It’s not often that hand-built custom fat bikes arrive in the test hopper at Fat-Bike.com. I got a message from Daniel Countiss, owner of Defiance Frameworks, that he would like to have one of his titanium bikes reviewed last spring. I jumped right on it and contacted Gomez, we’re all in.
Defiance Frameworks is based in Homer, AK home of some of the best dam beach riding you will find anywhere. Check out their website at http://www.defianceframeworks.com/ I asked Daniel how he got into making hand-built bikes. The answer: “Basically, the back story of Defiance Frameworks is I’ve had a long-standing love for bikes and punk rock and a need to make things. I learned to weld in tech school down in the deep south back around the time I was 20. One of the first things I did in school was make a tall bike. It wasn’t until I moved to Alaska in 2010 that I built my first real bike frame. Winters can be long, and a good hobby goes a long way. Halfway through the first bike, I was daydreaming about the next frame and it just sort of snowballed from there. Sometime around 2015 after buying 5 acres and building a cabin and a small shop in the Fritz Creek valley outside of Homer I decided to move from frame building as a hobby to a legit business. Currently, my time is pretty evenly split between frame building and my other occupation of marine welding and fabrication.”
The bike I was delivered in June is Defiance’s “AK Bike Project #4”. A custom-built titanium frame and the “Rise Above” titanium 4-piece handlebars, all made here in Alaska. Daniel and I had a few conversations about the AK Bike Project #4, Daniel sums it up best:
“The Alaskan bike project started about a year ago after I meet George Peck from Seward. George is in his late 70’s but hot damn can he ride a bike! He also has some very particular ideas about what he wants out of a fat bike. He has owned just about every brand of fat bike out there and has found fault with all of them, so I took on the task of building a bike to suit him. The result is what you’re riding now. The goal was a bike that climbed exceptionally well while seated and was as stable as possible. The idea being the real beauty of fat bikes is being able to ride where no other bike can. The race-driven geometry that has dominated the industry helps make fat bikes fast (why?) but doesn’t do you any favors when trying to ride in conditions where you would want a fat bike. The point of the Alaskan bike project was to make a bike that is suited to the real-world riding conditions we have here in Alaska without regard to trends or the rest of the bike industry”.
Head Tube Angle 68 degree
Seat Tube Angle 75 degree
BB height 12.75”
Effective top tube (M) 24.5”
Hand Built Titanium Frame
Hand Built “Rise Above” Titanium 4-Piece Handlebars
Rear Dropout Spacing: 197 x 12mm
Sliding Dropouts (18.25” – 19”)
Rear Rack Mounts
Bottle Cage Mounts on the top and bottom of the down tube
External Cable Routing
MRP Carbon Fork: 150mm thru-axle
TRP Spyke Mechanical Disc Brakes
I-9 Big Rig Wheelset
Terrene Wazia 4.6” Tires
Whiskey Carbon Seat Post
Rear Rack Mounts
Drivetrain: SRAM GX Eagle 1 x 12, Raceface Cinch 28T direct mount
Cassette: SRAM XG-1275 Eagle
Shifter: SRAM GX Eagle Trigger
Raceface Turbine Cranks
Saddle: WTB Volt Pure
Headset: Cane Creek 40
Defiance Frameworks builds custom bikes to order, the customer has many options from geometry to build kits.
My initial impression is that Daniel nailed his intention of building a bike that is comfortable and climbs well when seated. I immediately noticed the very upright comfortable feel of the bike. The Rise Above bars and shorter than I’m used to top tube paired with the 28T chainring and SRAM 12 speed rear cassette make this bike a comfortable climber. Most of my rides to date on this bike have been up on the Anchorage hillside in some beautiful passes. The trails are chunky and no shortage of climbing. Perfect summer testing ground.
Daniel shared that he built this bike specifically for superior flotation and backcountry exploration. With that in mind, he requested that we extend the review into winter to properly shakedown this beauty of a bike on snow. Lucky me! Fall has arrived in Alaska, after the hottest summer in recorded weather history up here I’m ready for snow. We will be back with a comprehensive review and more details on the AK Bike Project #4 this winter.
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