I did the switch over to my winter fat-bike setup on my Northpaw and saved weight in the process!
My warm-weather set up has been double-wall Large Marges, Larrys and a 450mm Northpaw fork with 50mm of rake and it has been flawless through the last 7 months with a variety of mtb trails, beach rides, family rails-to-trails rides, exploring and general town riding but with our Mustache Race and Full Moon Beach Ride both coming up, as well as the impending snow, I wanted to go fatter. Check it out.
There have been wider rims available for a while but none were readily available to me until the Rolling Darryls came out. I’ve actually had a symmetrically laced set with 170mm Salsa rear hub and Paul Components WHUB front hub for a while that was going to go on a prototype symmetrical bike.
I also have a White Brothers Snowpack for the same machine and that got me to thinking. Since the prototype was on delay of game, and I have this cool stuff, why not just put it on the current Northpaw?
Now, if you know anything about the Northpaw you will know that the current version is an offset design so I couldn’t use that 170mm rear wheel but I could swap out the fork and symmetrical front wheel and simply get an offset rear wheel with a Rolling Darryl built up for the rear. So that’s what I did.
The fork is a White Brothers Snowpack and is the same AC length as my steel Northpaw fork at 450mm but has less rake. 43mm vs 50mm. However, my plan to go fatter also included a guy named Big Fat Larry on the 82mm Rolling Darryl which would give me a bit larger outside diameter than the Summer-set front, a Larry on a Large Marge. That, coupled with the lower pressures I am likely to run in the winter, had me thinking that the difference in rake would be somewhat compensated by the bigger, wider front footprint. I didn’t go into any elaborate calculations just experience and gut, plus no small amount of hope, to reach this conclusion mind you!
As noted, the rims are 82mm Rolling Darryls. I went with that Big Fat Larry on the front and an Endomorph on the rear. Couple of reasons for the Endo but the main one was that there just isn’t enough clearance for the Big Fat Larry in the rear plus I don’t need any chain clearance issues. I do use that 24/34 granny on occasion. It is great for soft sand hills and deep snow.
Here’s the breakdown on parts both in and out:
- In – White Bros fork with Crown race (Post mount, no brake mount needed.) 930g
- Out – Northpaw Steel with brake mount and crown race – 1310g
- Weight Saved – 380g
- In – Front Rolling Darryl with Paul WHUB – 970g
- Out – Front Large Marge with Surly New Disc Rear – 1630g
- Weight Saved – 660g
- In – Rear Rolling Darryl with SRAM X.9 Cassette – 1510g
- Out – Rear Large Marge with XT Cassette Hub – 1840g
- Weight Saved – 330g
- Total Wheel Weight saved – 990g
- In – Endo 120tpi 1340g
- Out – Larry 120 tpi 1440g
- In – Front Big Fat Larry 120tpi – 1530g
- Out – Front Larry 120tpi – 1510g
- The tires were close to a wash but I did net 80g there too! TO be fair there is some variation in tires as large as fat-bike tires are so your results may vary.
Saddle change – I didn’t change the saddle specifically to save weight, just going back to a saddle I really like after trying a different style. Bonus that it saved 45g.
- In – WTB Valcon Ti 230g
- Out – Chromag Lynx DT 275g
Seatpost change – This was not made for weight savings either but to move the cockpit back a bit for better weight distribution in soft conditions and as you can see it was a wash. Both posts are 400mm, well the Thomson is 410mm but it is interesting that Ti post of 1995 is the same weight as an aluminum post from 2011!
- In – Thomson setback – 265
- Out – Dean Titanium – 265
The total weight savings? 1495g! Or 3 pounds 4 ounces and some change. So, Get Fatter, Lose Weight! Not bad for something I wanted to do anyway.
Sven, please do give an impression of the handling with the new fork once you’ve gotten some trail time on it.
Jared, the Northpaw has been through several iterations from about 32 to 36 pounds but I don’t weigh it that often. This bit just happened because I had the scale handy. What does your pick weigh? Figure about 7.5 pounds for a Northpaw frame and fork depending on the frame size and the fork steerer length.
Randy, I changed several things all at once up front there, not really the way to determine how a specific part feels, but after about a dozen trail rides every thing is working well. The fork has a smidge of flex and seems to damp well. One really nice thing about the Snowpack fork is the tire clearance. The fork on my Northpaw is narrower than the current version and the BFL on the Rolling Darryls just didn’t have enough clearance. The Snowpack can fit a BFL on a Clownshoe no problem. That said, I’m not yet convinced that bigger is necessarily better for all conditions. More to come!