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.
The Pugsley in two acts this summer. Act I: I roll on 29 inch wheels down the AlCan Highway, and the upper half of the Great Divide to Colorado. Act II: I meet Lael and her “snowblind” white Pugsley in Colorado, and we bump along high mountain passes on the Colorado Trail to Durango, through the San Juan Mountains to Grand Junction, the Kokopelli Trail to Moab, and beyond. The AZT might be in the mix as well as some National Park visitation in the southwest.
The Pugsley is in transition at the moment, but I’m really enjoying this half-fat setup. Previously, I thought that a fat front tire was a nice way to modify an existing 29er to maximize it’s abilities and to taste the fatbike nectar. Now, I’m considering leaving mine this way. In the past, I’ve opted to use slightly larger tires in the front before to improve the comfort of the front end, but never this big. It would really soften the ride and would be plush on washboarded dirt roads and trails. Likely, I’ll drop in a 29in wheel and leave town on that, but Ive decided the half-fat ride is no compromise. It’s both fat and fast in the same bike.
Salsa Cowbell 3 bars are on order, as well as a Nitto M-18 (R-18 would work too) rack that will support a Carradice saddle bag. I’ve enjoyed using the Revelate Vischasa seatpack over the last few days, but the Carradice Camper is almost twice as big, and rides better when filled with heavy items.
Summer is winning the race with spring. Goose Lake is still frozen but reflects a lot of sunlight. If you stand with your face to the sun and you back to the painted white guard station, it’s about 80 degrees over there on a sunny spring afternoon. Stripping down to skivvies, but the lake is still frozen.