I’ve been riding a Fatback Corvus for the last few months and it’s ‘high time’ for me to put into words, the way I feel about the fourth carbon fat bike that I’ve reviewed over the last couple of years. You can read my initial impressions and review this bike’s impeccable racing pedigree here – https://fat-bike.com/2017/04/product-spotlight-2017-fatback-corvus/
In the 6 months that I’ve ridden, the Corvus, I’ve ridden snow, gravel, singletrack, beach and I’ve bikepacked, hauled wood and tools; and strapped every type of bag you can think of onto a bike appropriate for the Green Hornet……or maybe Kato – or Better Yet – the perfect combination of both.
Spoiler Alert – I really like this bike! – A good indication of how much I like a bike, is the ratio between how much time I spend riding my personal fat-bike and the test bike that I happen to be reviewing. During the time that I’ve been testing the Corvus, my personal bike has sat in my office gathering dust. I’ve been thinking about why I like the Corvus so much and I’ll start with the basics. Like everyone out there, I have a list of things that a fat-bike has to have, before I would consider making a purchase. Here’s my short list.
1 – Has to be able to run Bud & Lou mounted to 100 mm rims
2 – Complete rack and cargo braze-ons
3 – Bent or Shaped Top Tube for stand-over
4 – Thru-Axles (new)
5 – Lightish yet Sturdy Frame/Fork
6 – Light Tubeless Ready Wheels
The Corvus ticks all of those boxes, but so does my personal fat-bike (also a Fatback). So where is this bike better than my bike, Otis, and why do I want to own this thing so bad? I guess the most obvious thing is the Corvus is lighter by almost 3 pounds (with Aluminum Rims) 4 pounds (with Carbon Rims) than Otis. The Corvus has front and rear thru-axles, which stiffen up the bike (in a good way). The Corvus has a 1 x 11 drive-train with grip shift. If you haven’t tried grip shift in awhile, you should demo that set-up. It’s converted me over from thumbies or triggers. This generation of Sram’s XO-1 shifter is a huge improvement, from what I had experienced with grip shifters from the 2000’s. I guess I’m no good at being a retro-grouch, because, I’m also convinced that a 1 x 11 drive-train offers me a wide enough gear range, for where, I live, even in snow.
The wheels that came on our Corvus are a set of DT Swiss BR170 rims laced to Fatback’s next generation hubs. Fatback was the first company to make their own 190 mm rear hubs. These wheels are light and stiff. If I were building a set of aluminum fat-bike wheels, I’d build a set of these. Light/Stiff/Durable and the Schwalbe 4.8 Jumbo Jims have been a really nice suprise. I had read that they were not that great in snow, but since 98% of this test took place in dirt/sand/gravel, I found them to be pretty great. I’ve found myself to be not very picky, when it comes to tires, but I am growing tired of fat-bike tires falling victim to catastrophic punctures, (because nobody likes a $130 oops!) – No such issues with our set of Schwalbes – YMMV
All of these comparisons to Otis are the product of many hours of riding the Corvus, while thinking up ways for me to talk the dudes at Fatback out of this thing. Because during rides the Corvus sings a siren’s song with comfort, precise stable handling and easy pedaling fat-bike funski’s. Now I’m not saying that the Corvus is a replacement for your singletrack shredding mountain bike. If you really want a fat-bike that can shred the gnar, Fatback makes the Skookum, but for my style of riding and my fat-bike preferences, the Corvus is damn near perfect. The corvus never made me feel like I was out of control. I would describe the ride as naturally intuitive and stable at speed. Even when fully loaded, the corvus felt stable, even at speeds of over 30 mph (Long Road Descent) I tell you right now, that when they come out with an all blackity-black, ‘murdered out’ version of this bike, my money will fly out of my wallet and Otis might end up hanging on a wall up at Speedway Cycles.
I guess where I do hold some retro grouchiness, is in frame geometry. I like a fat-bike that runs a tried and true 69 degree head tube and a 73 degree seat tube. The Corvus employs those very angles along with a slightly less-tuct* rear wheel than say a Skookum for better fit and handling when fully loaded. (the bike or the rider). This is a bike conceived, designed, field tested, refined and improved and then produced to win the most important race on the Fat-Bike Calendar every year, the Iditirod Trail Invitational, The Corvus is the ultimate two wheeled, fully loaded, exploration vehicle and just recently, after a great deal of thought, I concluded that the Corvus, is one of the Top 3 fat-bikes, that I’ve ever ridden.
When I meet people out on the trail, and they’re riding the bike named after that fat comedian, It makes me weep to think that they probably chose that bike, because no one was there to say STOP! and consider buying a bike made by people that live and breath fat-bikes, not some mega-corporation that reluctantly made fat-bikes available to capture market share and keep their dealers relevant. These are the same companies that will soon be ramming e-bikes down our throats. I doubt we’ll ever see an e-bike from Fatback, but I bet that we’ll continue to see practical fat-bike innovations from them for years to come.
I give the Fatback Corvus 5 out of 5 gnomes – Like my amigo Blatz is fond of saying….”It’s a stone cold groove”.
For more information about Fatback Bikes visit – http://fatbackbikes.com/