Otis Turns Two – Fatback Review – The extended club version

 Otis’s Story Timeline

12/25/2013 – Otis’s Introduction and Naming – https://fat-bike.com/2013/12/fatback-190-product-test-episode-1/

12/25/2014 – Otis Turns One – https://fat-bike.com/2014/12/otis-turns-one-%E2%99%A6-fatback-long-term-review/

2/5/2015 – Otis Gets Pimped – https://fat-bike.com/2015/02/otis-gets-pimped-part-one-otisgetspimped/

6/18/2015 – Otis’s Pimped Parts Review – https://fat-bike.com/2015/06/hed-rims-onyx-racing-hubs-paul-skewers-6-month-review/


That brings us to today and a story that could be called Otis Gets Pimped, Part Two! I had planned all along to apply some sort of finish to Otis’s Raw Aluminum frame. I thought that it might be cool to hydro-dip a pattern onto the frame, but after looking at hundreds of existing camo/skull/flame/etc. I decided to go a different direction. I ultimately decided to powdercoat Otis, so when I started testing another fat-bike for review, I began the process of removing all of the components, from Otis, only to find, that the seatpost was seized in the seat tube. This began a two week process of using penetrating lubricants to see if we could break the galvanic bond that had developed due to my own neglect. All it takes is the application of grease or antiseize ointment, periodically, to prevent this sort of thing happening, but in the end, our amigo and ace mechanic, Jim Huber, broke the post free by administering a coca-cola enema through Otis’s bottom bracket. With the post extracted, it was time to send Otis out for cleaning and powder coating.


The Color Purple

If you had asked me what color that I would want to paint (or coat) Otis, two years ago, I doubt that purple would have been my first choice. In my position as payload specialist, here at fat dash bike, I get to see jillions of pixels that focus primarily on fat-bikes in – and out of their natural habitat. I’ve noticed that the color purple really stands out, against most organic backdrops. Sven has a Schlick Tatanka that is the same color that we ended up choosing for Otis and the bike always looks great in photos. I also noticed that the purple anno of our Onyx Racing hubs was a pretty close match to the color purple that Otis is rock’n these days! The original Surly Pugsley was purple and now…….so is Otis. The frame and fork came back from the coater and looked incredible! Huber, chased, faced and prepped Otis for return to duty.

The Second Round of Pimpalicious Upgrades


Ritchey WCS Bullmoose Carbon Bar/Stem

This space-age bicycle component just pushes all of my retro-grouch buttons! The moment that I saw one, I knew that we had to get one to try. The Bullmoose comes in 4 sizes and the 90mm version was an exact duplicate of the Raceface Turbine Stem and Next Carbon bar, that it has replaced. I weighed the Raceface bar/stem 321g and I weighed the new Bullmoose 322g. So we achieved retrogrouch styling, with almost no weight penalty. If you’re running an OE or aluminum bar, the bull moose would be as light,  as if you upgraded to a lightweight carbon bar. If you just freaked out, you might be a weight weenie. We added a few grams with the powdercoating too. (don’t ask me how much).


Ericksen Titanium Seatpost

The raceface seatpost that was seized in the frame was cosmetically damaged in the removal process, so we decided to replace it with a black Thomson Elite. Then I started contacting my trusted amigos that know a thing or twelve about the finest bike componentry. I sought the wisdom of these bike jewelers and asked them –  what was the best seatpost Ti vs Carbon? There was no clear winner in the carbon department, with Enve, Ritchey and Raceface getting votes, but the Ericksen post received a unanimous vote for best Ti post. I contacted Brad at Ericksen and they sent us a stunning zero set back post shimmed to 31.6 with some purple anno to match the hubs frame and fork. This exquisite post is made in the USA.

Brooks Ti Swift

My old friend, Jerry Wolf, introduced me to the hammock like comfort of the Brooks Swift, years ago and now I have one on just about every bike that I ride consistently. Saddles are such a personal choice that I’ll just leave it at that. I’ll be testing a new SQ Lab saddle in the coming weeks, but for now, I’m breaking in a new Brooks Swift with Ti rails. You may notice that I remove the bag slots that come on Brooks saddles, so my shorts don’t snag on them. Brooks Saddles are Made in England.


Bontrager Barbegazi 26 x 4.7 Tires

Bontrager’s new fat+ tire that weighs in at a svelt 1362g. I set them up tubeless and they just fit in otis mounted to the HED BFD 100mm Carbon Rims. These tires will be a serious competitor of the 45NRTH Dillinger 5. Two Barbegazi’s weigh 3/4 of a pound less than a pair of Dilly 5’s. I’ve been putting in some trail time in on these and we’ll have a separate review of these puppies along with the Gnarwhals coming soon.


Spur Cycle Bell

Simply the best bell that I’ve ever owned. I have a Silver one on my Krampus and this black Spur Cycle Bell is for Otis. A bell let’s other trail users know that they have a big fat beardo on their 6 in a courteous and non-threatening manner. A report on the bell is also a nice way to celebrate cleaning a particular tough technical feature or climb! This particular bell produces a clear pinging tone that rings for a few seconds longer that you’d expect. This is great functional bike jewelry to adorn Otis’s H-bar. Spur Cycle Bells are made in the USA


Otis’s First Wave of Pimpalicious Componentry

About a year ago we took a perfectly awesome, American made fat-bike and pimped it out with a set of HED BFD 100mm carbon wheels laced to Onyx Racing Hubs. These wheels have been nothing short of amazing. Zero problems and they’re the lightest 80 or 100 mm hoops in the market. HED and Onyx Racing are both made right in Minnesota.

Last year, I dared to test the theory that hydraulic disc brakes could handle the lower 48 version of winter. We chose Shimano XT brakes and they’ve lived up to their excellent internet reputation. So far, so good, but remember this is all happened above zero.

We also have been testing a pair of Paul Components Quick Release Skewers and they’ve been stellar! Another product made in America! I want a pair of these on every bike that I own! Do not buy another aftermarket skewer before you try a set of the Paul’s. They blow Salsa skewers out of the water. (Also available in Thru-Axle)

Pimp’n Original Equipment

The Raceface Next Cranks were part of the original spec on Otis  and these things have been bombproof! We ride our fat-bikes on the beach a lot and that means sand and submersion in the fresh water of the Great Lakes. I replaced the bearings once in the last 24 months of service with only one tear down and rebuild.. We didn’t replace them because they were giving me any issues, we just had never seen one of my bottom brackets last that long and since we had it all apart, we thought we might as well throw a new set in there. Just like the HED – BFD carbon rims, the Raceface Next carbon cranks are the lightest option available and kick all forms of ass! I highly recommend Both!


Otis – The Frame and Fork

Otis is two years old and has stood the test of time and miles, very well. The Fatback aluminum, frame and fork were built to last at Zen Bicycle Works in Portland Oregon. Greg Matyas, Fatback’s founder, designed a true – Made in America – Alaskan omni-terrain smile factory. The bike rides great and can handle any kind of load, that I’ve ever thrown at it. One of the most amazing feelings that I’ve had on a fat-bike is riding Otis, fully loaded* on fast flowy singletrack. Once you have all of the bags and gear cinched up tight, the bike just flies! The frame can run everything up to a 4.8″ tire on 100mm rims and it has every braze-on that you could ever want. With the new powder coat finish and all of the other, bells and whistles, that we’ve  added to Otis’s game, I feel like I have a brand new fat-bike! The only thing that Otis doesn’t have that newer frames might offer are thru-axles and suspension corrected geometry. If you want those two things, Fatback makes the Rhino!


How much does it weigh?

Otis weighs twenty-nine pounds and two ounces. I think the game changer on this bike is the light wheelset. I get to ride a wide variety of fat-bikes in my role as editor for fat-bike. Light carbon wheels make a fat-bike feel much more like a mountain bike. More so than all of the new school vs old school geometry mumbo jumbo thrown around the blogosphere. (#kettlecallingthestoveblack)


What’s Next?

Otis is going strong into year 3 and I we’ll check back with a review on how this latest wave of upgrades fairs over the next six or seven months. Tupper Becker of Becker Sewing and Precision Beer Drinking is putting together a matched set of luggage for Otis and eventually, the rear shifty bits will need to be replaced. My classic 2 x 9 D/T with Microshift thumbies is so nice, I’m hesitant to switch to a 2×10 or 1x 11, but I’ll probably be forced in that direction, at some point. We’ll have much more to share, about this, that and something new…somewhere down the trail.

Till then, Felices Caminos Amigos!




*I’m talking about the bike-packing kind of loaded, not the booze kind of loaded.
About Gomez 2576 Articles
Just an old cat that rides bikes, herds pixels, ropes gnomes and sometimes writes stories. I love a good story.


  1. I could use about a dozen Fatback song titles to describe your bike.

    “Freak the Freak the Funk”

    Nice job Uncle G

  2. Love the Eriksen post. I’m actually somewhat relieved it isn’t available in 31.6 or I’d own a couple more.

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