Vlad from Vlad Cycles recently sent us some shots of his new fat-bike, called the Impaler, from the Philly Bike Expo and we thought it was time to revisit Vlad since we first looked at this Troika fat-bike in a Reader’s Ride(s) story a couple of years back so we decided to do this fat-bike Builder’s Profile!
FB.C – When did you first discover fat-bikes and what was your initial impression?
Vlad – Actually, it was a half-fat bike. Prior to my frame building endeavor, and about 6-7 years ago, I purchased a Jones frame to run it with the fat front wheel. I ran that bike primarily on dirt trails in Northern New Jersey and I got hooked. That’s why the first bike I ever custom-built was a fat bike.
FB.C – When did you actually build your first fat-bike?
Vlad – I built my first fat bike in 2013, the Troika, while I was learning the art of frame building at Metalguru with Carl Schimoeitz. The bike was fabricated with adjustable dropouts to give drivetrain options and I run the bike as a single speed.
FB.C – Your first fat-bike was the Troika, how is the Imapler different?
Vlad – From the frame design stand point the Impaler is more complex with in-house bent twin top tubes, bent seat tube, and bent seat stay. The Imapler also has custom front and rear racks. The segmented fork is also built in-house with a 142/15mm through axle while the frame has177/12mm thorough axle rear dropouts. The Troika fat-bike was fabricated around a White Brothers (MRP) fork and has QR types of dropouts. In contrast, Impaler is designed to be an all-rounder fat bike to handle dirt, sand and snow.
Impaler is a theme bike that was exhibited at Philly Bike Expo in November this year. The frame’s front rack was shaped like a spear, to give the entire bike the look of Vlad the Impaler.
FB.C – Paint vs powder coat?
Vlad – We use both on our bikes. I like to use powder coat for mountain bikes from the practical standpoint and its durability. Paint is the choice for our road frames and complex color schemes.
FB.C – Do you work strictly with steel or have you explored any other materials?
Vlad – Yes, currently I work with steel only but will be exploring new materials in the future.
FB.C – Where do you see fat-bike tech heading?
Vlad – We are going to see more full suspension fat bikes!
FB.C – Have we gotten as fat as we can/will?
Vlad – My personal sweet spot was 3.8 to 4.2″, but Vee rubber crossed 5+ size! Yes, think 5.2 to 5.5″ will be out there soon.
FB.C – What is the most unusual request you’ve had from a fat-bike frame customer?
Vlad – To build the frame with offset rear triangle! Kudos to Surly when they figured out how to offset a standard MTB 135mm hub and created the Pugsley! However, technology allows now us to build symmetrical rear triangles with larger tires and more efficient drivetrains so that is the direction we move in.
FB.C – Are there organized fat-bike events in your area?
Vlad – Yes, since last year we’ve seen more organized fat bike race events in Northern New Jersey, and will see more of them in the upcoming year.
FB.C – What do you like to do when you are not building bikes?
Vlad – Riding bikes, spending time with my family and building more bikes!
FB.C – What is your favorite beer? Any good, local brew houses in your neck of the woods?
Vlad – If you are craving an America style IPA, try Head High – from, Kane, a small craft brewery located on the coast of New Jersey. In addition, we love Guinness and Dale’s Pale Ale!
FB.C – Any thoughts we didn’t touch on?
Vlad – We will be offering twin top tubes frames under the Impaler brand. The Troika will be offered with single top tube frames. Forks and racks are options too. We hand craft our bikes in Boonton, NJ, USA.
The Impaler bike was built as an all terrain type of fat-bike and this particular build has the following:
- curved twin top tube/stays and seat tube
- short 16.7″ chain stays
- 177/12mm trough axle dropouts
- custom steel segmented 142/15mm through axle fork
- Velocity Dually rims with I9 hubs and 4.0 Veerubber Mission tires, tubeless
- Shimano XT 11speed/Raceface 30t ring drivetrain and cockpit components
- Powder coat finish
- Custom frame bag made by ATM Handmade Goods.
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