When the FedEx truck pulled into my driveway I knew exactly what he was about to unload. Is it wrong that I watched the FedEx Tracking page like a hawk for two days while my frame made its way to Idaho from Anchorage, AK? I have been thinking about a new Fat Bike frame for a while and when I saw the specs of the 2012 Fatback I knew it was the frame for me.
The Blank Canvas
My ultimate goal for a new Fatback was FLOAT. I want to have the best chance of riding, not pushing, when the conditions get soft. I wanted to be able to run the largest tires available, the 4.7” Big Fat Larry, and not have to make drivetrain sacrifices. The 2012 Fatback was actually ready for production before Surly announced the Big Fat Larry tire but the guys at Speedway Cycles wanted their new bike to accommodate this new huge-mongous tire. New drawings were sent to their fabricator and of course this added a delay to the delivery time. I would say the extra wait was worth it.
My new aluminum 2012 Fatback in the raw finish has a no-nonsense industrial look to it. The frame has several well thought out features such as a tapered head tube, clean cable routing for full-length housing runs, a bent top tube for more standover clearance, and massive rear triangle clearance to accommodate the biggest Fat Bike tire available today.
Room for 90mm rims, Big Fat Larry, and a 2 x 9 drivetrain
Having the clearance to run a 4.7” Big Fat Larry tire on a 90mm-100mm rim in the rear is important to me because of where and how I ride. Our snowmobile trails here in the Tetons have a lot of hills and I need at least two chainrings in the front. I chose to build up the new fatback with a 2 x 9 drivetrain using the Origin 8 Isis crankset and SRAM XO 9-speed in the rear.
The Rear Triangle is built around at 170mm Hub
Fat Carbon with Stealth Graphics
I opted for the new tapered carbon Fatback fork for one simple reason. It is sexy baby. A steel fork would have ridden just fine and cost a few bucks less but I could not resist the sexy FAT carbon. Does that mean I am shallow?
Enve Downhill Bars cut down to 760mm
I find myself moving to wider handlebars on my XC bikes so I thought I would try something really wide on the Fatback. The Enve DH bar is 800mm uncut and I have now cut them down to 760mm. I think I am in love. A Fat Bike seems to be the perfect application for a wide bar because of the stable handling it creates.
2012 Aluminum Fatback, Ready to Rock
So how does it ride? Laterally stiff while remaining vertically compliant...I think I read that crap somewhere. Ha!
In my opinion, the two key ingredients to the ride of a Fat Bike are:
A) How does it fit the rider?
B) The tire profile and PSI
The guys at Speedway Cycles nailed the geometry with this frame. My large frame has a 24.2 effective top tube and a tall-ish head tube that made it very easy for me to create a comfortable position. In terms of tire profile and PSI, I am running Big Fat Larry tires front and rear and my typical riding pressure is 6 PSI. At this low pressure, the ride is super comfy and grippy. With about 20 hours in the saddle so far I have to say that I am very happy and impressed with the bike.
A short video of the build process