Defiance Frameworks AK Bike Project # 4 Review – By Travis Hubbard

Way back in July I meet up with Daniel Countiss, owner of Defiance Frameworks, and picked up the AK Bike Project #4 that Daniel made at his shop in Homer, AK.  The opportunity to test a hand-built titanium fat-bike that was made in Alaska was a deal I couldn’t refuse.  For all the build kit and geometry, details check out the Product Spotlight HERE.

The “Rise Above” 4 Piece Titanium Bars

Daniel formulated the design of the AK Bike Project #4 with his friend George Peck, a long-time cycling enthusiast and badass all-terrain unicyclist.  Daniel and George came up with a different take on geometry, they wanted to create a fat-bike that climbed exceptionally well while seated and was as stable as possible.  Daniel stated “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”.

The titanium frame and “Rise Above” titanium handlebars are solid.  The bike is nicely spec’d, during the test period I didn’t have any issues with parts.  I adjusted the TRP mechanical disc brake’s a few times and that was it.  The I9 Big Rig wheelset was amazing, great engagement and not a burp one through the long test period.  I ran as low as 3 PSI on snow without issue.

I picked the bike up in July, Daniel was kind enough to let me keep the bike until winter so I could ride in snow.  Winter was slow to arrive; we had some good storms but unfortunately, our early snow was quickly washed away by record temps and rain.  In the summer I mostly rode the bike up in the alpine where it’s rock-laden with long climbs.  This bike is at home on the rough and steep, the 28-tooth chainring and Sram Eagle cassette make for ultra-low gearing that loves to climb.  The upright positioning and long chainstays definitely make for comfortable climbing. 

The AK Bike Project #4 is a workhorse, it handles technical terrain like an old school International Scout truck.  Point and go.  The bike is not designed to compete with today’s zippy fun and fast bikes.  The upright position and long chainstays don’t make for the most capable bike on the downhills.  It will roll down anything just fine, it doesn’t handle great at speed but smashed whatever I pointed it at.  The steep head tube angle makes for some fast and twitchy steering, not the best for going down but great for steering in technical terrain.

When the snow finally arrived, I realized the magic of this bike, the fast steering, and long chainstays make for an incredibly stable machine.  I do a lot of riding on my neighborhood trails; they are walking trails that do not see much traffic.  In the winter it is a constant battle packing the trails in so I can ride them.  If we get over 6 inches of snow, I typically ski them in on some fat touring skis and the occasional boot stomper passes through.  The Defiance changed that up, I found that airing down to 3 PSI in conjunction with the low gearing made it possible to ride more than push through deeper snow.  Once the trails are packed you get to ride what I call the balance beam, that thin strip of rideable surface that you had better stay on top of.  The twitchy steering and upright position made for great handling on snowy single-track.  A notable difference versus my personal ride. 

The bike and components performed flawlessly during the test period.  In the summer I beat it up properly in the alpine, lots of chunky trails.  When the snow finally arrived, I had a fantastic time riding and breaking in many an Anchorage trail.  At 50 years old and with 3 shot discs in my lower back I really appreciated the comfort of the AK Bike Project #4.  This bike puts the “Omni” in Omni terrain.  It is a monster truck of a fat-bike, not a race car.  Anyone who likes exploring and riding in comfort will appreciate this bike.  If you’re taking a long bike packing trip or just appreciate a comfortable ride on rough terrain this bike is for you.  Being a custom-made bike shop Defiance Frameworks can build you what you want. I had way too much fun testing out this Made in Alaska fat-bike.  Huge thanks to Defiance Frameworks for allowing us a lengthy test period and building such a capable bike.

Check out the Defiance Frameworks website to see the different steel and titanium bikes and handlebars that Daniel makes here in Alaska.

One Response to Defiance Frameworks AK Bike Project # 4 Review – By Travis Hubbard

  1. Chris McDevitt January 27, 2020 at 10:36 am #

    i’ve got a pair of the rise above bars on a rhino FLT and love ’em. daniel does some really nice work; talented guy. and it’s all done right here in AK!