Friday, September 25, 2015

I Got Fat

While living in Ann Arbor I got hooked on biking. It's where I developed my passion for bike commuting, gravel riding, and mountain biking. However, the one type of biking that I never got into down there, due partly to a lack of riding space, was the fat bike. Oh, how I wanted to buy one to bound around on the single track in the summer and float through the snow in the Winter, but the chance just never came. Even when we would get a "bad" snow Hunter and I still took the crossbikes out on gravel roads.

Cut to 2015: we are in Marquette and after living through half a winter without being able to ride my bike it was time to solve that problem. Finally I had a real reason to pick up a fat bike.

After much consideration, of which budget is always pinnacle, I decided to try a bikes direct bike. I had read some horror stories written by people with super high expectations and no apparent ability to adjust their own bikes. There was a thread on MTBR and an article on PinkBike that really changed my mind. The article spoke highly of one of the "higher-end" fat bikes from bikes direct. More researching and poking around led me to cross my fingers and order the Motobecane Sturgis Bullet. It came with a Rock Shox Bluto and 2x10 drivetrain as nice little shiny additions. But what really sealed the deal was the Kinesis-built frame, through-axles, and Nova-tec hubs. I'm not claiming that these parts are top of the line, but they are far better than the components found on most of the bikes in the other tiers on bikes direct.

The bike shipped to my door, free of charge, in about 6 days. I tore out of work to unbox it as soon as it arrived. It came mostly assembled, however, I took the time to adjust, tighten, and properly lubricate all of the parts. (Take care of your things)

Once it was set up I took it for a shakedown spin on Marquette's South Trails of the NTN (Part of the Noque). The road getting to the trail shook my confidence a bit because the bike handled like a big fat cow compared to the cyclecross bike that I have been used to riding. I put 10 miles of twisty single-track consisting of deep berms, punchy climbs, and a few descents. I was impressed at how nimble this big cow is on the trail. I have put about 400 miles on it so far this Summer and I am very happy with the purchase.
My Fatty on one of the overlooks on the South Trails.

The welds are smooth and appear to be holding up to my abuse. All of the other components are functioning well as expected. I will be dedicating a future post to the Bluto fork. I am not ready to write about it yet because I have never ridden a fat bike without a suspension fork. That being said, the bike handles noticeably better on the descents and berms when the fork is not locked. I will be purchasing a rigid fork soon to compare the two.

The long-term forecast calls for the first measurable snowfall on October 11th. While I am quite doubtful of that date, I am nonetheless looking forward to snow. (I even bought a new kit to deal with the temps UP here).

Fatty readying herself for Down Dogger. It's a blast on this thing although it would probably be a lot more fun on a full-squish bike.

I watched the new Jurassic World movie and then took the bike out... this happened.

Border Grill delivery machine.

As you can see from the pictures I have some cheap flats on it right now. Upgrading those is a priority right now, looking for some flats that will also work for winter. I also plan on shortening the stem, upgrading the BB and cranks, and putting in some lightweight tubes. I will update on performance and durability as time progresses. For now, it's fun, it was affordable, and it is getting me outside more often and after all, isn't that why we ride bikes? Bike snobs need not reply.


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