Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winter and Fat Bikes time to get the Pugsley out!

The Fat Bike phenomena is catching on. It started decades ago in Fairbanks Alaska when riders in the bike race, along parts of the Iditarod Sled Dog trail, decided they needed more floatation so they did not have to push their bikes more than they rode. An enterprising person welded two rims together to make the first Fat Bike rim.

Although the Fat Bike was born in snow they have proven useful in sand and other environment where greater floatation is desirable.

The most popular tires for the modern production bikes born of Alaska are made by Quality Bicycle Products under the Surly name. They are 4" wide! This requires a frame with much more clearance for the huge tires. Putting a Fat Bike build together requires attention to a lot of details not found on normal Mountain Bikes.

The asymmetrical Fat Bikes like the original Surly Pugsley have a 135mm rear spacing and a 135mm front spacing designed to use a rear hub in the front. The logic behind this is that if your rear hub fails you can swap the front and rear wheels and be back in business. This design causes some challenges in getting wheels built, installing racks and with brakes. So keep this is mind if you are building a bike up from a frame.

In my Pugsley build I decided I wanted to eliminate the external derailleur that might be frozen up or knocked off on the trail. I used a Shimano Nexus 8 speed internal gear rear hub. This hub is like a 3 speed hub with all the gearing installed inside the hub shell. This protects the gearing from snow and crud and mechanical attack. I used disc brakes to eliminate problems with the rims using cantilever brakes. But I must say I am now not a fan of disc brakes. I find them hard to adjust and if the rotor is warped there is no way to get them adjusted properly.

Last year during the North America Birkebeiner cross country ski race a skier who was unable to ski the race wanted to go along and cheer on his friends. He and a few compatriots rode their Fat Bikes on forest roads to intersect the ski race course. (Jerry Wrights Story) This was the birth of the new Fat Bike Birkie. Scheduled for March 9, 2013 two weeks after the Birkie ski race organizers expect to get 200 or more Fat Bike riders to ride the first ever Fat Bike Birkie.

Fat Bike Birkie 

Hayward Area Chamber events & festivals 

So come on up to the Northwoods of Wisconsin in March to ride the Birkie on your Fat Bike!