Winter came late to the land of the hand (Michigan, sorry Wisconsin), lasted for about 6 weeks and headed on out for a later date. But during those 6 weeks, I was able to put the 2016 Framed Alaskan Alloy fatbike through some rigorous rides and get a pretty good idea of what it’s really good at and where its weaknesses are. For the intro, check out this preview from way back when. It’s there that you can read about the changes Framed made for the 2016 model. But you’re wondering what I thought after 6+ weeks of testing?……
The SRAM GX 11 speed drivetrain was crisp, confident and in control. No matter the amount of fluff, slush or filth I rode through, each and every shift was there to help me maintain my mo’ and keep me upright the entire ride. No, seriously. Never once was I forced to turn the propane heater on in the garage in order to make even the slightest adjustment to shifting. Granted, 1x drivetrains take half of the guesswork outta the way, but still, this mech never needed even a grazing of cable twist. Framed Alaskan Alloy…drivetrain? Check!
I’m against internal cable routing because of the potential PITA but when a drivetrain performs as amazingly as the GX, internal route me all night long. NBD, IMHO. (I’ll stop with the text abbreviations.)
In order to make more room for fatter shoes, Framed modified the rear triangle and shapely curved the chain stay and seat stay. I am used to mostly straight steel stays on my personal rig but I thought, along with all the bros at the trailhead, that the stays really made this frame stand out amongst common fatbikes. This is a classic case of form follows function. Since Framed’s intended purpose is to allow a rider to slap on fatter tires, it makes sense to change the shape of the stays. In doing so, Framed made their frame a whole heckuva lot sexier. The hour glass shape takes care of any heel strike possibility and allows the crank and front chainring to do it’s job without getting in the way too. Frame modifications for 5 inch tires?….Check!
Stoppage, Cockpit, Front blades and Tready-ness
SRAM Guide brakes have just been added to the “things I’d like to change on my own fatbike” list. No squealing or squeaking. No “loosing up the mounts to adjust the pads” was ever necessary. Totally easy lever adjustment, even on the the fly.n Brakes were another….check!
Raceface stem and Framed handlebar did just that. Provided stem and handlebar-ability. Check.
The Alaskan carbon fork provides a lightweight front end and quite noticeably shaves mass off the entire frame’s weight Incorporating a carbon fork into a fatbike at this price point is a pretty great idea. With the misconception that fatbikes are heavy or expensive once you start to shave weight, adding carbon blades changes that previous misconception into a reality for your first time buyer or recent upgrader. Fork?…Check.
Arguably one of the most important components of a fatbike are the tires. With so much performance resting of the details of the tread pattern (listen for an explanation here), what Framed decided to mount on their in-house hoops was pretty important. They done good. The Maxxis Minion FBF and FBR are a decent all around tire for most conditions. Granted, they didn’t excel in any specific conditions for me, but as permanent tire for the season, they’re going to get through most pow days, grip on the groomed and roll relatively well. Again, if I were looking to buy my first fatbike or upgrade from the one I shouldn’t have bought just to save money, having these tires on it would be another, you guessed it…Check.
But on the other hand, there were a few things that caused me to raise an eyebrow. Most thru axles with which I’ve ever dealt, screw into the fork blade. On the Framed Alaskan, the axle slides through both blades and screws into a separate external nut. I can’t count the number of times I dropped the nut into the snow or froze my fingers off while taking the wheel off or putting it on. That nut is darn important so losing it would not bode well for securing the front wheel. Transporting your bike without a fork mount or rarely taking off your front wheel? I guess this fastening system would suffice.
Minor but something to mention…only one water bottle cage allowed. Makes for limited ride time.
And lastly, the wheelset. They’re not wafer thin. The wheels are heavy. As soon as I would buy this bike, the first upgrade would be a new set of hoops. The wheels themselves don’t indicate who makes them but I’m guessing that the 80mm rims with straight gauge spokes and Pub Hub hubs are an in-house deal.
I often get asked by people new to fatbikes, what would be a good deal on a great bike? After spending the winter with this bike, I would, without hesitation, recommend the Framed Alaskan Alloy w/carbon fork. It’s a great “most bang for your buck” kinda rig. With an upgraded wheelset, this fatbike will be a pretty sweet ride and now that Framed has opened up the rear triangle, you can get fatter when you need to. Framed Alaskan Alloy with carbon fork? Check!
For more information about Framed Bikes visit – http://www.framedbikes.com/