Surly is known for creating strong fatTire bikes. They debutedThe Pugsley a few years back and it was an instant hit.The PugsleyTook you placesThat a standard bike couldn’t. However,There are places and conditionsThat require an even larger footprint.Therefore,The Moonlander was created. The heart ofThe Moonlander isThe 4130 CroMoly steel, which you’ll find every Surly bike is made of.The Moonlader features 135mm- space, 28mm- offset, rear- loading Surly horizontal dropouts (tra
Strengths: The bike is fun. Plain and simple. Traction is in a league of its own. Though the bike is heavy, the traction negates some of that, especially on climbs. Frame geometry is the most comfortable I have ever felt on a bike. Makes long rides easier to handle. The components on the Moonlander are great too. It shifts like butter and cable brakes are better than some hydraulic brakes I have had. Tires are stupidly fat. And yea, that is a strength.
Weaknesses: Not too many weaknesses. Some might think 36 lbs is heavy, and it is, but like others have said, it does not feel heavy. When in the granny gear the chain rubs the rear tire a bit. I can’t feel it ever but I can see the scuffs left by the chain on the tire. Lettering on the bike is just decals. The “moonlander” logo on the top tube has already rubbed off of mine (because of my bike rack holding it where the letters are). A tad too expensive I think.
I bought this too keep in shape during the winter (for the snow) and I am finding myself riding it on normal, dry trails. It’s just so fun. Though heavy, I find I can keep up with my normal riding buddies just fine on it. It pedals surpringly well and is very comfortable. If you are not wanting to drop $5k or more on a super light carbon fat bike, the ML will surprise you. Go test ride one.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: August 8, 2013
Strengths: This is my first fatty and I purchased the complete bike and what a pure joy to ride! I waited 4.5 months for it and it was well worth the wait and has easily handled everything I have been able to throw at it so far. The components were apparently upgraded by Surly, the friction shift is gone and now has indexed shifting and it shifts and stops just fine for me however I did have to tweak the brake handles for they were a little spongy.
Weaknesses: In the lowest gears, you can get some chain rub on the rear tire but that is the nature of this awesome beast.
Strengths: Unequalled traction. Visually prominent and outlandish to the public. Reasonably unique and rare as of 2013. Great paintjob. Strong frame even when dropped on bigger pieces of steel ;) (speaking from experience). Offset rims present a great talking point, but its hard to ignore those clownshoe rims and tyres. Very low gearing to allow goat like climbing ability.
Weaknesses: OEM equipment is terrible. No point beating around the bush. Some love the cable pull brakes, but after purchasing two moonlanders I can verify that they are weak, spongey and have difficulty locking up the rear wheel on demand. Have ditched them in favour of 200mm XT hydro discs front and back. No comparison.
Mini shifters? less said the better. Also changed to XT shifters and derailluer.
2012 model has a terrible front hub and non standard bearings. Ripped it off and replaced with Hope hubs front and rear. Went through two freewheel clusters on rear wheel before replacing to hope hubs. I put it down to an inability of the OEM drivetrain to cope with the incredible level of torque offered by the gearing, wider crank and a big guy hammering it constantly. 2013 spec model I have also purchased has a better front hub (std bearings) although a lack of quick release.
Don't let the specifications put you off however, I am a very finicky owner and my opinions may not apply to your bike.
Grips spin easily on handlebars, even when wired on. Rip them off and use an aluminium handgrip with nuts on ends to ensure no movement in wet/muddy conditions.
For me, this bike has revolutionised bike riding. It has re-kindled my passion for getting back on the trails and out of my arsenal of 16 bikes in the shed, is my bike of choice almost every time. It can do anything, go anywhere and puts the biggest grin on your face no matter where you ride it. Crowds cheer and scream as you ride past. Children point in awe and fathers try to look blase as the children stamp and yell at dad. Women burst out laughing. This is a bike that truly impresses no matter what environment.
In the bush it climbs like nothing else. The traction is out of this world and incomparable with anything other than a fatbike or a snow plow. It can ride up stairs. It can ride up walking trails. It can fly down snow slopes like a skier and paddle through rivers (literally while riding!) It rides over rocky riverbeds with consummate ease and will take you to work through peak hour traffic as well.
It is not fast. It is not the quickest around your favorite MTB single track. This is not its intended purpose. It can be ridden fast in the right hands, but its about the fun factor. The bulging tyres absorb sharp rocks and sticks. Obstacles meld into absorbtion mode and you would swear the bike has suspension - but it has none! This absence means hardtail bliss as power is transferred directly to the ground where its needed and pedal to ground clearance remains constant! (No smacking the lower pedal on fast corners).
Truly a game changing bike that I cannot recommend enough. Expensive, yes. Requires upgrading, yes. But as an entry point into a new world of fitness and fun? Priceless.
Bike Setup: 2012 Surly Moonlander
Hope Evo Pro Hubs front and back
XT rear derailluer
XT hydro brakes front and back with 200mm discs
Riser Handlebar (std too low)
10 speed cluster at rear and 20/36t front (22/36 standard)
Lou and Bud rubber - best knobbies ever
Strengths: The Moonlander is all about the FAT tyre footprint and this it does much better than anything else. It accepts the 4.7 Big Fat Larry's on 100mm Clown Shoe rims with plenty to spare. With the MWOD cranks and radically offset rear hub you also get a chain line that gives you all the gears you need for grinding this bike up the hills in the soft stuff. Riding position is very comfortable and just works?
I'm using this bike in the middle east's deserts and it's changed my whole outlook on where I can ride here, it's virtually unlimited now. Here is a video showing a good example of the bike working in the conditions here http://vimeo.com/43733392
Weaknesses: The level of equipment is relatively low for a $2000 bike (complete). I chose to upgrade with hydralic brakes instead of cable operated and conventional shifters instead of the winter orientated . I've also switched the deore rear mech for an XT shadow mech I had in the spares drawer.
It's also a heavy bike. The tyre/rim combination could never be lightweight, there is just way to much material there for that. The steel frame is built to be ridden a lot and has all the braze-ons you could want for expeditioning in the off the beaten track environments that this bike sucks up with passion but it is no lightweight as a result. I'm going to be looking at ways of potentially losing some weight through upgrading things like stem, bars, post and saddle.
I've tried it, just the once so far, on the single track here in the middle east and it went well but not as well as my conventional FS trail bike + I suffered a couple of punctures due to incorrect tyre pressures I think
This bike has changed what I look for as a place to ride in a way that I haven't experienced before, I'm experiencing a game change. Suddenly there are whole new environments I want to explore for days on end, multiday bikepacking epics into the depth of some of the harshest deserts on the planet are planed, places that were just off the radar before bikes like this appeared. It's truely astonishing where this bike will go.
And it's a bike that's designed to go places too with all the braze-ons needed for racks, mud guards and cages? I have a frame bag, bar sling and saddle bag on their way to be ready to take the bike exploring this winter.
The way Surly have solved the problems of tyre clearence and chainline by offsetting both the rear triangle AND the spoke layout of the rear wheel is really impressive when you look at it closely. It allows the use of conventional components which again makes sense for a bike designed to go places most bikes can't.
Bottom line is there is no other bike that can run this FAT a tyre/rim combination using relatively conventional parts (only the chainrings are FAT specialist really). If your somewhere where there is plenty of soft riding conditions then no other bike will cope with them as well.
Strengths: Climbs great, rolls great, rolls over most anything, strong, sparkle paint like a 1980's speed boat, feels surprisingly like a normal mountain bike. I really like the Surly brand. Offset rear end works great. Love the thumb shifters. It is so fun I don't ride my other mountain bikes any more.
Weaknesses: It is heavy when I have to carry it while dismounted but I don't notice the weight when on it. With all fat bikes you need to be able to competently adjust the air pressure to match your terrain. Not hard but necessary. If you do it will ride smooth and be very fast on anything from rough stuff to the road. But if for example you are using too low of air pressure on a hard surface like a road it will ride like your on a drunk elephant.
My Moonlander and Pugsley before it are pure fun and a joy to ride. Snow, sand, single track, off trail exploring, gravel roads etc a fat bike has become my preferred bike.
I traded my Pug which I rode for 2-3 years for a Moonlander a month ago and then had to leave town so today was the first chance to ride the monster. It is the XXL frame which fits me fine (I am 6'4") and with tubeless Bud and Lou fitted it is really tall. I set out on a climb to the top of Mount B ... Read More »
Someone has a Moonlander for 1975 in Hastings, Nebraska. Doesn't say what size, though.
Someone else has a Large Pugsley for sale at 1000 in Omaha as well.
Just passing the info out in case someone is looking.Read More »
Is $1900 a good price for a 2013 used Moonlander? I'm a newbie and need to know what to look for. 2014 for $2500. I could do it but I need it or will the used work just fine? Any major difference between the two models. This is primarily for beach riding. Also what should I do to maintain the bike d ... Read More »