Words and photos by Tyler Kregel
Hi, I’m Tyler Kregel from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I work at a homeless mission as an outreach worker. I spend most of my work time connecting with and assisting folks who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness. I have been commuting to work by bike for over two years, and I can’t imagine going back to car commuting anytime soon.
I started mountain biking about 12 years ago and fell in love with it. Since then, I have been exploring singletrack, fatbike groomed trails, local city commutes, and the occasional gravel run. About five years ago, my wife, our one-year-old daughter, and I left town and moved into a short converted school bus to see North America. We took our bikes along and got to ride all over the country.
I had a budget hardtail for several years until I began to get curious about trying something else. I’d heard the buzz of fat bikes and wanted to give them a try. I found a Surly Pugsley for $750 on Facebook Marketplace and figured I would give it a shot. At first, it felt clunky and slow, but after getting used to it and making some tweaks, I really started to fall in love with it. I was able to start riding year-round and discovered the joy of floating through a wintery wonderland. I loved the fat tires on snow, but missed the speed and agility of 29ers. I got a custom wheelset built that could accommodate the rear offset, and within a few weeks, the “Krampugs” was born. I had some friends who rode single-speed, and so I figured I would give that a shot as well.
From there on, the rest was history, and the love affair began. The steel frame and plus-size tires soak up lots of chatter. The simplicity of a single gear makes it a no-nonsense bike. All you have to do is jump on and ride. In my opinion, it is the purest machine there is and keeps you grounded and connected to the trail. You really need to focus and pick your lines wisely. I went from casual 10-mile rides to 100-mile rides.
- Frame/Fork Surly Pugsley (L), with non-offset fork
- Rims WTB ASYM i35
- Hubs Surly
- Tires Teravail Coronados (2.8″)
- Handlebars 780mm Wake Comp
- Headset Chris King
- Crankset Mr. Whirly
- Pedals Crankbros Candy 2
- Cassette Dingle speed (15t, 16t)
- Brakes Mechanical Avid BB7
- Saddle Charge
- Seatpost PNW Dropper
- Stem FSA
- Frame bags Locally made by Wander Quilted Goods
- Accessory bags Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks
The Pugsley has been discontinued, but the love for it is stronger than ever. There is a Facebook page called “The Amazing Surly Pugsley,” if that tells you anything. It really is an extremely capable and useful bike. I have used it for ripping flowy singletrack, chunky gravel, fatbike explorations, beach crawling, and winter commutes around town.
This past fall, I signed up for my first MTB race, the Marji Gesick 100. Everyone said I was crazy (or stupid) to attempt it with a rigid steel singlespeed. But, I felt comfortable and confident on my Krampugs (and it was the only MTB I owned), and so I went for it. I was one of 11 single-speed finishers and absolutely loved it. I have taken this on a couple of local overnighters and on trips around the midwest, too.
Looking ahead, I am eager to do some more extended bikepacking trips in the near future. I’m planning on a campout this winter, and I’m currently soaking up all the fall colors with the 29+ while I can.
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