Thursday, January 08, 2015

Fat Bike Tire Musings

Vanhelga on Whiskey #9 rim (L) and Lou on Clownshoe (R)
Today I have a few thoughts on fat bike tires. I mentioned it a bit in yesterday's post, but the Lou tires on 100mm rims are revelatory in my experience. It will be interesting to try out my old Big Fat Larrys on the 100mm Clown Shoe rims at some point too. I'll likely do that this Summer. But the thing is, this combo is so much more capable with the conditions I like to ride in that I cannot see myself going back to 4.0"s or skinnier rims. Not for bushwhacking.

The only thing that is missing from the Lou/Clown Shoe combo is that these tires are not tubeless and the rims are not tubeless designed either. (Yes....split tube, yadda,yadda,yadda.... Read on!) If this sort of set up was designed to be tubeless? Wow! That would rule. Which brings me to............

The Vanhelga and Whiskey #9 carbon rims I built up for a customer at the shop where I work were also a revelatory experience. I have been pretty vocal about Surly/45NRTH's products pricing and lack of tubeless features. While this doesn't do anything but make affordability worse, it does bring tubeless functionality to fat bike riders that actually works well, at least it sets up well tubeless.

I've set up a lot of tubeless tires and the Vanhelga/Whiskey #9 combo is amongst the best I've done. Easy inflation with a floor pump, (and no- I didn't use a Bontrager Charger), but the tires were a bear cat to get on the rims. That's good, but in the field serviceability may be tough. (NOTE: Whiskey does not condone the use of tire levers.) That said, I could do the deed bare handed. albeit it took a lot of hand strength and my paws still ache from the effort. That's a small price to pay for tire bead stability at low pressures though, I'd say.

The Vanhelga tires themselves seem really aggressive in terms of tread design. The size is 3.8-ish on the 70mm wide Whiskey rims, so don't go expecting big flotation characteristics here. The grip should be outstanding though. Maybe if I had a "fat bike as mountain bike" set up, I'd consider these. The Vanhelgas are, at any rate, a good view into what could be for all fat bikers. If this sort of set up could be done on aluminum rims, (less expensive), and in the 4.8" size on 100mm wide rims, I'd be very interested.


Joboo said...

Can you expand on this statement a bit more??
"While this doesn't do anything but make affordability worse"

Guitar Ted said...

@Joboo: Sure- I can explain in two words: carbon rim. Need I say more?

Joboo said...

Nope, just making sure!! ;)

Kevin Betters said...

Did you get a chance to ride the VanHelga's on 70mm rims ... if so, what do you think of them for dirt singletrack use? I'm looking for the best tire option to match up with the 70mm rims for dirt racing and riding. Currently running the new 4.0 Fast Traks, and while they roll very fast at higher pressures (12+) ... they don't work real well at lower tubeless pressures (8-10). Tried my front at 8 psi and had a bit more self-steering effect than ideal.