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First Look – Specialized Fatboy Expert

Specialized sent us a Fatboy Expert to review and since it’s a light, carbon, top tier component equipped, sexy beast, I just had to ride it for a couple of weeks. So I’m going to introduce you to the bike that we’ll be testing, but we’re going to engage a panel of three test pilots that will write the review of the bike, which will publish in about 6 weeks.

The Expert is the model one notch below the S-Works Fatboy and saves a whopping two thousand dollars (vs. the $even thousand dollar $-Works). The MSRP of the Expert is $5000. So let’s take a look at what five grand buys you these days.

Frame and Fork

Specialized uses the acronym FACT to describe the carbon frame and fork. The fact that they need an acronym to describe their carbon speaks to the fact that they should keep their technical staff out of their marketing meetings and leave the naming process to people that can choose something less rambling. The frame and fork are (like most carbon fiber fat-bikes) made in China. The key to designing a great riding carbon frame is in the layup. Specialized brings a vast amount of experience and presumably employs the engineering brain power to direct the manufacture of both a light and strong double diamond frame and fork. The frame does not have a shaped top tube like many other fat-bikes. A concave section of the top tube allows additional standover, for riding in deep snow. In fact, the Fatboy’s top tube has a slight convex curve upward (the wrong direction). The frame is also void of fender, rack and cargo eyelets. The fork has a similar lack of braze ons. The frame has braze ons for two water bottles and our test demo came with Specialized’s SWAT multi-tool attached to one of the waterbottle cages and quick link storage and a chain-tool built into the steer tube top cap. Our Test Fatboy Expert is Black with some sky blue accents. This model also comes in White with red accents. The accent colors can best be seen from below the bike, so the bike looks like it’s all black, and we like that very much.

The Expert Build Specs

WHEELS

FRONT HUB Stout Pro 150, sealed cartridge bearings, 6-bolt disc, 15x1150mm, 32h
REAR HUB Stout XC Pro, disc alloy, SRAM XD driver body, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x197mm thru-axle, 32h
INNER TUBES Standard, Presta valve
SPOKES Stainless, butted, 2.0/1.8/2.0mm, black
FRONT TIRE Ground Control Fat, Control casing, 120 TPI, Aramid folding bead, 2Bliss Ready, 26×4.0″”
RIMS HED Big Deal, carbon fiber construction, single wall, tubeless-ready, 26″” x 85mm-wide, 32h
REAR TIRE Ground Control Fat, Control casing, 120 TPI, Aramid folding bead, 2Bliss Ready, 26×4.0″”

DRIVETRAIN

BOTTOM BRACKET PF30
CHAIN SRAM XX1, 11-speed
CRANKSET Race Face Next SL
CASSETTE SRAM XG-1180, 11-speed, 10-42t
SHIFT LEVERS SRAM X01, trigger, 11-speed,
CHAINRINGS 28T
REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM X01, carbon cage, 11-speed

COCKPIT

SADDLE Phenom Expert, Adaptive Edge design, hollow titanium rails, 143mm
SEATPOST Race Face Next SL, 0mm offset, 30.9mm
GRIPS Specialized Sip Grip, half-waffle, S/M: regular thickness, L/XL: XL thickness
HANDLEBARS Specialized Mini-rise, 7050 alloy, 8-backsweep, 6-upsweep, 10mm rise, 750mm width, 31.8mm clamp
STEM Specialized XC, 3D-forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise

BRAKES

FRONT BRAKE SRAM Guide R, hydraulic disc, organic pads, Guide S4 4-piston caliper, 200/180mm rotor
REAR BRAKE SRAM Guide R, hydraulic disc, organic pads, Guide S4 4-piston caliper, 180/160mm rotor

What I Like

The HED wheels and the Fatboy light carbon frame and fork along with tried and true 69/73 HT/ST angles make this the kind of fat-bike that I wish everyone out there that thinks fat bikes are (insert cliche negative comment) could ride. The bike weighed 25 pounds with tubes and 24 and change tubeless. That’s a light fat-bike*. The 26 x 4.0 Ground Control Tires have replaced the old 45nrth Husker Dus as my new favorite 4.o moderately knobbed tire. The RaceFace Next Crank and Seatpost are at home with a build of this level and we’ve put a lot of miles on them over the past few years.

What I’d Change

It seems like for five grand, Specialized could have popped for a RF Next Carbon Handlebar instead of the house brand bar/stem. Sram/Avid hydro disc brakes have a sketchy track record for ‘out of the box’ failures and they have a well earned reputation for requiring more frequent bleeding, due to air bubbles getting in the lines. In addition to all of that, it’s been my experience that Sram is not known for their chipper or friendly customer service once there’s a problem….maybe because they have so many problems. Specialized’s House Brand Hubs have also had some bearing and free-hub issues in recent years, but these hubs might just prove to be better.

What’s Next?

With all of that said, the bike rides very nice! I enjoyed my half a dozen rides on the Fatboy. It doesn’t tick all of the boxes on my personal list of “must haves”, but it’s still an elite level fat-bike worthy of a complete evaluation and review. So we have a trio of test pilots, with different riding styles and experiences, that’ll be riding our demo over the coming weeks and they’ll be back with a full report soon.

You can learn more about the Specialized Fatboy Expert at – https://www.specialized.com/us/en/fatboy-expert-carbon/

*dear internet experts – note that I didn’t say the lightest, so save your weight comments for bike rumor

One Response to First Look – Specialized Fatboy Expert

  1. Byrone November 21, 2017 at 7:48 pm #

    I chased Julio-dot-com around today while he rode this sexy beast. He’s fast and this bitch is faster.