Around one year ago, I decided I would finally give in to the temptation of the Surly Pugsley, and my life has never been the same. It was a long, arduous decision process (I don't really need it), but as I look forward to another snowy four or five months rather than dreading the limits the white stuff puts on my riding, it's one I don't expect to ever regret.
At first it was pretty much a humble stock bike. Swapped housing, shifters, saddle, and bars. Nothing to sneeze at, but nothing special, really:
Many miles, much cassette cleaning, and a few snapped chains later, I decided to build the Alfine hub I had used on another bike into a fat wheel, and that worked pretty well for the sand and other soft stuff this past summer:
Only problem was, the Alfine requires a pretty significant 'hiccup' in the pedal stroke in order to downshift. While this hadn't been an issue in commuting, it became a real pain when riding offroad. I'd have to sort of 'pre-shift' into a gear suitable to a climb or sandy patch, push a high gear, or get off n' walk. I don't like getting off to walk, so I decided I'd try something completely different:
Ain't no gaps between the gears of the NuVinci hub. Just a 360% range of continuously variable goodness. So far, I've been very pleased with the hub's performance. One needs to let up on his or her pedal stroke a bit to upshift, but downshifting is crazy-smooth.
At first, I found myself constantly messing with the shifter, keeping my cadence perfect. Now I think I've come to a good balance of appreciating the exactness of gearing the hub affords and just ridin' the damn thing sometimes.
I've heard varied reports of the transmission fluid's viability in winter, so I'll be curious to see if there's any issues this year. I know of at least one fellow 'round these parts who rode one pretty extensively through last winter, so I'm hopeful.
If you're curious about the Nuvinci hub, fat bikes, or both and would like to try this thing out, call me at the University Bike Center or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll make arrangements. See you out there in the snow!