I don’t know for how long, but getting a custom built frame, has been a dream since long before I got bitten by the fat bike bug.
The bug bit me back the winter of 2013-14. I got my self a Salsa Mukluk and it´s been my loyal steed since then. We fell deep in love and after six months I sold my full suspension bike to go fat all year around. Fat bikes do that to you. But even if the Muk is a very capable bike, it was a bit tame for my taste, especially during summer. I use the fat bike like an ordinary mountainbike. I wanna go fast and technical. I love going down hill and visit bike parks every now and then. But in the winter it´s all about long rides on the frozen archipelago and snowmobile trails. I live at 66 north, Swedish Lapland, so there’s quite a bit of winter up here. After a couple of years searching for the perfect fat bike I finally decided to go custom. Even if the fat bike scene has moved towards more trail specific bikes there was nothing that really made it for me.
Getting custom when you live in Sweden is not easy. You have to go abroad. North America is heaven, with lots of frame builders, but the cost is just too high with import taxes and customs. So the UK was the obvious choice since they’re still a part of the EU and there are some sweet builders.
My research led me to BTR-Fabrications. Two young Brits that makes the baddest, all mountain, hard tails in the world, made from Reynolds steel tubing. One small detail, they had never designed and built a fat bike before.
I reached out to Tam, the ”T” in BTR and asked if he was up to design a fat bike with the soul of a bomb proof BTR hard tail. He was. Actually he´d been looking for a reason to make one. And so…it was game on.
What I wanted was a slack trail fatty with short chainstays and ready for 120 mm of travel up front but with a rigid fork for winter with anything-cage mounts. Tam is a very good engineer and bike designer and together, with my knowledge about fat bikes, he created the BTR Roamer. Tam and Burf (he´s the B in BTR) is all about function and handling. No curly tubes or other features, just plain raw and bomb proof frames.
Before writing this aricle I asked Tam what was the biggest difference in designing a fat bike frame compared to a regular hard tail?
-Tam: Biggest challenge for a fat bike compared with a standard bike…well (rear) tyre & chain ring clearance are always an issue, but obviously a bit more so on a fat bike. It takes some quite extreme tubing to get around the rear tyre, and even then clearance is tight. Then there’s the issue of heel clearance on the seat stays, which requires an extra bend. And clearance to the seat tube is even a problem – we offset the base of the seat tube forwards on the Roamer, in order to get the chain stays as short as possible and use a light weight, butted (can’t be reliably bent) seat tube. Fat bikes do always throw up questions over steering geometry, but since we were designing around the Bluto there wasn’t much we could do there – offset and axle-crown were set in stone. We simply tailor the rest of the geometry around the fork, in order to control how the bike feels.
You can easily say he nailed it on the first try. First of all it´s a beauty, Burfs craftsmanship is stunning. The Roamer feels like a trail bike with the bonus of the fat bike feeling. High stack makes it nice to my old back on long rides. Longer reach than the Muk and the short chainstays makes it fast like a freight train but still responsive and fun. It´s not equipped with suspension fork yet, need to wait till next summer, but even with the rigid fork it´s way more secure than my Mukluk. A 67 degeree head angle takes care of that.
The bottom bracket is 100 mm and the rear end is 177 mm. It takes 4.6” tires on 80 mm rims and that was the way that I wanted it. I´ve never felt I needed more. I´ve been riding Dunder/Flowbeist and I think that is the sweet spot for me, keeps the fat bike fun and fast. Right now it´s fitted with 4.4” Jumbo Jims for summer trails.
The bars are custom 800 mm Titanium Oddmoné from Oddity Cycles. Burnsey did the snowflake graphics on the bar, and sent over to BTR and they also put it on the fork and top tube. Looks stunning.
I run a 40 mm Thomson stem, Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain and XT brakes, 203 discs front and rear. Crank set is RaceFace Aeffect. Headset and BB from Hope. Wheels, DT Swiss BR710 on Hope Fatsno hubs.
All cables is intergrated and it got the Crank Brothers highline dropper post. Frame tubing is Reynolds 631 and fork is 853.
Reach (A): 450mm
Stack (B): 671.7mm
Seat Tube Length (C): 420mm
Effective Top Tube (D): 639.7mm
Bottom Bracket Drop (E): 70.3mm
Effective Chain Stay Length (F): 435mm
Wheelbase (G): 1195.7mm
Head Angle (H): 67deg
Effective Seat Angle (I): 74.2deg
Actual Seat Angle (J): 73deg
Head Tube Length (K): 130mm
Headset Lower Cup Stack (L): 14mm
Fork Axle-Crown (M) (Bluto): 531mm
Fork Offset (N): 51mm
The Roamer turned our even better than I could imagine. Going custom was the best decision i´ve ever made.
Cheers from Swedish Lapland!
BTR stands for Burf and Tam Racing. Check their awesome work at www.BTR-fabrications.com
About the Author : Olov lives by the shores of Bothnia Bay 66° North in Swedish Lapland. He’s the mastermind behind www.Bikelifeinswedishlapland.