Back in August, 2015, Fatback announced a new fat-bike aimed to be a “Do it all” bike. A fat-bike that feels lively on the trail as well as comfortable while taking a stroll through sand or snow. So around six weeks ago Gomez had the Rhino sent out to me in Moab for some testing.
The Rhino frame has some beautiful curves, welds and paint job to match. I received the matte Aleutian Green frame with yellow accents; glossy Pacific Blue is your other option. Colors most likely inspired by the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Alaska. The frame sports rear rack mounts and 3 different sets of bottle cage mounts for some long bikepacking or or packless day adventures with 3 water bottles.There are also sliding dropouts to allow for internally geared hub and singlespeed options.
Fatback hooked it up with this build (MSRP $3350). From the ground up, Kenda Juggernaut 4.5” tires wrapped tubelessly around 81mm DT Swiss BR710 rims which are laced to Fatback hubs (197mm rear, 150mm front). A 100mm Bluto fork up front. The drivetrain looks sharp with Raceface Turbine cranks, Shimano XT 1×11 derailleur and shifter. Going up from there it has a carbon seatpost, carbon bars with ESI grips and the new Shimano XT brakes (finned pads and Ice-tech rotors to boot). All built up she weighed in at 32.6lbs. Builds run from $1999.00-$5100.00 with Rigid, Bluto and Lauf Fork options.
The geometry of the Rhino is somewhere between the last two fat-bikes I rode, the Surly Pugsley and Surly Ice Cream Truck, with a 69 degree head tube angle and a 73 degree seat tube angle. The aluminum frame, 197mm and 150mm thru-axles, and carbon bars made the bike feel pretty stiff and predictable but not quite as forgiving as the steel frames. I did find the sloping top tube came in handy a few times with extra standover height, if you know what I mean.
Moab riding conditions can really vary. There are miles and miles of dirt, sandy, rocky, and completely rock trails (Slickrock trail), with a high chance of snow and ice coverage in the winter. This made it possible to get the Rhino out on all kinds of rides. The bike has quick handling on the trail and felt perfectly at home in granny gear pushing through a sandy wash or deep snow. I liked the middle of the road (or off-road) tire size with the Kenda Juggernaut 4.5” tires on 81mm rims. They didn’t feel too slow on the trail and still had plenty of float in the soft stuff.
I live just down the street from some dirt jumps so, of course, I had to ride the Rhino down there a few times. After a couple sessions I felt pretty comfortable in the air on the Fatback. There are some rocky technical trails here in Moab that definitely give reason to ride a big full suspension bike. There is just something super satisfying about riding these trails on hardtails. Thanks to big tires of course there is a little room for error. For sporting a 100mm fork and 69 degree head tube angle the Rhino fared well when it came to the gnar.
I was very pleased with the bike and all components worked well and were reliable. The only things I would change on this build for me personally would be adding a dropper seatpost, downsizing the chainring from a 32 to a 28 for spinning it out, although I don’t recall any big problems from the gear ratio. I think the bike would have felt more comfortable on the gnarly trails with a bit wider bars, swapping from 740mm to 780mm. The frame is said to be compatible with 4.8” tires on 100mm, I was not able to try this out, I am not sure I would want any less mud/snow clearance than there is with the 4.5” tires on 81mm rims. I would have also liked to see the rigid fork have the mounts for Salsa anything cage and the like.
So Fatback set out to make a more affordable, “do it all” fat bike. I think they hit the nail on the head with this one. If you are looking for a fun, rip trail, haul your stuff around, stomp through anything kind of bike, I would say the Fatback Rhino should be high on your list.