Surly Wednesday Review: Sun, sand & snow in New Mexico

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Sibling to both the classic Pugsley and the goliath Ice Cream Truck, the Wednesday is Surly’s latest addition to its fleet of fat bikes – or Omniterras, as it prefers to call them. Over the last couple of months, we’ve taken one bikepacking, snow riding, and arroyo exploring around the high desert of northern New Mexico.

Amongst long distance ‘fatpackers’, the venerable Surly Pugsley has always been a favourite, thanks largely to an offset frame, and its resulting ability to run a 135mm rear hub – neatly circumventing chainline issues that arise from sporting such wide tires. Yes, it’s a pain to adjust brake pads, but that 135m hub bodes well for backcountry repairs, and there are few places in the world where one can’t be sourced. I count myself amongst its fans, having ridden my own Pugsley from Patagonia to Peru.

Fast forward almost a decade, and the fat biking arena has changed considerably since the Pugsley first came into the world. Now symmetrical frames are the norm and 170/177mm hubs are relatively prevalent – there’s even an XL Rohloff available too. And while you’re still unlikely to unearth them in the more remote bike shops of our planet, given the recent fat bike explosion, there’s a greater choice of specialist fat bike components available than ever before.

Enter the Wednesday, Surly’s latest all purpose Omniterra, a contemporary – dare I say it – reinvention of the Pugsley. Which is not to say it’s replacing it, at least for now. In fact, the two bikes are distinctly different, a point Surly is keen to emphasise, for reasons that should become clear below. Nevertheless, if it’s a fat bike capable of both overseas odysseys and local explorations that you seek, chances are both will feature on your list of contenders. Especially given that the Wednesday rings in at just $1500 – leaving enough change in your pocket to go traveling.

Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

So what else sets them apart? For a start, the Wednesday is noticeably more light footed than its older brother. Surly’s marketing talk suggests its character lies somewhere between that of the Pugsley, and its big bruiser of a sibling, the Ice Cream Truck. I’d agree; its internal routing for a dropper post certainly hints at a more playful nature than the Pugs. In fact, it could even be that its the nimblest of the three, given its short chainstays and relatively modest weight. Certainly, I never struggled to keep up with the fat bike clan I regularly ride with, several of whom own ICTs.

Ballast it with bikepacking bags and a couple of days of food, and the Wednesday takes on more responsible trail manners. During a three day trip to the Jemez Mountains, I found it struck a pleasing balance between out and out fun, and long distance comfort. By way of comparison, I’ve always felt my Pugsley had a somewhat methodical feel to its handling (no bad thing when pedaling day upon day in the backcountry), though I’d also stress that with the right ‘body english’, it never failed to get me where I needed, with no shortage of smiles either.

Another clue to the Wednesday’s penchant for trails is its readiness to run a 100mm suspension fork. Doing so will slacken the head angle by a degree (69 to 68) adding another notch to its off road prowess. As a committed overseas bikepacker, I’ve weened myself off suspension in the interests of simplicity, so it’s probably not an avenue I’d explore. This said, every Bluto-owning friend sings their praises, despite the once prevalent view that dampened suspension has no place on fat bikes. Same goes with dropper posts. I’ve never really needed one when I go bikepacking, but I can see their benefits when I’m riding local trails.

Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

On a general note, fat bikes bring back a sense of pioneering exploration to mountain biking. They eschew the goal of covering vast distances at great speed (though with the right legs and mentality, they’re certainly capable of it). Rather, fat bikes are about the way in which you choose to see the world. It’s this feeling of off grid potential that makes them such refreshing bikepacking rigs.

The Wednesday proved to be no different. It opened up a whole host of new riding textures, from snowy escapes on familiar trails, to arroyo explorations I’d never have considered otherwise. It even made riding across soft sand relatively enjoyable, yet was as fun to rail round singletrack as any other bike.

The New Mexican desert is laced with rock strewn jeep tracks; as with my Pugsley, I’ll admit to savouring the sense of invincibility that coursing through my veins when at its helm. Indeed, the Wednesday tore through rock gardens with enviable nonchalance, and its oversized tires bit deep into the earth, winching me up steep arroyo climbs. Most likely, it flattered my riding skills.

Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

As ever, the Wednesday uses 4130 ChroMoly steel, always reassuring for those planning on throwing the bike around, be it in a bike box or the roof of a bus. A look at the frame reveals the Wednesday to be a thoroughly modern bike in terms of ‘standards’, as shown by its symmetrical spacing, 44mm headset, 30.9 seat post and the use of front and rear thru-axles, rather than the 135mm hub spacing found on the Pugsley. This means that unless your spares box is unusually well stocked, you won’t be pillaging from it in quite the same way as with other Surlys.

As for designs, immediately noticeable is the lack of triangulation between the seat tube and top tube, typical to Surly mountain bikes over the last few years. The resulting seat tube is almost two inches shorter than a Pugsley, with a smaller internal frame space too. In other differences, the fork is shorter than on the ICT, balanced out by a headtube that’s a touch longer. Incidentally, both Schmidt and SP now make dynamo hubs that will fit its 150mm tru-axle spacing.

Both bikes sport a longer, more low slung stance than the Pugsley, and offer increased standover clearance. This may be good news for shorter riders, but as someone with long, lanky legs, it meant stacking up headset spacers like casino chips to get a multi-day riding position I was happy with. Surly even suggest riser bars for taller folk.

  • 5E1A6206
  • 5E1A6201
  • 5E1A5695

The good news for bikepackers of any height is that Surly haven’t skimped on braze-ons. There’s provision for front and rear racks, mounts on the fork blades for Anything Cages, and water bottle eyelets under the downtube, a much maligned oversight on the company’s other fat bikes. This is especially pleasing given how well such steeds lend themselves to desert exploration. Of course, I’d have welcomed the capablity to fit an Anything Cage under the downtube too. Although this would have worked fine on my XL frame, I expect there might be clearance issues on smaller models, especially when running a suspension fork.

Like the Pugsley, the Wednesday features the Breezer-style, rear facing slotted dropouts, except that nifty Adaptor Washers allow the use of quick release hubs too. Granted, slotted dropouts are a fiddlier way to tension a chain for singlespeeding than an eccentric bottom bracket. But they’re also simple, reliable, foolproof and help keep costs to a minimum. If you’re running thru-axles (as the bike comes) there’s a slot that allows the wheel to be removed vertically. Aside from singlespeeding, horizontal slots open up the Wednesday to running a Speedhub XL, making for a relatively affordable Rohloff build; we’d recommend the bolt-on (TS) axle version, to prevent any chance of the wheel shifting in the dropout, teamed with one of Cycle Monkey’s Monkey Bones to anchor the hub.

I won’t dwell on weight, as most people considering steel fatbikes aren’t likely to be overly obsessed by shaving grams; still, it’s good to know that the Wednesday tips the scales at only a smidgeon heavier than a Pugsley despite its beefier tubing, and it’s almost a pound lighter than an Ice Cream Truck.

Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

Unlike the ICT, I should also point out that the Wednesday is ‘limited’ to 4.6in tires (though given the general jump in tire sizes from 3.8 to 4.8 inches, it’s perhaps more accurate to say it fits a 4in tire with bags of mud clearance to spare). Prior to living in New Mexico, I could never quite fathom the need for anything wider. Now that I’m here, I can certainly see that they have their place. I can also imagine certain bikepacking adventures where they’d be of real benefit.

Does a 5in tire offer enough of an advantage to merit choosing a frame with larger clearances, even at the expense of increased weight and a wider, non-threaded bottom bracket? This really depends on where you aspire to spend most of your time. For sand and snow, certainly. But as a Middle Way (when it comes to fat biking, at least), a quality 4in tire on a 80mm rim feels capable enough for the majority of off grid conundrums you might encounter. If you’re feeling left out, at least you run a 5in tire up front. And perhaps most importantly, the Wednesday fits 29+ rubber, adding greatly to its versatility, especially if you fancy loping along at higher speeds.

Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

Onto parts. During my time with the Wednesday, everything worked just fine. Which is what I’d expect: new bikes always tend to feel pretty good. My only issue was needing to straighten out a bent derailleur, and that was user error more than anything; the result of an extend hike a bike across deadfall in the Jemez.

I can’t say I’m especially familiar with Sram’s budget offerings. Although the Wednesday’s X5 shifters clunked through the gears just fine, they’re not the most comfortable shifters to use. Also, I favour a Shimano-compatible drivetrain (like Surly’s OD) simply because I’ve never had any issue finding Big S bottom brackets anywhere I’ve traveled. The same cannot be said of Sram, despite it’s popularity here. Still, it’s no biggie. Just pack a spare BB with you, they’re light enough. As a personal preference, I’d have preferred the burlier Microshift thumbies found on the ICT Ops, which have a crisper feel to them. Initially I grumbled about the Wednesday’s Hayes mechanical disc brakes. But once they bedded in, I soon forgot about my initial suspicions.

All this said, while its finishing kit can hardly be described as boutique, I wasn’t rushing to swap anything out, except for the 11 degree straight bars that it wields like a quarterstaff. Recently, I’ve become so accustomed to generous arc of Jeff Jones’ Loop H-Bars that anything else makes my elbows stick out like chicken wings. I also fitted a stem with more rise, cranking up my bars to a position more conducive to long distance bikepacking.

Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

I was especially impressed with Surly’s 3.8in Nates, tires that performed incredibly well in both snow and sand. As a tread to start with, they certainly bring out the best in the Wednesday, although on the flipside, they wouldn’t be my choice on a trip with extended hardpack or pavement. Note that my test rig came with the 120tpi versions, while standard production bikes ship with the heavier 27tpi ones. Not that I’d consider this an issue; I’ve always found the 27tpis less prone to sidewall nicks, always welcome in a tubeless setup.

On that front, there’s good news to report. Surly’s brand new My Other Brother Daryl tubeless-ready rims converted easily and without issue. No problems running them at low pressures either. A special rim kit is apparently due out, though a couple of rounds of Gorilla Tape works just fine too.

As for hubs, the Formula 150 and 177 used on the stock build are something of an unknown quantity, longterm wise at least. But it’s good to know they use cartridge bearings, and the freehub body is Shimano compatible.

  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking
  • Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

Pros

  • Handling that strikes a balance suited to both engaging singletrack, and loaded bikepacking.
  • Provision for suspension fork and dropper post means no compromise mountain biking!
  • The price: a very accomplished bike for the money. 

Cons

  • Somewhat basic components (though they actually work fine).
  • Low front end means tall riders may need riser bars.

Build Kit

  • FRAME Surly Wednesday, 4130 CroMoly steel. Double-butted main triangle.
  • FORK Surly Wednesday, 150mm x 15mm thru axle dropouts.
  • SEAT COLLAR Surly Constrictor, 33.1mm
  • HEADSET Cane Creek 10
  • STEM H.L., 31.8mm, 80mm
  • HANDLEBAR Primatec SM
  • BRAKES Hayes MX Comp, V-Series 160mm rotors front & rear
  • SHIFTER SRAM X5, trigger shifter
  • REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM X5
  • CRANKS & CHAINRINGS Truvativ X5, 22/34t
  • BOTTOM BRACKET Surly Threaded BB
  • CASSETTE Microshift H100, 11-36t, 10-speed
  • CHAIN KMC X10
  • FRONT Formula 150 x 15mm thru-axle, 32h
  • REAR Formula 177 x 12mm thru-axle, 32h
  • SPOKES DT Swiss Comp, 14g/15g Black
  • RIMS Surly My Other Brother Darryl, 80mm w/speedholes
  • TIRES Surly Nate 26 x 3.8˝, 27tpi
  • SEATPOST Kalloy SP-342, 30.9mm.
  • SADDLE Velo VL2155, steel rails.
  • WATER BOTTLE MOUNTS 1 inside XS-MD frames, 2 for L-XXL, 1 below down tube
  • RACK MOUNTS Front and rear rack mounts, triple fork cage mounts
  • EXTRAS 177x12mm thru-axles or 170 x 10mm QR axles dropout

Surly Wednesday Review, Bikepacking

Wrap Up

Like most Surlys, the Wednesday encourages reinvention. Even in its fully rigid guise, it’s a blast to ride, while its ability to run a suspension fork and dropper post guarantee no compromise mountain biking potential too. Of more interest to bikepackers are the plethora of braze-ons and eyelets with which its endowed, ensuring the Wednesday’s a very capable travel steed too.

As a tall rider who favours an upright riding position – especially for bikepacking – I’d have preferred the frame to have had a longer headtube and a little less standover, creating more internal frame bag space, and helping hide the ungainliness of an uncut fork. But a part of that is aesthetics. Once I had my set up dialled, I was happy. And besides, the extra standover is likely welcome when running a suspension fork.

Yes, the finishing kit is basic. Yet despite my initial concerns, nothing felt immediately lacking out of the box, except those undeviating handlebars – and that’s very much down to personal taste. A part of me would have preferred the Wednesday to feature Avid BB7s and Microshift thumb shifters, and have cost a little more. But I also appreciate how inclusive it is financially. And besides, you can never please everyone.

Would I choose the Wednesday over a Pugsley for a long distance, overseas adventure? Probably, unless I was especially prone to gear misfortune, or heading into the sticks for an undisclosed period of time (ironically, there’s such a stockpile of 135mm hubs, that the Pugs is arguably more futureproofed given ever changing ‘standards’). Rebuild the Wednesday’s rear wheel with a Rohloff XL and the answer is a definite yes. For explorations that focus on sand and snow, a frame with clearances for 5in tires and 100mm rims will likely make a more suitable investment. But for those on a budget, or anyone who desiring a single bike that will do just about anything you care to throw at it, the Wednesday is undoubtedly $1500 very well spent.

  • Size Tested Extra Large
  • Sizes Available XS-XL
  • Weight (as tested) 34.23lbs/15.5kg (with 120tpi tires)
  • Price $1,500
  • Contact Surly
  • Recommended Uses Off grid bikepacking, trail riding, winter escapades and arroyo exploring

Rider’s Background

I’ve been embarking regularly on two-wheeled explorations for the last 18 years. Most recently, I connected the length of the Americas via the road less traveled, and traversed Mongolia. Given my love for mountain biking and touring, my ideal journey fuses the two, keeping to quiet dirt roads and singletrack where possible.

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 165 lbs
Inseam: 35”

Disclosure

The Wednesday was loaned to me for two months, for the purpose of this review.

Tags

  • Joe Newton

    That’s it, the search for a new fatbike is over. So many boxes ticked in such a great value package. It’s almost like Surly are the only company to remember what fatbiking is all about, while the rest of the industry ruins the fatbike platform with press-fit bottom brackets, carbon fibre and vanishing braze-ons.

    How tall are you, Cass?

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s certainly a fun bike to ride, and typically Surly in its versatility.Parts wise, it’s a little rough round the edges, but as you say, hard to complain given the $$$.

    I’m 6’1″ but have long legs and tend to run my saddle high. Over the years, I’ve had both L and XL Surlys – more recently, I’ve been opting for larger framebag space at the expense of handling. Personally, I think the XL rides great, but a lot of people my height could make the L work too.

  • Joe Newton

    Cheers Cass. I’d look to upgrade a few key parts right from the start (Loop bars and a dyno hub). I’m 6’1/2″ with long legs, so I might opt for the XL too, for the reasons you pointed out. At the moment I ride a Large Mukluk with a couple of spacers under the steam and a fair bit of seat post. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Steve

    Just curious what your top of saddle to center of bottom bracket height is?

  • Rob Grey

    while i haven’t felt the need for a fatbike, ever, i have ridden a friend’s pugs this past fall and it was better than i thought it would be. it was actually really fun. my wife borrowed it, and as a novice trail rider, was able to smash her way through some very technical east coast singletrack with relative ease. big rubber, big confidence. if i were ever to need super fat tires, it may well be the wednesday that i choose.

    also, i have the hayes mechanicals on my cx bike, and they are perfectly adequate. my only gripe is how fast i wear them out, and the price of replacement pads. c’est la vie.

  • Cass Gilbert

    It’s around 82.5cm with 175mm cranks, depending on platform pedals/spd/shoes.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Hi Rob,

    Yes, I agree, fat bikes are definitely confidence inspiring. If you’re strong enough to handle the extra weight (or just happy to go slower), they’re great for novice riders.

    Thanks for the feedback on the Hayes mechanicals.

  • Laird Thornton

    Great seeing New Mexico get so much love!

    This state has so many fun, hidden, charming places to go. Cant wait to do more exploring this year. :)

  • Steve

    wow, so you must have like a 35-36 inch inseam? I usually set my seat height to 30.5 inches (about 77.5cm) and I am also 6’1″

  • mikeetheviking

    Great review. This bike looks like good bang for the buck.

  • Cosmas Manios

    Great write up and awesome shots as usual. I’ve lusted over this bike ever since it was announced. In the build kit section, the Wednesday’s rear end is actually 177×12 if you want to update the ‘Rear’ and ‘Extras’ section.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Ah – seems like my changes didn’t save from the ICT template I imported. Will sort it out shortly!

  • Cass Gilbert

    Thanks. Went for a quick spin around my local (snow covered) trails after posting this review. Came back smiling!

  • Cass Gilbert

    I can’t get enough of those Jones bars…

  • Cass Gilbert

    Yes, my inseam is a little over 35in. Giraffe legs!

  • Aurora

    Thanks Cass! This is an awesome write-up! I bought the Wednesday with hopes to do some international, off-the-grid travel (and – something affordable!) – so this is reassuring/inspiring to read.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Sounds like you have a plan!

    As I mentioned in my review, perhaps pack a spare Sram BB. Depends where you’re headed of course, but in South America, I had trouble tracking them down. And some brake pads too; not sure sure how popular Hayes is.

    Have fun!

  • Cass Gilbert

    That’s New Mexico. Hidden little gems…

  • http://www.hikeventures.com/ HikeVentures

    I have the Surly disc Trucker … has anyone used it with fat tires?

  • Jay Connolly

    Cass, I’m also tall (33.5″ center-of-BB to saddle-top) and riding an XL Wednesday. I experimented with setup and arrived at Jones Loop 710 bars, 100mm/30-degree Ritchey stem, and 25mm setback seat post. This allowed me to take an inch off the steerer and still have the bars only about an inch down from the saddle. The reach on the Wednesday is about 5mm longer than on the 22L ICT Ops, which was what finally settled me on the Wednesday. I came from an XL Fargo, which I used to (slowly) ride most of the GDMBR last summer, and I find the Wednesday a fantastic fit. For whatever geometrical reason, I have been surprised to find that, for me, it’s also a better climber. The XL frame bag from the Fargo fits acceptably, and all my bike packing gear will work on the bike. I sold the Fargo and I’m leaning toward making the Wednesday my bike packing rig. My only concern is that I’m 250 pounds and single-wall rims and wide hubs make me a little nervous. I’m not particularly hard on equipment, but I’ve read enough about failed fat bike hubs to have registered it as a concern.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Truckers max out at 2.1″ tires for the 26er and 45mm for the 700c.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Thanks for the feedback!

    I’m 165lbs in weight, but I’ve done a done a tonne of loaded, off road touring on my Pugsley with Marge Lites. At first I was a little concerned as well, given they’re single wall. But my reasoning is that fat tires go a long way in protecting rims, given the volume and lower tire pressures. The same rims are still going strong. I haven’t had nearly as much mileage on My Other Brother Darryls, but I can’t see them being any less stout.

    The formula hubs are a more unknown quantity to me. I expect they’re fine, but only time will tell…

  • Dylan

    Hi there,

    I saw you mentioned dynamo hubs, any suggestion for a 142x15mm 28 spoke?

  • Cass Gilbert

    I’ve done a bit of research into this, to see if there’s a dynamo hub for a Jones Plus (142x15mm 32H). Sadly, it seems like there’s nothing to be found at the moment.

  • Christian

    Jay, I’m also no light-weighter and know from hard-earned experience that loaded off-road touring is incredibly hard on any bike. So, following advice from well-known wheel-builders in the US and Europe, I went on the safe side and built up my Pugsley with an old-school 36h double-wall Large Marge rear wheel (with Rohloff) and a 32h double-wall front wheel (to accommodate a SON charger hub). For the rear wheel, the 36 holes/ double wall really provides peace of mine for off-the-grid bikepacking (took forever to track down that rim…), but for the front, double wall may have been overkill.

    The Wednesday seems like an incredibly capable frame, well suited for bikepacking. But to me, I think it would be less than ideal. First of all, I have invested a fortune in the custom Pugs (!). Secondly, if you compare ‘effective top tube length’ and ‘reach’, for the Pugs and Wednesday, the latter is much more stretched out, following the current fashion. To be honest, the Pugs can be a bit tricky for mountainbiking, not least going downhill, where I’m sure the Wednesday will be much more sure footed. But for an upright position – which my lower back requires – the Pugs is great. I have the XL frame packed with spacers casino style and a 30 degree short stem holding a custom 28 degree riser bar from Watson cycles. This means that the bar is same height as the saddle. After a year of refinement, I now have the most comfortable bike I have ever sat on.

  • Jay Connolly

    Thanks, Christian. The Jones Loop bar brings the grips back to even with the steerer, so it’s plenty upright. That bar also provide a forward position that works well to move weight ahead for climbing or to deal with wind. If I want a consistently forward position, it takes only about 10 minutes to switch in a flat bar.

    The rear wheel solution sounds like a good one, and I may go that route. I would agree that it’s probably not necessary for the front end.

    I absolutely love the ride quality of the Wednesday, which is why I am thinking about using it for bike packing. I’m a little slower on the Weds and would probably lower my daily mileage expectations if I used it for long-distance bike packing. I have lots of parts on-hand, though, and I may well build up an Ogre or something similar.

  • Jay Connolly

    Thanks, Cass. Incidentally, I have to complement your photos. I’ve been through them about three times in an attempt to learn from them. Just fantastic.

    I’m using the Weds as my winter fitness bike and hitting all kinds of terrain, from technical winter trails to steep climbs on local logging roads to rail trail. So far, everything’s holding up just fine. I upgraded shifters and brakes (to be fair, my LBS set up the Hayes brakes so well that I probably didn’t need to . . . I just wanted to play with the new XT M8000s).

    Thanks again for the great review. I have been watching for something more in-depth on this bike.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Just to add. The formula hubs are have a Shimano-compatible freehub body, and are cartridge bearings rather than cup and cone. Good news in my books.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Christian,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    A short stem and Jones bar dialled in the right reach for me. This said, I agree, on paper, the Pugs is the more touring-friendly frame. It has more framebag space too. Those Watson bars look good.

    I used to think double rims were all important. But having put considerable mileage on my Marge Lites, most of it loaded and off road, I’m not so sure this applies as much to fatbikes. Marge Lites/Darryls help make beasts like the Wednesday or Pugsley feel a lot more peppy unladen. This said, peace of mind is never a bad thing…

    I wouldn’t personally invest in a 36H Rohloff, because 1/ built symmetrically, a 32H Rohloff is already super strong and 2/ if you need a mid journey repair (or recycle it into another build somewhere down the line), you’re limited to 36H rims, which can be really hard to come by. I know traditionally wheelbuilding wisdom favours 36H for touring – I just don’t think it’s needed for the Rohloff.

    As a side note, there’s another advantage that the Weds holds over the Pugs if you’re planning to run a Rohloff. The Pugs’ offset frame is great for building a strong rear wheel around on a normal hub, but compromises an internal hub build, as you lose that symmetrical strength.

    Lots of pros and cons, as always…

  • Christian

    You’re probably fine with the stock rims – at least for non-extreme use. Surly makes the material burlier where needed (around the spoke holes, I believe) in their single-wall rims. If you decide to go for a bomb-proof rear wheel with double wall rims, you could try to track down a used symmetrical Large Marge (not easy). Another option is Weimann that makes 32h/36h 65mm or 80mm double wall rims.

    For a faster bikepacking rig, you could also make a 27,5+ or a 29+ wheelset. Or you could use 26+ tires if you build up a new wheel with a 65mm rim. I used Knards size 26×3″ on my Pugsley on a trip across Iceland on gravel roads and tracks a few months back and managed to keep up with my companion using 29×2.4″. I had a few extra pedal strokes due to the lower BB height, but not really an issue. The 26+ Knards only come in 120tpi version, so I will bring an extra tire for longer trips. You cannot use 26+ tires on 80mm rims, but a couple of 3.8 Knards would make your Wednesday substantially faster on gravel and hardpacked tracks than with your current Nate tires.

    BTW, in case it is relevant, It will be much easier to attach a rack to the Wednesday compared to the Pugsley due to the symmetrical build and you will have a better selection to chose from.

  • Christian

    Cass, first of all thanks a lot for all the fatbike touring information on this and your own site. So much great inspiration on a daily basis ….

    I love the Watson bar. I have attached some old steel L-shaped steel bar ends that I bend a bit to fit the 28 degree sweep, giving me a couple of extra hand positions. I still want to test the Jones 710, though. I have previously used a Titec H bar, but found them too narrow for off-road riding, but very comfortable for roads.

    A few thoughts on the rear wheel issue. I agree with you that single wall fatbike rims are probably fine for most folks and most touring scenarios, even off-road. But even considering your considerable first-hand experience, I still have some reservations for myself regarding a single wall set-up. First of all, according to your information below, I weigh 25-30 kilos more than you, which obviously causes more stress on the bike off-road, not least the rear wheel. Also, I need capacity to carry food for 1-2 weeks on some trips (as I did in Iceland last year), so a super strong rear wheel makes me sleep better at night. That’s also why I went with 36H. It’s even laced with bladed spokes for additional strength.

    On the Rohloff-Pugs combination: My Pugsley Rohloff rear wheel is actually almost perfectly symmetrical with same lengths spokes on each side (minus 0.2mm), contributing to a very strong wheel. I am certainly no expert in wheel-building, but as I understand, a symmetrical build is only one factor in a strong wheel. The width of the hub and the spread of the eyelets (to each side) are other factors. In other words, if the spoke angle is too steep, the wheel will be weak, and if the angle too wide the spokes could break in the eyelets (a known Rohloff issue). The new Rohloff XL hub was announced when I planned my Pugsley bulid and should also allow for good spoke angles. But I still felt safer with the 36H double wall package for some remote scenarios. The weight penalty is around 350 grams for the Large Marge compared to the Marge Lite, which I can live with even if it’s rotational weight.

    Apologies for the long, nerdy ramblings … :-)

  • http://www.whileoutriding.com Cass Gilbert

    Hey Christian,

    Fair points!

    I just think for the vast majority of people, a standard rim and a standard Rohloff is a good combo, even for off road bikpacking. Two of my most recent trip were with a friend who weighs 225lbs, and he was fine with such a setup. Granted, we were carrying food for no more than 5 days, and water access was good. Certainly, a double wall Large Marge should be pretty invincible, as much an anything can be. And as I mentioned, peace of mind sure is a good feeling. I just think fat tyres are changing the rules a bit, so it’s good to take that in mind.

    Yes, that tight spoke angle issue can be a problem, and something that initially caused me some issues on my Pugsley. I was wondering about spoke angles with the Rohloff XL. I guess most people will be using an 80, or even 100mm rim, which will help improve it a bit.

    So many permutations these days… and so much food for thought!

  • Cass Gilbert

    Hey Christian,

    Fair points!

    I just think for the vast majority of people, a standard rim and a standard Rohloff is a good combo, even for off road bikpacking. Two of my most recent trip were with a friend who weighs 225lbs, and he was fine with such a setup. Granted, we were carrying food for no more than 5 days, and water access was good. Certainly, a double wall Large Marge should be pretty invincible, as much an anything can be. And as I mentioned, peace of mind sure is a good feeling. I just think fat tyres are changing the rules a bit, so it’s good to take that in mind.

    Yes, that tight spoke angle issue can be a problem, and something that initially caused me some issues on my Pugsley. I was wondering about spoke angles with the Rohloff XL. I guess most people will be using an 80, or even 100mm rim, which will help improve it a bit.

    So many permutations these days… and so much food for thought!

  • Cass Gilbert

    PS… Would love to ride in Iceland…

  • Andrew Drennan

    You make it sound like you burn through bottom brackets. I have easily gotten years out of bottom brackets what do you do to them??

  • Cass Gilbert

    Years out of an outboard bearing BB, on a touring bike? I’m impressed! I’m not sure if I often get more than 5,000km out of them, certainly in bad/challenging conditions. Or at least, the kind of conditions you always find yourself in on a fat bike. My experience with outboard BBs is that they’re fine one minute, but then they go pretty quick. I’ve never had any issue sourcing Shimano BBs. Sram tends to be found only in the better shops, and even then, they’re not always in stock. As I say, that’s South America, rather than the US or Europe.

  • Andrew Drennan

    Ok so I am using shimano bbs and more on a trail bike that sees snow sand clay wet etc. But since it’s for a standard shell size I use a saint be which is bulletproof. I am looking to try the fat bike world and got to this article because I have been seriously considering a Wednesday. You may have convinced me to try bikepacking too

  • Cass Gilbert

    If you’re coming from a trail background, I think the Wednesday is a great intro to fatbiking, especially if you’re thinking of giving bikepacking a go too. I better it also rides nice as a 29+.

  • Franckito

    Hi Cass, This review is really acurate and full of informations.
    Considering an upgrade with Rohloff XL speedhub, would it increase the tyre clearance up to 4.8 or 5inches on 80mm (or even 100mm ?) rim ?
    Thanks a lot
    Franckito

  • http://www.whileoutriding.com Cass Gilbert

    Thanks Franckito. The issue is the chainstay clearance, rather than the chain line. I believe that running a 4.6in tyre (positioned further back in the dropout) gives 5mm of space on each side, the ‘legal’ minimum. It’s possible that some 4.8in tires may work, depending on how they’re measured. Unfortunately I don’t have any tyres bigger than 4in to see.

    Honestly though, for anything apart from excessive snow and sand, 4in on an 80mm rim is pretty nice!

  • Cass Gilbert

    Thanks Franckito. The issue is the chainstay clearance, rather than the chain line. I believe that running a 4.6in tyre (positioned further back in the dropout) gives 5mm of space on each side, the ‘legal’ minimum. It’s possible that some 4.8in tires may work, depending on how they’re measured. Unfortunately I don’t have any tyres bigger than 4in to see.

    Honestly though, for anything apart from excessive snow and sand, 4in on an 80mm rim is pretty nice!

  • franckito

    Ok, good to know…
    Riding in the alps all over the year, i thought riding big fat tyres could open it’s territory even more … but ok, i’ll first try as it comes !
    Thanks again for your professionalism and your images that make us dreaming so far !
    A friend from an south american friend of yours (Arthur, cusco)

  • michele monti

    Can I mount wheels also 275+ without altering the geometry? Thanks!

  • Franckito

    Now that i have riden my new Wednesday several times on snow, i can also share some informations:
    1) The traction is awesome with specialized ground control 4.6 tyre (tubeless ready). This is really the max tyre size that will fit into the frame !
    2) Surprisingly, this configuration requires the shortest chainstay to avoid contact bewteen tire and chain on the big ring.
    3) Rusjan waterproof Framebag that fit perfectly for a Large Wednesday Frame is size L.
    Enjoy !
    Franckito

  • franckito

    i also would like to add that for a moutain use, 160mm rotor are too small, braking power is truly missing. I’d adwise also to go for a 40 tooth cassette. It really deserves it.

  • Cass Gilbert

    Thanks for your feedback, Franckito!

    What framebag are you referring to?

  • Cass Gilbert

    I agree, 160mm is a bit on the small side these days. But I never had an issue with them especially. Still, I wouldn’t turn down larger rotors…

    I loaded the Weds up with a heap of gear, and rode some pretty steep inclines. I found the low gear of 22/36 ample.

  • Cass Gilbert

    It might drop the BB a little. Not sure how much of a the difference there is between a 27.5+ and 3.8 x 26in in tire. I expect it’s a bit smaller.

  • franck vidal

    thoses ones:
    http://www.pikore.com/rusjanbag
    really really waterproof. (i think it comes from italy with a slovenian accent ;)

  • Franckito

    Yes, i see, but from my opinion, and on snow especially, as the friction is more important, i felt i was really an advantage to ride 40 teeth at the back…
    Thanks

  • Nathan

    Cass,

    Enjoyed the review!

    BTW, I emailed the folks at Surly to enquire about the possibility of purchasing a Wednesday fork.

    To my surprise, I received an email back from Kate at Surly, stating that the Wednesday fork and the ICT fork are actually identical (Part Number FK0040).

    Nathan

  • Cass Gilbert

    Interesting… they certainly don’t look to be the same length, and in the geo spec on the Surly site, the Wednesday is listed as 468mm, and the ICT as 483mm, with the same offset.

  • Nathan

    Cass,

    Right you are! I can’t believe I let that detail escape me. I will contact Kate again and see what she says about the conflicting A-C measurements…

  • Sern

    I just did an around the block test ride on a large frame. The bike was maybe a little cramped, not as much as the large Ogre I tested a week ago. I’m 6’1″ 210 with a 35-36″ inseam (I ride a 60cm Gunnar Roadie). Any thoughts?

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