Friday, April 20, 2012

Wide Glide

Mukluk- Not El Mariachi
I recently "summer-ized' the Mukluk with some Handspun built 29"er wheels. They are made with fat bike specific hubs laced to 29"er hoops. This changes the bike, obviously, but I wanted to focus on how this bike, and the specific wheel set, changes wheels. 

Fat bike hub width used to be 135mm OLD front and rear, ala the popular Surly Pugsley. Makes a lot of sense when you think about it, since 135mm rear hubs are everywhere. Using a big, fat 3.8" fat bike tire required an offset to the frame to allow all the gearing combinations though. This forced the offset of the spokes to one side of the rim as well. Some felt a "stronger" wheel could be made for a fat bike with a symmetrical wheel build.

This meant going to a wider, specific hub for a fat bike. The specific width was waffled on for a bit, but has settled on 170mm, at least for now. (Chain Reaction Cycles has introduced a 183mm wide hub recently) Another side benefit to this was being able to lace up a set of dishless 29"er hoops to the wider hubs for "summer time use". 

So you can get a fat bike and a mountain bike all in one. However; the effects of the wider hubs here are amazing when laced to 700c hoops. The wider base allows a better bracing angle and a dishless wheel build. Don't worry if none of that makes any sense. All you need to know is that these wheels are very stiff laterally. Much better than most 29"er wheels, unless they are carbon hooped.

So...wider is better, right? Not in a total system sense, it isn't. Yes- the wheels benefit tremendously from the wider hubs, but...........(there is always that "but"), you have to also put up with a wider bottom bracket, and I doubt we'll be seeing any 135mm wide suspension forks anytime soon. (But then again- Salsa Cycles is messing with a fat bike full suspension exercise....)

At any rate, you have to take the "not so good" with great here. The bottom bracket width hasn't been a deal breaker for me, so that seems okay. I do notice that my muscles get worked in a different way though with the wider bottom bracket. The suspension fork thing isn't all that big a deal, because I could swap out to typical componentry up front, but that defeats the advantage of front wheel stiffness here.

I see this as an extension of what I was looking for when I bought the Mukluk frame. A bike that is very versatile with fat bike wheels. Now it becomes a bike, that with a wheel swap, can be an off road touring bike, a regular mountain bike, a single speed mountain bike, or even a gravel grinder.

Although I am not going to start selling off my other bicycles, I could see how something like this could become a "one bike solution" for all season-all conditions" riding.


gtcooper said...

What a great idea! I have been Jonesing for a hard-tail and a snow/sand bike and you have just shown me how I can get both by buying one bike and an extra set of wheels.

Obvious after you said it, but not obvious to me before.

Thanks again

Small Adventures said...

"Although I am not going to start selling off my other bicycles, I could see how something like this could become a "one bike solution" for all season-all conditions" riding. "

That in itself is really cool,and might sell them lots of bikes :)

Matt said...

I like this... I'd love to have a fat bike, but haven't been able to justify it since I know I wouldn't use it enough year-round. A fat bike that can also be a rigid 29er though... now that's something I could maybe justify!

Guess I have my next savings goal all set now after I buy a new 29er (and a Crest wheelset to go on it)... or maybe that can be after I buy a longtail/cargo bike...

Drat all these cool, useful bikes!