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Fatback/Knight Wide Ride Wheel Review – By JP Syverud

Back in January the Secret Underground Fat-Bike Test labs received a set of Fatback Carbon Wheels.  What can I say? Fatback continues to innovate the market with their latest product.  This time they partnered up with Knight Composite to make this glorious love child of a carbon fat bike wheel set. I was super pumped when Tio Gomez asked me what size spacing my TyReeb Donkadonk was.  When I told him 150 x 197.  He said, “ Good, you have to test out this wheel set I’ve been riding the last month.”  With the Sweaty Yeti and the Birkie Fat Bike Race coming up, the timing was perfect.  I knocked off my SS gates carbon belt drive I trained on all winter and slapped on my GX eagle set up kit. 

Gomez did all the work for me.  He had already set up the wheels tubeless, which he said was a breeze with just a quick shot of compressed air.  He put on some Terrene Cake Eaters 4.8, a set 180/160 rotors, and an XD driver on for me.   You can check out Gomez’s first impressions on this wheelset and all of the specs here –
https://fat-bike.com/2019/02/first-look-fatback-wide-ride-carbon-wheelset-by-knight-composites/

My first ride on this wheel set was on a nice 27 mile gravel path. The trail was dusted with 3-4 inches of groomed snow.  The temperature was hovering right around 0 degrees with a wind-chill of -10 degrees.  I was a fan instantly with this wheel set.  The rotational weight was noticible.  They got me up to cruising speed super fast.  They are light weight, like a carbon wheel set should be.  They are also susprisingly compliant and durable. This set is well constructed with double walls. They make me feel more confident deceding and on turns, as I’m not as svelte as I once was. 

This 2099 gram wheel set came laced to a set of DT Swiss 350 Big Ride hubs.   The Big Ride hubs are smooth and effortless.  I am glad I switched from my aluminum set to these for the Birkie Race.  I really like training with a heavier bike with bags and aluminum wheels, then when race time comes, BRAAAAP!  You really feel like moving.  Sort of like a baseball player practices swinging a bat with weights on it then when it time to hit, BAM, much faster swing. The setup I had included the Sapim CXray bladed spokes; they sure make a nice squealing sound on the uphill’s and even the descents if the wind catches them just right.  Scott from Knight Composites shared with us – “The stock builds on these wheels are the Sapim D-Light spoke. (a round spoke that should be quieter) The early samples (including the set that we tested) were built with Sapim CXRay”.

I could see most people would knock off a solid pound or two of their current whip by adding this wheelset. These wheels make it a bit easier to pop a wheelie!

My next ride was a true test.  I had to pull JP’s Mobile Bloody Mary Cart around the Sweaty Yeti Course.  The course conditions were a bit soft and felt like mashed potatoes.  Gomez seemed to have fun following behind me as I laid down a nice groomed track for him to follow.  My legs were wrecked by the time I got the 100 pounds of refreshments out onto the course. 

Where these wheels really shined were on the long flats and the hills at the Birkie Fat Bike race.  The Terrene Cake Eaters gripped well and I only hit one trail gnome at the 1.5 mile mark descending a bit too fast for conditions. I had the Cake Eaters down to 4 PSI by the end of the race, with no issues, but they seem to really shine at 7-9 PSI. I really believe these wheels helped my time out tremendously this year. The fact that you can get back up to speed so fast after us mortals have to push our bikes up a few of these mean Cable hills.

I love wheels that have a clead design and look good on just about any bike.  But it’s the construction that makes these wheels stand out.  You don’t have to be a 130-pound rider to ride these carbons without fear of damaging them.  They are so durable I would feel confident riding these wheels year round and not just breaking them out for soft snow conditions. 

I put in some long gravel rides and more single track on these bad boys. They whip around quick and roll super nice.  Overall I am very impressed with the quality, stiffness and compliance of these wheels. The Wide Rides are available in two configurations.  You can choose the DT Swiss 350 hubs or the Fatback Alaskan Edition Hubs that have a 6 pawl engagement system and 72 points of engagement.    Just between you and me….It may take some arm pulling for Gomez to get these back from me.  I have a feeling if he can somehow pry them away I’ll still find a way to include a pair in my personal arsenal.  MSRP on the Wide Ride Wheelset is $2,099. If you are looking for a super durable carbon wheelset check out the Wide Rides from Fatback Bikes at: www.fatbackbikes.com


I give this a 4.75/5 Danger Gnome Rating!

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