I’ve been getting some saddle time on Framed’s newest entry into the market of fat, The Alaskan. Framed made some big waves when they jumped into the world of fat with the Minnesota series LAST YEAR. Framed believes that a quality bike shouldn’t break your bank account. This year, Framed decided to go all in and introduce a kid’s model (with a review here), a women’s model (with review here), and the Alaskan, in full carbon, or alloy frame w/carbon fork, which you can read the review of right here (no clicking required)!
Out of the box, I was impressed with the looks of the frame, the sanded welds give it that carbonesque look, and the blue Race Face cranks and the blue Wolftooth 42T cog give it that extra little zing. This is a bike with high priced looks, but carries the price tag of what was once considered an entry level price point. However, good looks and an attractive price point mean nothing when the bike hits the trail, so it was high time I go outside and play bikes.
The only difference in the bike I rode and the production model is bars, stem, and seatpost. On the Alaskan that you order those will all be house brand instead of Race Face. Contact points on a bike are usually the first thing to get switched to make the bike, more you, so I didn’t see this as an issue for testing purposes. Personally, I’m a lover of the Jones bar and Ergon grips, so those went on in lieu of the Race Face bars. Out on the trail it was time to see if the ride matched the looks. The geometry of the Alaskan is in line with today’s year round fat bike rider, sorta. Framed definitely didn’t build a cookie cutter frame. They kept a slightly longer chainstay length for snow stability while giving it the head tube angle that’s more in line with today’s fatties. Numbers don’t tell the whole story though, so it was time to ride and see if Mikey likey.
Once I got riding time on the trail I was a happy camper, even though I haven’t done any camping in a while. I was happy because a) I’m playing bikes in the woods and b) the bike just felt right. There was very little feeling out period for the Alaskan. It was dipping in and out of the trees of my local trail like it’s been my, go to bike, as opposed to, something I was just hopping on for the first time. This is a bike that’s equally comfortable in singletrack or an all day tour on the beach or snow.
The Alaskan handles well, and has components that you wouldn’t normally see on a bike in this price range. Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, Race Face cranks and BB, and a SRAM X-7 10 speed shifter with SRAM 11-36 cassette (that you can have a Wolftooth 42T put on for $75) standout on the spec. sheet. And let’s not forget the carbon fork, which passed EFBE/EN testing. I asked the guys at Framed if, being one that is “not petite”, I should be concerned about the carbon fork. Once their laughs died down, they explained the rigors of the testing process and assured me that my size was not an issue for their fork. From what I’ve seen, I wholeheartedly agree.
As happy as I am with this ride, it’s not all snowflakes and Guinness. When you’re building a bike, at this price point, something has to give. One of the ways Framed kept the price down is using house brand handlebars, stem, seatpost, and rims. The only parts that were available at testing were the wheels. The wheels on this bike are bombproof, but they’re not the lightest wheel out there. Sometimes house brand stuff is bomber and built for the long haul. That’s the diplomatic way of saying that they’re heavy. There are spots in the factory build where owners can take their time and upgrade when they find good buys, down the road.
Overall I’d give this 4 ¼ Shamrocks out of 5. To me, there are three main things that determine if I’m going to buy a bike; ride quality, build quality, and budget. The Alaskan is probably the best bang for the buck bike I’ve ridden. If you’re looking to enter the fatworld and don’t have unlimited funds, this is a bike that you should be on your pre-purchase check list.
For more information about Framed Bikes visit – www.framedbikes.com