Sunday, 9 October 2016

ELEVEN | Get Your Custom Fatbike

So you are looking to upgrade your current ride, add another fattie to the stable or are you venturing into the world of fat for the first time.  You have visited all the manufacturers’ web sites, peppered your buddies with questions, visited your LBS and scoured every page of Fatbike Republic (shameless plug) and still can’t find the fattie of your dreams.

You know that you don’t want a carbon copy of every other bike. You are looking for something a little different, maybe some custom paint and an upgrade or two.  Can you find such a beast?  Sure you can . . . just head over to ELEVEN and build your custom dream machine.

Fatbike Republic connected with Tom German, the brains behind ELEVEN, a North Carolina based fatbike company, to have chat about fat.

FBR: Hey Tom. I know that ELEVEN opened its doors in 2015, but what inspired you to start a fatbike company in the first place?

ELEVEN (Tom German, Founder): Two years ago, I bought a new mountain bike.  Like many riders, I read some internet articles and talked to the local bike shops.  When I was ready to buy, the combination of color, components, and size I wanted was not available.  Some sellers had the right size and others offered components that were close, but no one had the exact build I was seeking.  This experience reinforced that there are riders who want
a custom solution to the biking needs.

The first time I rode a fatbike was on a North Carolina singletrack and I immediately noticed more traction over roots and rocks and better cornering grip. I clearly remember thinking, why isn’t everyone riding a fatbike?

When I started looking more closely at fatbikes I noticed the same restrictions as when I bought my mountain bike.  Why should fatbikers spend thousands of dollars on a new bike and immediately start replacing components?  That's where the idea came from and the rest is history.

FBR: Cool. So tell me a little about ELEVEN and what its all about.  
I have played with your bike builder and and there are endless combinations of colors and components.  Its pretty neat.

ELEVEN:  At ELEVEN, riders can get the bike they want instead of compromising on the closest option a shop has in stock.  We offer a unique online platform that enables customers to select their frame size, then mix and match from a wide range of components and colors to design their ultimate fatbike.  

We spend significant time researching and testing components to ensure we offer quality, industry-leading choices, including components that are not available on standard production bikes.  At each step, Our bike builder provides detailed information about each option to help riders select what will work best for them, and they can play around in our online paint shop to customize the bike’s color scheme.  And if a rider doesn’t find exactly what they’re looking for on our platform, we’ll help them find it. 

FBR:  Interesting concept.  
If memory serves North Carolina is not known for vast amounts of the white stuff. How is the fatbike scene in North Carolina?

Yes, not much snow but we have great trials and a lot of beaches. The fatbike scene in NC is growing. Two years ago, a couple of local shops had one demo bike. Today most shops offer fatbikes. We expect growth to continue but it will take time. Most riders don’t buy a new bike every year, and some are hesitant to step outside the traditional mountain bike box. Everyone who has ridden an ELEVEN fatbike has felt more grip and better ride over roots and rocks.

FBR: What has been the best part of starting a fatbike company?

ELEVEN: Interacting with first-time fatbike
rs has been great.  It is rewarding to hear a rider describe his or her first fatbike experience. They are always smiling and amazed by the responsive handling and significant grip.

FBR: Being the head honcho of a fatbike company I’m guessing you are rolling a pretty nice set of fat wheels?

ELEVEN: I think so.  I'm riding a bluto equipped ELEVEN that is running a 1 x 11 with Race Face Next crank and a Cane Creek headset.  The bike rolls on Hed rims with Industry Nine hubs and 4" Jumbo Jims.  Although the frame can run 5" tires with its 197mm rear, I prefer to run 4".

FBR:  So does it ride more like trail bike or does it feel more like a XC?

ELEVEN:  I designed the frame to handle well on technical trails. The 69.5 head angle is not as slack as some fatties and the weight distribution is rearward. So it is responsive, climbs well, and the abundant tire grip provides stability in the technical sections.

The bikes come in three sizes . . . S, M and L.  And to put the sizing in perspective, the Medium fits between a Trek 17.5 and 19.

FBR: It's a little unusual to find bikes that are built in the USA. What are the advantages of manufacturing in the USA?

ELEVEN: Our frames are manufactured in the US because it is extremely important to us to deliver the safest bike we can to our customers.  US manufacturing has delivered exceptional quality and consistency.  Our frame weight variation is minimal, and the quality of the welds is exceptional.  The welders take great pride in their work and it shows. 

FBR: So where do see the fatbike industry going? Bigger tires? Wider frames? Dominance of the 27.5 fat rim?

Riders created fatbikes and I believe they will continue to drive the segment. There is no doubt that fatbikes dominate sand and snow, so it will be on the trails where you will see more diversity. Specifically the plus size tires (27.5+ and 29+), which is currently promoted by the industry. Of the two I see the 29+ segment phasing out and the 27.5+ segment growing and competing with the fatbikes. Its will be interesting to see what riders ultimately decide.

FBR: So what’s in store for ELEVEN as we move into the prime 2016/2017 fatbiking season?

ELEVEN: For starters we will be launching our webstore with new ELEVEN apparel and fat bike components.  There will also be new bike build options including: 1x12 drivetrain, Industry Nine Big Rig alloy wheels, Schwable lightweight tires, carbon rigid forks, etc.  And new colors and graphics will be released in October with new price points. There are also some top-secret things that I’m not at liberty to chat about right now.

FBR: Thanks Tom for sharing a little about ELEVEN and what it can offer the fatbike world.

ELEVEN:  Thank you, we appreciate your interest. To celebrate our new site we would like to offer a free upgrade from Race Face Turbine handlebar and seat post to Race Face Next handlebar and seat post to anyone purchasing an ELEVEN bike in 2016.

- 30 -

So if the mainstream fatbike offerings is a little vanilla for your tastes
, maybe the folks at ELEVEN can spice things up for you.  Give their bike builder a whirl to see if you can design the bike of your dreams.

Ride on!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fatbike Ice Traction Guide | Get a Grip!

Wondering what ice fighting technology is available to keep you upright and stable this winter.  Well ponder no longer as Fatbike Republic explores the options . . . from off the shelf plug-n-play to complete do-it-yourself solutions.  There is sure to be one to fit your riding prowess and budget.


The quickest
and easiest way to secure your ice traction for the winter is to purchase pre-studded fatbike tires.  There are several manufacturers that offer 4" and 5" studded tires . . . check out Fatbike Tire Guide to see who does.

Being quick and easy means that it is the most expensive way as well.  If getting pre-studded tires the best (cheapest) time to get them is in the off season, or when purchasing your new fat steed as your LBS may cut you a deal on a second set of tires.  If you wait until the snow flies be prepared to pay premium dollar.

Vee Snowshoe XL PSC Studded
I would recommend that you also pick up a small package of replacement studs and a tool as it is not uncommon to lose a stud or two during the season.


Another option would be to purchase studdable tires and stud them yourself.  The same manufacturers who sell the pre-studded tires normally sell the tires without the studs . . . but with the holes all ready for studding. All you need to do is purchase the studs (about 250 per tire), a stud installation tool and spend a couple of evenings flexing your wrist muscles. This way is cheaper than buying the pre-studded, however it takes a little time to get the tires ready for ice.  

There are three types of studs on the market (pointed, flat and concave) and either will fit studdable tires . . . however some are better than others.  

Last season Fatbike Republic tested the pointed and flat and found a distinct difference between the two with the flat coming out on top.  Details on installation and the full review can be found HERE.

Be cautious when buying used studdable tires or using the studdable tires in dirt prior to studding. You will have to remove ALL dirt and rocks from the stud pockets to ensure a good seat with the studs.  Its not impossible . . . but its a real pain.


The beauty with Gri
p Studs is that they will allow you practically turn any fatbike tire into ice shredding donuts.  The GS1000 is sold in boxes of 100, 150 and 1000.  The studs can be installed manually with a screwdriver type tool or using a drill, and they can be removed for the off season.

Screwing the stud into the tire lug will in most cases give you the minimum 5mm rubber depth required.  The 2.0 mm prominence of the carbide tip will provide traction over and above any of the pre-studded fatbike tires.  There is very little tear our.  150 per tire is generally sufficient.

They are a little on the pricey side at $1 each, but the traction is beyond question.


Bottom line . . . this is probably the cheapest route to get yourself some ice traction.  Taking screws and installing them into the tire or out through the tire will pretty much ruin the tire for anything but riding on ice.  That is why it's recommended that you source a used/cheap set of tires.

The "inside-out" method has screws installed from the inside of the tire. Some sort of tire lining (like duct tape) is needed to protect the tube and to help prevent (or slow down) the screws from pushing back in as you roll down the trail.  Some trimming of the screw tips may be required depending on how much they protrude.  Tires studded with this method look downright scary and provide a scary amount of traction.

Source: Just Yakkin'

The "screw-in" method is a little more tame with the screw installed from the outside into the tire lugs.  3/8 sheet metal screws are popular, with some folks modifying the heads slightly by drilling them out and cutting additional gripping edges. 

Puncturing the tube is quite possible using this approach unless you have a very heavy lugged tire or run tubeless. Tear out is common as the treads on the screws are meant to hold metal.

It is a very inexpensive traction option.

If you want to avoid modifying sheet metal screws you may want to take a look at Kold Cutters.  For years these hardened v-groove metal screw in studs have been used in the motorbike ice racing circuit and have now crossed over to the world of fatbiking.  Their AMA #8 3/8" are relatively inexpensive and easy to install.  Some folks place a dab of cold hardy flexible glue on each stud to minimize tear out.  Tube puncture is still something to be aware of so running tubeless may be the preferred option.

Source: Just Yakkin'


Tire chains have been used as traction aids for as long as tires have been made out of rubber.  In modern times you normally see them on transport trucks or pickup trucks.  A company by the name of Slipnot offer tire chains for fatbikes in several sizes.  For less tha $120 you can be outfitted with a set of chains.

According to their website they look relatively straight forward to install and they are claimed to increase traction in mud, snow and ice.  There is no doubt that you will get better traction, however I wonder how much extra weight they would add to your fattie.

If you are more of a DIYer, over on WV Cycling they walk through the process of making a set of tire chains for a skinny tire.  Scale it up and the chains would be fat compliant.  They even have a couple of videos showing them in use.


All too often we get caught up in the rubber on the bike and forget about the rubber on our feet.  We can have the most elaborate ice traction system on our fattie, but putting a bare boot down on a slick ice surface can have us kissing ice pretty quick.

To make touch downs a little safer some folks strap on ice cleats like those offered over on Winter  Light and compact you can store them in your backpack and slip them on when needed.

Popping 10-15 Grip Studs into the toe of your favorite boot also works quite well.  They are super grippy, super light and you tailor the grip pattern specifically for your needs.

The folks over at IceBug have footwear specifically designed to traverse ice.  From sneakers to boots for both women and men the combination of sticky rubber compounds mixed with carbide studs allow you to walk in ice with confidence.


Riding ice can be fast and the sound of studs gripping ice is really cool, but it can also be dangerous.  Therefore, no matter which option you choose for your fattie and feet, be sure to include a little caution and common sense when riding ice.  

Ride safe!

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Complete Fatbike Tire Guide

Not to long ago any fatbiker worth their salt would have been able to name all the tires available for their fat steed.  Some may even been able to quote the TPI and claimed vs measured width on an 80 mm rim.

As the sport has exploded so has the rubber options.  Below you will find the most complete compilation of fatbike rubber on the interweb.

Enjoy !

Flowbeist  - 26 x 4.6, 120 TPI
Dunderbeist  - 26 x 4.6, 120 TPI
Vanhelga  - 26 x 4.0, 120 & 60 TPI
Dillinger 5  - 26 x 4.8 (studded & studdable), 120 TPI
Dillinger 4  - 26 x 4.0 (studded & studdable), 120 & 27 TPI
Husker Du  - 26 x 4.0, 120 & 33 TPI
Wrathchild  - 26 x 4.6, (studded) 120 TPI

Tire Details

Source: 45NRTH
Source: 45NRTH

Shark Tooth  - 26 x 4.0 (studded), 60 TPI
Big Fatty  - 26 x 4.0 & 26 x 4.9, 120 & 60 TPI
Big Smoothy  - 26 x 4.0, 120 & 60 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Arisun

Hodag  - 26 x 3.8 & 27.5 x 3.8
Rougarou  - 26 x 3.8
Barbegazi  - 26 x 4.7 & 27.5 x 4.5
Gnarwal  - 26 x 3.8 (studded & studdable)

Tire Details

Source: Bontrager

Grand Canyon  - 26 x 4.0, 30, 60 & 120 TPI
Sand Storm  - 26 x 4.0 & 20 x 4.0, 30, 60 & 120 TPI
Snow Storm  - 26 x 4.0 & 26 x 4.9, (studded & studdable) 30, 60 & 120 TPI
Fat Momma  - 26 x 4.0, 30, 60 & 120 TPI
Starmon  - 26 x 4.0, 30, 60 & 120 TPI
Big Daddy  - 26 x 4.0, 26 x 4.9 & 20 x 4.0, 30, 60 & 120 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Chaoyang

Roly Poly  - 26 x 4.8

Tire Details (not listed on site)

Big D  - 26 x 4.0, 120 TPI

Tire Details


Minnesota - 26 x 4.0

Tire Details

Source: Framed

Spider Tire  - 26 x 4.0
LV-1001  - 26 x 4.0
LV-1002  - 26 x 4.0
LV-1008  - 26 x 4.0 & 26 x 4.8

Tire Details

Source: Innova

Juggernaut Pro  - 26 x 4.0 & 26 x 4.5, 120 & 60 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Kenda

Colossus  - 26 x 4.8, 120 & 60 TPI
Mammoth  - 26 x 4.0, 120 & 60 TPI
Minion FBF  - 26 x 4.0, 26 x 4.8, 27.5 x 3.8, 120 & 60 TPI
Minion FBR  - 
26 x 4.0, 26 x 4.8, 27.5 x 3.8, 120 & 60 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Maxxis

On-One Floater  - 26 x 4.0, 120 TPI
On-One BSC Type 1  - 26 x 3.5, 120 & 60 TPI

Tire Details

Source: On-One

Capativ-8er  - 26 x 3.5
Devist-8er  - 26 x 4.0
Devist-8er UL  - 26 x 4.0

Tire Details

Source: Origin8

Fat B Nimble  - 26 x 4.0, 120 & 60 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Pannaracer

Jumbo Jim  - 26 x 4.0, 26 x 4.4 & 26 x 4.8

Tire Details

Source: Schwalbe

Ground Control  - 26 x 4.0 & 26 x 4.6, 120 & 60 TPI
Fast Trak Fat  - 26 x 4.0, 120 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Specialized

Big Fat Larry  - 26 x 4.7, 120 TPI
Black Floyd  - 26 x 3.8, 60 TPI
Bud  - 26 x 4.8, 120 TPI
Knard  - 26 x 3.8, 26 x 4.8, 27, 33, 60 & 120 TPI
Larry  - 26 x 3.8, 27, 33 & 120 TPI
Lou  - 26 x 4.8, 120 TPI
Nate  - 26 x 3.8, 27, 60 & 120 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Surly

Wazia  - 26 x 4

Tire Details

Source: Terrene

Snowshoe 2XL  - 26 x 5.05, 120 TPI
Snowshoe XL  - 26 x 4.8, (studded & studdable)120 TPI
Snowshoe  - 26 x 4.5, 120 TPI
Snow Avalanche  - 24 x 4.0, 26 x 4.8, (studded & studdable) 120 TPI
Bulldozer  - 26 x 4.25, 26 x 4.7, 120 TPI
H-Billie  - 26 x 4.25, 72 & 120 TPI
Mission Command  - 26 x 4.0, 26 x 4.7, 20 x 4.0, 24 x 4.0 60 & 120 TPI
Rail Tracker  - 26 x 4.0, 120 TPI
Speedster  - 26 x 3.5, 120 TPI
Chicane  - 26 x 3.5, 72 TPI
Apache Fattyslick  - 26 x 4.5, 120 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Vee Tire
Source: Vee Tire

Bomboloni - 26 x 4, 120 TPI

Tire Details

Source: Vittoria