Framed Alaskan Carbon 27.5- The Good, the Bad, and the Gnomey. Long Term Review
In September we introduced you to the new Framed Alaskan Carbon 27.5 Fat Bike. The version we received came with NX Eagle. Here is the link to the first look article with all the specs and my initial thoughts. https://fat-bike.com/2018/09/first-look-2019-framed-alaskan-by-jp-syverud/ Since this original article was written I have put many more glorious miles on this stealthy steed. I have tested it on gravel, fire roads, single track, sand, pavement, and a mixed surface bike packing adventure. I was unable to test it in snow its true habitat. I live in Southern Wisconsin where it doesn’t seem to snow anymore.
To remain unbiased, I kept the bike stock with 2 slight modifications. I added some 45NRTH pedals and ditched the tubes. Friends don’t let friends ride with tubes! Anyway, lets get down to the Good, the Bad, and the Gnomey.
This bike has really impressed me. Not only does the black and grey color scheme look slick, but the bike also handles amazingly well. The first ride I took was a quick 4-mile gravel ride just to get a feel for the bigger 27.5 tire platform. I wasn’t sure how the larger tire platform would translate to single track, but it rode fast and turned over quickly on the gravel. During the ride, I was getting excited to hit my local twisty trails. So that is what I did! I left the gravel trail and headed to ride some gnarly single track to truly test this bike. The first thing I noticed is the stiffness of this bike. I think it is stiffer than my old 26er Beargrease. The Alaskan Carbon will take a beating. It is solid and beefy. This bike turned quicker than I anticipated a 27.5 fat would respond. It is very responsive in the turns. The shorter chainstays make whipping it around corners easy. To me, it rides like a plus bike.
The routing system on this Framed is fantastic. Everything stays clean and out of the way. You can use full shifting housing via the access area by the bottom bracket. It makes washing the bike after muddy rides super easy too.
The most interesting area on this carbon beast is the underside of the downtube. There is a removable downtube protector. While you can remove this protective plate, if wanted, I would leave it on permanently because you never know when the rock gnomes will come up and ding your carbon. The protective plate comes loaded with dual sided tape so you could leave it on all of the time. This would help keep dirt and debris out of this area. Every time I washed the bike, there was dust and dirt under the plate. I am sure this has to do with me not applying the tape.
Framed sent us the bike specked with a Manitou Mastodon fork. This is the first Mastodon the Fat-Bike Test Lab has gotten in, so I should discuss that briefly as well.
The Manitou Mastodon 100 mm Fork and its 34mm stanchions absolutely blew me away. I think RockShox Bluto better improve or beef up their 32mm stanchions if they want to compete. I’m surprised I didn’t notice the extra weight of this fork while riding or even ascending the hills. It does weigh almost 5 pounds, but the fork adds a nice weight balance to the front providing good tire control. It has great damping and superb rebounding if you set it to your weight correctly. When you send it and land a jump, it sticks the landing like an 80-pound gymnast. It doesn’t seem to bounce you up after landing a jump like a pogo stick. I only bottomed it out once, jumping off a big rock. I tried but couldn’t repeat the experience. A nice feature of this fork is which you can add spacers or reduce spacers for more or less travel. The spacers are included inside the guts of the fork. The fork comes in a comp version and a pro version. We received the 100mm pro version on this bike. I finagled things around to make it a 120mm right away. The ease of use impressed me.
All I can say about this is fork is… Groovy. I’ve never really liked the Bluto because of the wet noodle feel. This Mastodon rides like my RockShox Pike 130. The stanchions are huge, 34mm. The air holds well and rolls over roots and rocks easily. I typically don’t ride suspension on a fat bike, but this fork may change my mind. I can see rocking this fork 8 months a year and then switching to a carbon rigid for racing duties to shave off a few pounds. I’m working on a full review of the Manitou Mastodon fork so look for that in the near future.
The only negative aspect of this bike is the bottom tube mounting system area. The two bolts on the frame don’t align for anything to mount. After some tinkering, I discovered you could attach a bottle cage or even two, but with only one bolt each. I tried this for a short ride and the cages just slid to the side after a while. Anytime you brushed the bottle or cage, the bottle tipped over. I determined I could mount my King Manything Cage and my Salsa Anything cage with the protective plate on, but I had to use longer mounting bolts. The ones that are included are too short. Again, I could only mount those cages with a single bolt since the holes didn’t align. This is not too sturdy and the cages move around a lot. I’m completely baffled by this spacing. There must be a reason for this spacing, but I can’t figure it out.
So where I thought this bike really shines was on the gravel. I did a 15-mile gravel ride with a bunch of guys on their skinny 29ers. I had no issue keeping up with the bearded Millennials. I really liked the faster rolling 27.5 platform on gravel. It takes a bit extra effort to get it up to speed, but once it is up and going, it rolls fast and furious.
In Mid October I decided to see how the Alaskan would do on a Sub 24 Gravel/Pavement bike-packing trip. I loaded it up and off I went. The Alaskan handled the extra weight of the bags like a champ. The bike felt solid with no real loss of control on flat gravel and pavement, even loaded down.
I’m not sure how well this 27.5 x 4.0 tire size would do on deeper snow. I think it may not provide as much flotation as I like. Trying it out at the beach, I had a hard time controlling it in the sand even with the tire pressure down to 3 and 4 PSI. In those conditions, I would normally ride a larger 100mm rim and 4.8-inch tires for better floatation in the sand. I can see this 27.5 x 4.0 set-up doing well on a fast, hard packed, groomed trail. I haven’t ridden any 27.5×4.5 tires yet, but from what our colleague Ken Blakey-Shell and tio Gomez have written about the larger examples of that the 27.5×4.5 tire size, I think that they might be a better choice for softer conditions. I saw the Terrene Cake Eater 27.5×4.5’s Mounted on Enve’s new M685 rims when I visited Uncle Gomez at F-B.c World HQ the other day and let me tell you somethin’ cousin…they’re huge!
Framed is making a good solid fat bike. Not only do you get a full carbon bike with carbon wheels, but you also get an NX Eagle 1×12 drive system and a 100mm Mastodon Fork. Even with all these features, Framed somehow still hit the amazing price point of $2695.95. This is great news for people who have wanted a full carbon fat bike without dropping $5K. This price should get more people riding carbon fat bikes. I hope it does. This is truly an amazing bike for the price.
I give this bike a 4.5/5.0 Frozen Gnome Rating.
To find out more about the Framed Alaskan Carbon check out – https://www.framedbikes.com