Riding a Specialized FatBoy: Ride 2


I have a Specialized FatBoy for a week. Saturday morning we did backyard funny business. Later that afternoon, I rode dirt roads and singletrack from the house.

Notions:



Specialized Fatboy with a RockShox Bluto fork, 1×10 drivetrain, Command Post dropper post and 50mm stem. Thank you Jason Emmanuel for the loaner.

I’m expecting bad things to happen, but they’re just not happening. Hauling mail down a loose dirt road, edging into an off camber sweeper, expecting some drift … but nope. Just hook. Hmm. How fast can one ride?


Off camber icy snow usually means calamity. Not on this ride.

Climbing feels slow, but how slow is it really? I think we’re really sensitive to the weight of the bikes we ride, but we forget that the bike is only about 15% of the total system weight (In my case: 180-lb human, 30-lb bike). I usually reach Bald Mountain in about 30 minutes. Yesterday, on the fat beast at a very casual pace, it took 32 minutes. Not a big deal.


Not. In. A. Hurry.

I feel like I’m gonna strike my pedals. The bottom bracket height is about 12.6 inches, which is the standard low Specialized shred position. Maybe it’s the big flat pedals or sagging an inch into the tires, but I felt tentative on the rocky climbs. And, yes, the pedals did strike things.

More riding days. Your trails are too muddy for a regular bike? They might not be too muddy for a fatbike.


When a narrow tires leaves grooves, a fat tire leaves … a tender kiss.

These tires are clever. The Ground Control Fat 26×4.6 has a very round profile,

which I like because 1) Narrower contact patch in a straight line. 2) Lots of camber thrust when you lean the bike:


Depending on air pressure, you can make the contact patch narrow, wide or medium. This is medium.

Must … countersteer. At low speed, the FatBoy feels like a bike. At high speed, it feels, as Jason says, like a motorcycle in neutral. The tires make as much noise as the chain, and — dude — those heavy wheels are stable. Stability is a good thing, but you still gotta turn. Next time you’re hauling mail with heavy wheels, give countersteer a try:

Fun! Everyone says fatbikes are fun, and now I have to agree. What makes ’em so fun? Some guesses: 1) Riding stuff you usually can’t ride. 2) Riding in a new way. Fatbiking is like biking, so you’re already pretty good at it, but it’s different, so you get an extra hit of novelty.

Compared with other fatbikes: I’ve only ridden this FatBoy and a Salsa Mukluk. Compared with the Mukluk, the FatBoy feels more normal (credit the lighter weight, dialed geometry, rounder tires and higher-end build) yet more capable (must be the Bluto and 4.6″ vs. 3.8″ meats).


The initial purpose for this ride was *Important Testing* — but do you know what happened? I had fun. Just plain fun.

It’s supposed to snow later this week. Game on!

Lee


Know more. Have more fun!

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3 replies
  1. Andre says:

    Hi there, Lee! Do those principles of counter steering apply to “regular” bikes? (As in a a 29er Stumpy FSR), or do fat bikes react differently in that respect?

    Reply
  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Andre,

    All bikes are subject to those forces. The heavier the wheel and the faster you’re going, the more counter steering becomes a factor. It’s a huge part of shredding a street motorcycle.

    In my classes I only talk about counter steering if someone asks directly. 1) Most riders do it subconsciously. 2) For most people, thinking about it is too much to handle.

    Rip it!

    Lee

    Reply
  3. Daniel Carhart says:

    Hey Lee,
    I picked up a fatboy this fall & have been loving it. Did it on a whim, but have been pleasantly surprised.
    The thing I think is the funniest about these bikes is that I keep hearing everyone talk about riding this trail or that trail on them while I have found my favorite place to ride them is on no trail, but all over the woods.
    It was also funny to go to my local Nordic ski area that is allowing fat bikes on their groomed trails. While it of course was fun to get on my bike (and not on my trainer). The groomed trails where more like road biking on snow than mountain biking. When the group started to ride on the single track, it was like riding on a balance beam that was 18″ wide and a foot in the air. One wrong move and your front tire was a foot below your back tire.
    It all seemed like I was trying too hard to ride my bike when I should have got my skiis out.
    I’m not trying to complain, I just think people are having trouble thinking out of the box(off the trail).
    I have been loving my fatboy, but am concerned that they will be fad if people think they are a novel way to ride the same old trails.
    Thanks for all you do Lee. Cheers

    Reply

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