Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Really Big, Fat Tires And Drop Bars

Nitto RM-14
I was just made aware of another drop bar for off-road. It comes from the company that pretty much helped kick off the whole off-road drop bar scene in the 80's- Nitto.

Nitto was the maker of a few of the well known drop bars used on mtb's back then, including the "Dirt Drop", a model whose name has been appropriated to mean any drop bar with flare and/or sweep meant for off roading.

There is also another, similar Nitto bar still available called the RM-13, which has less flare and sweep. (Think Cowbell-ish) However; it is the RM-14 which has caught my eye. It is silver, for one thing, and that in itself makes it interesting. However, it also is made with a 31.8mm clamp diameter, which should beef the bar up a bit for rougher handling.

I want to add this into my off-road drop bar comparo. It isn't a cheap bar, retailing at almost $90.00. That may put some off, but since Nitto bars are the "real deal" in off-road drops, and the finish quality is typically second to none, I think it may be an interesting addition to the mix.

Surly Moonlander prototype
Redefining "Fat Bike": Surly is at their best when they push the boundaries of what folks think about bicycles, their uses, and in their insistence that everything be made from 4130 ChroMoly and have single speed compatibility.

Their first bike, in the late '90's, the "1X1 Rat Ride", was a slap in the face to the industry that had wholly adopted aluminum frame construction and geared mountain bikes. Then they threw out the Cross Check, a cyclo-cross bike, fer cryin' out loud, looooong before "cross was cool".

Things continued with the first affordable 29"er frame and fork, the Karate Monkey, then they put out the first real, workable, widely available cargo bike, the Big Dummy, and of course, revolutionized winter biking with their Pugsley fat bike.

Now that fat biking has graduated to an all year long pursuit, and several other companies have upped the ante, Surly has taken the chance to basically "one-up" everyone. Welcome to the "Moonlander".

What is it? Well, it is a steel frame that will have 4.5 inch wide tires mounted to it, that's what. Major floatation. Surly says: "The very wide rims and very large tires, as you might expect, make for amazing traction, floatation, and minimal ground impact. " The rims will be called "Clownshoe" rims and will be 100mm wide. The tire will be similar to the 3.8" Larry tire, but will be called the "Big Fat Larry", most appropriately, I should say.

Single speed? Yup. Same drop outs as the Pugsley, so going with one gear or an internally geared hub can be done as well. Good ol' Surly!

Surly indicates this will be sold as a frame/fork and as a complete. Do I want one? Oh man....... I have to be honest and say yes, I do. But I dunno. I have an almost complete fat bike hanging in the basement I need to take care of first, so we'll see!(Yes- still no word, or wheel from Phil Wood & Co.)

At any rate, I will definitely be taking a very close look at the Moonlander at Interbike!


Iowagriz said...

As a trail builder, that pic scares me. I hope this is not part of their marketing campaign. I think they know better, but know that they value your opinion (and hopefully see this comment).


Guitar Ted said...

@Iowagriz: I know the Surly guys enough to say that they are pretty conscientious and respectful about trail use. Who knows? This could be any random mud hole they just decided to test in, and may not even be on a trail. Hard to say from the image.

That said, point well taken- Don't ride on muddy trails where damage can erode the trail, or worse- get us kicked out!

Unknown said...

I'll be needing another bike now. Got it all picked out already. More Fat = More Better.

Biggs said...

Ben... Does that mean you are getting rid of the great green snow bike? Also interested in how Surly pulled off the extra fat clearance... I can't imagine a wider Q-factor than a Pug.

S Sprague said...

GT, what bar is on that bike? A new one from Surly or a Jones?

Guitar Ted said...

@S Sprague: It is a Jones "Loop Bar", which is Jeff Jones' latest variant on the ol' H-Bar.