Half-fat and baby fat

I’m half-fat with a 26 x 3.7″ Surly Larry tire up front and a 29 x 2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple in the rear.  A 29 inch wheel is a great way to optimize a fatbike for summer singletrack, touring, or pavement.  Half-fat is my half-baked idea of a bike that can go anywhere, but doesn’t ride like a tank.  Half-fat: not half bad.

The simple and cheap option to refit a fatbike for general use is to select a high volume 26″ tire such as the Maxxis Hookworm 2.5 or Holy Roller 2.4; Schwalbe Big Apple or Fat Frank 2.35; and a host of other 2.3-2.4″ tires from WTB, Specialized, Kenda, and others.  These tires mount nicely to a 65mm rim such as the Large Marge, but may be unworkable on anything wider.  While the bottom bracket of the Pugsley is lowered over an inch, the height measures about the same as the Surly Long Haul Trucker and pedal strike is not a serious concern when cornering.  For less than a hundred bucks, the bike is transformed with a fast rolling, durable, all around tire.  The Maxxis Holy Roller 26 x 2.4 does the job on Lael’s Pugsley.  Baby fat.  Holy roller.

14 thoughts on “Half-fat and baby fat

    • I’d have liked some 26×2.35 Schwalbe Fat Franks. I love the Apples, but there’s not much rubber there. The Frank has just a little bit more material. The Holy Rollers roll nice as well, which is what I always hear from people that have switched from more aggressive mtb tires. They have lots of rubber, so should be long wearing and would bite better in the dirt than the Frank. Overall, they roll well with a little noise as they are about 50/50 positive/negative tread.

      I’m diggin your Big Donkey.

  1. I’m curious to know if there is any possible chance I could fit the Marge Lite / Big Apple 2.35 combo on my Surly Troll…
    Do you know the total (width) measurement of the tire mounted and inflated on that rim?

  2. Really intriguing and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Just spent the winter traveling in a rebuilt/modernized 84 VW Camper. My wife and I each had one bike with two wheel sets, and enjoyed day rides on and off road. While I enjoyed my Ogre, there was a lot of terrain in the Southwest that had me wishing for bigger footprint than 2.35 on Dually’s.

    Picked up a Pugsley Ops on the way home to AK as a way to explore this. Wow. Having tons of fun on the Nates, and have just gotten all the components for a 29+ wheel set as well.

    Your rear wheel on your half-fat setup has me curious. Practically speaking, we can only carry one bike apiece traveling with the van, but sneaking another wheel set on is doable, I mounted 41c Knaards on the stock rims for the Ogre, and would like to have a similar setup for the Pugs. The combo makes for a very fast and enjoyable urban and gravel ride.

    How did the Salsa Semi handle the Pugsley offset? Went to the Salsa website, and don’t see them listed this year, but could probably run some down somewhere. I recently saw a post on MTBR where someone planned a similar wheel set with a Velocity Synergy, but don’t know how that turned out.

    Thanks for breaking ground and showing us what is possible.

    • If building another wheelset for the Pugsley, the best option is the Velocity Synergy O/C. This version of their 24mm rim has offset spoke holes, about 4mm to the side. Actually, when built to a cassette-style rear hub, the resultant wheel has very good tension. Since you have a symmetrical front end, you can choose any rim you want. I’d recommend a tubeless ready rim, from Stans, WTB, etc.

      I built some wheels like this for Joe Cruz: https://gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/joes-wheels-29-wheels-for-surly-pugsley/

      For your purposes, the front wheel will look much better than his. Using a Surly SS 135mm hub to an offset fork leads to a challenging wheel build.

      The Salsa rim I used was nothing special, was not drilled offset, and is no longer available, officially. The only other offset drilled rims that I know of are the Surly Rabbit Hole (50mm wide) and several option from Bontrager, that only seem to be available as complete wheels. Too bad, those may be the best option.

      • Again, thanks for breaking ground. Exploring this concept of a do-it-all bike has seen me nearly thrown out of bike shops all across the American West. After liking the Ogre, but wanting wider rubber, I was searching for an ECR or Krampus to actually test. Started to feel like Don Quixote on his fruitless quest, but quickly found that my wife resented being compared to Sancho Panza.

        Really, the average bike shop looked at me like i’m crazy, and when I tried to point out the limits of traveling in a VW Van with wife, two labradors, kayaks, and skis, I have been told that I just need to buy a trailer for the many different bikes that we need. Lucky they didn’t have me committed (yet).

        Will give the Synergy a go.

        If you guys ever end up in SE AK on you journeys, give a shout. Can offer a dry haven, a Park Stand, and local knowledge.


        • Kevin, That’s the reason I started working on bikes, partly. And now, I am working in shops, but if you had come in to my shop I would have sold you an offset wheelset or an ECR or Krampus. Most shops do easy business with easy customers who want things that they typically stock.

          The Synergy rims are a good choice. Look into the SRAM X7 hub for an inexpensive sealed bearing hub.

  3. Pingback: Advocate Hayduke in Baja California | lael's globe of adventure

  4. I have a new Troll with Surly Rabbit Hole/Dirt Wizard wheels and it lacks in snap it more than makes up for in stability and rolling-over-everythingness.

    I’m considering a different tire choice since i ride on a lot of pavement and hardpack; Surly Extra Terrestrial 2.5 or Maxxis Hookworm 2.5. I’d hate to kill an expensive tire (the Dirt Wizard 120 tpi) that isn’t meant for where I ride 80% of the time.

    I’ll remount the Dirt Wizard for my Burning Man and Great Divide trip this summer/autumn (I’m only home for a day or two between the trips).

    • Sounds like a good plan. Both the Hookworma and Surly ET are heavy, but durable tires. Check out the Schwalbe Big Apple/Super Moto/Fat Frank/Big Ben for something a little more comfortable. Maxxis Holy Roller or Kenda K-Rad also come in some large sizes, might be a little lighter and more cushioned than the others.

      • The ETs are working out nicely. I was skeptical at first of their durability and all purpose grip, but either I’ve just gotten used to them or they’re stellar.
        I’m OK with a heavier tire if it is more durable and roll-over-everything-able.
        If I were FINALLY going to finish the GDMTBR I would run a new ET in the rear and a WTB Ranger 3.0 in the front and not worry about anything.

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