El Gordo Review – Don’t call it a Snow Bike

What’s the difference between a mountain bike and a fat bike?  It’s really the same as the difference between a violin and a fiddle…  It’s just the way you play it.  While most people reply “Snow and Sand” when answering the question of “What do you ride with tires like that?” – I like to say “Whatever I want.”

Enter – The Ventana Mountain Bikes USA – El Gordo


When things go wrong with all the moving bits and pieces that make up derailleurs, one can come to appreciate the forward thinking of some bike companies who realize the benefit of adjustable drop outs.  Fat bikes can go single too.  It’s not for everyone, but shouldn’t we all have a choice?  It’s not as crazy as it sounds.  The El Gordo has rotating, custom fabricated, adjustable drop outs.  Bingo!  Problem solved.  When an overgrown bearded Gnome uses his dogs to pull his bike around in the woods, I smell a recipe for disaster.  And disaster did ensue.  Luckily, no Gnomes were hurt in the creation of this post.


In all my adventures, I’ve never bent a derailleur. Do you want to know why?  Because I’ve never freakin’ had one.  That’s not entirely true but anyways:  Two words – “Rotating” “Drop-Outs”.  That might be 3 words, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t watched sesame street since I was 9.  Either way, why every bike doesn’t have this, I’ll never know.  But honestly, I’ll probably never pay for a bike that doesn’t, ever again.  I did once and that bike is dusty.  And not the dust that comes from shredding 70+ miles of desert and petrified sand in a weekend.  Single is good, even if it is just an option.  Remember when you were younger, thinner, single?  I do.  I had a crush on ya.  Oh, those were the days.  I know what you’re thinking.  Younger is outta the picture, and thinner is gonna take some work…but single?  Single… is still in the cards for some gauchos.


I figured a good place to get a feel for the Gordo was Grand Junction, CO.  Ya ever heard of it?  It’s a nice little place where you can park your mini van at the hotel and ride to the trails commonly known as the lunch loop.  It’s a little more than a bag lunch.  Bring extra lunch money in case of bullies.  My crew was a hodge podge of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the holiest of holy – Decorah—–Iowa.  It is truly something to see when folks from all over the land ask where a person learned to ride like that.  And you’re response is a piercing glaze straight into their eyes when you say – IOWA.  Throw a fat bike in the mix and really get ready to do some explaining.


Holy Cross is something you need to hit, but better take your time and loosen up a bit.  You’re in for a good time if you’ve got a fancy for speed and a mind to keep your indexes off the brakes.  A good time or a visit to the ER.  It’s up to you really.  Both have their perks.

For a while, we tried climbing CLIMBED the ribbon.  If you know what the ribbon is, you know that’s just down right silly.  Here is the El Gordo, taking a gander into what we just rode up, and saying “That’s F@^*ed up.”  and it was.


Thank Goodness a local was on his way down the ribbon and informed the group that we were in fact, “climbing the ribbon”.  We slapped oursleves a bit, turned around, and descended to the Lunch Loop and Free Lunch.  Free Lunch comes with a warning sign.  So does El Gordo


Moab. Slick Rock. Sun. Heat. Unicycles.  With a F@$#%^%g 40 below (before wind chill) winter in Wisconsin, 60 degrees in Moab felt like Hades.  But oh, the scenery.  Again, El Gordo and her mighty meaty wheels never spun out.  I had one slight crash where I took too much speed into a wall and although I tried to wheelie and step up, I hit both the front a rear tire of the wall at the same time and ended up looking and feeling like a stranded turtle, wiggling in the sand as my friends faces turned from concern to comical as the saw all was well.  There’s probably a pic on the “Death to Spinner” Shrine facebook page.  But Spinner Doesn’t Die.  Sorry OUIJA.    Carry on.


Fruita – Good Trails.  Good People.  Good Mexican food.  We rode 22 and some miles before we were able to watch the NCAA championships on a TV while drinking margaritas bigger than your head.  And eating burritos bigger than your head.  And drinking beers bigger than your… fat tires.  Wrestling NCAAs.  Oh, You thought I was talking Basketball?  Is that the deal where everyone watches the tall guys hop scotch and get excited when they put the ball in the thing without even throwing it?  Obviously, I don’t get it.  Sweet Christine or whatever….

If I was going to get aaaaaaaallll techie on ya, I would say this.  I do like that the seat stays join at the outs of the seat tube in the same juncture as the top tube.  Having broken a few frames in my day, I’ve seen the flaws that can be assumed if the bike wasn’t built for abuse.  I believe the El Gordo would stay under my legs through Ragnarok and back.



Ya know what… I like it.  I was sold on the no gloss color and any bike that can be singled out is a friend of mine.  She ain’t a “snow bike”, she’s a “fat bike”.  And she’ll ride wherever ya want her to, if you’re up for turnin’ ‘er cranks.”

I honestly don’t know why I would not rate el gordo 5 out of 5 gnomes.  If the test bike was a size bigger it would have been perfect.  I want to say 4 and 13/16ths out of 5 gnomes –  but the only things that I would have changed, could  be accomplished with some different parts, which are primarily based on fit and personal preference.

All in all, what a beautiful beast.  She’s ready for the worst if you’ve got the stones.  Let’s see what you’ve got.

For more information about Ventana Mountain Bikes USA visit – www.ventanausa.com

About Spinner 30 Articles
Milk Fed Minnesota Farm Boy, who is now becoming a Beer & Brat loving Wisconsin Bike Boy. I ride bikes and put out fires.

1 Comment

  1. In that last pic it looks like the down tube is ready to clear a suspension fork crown. Hmmm, this could replace my Pug. Then I’d have to eat my words about Aluminum only being good for beer cans and full suspension bikes…

Comments are closed.