Friday, October 15, 2010

Salsa Mukluk vs Surly Pugsley

Several of you have asked for an in depth break down of the differences between Salsa's new Mukluk, and the ubiquitous Surly Pugsley.  This post will deal with the actual differences in the frame design and geometry, while a later one will look at the complete parts build.

Here is a spreadsheet comparing the geometries of both bikes next to one another in corresponding sizes. 

The obvious difference between these two frames is that the Salsa frame is made of aluminum, while the Surly is steel.  This is the point at which people start to be divided into two camps.  A lot of folks will choose the Mukluk for some weight savings and corrosion resistance.  Others will prefer the Surly for the springy ride quality and small tube aesthetics.  For their intended uses, and considering that common tire pressures run from 8-14 psi, I don't know that the Mukluk will ride as harsh as a traditional MTB frame.  As to corrosion and the Surly, a healthy dose of Frame Saver will pretty much take care of that.  People have been riding steel bikes in adverse conditions for almost 100 years, it's pretty much a non issue with proper maintenance.

Both of these bikes use steel forks.  This is a good point to start delving further into design, as the bikes differ wildly up front.  The Surly uses a fork designed to use a 135mm rear spaced hub dished to a 17.5mm offset.  This is to allow people to use two identical wheels front and rear.  A common practice is to run a geared hub in the rear, with a SS front hub and bail out freewheel up front.  This provides you a back up drive train option if either the rear free hub, or something such as a derailleur were to fail.  The Surly fork is not suspension corrected.  This means you can run a suspension fork in the bike, but it will have the effect of slackening the angles, as well as raising the bottom bracket.  The Surly fork has front rack mounts and fender eyelets.  For 2011 Surly dropped the cantilever brake bosses from frames and completes.  The photo below is an aftermarket Pug fork.  It still comes with canti brake mounts.

 The Mukluk frameset includes Salsa's Enabler fork.  This is a suspension corrected rigid fork designed to also use a 135mm rear SS hub.  It differs from the Surly in that it is made of slightly lighter tubing and uses stainless steel dropouts.  It also has rack mounts, two Everything Cage mounts (for bottle cages as well,) and has front and rear positioned fender mounts.  Although it uses the same 135mm hub as the Surly, it is not offset.  This means you can build a dishless, even tension wheel.  It also make the wheels on a Mukluk front and rear specific, you cannot switch them if something goes wrong.  The longer length means that you can swap the fork out for any common 29er suspension fork without altering frame geometry. 

Working backward from the fork the next obvious points to talk about center on front end geometry.  In general, the Salsa is quite a bit taller at the front as compared to the Puglsey.  The head tube length per size is nearly an inch longer from the Salsa to the Surly.  Combined with the longer Enabler fork the Salsa will be about 2"s taller at the top of the head tube compared to the Surly.  The easily seen effect of this is that fewer spacers will be needed if you like your handlebars higher relative to your saddle.  Conversely, if you like shorter front ends you may not be able to get the handlebar drop you prefer on the Mukluk. 

Front end steering geometry is slightly different between the two bikes.  The head tube angle is slightly slacker on the Mukluk, while the fork rake is slightly higher.  The Surly has a slightly steeper head angle and less fork rake.  From bike to bike the two front ends should feel pretty similar, with the Salsa front end being slight further away from the center of gravity.  The Puglsey leans a bit more traditional mtb up front, with the Salsa going slightly more touring-esque.

The effective top tube lengths vary between these two bike a fair bit. The Pugsley runs shorter by about a 1/4" as compared to their Karate Monkey 29er.  The Mukluk is just a hair shorter than the El Mariachi 29ers.  In general, with either company you would ride the same sized frame as you are riding now.  So if you like a 18" Karate Monkey, you would likely fit a 18" Pugsley.  If you ride a large El Mariachi, you'd probably be at home on a large Mukluk.  Personal preferance comes in to play here as well.  Most folks prefer a slightly shorter top tube for a more upright position on a snow bike.  Both of these bikes largely help with that right out of the box.  Still, some people prefer to drop down a size on a snow bike.

The seat tube angles vary between the two bikes by a full degree.  The Surly runs at 72 degrees across the line, with the Salsa coming in at 73 deg and 73.5 deg on the XS.  The Surly runs the slacker seat tube to move weight over the rear wheel.  The Salsa has other features that shift weight back.  Personally I prefer a 73 deg seat tube, but my Fargo is awfully nice at 72 degrees.

The chain stay length and drop out configuration differ on these two bikes.  The Pugsley uses horizontal dropouts to allow for a an adjustable chain stay length and to allow for easy single speed chain tension adjustment.  The stays in their shortest position are a bit shorter on the Pug.  They measure almost half an inch shorter than the Mukluk.  Some folks like to run Monkey Nuts on their Pugs to make the rear end a bit longer and the ride a hair more stable.  With Money Nuts installed the two bikes would measure nearly the same.  The Mukluk cannot be run as a single speed without a tensioner of some sort.  The dropouts on the Mukluk are traditional vertical dropouts.  Mukluks use special 170mm rear dropout spacing with no offset.  This ends up being the same 17.5mm offset for the drive train, but moves the non drive side over just the same.  This means you have to buy a specific hub, but that wheel will build up with no dish and will have near perfect spoke tension.  The Mukluk also comes standard with a machined alloy adapter that will allow the use of traditional rear 135mm hubs.  You would build the adapter wheel just as you would a Pug rear wheel.  The Surly uses the same 17.5mm drive side offset and 135mm standard rear hubs. 

Wheels.  Here are where the bikes are quite different.  The Mukluk uses non offset wheels front and rear.  It is set up to use a 170mm dish less wheel in the rear and a 135mm dish less wheel in the front.  They are not interchangeable.  Even if you use the available 135mm rear adapter, the 135mm rear wheel will not be interchangeable with the 135mm front as the wheel's dish will be wildly different.  The Pugsley uses interchangeable 135mm dished wheels front and rear.  29er wheels can be built for use in either bike.  The Pugsley is more limiting in this regard, as you need to use offset rims to end up with decent spoke tension.  The Mukluk can use 29er wheels as well, although they still have to be built specifically for the bike.  A typical rear SS 29er wheel can be used as front Mukluk wheel with no modification in the Enabler fork, but could not then be used in a 29er suspension fork.

Drive trains can be set up much the same on both bikes.  They both use 100 mm bottom bracket shells.  Both bikes use full cable housing for all brakes and derailleurs. Both bikes use specific front derailleurs.  The Mukluk uses a direct mount front der, the Pug uses a bottom bracket mounted E type derailleur.  If you want to run an internal hub, (ie a Rohloff or Shimano Alfine,) you have to use a Puglsey.  The Mukluk is not designed to work with any existing internal hub.  There may be a way to make one work, but Salsa did not design that into the Mukluk, and would likely not support any mistake incurred by using one.

Stand over height has been reduced on the Pugsley in 2010-2011 models.  They now feature a braced seat tube that lowers stand over height down to acceptable levels for the respective frame size.  Surly bikes have long been criticized for being "tall" in the stand over department, so this is a great change over past models.  Even with the taller front end, the Mukluk still beats the Surly in stand over height in ever size by at least 1/2". 

A noticeable addition to the Mukluk line up is the addition of an XS size.  This bike is quite a bit smaller than the smallest Pugsley previously offered.  The stand over height on this size is in just north of 26"s, making it shorter than some small 29ers.  With few exceptions, this is the first true XS snow bike that has been offered.  We already have some customers excited about this bike, as it will allow them to comfortably fit a fat bike for the first time.

So there you have it, a general rundown of both bikes.  There are some distinct differences that will likely push consumers one way or another.  Either way these bikes are about the coolest way you can roll this winter. Let me know if you have any other specific questions and I will address them as I get them.  Happy Friday all.


Erik said...

Excellent break down of these two cool bikes. Thanks for doing the homework.

Guitar Ted said...

I will echo Erik's statement. Nicely done, and a good resource for customers looking at these two options.

I have to say that I think I am more excited about winter than I have been since I was a kid! These bikes are awesome, and now are an awesome value. I can't wait to get that Mukluk!

J-No said...

Great write up!!

Wally Kilburg said...

That is a lot of detail Ben. I thought you had a real job? I think my new nickname for you is "Dr. Mukluk".

GNAT said...

Ben good write up.

One note: - The alloy 135mm adapter for the rear of the Mukluk to make it work with offset wheels like the Pug IS NOT included with the price of a Mukluk frame. The Mukluk is optimized for 170mm hubs and the adapter is an accessory to make it work with the older 135mm offset designs.

Ben said...

Thanks for the comments guys. I'm sure there are a few things I've missed, but that is a good starting point.

G-Ted, I can't wait either. My super secret parts are ordered and on their way!

Wally, welcome to my job sir!

Gnat, I changed that in the write up. Thanks for the clarification. Have fun in CA, I'm of to SD at noon.

The bottom line is that both of these bikes allow riders to go where they previously couldn't. I think 2011 will be the year of the fatbike. It's already started here!

J-No said...

If you are looking at an older Pugsley (mine is from 2009), you have to loosen the rear brake caliper to get the wheel out. Kind of a pain, but not worth replacing for me as I have frame bags measured to my frame. Last year I ran a front only brake, but it did not fare well on downhills with a corner at the bottom. The front wheel would lock up.

It is surprising how minor roadside repairs get to be a bigger deal when it is below zero.

Anonymous said...

Sturmey-Archer make a 3 speed hub with a 170 OLD.


Ben said...

Your are correct, there is an internal hub that has a 170mm OLD. It is a new hub, has a limited range, and has not been tested in very cold conditions. It would require the use of a chain tensioner, but there are many options in that regard. Some people are already building wheels around that hub, so durability is already being set up to be tested. For how I plan to ride my Mukluk, I would like a broader range of that gear would offer.

Joboo said...

Nice write up!!
My heads kind of spinning ;) but nicely done!!

Ben said...

There are a lot of differences really. I think when the Mukluk was first announced a lot of folks assumed it would kill interest in the Pugsley. When comparing the two, I have been surprised at the number of people who gave said they would prefer a Pugsley instead.

More fatbikes of any kind are a good thing in my opinion. Having more of these out there in any form will only serve to increase awareness and interest from more people.

Joboo said...

Gotta agree, the more choices the better. The spice of life kind of thing in the "Fat Bike" world!!
Personally I like the fact that all my Pug parts will fit on the 9zero7 (minus the seat post), when the time comes. Options are never a bad thing!! ;)
Although I love the XS Muk option too. My 14 and 7 year old boys are begging for Fat Bikes!! :))
I see some sort of deal being worked out for them in the near future!! Having a whole family of Fat Bikes CAN NOT be a bad thing!! :))

Ben said...

Just let me know when you're ready for a family of Mukluks. I'm sure we can work out some sort of a deal.

;) Have a good one.

Joboo said...

You are the man!! If I was within 50 miles of you, not 250, I'd sure take you up on that kindly offer!!!
Alas, I'm bound by my loyalty to my LBS. I won't go on, because I know that comment is not lost on you!!

Ben said...

Absolutely, 'nuf said there. A relationship with a good shop is a wonderful thing.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to Part 2... The complete build parts comparison.

Anonymous said...

I think the most interesting number in the comparison is the wheelbase. A 13" Mukluk has a longer wheelbase than a 18" Pugsley... A 15" Muk is longer than a 20" Pug... A 17" Muk is the same as a 22" Pug.

Anonymous said...

This is the Internet at its best.
A thorough, thoughtful review of similar products about which I would like to learn more.
Thank you.
I think a Pugsley is in my future because it seems to be more versatile.
I wish the 2011 Surly Pugsley fork had cantilever brackets, though.
Good stuff

Ben said...

Thanks for the comment. I think this has been a helpful thing for many people.

If you are looking for a Pugsley build, or if you are looking for a complete bike please keep us in mind. We have a few Pugsley completes in stock, and frames as well as bike are available. We offer these as stock set ups, or we can set one up for you any way you would like.

scott1race said...

That info is all very helpful! I have built up a Half-Pug with a Motobecane 29er frame and a Pugsley offset fork and front wheel. It rides well in the snow within its limitations. It does have a comparitively steep head angle and I was interested in the detail about the Salsa fork being suspension corrected. Do you know the droput to crown measurement for both of the forks? I am thinking about making a tall crown race to make up the difference.

Ben said...

Scott, the difference is about 18 mm. The Pug fork is 450mm, the Mukluk is 468mm. I would not advise the attempt to make a crown race. I would suggest looking for an Salsa Enabler fork, (Mukluk fork available aftermarket,) and a suitable front wheel. This will give you the performance and handlign change you are looking for, while keeping your dental work intact!

We can certainly help you with that conversion if you're interested.