KB’s uber-custom fatbike – The Swan

This frame was really cool to see go from computer screen to reality. A few people said it looked Swan-like so…there you go.
Thanks to Walt and Brad for their help with this. I probably couldn’t have made it like this had they not given me great advice and in Brad’s case in-house gusset lessons.

KB wanted a 5″ fatbike with a Bluto and 2×10 gearing allowing a 20 x 42t for her lowest gear. She requested the lowest standover possible with a 80mm Bluto, BB height no less than 12.5″, and 4.8″ tires. I was able to get the standover (unsagged) to 695mm and lower as you get closer to the seat tube (~630mm).  I bent the top tube to get it as low as possible but also to give a nice long coped interesection with the True Temper 38mm Supertherm downtube.  The top tube comes into the downtube in the thicker butted section (1mm wall) and a big long gusset was added to strengthen the headtube junction made out 2″ diameter x 0.049″ wall 4130 straight gauge tubing.  She also wanted her bars to be 4″ higher than her saddle.  So this build was very different than anything I’ve attempted before.

Geometry:  68.5 degree head tube angle, 73 effective seat tube angle, 430mm long chainstays, 612mm front center, 41.4″ wheelbase.

Components: SRAM 10-spd twist shifters, Hayes Prime Expert disc brakes, Truvativ Noir T20 carbon riser bar, Thompson 70mm stem and seatpost, Surly Mr. Whirly Offset Double 165mm crank is on there with a 20x33t ring combo paired to a 10spd SRAM 12-36 cassette.  But the cassette is a wide range 10, with a Wolf Tooth 42t ring and a 16t to replace the 15 and 17t rings. I used their longer B-tension bolt too to get it to shift right.

The front derailleur is a direct mount X7 mounted to the Wolf Tooth clamp for Moonlanders/190 rear hubs.   Because of the weird crank when set up as spec’d (2mm from bottom of cage to top of big ring) the cage rubs the crankarm. It’s really easy to adjust the direct mount derailleur upwards and out of the way and it still shifts pretty good.

Wheels were built by Lacemine29.com and are Bontrager tubeless Jackalope rims laced to a 190 Fatback 10mm through-axle on the rear and a Borealis 150x15mm hub on front, Vee Rubber Snowshoe XL’s run tubeless! Very easy to set up without any tape on these rims. Super psyched about this. It didn’t work well (at all) for me using Lou/Buds.   Headed to the Colorado high country!


Melissa’s Fatcycle

This fatbike will be really fun to ride. I pushed with normal chainstays here so am “only” using the Specialized Ground Control 4.6″ tire on the rear to give some room on the 430mm chainstays.  A Surly Lou 4.8″ fits but with not enough room for comfort. Orange Nextie carbon tubeless ready rims, Surly Bud on front, tires are both run tubeless. Hope Fatsno hubs with a 197×12 rear and a 150×15 on front for the Bluto 120 fork.  Shimano XTR shifter and brakes and rear derailleur, Race Face Turbine Cinch crankset with a direct mount 28t ring, a wide range 10-spd cassette with the 42t Wolftooth cog and their 16t as well.  A Thompson Covert dropper post will be put on when it arrives which also has internal routing like the rear brake and derailleur.  She wanted something camo but also dug this Cosmic Blue so I got some orange camo decals made up by VCG.  I think it looks pretty awesome!

Geometry is short chainstays and slack head tube angles, my new fatbike preferred geometry because of how it behaves in soft snow. Here goes:

– 68.5 degree HTA

– 73.5 degree effective STA

– 430mm (16.9″) effective chainstay length. Actual is about 434mm. In my mind, effective length means more than actual. Effective is the horizontal distance between the rear axle and the center of the BB.

– 62mm BB drop is nothing too high or low. I’ve been leaning higher lately to reduce pedal strikes with such wide Q-factors that now are common (222mm!) and when using flat pedals.  Having said that…this still is a pretty low BB at about 318mm (12.5″) with the biggest diameter fatbike tires.

– 610mm (24″) effective top tube, 720mm front center.

Donny’s 29er

Donny wanted a lifelong bike, something he could rail on from Crested Butte to Chile. He wanted to have a stiff rear triangle for out of the saddle climbing, and a rig to bikepack around South America where he spends a lot of time being a ski guide.  The geometry could take many routes with these desires but after a lot of thought I made the bike a full on fun all-mountain style geometry since bikepacking these days involves bags instead of racks most of the time.  So in my opinion it’s better to have a bike you like to ride all the time rather than a bike just for camping.  As such, this frame is moderately slack and has short chainstays for a 29er…but not too slack and short.

– 69 degree HTA with the Fox Talas set at 120 which translates to about 70 degrees with the fork set on the lower travel setting (90mm) for better climbing geometry. I really like this aspect of the Talas fork and I use it a lot. The difference is definitely noticeable and helps.

– 74 deg effective STA to shorten saddle setback and center him between the wheels better with the short chainstays. I’ve found that you also have quicker transitions to seated/standing climbing and a more spunky feeling to the bike in general. Since he likes to climb standing up a lot, i felt this was the right call.

– 420mm chainstays (16.5″), fits a 2.25″ easily, will be tight with a 2.4″ tire.

– 12″ high bottom bracket

– 580mm (22.8″) top tube length, 665mm front center.

– Bent tubes all around.  Downtube bent for fork crown clearance and to give me some room to separate the top tube and downtube on the 98mm Paragon head tube.  I like using the bent Nova downtubes for this reason alone, no compound miters.  Bent top tube and wishbone seatstays for looks. Bent seat tube for tire clearance. Radiused wishbone seatstays.

– 31.6 Reverb dropper post with under downtube cable routing with the cool Ragley cable clamps that use a water bottle boss to attach up to 3 cables.

– 142×12 rear axle, hooded Paragon dropouts.

Sean’s fat road cross tourer

Sean’s frame and fork are done! I am not sure what to call this bike, but it’s a true all-rounder.

I built this frame based off traditional touring geometry with angles of 72/73 (HTA/STA) with a custom fit based on his dimensions and previous bikes he likes.  It fits up to 2.4″ tires (he’ll be running Schwalbe Supermotos = 29 x 2.35″ slicks), full fenders, and panniers. To fit the big tires I used a 73mm BB shell and to get a road-like gearing he’ll be putting on a White Industries road crank that has a huge range of ring sizes that can be used because of their very unique Variable Bolt Circle (VBC) design.  The frame’s got a lower bottom bracket (79mm) drop but not too low so he can still use 33mm cross tires or  40mm “gravel” tires like the Clement X’Plors without scraping pedals.  Paragon low-mount disc dropouts with two eyelets, True Temper tubeset except for the chainstays which are Dedacaai. The fork is Yo Eddy style segmented with a fork rake of 57mm for a trail figure of 54mm or 60mm depending on tire choice. It’ll be a quick responsive ride that will handle front loads well but also be smooth on dirt. It’s got all internal cables and a custom arch for the internal front derailleur cable. The arch was Sean’s idea based on a classic Pegasus frame. It also makes for a sweet rest for shouldering the bike. A challenging build and i love how it came out.

He’s sending it to get a sweet custom paint job that will definitely be the nicest finish on any Meriwether to date.  And to top it off, Sean designed his own headbadge for it that is right in line with the spirit of the brand.

Jacks Alfine belt-drive commuter tourer

This bike has been in the making for awhile because it took me awhile to research all the different aspects of the build.  Many firsts for me – Alfine and a Gates Centertrack belt-drive being the main ones that added some complexity to the frame.  Jack wanted the ultimate commuter for getting to work in Portland and also for bike tours out to the coast and back on dirt roads with panniers front and rear.  He wanted this to be a disc bike with clearance for 40mm gravel tires (Clement X’Plor MSO’s or WTB Nanos) as well as full fenders because he’s in Portland.  Internal full length housing in the front triangle. He will using an Alfine 11 and putting a 46t x 24t, maybe going to a 22 in the back. Disc lugged crown fork with eyelets for the Tubus Duo low-mount rack and fenders.

After a question to Gates regarding ‘best practices’ and what they recommend for dimpling vs. brazed-on cap, reading and re-reading their great manuals and website, I had the right chainline (beltline) and ring clearance.  The belt-line is very narrow on the Alfine making it hard to fit without a big dimple on the outside of the chainstay – especially when you want also to fit wide tires and fenders.  I chose a chainstay length of 443.5mm with a belt of 115t to accommodate all of it with this gear ratio.

The tubeset is a mix. True Temper OX Plat front triangle except for the tapered 34/44 head tube in case he wants to swap to a tapered steerer fork, 68mm BB shell, 4130 5/8″ x 0.028″ seaststays bent by me and a Paragon tube splitter brazed in, Dedacaai s-bend chainstays of the cross version with a strategically placed cut-out cap for belt-ring clearance.  Paragon hooded sliders of the black ano post-mount variety.  Pretty standard touring geometry but adapted for flat bars so a longer top tube than I’d use if it was for drop bars.  It has 74mm drop (10.8″ high with 40’s),  72/72 angles + 48mm fork offset = 60mm trail. Jack’s a pretty tall dude so it’s a 59 in the seat tube and 63 in the top, 661 front center.

Mitering for the tapered head tube was interesting but not as difficult as I expected. I started the miter on the horizontal mill with a 1.5″ diameter hole saw, then used the BikeCAD miter template to wrap around and filed the rest from there.  File to fit didn’t take super long and voila!  The other interesting part of the build was the chainstay cut-out.  I loaded the chainstay in an Anvil chainstay mitering fixture tube block to keep in phase, then clamped that in the mill vise, coped with a hole saw and brazed a piece of 1.25mm walled head tube in there.  Gates said they’ve seen more belt-drive bikes fail with dimples than caps so…i chose a cap.


Funnest bike I’ve ever ridden

…and i’m definitely not just saying that because I made it 🙂


Some info on the build: XX1 crank, X01 rear derailleur and cassette and shifter, 120/100mm Fox Talas CTD tapered 15QR fork with remote lever to switch between CTD settings (sussy-swanky!), Race Face Turbine 90mm stem, Answer Protaper 20/20 bars, Paul’s Love levers with Avid BB7-S’s for the time being (and the upcoming tour with Timmy) as I’m still hesitant to bring hydraulics on a tour. Just my own hangup. Moots Ti post with WTB Pure Ti-railed saddle – my new favorite. Rabbit hole/DT-Swiss 350 with 10mm through bolt rear wheel, 15QR Hope hub Velocity Dually up front and Knards for now, hopefully Vee Rubber or another brand soon…?


I’ve entered the modern world. My first new suspension fork in 8 years. Wow…lots has changed.

The shock makes going downhill SO damn easy it’s silly.  I barely had to steer, not sure that’s a good thing. I had to increase shock pressure to about 130PSI to stop it from bottoming out on the tire, hopefully that’s all i need since I only weigh 165lbs. Geometry is similar to the Krampus but with shorter chainstays (434 effective) and a lower BB height by 1cm (12.5″).  Angles are 69.5 deg head tube with 100mm travel and about 69 when the fork is set to 120mm; 73 effective seat tube angle at 100mm travel. Effective top tube is 24.6″ and a longer than I’m used to front center of 700mm. The bike “swims” (wheel flop) a bit more on steep climbs than my other bike with a 785mm front center and 70deg head tube angle. But this one descends like a maniac, SO much fun!!

Fatbikes on Donner

Testing_efatsThese are my two fatbikes. I was going to blab on about how different they are on dirt vs. snow and between eachother on the two mediums, but i decided I need more data. So for now, here are some photos from last weekend’s ride up on Donner Pass. I took both bikes up and rode the same loop twice, mostly (except for the big hike a bike up Andesite Pk).  There’s two ways to go from the North side of Donner Pass — the snowmobile trail to the left, or the ski/hike/snowshoe trail/s to the right.  I headed left as it was probably more packed from the snowmachines.  Also, with the Pacific Crest Trail along the right route, I didn’t know if it was legal to travel on that route with the bike.  A bit slushy and warm for the bike but turned out to be a great few hours of riding.

v1 geometry is 70/73 head tube/seat tube angles, 94mm trail, 683mm front center, 467mm chainstay length.

v2 geometry is 68/72 head tube/seat tube angles, 100mm trail, 715mm front center, 430mm chainstay length.

eFat v1

eFat v1

Yep, that's right.

eFat v2

View towards Sugar Bowl

View towards Sugar Bowl

Not sure this peak's name. Snowmobile trail on the backside of Andesite.

Not sure this peak’s name. Snowmobile trail on the backside of Andesite.

Castle Peak view.

Castle Peak view. The turns I got a couple of weeks ago were about dead center of this shot.

Always need a little hike a bike.

Always need a little hike a bike. Hiking up to Castle Pass from the backside of Andesite where the snowmobile trail dropped off the side of a hill into the drainage.

Topped out at Andesite Pk.

Topped out at Andesite Pk. Pretty good HAB getting up here from Castle Pass. The right way to get up here was the way I went down obviously (seen ahead of my front wheel).

First fatbike descent of Andesite...? I'm calling it.

First fatbike descent of Andesite…? I’m calling it.