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Is The Walmart Fatbike Really That Bad Part II – The Rebuild

Editor’s Note – We’re back with part 2 of the Walgoose challenge. In Part 1we took it out of the box and rode it in its stock form and man was that form bad! So where do we go from here? We rebuild it of course. DIY guy and Fat-bike.com test pilot Cale breaks out the tools and the parts bins to see what we can make of a Walgoose.

Our dead-stock walgoose is ready to get 'parts-bin pimped'!

Our dead-stock walgoose is ready to get ‘parts-bin pimped’!

Alright! – Back for part 2! So this Sunday was the San Diego Veloswap at the SD Velodrome  I volunteered and brought a few parts of my own to sell but the plan for the day was to get the parts I needed to turn the Walgoose into a real-esque fat-bike. The goal was to spend no more than $60 and I was able to get well under that (really it was basically free since I just used money I made from selling some of my old parts.) The major expense was a Bontrager take off SS crankset at $20 otherwise everything else was either $1 or $5.

The Parts Haul

The Parts Haul

I got a couple sets of pedals and stems just because that is shit you always need, and I didn’t know how the fit would work out. In the end I spent ~$45 or so. Obviously a new fork and tires aren’t in the picture but there is no way I’m shelling out for that stuff (feel free to send me your castoffs though!) also not pictured is a seatpost because who has a 28.4 post laying around? No one, thats who. The last important piece of the puzzle is a quill adapter and despite thinking that someone must surely have one I was wrong, none to be had at the swap. What to do? Obviously a trip to the local LBS is in order in this case it was the Awesome guys at Adams Ave. Bikes I asked to search the junk bins for a suitable donor and found a seriously janky  but serviceable one that I got for a couple brews (yay for beer based payment systems!)

IMG_0465

Workable 1 1/8″ Quill adapter   

All the parts are now in place, so lets get this thing built up! First things first though, it needs to be re-christened. Being the owner of a bad ass Vinyl Cutter I can make that happen, so I broke out the matte black vinyl and got to cuttin and stickin’.

Da' Goose

Da’ Goose

Then (well actually before the stickers but I forgot the order) I mounted up the rest of the Bits and got it back to being a Bike shaped object.

IMG_0466

So far so good but I can never leave well enough alone…

Hole Saw!!!!

Hole Saw!!!!

Yep a 1.5″ holesaw made short work of the wheels and dropped 525gm off the set, not too shabby. After that it was just a bit O duct-tape rim strip and mounting the tires back up with the new (old) tubes.

IMG_0455

 And we have a Rebuilt Walgoose!

P1000777

The weight Dropped 7lbs from stock and from what I hear I could get 7 more by swapping tires, but this is a budget project and I’m not interested in doubling the cost of this thing. So what did we end up with? Well the Gearing dropped to a very comfortable 32×22 which is really what this thing should come with. The seat is a much better and lighter Felt take off, the pedals aren’t likely to snap upon hitting anything other than a marshmallow and the bar, stem, grip combo is a very nice bontrager Big Sweep bar with a Truvative stem and Ergon GX1 grips. All in all a pretty solid setup.

How does it ride? Well with geometry designed by (I think) scanning in a childs crayon drawing of a fatbike its never going to be great. But for what it IS, and it really should be thought of as this – a “Fat Cruiser”  its actually pretty serviceable. Ride it to the bar, the beach, the park, or on a neighborhood cruise and its fine. The steering is still scary as hell and nothing short of a front end transplant is gonna fix that. But for say going out with mates who dont ride, take this thing you will get a workout and probably not drop everyone in the process. But thats just what I think about it… Of course I needed more data so I took it to TNR at the SD velodrome and got a whole bunch of people to ride it from a 4′ 5″ Girl to a Former DH pro and a dude who I have personally seen hit a 30 foot gap on a pink 16″ girls bike.

TNR At the Velodrome - by Shaun Wallace

TNR At the Velodrome – by Shaun Wallace

So what did People think?

“It feels ok as long as you ride it sober”

“I think I broke it” (yep the last stock part the steapost clamp stripped out) 

“I thought I could wheelie anything but this defeated me” 

“You paid how much for this?” 

“Its pretty fun I might buy one” 

“It wants me to crash” 

“My garage does not need this taking up space but I don’t care what my Garage needs”

In the end I’d say it was 40% Like – (no one really loved it without reservation) and 60% Meh to hated it. I think that’s a big improvement over its out of the box test rides where no one would have willingly rode it further than a block or two. It still sucks on hills and singletrack with any kind of drops or rocky sections is miserable (the seatpost slips in the frame and the handling is even worse off-road) but like I said its a fat cruiser not a fat bike, so don’t buy it, expecting one.

However, the one thing this does do pretty well is SKIIIIIDDDD horse this beast up a hill, spin it out and stand on the coaster brake and pretend you are this guy.

The Dark Knight

 

Seriously, it sounds like the bat-bike skidding, or like a car crash, its awesome and probably the best reason to keep the heavy ass tires on. The coaster brake will probably die a quick death doing this but its just too much fun to stop.

Conclusion – Should you buy one? I know its only $200 and its kinda cool but unless you are willing to do all the work yourself and have a stocked parts bin it really isn’t worth it. Paying a shop to upgrade this thing would be silly. I suggest talking to your LBS and seeing what they can do for you on a new pugs (especially if they have any in stock this late in the season) or keeping an eye out for a used fatbike. In the end you will have a bike that can cruise to the bar AND ride snow, sand and singletrack without compromise.

9 Responses to Is The Walmart Fatbike Really That Bad Part II – The Rebuild

  1. djonnymac April 15, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Where do I get this Gomez brand Turd Polish shown in the header to this article??? I demand satisfaction!!!!

    nice job Cale even though I know it must have gone against everything you stand for ;).

    • Gomez April 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      I’ll set you up with some of that turd polish, amigo!

  2. Tom April 15, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Love the article. I am impressed. You actually made this bike look cool with vinyl graphic. Thanks for the laughs.

  3. BeerBiker April 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Coaster brake!!! HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER!!!

    Great read thou. How about pt 3 when you do spend some money on it ?

    • the locust April 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Send me the $$ or the parts and I will gladly do one.

  4. Grano Diorite February 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    This could be a great project bike for a beach bike. I may have to look around for a used one! Please read on…

    Many years ago, well before the Pugsley came out and before the fat-tire lowrider craze, I came up with the idea to build a “fatbike” after seeing the custom bikes with super-wide rime built for riding in the snow in the Ididabike. (This was before extra-wide rims were easily sourced, especially not on the cheap.)
    My intended use was as a beach bike to be ridden in the sand and saltwater, so I did not want to use anything high-end or expensive, just a bike for splashing around in the surf with my dogs. A 20-year old Specialized Hardrock or something similar was going the be the donor bike, and modded with the help of an oxy-acetylene torch so the wheels & rubber would fit. (Regular tires on extra-wide rims end up being super-low-profile, like you see on gangsta SUVs). Extra-wide rims can be built by using two regular rims side-by side, and if you lace them correctly, crossover-style, with most of the left-flange spokes going to right rim, and vice-versa, the rims do not require spot-welding together (I did this on a “reverse chopper” I built in the 1980s, with a 700c front wheel and double-rim 20″ rear wheel and it turned out great.)

    Anyway, I’m wondering what the rear triangle/hub spacing is, as I’d like to use a Sturmey-Archer AW three-speed hub (I considerred the AWC, but who needs brakes on a beach bike?). The S/A hubs have fantastic labrynth seals (I’ve never seen one that had dirt/rust inside), and by using 100% silicone grease in the seals and bearings, the water would have a really tough time getting in, as silicone grease does NOT readily emulsify when exposed to water like petroleum/soap-based greases do. Also, the AW has an absurdly high 3rd gear, so by gearing it down for pavement use (i.e. getting to the beach), first gear would be perfect for the deep, dry sand and second should rock on the hard/firm sand.

    I think this is a perfect use for this WallenStein Goose-Poo boat anchor,. Of course the mods in the article are a must to make it weigh less than a Hummer, and the drilled rims are super-cool as well. Of course the rubber needs to be changed to something lighter than osmium… Asking one’s LBS to save any flat super-fat tubes for you will save some bucks, as well as any nice-quality tires that come in with sidewall/casing cuts. This might getcha some nice tires with lotsa tread left on the cheap, and such cuts can easily be sewn up with needle & thread and booted from the inside with a patch. It’s not like a tire failure in three feet of water on the beach is going to be a safety problem. Another option for tubes is to just drill another valve stem hole and use two 2.35″ tubes…

    This is just my “two cent”, but for anyone living near the shore, it might be a project worth considering….

    • greg2wheels March 20, 2014 at 2:30 am #

      In answer: the rear hub spacing is 170mm. But before you give up: The Sturmey Archer 3 speed is available in 170mm spacing!! (they did it for the Schiwnn Stingray a few years back) so you could easily lace up the SA 3 speed.

  5. Bryce September 25, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    I’m curious about replacing the crankset. I’ve looked for some, but I’m not sure what size 32T cranksets will work with this BB.

    Do you happen to know what size hubs are in the f/r and if you can easily modify the front to add a q/r skewer? I have new tires/tubes (Juggernaut/Q-tubes) on the way and plan to drill the rims like you did. I’m going to see if it’s worth either 1) getting new hubs, spokes, and nipples (not steel like stock) and rebuilding the wheelsets or possibly 2) re-spoking the current hubs to lighter spokes and nipples. I doubt it’ll be worth it, but I’ll still investigate.

    I’m fairly new to hubs and BBs so just doing some research and enjoying learning a bit more about bikes. I’m turning my black Beast into a fun beach cruiser seeing as how I have a modified Felt 29er w/ hydraulic brakes and carbon Orbea TT bike w/ 90mm carbon wheels already and not looking to dump a lot of money into a cruiser (<$400). My 16" ape hangers, 400mm alloy seatpost (I'm 6'2), and tires/tubes are all I've done so far. Other than the above-mentioned I plan to add a rear fender w/ black ammo boxes on both sides with one having Texas Tech logo and Texas flag on one side with a USA flag and US Navy logo on the other. I've already had a lot of compliments on it in stock form on base and appreciate any and all help in advance.

  6. Jody Bergeon October 25, 2016 at 7:25 pm #

    could you tell me what the duct tape is for and do you have any video of drilling out the rims? i’m sure I can find on youtube, thanks!