Reebdonkadonk – By – Steve Meurett
The days are getting ever so slightly longer, which also (usually) translates into more white on the ground here in the Midwest. This “winter” has been anything but. We’re teased with deep snow in November, lose it-gain it back, gone again, and just now, post holidays, we’re back riding ribbons of ivory singletrack. It’s not all bad, for the on again, off again weather has provided some unique riding opportunities-unique, much in the way the Reebdonkadonk is in the fatbike world.
The Reeb arrives from Longmont Colorado at the hands of welder Chris Sulfrian. It’s a 100% American beauty, hand made from True Temper OX Platinum steel. The wacky winter accommodated not only riding soft spongy snow on the big 100mm Clownshoes and Bud/Lou combo, but also hitting the frozen dirt, roots and rocks- a special treat for Wisconsin in December!
A bike fabricated in Colorado can be expected to follow the newest trend based around all mountain design- longer top tubes, short stems and wide bars. These bikes, seen sliding out of manufacturers doors more and more frequently, try to blend the best aspects of DH and trail bikes. These short rear end, slack angled frames push the front end out giving riders more downhill stability and a trail bomber feeling. I know I was dying to rip down some fine sketchy Levis Mound drop offs while snow was thin to give this “new” geometry a try.
The bike came with a mix of good ‘ol USA components-Thomson stem, Lev DX dropper seatpost and FSA Comet cranks. It’s powered by a (uncommon around here) Rohloff Speedhub 14 speed internal drive with a Gates Carbon belt keeping everything clean and quiet. An MRT carbon fork (formerly badged as a White Brothers Snowpack) keeps the front end light and tracking straight.
The stock technical lowdown: The Reebdonkadonk frame has a170-mm symmetrical rear spacing, 100mm bottom bracket, 44-mm headtube, and Paragon Machine works slider dropouts, which I found very simple to set up (and keep adjusted with the Gates belt drive). There is plenty of room for 4.8” tires (so equipped) and can accommodate 29+ wheels-an added bonus in my book. Frames are designed around a 69 degree head angle, 72.5-73 degree seat tube and a 23.5”- 25.5” effective top tube depending on size and are front suspension ready. Chain stays come in at 17.7” for a 43.8” wheelbase.
As mentioned, the big 5” treads and rims supplied by Surly will do wonders in deep snow, and in a brief window earlier this winter, I was able to bush wack some home trails just to see how far I could make it. My usual 4” tires would be mired down quickly and not worth the effort to ride anything unpacked. The big footprint afforded by the wheelset on the ‘donk had no difficulty floating along on deep snow on yet-to-be-frozen ground. Not a frequent 5” flyer, I was taken aback by what the big tires, so common (and required) out west, could do for soft conditions.
Of course, it’s not all wheels here, the Reeb is made for snow and the rear bias and stable geo are a perfect balance to stay upright. When a quick dismount is needed, the steeply sloping top tube is appreciated. Riding packed singletrack is not really where a bike like this will shine-it needs to be aired out on fast rocky snow and ice descents. Though ‘sconny is rather mountain free, I was still able to give the Reeb a good run off the tops of Levis and Trow Mounds on technical singletrack.
Getting there could be the challenge. My race days are long behind me and on fatbikes I use the full range of cogs and make no apology for giving the granny a workout. The Rohloff 14 speed hub does have closer gear ratios though its range, but my legs were wanting for a bit lower end on steep slow snowy climbs. Rohloff won’t warrantee anything lower than a 2.37:1 ratio although you can build it at your own risk. Having only ridden a couple internal hub bikes before, there is a short learning curve to making it work. I quickly figured out that one has to back off all torque to change gears- pre-planning is required. There is no jamming or forcing gear changes like a derailleur clad bike. Once I dialed my brain in to how it works, shifting was no problem. One nit picky thing about the Rohloff is the noise produced in the lower half of the gears. It’s common and gradually quiets down (I’m told) but it’s not as pleasant as pedaling the top end where it runs whisper quiet.
As long as my legs could keep the big meats turning I had traction-the big 4.8” Surly combo had gobs of grip. I liked that. The front end is light with this geometry but I had no problem keeping it on the ground. As expected, hoisting the bike over rocky step up sections was easier than my “normal” fatty.
After climbing, the Reeb had first dibs at turning around and descending everything at full speed with just my climbing tracks to guide me downhill. This was a test, so I let the bike just go-faster than I’d really push my Salsa Mukluk. The combination of tenacious traction and the all mountain inspired handling put this bike on rails cascading to the bottom. I had no fear going over rock drops nor being that accurate with wheel placement-the bike handled that well. The long TT short stem combination made maneuvering through, on and over the frequent boulders silly simple-even for an old…I mean experienced guy like myself. Yep-this bike likes to go down fast.
Group rides on packed singletrack had folks clamoring for a test ride themselves-everyone remarked on the beautifully crafted frame, welds smooth as babies bottoms. The jury was out yet on the sparkly Reeb/Oskar Blues decals adorning the bike everywhere-you either love ’em or not. The headbadge was killer and a highlight of the frame aesthetics. Of course the big aggressive wheels and tires drew their share of attention as well, and out on the trail locked up excellent on the icy banked and off camber sections of the trail. Guys really wanted to ride this bike hard, as I did-the Bear Den Downhill section at Levis mound features big high speed swoops and it was here the bike felt most at home. The ‘Donk locked into the ideal apex of each corner and stayed there-no ones foot dropping out for fear of going down.
To tweak the build slightly to match my personal rides, I tossed on a bit narrower than the 34 incher bars supplied (we have quite a few trees and rock faces at Levis closer than that!) and installed a non-dropper post for the less harrowing rides. For a change of pace, The Reeb also hit some local frozen ATV trails-closed now and what provided some fast rolling terrain. Here I could see the ‘donk run as a singlepeeder-no big climbs and the lively bike could easily keep momentum up-in fact, I’d love to toss on some 29+ hoops and roll this baby in the summer-no doubt this would be a rocket, giving the Krampus more than a run for it’s money. The ability to swap wheels and tires to fit any riding conundrum, and have them work well, is a huge selling point on the Donkadonk. Would I pair down my stable of bikes having this in my shop? I think so!
The Reeb is a beautiful bike and has the ability and plenty of options to be ridden anywhere at anytime. We don’t quite have the same “mountain” conditions as out west where this bike’s lineage was born, but it’s good to know it can handle deeper snow and bomber speeds if needed. It handles well and with a quick change of wheels and/or tires, you’d have a fast singletrack shredder for tamer trails. The bike can be built up in multiple configurations, so if the clean maintenance free internal hub isn’t your thing, a traditional set up or singlespeed could be used. The more I rode the ‘Donk-the more I liked it, the Colorado bike fitting in quite well here in the Midwest!
For more information about REEB visit – www.reebcycles.com