Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday News And Views: The "Sea Weasel Edition"

The Salsa Cycles Bucksaw 2 (Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles)
Okay folks- hold yer horses, cause this here's Sea Weasel Edition time and I've got comments! Let's go!

Salsa Cycles Comes Through With The Fat FS: 

There was a fat bike, then a fat bike full suspension prototype, then rumors of Rock Shox doing a front suspension fork, then.......nuttin! 

Where was the bike? Heck, where was this mythical Rock Shox fat bike fork? Well, in the span of 48 hours both appeared out of the "vaporware fog" and are looking to become real, solid objects found on trails soon. Here are the details on Salsa Cycle's site if you care to read them I'll spare you what you've likely read a million times yesterday and make my personal comments on this news instead.

First off, this is no joke. I know a lot of folks are going to say that "fat bikes already have big fat cushions of air for tires, so whadda we need suspension for? That's stupid." Um.......excuse me, are stupid for thinking that. Here's why- A "big fat cushion of air" is basically an undamped spring. can absorb a trail deformity. However; it will rebound with just about the same energy it absorbed, and after multiple absorptions and returns of said energy, you will (a) either go out of control, or (b) learn to make your body be the damping device, (aka- "Arm & Leg Damping Technology"), which you are certainly welcome to do. For the more civilized mountain bike riders, there is an advanced form of damping technology to control the uncontrolled rebound of pneumatic fat bike tires called  "Bluto", (see below), along with rear dampers from Rock Shox, and we are going to use that. Good luck with your backwards technology. Have a great ride, mmmkay?

Seriously- The Bucksaw, (and likely other bikes before we get to 2015 with fat tires and full suspension), is going to transform mountain biking as we know it. Mark my words- this is just the beginning folks. With the game changing traction of fat bike tires, carbon fiber rims, lightweight components, and new full suspension ideas grafted in, (thinking RS-1 type forks for starters), the mountain bike is going to fundamentally change again for the average trail bike rider. This ain't no snowbike, Brutha!

Image by Fixie Dave Nice
Rock Shox Bluto:

Of course, none of this would have happened had there not  been a production fat bike suspension fork. The much anticipated model, dubbed the "Bluto", was announced officially yesterday at Sea Otter (Weasel), although it had been leaked a day earlier by several sources.

While many will undoubtedly begin to shoot holes in this first product for the category from a major manufacturer, it has to be said that it probably is just the tip of the ice berg. Like the '05 Reba 29"er, or the earliest Rock Shox fork, the RS-1 26"er, this Bluto deal is just the start. While you may not believe fat bikes need a front suspension fork, in five or six years you won't believe we used this suspension fork when we'll be on stuff far more advanced. I'm sure of this. In fact, I think this is a revolutionary product and this should have been called the RS-1 to reflect that. Bluto? Really?!! Oh well......

In a great move, Rock Shox, by default or design, made this fork so it fits 29+ rubber. Now here comes the deal.......will the Bucksaw fit a 29+ rear tire? If not, I think Salsa may have missed a golden opportunity. Why? Because then I could buy one bike, and with two wheel sets cover everything from soft conditions to rock hard dirt with fat bike rims and tires to 29+ tires on 29"er rims and then to an "ultra-light" 29"er tire set up on the same rims. One bike- Three different uses.

Rocky Mountain's Blizzard w/Bluto: (Image courtesy of Rocky Mountain Bikes)
There are going to be several bikes hitting shop floors in late 2014 with the Bluto up front and several will be hard tails. In fact- most will be. If these new bikes don't fit 29+ rubber, I say they fail. Why? Because why shouldn't there be that option? That's why.

Regardless, this is a game changing day in off roading. It's just the tip of the iceberg too. We already know that Trek will have five fat bike models and two of those will be full suspension bikes. Can Specialized sit on the sidelines while this goes on? I think not. How long will Giant hold on to its 27.5" mantra? (Just long enough that they will be one of the last on board with the fat bike stuff, just like they were with 29"ers.) However it all goes, it has become quite obvious that fat bikes have become the "new 29"er", not the 27.5 inch wheeled so-called enduro rigs. 27.5 is a 26"er replacement, nothing more, nothing less. Fat bikes are really a game changer. They have inherent qualities that no other off road bicycle can match. isn't for everyone, but it will appeal to a much wider audience than 27.5 inch wheels would ever appeal to.

WTB Trailblazer 27.5 X 2.8

Unless it is 27.5+. Yes, you read that right. No, not the Instigator, a real 27.5 X 2.8" tire which was shown by WTB at the Sea Weasel. This wheel with the big rubber measures just shy of 29 inches and will fit many existing 29"ers. Sound like fun? I thought so..........

Okay, that's my commentary on that. Go out and get a ride in this weekend and keep the rubber side down.


MG said...

Amen... The fun is just beginning.

Now I gotta try to afford what I want.


Anonymous said...

Seems like this could really be the swissarmy knife of mountain bikes.

Meriwether said...

I agree on the Bluto/dampened suspension making fatbikes more fun and controllable on dirt, but I don't know why you'd want to bastardize a 29+ just because you *can* use the same bike. Unless it's an ole skinny fat with Marge lites and 3.8" tires, I don't see the rationale other than you'd need another bike (has that ever been a bad thing...?). That is not a good enough reason IMO. I don't complain about wanting to fit mtb tires in my cross bike, they're designed for different uses.
The much wider Q of the fatty, heavier and wider axle hubs and wheels...Why do that to yourself and kill the true nature of the 29+? They're two very different bikes in how they ride, and should be totally different platforms.

I'm digging the new WTB 650b+ even though it's going to give me headaches later on....too many options!!

Guitar Ted said...

@Meriwether: First of all, thanks for the comments.

I don't know that putting 29+ on a fat bike is "bastardizing 29+", which would assume there is a "standardized way 29+ should handle/work/look". I do not believe that putting such tires and rims on a fat bike would be "bastardizing" anything either.

I used my Mukluk as a 29"er one summer and it was fine. It worked really well.

By the way, did you notice that WTB used a non-standard hub for the 27.5+ bike that was shown at Sea Weasel? Talk about your bastardizing. ;>)

Michael_S said...

that 2.8" 650B tire seems like the perfect option for a 29er retrofit to use midfat tires short of 29+. I ran out to the garage to measure mine right away.

Meriwether said...

Hah, didn't catch the hub on the 27.5+. Axle widths are far from standardized these days, I won't even start on that one!

You're right there is no "right" way to do a 29+ but the Krampus to me defines the platform and how it is meant to be built. It's more of an all-mountain geometry and feel, even though fatbikes are tending to go that route in geometry too lately. The wider chainline you have to build into a fatbike frame for ring/chainstay/tire clearances is overkill for 29+ tire.

For me, the wide BB shell and axles necessary for fatbikes make the 29+ version of the bike handle worse than it could/should, less than ideal at the least. I ride my 29+ instead of my regular 29er, not instead of my fatbike. My knees and hips prefer the smaller Q-factor especially on long rides and tours. I may be in the minority but I think fatbikes are way less practical and fun *on dirt* than 29+ (or i'd imagine 27.5+ too).

But i do completely understand wanting to have ONE bike that does it all. I just don't think it will do each of them as well as separate bikes. I bought a Karate Monkey when they first came out just for that reason. You know how many times i put fenders and cross wheels on that bike? Once. I think the desire outweighs the reality and usually people stick with one type of build. Or maybe that's just me!


Vik said...

The Salsa FS fatty cannot take 29+ in the rear.

Alb said...

Hey Ted, I check last week and a knard on rabbit hole to surly's measurements won't fit a bluto (based on rockshox tech drawing/measurements). Do you know otherwise?

Guitar Ted said...

@Alb: Fixie dave Nice posted some images of a Knard 29+ on a Velocity Dually in a Bluto and it had plenty of clearance;

I would think that a Rabbithole would actually lower the crown effect of the tire, giving even more clearance.

Unknown said...

You mention that this new 27.5+ tire will fit most existing 29ers. Most existing 29er frames I know of dont even allow for 2.4 tire let alone a 2.8. Do you mean it will fit a fatbike that is shy of clearing a 29+?

Guitar Ted said...

@Funny Jr: No.....not a fat bike. A 29"er. I've seen the drawings and I know what bike the tire was designed around. This won't fit in some 29"ers, that is true, but it will in many, and that's the point. There will be some "B+" tires bigger than what will fit on a 29"er from at least one company, but I do not refer to those. The whole point is to be able to slot this wheel/tire combo into frames already out. That way riders won't have to "re-up" on a frame or fork just to get the bennies of a big, voluminous tire like the 29+ folks have.