I got the wheels from Fatbike.com in the mail Friday. They are a stock wheelset, not the heaviest, not the lightest. They came with Surly Rolling Darryl rims which have cutouts to save weight. This also makes some interesting options for rim strips. Gorilla tape I hear is used or just the Surly rim strips which you can get in different colors to give your wheels some bling. These rims are…huge. They are 80mm wide which is nearly 4 times the width of a regular MTB Cross-country rim like the 24.4mm-wide Stan’s Arch 29er. They easily stand on their. I’m waiting on the other parts but I’ll go over them now as i’m thinking about it.
I got some Mr. Whirly cranks with the 100mm axle – made for fatbikes with a 100mm bottom bracket shell (regular frames are either 68 or 73mm wide). There are downhill bikes that have the same 100mm wide bottom bracket shell so you can actually find non-specific Fatbike cranks in either ISIS, Phil Wood square taper, or Truvativ. The Surly’s cranks are just designed for FAT-tire clearance so I decided to go with them. Thankfully, I still don’t have to pay retail for most things! But the Mr. Whirly’s are pretty reasonably priced for an external cup two piece crankset.
Another thing specific to some fatbikes is the rear hub spacing between the dropouts — 170mm. You can get the Pugsley or other fatbikes with regular 135mm hubs and the 65mm-wide Large Marge rims, but then have to have that offset I talked of in an earlier post. So…Salsa makes a skewer to span the 170mm hub spacing.
Tires? we covered that already but since then I’ve since read and heard that the Surly Endomorphs are not the greatest tracking tire – especially when used as a front tire. That’s a big reason they came out with the Larry tire. It has directional treads strangely similar to an old Panaracer Dart (remember those?!?!) so it’ll not ‘plow’ through snow when trying to turn with momentum. The Endomorphs just have that horizontal ‘paddle’ tread pattern that is probably best suited for groomed or snowpacked roads with not much powder on top. When there’s ice, they’re not so good. Google search “studded fatbike tires” and you’ll read about the ingenuity of people (mostly from the middle-west and Great White North) doing all sorts of crazy and cool things to their Larry’s and Endomorphs. It seems to me that the “socket head screw caps with cone points” would work the best but I’m still trying to figure out what is the best length (3/16″ or longer?) and if they sell them with a carbide tip or not so they don’t wear down as fast. Either way, you’re drilling a small hole in the treads of your tire, screwing in the stud, patching the inside with silicone caulk, and then letting em roll. There are different ideas on how many studs per tire, less than 100 and up to 225 I’ve seen, but with running 10lbs or less of pressure it seems to me that two rows of studs – one on each outer tread (outside edge of tires) – would be mostly sufficient unless you’re only riding on frozen rivers…in which case you don’t even need a fatbike anyways.
Other than the frame, rims, hubs, tires, and BB, there isn’t that much more specific to fatbikes, but that’s pretty much the entire bike! For ‘accessories’, i’ll be using my MooseMitts (pogies) to keep my hands warm and regular clipless pedals (Time ATAC’s) with the high ankle-cuffed Lake winter shoes (great for hiking in deep snow). A flatbar works best for the pogies, but they also work OK with On-One Mary bars, H-bars, and even Mustache bars (descending order of how well they fit/work). There are even pogies for drop bars too! But I haven’t tried those out so I can’t comment. If you haven’t tried pogies, they are amazing. You can wear a much lighter glove underneath for better braking/shifting dexterity than without pogies. I usually carry the pogies in my pack until I head down a long descent or if I’m just riding around under 20 degrees. My hands just can’t stay warm on their own anymore when it’s cold.
Paragon just got the 100mm BB shells in stock so the bike build begins this week. More later…