Sunday, 27 March 2016

Beaver Guard | Anti Muck Device


Although riding fatbikes in the mud can be fun, cleaning the muck from your nooks and crannies (and from the bike) is anything but.  That's where fat fenders come in quite handy.  

Beaver Guard currently carry three fatbike fenders, two for the front (Bluto and rigid) and one for the rear.  For those who ride non-fat they also offer coverage for 650b and 29ers.  In addition you have a choice of logo colours - white, red, blue, green or orange.

The folks over at Beaver Guard sent a pair of limited edition white fenders (with orange logos) for review here on Fatbike Republic.

The Fenders

Opening the package it was nice to see that they were pre-loaded with zip ties to make the installation that much easier.



Taking a closer look you can see the crisp edging which lends itself to die cutting.  No DIY wavy edges from cutting with a pair of scissors.



Installation

Installation is an easy five step process:

Step One - Squeeze and place



Step Two - Loosely zip the side ties



Step Three - Loosely zip the top ties.  Finalize the location and cinch up tight.



Step Four - Cinch up the side ties



Step Five - Trim the ties



In my eagerness to get these babies mounted up I failed to notice the difference between the Bluto and the rear guard and mounted them in reverse.  Doh.  The Bluto have two pair of holes in the guard . . . the rear have three.  Luckily I had some clear zip ties laying around.

These are really sharp looking fenders with the orange decal picking up the orange highlights on the bike.

Testing

The fenders were received at the tail end of the winter fatbiking season . . . when there is a mixture of snow, alternating with slush that is sharing the trail with dirt.  A real mixed bag.

I noticed that the snow and slush exiting the tire would be caught by the guards.  On quiet days you can actually hear it hitting the fender.  And the spray was definitely staying out of my face.

The guards were equally effective deflecting the mud.  Although some errant mucky bits did make it to the frame, there was plenty of the brown stuff inside the fender.  And my white Bluto was staying clean with all of the sensitive bits being protected.



During one relatively warm ride I encountered a large amount of recently melted mucky water.  Like any good fatbiker I hit the puddles multiple times in a very energized manner.  Needless to say the Beaver Guards did their best to keep the white Sasquatch clean, but everything has it limits.  A down tube fender would have been a great help.  However . . . my face and bike's stanchions, crown and seals were still clean.



The fenders are pretty resilient as well.  After being squished (inadvertently) for 2 hours while be transported inside my vehicle to a trail ride, the front fender sprang back into shape pretty quickly after readjusting the ties. 

I ran both a 4" and a 5" tire and found the Beaver Guards equally effective in keeping the bike and rider respectably clean. 

Final Thoughts

I cannot see why anyone would run their fatbike without fenders if they ride in any sort of wet environment.  

Beaver Guards are simple, effective and inexpensive.  For $30 (CAD) you can outfit your fat ride with a pair of Beaver Guards to keep you and your bike's sensitive bits free of unnecessary muckage.

Be sure to check out Beaver Guard if you are interested in spending less time cleaning your bike and more time riding,

Ride on !

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Vee Snowshoe 4.5 PSC | Review



Snowshoes have been in use for 1000's of years to successfully move people over the snow.  The folks over at Vee Tire have harnessed the intent of the snowshoe and wrapped it around a rim for us fat loving folk.

In streamlining their fatbike tire lineup, Vee Tire revamped their Snowshoe for 2016.  This is what they have to say about the tire
The design direction was influenced by our super successful Trail Tracker MTB tire and built for the meatier Fatbike sizing.  Although called the Snowshoe, and manufactured with silica, this tire is equally impressive in cold and warm weather and anything in between.  Open and aggressive tread pattern designed to get you through snow, mud and anything else you can throw at it.
The Snowshoe is now offered in two flavours, a Silica Compound [black] and a Pure Silica Compound (PSC) [white].  Both tires have a 120 TPI, a claimed width of 4.5 inches and weight of 1330g, are tubeless ready, have a folding bead and are directional.



Be sure to check out the video below for some up close and personal shots and actual field test footage.

Unboxing

The Snowshoe PSC is not actually true white, its more off-white and this treatment is exclusive to the PSC compound.  This compound allows the tire to perform better on ice, makes it quieter and allows less debris to stick to the tire.  Its the softest of all the Vee Tire rubber compounds which is also shared with the XL and Bulldozer.



The tread pattern consists of alternating single and double, slightly ramped, rectangular center lugs.  These are flanked by alternating small and large square transitional lugs.  While the evenly spaced rectangular shoulder lugs complete the pattern.  The significant difference in this year's Snowshoe is the addition of "texturing" on the carcass of the tire.



Vee Tire claims that the tires are 4.5" wide, however when measured with 8psi on 80mm rims they are closer to 4".  That's about 1/2" smaller than advertised.



And the tires are a little heavier at 1427g per tire, which is 97g heavier than the claimed 1330g.




Field Test

There was a significant amount of snow available to give the Snowshoe PSC a good run in the white stuff.  I initially ran the rear tire in the recommended rotation, however I noticed that the traction was a little . . . lacking.  So I reversed it and boy did the tire shine.

After I posted the Sneak Peek of the the tire I had someone contact me to ask about snow buildup in the tread.  I can say that this tire had no more buildup of snow than any other tire I have tried or ridden with.  Actually, after getting the tire wet during a water crossing I expected to see the tires turn into a rolling white donuts, but it didn't happen.



I tested these tires for several weeks in different snowy conditions, at different temperatures and in different weather conditions.  I pretty much set them to my preferred pressure (4-5ish) and rode them. These tires impressed me.  There was ample traction, great float and very little washout.  I did encounter some ice, and although nowhere as grippy as a studded tire, I did feel a little more confident.



An unseasonably warm spell did allow me to try them on a groomed gravel trail.  Airing them up to 12psi they rolled quite well, although I was still running the rear backwards at the time.  Putting the tire on in the "correct" orientation would have allowed the tire to roll more quickly on the ramped center lugs.  



Hitting some wet dirt roads, with a little less air pressure, the Snowshoes felt right at home with no complaints.



Its crystal clear that the 2016 Vee Snowshoe 4.5 PSC is a good performer in the snow with the PSC compound making them feel a little grippier on ice.  Based on some dirt exposure, and the overall open tread pattern, I'm pretty confident it should also be a good performer during the non-snowy season as well.  Although they may not roll as fast as their Bulldozer cousin.

The Vee Snowshoe 4.5 PSC . . . a very good 4" all-season rubber option for your fatbike.  You will not be disappointed in this tire.

Ride on !


Sunday, 6 March 2016

2016 Norco Sasquatch 6.1 | Review



The white beast has been in the Fatbike Republic stables for several months now.  After having oodles of quality time in the snow, it was time for a review.  Be sure to check out the video below.



The 2016 Norco Sasquatch 6.1 is the flagship of the Norco 2016 fatbike line-up and is available in many colours . . . as long as you choose white.



As the specs were touched on in the Sneak Peek, and you can easliy see them over on the Norco site (detailed specs) I'll get right into the pros and cons.

What I like:

  • 197 mm rear end with 12 mm thru axle will accomodate just about every fatbike tire on the market.
  • GX1 11spd drivetrain is amazing.  There are plenty of gears, it shifts quickly and precisely, and the rear derailleur has a lockout button that makes tire changes a breeze.
  • SRAM DB5 brakes (180 mm front rotor 160 mm rear) stop the bike quickly.
  • Bluto soaks up the rough stuff and will really earn its keep when the non-snowy season starts.
  • Norco seat is relatively comfortable.
  • Nice sprinkling of Race Face.


Areas for improvement:

  • Welds on the chainstays.  They are structurally sound, but could be cleaner on Norco's top shelf fatbike.
  • Grips.  Some sort of lame foam type material that do not look friendly for four season fatbiking. They disappeared before the bike left the LBS shop floor.
  • Bluto is a 100 mm.  A 120 mm would have been super.
  • Rim strip.  If only ridden in snow it would be fine.  But for something that will be spending a lot of time in the dirt another colour would have been better.


Overall the 2016 Norco Sasquatch 6.1 is a very fine fatbike.  It has a great mix of components, is aesthetically pleasing and is fun to ride.  I'm looking forward to many a trail ride on the white beast.

Ride on !