Our very own radio personality, Mr. J.K. Livin’, penned this review of the State Bicycle Company Megalith Fatbike and discovered a good, basic fat-bike that responds well to a few simple upgrades. Let’s check it out.
On the verge of completing my first fat-bike purchase, I was afforded the opportunity by the powers that be at fat-bike.com to test pilot one of State Bicycle Company’s entry-level fatties from their Off Road Division. The Megalith, weighing in at 800 bucks complete, is our subject here.
Day one involved easing myself in to the geometry of the steed by adding a few more paces to my normal morning commute and prance through Lake Park. The Megalith comes stock as a singlespeed which worked out famously for me (as my primary ride is SS Kona Paddy Wagon).
My evening commute inspired me to see how the Milwaukee River Trails would be handled. The east side of the river was a very undemanding snowpacked-singletrack and the State allowed me to enjoy this alternative route home from the daily grind.
I made it up to the Shell Track Fat-bike Race to spectate/heckle Puck and Chad and photojournalist Sven. I didn’t compete because I was late arriving…and a wuss.
Same thing with FrostyHog the next weekend in Cudahy. Not being the competitive type I enjoyed the spectating more than the actual racing anyway but arriving on a fat-bike made me feel part of the crowd!
My mettle was tested the following day as a nice dumping of snow hit the Milwaukee area and hit the River Trails again. The tread on the stock tires had an adequate bite in both the powder on the streets and sidewalks as well as the semi-packed path along the river. The stock singlespeed gearing was dialed in for a comfortable pace and pull where most inclines were able to be approached with relative ease.
After a week of riding the Megalith as delivered, the tinkering commenced. Being an entry level fat-bike, one of the areas we’d identified as an easy upgrade was tires. With the help of ace mechanic Mr. Jim Huber, we slapped a Surly Nate on the back and a 45NRTH Husker Du on the front. High-end tires make a world of difference. In this case we saved a whopping 4.4 POUNDS off the weight of the bike.
I spent another week on the Megalith as a singlespeed with simply the swap of tires making this a better tool for my daily commute. The loss of tire weight was immediately apparent and allowed for a faster, smoother commute and more aggressive dig on snow.
The Megalith ships in stock form as a singlespeed but the folks at State recognize that the budding fat-bike owner is a ripe candidate for upgrading. Thus, they ship the Megalith with and actual 170mm cassette rear hub so upgrading the drivetrain was as simple as equipping it with a SRAM X-9 9-speed rear derailleur, a SRAM 11-36, 9-speed cassette and a SRAM X0 trigger shifter from the parts bin at Schlick Cycles.
The game changed again!
A lot of urban assault in wastelands and alternate commuting routes were to follow with pleasant results and commentary from looky-loos.
I got in some Milwaukee Lakefront beach and snow riding along the shore as a warmup for trek on up to Harrington Beach just north of Port Washington, WI with the fat-bike.com rogue’s gallery of Sven, Puck and Zito.
The now 9-speed rig allowed me to keep pace with these more experienced beach riders whereas the singlespeed version would have been a challenge on the soft-sand shore of Lake Michigan. I did get caught in a mosh by not following a wise line that was established but rationalized it as purifying myself and the Megalith in the waters of Lake Michigan…(thanks be to the Velvet Fog, Prince)
A few days later, the steed ALMOST made it on local news for a morning piece on Wisconsin’s oldest continuously running bar, The Uptowner…all the camera dude had to do was pan down. Jerk.
The remainder of my time with the Megalith was primarily urban thrashing and occasional off-roading and the bike proved to be a capable performer, especially with the few upgrades we did.
All in all, The State Bicycle Company’s Megalith provides a pretty solid (and rather affordable at 800 buck complete) launch point for one to get themselves in to the fat-bike game and a fairly easy upgrade path to substantially improve a good basic rig. As with all things with all bikes, the more you put in to your steed, the more enjoyable your roll will be.