While getting to test the latest and greatest gear is one of the perks of being a Bike Black Ribbon test rider, all our riders have their own fat-bikes, some more than one, so let’s take a look at what a few of them ride on their personal rigs starting with where the rubber meets the road, tires. I this case I asked out Test Pilots to share with us a bit about how and where they ride and what tires they are using for trail riding this season.
Jeff ‘Summittoppler’ Price
Living in what I believe to be one of the nicest parts of the UK, North Wales. I’ve got it all from my doorstep, the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park to the sandy beaches on the coast. After MTBing for over 25 years I’ve ‘seen the light’ and had my Salsa Mukluk for just over 2 ½ years, and what a great time it is!! As you may have noticed from my YouTube video’s I’ve kept the Salsa pretty much as original as possible, the main reason is that it works! This is the bike I ride all year round, whether it be on the mountainous snow, the natural mountain tracks, manmade trails and obviously the beaches.
The tires I’m using are the original Surly Nates 27 tpi. For the riding I do they are simply stunning. Traction is there for any trial condition and I’m still amazed as to what they can plough through. I know that some people say they are a slow tire and way too draggy but that depends on what you ride on. Yes, on tarmac/asphalt they rumble like a fat man’s belly in a burger bar!! But for the conditions over here in Wales/UK I’ve found them to be quite stunning. On the other end of it is, as they are draggy, you need to put more effort in so in effect you end up getting fitter 😉
Surly Nate tread pattern. Photo Josh Spice
I am mostly riding my Quiring Triple B fat bike this summer with my other fat bike (Quiring Judas Goat) setup as a Plus Bike. I also am riding my Quiring fat-bike tandem. Mostly, I am riding the beach but there are a couple super sandy ORV trails that I like to hit on a fat-bike too. Of course, there are occasional singletrack rides thrown in there to keep things interesting.
On the Triple B I am running Surly 4.8″ Knards this summer. Absolutely love these tires because they roll super fast for their size and have a ton of float for beach riding. Traction seems to be more than ample. Tubeless setup is a snap (literally) and I haven’t run into any durability issues. They do have a fair amount of self-steer at “beach pressures” if you run them on pavement or other hard surface but that is to be expected for a 4.8″ tire.
Surly Knard 4.8
On the tandem I am running a Vee Tire 2XL on the front and a Surly Lou on the back for beach riding. With the weight of two riders I find the bigger the tire the better for beach riding. The 2XL steers really well and makes handling far easier in even the deepest, driest beach sand. If I could fit a 2XL in the rear I would but the Lou is a good alternative.
Vee Tire Snowshoe 2XL
For tandem trail riding I am currently running a 45NRTH Flowbeist on the front and Husker Du on the rear but that is likely to change soon. Both of those tires are a couple years old, are looking a bit threadbare and I am getting paranoid about them holding up on the tandem with some races scheduled for later this summer. Because of that I am going to get a 4″ Schwalbe Jumbo Jim for the rear and a 4.8″ JJ for the front.
45NRTH Flowbiest front tire
45NRTH Husker Du
Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 4.8 – Photo Olov Stenlund
My name is Dustin Carlson and I am from Utah. I like to ride whatever and whenever. I am lucky enough, with my home town, that I have a large variety of terrain to thrash with my fat-bike! Anything from snowy mountains to Moab slick rock to buff, resort single track.
My current fat-bike rig is a Specialized fully rigid Fatboy with 4.6 inch Specialized Ground Control tires front and rear. I have them set up tubeless, gorilla tape and gallons of Stan’s. The bike is only four months old and the tires are stock. I can’t really compare war stories about other tire I have had, but, what I can do is say how great the Ground Controls have been so far! Like I said in my intro, I have ridden the bike in high mountain snow trails all the way to the most gnarly Moab single track, and they have handled everything in stride. I have played the PSI game with them on different terrain, trying to find the right pressure, and I have never had a problem finding a happy medium. I’m sure the Ground Controls are on the “lighter” side of many fat bike tires, and that has made me nervous, especially on rocky, desert single track. But I can report that I haven’t had one problem so far. I can also report that I have hit some obstacles hard enough to dent the rims but no pinch flats to report. Even though I haven’t had any problems with the tires, I think I would upgrade to something more “burly” before I went on a backcountry backpacking trip. For safety sake.
Dustin’s Specialized Fatboy with 4.6″ Ground Control tires somewhere in Utah!
“My Favorite Summer Tire Setup” By: LT. LarSSon
Oh hello, it’s you again. Now that I’ve got you screen to face, allow me to digitally introduce myself. My name is Evan LarSSon and I’ve been a BBR test pilot for about 2 years now. My main machine is a fat-bike made of steel, created by Lord Oden, handed down to Surly, that they then called Pugsley (which I named Grimace). All hail QBP and praise Paul Zeigel! My Pug is currently setup with gears that make me wish it was single speed again. The brakes are moto style because that’s the right way to do it (who the fuck has the front brake on the left!?). My 45NRTHs are attached to 80mm Mulefüts laced around Hope EVO hubs and purple RaceFace Chester pedals to keep my feet planted.
My stomping grounds are local Hellinois bandito trails that get me through the week (you may have heard of them, you may not have, either way you won’t hear it from me). I prefer to ride in southern Wisconsin at places such as Kettle Moraine, Lake Geneva Canopy Trails, and Silver Lake Park. These are the trails where speed management is a key to success. No balls out downhill gnar flow around here. The ride is made up of constantly working and trying keep your speed in check so you can maintain good momentum to tackle sharp turns followed by a steep climb. Yes, you get to go back down hill but it’s all about energy management and getting ready to tackle whatever’s around the next corner. Single speed is extremely fun around here! I should also mention that in the Midwest we abide by the rule of “stay off the trail when wet so you don’t fuck shit up”, so I don’t do much mud’n and I don’t like to clean my bike anyway, ever.
My current setup happens to be my favorite to date with 45NRTH Flowbeist charging ahead and Vanhelga putting the power to the dirt (or snow). Lots of off camber turns keep things interesting but I feel this tire combo really complements my riding style of digging in hard to every corner and trying to exit as fast as possible. Even when I manage to break the traction free the Flowbeist snaps me back in the right direction with ease. On slow technical accents the Vanhelga grips solid up roots, rocks, and loose soil like skunky buds sticking to your windshield (you’ve never done the windshield test?). I have full confidence at high speed or low, and when I’m skippin and dippin this 45NRTH setup has kept the rubber side down.
Remember kids, ride fast and take chances!
-LT. LarSSon out
Thanks for weighing in guys! We will have more about what our testers use on their personal rigs (not the stuff we throw at them!) later in the summer.