Surly Wednesday review£1,500.00

A versatile, value fat bike

BikeRadar score4/5

If you’re thinking to yourself “Why the heck would the fine folks at Surly name a fat bike after a day of the week?” then you’re asking the wrong question. Surly’s latest fat bike takes its name from the morose and slightly sadistic younger sister of Pugsley in the The Addams Family.

Although Surly has no plans to discontinue the Pugsley, the Wednesday is certainly a modernised successor to this first widely available production fat bike, introduced way back in 2005.

Less massive, more manoeuverable 

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The Wednesday has a 44mm head tube making it compatible with suspension forks such as the RockShox Bluto

Last year the Surly Ice Cream Truck topped out our fat bike roundup. It’s an exceptionally capable machine when it comes tackling terrain that would otherwise be deemed unridable. “Lumbering onward with determination” is how we described its trail manners in contrast with lighter, more agile fat bikes that lack the Ice Cream Truck’s stability and traction as well as its substantial heft.

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The Wednesday is constructed from 4130 tubing, natch

The Wednesday is a very different machine. Yes, it’s still a heavy weight, at 35.2lb / 16kg, but it’s better suited to the type of riding the average rider is looking to do. Unlike the Ice Cream Truck, the Wednesday can’t run 5in tyres on ultra-wide, 100mm rims. Tyre clearance is limited to 26x3.8in tyres with the axle in the forwardmost position. With the axle pushed back in the track ends, the Wednesday can fit 26x4.6in tyres on rims up to 80mm wide — plenty of cushion for most snow or sand. 

Other key differences between the Wednesday and the Ice Cream Truck include the use of a slimmer 177x12mm thru-axle rear end and a narrower 100mm threaded bottom bracket shell, as opposed to the 132mm press-fit bottom bracket used on the Ice Cream Truck.

The narrower bottom bracket stance gives the Wednesday a noticeably narrower Q-factor. This is worth mentioning if you’ve encountered knee problems with fatter fat bikes.

Like its big brother, the Wednesday comes with a full complement of eyelets for racks and fenders and an impressive array of braze-ons for bottle cages and cargo carriers. The 4130 steel frame also features a port for an internally-routed dropper seatpost.

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The Wednesday's dropper seatpost port

The Wednesday’s fit as well as it trail demeanor is akin to a modern trail bike, with a short rear end and longer front centre. For the number crunchers, the Wednesday has relatively short, 17.1in / 435mm chainstays (in the forward position) and a rangy 27in / 687mm front centre. The 17.2in/436mm reach numbers of the size Medium I tested would have pegged it as a large frame a few short years ago. But with stems getting shorter, it’s par for the course.

The 69-degree head angle isn’t as slack as most trail-oriented hardtails, but it keeps the front end nimble and the fat tyres take care of the rest, obliterating most small to medium-sized obstacles just fine.

About 70% of my time aboard the Wednesday was spent on snowpacked singletrack. The stock 3.8in-wide tyres don’t deliver the same bite in soft snow as wider tyres, though they’re also more manageable when rallying the Wednesday on dirt. Self-steer, the bane of fat bike handling, was still present on hardpack, though less so than with the Ice Cream Truck. Tyre squirm was less of an issue, too.

Cost-cutting critique

The Wednesday’s budget-friendly price means some corners had to be cut. In most cases Surly did a good job of balancing the price to performance ratio.

The SRAM X5 shifters and drivetrain may not be the lightest or offer the crispest shifting, but all the components proved reliable, and the Truvativ X5 double crankset with its 34/22t chainrings is a good match for the Wednesday.

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The SRAM X5 drivetrain works well, but the Tektro levers and Hayes brakes are a let down

The brakes, however, were a let down. Any rider accustomed to mid- or high-end hydraulic brakes will bemoan the lack of reach adjust in the Tektro 520 brake levers and be irritated by the on/off feel of Hayes’ mechanical MX Comp calipers.

Again, this is an affordable kit, not a no-expense-spared wünderbike. If the Wednesday were my personal fat bike, I’d swap the stock brakes for any level of SRAM’s current Guide series. They’ve got modulation in spades and perform well even in sub-zero conditions.

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Surly's Nate tyres have plenty of knobs, but the stiff casings hold the tyre back

Fat bike tyres can get quite expensive. Surly’s Nate tyres are good, but stiff; the 27tpi version that come stock on the Wednesday doesn’t fully maximise the tread’s potential to garner grip. The wire bead also adds significant heft over the folding version. 

Verdict

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Despite price-point component complaints, the Wednesday is still a good value bike

The Wednesday is a good gateway to fat biking. Its trail manners make it fun to ride in any season and the well-built frame is worthy of upgrading as you go.  

My advice for riders considering the Wednesday: if the lack of modulation and reach adjust bother you as much as it did me, swap out the brakes as your budget permits. As for the low thread-count tyres, ride them until they’re worn and replace them with tyres of your choosing with supple casings.

Josh Patterson

Tech Editor, US
Josh has been riding and racing mountain bikes since 1998. Being stubborn, endurance racing was a natural fit. Josh bankrolled his two-wheeled addiction by wrenching at various bike shops across the US for 10 years and even tried his hand at frame building. These days Josh spends most of his time riding the trails around his home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
  • Age: 35
  • Height: 170cm / 5'7"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 72cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Mountain, cyclocross, road
  • Preferred Terrain: Anywhere with rock- and root-infested technical singletrack. He also enjoys unnecessarily long gravel races.
  • Current Bikes: Trek Remedy 29 9.9, Yeti ASRc, Specialized CruX, Spot singlespeed, Trek District 9
  • Dream Bike: Evil The Following, a custom Moots 27.5+ for bikepacking adventures
  • Beer of Choice: PBR
  • Location: Fort Collins, CO, USA

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