I've finally decided to dip my toes in the waters of the fat bike world. These big tired beasts are one of the few categories of bikes where sales are expanding, but my previous fatbike experiences have been decidedly mixed: my Moonlander demo was 15 minutes of awfulness, like attempting to ride a beach ball down a flight of stairs, while my more recent experience on a too-small Pugs was better, but hard to get a final read on due to the medium sized frame. But mix in too much time reading the mtbr.com fat bike forum, a positive balance in my bike budget, and a beer or two, and a week and $500 after ordering, I got this:
I generally prefer to build my bikes from the frame up, but fatbikes take enough unique parts that this would have been an expensive proposition. Also, I'm curious how my knees will get along with the wide bottom bracket, so I didn't want to make a big investment if it wasn't going to work for me. Finally, I've never seen a strong correlation between what I spend on a bike and how much I enjoy it. Typically the opposite, in fact. Call it the "cheap and cheerful" effect.
I've been looking at a new fork for my Razzo for a while now. I wanted to experiment a bit with something a little longer than the 465mm Fargo fork I had on there. Plus, I wanted something that blended a bit better with the Razzo's oversized head tube. $78 later on ebay, and I had this 485mm X Lite aluminum fork:
My quick demo ride was a bit uninspiring: the front end felt higher, even though the bars were in the same position relative to the saddle, and the steering wasn't great. But since it was dark and about 7F out, I didn't go too far. I planned for a longer ride today, hoping that would give me a better understanding of the new geometry, but in the event, that didn't work out the way I expected.
I didn't get a whole lot of good weather time to ride over break, but I did manage a few days where it was possible to sneak a ride in while the trail was frozen hard ("good weather" takes on a new meaning in winter, I guess) I was trying to solidify some ideas about wheel size and suspension, so I took my Razzo and ERB and headed to the beginner loop at P1 to repeatedly lap each bike over the short, two mile course.
Big wheel vs. small, suspension vs. rigid, carbon frame vs. ERB, big tire vs. er, bigger tire. Here's how it shook out.
One of my projects over winter break has been to convert to my old Trek 620 to 650B wheels. For mountain bikes, I don't see any special value for 650B wheels over 26", but for road bikes, they really do open up some new possibilities. In my case, my Trek didn't have much clearance for fat tires and fenders with either 27" or 700c wheels. The smaller diameter should fix that.
The key to a good 650B conversion is... math. The 27" wheels I had lately on the Trek have a bead seat diameter of 630mm. A 650B wheel has a BSD of 584mm. Subtract those two numbers (630-584=46) and divide by two to look at the radius (46/2=23) means I need to look for a brake with 23mm more reach than the current calipers I have on there. My current brake reach is about 47mm (front) and 53mm (rear), meaning I need a brake caliper capable of 70~75mm.
I ordered up the parts earlier this month, just about doubling the initial $300 I spent on the Trek:
Did it work? I'll save you the heartache of anticipation right now, and tell you it transformed the Trek into my new favorite bike. Read on.
I should probably spend these days finishing up my Christmas shopping, but it was cold enough that the trails had a decent freeze on them, but not so cold that riding is complete misery. Best to get outside then while I can.
Saturday, I headed to Chestnut Ridge for my second chance at a fat bike demo. Er, except, where's the demo fleet?
This weekend, our friendly local Trek store had a fat bike demo. We had a pretty full weekend at home, but I managed to get out to Alum late Saturday morning. Alas, all the Large and XL bikes were out, leaving only a medium Pugs available to ride:
Two sizes too small for me, but I got tired of standing around waiting and took it for a quick spin. Compared to the Moonlander I test rode a few years back, it was quite a bit better, more like a mini Krampus and less like riding a beach ball bouncing down a flight of stairs. Still, the 3.8" tires didn't seem to give more cushion than my 29+ tires, and it didn't seem to have quite the indomitable rollover of the bigger wheels.