Sunday, March 1, 2015

Snow Biking Again with the Gravity Bulls Eye Monster

You might have the impression from some of my previous posts that I'm not feeling much love for my new cheap fatbike. That was largely true: I haven't cared for the fat tires, not seeing any advantage on soft surfaces, and just being slow everywhere. I've headed out to the garage on a few occasions to convert it back to stock so I could sell it, but I've held back, mostly with the thought that I need to give the fat tires a little more time to try and understand their capabilities better.

Yesterday was cold but clear, and feeling a bit stir crazy after being inside for the last week, I decided to head out again. I added some more pressure to the fat tires (how much? I don't know, since my floor pump doesn't seem to read below about 20 psi or so), and headed towards Avery Park. The added air pressure really helped the bike move along--it no longer felt like I was dragging an anchor behind me.

Someone helpful person had packed down a path through the park:

The fat tires did fine on this packed surface, of course, but so did my regular tires when I came back and rode it on the ERB (why not on the Razzo? It's been sold). If I diverged from the packed line, progress quickly ground to a halt in the ~7" deep powder on the sides.

I did find the fatbike had an advantage on the chopped up sections of the trail:

Sections like this I could ride confidently on the fat tires, where the skinnier wheels had me slithering all around. Perhaps part of the issue with the skinnier bike, though, was my setup:

I've determined once again that a 29+ wheel + a 29er fork = sloppy handling on a 26er frame. Not an amazing revelation, I know, but it's good to remind myself of these things sometime. Also, the ERB wasn't any better when I came back later with a full 26" setup:

Even with a fatter Dirt Wizard tire up front, it still felt skittish. This latest go round also confirms that I don't have any interest in small wheels, even just on the rear. Trying to achieve the quickness of the small wheels gives up way too much of the grip, stability, and smoothness offered by a 29er. In a fit of downsizing, I spent a cold evening in the garage last night stripping the ERB down for sale. I think it's going to be a tough one to sell, but we'll see.

But back to the Gravity. One value that I'm seeing from it is that it gets me out of the house in marginal weather. Any trail ride is better than sitting inside:

Also, it allows for a challenging ride right outside my door. It's a strange experience when a flat soccer field is a granny gear challenge, but enough deep snow makes it tough:

Now I'm looking at the prospect of the Bullseye Monster being my only mountain bike for the near term. This isn't a horrible prospect: I have my 29+ wheelset if we ever get a dry day again, and I'm also looking at investing in some better tires to replace the marginal Missions that came stock.

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