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2/6/2017 5:13 PM
 

Mo' data mo' better.

I'm probably renting one next week for an overnighter, there will be a 27.5+ on the trip too so I'll be real curious to swap back and forth and compare to my 29er. 

 
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2/6/2017 8:33 PM
 
Let us know how the different rides compare. We look forward to the report.

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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2/28/2017 9:25 PM
 

Plans changed considerably, didn't rent a fatbike and the 27.5 got left at the trailhead in favor of skis. I rode my 29er on 2.1" wide tires.

got to ride way more then I had any right too, but pretty clear it wasn't the right tool for the job. I did get to ride the 27.5x3 a little bit, and what mostly struck me is that the extra drag seemed to mostly cancel out the extra floatation. I'm sure I would have been able to spend more time in the saddle with wider tires, but how much more I couldn't say, not having low enough gears seemed to be a bigger issue then floatation most of the time. Snow was VERY well consolidated, and it was hard to find snow that you could posthole past your ankle in.

 
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3/14/2017 9:55 AM
 
[Very belated reply prompted by Fowler mentioning this thread during a discussion of tire size and pressure while driving home from the North American Handmade Bike Show this past weekend.]






I'd agree with Evan that a 29er hardtail with mid range components is the best bet.  Favor a frame with wider rims (30mm inner width) and the most tire clearance possible. Bikes are like firearms; to get max performance you need to commit to a lot of learning and research, but most folks can just buy a solid base model and get along just fine.  Something like the Kona Honzo AL is equivalent to a basic Rem 700.



There is a ton of recent research showing that the illusion of higher tire pressures providing less rolling resistance is just that, an illusion. Even when it comes to road bikes. Low pressures and supple tires deflect less and are thus faster and more comfortable, be it on gravel, chip seal, or dirt. 50 psi is road bike territory. When on dirt, and with 2.1s or bigger, only the biggest, most aggressive folks need to go north of 30. Modern tubeless technology, which is very user friendly, has pretty much eliminated pinch flats which obviously helps make this all possible. Using non-tubeless compatible tires and especially rims was the source of most tubeless issues, thankfully such components are becoming harder to find. Tubes in mountain bikes are going the way of black powder.


Fat bikes don't make sense for most users today because the weight and expense are still significantly higher compared to a bike with conventional tires. The industry is growing rapidly in this area, and in a few years I expect 2.5-2.8 to become the new normal. For most dirt riders likey the most efficient and comfortable option. That said 4.5" tires work well plenty of places, provided one plunks down the cash for lighter rims. They make mud, sand, and cobbles that take effort with 2.2s casual. Steel cassettes last longer than aluminum ones. Shimano SLX is all steel save for the biggest cog. Derailleurs more or less all work the same, but shifters can be worth upgrading. SLX cassette and derailleur with an XT shifter is a nice combo.
 
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3/16/2017 10:06 PM
 
Thanks again everyone for all the insight and input! Funny the thread should be bumped again.

We just got back yesterday from returning a rental Specialized Fatboy fatbike and 29’er HT to Absolute bikes in Flagstaff. This was the second rental trip we made into Flag picking up rental bikes to bring back and demo. Overall, I think we probably put in ~70 miles or so in a mess of different conditions and terrains.

It was very beneficial to be able to swap back and forth between the fatbike and 29er HT in the exact same conditions one right after the other.

Let the facepalming and groaning begin… I hope Evan, Ned, and Scot don’t think I had confirmation bias going in or am being contrary just to be different.

Cheyvonne and I both preferred the fatbike for the type of riding and terrain we are in. The 29er was faster and lighter but much less stable in soft sand, dried rutted two tracks, washes, etc. The fatbike with 6-10 psi in the tires was more comfortable over busted terrain than the 29erHT. The 29er does require marginally less effort to keep rolling on hard-pack or gravel road but for us was not worth the additional effort and fighting trying to get it down a wash or rutted road. I could make climbs on the fatbike I could not with the 29er. Please keep in mind both our opinions and preferences may be due to our lack of technical riding skill and experience on MTB’s!

What we both really liked most about the fatbike was the in-saddle comfort down a busted up rutted, rocky road. And how little attention you had to pay to keeping an ideal line on the trail. Ruts, sandy areas, rocks, etc. that could be very problematic if you hit them wrong on the 29er never hit the radar on the fatbike. Keep peddling and you roll right over about whatever is in your way. I can spend more time rubber necking looking for game, wife, dogs, and kids and not worrying about going ass over teakettle in a rut. Again, this may be due to our lack of riding skill.

We have two Surly Wednesdays on order and will let you know how they are rolling. After a couple hundred miles we may upgrade them with Bluto forks, touring bars and maybe racks.

On a side note the 1UPUSA bike rack Ned recommended is bombproof and Strow approved. It makes the Yakima and Thule racks look flimsy and plastic-y.

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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3/19/2017 1:51 PM
 
Strow, there was a little facepalming until you said sand and new to mountain biking. If you want to, you'll be able to find the limits of fat bikes, and soft sand is really one of the few places they excel.
 
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3/20/2017 11:08 PM
 
Strow, this is one of those times I think the "less experienced" voice still carries significant weight. You got to ride both setups in the same terrain on the same day, that's huge in making an accurate assessment of capability. Like you said the 29er was "easier" to ride from a general physical output standpoint, but the mental effort to stay on track with the fatty was less by comparison if I understood you correctly. Having to focus less on staying upright can be huge once you've been out all day and fatigue sets in, just keep the wheels spinning and you'll be fine. If you could have tried a 29+ that would have been useful too, but it would have been somewhere in between the two you got to ride. And if you're going to go with an oddball tire size, fatties have the most market support of any of the other options currently.

Dave C, You make a good point about tire pressure vs rolling resistance, Shwalbe did a test a few years ago that showed pretty much that. I've mentioned it somewhere here before but haven't been able to track down the actual test to share with folks. That being said setup and riding style can be just as important in determining tire pressure as anything else. I think Evan said he was in the 40 PSI range, and was about 260lbs trail weight with 2.1's. With that much load and that little tire 40psi isn't really that high and it probably spreads out about as much as it would with 30psi and 180-200lbs. I don't know what tires he has now either, casing construction I've also found to be relevant for ideal tire pressure.

As for tubeless, I'm generally a convert from a performance standpoint, but it's still not as user friendly as a normal tube. It has gotten rid of pinch flats, but there's still plenty of other things on trails that cause flats that even with sealants tubeless hasn't eliminated. A torn tire doesn't hold air, but it's easier to stuff something between the tube and tire and limp it home than trying to boot the tire and re-seat a tubeless tire trail side. For that reason I still carry a spare tube with me. To tie this back into the main topic here of a "Backcountry" bike, I think tubes with some kind of sealant still offer a more robust solution than tubeless. And yes I'm aware that most people ride the entire length of the Continental Divide trail on tubeless tires and make it, I'm just offering my opinion on which offers the most user friendly experience, especially when they may not be as familiar with how to work on bicycles.

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
 
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3/20/2017 11:30 PM
 
https://www.schwalbetires.com/wider_faster_page

https://www.schwalbetires.com/tech_info/rolling_resistance

My google-fu seems to be working better tonight, the top link is the actual test (although I know I've seen one with more in depth data this will do). The lower one is just a more in depth explanation of all the factor involved in determining real world rolling resistance.

"Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children."
 
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3/24/2017 11:45 PM
 
strow wrote:
 I could make climbs on the fatbike I could not with the 29er. 

 

I'd like to here more about this. Would you say the gains where just from the extra stability or was it from additional traction or something else?

I've just started down the road of tire experiments and the results are already far from what I expected. Need to reset my expectations and find some wider rims to get more data.

 
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3/25/2017 8:37 PM
 
…I just rolled in from Flag with two Surly Wednesdays and other misc truck. Even got a helmet at Ned's insistence. I have only got a few miles in tonight but am very pleased so far. The steel Surly frame does seem to have more give (cush?) than the past aluminum frames I have ridden. May even run some sections of the trapline on the new bikes tomorrow.

Fowler, this is just my SWAG. I think it is probably a mix of both better stability and better traction. Someone with more bike experience can hopefully explain (or refute) my limited findings. The rental fat bike (26x4.8) just seemed to climb better. In areas where the 29er rear tire would start to slip or slow enough that I couldn’t balance or the bike would tip over, the fatbike just motored up. Right or wrong the additional weight and tire patch just seemed more forgiving. YMMV.

As I have said several times bikes are NOT my wheelhouse and my experience is very limited to my local here in NE AZ. Just out of curiosity what % of everyone’s riding is done on groomed or maintained MTB type trails or designate single tracks or trails? From the videos I have watched these types of trails seem a LOT more maintained, groomed, and packed than anything we have around here. I am just curious what types of terrain others are consistently riding in.

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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3/26/2017 9:55 AM
 
strow wrote:
…I just rolled in from Flag with two Surly Wednesdays and other misc truck. Even got a helmet at Ned's insistence. I have only got a few miles in tonight but am very pleased so far. The steel Surly frame does seem to have more give (cush?) than the past aluminum frames I have ridden. May even run some sections of the trapline on the new bikes tomorrow.

Fowler, this is just my SWAG. I think it is probably a mix of both better stability and better traction. Someone with more bike experience can hopefully explain (or refute) my limited findings. The rental fat bike (26x4.8) just seemed to climb better. In areas where the 29er rear tire would start to slip or slow enough that I couldn’t balance or the bike would tip over, the fatbike just motored up. Right or wrong the additional weight and tire patch just seemed more forgiving. YMMV.

As I have said several times bikes are NOT my wheelhouse and my experience is very limited to my local here in NE AZ. Just out of curiosity what % of everyone’s riding is done on groomed or maintained MTB type trails or designate single tracks or trails? From the videos I have watched these types of trails seem a LOT more maintained, groomed, and packed than anything we have around here. I am just curious what types of terrain others are consistently riding in.

Heck, strow....at the of the day, if you and your lady feel happy and confident on those fat bikes, enjoy riding them, and they let you get out to places to have some memorable adventures....then IMHO you chose the perfect bikes for yourselves! Even though I really like my full-sus 29er, I still am intrigued by fat bikes and may try one out some day. I say you are a Free American, so enjoy those bad boys out on the terrain of your choosing! In my own mind, I sort of make the distinction between them as such: Fat bikes seem to be more like the steady and sure-footed mule that will tread over rough terrain that maybe a quarter horse wouldn't want to go on. The mule won't go as fast, but he'll go (as long as his intelligence tells him it's safe enough). The quarter horse will be quicker and smoother on places he feels comfortable on. Seems that mountain bikes have become almost as much a personal choice as a favorite firearm or favorite knife.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
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Yesterday @ 8:49 AM
 
If what you got works for you then drive, or in this case ride, on. However, for the sake of discussion, you were trying to put to much power down on the rear wheel with the 29er. Just like a truck going up a hill the amount of power you use needs to be modulated. You were either in the wrong gear or were peddling to hard, both of which are really technique issues. I know because I have the same issue as even in lower gear I tend to over peddle and thus skid out if I haven't been riding a lot. That is actually one of the reasons I prefer a ST to a HT. The ST sags a bit, which Evan and others will be quick to tell you means you are being robbed of some power. However, I found that bit of sag means that my rear tire stays more planted, and I skid out less. My guess is that the fat bike rear tire is enough more weight that you where able to over peddle it, that and the bigger contact patch may make a difference.

As far as trails/roads etc.. I ride, it really depends on how much use they have been getting, but yes in general they are harder packed, but it is not because they are groomed or maintained really, but that they get more riding from more people.

Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
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Today @ 2:46 PM
 
We still have a great thread going and I am learning more all the time.

I am sure not trying to sell anyone on buying a fatbike. We plan to bring ours to the Summer Gathering for others to try. I’m not sure how to keep a log but I would bet I will get 500 miles in by June.

Alpendrms, that is probably a solid analogy comparing the fatbike to a mule. Oddly enough I own a saddle mule “Agnes” and will probably be working cows off of her in the next month or two after calving. A mule is a safe practical solution to backcountry travel, if you find a good one. They will take places safely a horse can’t/won’t go.

Scot, I have no doubt that my riding technique is a limiting factor. I do think that if given an honest run most people would find the lower pressure, wider tire patch tires climb better. Regardless of skill. If fitness is not the weak link then it just comes down to physics. Climbing ability is no doubt a small element of the greater picture.

This is pure speculation on my part for now but I this is what I think so far:

If speed down a trail/track is paramount, then narrower tire options have merit. I have no interest in racing through the back country.

If rider fitness (engine) is the weak link, then other options are probably a better solution. An out of shape rider will suffer more with the increased rolling resistance. Some people try to buy fitness with a lighter higher tech bike. I am just trying to buy stability. Different goals, different solutions.

If most of your riding is done on hard packed heavily used trails, then other options may have merit. I think this is the context many base their decisions off if we are honest. We are devoid of any MTB trails or tracks for ~150miles. Hence the Backcountry title.

For backcountry transport in rugged country where ride comfort, stability and traction DO play a role I am finding that the bigger wider tires seem to have merit. In 1000 miles I have a more solid data base.

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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Today @ 3:00 PM
 

Just out of curiosity how often are most of you rebuilding or turning your bikes? 500miles, 1000, 2000, more?

What is your maintenance schedule? I am sure this will depend on how hard you ride them?

I do get the suspicion that most bikes (like rifles) spend most of their life hanging in a safe or garage. Ned, Turbo? Others? Your thoughts?

Talk is cheap...lets compare fur checks.
 
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When humans first set foot in a new continent, they came in small groups under their own power, bringing only the gear they needed. Most simply called themselves The People. Over time, those who chose the rougher freer life of the up country came to think of themselves as the Hill People.
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