Framed Alaskan “Summer Kit” review
by Michael McColgan
Editor’s Note: This is Michael’s dirt review of the Alaskan Alloy by Framed Bikes. Framed offers their Alaskan in both carbon and Aluminum and also offers packages that pair a Rock Shox Bluto with Maxxis Mammoth tires (for summer dirt) in addition to the stock winter set-up that pairs Vee Tire, Bulldozers with a rigid carbon fork.
While I was testing the Alaskan over the winter (see the review here), I picked up a Bluto fork and the Maxxis Mammoth tires from the guys at Framed so I could test out the springy fast tire version when the snow went away. I was pretty excited to test out the Bluto and, since I’m a big fan of the summer tire/winter tire for fatties, curious to see how much of a difference the tires could make.
The tire difference is significant, and not in a bad way, it’s just really clear where each tire is meant to perform best. Just looking at the tread pattern, the Mammoth screams summer tire, but I put them and the Bluto on the Alaskan before heading up to Decorah for the Pugsley World Championships to see if suspension and faster profile tires would help me.
If you’ve never been to Decorah, go now. Just know that you will climb a lot more than you might expect for riding in Iowa, which is why I locked out the fork to start, but it doesn’t explain why I forgot to unlock it. The tires performed better than I thought they would in the snow, but I was still wishing for something with a little more bite, especially when the temps rose and the snow got a little softer.
Fast forward a few weeks and it’s time to see what the fork/wheel change means on dry trails. Having the Bluto up front allowed me to run a little higher pressure and let the fork do it’s magic. Just on the ride over to my local trail, the difference in the tires was impressive and immediately noticeable. It’s such a faster rolling tire that, regardless of trail or pavement, I was constantly a gear or two higher than normal.
Once on the trail, the combination of faster tires and the Bluto almost make for a different bike. The biggest surprise, even though all my suspension riding friends have told me this multiple times, was how much it helped on the climbs. Instead of standing and powering over/around some roots or rocks, I could just sit a spin up the hill. Never in danger of being called petite, anything that saves me some energy on the climbs is a huge plus. Especially since that means I can turn around and really use the Bluto for the fun stuff.
Having more time on the Alaskan really gave me the opportunity to settle in and see if what I liked/disliked stayed the same. I like the overall feel of the bike, but having put more trail time in I would like to see a little shorter chainstays, especially since I tend to muscle around stuff more in the non-snow months, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker. And I’d love it to come with a lighter wheel set, but that’s the trade off for a bike at this price point.
On the like side you’re getting a well spec’d fatty equipped with a damn good suspension fork for well under $2K. Whether you need suspension is a question only you can answer. But if you’re looking for a year round fatty and want suspension, it’s better for your wallet to get the bike with the squishy fork first and find a rigid fork for snow later.
Overall, I’d highly recommend throwing a leg over the Alaskan for a test ride if you’re in the market for a new fatty. It’s a blast to ride, it’s decked out with some pretty swell components, and a suspension fork that won’t break the bank. I give the Alaskan Alloy 4 ¼ shamrocks out of 5.