me as I consider getting a fatty some day. I have no idea if Surly will be the brand that I choose, but getting some time on the two different types of frames gives me a lot of valuable information. I’m going to start looking at frame length from now on, and lean myself more towards a longer frame in deciding what I test ride.
After some rides we had one more beer and headed out. It was a lot of fun, and I’m thrilled to have gotten the chance to check out a different fat bike brand in real conditions on snow and bumps. As with most equipment, real world experience it invaluable.