Personal setups » Outsider’s snow bike setup.
I bought a fat bike last fall (2010), inspired by many ride reports and epic trips from Alaska. In addition to pure winter use, I also intended to see if it would be a good alternative for multi-day trips during the summer on technical/rocky/rooty trails. As it turned out, the winter was an exceptionally cold and long one, and I really got to do a few very interesting tours with it.
At the same time as I was contemplating the matter, Salsa came out with their first fatbike, the Mukluk. It had almost everything going for it: the design, geometry and price point. My LBS and at the same time the local Salsa importer quickly found out that there was virtually no chance of getting one to Europe before the winter was over, though. I started looking at other alternatives, and the 9:Zero:7 would probably have been my first alternative unless I had started thinking about using an internal gear hub (IGH). Hence, the only (?) alternative left was the Surly Pugsey. My LBS ordered the frameset for me at the end of August and less than three weeks later it arrived. Another month went by sourcing the necessary components, but I still had it built up in good time before the winter. Before the winter arrived in the latter half of November, I had plenty of time to try it on ordinary singletrack. I liked it.
I equipped the Pugsley with a frame bag, light rear and front racks and fork mounted bottle cages. On the racks I used ordinary light drysacks. In cold weather I used a pair of cheap pogies (made for snowmobile use), which worked very well. The Pugsley was ready for bikepacking and proved its worth already in the end of November in real winter conditions. The winter was cold with lots of snow, making riding anything other than a fatbike very difficult.
Riding the very narrow and soft trails during the winter was often quite challenging, but still possible. The bike worked well and the Alfine 8 IGH was a good choice in the conditions. Packing the bike with more gear worked well, and there should be no problem getting the gear for a week to fit without having to resort to a backpack.
At the end of March, the crust was just strong enough in open places to ride on with fat tires. This opened up the possibility to ride on bogs that usually are unaccessible and I had two really nice overnighters in these conditions.
The bike itself is a lot heavier than an ordinary bike, partly due to the fat tires and rims and partly due to the IGH. The weight can be felt in some circumstances, as can the rolling resistance of the wide tires on hard surfaces, but generally the bike moves a lot easier than would appear from the looks of it. Despite the heavy bike, I still strive to use lightweight gear with it. A little more about the outdoor gear can be found in the post about my Salsa Fargo.
I have plans to put it through a real test this summer as well. A fatbike is not only for snow!