You couldn’t go far at Interbike without encountering something fatbike. Whether crushing gravel at Outdoor Demo, blasting through barriers at Cross Vegas or taking up square footage in trade show booths, big bike momentum and product offerings continue to grow in both quality and quantity.
A number of companies introduced lightweight carbon fiber frames and forks at the show, putting together bikes that rival traditional high-end cross country bikes weight wise. Borealis turned heads with a feathery 21 pound complete featuring their Yampa frame ($1800 MSRP), FF1 carbon fork ($450), Carbondale tubeless carbon rims ($1600), FH1 wide hubset and a SRAM XX-1 component kit.
Though they’re better known for their cutting edge aero road rims, wheel maker HED showed a near-production version their forthcoming 450-gram fatbike rim which will retail for $800 each. HED displayed the wheels on a svelte, full-carbon Salsa Beargrease fatbike which tipped the scales in the low 20-pound range.
Origin-8 showed one of the more interesting takes on the category, launching a $1500 steel fatbike spec’d with NuVinci’s internal hub, continuously variable planetary (CVP) gearing. The system features a wide range of gearing that’s micro-adjustable via a handlebar twist shifter. Instead of having traditional stepped gear points, CVP has an effectively infinite number of gear ratios within the range, theoretically allowing you to dial in the precise gear for any incline or situation.
Getting fatbikes to the trailhead can be challenging, but the folks at Thule are making it a little easier with the launch of their T2 Fat Tire Kit. The $40 wheel trays replace the stock carriers on Thule’s popular T2 916 XTR and 917 XTR hitch racks, and can accommodate tires up to five-inches wide. The trays are also stepped to accommodate unfat(?) mountain bike tires and road bike treads alike–a good feature considering fatbikes tend to be one bike in a larger overall quiver.
Tire variety tends to be an indicator of category health, and Vee Rubber showed off no less than seven fatbike tire tread patterns at Interbike. With solid offerings from Surly, 45NRTH, and Origin-8 already in circulation, options abound for fatbike riders.