Friday, May 29, 2015

Making a Silk Purse out of a Pug's Ear!!

I must start this blog entry with a bit of explanation of the title. The saying "making a silk purse out of a pig's ear" implies trying to make something beautiful/valuable out of something that is already ugly/useless!!  Such is not the case with regards to my stock Pugsley - see image above!!  I just thought the saying fit so nice as a blog entry title, so I went with it!!  Blogger's prerogative, I guess!!

After converting the Pug to a 1x drivetrain, I started looking at other ways of upgrading! I must admit that I love doing upgrades - not always so much for the benefits, but for the fun, and sometimes challenges, that come with them!!

After the 1x conversion, I decided the next upgrades on the list were to swap out the stem, bar, seat and seat post. I tracked down a good deal on a Nukeproof saddle and FSA stem from Chainreaction in the UK. 100.00 delivered for the pair. I found the carbon fibre bar and seat post  a little closer to home - MEC.  These four components were substantially lighter than stock - and look better, to boot!!  Images later on will show these new additions!!

I've always had a new fork in my mind. The Moonlander fork that came with the bike is a real beast - and rightly so!! It was designed, primarily, to carry racks and the associated weights! I doubt that I will ever be loading down my bike for any extended expeditions, so I figured I could do without all the braze-ons and the extra weight!!

I'd been doing some half-hearted searching for a fork for the past number of months but never pulled the trigger until I stumbled upon the Sarma Hoboy. Sarma carries a fork that pretty much drops right into a Pug - 1 1/8 straight steerer with quick release and an axle to crown distance of 450mm!! The website was advertising a sale price of 250.00 US and when I checked further, I found that this included free international shipping!!  Decision - made!! Order - placed!!

I placed the order on Sunday (May 10). The fork did not ship until Thursday (May 15)  but it arrived in St. John's on Monday (May 22). Tracking was provided so I watched my fork wend it's way across the Pacific and then from BC to here. I was most impressed with the shipping time and packaging!!

I knew there would a few modifications required to fit my stock brake configuration. I would need to shift my rotor outboard 5mm and the fork posts were designed for 160mm rotors so I would need an adapter to accommodate my 180s.

I could either order the spacer or make one. I opted for the latter and acquired a piece of 6mm plate aluminium and got to work with the drill, jig saw and files!  A few hours later, I had a spacer!! I managed to find a longer set of bolts on another bike - another problem solved!!

Drilling out the centre!

Completed spacer

How it looks on the rotor.

The matter of adapting for the 180mm rotors was overcome by an 11.00 part from a LBS. It was a Shimano part so we were not entirely sure if it would work with my SRAM Guide RS calipers. These fears were later dispelled! 

Shimano 160 to 180 adapter.

And now for the star of the show . . . .

I picked up the fork at the post office. It felt like an empty box - it was that light!!

The fork - uncut!

And for the weight weenies!! Spongebob approves!!

With all the parts assembled, it was time to get at 'er!!

The crown race came off the old fork with a screwdriver and a few taps of the hammer. Phew!!  The crown race fit onto the new fork with a piece of ABS pipe and a few taps of the hammer. Double phew!!!

Time for a test fit:

Uncut fork!

There's an old adage - "Measure twice, cut once". When measuring the steerer tube, I measured twice and cut only once but - I almost royally screwed up on the second time I measured!! D'oh!! The second measurement was made with NO SPACERS on the steerer, so I almost ended up cutting the steerer too short!! It was one of those "Oh my F#ck" moments when I started to sweat profusely and I got this loud buzzing in my ears. It was a horrible feeling to think that I just shagged up a brand new 300.00 piece of gear. Lucky for me, there was enough steerer to fit the stem and with room for one 7mm spacer. Phew!! It did mean that I would have to fool around with bar heights later but crisis averted!!

How did this happen? I haven't the foggiest!!  It was just one of those moments where your mind is not at all where it should be.

Making the cut!! See the line about 1.5" to the right? THAT is the one I was supposed to be cutting!!!

The headset and fork dropped in with no incident. The 5mm spacer for the rotor worked like a charm with no need for further modifications.

The caliper adapter in place and showing the nice detail of the post mounts!!

The new fork installed!!

Profile shot showing new seat and post!

New fork, bars and stem! Stem soon to be replaced - sigh!!

The screw-up on the fork steerer length meant that my bars would now be sitting a full 1" below the height I normally used. This put the bars about 1" below the saddle height.  I took the bike for a few rides and I could feel the difference in the height. Especially since I have a shagged up right elbow and the extra weight of leaning forward was making it ache even more. The new FSA stem I bought only had a 6 degree rise, so I began looking for another stem that might give me some more "lift".  In the meantime, I found out that there have been some issues with using the FSA stem with carbon steerer tubes (clamps were too small and put too much local stress on the carob tube), so maybe it was fate that started me looking for another!!

On a whim I dropped by to see Harold and he gave me free reign to browse the "stem box" at his shop!! I'll be damned if there wasn't a 15 degree riser - and just the one,though!! And not some clunky-assed piece of stamped out steel. It was a nice and light Giant unit - actually lighter than the FSA I ordered in. Nice and sturdy clamps, so no issues with use on a carbon steerer!! Things were finally looking up - pun intended!!

New stem!

I popped the stem on and did a measurement. BINGO - we're right back to normal. 

I always try to rationalize my mistakes, SO I will now argue that it was good thing that I cut the steerer too short because you don't want too many spacers on a carbon fork and besides, I've made up the lost height by using a stem that weighs less than the one used previously. It's a win-win-win situation!

I'm a happy camper!!

As for the fork - it's pretty sweet. Looks great and seems to dampen the ride a bit. Further testing will either prove or dispel this notion!!

As for the total upgrade package, I am now looking at a 30lb Pugsley!! And the loss of those 5 lbs (over stock) is noticed like you would not believe!!  The bike now has a completely different feel - almost unfettered, dare I say!! 

And that is the end of my tale - a happy ending out of what could very well have been a tragedy!!

Thanks for dropping by!!


  1. Sweet upgrades. I thought the fork was a Sarma. I think we have all had those holy @#*! moments, but not on a carbon fork. Can't wait to see her in person.

  2. Luckily all worked out in the end and I can finally put that near-clusterf#ck behind me!! The ride on Subnet certainly helped "settle" everything in!!