The latest creation from Sizemore is roughly as much design as it is bicycle. With some stellar details and unique functional touches. The bike is intended for every day city transport and built around 26″ wheels suited to its smaller rider. Check out further details and photos on the Sizemore Bicycle Website.
Swobo has a windowless van and a plan. They are hitting the road onboard the van, Halen to spread the good word of Swobo- while sharing pizza and beer with those lucky enough to cross paths with them on this trip around these United States. They have a tentative schedule, connecting with shops from Colorado to South Carolina. (Unfortunately they are skipping Alaska this time around.)
- Wednesday, Jan 15 – Lincoln, NE – Monkey Wrench Cycles
- Thursday, Jan 16, – Chicago, IL – Bike Lane
- Saturday, Jan 18 – Columbus, OH – Paradise Garage
- Monday, Jan 20 – Washington, DC – Bicycle Space
- Tuesday, Jan 21 – Greensboro, NC – Revolution Cycles
- Wednesday, Jan 22 – Columbia, SC – Cock and Bull
- Saturday, Jan 25 – Kansas City, MO – River Market Cyclery
Also keep an eye out on the website- because they have a few new bikes coming out. One being: The Mutineer. A single speed specific mountain bike(ish) offering that looks like loads of fun. An alloy frame with a 27.5″ wheelset (with Kenda Honeybadger tires,) it’s belt drive compatible, has a (80mm) suspension corrected rigid fork, disc brakes, a bunch of Swobo parts, and it comes in at a cool $999. That’s like Evil and a half. Only available in matte black, because you don’t really need anything else. I cop’d a photo from BikeRumor, who will be following the tour with internet postings and the like.
So if they’re coming through your town- pinch Murph’s cheek, get to know the bikes, and drink all the beers- as I would do.
If you’ve been reading a while, ya’ll know my affinity/fascination/obsession with fatbikes. I’d wanted one since I moved to Seattle, but since my move back to Alaska it became a “when” not an “if” I was getting one. I looked around a bit and figured out that the main thing that I was looking for was fatness. I wanted to be able to float over the soft terrain without having to lose 75 pounds because let’s face it, that won’t be happening. That meant a frame that would allow for 100mm rims and the fattest tire which is currently marketed at 4.8″. I also didn’t want an offset wheel, and something that I could throw a 29″ wheelset on in the summer would be nice too.
I went with a Fatback 190 Rocker.
Fatback Bicycles is not a big brand that has a bunch of backing, it’s a couple passionate dudes in Alaska. At the forefront of Fatback is Greg Mattyas. Greg was born and raised in Anchorage- racing bikes and skis and being awesome. He opened up Speedway Cycles in 2007. A busy man, Greg spends his time juggling bike shop dailies, furthering the sport of fatbiking, going on epic adventures, family life, and innovating fatbike technology. Fatback was one of the first mass produced options offering an alternative to Surly’s Pugsley- with a few notable features that set them apart.
- They’re a bit lighter than a Surly. Being aluminum, they weigh in at under 4lbs for the frame.
- They are made in the USA. The aluminum frames are made in Oregon. For a while they were doing steel and ti frames, which were also made in the US. (They have recently added the carbon Corvus frame that I’m fairly certain is made over seas.)
- Symmetrical rear wheels. I like them- Surly doesn’t do ‘em. Figure it out. Makes for a nice transition to a 29″ summer bike with the same frame. Nuthin’ on Surly, but I like symmetry.
- Fatback has been integral in the advancement of fatbike technology. After starting with a 165mm rear hub, Fatback swapped to the 170mm symmetrical rear hub, which is currently the industry standard (though it’s really looking like 190mm might be the future.)
- Fatback was a sweet funk band. No- I don’t think that there was any relation to the brand, but FATBACK was awesome. Check ‘em out:
I met up with Greg at Interbike and asked him what I had to do to go home with a Fatback.
Apparently Fatback production was lagging and demo bikes had a couple more stops to make before they made it back to Alaska- but he’d make something happen.
When I got home, we emailed back and forth (more than he would have liked to, I’m sure.) Even so, his communication was prompt- which was much appreciated. I was fixated. I wouldn’t stop until I was riding along the beach- on sand or snow, with 4.8″ wide tires underneath me at 8psi. Thankfully, things came together.
I’ll skip the part where Melissa got a bike and I didn’t… and just say that we left Anchorage with a Fatback for her- thanks to Robert at Speedway Cycles. He sold her on a a 14″ Fatback Deluxe which- jealous as I was, I was super excited to see her so excited about a bike. She loves it!
Well, I got the email about 2 weeks back that my bike was done. Alaska being Alaska, it helps being creative on shipping. I made some calls and the Lynden Transport barge was headed out of Anchorage the next day. Greg had one of his guys bring it to the office and off it was- on a boat across the sound- to arrive between my loving legs a few days later.
On it’s arrival, the folks at the shipping company were all-a-chatter:
“Where’s the motor?”
“That thing is huge!”
“Is that a bicycle!?!”
I just smiled. My bike was finally here! In all of it’s “mountain bike on steroids glory.” It had seemingly traveled in the freezer van, as it was covered in frost on receipt of the bike. That’s okay. It’ll see a lot colder temperatures in the future.
There it was- my Fatback. All dressed up with a Revelate Designs frame bag and “gas tank” with no place to go (pedals were stored in the frame bag,) I walked it home and made it ready to ride.
- Fatback 190 Rocker frame (The Rocker is the rocker dropouts allowing chain tensioning/belt compatibility)
- Fatback Aluminum fork with hella braze-ons.
- SRAM X9 2×9 drivetrain with Gripshift
- FSA Comet cranks
- Kona WaWa pedal
- (F) Surly Rolling Darryl rim to 135mm Fatback (import) hub (4.8″ Lou tire)
- (R) Surly Rolling Darry rim to 190mm Fatback (import) hub (4.8″ Lou tire)
- Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors (one argument for mechanical brakes is price- the other is field repairability.)
- FSA bars, seatpost, headset, stem
Overall weight: 32.5lbs
First impression. It’s big. Tire pressure was higher than it would be if I were on soft sand or snow- about 25psi. I was riding alongside a curb, turned the bars and BOOP- up and over it. The bike just rolled right over it like it was no big deal. It was almost comical. Pedaling felt a little sluggish at first- the wheel weight is far more than I usually have to contend with. Once I picked up some momentum things were going good. I wasn’t going to set any speed records, but the momentum was decent and once you just get used to the fact that you’ve got two speeds: 1) slow and 2) steady- it’s not half bad. The 2×9 SRAM drivetrain operated via Gripshift worked well, even with the 4.8″ Surly Bud tires on 82mm rims and a 190mm rear hub pushing the drivetrain so far out. No chain rub on the tires whatsoever.
I will say you shouldn’t get a fatbike expecting a mountain bike. It’s a different animal. Sorry. It’s fun- but it WON’T BE AS FAST AS YOUR 29″er… Unless the terrain gets soft. Then? Then I’ll be passing you by as you walk out.
No… I didn’t do anything epic. I just rode around town. But I had fun. I got out of the saddle and cranked on the pedals- the super wide bars giving lots of leverage. Apparently the rocker dropouts weren’t secured, so they slipped and the tire started rubbing on the frame. I got it fixed up and tightened down and it was good to go.
Since then I’ve ridden on the mudflats of Hartney Bay, up the Ibek Slough Sands and on the Copper River Banks. I’m excited about more adventures- when weather agrees to the travel plans. I’ll be looking into a packraft next, which opens up way more terrain- even just paddling across the Copper River where the bridge is washed out and riding out to the Million Dollar Bridge would be fun.
I was thinking I was going to go with the Clownshoe rims, which are currently the widest fatbike rim available at 100mm. I was dissuaded at the last minute by two reasons: 1)Lots of folks are going with 82mm rims, and since the frame will still run 4.8″ tires, it was splitting the difference. 2) More importantly- Clownshoes were back ordered and I may have had to wait another month for my bike. So that settled that. Rolling Darryls it is.
By no means is the honeymoon over- I am really digging the build and everything about the bike. What I am seeing though is the insane cost associated with a growing, but still niche market. Everything costs more. The bikes themselves aren’t cheap. The Aluminum 190 XO1 bike- basically what I have, retails at $3700. I got a bit of a deal as it’s a used bike- a prototype, even. But it’s still more than I’ve plunked down on a bike ever. I’ve got a boner for some studs, but the only factory studded tires available are the Dillingers from 45NRTH- coming in at $225… Each.
I’ve got a few things that are on my list of upgrades though. Things like:
- 45NRTH Dillinger studded tires
- I’d like to try 180mm rotors for a little more stopping power. They come with 160’s to give more heel room, so I may start with the front.
- A Schmidt SON dynamo hub (laced to a Clownshoe rim) Yeah- they make ‘em in the 135mm spacing for the front.
- A 29er wheelset for the summer. Likely the Surly Rabbit Hole rims.
- Jeff Jones H-bars.
- A Gates belt drive. I’ve had mixed feelings on my Gates system on my SSCX bike, but for a beach tour- I think it’d be the best way to go. Single speed. The grit and salt can wreck havoc on a chain drive. Derailleurs and all that- just take it off. It’s all the same grade, you don’t need gears. A great option to have and one of the reasons I went with the rocker dropouts.
- A packraft. Because, that is the next step…
Interbike confirmed that things in the fatbike world were, as most of America- getting fatter… Of course there’s a way to lighten the load without dieting – carbon. The carbon steeds at Interbike were under 29lbs complete with 4.8″ tires. If that’s your thing then you can look towards the folks working in that medium. There is the the Fatback Corvus, the 9:Zero:7 Whiteout and the Borealis Yampa to name a few. Though I do like carbon, I wanted a bike that could be thrown around a bit. I see the carbon option for the racers more than the adventure tour types.
So get out there and ride your bike.
After a few days of exploring Anchorage by bike during the day, and the inside of Anchorage bars by night, we were ready to leave the city. A 300 mile road trip, an improvised campsite and a high-powered catamaran ride later we were standing in front of Ryan on his Raleigh Port Townsend at the ferry dock in Cordova, AK. “Welcome to Cordova!” exclaimed Ryan, unstrapping some beers from his porteur rack and offering them up. “We’re the first house on the left”. Breath taking views in every direction, mountains rising up out of the sound, nothing but green trees, blue waters and a postage stamp sized town. This is the Alaska I was looking for.
For the next six days and five nights we explored Cordova by bike, by foot and by bottle. We road out “the road” and the other road (yeah, there is two of them) as well as some scenic trails. One of the highlights was riding Saddlebag Glacier trail. It winds through the woods along a creek that has cut out a valley, the terrain changing several times before spitting us out on the shore of Saddlebag Lake.
It was an early flight into Anchorage, so by 10:30am we had already managed to walk through the woods and across town. We did stop for coffee (in a city that has more espresso stands per capita than anywhere else in the US), but by now we were seated at a questionable but genuine bar beers-in-hand. In the brief moments between being bombarded (or befriended) by the obviously very regular morning crowd, my host Garret informed me there would be a bicycle available for me to use.
I came to Alaska to visit my good friend Garret Spargo as well as spend some time with Ryan, the man behind GMG himself. Bringing a bike was something I had wanted to do, but it ended up being too expensive to consider. Garret is involved with Off The Chain, a bicycle collective in Anchorage. They granted me access to the shop and I was able to put in some work, and build a bike for myself to use while in town.
Check out this short video from Portus Cycles documenting the creation of the Greenhorn, a handmade balance bike. When asked “why a balance bike?” Portus Cycles answered “Because we all started small and that`s what we want to do.” The Greenhorn is fillet brazed out of Reynolds 725 and weighs in at 2.12 kg complete according to the web.
Bike sharing programs are popping up in major cities all over the globe, but one is a little different (alright a lot different) than the others. Spinlister is an open marketplace that allows users to rent bikes from one another. Think Airbnb but for bikes. Craigslisters and the like should feel right at home with the concept. Once you sign up to be a member (which is free and only takes a few seconds) you can both rent bikes from other users and post your own ride or rides up for rent.
Traveling with a bike can be a major pain in the ass, especially for short trips, not to mention the constantly climbing cost of flying with a bike. I haven’t had a chance to use Spinlister myself yet, but hope to soon. I am traveling to Alaska and had hoped to find a bike to rent, unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any Spinlister users in our nations largest and most Northerly state. (Ryan perhaps you could pop the 49th state’s Spinlister cherry?) I will however be posting a “loaner” bike of mine for rent soon in hopes of being able to review how Spinlister works. More on that to follow. In the meantime friends of GoMeansGo, Back Alley Bikes, has several rental bikes posted on Spinlister HERE. So if you are in the Seattle area and looking to rent a bike check them out.
Check out the beautifully shot video of Steve Peat riding into the wilds of Scotland on the new Santa Cruz Solo. I’m loving the track by Joe Gideon & The Shark as well. Where have all the good times gone you ask? This video leaves me feeling like they are surely ahead of us.
Titanium light weight fat bike by Vertigo Cycles out of Portland, Or. I wonder what the complete build weight is on this bike? I love the Fat Chance jersey in the photo as well.
Hey Ryan, how many fat bikes are you allowed to have up there in Alaska? Have a Ti one yet?
Last month, I had the opportunity to stop by the 2013 Pedaler’s Fair, hosted this year in Seattle’s Underground Events Space in Belltown.
The first of the cyclist-targeted clothing lines I was drawn to was Telaio Clothing. The line of designer and maker Katherine Andrews, Telaio’s line of handbuilt wool clothing is comes in colors that seem fitting for the northwest – charcoal greys and khakis, in classic pieces for men and women. The wool blazers and riding pants have a unisex, uniform feel to them – the simple colors and cuts could easily be incorporated into any wardrobe and look nondescript on and off a bike. As Katherine, the designer/tailor behind Telaio expressed, Telaio clothes are intended to easily become a uniform, sewn with the care and intention required for a long-wearing investment piece.
I really appreciated clothing designer Babecycle‘s approach to bike wear for its femininity. Designer Sonia McBride’s recent line included a really beautiful skirt that caught my eye, offered in both a dayglo shade of chartreuse, and a bright orchid / fuchsia color. The feminine, A-line cut and textured fabric are intended to look beautiful both on and off the bike, allowing for movement while cycling, but stylish enough to wear to the office or around town. Personally, the chartreuse color is a bit bright for my personal taste, but I’m really drawn to the idea of incorporating a dayglo piece of clothing into my wardrobe that could serve as a more stylish version of a florescent vest. Pieces from Babecycle’s line are available for purchase in Fremont at Hub and Bespoke, or online in their Etsy shop.
Of all the exhibitors at the fair, I was most intrigued by the beautiful fleet of cycles that the guys of Seattle-based Bombus Bikes were showcasing. All custom built, each of the 4 frames displayed were incredibly unique – not just in the more aesthetic decisions of paint colors and accessories – but in frame type and use. It was easy to tell how much thought went into crafting each frame with a specific purpose and type of rider in mind, and then in the selection of accessories that make the final builds look so intentionally beautiful.