As some of you might remember, I have a bike named, Otis, that just recently celebrated its first birthday! Back around x-mas time we ran a long term review of Otis where we mentioned that we’ve been working on a little project to upgrade Otis’s wardrobe. We code named this operation #otisgetspimped. In other words, we’re going to take a pretty spectacular raw aluminum Fatback and take it to ridiculous levels of pimpage. Somewhere along the line, I became somewhat practical when it came to component choices on the bikes that I ride, but all of that good sense is ‘out the window’ on project #otisgetspimped. We’ve unleashed an incurable viral strain of upgradeitis on Otis. We’re going to showcase some cool stuff and try some new ideas that’ll challenge some of the old adages that have been around since day one. So let’s start our initial wave of upgrades(?) with some new Hydro Brakes
Shimano XT Hyrdo Brakes
Last summer I spent a week test riding a Borealis Echo that was set up with a set of these brakes and it sort of taught an old dog a new trick. Fixie Dave Nice had that bike tuned to perfection with those powerful brakes set up for one finger braking and that got me thinking…..I know why mechanical disc brakes have such a strong following and that (in the coldest of climates), they function when hydro brakes fail. I can count on one hand the number of times that I have ridden when it was below zero. I live where winter temperatures rarely dip down to arctic levels. I like the control and feel of these brakes much better than what I’ve experienced with Avid BB7’s. So why not see if hydros will make it through a full (lower 48) winter?
On the other hand…..I absolutely have hedged my bet that the hydros will be a permanent addition. I carefully packaged up that pair of BB7’s and if the new hydro brakes fail, I can always switch back to mechanicals. Conversely….Sven has run Magura Hydro Disc Brakes for years, so I’m fairly confident that these brakes will work out……but the skeptic, in me, wants to wait till we get through a whole winter before we claim any sort of paradigm shift. So far temps down to the single digits have not affected these brakes. I have had to take Otis into Zion Cyclery to have Grant bleed the front brake line, but other than that, so far – so good!
HED 100mm wide (BFD) Carbon Rims – Onyx Racing Hubs – Paul Components Q/R’s – XT Cassette
I told you that we were bringing big pimp’n to town and these wheels are RIDICULOUS! The new wheelset is 2 lbs. 9 oz. lighter than the original set of wheels. The Onyx Racing hubs are (of course) purple anodized with the fat-bike dot com logo in silver. The onyx hubs boast a zero drag – instant engagement, patented mechanism that uses sprags instead of pawls and is totally silent. I’m running them tubeless and currently rock’n a pair of Dilly Fives. The Paul components Q/R’s are functional and elegant and they add a subtle orange bit of anodizing to Otis’s color pallet. The final upgrade was to install an XT cassette to replace a cheaper steel cassette that I had been running. That saved another 4+ oz. bringing the total weight savings to ~ 2 3/4 pounds!
So Far – So Good
I’ve been riding the brakes since the beginning of December and the Wheels since the holidays. I love the modulation and power of the Shimano XT brakes and the wheelset is working out very well so far. The weight savings was quite noticeable and the tubeless set up went very easy on HED’s BFD. The hubs and everything else has been trouble free. I really like the Paul QR’s. They have nice long release levers that incorporates function to their artful form.
We’re not done pimp’n out Otis so we’ll be adding a part two to project #otisgetspimped. All of the upgrades will be part of a long term test that we’ll share in the coming months. I see more carbon do-dads in Otis’s future, but we’ll tell that story somewhere down the trail in part two!