Day one of Outdoor Dirt Demo. There was dirt and wind and beer and bikes and… The Elliptigo. Maybe next year they’ll come out with a recumbent, E-Elliptigo but until then- I’m out.
Fatbikes. I like them. They are fun. Apparently other people like them too, and the bike industry has been selling lots of them. I also like cargo bikes. They have come a long way in the last few years and I’m trying to get my nephews set up with one so they are of particular interest to me this year. Another style of bike that piques my interest is the folder. Not just for smug commuters anymore, the folder is a great option for those that travel, don’t have much space in their houses, or those that may link up a few different types of transportation on their commute.
After missing the show last year, I was unsure what to expect- curious what changes had been made in the program as far as vendors and more importantly, the sweet deals that they sometimes bring to the demo.
One thing that was easy to notice as soon as you step off the bus, is the growth of the e-bike. I think it’s undeniable at this point that the cycling industry will have to make room for this growing sector of bikes. Like it, or not. Town bikes, cargo bikes, even mountain bikes were cruising up the hills at 20mph, quiet as a mouse with the driver pedaling with little effort and an unavoidable smile on their face. I tested one on a cargo bike platform (which as of this writing I’m going to say that its the only e-bike I’d feel comfortaly riding, unless no one was looking.) An Xtracycle Edgerunner, it had the Bosch gear box system which is pretty great, being a true pedal assist, unlike some that seem little more than electric mopeds. Though I rode it unloaded, I can imagine that with a full load of beer, kids, or potting soil- even steep hills would be climbable, maybe even with ease.
Dirt Demo, for whatever reason, is not attended near as well as Interbike. Some shop people or media folks love it- and why wouldn’t you? It’s 2 days in the desert, riding bikes you could never afford, with lots of trails, a pump track and even a goddamn shuttle. The interest seems to be waning still, with fewer attendees, and some vendors pulling out- maybe saving themselves for the show? Myself, I haven’t taken advantage of the shuttle, and don’t go buck wild on the riding- I just like to go around and snap photos of dirty bikes.
But I digress, the focus is on the bikes. So here it goes…
Fatback has two new bikes, the Skookum (carbon) and the Rhino (alloy.) The Skookum picks up where the Corvus left off- now allowing for the Bluto fork, and with shorter chain stays and a more mtb geometry. The Rhino is the more affordable alloy model, with an alloy fork and a carbon option. The prices have come down a little this year, with shops able to order different levels- either a Winter or 3-season, even a singlespeed with the Rhino model. The models will start at $1799 for the SS Rhino, and go up from there. I’m guessing you’ll start to see more and more of these on the beaches of the lower 48 as states and communities realize their bike rental potential.
Vee has an advantage over other tire companies in that they do so much in house. From design to production to (maybe even distribution,) Vee owns it all, meaning that they can often bring a tire to market in a much shorter time frame that their competitors. Tires like the Snowshoe 2XL.
The first thing that I noticed about it- it’s huge. Like- so big I might not have a frame that will fit it. I haven’t seen it on a frame, so I’m not sure what it looks like, but sitting next to the 4.8″ studded Snowshoe XL, it’s substantially larger.
Will 5.05 and larger tires be the next move for fatbikes? I’m going to venture to say no- many manufacturers with existing bikes would likely have to redesign the frames, which some may do, but somewhere along the line you reach a point of diminishing returns. That said, I’m not an engineer or even that well versed in what makes one tread pattern good on wet roots and bad on wet rocks. That shit is science.
Somewhere in between the Icecream Truck and the Pugsly, the Wednesday has a 170mm rear end and will fit 82mm x 5″ tire (though I imagine that means 4.8, not 5.05.) It’s Rohloff friendly (NERD ALERT!) with horizontal dropouts and it has hella braze ons.
Price point seems to be something that all the fatbike companies are trying to bring down, making the bikes more accessible to a wider range of incomes. The Wednesday comes with a SRAM X5 2×9 drivetrain, trigger shifters, Hayes cable disc brakes and Surly’s new My Other Brother Darryl tubeless ready rims wearing Nates (with tubes.)
If you run 82mmx5″, you’ll need to go with a 1x drivetrain (or the Rohloff.) It won’t work with a 100mmx5″ tire.
I love carrying shit on my bike. The heavier or more awkward the better. I re-raked a front fork one time by drunkenly carrying a friend on my Cetma cargo rack. Not sure why, but I do. I tried the Mundo, and like it because of it’s longer tail and cargo capacity (something like 700lbs.)
The Boda Boda is a whippy, shorter wheelbase version, and though it feels much more like a regular bike, it doesn’t have quite the load capacity. The basket on this one can be put on either, and is pretty rad. You can also install an electric assist if you are out of shape or lazy.
As for e-bikes; they are a thing. There are something like 180 vendors here working with E-bikes and at this point, I’m guessing that you the reader isn’t that into them- mainly because I don’t want to have nerd discussions with e-bike people. So there.
*Finishing this post in the press room on the first day of the show, I’ll try and get more up on the regular, but you may also see some stuff on Instagram and Twitter.