Part 1 of 2, snow today, dirt…another day.
I took the Knard-tired bike out for a few hours today at the end of the road (this bike needs a better name). The snow is melting fast, even the 6-12″ that fell just a few days ago, but there’s still lots covering the road and surrounding trails. I instantly felt at home on the bike, no back pain, no hand numbness, I think I did it right with its geometry. Even with the big wheels and tires and 92mm of trail, this bike handles like a big BMX bike…just FUN! I couldn’t believe how fast it goes over packed snow. It rides way more like a regular 29er than a fatbike and it floats pretty well. I ran 10psi in the rear tire and 7psi in the front tire, with tubes. If you get in the softer snow, it bogs down but you can still ride it. Best for packed snow trails and a mix of dirt and snowpacked/crust trails. It obviously doesn’t float like a Moonlander does in soft snow, or even a Necro with 3.7″ tires, but there’s no reason to have a fatbike on groomed trails in my opinion. I rode out the road for around 10 miles and did a little lollipop to grab a hillside that two snowmobilers had packed down, and then rode back to the parking lot. The road switchbacked up and then dropped 600ft vertical down to the main route. Sliding the rear wheel around corners, counter-steering the front end to stay afloat and upright it was nothing but giggles all the way down. This is my new favorite bike and I think it’ll be even more fun on dirt.
Like I said in the previous post thought, the sidewalls of the 120tpi version are way thin and the tread is pretty slim. I’d love a knobbier version in maybe the 27 tpi casing.
Things I like:
I love the internal cable routing. No noise, clean lines, no worries. The full cable housing makes not a damn difference in shifting performance, but I’m not sure about the rear Avid BB7 disc brake…feels more squishy. But that also may be due to the fact I’ve been riding hydraulics for the last year mostly. The front center is perfect for me (680mm). Any shorter than 675mm and I’d be hitting the tire on my toe. I don’t know the top tube length, I don’t pay attention to that anymore but it’s around 23.5″. Yep, SHORT for a 6ft 1″ tall dude. But I’ve completely changed my opinion on top tube length…it ends up what it ends up after I get the other numbers dialed in. The BB is 12.4″, a good height but higher than I’m used to and I can barely touch the ground with my toe while seated. I wanted more clearance for this all-rounder MTB. The long seat-post exposed gives a nice and noticeable amount of hardtail ‘suspension’ (flex). Lastly, I dig its looks. My wife says it’s a pretty bike and I have to agree.
Now for the issues with the bike.
The chainline sucks. It’s a 1×9 and the only crankset I was able to get a sub-54mm chainline on it was by using a decades old Race Face Turbine ISIS drive with a 118mm spindle that I found in the ‘old crap bin’. Works after all these years! and with at least two MTB tours on it! I’m not an ISIS hater, they have always been good to me. I was able to fit the 32t ring in the middle position and run a Spot bash guard on the outer which also helps keep the chain on the bike. I didn’t drop a chain and the cross-over wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. The chainstays are not super short – 440mm/17.3″ long actual (17.1″ effective) but you can see from the photos that with these tires that it’s pretty close to the BB with the sliders all the way forward. A ‘yoke’ would be best, and I just heard Paragon is making a chainstay yoke for fat tire bikes…!! (Seen on a NAHMBS Retotec and a recent Engin frame.) Chainline is going to be hard on these Knard bikes just like with Fatbikes. It’d be ideal to go with an 83mm shell and a offset or wider rear axle me thinks. Or just make a normal rear end not going short in the chainstay. Anyways, I’m happy with how it turned out even though it limits the cranks I can use. I was all set to use a Race Face Dues with a 32 on the outside and that fits, but there’s more crossover and it grinds a lot in the easiest gear in back.
The twin top tubes are cool, but if you’ve ever ridden a cruiser you may not like how wide the tubes are when you’re pedaling. I.e., you may rub your knees on them while pedaling sometimes. I’m at the width limit of what fits me, but I have skinny legs. Only occasionally did i rub the inside of my knee on the tubes. But I also made them wider than others that do this regularly (Retrotec) because I was trying to make a smoother transition to the seatstays and come off the side of the 44mm head tube. With wider tires you need to go wider in the chainstays and seat stays. S-bends are a must to prevent your heel from hitting the
frame while pedaling. I was able to get this done, but if the seatstays weren’t arc’d we’d have a problem. I made them like that to fit in the fatter 29plus tires that will be coming out next winter (hint hint Surly…!).