This article is part of the Fat-bike 101 series and is intended to help new fat-bike owners, and potential fat-bike owners, with some of the questions they may have about fat-bikes. In addition, it is a chance for experienced riders to add comments to help our new brethren enjoy all that fat-biking offers. Consider these articles as conversation starters, not exhaustive explanations!
Some of you out there have now been rocking your fat-bikes for well over a year owing to the fact that Santa brought many good, and not so good, boys and girls fat bikes for the Holidays last year (not to mention those of you who are new to the fold this year).
Now that the new sheen has worn off a bit, the snow has rushed under your fat tires and the sand is gritty in your chain, maybe some parts are wearing out, you may be thinking about how to shave a few ounces or pounds (yes, you can shave off POUNDS!) off your fat steed.
So, what can you do to shave some weight of that portly rig?
Lighter tubes – Cheap and Easy
Stock OE Surly Tubes weigh in the neighborhood of 450-500 grams while Q-lite, and other light weight, 26 x 2.7″ tubes weigh in the area of 250-290 grams. The 26 x 2.7″ tubes work fine in 26 x 3.8″ tires owing to the stretch of the rubber and some folks even run them in the extra-large 26 x 5.0 Big Fat Larry-sized tires with success. So, saving 400 grams just by swapping out tubes is a no-brainer.
One issue you should be aware of, especially when using 26 x 2.7″ tubes for the larger 26 x 5.0″ fat-bike tires, probably not a good idea to patch a pictured tube for reuse in BFLs and the like. I know your sister’s, brother’s cousin did it and it worked fine but, really, the tube stretches so much and the patched ares doesn’t that you’d just be walking at some point. Save yourself the headache and carry a spare tube for that inevitable flat.
We did an article on lighter tubes last year that is still a good resource – http://fat-bike.com/2012/03/lighter-fat-bike-tube-alternatives/
If you are the experimental type you can try tubeless on your fat-bike. There are several ways to do it that work but it is best to find someone who has experience to show you the ropes. The benefits are even lower weight than tubes, good flat resistance and that supple, tubeless feel.
Tires – Not So Cheap But Still Easy
The stock tires on your fat-bike are most likely 27tpi versions of either Larrys or Endomorphs. These OE tires weigh in at about 1600 grams give or take a few grams while the aftermarket 120tpi/Kevlar bead versions of Surly and VeeRubber tires weigh in several hundred grams less, typically in the 1200-1300 gram range meaning that you can save 800 grams, or 1-3/4 pounds just changing tires! This weight savings is also in a really good place because it is rotating weight. Just this quick switch will make your rig feel livelier for real!
There are several articles on the site about tires. One about Tire Weights is here – http://fat-bike.com/2012/01/tire-weights-for-fat-bikes/ – if we did our job right and put tire articles in the proper category you’ll find those here – http://fat-bike.com/category/components/tires/
Wheelsets – Moderate to Very Expensive, Easy if you get a set custom built or Hard if you want to try to DIY.
Depending on your rig this could be an easy, albeit spendy, place to save some weight. The Large Marge rims that came stock on your Pug are strong but among the heaviest fat-bike rims out there! Marge Lites or, depending on your riding style and area, Schlick Northpaw-S rims, can save you 400-500 grams a wheel or another couple of pounds right in the place where you want the weight savings the most. That rotating deal again. Heck, you can even go wider with Rolling Darryls or the like and still save a few hundred grams over those Large Marges! There are other considerations for a wheelset than just weight but the fact that you will undoubtedly save some ounces or pounds is a great side benefit!
We’ve been keeping a running list of wheels and weights we’ve built here if you want to compare – http://fat-bike.com/2011/12/fat-bike-wheel-information-for-weight-weenies/
You can, of course, save weight on almost any component that comes on an OE-speced fat-bike. I generally wait for drivetrain parts to wear before replacing them with potentially lighter parts. The Cockpit area is a good place to shave some weight especially if you are not only replacing a bar, stem or saddle for weight, but also for fit/comfort. In the end though the three areas above will get you the most bang for your buck with potential weight savings of 4-6 POUNDS not out of the question and, in the process, make your fat-bike experience more enjoyable.
If you are an experienced fat-biker please consider leaving a comment below to help newbies get maximum enjoyment from their ride.
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