In a year unlike an other it’s been hard to focus on the good, but a surprising trend is that it’s been a good year for bikes. Bike shops sold out of everything and had month’s long waits for service. It appears the definition of ‘essential worker’ has expanded to include bike shop employees and producers so people can stay active and healthy when work and travel is shut down. All types of bikes were out of stock be they electric, kids, MTB, gravel, road, commuter – everything! Components have been hard to come by with months-long waits making it take much longer to get bikes built up. The summer wildfires in the West stopped work for some due to being evacuated, but hopefully not losing their homes. Everyone thought it would be a downer year for sales but instead everyone took the pandemic as a call to arms to get out and pedal.
Fatbikes were more popular in years past in my queue. In the last few years I’ve had little interest. Due to Surly, Fatbikes had a boom in the early 2010’s but have seemingly tanked, all but for the northern states where it’s a fun bike to ride in winter. Alaska is still second to Colorado in the density of Meriwether’s and most of those are fatbikes.
Not a ton has changed in fatbike tech, at least compared to the exponential change of ‘standards’ and new rim and tire options in the first few years of the fatbike boom. The addition of the 27.5 fat wheel size a few years ago has proven itself and become popular but there still is a little lack of the bigger tire options in 27.5-fat. Bontrager created it with their Jackalope rim and Barbegazi and Gnarwhal tires that measure around 4.3″ wide and are awesome options for different conditions. Terrene Tires have the biggest tire option with their 27.5 x 4.5″ Cake Eaters and I would argue have similar float to their 26×5 Johnny 5’s when used with the widest rim option.
If you’ve clicked on the “In the Wild” link you know that I love seeing customer bike photos (please send more!). I almost need them to complete the circle from tubes to frame and make it all worthwhile. It’s great to see that the hard work we put into the final product is being used in the way we’d envisioned (the “we” here is the customer and I).
I love seeing the photos of the bike doing what it was built to do. So it was a nice surprise when i stumbled upon Jay’s blog outlining his history of fatbikes ending in a Fatback frameset i helped bring to life. Someday I’d like to get up to Alaska in winter and do a White Mountains hut trip tour, some glacier riding, and tour part of the Iditarod course in spring when it’s well packed.
So have a look at Jay’s blog and you can see the developments in fatbike tech over the last 20 years. For guys like Jay, steel is hard to beat.