So it’s been a few of weeks since we announced here at Fat-Bike.com that I have been parking a Framed Wolftrax in my fatbike garage. Since then, I’ve racked up hundreds of miles and ridden about every terrain and condition – including a bit of (slushy) snow!
If you recall from our last installment, the Wolftrax was lent to us with very nice spec: a Bluto, Sram full X1 drivetrain, Sram Guide R brake-set, 5” in tire capable frame, and so on. So out of the box, the Wolftrax is no slouch. It is very easy on the eyes and mine looks classy in its white and black livery. My first thoughts when I saw the bike were that it is a looker; i.e. it passed the first impression test with ease. But, as you know, the long term test is not about first impressions.
My loaner, in particular, is an XL frame. It weighs in at 33lb 9oz with pedals. Not too shabby for a bike whose (frame alone) dwarfs a considerable proportion of the adult population. I’ve always envied those in the bike world whose stature is shorter than mine – they get considerably lighter bikes for the same price! The Framed handlebar, stem, and seat post are all made of lightweight aluminum alloy, so if one wants to drop some weight off the bike, I’d look at the wheel set first.
The geometry is spot-on for the Wolftrax. Once I shortened up the stem to fit my proportions precisely, the bike did exactly what I told it to and was very predictable. As a brief aside, one should never knock a bike down a peg just because it does not fit perfectly out of the box. People come in innumerable sizes and proportions. So go to town; swap that stem and trim that handlebar! When a bike fits you perfectly, it always performs better; and you do too! Anyway (stepping off of the soapbox), the folks at Framed clearly did their research; the Wolftrax is not only comfortable on long cruises, but it also handles technical single-track equally well. Coming off a fat bike with shorter chainstays (about an inch shorter), I did not notice any difference in handling. The Wolftrax is nimble whenever you want it to be.
I commute via bike year round. One of the things that my bike commuting offers me is that I have a variety of routes to take every day: crushed limestone, street, urban single-track (it exists and it’s nice), and the beach. I’ve found the Wolftrax is able to handle almost all of my idiosyncratic riding habits. As I’ve already mentioned, the geometry is dialed in. It is a stable ride, but not laid-back nor unresponsive. The front end is relaxed enough for both comfortable cruising and wheelies, as well as snappy for any single-track you may want to shred.
So what is my mid-term critique of the Wolftrax? (Foreshadowing! Winter follow-up to come…in winter.) In my regular course of hooning, I have come across a few things that all those interested in the Wolftrax should keep in mind. Are any of these critiques absolute deal-breakers? No. However they are food for thought.
Overall, and as you might expect, the bike has held up very well. The component spec is great: the drivetrain, fork, and brakes are spot on regarding my test ride. The Wolftrax is robust to say the least. That being said, I did have some issues with the free-hub on my initial installments of the PubHub (i.e. they were less than resilient to my shenanigans and thus the slight delay in the release of my review as we sorted out the issue). As it turns out, I was riding a prototype hub/driver and not their production model. Once they sent me a production hub/driver the issue evaporated. Thus It should be noted a) the issue has been resolved, and b) that they sent replacement wheel sets immediately (i.e. next day), so their customer service has been spectacular in my experience. So big thumbs up to Framed’s customer service!
Second, the wheel set is not the lightest nor tubeless friendly. Now I will grant that most wheel sets almost always get short-shrift on every brand and type of bike in the universe, but this one small improvement could go a long way for the Wolftrax. A tubeless ready rims are worth their weight in gold due to the shedding weight, improving traction, and almost eliminating flats. Perhaps a tubeless rim option could be added to the many ways you can spec your Wolftrax (hint, hint Framed).
Third, the rear-end is quick release. I would have liked to have seen a thru-axel – as that greatly stiffens up the rear-end. The industry seems to have a 12mm thru axel as the standard now, and I think that is a good thing. That being said, I had no issues with the QR on the Wolftrax. It was plenty stiff and problem free in my experience.
Lastly on my list of critiques, despite my frame being an XL, there was only one water bottle mount. Two mounts could easily fit, and would be greatly appreciated, since long rides and hot days require more than one bottle. Unless you are a camel.
Overall, the Wolftrax is a solid bike. My test-subject had great spec and handled very well. If you plan to race (i.e. always and everywhere go at top speed, you may want to consider an aftermarket tubeless-ready wheel set to lose some weight off the stock wheels. If your intentions are slightly less aggressive than mine, it is well up to the task at hand.
As you know, winter is knocking at the door (and for some of you (and me) it has abruptly walked through the door…). The great news is that the nice folks at Framed either forgot about us or they are allowing us to keep riding the Wolftrax into the winter! Regardless, we are going to enjoy racking up the miles and keeping all of you nice folk up to date. So stick your tongue to the flagpole an wait patiently for us to report back.
For more information on the Wolftrax visit www.framedbikes.com