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Tag Archive: fatbikes

First Impressions: The On-One Fatty

I’ve been riding the On-One Fatty fatbike for a few weeks now, and I am ready to share some initial thoughts with you.

I also want to clarify something before we get started. We reached out to Planet X/On-One USA for this bike primarily to test for our sister site Mtnbikeriders.com after our experiences with fatbikes in Las Vegas last September. But, we thought, “why don’t we try this bike out as a commuter, too?” While we’ve long been advocates of the “you don’t need anything special to be a bike commuter” camp, there ARE times when the right tool for the job is something a bit off the beaten path. Fatbikes, as you can imagine, are definitely not a typical everyday commuter choice for the vast majority of us.

As I mentioned in my introduction, there was almost no snow on the ground when the bike was delivered. I didn’t have to wait long, though, as plenty more came only days later…and proceeded to pile up every couple of days thereafter.

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So far, it has been a lot of fun, but there’s also been a bit of a learning curve. Think of fatbikes as an overgrown mountain bike…but one capable of tackling terrain that may leave a regular MTB spinning its wheels. Riding a fatbike in hairy conditions isn’t always as easy as swinging a leg over and pedaling away, though, as I quickly learned.

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The On-One Fatty features an aluminum frame and a steel fork. I tested the 18″ frame (measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube), and it fit just right (I’m about 5′ 9″). The frame is constructed with a doubled top tube and a low standover height, crucial for when you’ve got to stop in knee-deep snow. That doubled top tube and the overall construction means the Fatty is stiff from front to back; there was ZERO flex even when horsing this brute around in the white stuff.

The parts spec was fine for my purposes — nothing exotic, and everything worked just the way it was supposed to. Remember that we are testing a 1×10 drivetrain, and the newest version of the Fatty comes with a 2×10 for some extra hillclimbing gearing or bailout range if things get really ugly.

The Fatty did well when the snow was packed down or if it was a bit damp and heavy (snow in near-freezing conditions). It did tend to bog down in fresh, dry powder (well below freezing temps) or if the snow was saturated from melting. I asked my fatbike guru Chris Follmer for advice along the way, and he mentioned that generally, ALL fatbikes exhibit the same preferences for snow conditions. Some of that depends on tire tread and pressure, of course. I would like to try other tire patterns to see if some grip better in dry powder than the stock tires that come with the Fatty.

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I did play with pressure, though…going as low as 5 psi, but generally hovering right around 7 psi for the best balance of grip and rolling resistance. On slushy roads or soft, muddy ground, the Fatty sings right along. On dry pavement…well, you can imagine that low pressures mean a sluggish ride. On dry days, I cranked the pressure up around 15 psi to see how the ride was — while there was still a good bit of rolling resistance, I was able to knock out an 18 mile trail/road ride in short order and without too much extra effort. Even with the high pressure (relative to most fatbike uses), there’s a lot of natural suspension effect going on with the huge tire volume. Talk about smooth sailing!

Most fatbikes come with wide handlebars…I mean, REALLY W-I-D-E bars. The El Guapo Ancho bars that came on our test Fatty measure 820mm from end to end! Wide bars are needed to help keep the front end from wallowing out in soft conditions, allowing the rider to apply lots of “body english” as needed. Learning to relax my grip on the bars took me a few rides; at first, I was clenching them pretty tightly and wandering all over the place. Once I discovered that I could track better by relaxing, I started doing that…allowing me to stay in tire ruts made by cars, or packed-down areas on the trail.

Riding the Fatty has been like rolling along on a giant BMX bike — it encourages some horseplay and frolicking in the snow! I really enjoyed the solid lockup of the Avid Elixir hydraulic discs (yes, hydraulic — even in below-zero temps)…it made powerslides on ice an easy thing:

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And, like our friend Vince Rodarte told me, “the Fatty is a wheelie monster!” Oh, how right he was…a big, soft tire and low gearing made it a snap to pop serious wheelies:

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In our formal review in a few weeks, we’ll talk about commuting potential and the particulars of this bike’s running gear. In the meantime, if your commute requires traversing snow, deep sand, mud, or you simply like to take shortcuts over the rough stuff, a fatbike might be just what you’ve been waiting for.

On test: On One’s “Fatty”

We’ve given you a couple days to guess what was in the box that came in the mail last week. Here it is, the On One “Fatty” fat bike:

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The bike we received is from On One’s/Planet X’s test fleet — the bike has been ridden hard since last July by a variety of testers, so it shows some wear. The specs for the 2014 model are as follows:

Frame: On-One Fatty Frame
Fork: On-One Fatty Fork
Front Derailleur: SRAM X5 Front Mech / 2×10 / Max 38T / High Direct Mount / Dual Pull
Rear Derailleur: Sram X5 Rear Mech / 10 Speed / Black / Medium
Shifters: Sram X5 Trigger Shifter 10 Speed
Chainset: SRAM X5 Chainset
Crank length: 175 mm
Chainrings: 36-22T
Bottom Bracket: Truvativ Howitzer 100mm shell Bottom Bracket, Chainline: 66 mm
Cassette: SRAM PG 1030 Cassette / 10 Speed / 11-36T
Chain: SRAM PC1031 10 Speed 114 Link Chain
Front Brake: Avid DB3 Hydraulic Disk Brake / Front / 900mm / 20 Post To IS / Black
Brake Rotor Front Avid Clean Sweep G2CS, Size: 180 mm,
Rear Brake: Avid DB3 Hydraulic Disk Brake / Rear / 1400mm / 20 Post To IS / Black
Brake Rotor Rear Avid Clean Sweep G2CS, Size: 160 mm
Handlebars: El Guapo Ancho Handlebars, Width: 810mm, Black or White
Bar tape: N/A
Grips: On-One Half Bob Lock-On Grips / Clear
Stem: On-One Hot Box Stem 70,80,90,100 mm
Headset: On-One Smoothie Mixer Tapered Headset 1 1/8 inch – 1.5 inch
Wheels: On-One Fatty Wheelset
Front Tyre: On-One Floater Fat Tyre 4.0 inch, 120 TPI, Folding, Black
Rear Tyre: On-One Floater Fat Tyre 4.0 inch, 120 TPI, Folding, Black
Inner Tube: On-One 26″ Fatty Fatbike TubeWidth: 2.5-2.7″ Heavy Duty
Saddle: On-One Bignose Evo Saddle / CroMo Rail
Seatpost: On-One Twelfty MTB Seatpost – 31.6mm
Mudflap compatible: No
Pannier rack compatible: No
Pedals: Available Separately
Bottle cage bosses: 1 set
Number of Gears: 20
Weight: 34lb – 15.4 kg

The specs are a bit different on the bike we received to test — a SRAM 1×10 drivetrain with a single ring up front and a chainguide replacing the front derailleur being the big standouts. Also, the test bike has Avid Elixir 1 hydraulic brakes rather than the DB3s on the current spec sheet.

As you can see from the photograph above, the snow started melting the day this bike was delivered to my door. So, we’re going to have to wish for some additional snow before we can do a lot of testing.

This bike is a bit of a departure for us…it’s not exactly a typical “commuter bike”, and there may be more useful bikes/bike setups for winter riding than a fat bike. But, we wanted to see for ourselves what all the fat-tired hype is about and share our experiences with you. Perhaps a fat bike like the Fatty here really IS the “must get to work no matter what the weather” platform we’ve been looking for?

Stay tuned for updates and the review itself over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to be out getting filthy and putting a big ol’ smile on my face. Frozen slush, anyone?

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Interbike 2013: Overall impressions and trends

As the saying goes: we went, we saw, we were overwhelmed (as usual)…our Interbike 2013 coverage is drawing to an end, so we wanted to share our overall impressions and thoughts with you. This may be a bit long-winded, but bear with us; as the venue for Interbike is giant and the products on display are legion, so too is describing everything adequately.

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(RL and Art getting ready to head into the belly of the beast)

First off, the venue: Interbike moved to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for 2013. By most accounts, it was a mess — an oddly-shaped hall that was a bit smaller than its previous home at the Sands. Despite a mostly-working smartphone app AND paper maps, we got lost inside about a dozen times. Many others reported the same. Getting lost had its good and bad points; good in that we often stumbled across something we might not have seen otherwise, bad in that we had a very limited time on the show floor this year (one full day and two hours the second day before departing). Getting lost soaked up valuable time, and we wound up missing a lot of stuff we would have liked to see. It’s hard enough to cover the event in three full days…rushing around in less than half that time was a heroic effort for RL, Art, and myself.

Second was the outdoor “paddock” area, where a number of manufacturers were set up. We made it out there ONCE, and mostly by fluke. While the paddock area was clearly visible from outside the facility, once we were on the show floor, it was very difficult to find the access doors to that area. We missed a lot of the fun stuff going on out there…the test track for e-bikes, the race track for the U.S. Crits finals, etc. Our one positive experience was getting to lay our hands on the Motiv Shadow E-bike out there.

Let’s talk about some trends. First, camouflage clothing/accessories . It’s funny; while it popped into my mind that, “hey, there’s a lot of camo stuff this year”, it didn’t really register. Since my spouse is in the military and I live in a mostly-military neighborhood, I am surrounded by camo 24/7 and don’t even think about it. Luckily, our friends at Urban Velo spotted this trend, too: http://urbanvelo.org/camo-is-the-new-black/

Next, disc brakes for road bikes…holy cow, was there a ton of buzz for this emerging technology! Disc brakes started trickling onto the road scene last year, but this year the floodgates were wide open, especially with the development of hydraulic systems that fit into road levers.

How about fatbikes? Love them or hate them, they were EVERYWHERE and everyone was talking about them. We wrote about it here, and even got to try one out. Whether or not you are a fan, it looks like fatbikes are here to stay…at least until the next hot trend appears. And they are pretty versatile; they excel on snow, but they also do a fine job on other surfaces. Add some slick fatties on there and most would serve as a bombproof commuter rig!

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(I love this photo and will post it every chance I get!)

You like bright colors? The bicycle industry has your back…and neons are about as big as they were in the 80s. Neon yellow and orange accents were everywhere, from sunglass frames to bicycle frames, from clothing to helmets. Orange was the really hot color this year…the brighter, the better.

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If you’re into mountain bikes, the big news is that 27.5″/650b wheels are quickly replacing 26ers. Some brands have even dropped their 26″ bikes completely in favor of the new (old) size. And, since the wheel size isn’t as radical as 29ers, fewer compromises have to be made in terms of frame geometry…the 27.5″ wheel might truly be the ultimate wheel size for MTBs. Check out our sister site Mtnbikeriders.com for the benefits of that size and lots more Interbike coverage.

As can be expected, lights are getting brighter and brighter and the prices seem to be going down as cheaper battery and LED technology is made available. We saw a lot of light manufacturers with lights for every purpose, and at dozens of intensities. Our friends at Serfas had a model that pumps out 2500 lumens — far more intense than car headlights!

E-bikes are continually growing in market penetration; it’s great to see this segment growing. We saw models with front or rear e-drives, but prefer the ebikes with rear wheel drive. Based on our experiences testing them, rear-drive models are easier to handle/ride and they look better too.

We really like that some of the manufacturers are sticking to the $500-$650 price range for a commuter bike. This price range offers a LOT to most commuters, with many of the models coming stock with fenders and racks and other commuter-friendly accessories. We also noticed (and greatly approve!) that commuter bikes were not relegated to the dark corners of displays…many builders had their commuter lines front and center along with their more racy bikes. That, to us, is the sign of a healthy market segment.

If you like using your phone as a GPS/mapping/ride data device, we noticed that there were a TON of phone mounts for bicycles…lots of new companies producing versatile and innovative mounts for many phones.

One thing we NEVER like: parts and even bikes are getting more and more expensive. It’s too DAMN HIGH!

Finally, after processing everything WE saw and after reading Interbike coverage on a host of other sites, we realize there was SO MUCH we missed. We simply missed a number of great new commuter products, especially Giro’s “New Road” line of casual cycling wear. I think that’s going to be a hit and we regret not getting photos and details to share with you.

For a really comprehensive look at what Interbike meant to seasoned cycling journalists, go no farther than Red Kite Prayer’s analysis of the event. It’s a thoughtful look from folks who are far more expert at analyzing the trends than we are.

We hope you enjoyed our coverage of Interbike 2013…and we plan on bringing you more coverage next year. With luck, we’ll be able to spend more days on the show floor next year so that we can cover more territory.

And, of course, we’d like to thank our sponsors for this year’s Las Vegas Trip. Black Tiger Jerky was very generous in allowing us the funds we needed to travel. Like what you saw here on our coverage? Then PLEASE SUPPORT Black Tiger…they make delicious jerky, and with Christmas coming up, their flavors make great stocking stuffers!


Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky

Interbike 2013: Fatbike frenzy!

Let it be known that 2013/2014 is the year of the “fatbike”…these things were EVERYWHERE at Interbike, both indoors at the show and at the Outdoor Demo. We saw a dozen different brands, and even got to ride one. Let’s take a look at some of the fatbike hightlights:

When we first walked up to the entrance gate at Outdoor Demo, we spotted a young lady wheeling in what turned out to be a prototype KHS fatbike. The finalized version will be a different color and will have some different features, and is scheduled to be released in the first part of 2014 (hopefully before the snow comes):

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RL and I stopped by the 9:Zero:7 booth at Outdoor Demo — with so many bike companies and attendees coming from the Southern California area, the guys at 9:Zero:7 were pretty stoked to meet someone who actually lived in a snowy winter climate! They sweet-talked us into checking out one of their bikes, the aluminum 190 with 190mm rear dropout spacing. This one will swallow the widest fatbike tires available (up to 4.8″).

We hustled this orange-and-white beauty over to the Bell Helmets pumptrack and let it RIP. What a blast this thing was…smooth over rough terrain and surprisingly nimble for such a massive machine. One loop around the pumptrack and I was sold!

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RL followed up with some flow of his own:

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Aluminum not your thing? 9:Zero:7 is also rolling out a new carbon frame. Colorado Springs-based Borealis Bikes had their new carbon Yampa frameset on display, too:

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We even spotted a couple of fat e-bikes. Here’s a Felt with a Bosch assist kit:

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Inside the indoor show at The Mandalay Bay convention center, there were more fatbikes than you could shake a stick at. There were quite a few frame and component makers with fatties on display; even Phil Wood had a custom full-suspension downhill model in their booth.

The highlight for me, though, were these glorious fatbikes in the Boo Bicycles booth. This one is made from the “holy Trinity” of frame materials…carbon, titanium, and bamboo, with a Gates belt drive and Rohloff IGH. The front end sports a titanium springer-style fork:

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Here’s a racier model with bamboo tubes surrounded by what I believe to be titanium assemblies:

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Winter warriors, take note: fatbikes are here and they open a door into a snowy wonderland of riding. These bikes also happen to be quite fun in summery conditions…sand, gravel, and obstacles are no match for the balloon tires and wide footprint. With some smooth tires (or a quick switch to 29″ wheels/tires — most are a direct swap), these might even make formidable all-season commuting rigs!


Interbike 2013 Coverage Proudly Sponsored by Black Tiger Jerky
Black Tiger Jerky