Written by Alexis Arapoff Monday, 03 February 2014 14:40
I have been riding fat bikes for a few seasons now. My 1st fat bike was also the 1st frame I ever built. I used fillet brazed construction and copied the geometry of a Surly Pugsley. The bike rode well but had a lot of shortcomings, tire clearance was just enough for an endomorph tire on a 65mm rim and it would not take a front derailleur due to some design oversights on my part. My grand plan was to build a new fat bike frame with 170mm rear spacing and a 100 mm BB shell. I bought all the tubes and associated bits way back when there were leaves on the trees but I got sidetracked. Before I knew it winter was upon us and I really wanted to ride a fat bike with proper gearing and wider rims / tires.
Being a big fan of Kona bikes I decided to buy a Kona WO frameset and give myself another season to build my frame. The WO frameset is reasonably priced and allows you to pick and choose the components you want. I already had new wheels built (82mm rims) and a proper crank / BB combo for this frame along with the majority of parts from my current bike. If you do opt for to build up your bike you will need a zero stack headset (44.0 top and bottom head tube diameter, 30.0 crown race seat, 28.6 stem clamp dia.), a 31.6 seatpost, an E2 type direct mount front derailleur and a lot of cable housing (continuous runs for front and rear).
If you want to buy a complete bike you have 2 easy options; the WO with the part spec from Kona that gets you into fat biking for a really low entry cost or you can get the frameset and BIKEMAN WO build kit http://www.bikeman.com/BMAN-WOKIT.html and get a complete bike with a really nice part spec delivered to you. Bike weight will vary greatly based on your part spec, your choice of tubes and tires alone can swing the weight pounds in either direction. My XL frame weighed 6 pounds even. My complete bike weighs almost 33 pounds, with the exception of the snazzy Carver carbon fork there are no lightweight components. Remember it’s a fat bike and it gets you out in the snow to have fun, it really doesn’t matter how much it weighs.
So how does it ride? It rides like a mountain bike. Fat bike geometry has certainly improved. Subtle changes in head tube angles, fork length and offset have fixed some of the early handling “quirks” of fat bikes. There still some over-steering at speed due to the mass of the wheels/tires but all in all the Kona like many of the current crop of fat bikes handles well. I really like the extra clearance the sloping top tube provides. I find on many bikes that I smash the side of my knees on the top tube far too often; the sloping tube gives me more room for error when I am doing something stupid trying to ride tricky sections. Get yourself a WO and embrace winter.
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