Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Ultimate Guide to winter mountain biking, fat bikes, gear, apparel and trainers. In the first two months of 2016, we are taking a deep dive into all manner of cold weather mountain bike gear, with round-ups and reviews of fat bikes, tires, wheels, apparel, trainers and more. To see all the articles, head over to our Winter Guide Hub Page and be sure to check out part 1 and part 3 of our Hottest Fat Bikes Round-Up..
Pivot LES Fat
Pivot Cycles is one of the most popular brands in the mountain biking world due to their bike designs, build quality and ability to give the mountain bike buyer what they want. That their appeal extends into the world of fat bikes should come as no surprise. The Pivot LES Fat is a carbon hardtail that is the epitome of versatility and flexibility. Regardless of where you use it (snow, sand, dirt) and how you use it, the LES Fat can be set up for snow riding, touring, adventure riding and all around trail riding.
One of the key factors of to this flexibility is the Swinger II dropout system that allows riders to change both chainstay length and the bottom bracket height to suit their needs. This allows the LES Fat to fit up to 26×5″ fat bike tires as well as 27.5+ and 29+ wheels. It also comes with two headset cups (18mm and zero stack) to provide correct geometry no matter what size wheels you choose to run.
The Pivot carbon rigid fork has plenty of tire clearance and keeps geometry consistent should you choose to change to a suspension fat bike fork (read: Bluto). The frame also comes ready for either 1x or 2x drivetrains and has a very narrow Q factor to keep the chainline efficient and to give the rider a more natural stance than other fat bikes on the market.
Of course, the carbon frame features Pivot’s hollow-core internal molding process that produces a frame that is light, stiff and strong. The bike features internal cable routing with a cable port system to ensure clean cable routing and keep foul weather at bay. It also has internal routing options for a dropper post. For touring duty, the LES Fat has rear rack mounts and three water bottle mounts.
And if you’re still not sure about the capability of this bike, don’t miss their video featuring Aaron Chase jumping, hucking, scrubbing and jibbing the heck out of the Pivot LES Fat at Highland MTB Park in New Hampshire. Available with two spec levels (SRAM XX1 and SRAM X01) the X01 level features SRAM GX/X0 1×11 drivetrain, SRAM Guide R brakes, e*Thirteen cranks, RaceFace bars, Sun Ringle Mulefut 80mm rims with Salsa hubs and Maxxis Mammoth tires. | Price: $4699 | More info at www.pivotcycles.com
RSD Bikes Mayor
Available in both titanium and aluminum, the Mayor is an interesting bike from RSD Bikes. Based in Toronto, they’re obviously intimately familiar with cold weather riding. The Mayor aluminum (pictured) is available in two finishes, Orange or Raw. RSD uses 6061 tubing for the frame, which is joined to a RSD carbon fork. This is one fat bike that is built for aggressive riding with beefy stays and wide axle spacing for any suspension fork or fat tire that you might want to try.
Along with the sturdy frame is a slacked-out geometry that encourages the rider to get rowdy. With the dialed geometry the Mayor retains fairly nimble handling with a nice snappy feel to it. But perhaps the best feature of the RSD Mayor is the solid value that it offers. Available in three build options, the best buy comes with a SRAM 1×10 drivetrain, Sun Ringle Mulefut wheels and RSD carbon fork. | Price: $2099 | More info at rsdbikes.com
Fezzari Kings Peak
The Kings Peak fat bike from Fezzari is one of their best sellers, so much so they are running slim on certain sizes already. It’s not surprising though, since this may be just about the best bargain around for a carbon framed fat bike. That’s paired with a rigid carbon fork with tapered carbon steerer. The frame features slick internal cable routing and has integrated rear wheel pannier rack mounts.
The Kings Peak is also ready for dirt or snow. Fezzari offers a build option with 4.0″ tires for those who plan to ride this fattie on dirt, otherwise the bike is shod with 4.8″ tires to pull snow duty (the Kings Peak has clearance all the way up to 5″). Available in with Shimano XT 1×11 for $2999 or Shimano SLX/Deore 2×10 for $2399. And yes, that’s the price for a complete bike. | Price: from $2399 | More info at www.fezzari.com
The Salsa Bucksaw stands out from the sea of fat bikes because it is one of the only full suspension fat bikes currently on the market. It utilizes the same Split Pivot rear suspension design that the rest of the Salsa mountain bike full suspension line uses. The Bucksaw has 100mm of travel that is tuned for the lower pressure/higher volume of a fat bike tire. Up front, a 100mm travel RockShox Bluto fork with 50mm of offset (to keep the handling on the more nimble side) keeps the ride smooth and in control. The alloy frame has carbon fiber seatsays for increased stiffness and less weight. The Bucksaw is optimized for 4″ tires but can also run up to a 3.25″ 27.5+ tires.
With a full suspension fat bike, the capabilities of the bike on rough terrain and downhills is its strong point. Its abilities are many and in our short ride on this bike at the Sea Otter Classic, we found it to be a surprisingly efficient climber. Braking hard into rough turns showed that the suspension remained active, rather than stiffening up like other designs.
As shown here, the 6061 aluminum frame uses a RockShox Monarch RT3 rear shock (matched with the aforementioned Bluto RL). The drivetrain is a SRAM X01 1×11 setup with SRAM Guide R brakes and Surly Marge Lite rims with Surly Nate 3.8″ tires. The Transparent Blue finish gives the bike a nice look. Weighs is around 32 pounds. The Bucksaw is also available in a higher spec carbon framed model (X01) at $6499 and more affordable alloy frame with SRAM GX1 at $3999. | Price: $4999 | More info at www.salsacycles.com