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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2020

    Lessons learned in going fat...

    Couple years back I moved to Anchorage, AK, decided I wanted to keep riding in the winter, and subsequently went fat. Iíve been a long time mountain biker with a ton of knowledge and experience, I went into fat biking blind. I thought Iíd share what I learned in this process so that you could learn, or laugh at my blunders.

    Im an aggressive rider, fast and fun, I go up only so I can go down. In the 90ís I rode Kona stinkyís and stabs, in the early 2000ís I joined the carbon revolution with ibis and have been riding their longer travel models since (currently on a ripmo).

    When I decided to buy a fat bike i assumed they were pretty much all the same, fat and slow, good for getting out for a mellow ride with the wife and dogs in the winter, a novelty, something to do when I couldnít ski. I figured the only real difference was weight, lighter bike easier to peddle, heavier = more work.... so when I saw a carbon (sucker for that word btw) salsa bear grease fully built for $1800 I thought perfect, a lighter fat bike at a decent price, especially for that magic c word and pulled the trigger without a test ride.

    The first thing I learned is fat biking is pretty damn fun, the second thing I I shouldíve transferred from skiing, thereís all sorts of snow conditions out there, and the third thing I learned, is that just because Iím now on a fully rigid fat bike, itís not going to change my riding style - I still wanted to go fast and flow, i started looking at trails with speed, flow, jumps, and playfulness in mind. I quickly learned that groomed/packed/ridden snow was all I had any interest in riding, and riding fresh tracks fat biking through a beautiful untouched pristine snow field was the same as xc skiing to me, that shits for some of else, and then I realized winter/fat biking didnít have to be ďxc skiingĒ. So then I started the evolution of my stock beargrease.

    It started with a set of 27.5 x 3 studded wraithchild tires I one as a door prize (The stock tires on my beargrease were unstudded 27.5 x 4Ē). Iíd been eyeballing studded tires but couldnít stomach the cost, did a quick search and saw that the stock 80mm rims would hold. 3Ē tire and put all my tickets in the bucket for the Wrathchild. I figured since all I was riding was packed trails at this point the difference in flotation between 3Ē and 4Ē wouldnít matter, and the studs would make up for any loss of traction. I was right. I through the wraithchilds on, the narrower tire with less rolling resistance and weight felt like a turbocharger, it was awesome!

    What I didnít account for was the fact that those 4Ē tires absorbed waaay more impact and shock than the wraithchild and now Iím getting bounced around everywhere,and after 20 minutes of riding my wrists and hands began to ache. So I started casually looking at craigslist for a Fat suspension fork and found a good enough deal on a Bluto.

    Like the wraithchild tires the bluto was a game changer- now I could charge lines with confidence, and speed and ride get into a ride for more than 20minutes opening up a lot of new trail options. Trails with corners. Now that I had 3Ē tires, and some suspension up front i was riding with more speed, except corners. I couldnít corner without my damn ridged seatpost getting in the way... I forgot how much dropper posts changed the game.

    In walks a brand x ascend II dropper post for a $100 with remote. To good to be true? Maybe, The reviews are all great so I take a chance, Iím now responsible for one more 5 star review. Now with 3Ē tires, a suspension fork, and my saddle out of the way thanks to a dropper, Iím able to ride with speed and flow and hit it hard everywhere, even the corners, just like summer. At least thatís what I thought was going to happen. Now that my dropper post is out of the way and Iím leaning my bike into corners Iím sliding out as soon as I start to get the bike over. Turns out 3Ē tires on an 80mm rim give fantastic traction, in a straight line, but it doesnít leave a lot of side profile when it comes to cornering, in this category I might as well be on slicks.

    So back come the stock 4Ē out of retirement. And this time I set them up tubeless, and you know what, theyíre pretty damn good, fun and fast, good traction. I donít ride much ice, just packed groom snow, turns out studs arenít necessary. So finally a happy ending. Well, almost, still one lesson to learn. Going fast with big 27.5 x 4Ē is too much work for 160mm mechanical disc brakes. Hydraulics are necessary and I went 180mm up front and recommend the same.

    So if youíre consider fat biking, donít make the assumption that itís just slow, itíll change your riding, and itís all the same. Luckily I stumbled into a platform that was supported my riding style (beargrease) theyíre are plenty of fat bikes out there that donít have this geometry, so make sure you buy for what youíre oooking to ride.

    I also learned that they ainít just for summer, and because I got lucky with aggressive hard tail geometry Iím also able to rally it as a summer ride swapping out the wheel set for some super fun 29 x 2.8s

    Itís been fun learning all this, but I do wish I wouldíve known this from the start. Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Ski Donkey; 03-15-2020 at 11:41 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Southeast New York

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