How to $ubtract 3 Pounds from a Fat-Bike


Our Test Subject – With the old set of wheels and tires.

Our man, Sven has already touched on this subject in his excellent fat-bike 101 series. In his episode about weight $having, Sven mentions both tires and wheels as targets to put your fat-bike on a diet. We’ve combined those two elements together on an extra small 9:Zero:7 that belongs to Bethany Raven. Bethany’s Dom’L’Orange fatty is the result of a parts swap from a first-generation, Mukluk 3, so she was sporting a fairly chunky wheelset with a steel bead, set of tires. This is the same kind of wheels and tires that many of you out there are riding. This is especially true if you purchased a complete Surly or Salsa fatty right after they came onto the market. This article encapsulates a real life example that shows you how we dropped 2 lbs. 15 oz. off of this little orange fat-bike.

new wheels

The wheels that came on Bethany’s Mukluk and then migrated over to the Dom’L’Orange were 80 mm Graceful Fat Sheba’s laced to a set of Salsa 170 mm rear and 135 mm front hubs. They were a nice set of wheels back in those days and were handbuilt by Mr. Fattie Lumpkin. For the new wheelset we started with a pair of Surly Marge Lite rims and then began to dream about hydro-dipping or powder coating the rims and/or hubs. After a few weeks of gathering components and looking at hydro-dipping swatches we decided to just drill out the unused spoke holes and not go overboard with the fashionista accessories. Bike Black Ribbon test pilot and wheelsmith, James T. Huber, took those drilled out Marge Lites and laced them to a set of 9:Zero:7, 170 mm rear and 135 mm front hubs with Sapim Race double butted spokes. We sent Bethany on a shopping trip to the fabric store and she purchased some lovely satin ribbon in the perfect shade of orange to match her frame. We backed the ribbon up with as stock Surly rim strip to keep everything in place. The new wheels built up at 1134g front and 1219g rear.

We’re starting to collect quite a large pile of steel bead Larry/Endo tires at the shop. Bethany was running  light tubes inside her original set of tires, but now has upgraded to a brand-new set of Vee Rubber –  V8 120 TPI lightweight tires.

New Wheels and Tires

Dom’L’Orange with the New Wheels and Tires

The Nitty Gritty

Weight $haved = 2 lbs 15 oz (1332g)

Dollars and $ense*

Surly Marge Lite – $145 x 2 –

Sapim Spokes – $25 – (WAG)

Surly Rim Strips – $10 –

Ribbon – $5 – JoAnn Fabrics

Wheelbuild – $60 plus Belgian Beer Bonus – Jimmy Jamz

9:Zero:7 Hubs – $335 –

Vee Rubber V8 Tires – $60 x 2 –

Price per Pound 

We didn’t need to replace the hubs to achieve the same result, so we calculated the price per pound with and without the cost of the hubs included. The advantage of lacing a set of wheels with new hubs, as opposed to re-using the original set of hubs, is that Bethany now has two full sets of wheels, instead of one set of wheels and a pair of rims. She can sell her old wheelset or keep them as a spare.

Without the hubs – $180 – per pound (and some change)

Add in the hubs – $294 – per pound (and some change) (Minus the value of the old wheelset if sold)

So there you have it….sort of the good (less weight), the bad ($$$) and the Orange, all rolled into one little fat-bike!


*Disclaimer – We didn’t shop around for the lowest price and we guessed at the cost of spokes and nipples. Plus we don’t have anything in there as far as shipping or applicable sales taxes. If you build your own wheels, just subtract $60 and then buy yourself a beer. The costs we listed are in the ball-park, so deal. Also before any of you launch into a ‘support your local bike shop’ diatribe, let us say emphatically, that if you have a favorite top notch bicycle dealer in your neck of the woods, take care of them and next time you stop in for a visit, bring them some craft brewed beer and please tell them ¡Gracias! from their Uncle Gomez! We ♥ Fat-Bike Shops!

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2 Responses to How to $ubtract 3 Pounds from a Fat-Bike

  1. Mark Peterson June 19, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Great info, Thanks

  2. SirFatty October 11, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Might have to invest in a pair of the Schlick wheelsets they have on sale right now. Seems like a great deal!

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