Monday, December 28, 2015

Inching closer.

With a few weeks of over-snow riding under our belts, this seemed like a good time to check in with some of the finer details on this build.

I'm anal to the Nth degree when it comes to sorting out a new bike, doubly so when there is no real precedent or benchmark for that bike.  In other words, during and after every ride so far I've been fiddling and fine tuning the position to put my CoG exactly where it needs to be to take full advantage of the massive float that this chassis is capable of.

Position aside, there are a few small details that add up to something bigger when it comes to riding in cold temps.  Because snow sucks so much of our power out, and because we're swaddled in so many layers of clothing (robbing yet more power), I think it's critical to maximize efficiency in every way possible.  Pedals on this bike are ISSI, and that's only important because they offer a +6mm and +12mm spindle kit to help you fine tune your fit and feel.  I installed a set of the +6 spindles right off the bat, largely so that I could eliminate crankarm rub from my writ-large winter shoes.

I also dug into the pedals so that I could remove the sticky-when-cold factory grease and install something thinner.  I have a stash of Morningstar "Soup" that I use for stuff like this, and the pedals spin much more freely at sub-zero temps now that it's in there.

Low gearing is critical for where/when I ride snow.  I'm using a SRAM 1 x 11 drivetrain, with a 26t Wolftooth ring and a 44t Wolftooth cog replacing the stock 42t.  That gives me 18.9 gear inches on the low end, and that gear ends up getting used the lions share of the time.  If Wolftooth gets enough call to make a 24t ring for the Cinch cranks, I'll be first in line to buy one.

Bodyfloat sus post has been a revelation for me.  I miss having a dropper for remounting the bike in soft snow -- the kind where you're ankle deep (and sinking) in fluff, and can't *quite* get yourself back onto the saddle to get restarted.  With that exception, I have been thrilled with the comfort and invisibility of the Bodyfloat.  Took me about a ride to get the preload set just right, and since then I've been consistently impressed by how unaffected it is by dropping temps or poorly chosen lines.  

Neoprene saddle insulator.  Tri geeks use these, albeit for very different reasons than I do.  Slips right on, stays on, mitigates cold getting to the nether regions.  I think these are important at any sub-freezing temp, and they become critical from about 0 degrees on down.

Whit's iteration of a Type II fork has been invisible thus far.  For a rigid fork, that's the highest compliment I can give.  Double bonus that it uses a Maxle Lite for super easy gloves-on wheel install/removal.

Hopey steering damper.  I keep it turned off most of the time, but with a quick twist of the dial on top it can be activated for uber-soft snow.  If you ride groomed singletrack you don't need this.  If you spend more time on ungroomed and especially wind-affected snow, you won't believe how much of an effect this little unit has in keeping the front end quiet so that you can stay on the bike longer.  Easy to test, too -- ride a mile with it on, then twist the dial to turn it off and be amazed at what a drunken sailor you've suddenly become WRT holding a line.

RWC bottom bracket.  The stock RF units have given me decent life but I wanted to try something new.  I flushed all of the stock lube, replaced it with Morningstar Soup, then trimmed the labyrinth seal to remove some spinning friction.  That last step is not recommended if you ride dirt or dust or mud with your fatbike, but highly encouraged if your fatty lives it's life in cold/on snow.

For literal decades I've run Hayes hydro brakes in the snow, and especially for my Alaska trips.  They are reliable as hammers and that's the main thing.  With no big AK trips on the horizon it seemed like a good time to try something new with the mechanical MX Experts.  I supplemented them with 2-piece rotors in an attempt to keep them quiet.  So far so good -- on both brakes and rotors.

Many more pertinent/geeky details to come on this bike -- will try to highlight them in the next week or two after holiday chaos has subsided.

Thanks for checkin' in.



  1. looking at your banner photo, has anyone ever fallen into that hole ? or does that hole go somewhere ?

  2. Nice bike. Those Kuroshiro rims?

    I am sure you've already considered the RaceFace Micro narrow-wide 24t... although it does require a 2x spider. Also has a matching bash guard, not that you would necessarily need one for pure floaty snow. I might put a set on the Fat Five for its lack of ISCG tabs.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I'm always fascinated with the fatbikes you come up with. I appreciate the lever of thinkering that goes into them. Beat is surely going to love this one....just kidding.

    I have to admit I, too, have been hoarding Morningside "Soup". RIP Paul. I have one syringe left. I call it My Precious.

  4. I, too, have a Meriwether fat bike, and you built my wheels! I almost exclusively ride places where I do the trail packing (and leave behind a drunken weaving trail) so I am curious about the Hopey steering damper. I went to their site, and they have several options. Any suggestions about which one is best for riding in unpacked snow? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hey KB-

      You need the original damper with a zero stack mounting plate.