August 30, 2006
By STEPHEN REGENOLD
On the sidewalk outside company headquarters of Surly Bikes, on a chilly November afternoon, Dave Gray grips the handlebars of a shiny new purple bike. “This one is fresh off the line,” he says, subtly kicking the ballooned front tire.
The Pugsley, as this bike model is called, has 4-inch-wide, 26-inch-diamter tires, which are about twice as fat as the tires found on a regular mountain bike. Made for snow, sand, ice, muck and deep mud, the Pugsley can roll through terrain heretofore considered impassable on two wheels, according to Gray, who is general manager at the company.
Indeed, Gray and his small staff are marketing the Pugsley as an altogether new category of mountain bike. Called adventure bikes, models like the Pugsley are defined by their massive tire size and unique frame geometry, which is more relaxed than a mountain bike, allowing riders to pedal for hours on end.
Gray says the Pugsley can be thought of as the Humvee of mountain bikes.
While custom bike builders like John Evingson, Ray Molina, Mark Gronewald and Mike DeSalvo have sold fat-tire adventure bikes since the late ‘90s, Surly is unique in that the company is making the genre’s first mass-produced model, says Lou Mazzante, deputy editor at Bike Magazine in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
“Surly is trying to capitalize on the trend of wilderness biking, which is a very small trend right now,” Mazzante says. “But for the people who need this kind of bike, the Pugsley will be a godsend.”
A case in point would be Jakub Postrzygacz, a native of Poland, who in September rode a Pugsley for 2,105 kilometers through the desert in western Australia. Following an old livestock track called the Canning Stock Route, Postrzygacz rode 50 kilometers or more per day through deep sand on fading, dilapidated desert roads.
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