Roll Up, Roll Up… Half Price Surly Omniterras!
Ever wondered what it’s like to ride through snow, crawl through sand, traverse bog, or float over corrugation? Surly have just announced a 50% price cut on several of their most capable omniterras. If you’ve felt that fat bike itch, perhaps this is the time to scratch it…
We normally save our Facebook page for these kinds of announcements… but this one feels too big not to shout out about! Due to a surplus in stock, several of this year’s Surly Omniterras are receiving 45-50% price cuts from today, making for some remarkably affordable bikes.
Money aside, we’re big fans of the exploratory nature of fat bikes, a trait that’s well suited to off-grid bikepacking endeavors. Collectively, we’ve ridden and tested most of these models over the years, in various locales around the world… and it’s no understatement to say that they all excel in their respective fields.
Given the overlap in the venn diagram of Surlys – sometimes complicating the process of discerning which is the right bike for you – here’s our take on each, from a bikepacking and overseas touring point of view. On a general note, all share Surly’s burly chromoly tubing, front and rear rack mounts, and provision for Anything Cages.
Surly Pugsley: $899
The venerable Pugsley is classic. It’s been around for years, and as such, sports a more traditional, sure footed geometry that’s well suited to touring and general mountain biking. Components are mostly top notch, including simple, reliable Avid BB7 brakes, a stout Marge Lite wheelset, and thumb shifter style Micro Shifts. Conceived when fat bike specific components didn’t exist, the non-symmetrical triangle requires an offset wheel build and complicates adjusting brakes. In today’s market, it’s tempting to think of it as a little outdated…
But in a world of ever shifting standards, one thing’s for sure: you’ll always find 135mm QR hubs wherever you find yourself in the planet. Parts can be scrounged from your spares bin. Spares are cheap. And also of note to long distance travelers, the Pugsley is rigid specific (it shares the same fork as the Moonlander), making for a larger frame bag than other models. For these reasons, it’s long been the fatbike of choice for so many trans-continental journeys – ridden by the likes of Joe Cruz, Kurt Sandiforth and Mike Howarth across South America, and currently by Dan and Gina for their journey from Mexico to Ushuaia. More thoughts on long distance touring on Pugsley can be read here.
Pug SS: $799
As above, except with the simplicity of a singlespeed… making it the perfect candidate for a internal hub upgrade. Differences we like? Compared to the geared Pugsley, it comes with higher quality, Shimano-compatible Surly OD cranks, and more touring friendly, lightweight 120 tpi Knards. Even factoring in the eye watering price tag of $1750 for a Rohloff Speedhub (we’d recommend talking to the specialists at Cycle Monkey for advice), it still makes a relatively affordable, low maintenance expedition machine.
Pug Ops: $999
The Pugsley Ops shares the same frame as the Pugsley, draped with fancier parts. These include Surly’s excellent, Shimano-compatible OD cranks (compared to the Pugsley’s more basic and harder to source Sram X5s), lighter tires, wider (80mm) rims, and hydraulic brakes. Cranks aside, these upgrades aren’t necessarily what we’d recommend for an overseas adventure – largely because keeping narrower, 65mm rims maintains the potential to run 2.5in downhill tyres if needed, and because Avid BB7s are so good. Note too that you also lose the simplicity of Micro Shift Shifters, which we really like. But if you’re staying closer to, it’s an upgrade worth considering.
Big brother to the Pugsley, the Moonlander has clearance for lunar-cruising 4.8in tyres (all the wider when mounted on 100mm rims), the same non-symmetrical, 135mm rear end/offset wheelbuild, and a similar, touring-friendly geometry. With its rigid specific fork, frame bag size is also optimised over some of the more modern fat bike offerings – making this a good contender for dedicated snow and sand explorations. A bike built for purpose, it’s a bit too much tire for a mixed terrain tour.
Ice Cream Truck Ops: $1199
Yes, this is the very same bike we tested recently, when it was listed as $2450! The ICT Ops has a more modern, lively geometry than the Pugsley. It comes with one of our favourite tires – 3.8in Nates, and 120tpi ones at that. Given its massive clearance and 80mm rims, it will also fits 5in rubber, which offer noticeable improvements in snow and sand. The spec list is second to none – BB7s, Micro Shift shifters, OD cranks… And, if you want to keep things internal, Rohloff Speedhubs will soon be available for its 197mm, thru axle spacing, with a 150mm thru axle SP dynamo hub also due out soon. If the desire takes you, there’s even the option of running a suspension fork too.
On the downside, it sports an extra wide BB with press fit bearings (our advice: carry a spare set if heading to distant parts). The frame is a little heavier than other Surly Omniterras, and its internal space a little smaller. And its longer, slacker stance is arguably more suited to trail shredding rather than mega-distance odysseys. Even so, this is an extremely versatile, fun bike to ride, that’s as happy bounding down rocky chutes as it is crawling through sandy arroyos, or bikepacking through the most challenging terrain you can unearth. If you’re keeping your exploits relatively local, there’s no doubt the ICT is a killer deal at this price.
So there you have it – our take on the relative pros and cons of each bike, depending on where your intentions lie. We’ll admit that Surly’s chromoly frames are never going to be the lightest on the scales. But we’ve always admired their pragmatic and often innovative designs, coupled with their versatility and longstanding affordability. There’s plenty of other great bikes out there these days, but with a decade of fat biking experience to call on, there’s no doubt Surly know their stuff.
If you’ve been on the fence about omniterras… this could be the chance to give one a go, and discover a whole new world of bikepacking opportunities. It’s a Fat Bike call to arms!
UPDATE: If you’ve missed this incredible promotion, check out the well-priced Surly Wednesday at $1,500.