Thursday, 02 February 2012 19:06
Fat bikes have come a long way in a short amount of time. Seems like just a couple of years ago we had the Surly Pugsley as the sole fat bike, or should I say snow bike. Or should I say sand bike? Now, they are just plain bikes. Since then, the number of companies manufacturing fat bikes has soared. Fat bikes now come in nearly every frame material with the exception of carbon. This season, we see the introduction of a few carbon fat bike forks. Our version is the Carver O’beast Fat Bike fork.
As soon as one arrived, we threw one on our resident Carver Ti Fat bike demo that we’ve been flogging for 5 plus seasons. I was pretty psyched. I'm a gear head and I love to ride. The novelty and the curiosity new products produce can be pretty exciting.
The first few rides saw 6-7 inches of new snow. The kind of snow that makes holding a straight line notoriously difficult. Unfortunately, it is also the kind of snow that makes it difficult to tell whether the fork is more or less compliant or more or less stiff than the steel Surly it replaced. The next few rides on the consolidated singletrack lent some clues to the difference in feel between the two forks. The O’beast does feel more compliant. This was particularly evident when riding on the sections of trail pock marked by frozen boot prints. Could be placebo, could be the fat tires, or it could be that the fork feels like buttah. One thing I that surprised me was how well the bike handled. The axle to crown on the O’beast is 465. The increased axle to crown slackens the bike by about .75 degree. This seemed to slow the handling down a bit more which enabled me to keep a line through deeper snow. The bike also seemed to like being laid over a bit more in the corners.
Regarding flex, I could not feel any adverse flex in the fork. Admittedly, all of my hours were spent riding on snow. The areas I tend to feel fork flex are rooty, rocky, and rutted areas. I weigh in at around 210 in the winter with gear. Usually I can feel the twisting of forks immediately on a ride. Given the conditions, I cannot speak to the feel of flex in normal "summer" conditions.
The fork was notably lighter. The Surly’s weighs in at 1127g. The Carver is 570g accounting for a 557g drop in weight. The front end felt lighter instantly. The entire bike felt lighter. This switch almost got our fat bike down under 30lbs. This is quite a feat when the mass of the tires and rims are taken into account. I've been seeing some 27lb fat bikes in the forums. These things are getting light!
The fork is spaced for a 135mm hub that has front hub spacing. Rear 135 hubs will not work without a 5mm spacer kit and longer torx bolts for the rotor. These are included with every fork so there is no worry about compatibility.
I really like the feel of this fork. The compliance and impressive weight are attractive qualities in a fat bike fork. The fit and finish is top notch. The only drawback I can see is the lack of mounts for touring. Given the lightweight nature of the fork, installing racks might not be in the best interests of the rider.
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