People love to complain about the weather and the last couple of winter’s around the midsection of the Great Lakes have been pretty shy on sustainable snow-pack. As I write this (Late February) , my local temperature is forecast to be nearly 70 degrees and we’ve completely lost our base down to the bare dirt. However, we’ve had a couple of good snow storms, this winter, with intermittent melt-backs and rain. The rain refroze and that created ice conditions that were tailor made to test studded tires and the handling of any bike. Dicey winter’s are one of life’s cruel realities recently, yet what better laboratory, to test the mettle of what a fat bike can deliver? This winter, I’ve been riding a Titanium Mayor fat bike from RSD Bikes. The build specs and my initial impressions about the Ti Mayor can be found here. After a couple of months on the Mayor, through the full range of precipitation types (rain/slush/snow/crust/ice) as well as wild temperature fluctuations from arctic blasts to warm southern breezes, I think that I’m ready to share the next chapter in our long term test of this fine looking bicycle!
Picking up, from where I left off in my initial article, I was still trying to figure out the cockpit ergonomics. I felt like I wanted my hands to be lower. I considered swapping the low-rise handlebar for a flat bar, but then I had a couple of mi amigos, Chris and Dave, ride the Mayor and they suggested that I flop the stem to see if that would drop my hand position….and – Bingo! That, was all that I needed to change, to make the Mayor’s rider cockpit feel like home. The Mayor has a playful feel to the handling and I swear that this thing has a motor some times. One of the questions that I’m still trying to answer with the Mayor, is……Is it the Ti Frame that makes this bike feel so flickable and self propelled or is it the Reynolds Elite Carbon Wheels? The answer is probably both! Titanium can be flexy, but the thru-axles, front and rear, lock the Mayor’s frame and fork to the wheels and creates that ‘magic carpet ride’ that ferrous metal fans revere. This bike feels great off road. It has a nicely balanced feel and makes me want to launch little jumps. I guess it’s also worth noting that the Mayor also derbies pretty well.
In Snow – The Mayor is a bike designed for what the McKenzie Brothers called the ‘Great White North’. Toronto, Ontario, where winter is always around the corner, is the headquarters for RSD and over the last few years, we’ve gotten to know the owner of RSD, Alex, pretty well. Alex is always posting about riding and I see lots of pictures of their snow riding from their local Ontario trails, so it makes sense that the Mayor handles the largest tires and has a heads up – light hands rider position that works very well for picking your way trough tight snowy singletrack trails, like we also have, here in the ‘Big Whiskey’. I (cough) raced? in the Sweaty Yeti at the Levis Mound trails in a freshly groomed and then rutted foot of wet snow, with a Maxxis FBR up front and a Surly Lou in the back on the Mayor and had a total blast. The mayor climbs very well and handled the rutted course like a bike from Canada should! Much to my surprise, as the race went into the second and third (party) lap the conditions improved till the entire circuit was like a snowy slot car track (but for a couple of hike-a-bike sections). Deep fresh snow and big aggressive tires made the mayor feel right at home. Groomed snow riding on the Mayor is also quite splendid. The first two nine inch snow storms that we received set up our local groomed trails with great groomed trail conditions that, while short-lived, provided me with the opportunity to ride the mayor on the expertly groomed and highly acclaimed, Camrock trail system. The Mayor was a blast on groomed trails. In a wild coincidence, the CORP Trail Steward at Camrock, Chuck Hutchens, is known to most of us, as The Mayor…prolly because he’s the former Mayor of Rockdale. I offered ‘the Mayor’ a ride on the Mayor and here’s what he said about the ride “This is a fattie that any Mayor would love. Nice and beefy where it counts, yet smooth and supple, just the way this Mayor likes it.”
Ice Riding – If it seems like we talk about ice and studded tires a lot, it may have something to do with this winter’s warm spells coupled with winter rains that turned groomed trails into skating rinks. When the conditions changed from Snow to Ice, I slapped a studded Dillinger on the front and a studded Bonty Gnarwhal on the rear of the mayor. I really like the balance that the Mayor brings to the table for ice riding. I rode the Mayor in the Bike Across Bago event. It was about twenty miles of ice and snow pack with nary a care in the world. Maybe the bike felt so stable because I was pulling a bob trailer, with a gas grill to cook some brats with all of the fix’ns on the other side of the lake. Maybe it was the apple pie shots that I didn’t drink out in the middle of the ice or maybe this bike just rides like a Ti bike should. Solid, yet supple, springy and lively out of the corners and all day, in the saddle compliance. Then add the solid wheel to frame connection that the Thru-axles provide and the light a lively Reynolds carbon wheels (set up tubeless), which makes things like tire rub or twisting the drive train from frame flex non existent. Basically the best of both worlds – stiff, where you need stiffness and supple coming out of a bermed corner. (Like Bermuda on the Blue Loop at Kettle Moraine).
I was recently reading some posts that pertained to the ‘steel is real’ subject with a side order of weight weenie internet commentary and our amigo, George, from Broken Spoke Cycle Studio posted something that sort of ties a bow on this review. This is what he said ” It is all about fun. But if you gotta make it about performance.. it’s all about the wheels. I’d take a 26lbs steel fat bike with carbon wheels vs a 26lbs carbon fat bike with heavier wheels. Or winner takes all with a Ti frame and carbon wheels.” I know that he was not specifically talking about the Ti Mayor, but I believe that his statement is both applicable and true.
You may be able to tell from some of the photos, that I’ve ridden the Mayor in some of the slurmiest, wet, nasty, abrasive, shitty conditions that we get, here in America’s Dairyland. The Mayor governed my rides through Spring/Winter and Fall all wrapped up into a couple of months that defined the Winter of 16/17. I rode this bike hard and put it away wet, and almost every single part of this build has just come back for more. I guess the one exception would be the Sram Guide RS Brakes that need to be re-bled, but beyond that…..the Mayor’s record is spotless….or rather, full of mud splotches. Let me clarify for our constituents – I would vote for the Ti RSD Mayor for Mayor of Aztalan (probably twice)!
What’s Next? – The next initiative, on the Ti Mayor’s agenda is throwing a pair of carbon 27.5+ wheels on there and testing them on some dirt (somewhere down south). Stay tuned for more about that….somewhere down the trail amigos!
For more information about RSD Bikes visit – http://www.rsdbikes.com/