Since I featured Fraser’s last bike – a 29’er plus a few years ago (http://www.spanner.org.uk/2013/12/fraserss-custom-titanium-29er-plus-from-waltly-titanium/) he’s caught the full fat fever and has been back to Waltly for more embiggoning.
He was kind enough to drop me a line the other day with the details. You have to admit it looks pretty awesome with the matching orange highlights:
You’ll notice the trademark fatbike twin top tube and the integrated seatmast that Fraser’s used before, it’s a neat solution so long as you don’t mind keeping the saddle in one position.
The twin top tube design was purely for aesthetics – it took a couple of attempts with Waltly to get a nice arc whilst leaving enough standover. I’m not a fan of the kinked top tubes on many production fat bikes as they just look like a waste of metal.
The geometry is based on Surly’s Ice Cream Truck with a slightly shorter toptube, and designed for a 460mm rigid fork as I don’t really see the need for suspension forks on a fat bike. Ultra-short chainstays aren’t on my hit list either, I stuck with 450mm which give me the option to run 29×3″ wheels. It offers a stable ride but doesn’t appear to compromise the slow speed technical handling at all.
I’m always interested in the special parts and standards that have evolved around fatbikes, in particular the hub and bottom bracket widths that you need to accommodate monster tyres:
My original design was going to be for a 4″ tire, but I then decided I’d go for it with clearance for a 5″ tyre and use a 197mm rear hub with through-axle.
I stuck with a 100mm BSA threaded BB shell, it gives me the flexibility to run a 120mm spindle on the Raceface Turbine cinch cranks to give the clearance for running a monster 5″ tyre!
I can swap to a 100mm spindle with a single chainring for use with skinnier tyres and 29+ if needed. No discomfort issue with wide Q-factor but do experience pedal-strike when negotiating deep ruts.
Fraser’s getting an eye for some nice finishing touches too – checkout the matching ‘Haida Raven’ etched downtube and decal on the front fork:
Fraser was pretty lucky with the delivery time too, only five weeks from placing the order to receiving the frame. Although he did have an agonizing few months wait before he collected all the parts together that he needed for the build!
So to the final moment of truth, just how does that beast ride – all fat bikes handle like Monster Trucks, right?
The bike is deceptively light at under 25lbs – helped in a big way by the Nextie carbon rims. I ran the Dillinger 5’s for a couple of months, which provide awesome grip in deep sand or really soft conditions – running tyres tubeless at 4-5psi gave no trouble with self-steer or collapsing sidewalls. I’ve now swapped to some 45 Nrth Husker Düs for summer which are lighter and roll faster on hardpack. I want to keep the Dillinger’s for next winter (and will fit some ice studs) as I quite fancy going to the arctic!
Handling is really stable. I was riding with some friends across deep sand, they were on regular MTBs struggling to hold a line, whilst I could sit-up and ride no-handed. It really climbs like the proverbial mountain goat and reduces most other two-wheelers to “push bikes” as they struggle for grip!
You know, I’m almost converted! With a fine attention to detail there’s probably not much to add to this review. A 44mm head tube gives you plenty of headset options and looks much better than a tapered one in my mind.
Tubing profiles and design looks spot on too. Breaking up the top tubes and seat tubes has given Fraser much more control over the look of the bike compared to trying to run the same tube all the way along. Although a single tube does give you the option of running cables through it for a super tidy look.
Fraser makes a great case for the fat bike being much more versatile that you might imagine. But can they hold off the rise of the 650b+ and the 29er+ semi-fat pretenders? I still remain ‘fat bike’ curious…
And just in case you were wondering…
I’m enjoying my fatbike so much… I’ve not really give much thought to ‘what next?’ as there’s certainly nothing I’d change with this one!