Garneau Gros Louis 0 - Performance Carbon Fattie

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In 2017 Fatbike Republic was given the opportunity to test the Gros Louis 2. The bright orange alloy beast sported 5” Jumbo Jim tires, 197 rear end, a 1 x 10 drivetrain and hydraulic Avid brakes. With a great drivetrain, strong brakes, comfortable cockpit and a super tire choice the Gros Louis 2 proved to be a great value.


2018 is Garneau’s third year in the fatbike market and they ramped up their offerings for the second year in a row.  In addition to the solid Gros Louie 1, 2 and 3 they now offer:
  • Gros Louis 24 – Smaller fatbike aimed at the youth market 
  • Duchesse 2 – Designed specifically for women 
  • Gros Louis 0 [Zero] – A pure carbon racing machine 
Fatbike Republic jumped at the opportunity to swing a leg over a Gros Louis 0 and see what Garneau created to satisfy the fat speed freaks.

FRAME & FORK

Garneau searched high and low to find a carbon frame and fork that met their requirements of light, stiff and fast. The svelte looking frame has very clean lines with a slim downtube and top tube.


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The size large frame sports 445mm tapered rectangular chainstays with a generous 197mm rear end that holds a 197 x 12 axle.  Connecting to the 68.5 degree head tube is a slightly tapered carbon fork taking a 15 x 150 axle. The head is also tapered and should be able to accommodate a fork if needed – but that would definitely bulk up this lightweight.

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Adding to the clean look of the Gros Louis 0 is the internal cable routing starting up near the head and travelling all the way to the rear of the bike. You will also find a generous number of braze-ons mounted to this carbon beauty – a pair on the seat tube and downtube and another set on the seatstays matched with a pair on the chainstays.

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And the icing on the cake with the Gros Louis 0 is the custom paint job by the artists in Garneau’s Dream Factory. The entire frame is has a matte black finish, and while the fork appears to be just gold paint . . . when you get closer it actually sparkles and morphs into a rainbow of colors. It's really cool looking.

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DRIVETRAIN & BRAKES

The Gros Louis 0 sports a 1 x 11 drivetrain supported by the house of SRAM and Race Face. Up on the bars you will find a bulletproof SRAM GX 11spd shifter with X-ACUATION that claims to keep shifting crisp and sharp throughout the entire gear range.

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Out back we have a SRAM GX 11spd derailleur with X-ACUATION, Cage Lock that allows for easy wheel removal, and a super stable roller bearing clutch. The cassette is a lightweight black SRAM 11spd PG-1130 that delivers a wide 11-42t gear range.

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Garneau sourced a reliable Race Face Aeffect alloy crank for this bike and mated up a direct mount 28T RF narrow/wide chainring to ensure lots of low end torque. A KMC x11 EPT “rust buster” chain connects all the pieces.

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Stopping power is also handled by SRAM with Guide RS levers and 4-piston hydraulic calipers. SRAM Center Line rotors finish out the package with 180mm up front and 160mm in the rear.

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WHEELS & TIRES

Wheels on the Gros Louis 0 consist of 26 x 80mm HJC MP80 alloy hoops with stainless steel spokes. A 150mm KT Fat Systems hub graces the front while a 197mm rests in the rear – both having quick release axles.

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The Garneau selected ultra cool tan wall Kenda Juggernaut Elite 4.5 for this fattie. These tires are tubeless ready, have a supple 120 TPI and a claimed weight of 1397g.

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COCKPIT


The Gros Louis 0 is equipped with an alloy 60mm stem (10 degree rise) holding a set of 740mm x 31.8 alloy bars – both are A-Spec.

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Carbon headset spacers maintain spacing between the FSA Orbit C-40-ACB tapered headset and the stem. Grips are slim Garneau branded lock on grips with a dimple pattern.

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Garneau paid particular attention to the seat and seatpost.  A 31.8 carbon seatpost is topped by a black Fizik Tundra M5 mountain bike racing saddle.

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FIRST IMPRESSION

The Gros Louis 0 is definitely an eye catcher. With its non-traditional tan wall tires coupled with custom paint from Garneau’s Dream Factory . . . this fattie definitely has character. I named the bike "Goldie".



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Weighing in at 13.6 kg (29.9 lbs) without pedals, this sub-30 carbon beauty is shot with a flawless coat of flat black paint, while the fork is painted gold with what looks like a clear coat overlay of blue/green iridescence. Complimenting the gold fork are matching gold decals on the bike.

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It was unexpected to see a carbon seatpost on this fattie as you would normally find something like that on a more pricy bike. And the race inspired Fizik Tundra M5 saddle, while it looked uncomfortably stiff, indicated that Garneau was serious when wanting to create a quick fatbike.

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Another unexpected upgrade was the carbon headset spacers. Yup . . . I’m pretty sure that there are no other fatbikes on the market that come stock with carbon headset spacers. Garneau was definitely trying to reduce weight, with pops of carbon, while keeping overall costs in check.

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HITTING THE TRAILS

The Gros Louis 0 arrived in early February, which in any other year would mean prime fatbiking conditions with blankets of white snow and frozen water everywhere. This year we encountered an unending snow – freeze – thaw – melt cycle that seemed to run the entire season.



Using the Garneau sizing chart I selected a size large for my 5’11 frame. As pedals are not supplied with the Gros Louis 0, I mounted up a pair of black RF Chester pedals (my pedal of choice). After adjusting the seat height/position and slightly tweaking the brake lever orientation, it was time to take "Goldie" out on the trails.


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I was immediately surprised with the fit of the Fizik Tundra M5 saddle. As it was a rather stiff and hard looking seat, I was expecting it to be uncomfortable especially on an unsuspended fattie. While not soft and cushy, it was actually quite comfortable right out of the gate. The Garneau branded lock-on grips provide plenty of grip and should not require an upgrade any time soon.



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With a head angle of 68.5 degrees the Gros Louis 0 has more of a cross country feel. A mid-length 445 chainstay (balancing comfort and acceleration) with responsive steering is definitely something that you would expect in a fatbike with a touch of speed in its DNA.



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I am a fan of this particular SRAM 1x11 drivetrain as the system shifts quick and smooth through the 11-42 cassette. The gear set provides the perfect balance of low end torque for climbing and speed for briskly moving down the trail. While the 28T chainring provides the perfect balance of low end and speed, those wanting a little more top end could swap in a 30T.


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While the Gros Louis 0 is barely a sub 30 fatbike it certainly has the personality of a much lighter bike.  It spent more time in higher gear ranges than in the granny gears.  It felt like very little effort was needed to get this beast running and maintaining a quick pace.  This feeling was confirmed by several folks who just had to take "Goldie" for a spin when they saw it out on the trails.


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The four-piston brake callipers provide more than enough stopping power for this bike. On one particular ride I decided to try and loft the rear wheel by tapping the front brake. Riding on a level surface at a walking pace, I shifted my weight slightly forward and grabbed a handful of front brake – like a flash the tail of the bike was up in the air and I was scrambling to not go OTB.  Never tried that again.

The Guide RS brakes are quite capable of bringing the bike to a screeching halt, while sensitive enough to allow dirt and snow drifting with a light feathering of the lever. Performance was consistent in wet and dry, cold and not so cold.


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Garneau selected probably one of the most unique looking tires available for this bike - Kenda Juggernaut Elite 4.5.  With a tan sidewall they fit exceptionally well with the color scheme of this bike and they really turns heads. I found it’s a love or hate relationship – personally I love the look of this tire. Measuring in at 4.3” these tires are pretty close to the claimed width, while they weigh in 1542g which is 145g heavier than the claimed 1397g.



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During the review these tires were run at various pressures depending on conditions – higher pressures (15 psi) for super hard packed and lower pressures (4-5 psi) for new/fluffy/sticky snow. While not studdable for icy terrain, the knobby v-tread design (similar to the Pro and Sport) did an admirable job of flying down the trail or creeping through the slush. Great tire selection Garneau.


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While expected on alloy fatties, rack mounts are not the norm on carbon fatbikes. I believe that having the ability to strap on a rack and a set of panniers for a long winter tour greatly outweigh the extra gram or two for the threaded inserts. Nice touch. The extra large frame opening also allows for the mounting of a frame bag.



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FINAL THOUGHTS


Since the delivery of "Goldie", the Dream Factory artists cooked up a new paint scheme for the Gros Louis 0 - candy apple red.  All components and specs are the same, just a different coat of paint.

Garneau set out to deliver a no compromise four season fatbike for those with the need for speed.  Frame selection, carbon seatpost, carbon headset spacers and a racing saddle certainly pointed them in the right direction.  Bulletproof drivetrain/brakes and a decent tire selection rounded out the package.

Swapping out the alloy wheels for carbon and adding a carbon crank would significantly reduce weight, but at a significant increase in cost.  A carbon bar could be a realistic addition to the package with negligible impact on overall cost to consumer.

If you are looking for a performance minded fatbike with a killer paint job that can melt the winter trails [with a gravel grinding/short track alter ego] and the ability to carry a set of panniers . . . be sure to check out the Garneau Gros Louis 0.

Jamis Abandonner !

RIDE FAT !




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