In this great big world, we live in, there are acronyms everywhere! Many people know certain acronyms like NASA and BMW. There are other ones that are less well known, SCUBA, LASER, and NBD. While many think the acronym NBD is short for No Big Deal, mountain bikers can’t wait to use NBD. That’s right, every biker, be it roadie, mountain, or even fixie, can’t wait to say these words! New Bike Day! The thrill of trying a new bike, the nice clean fresh paint, the smooth crisp shifting, and yes even the new bike smell, the missing characteristics that all bikes acquire (yes I am talking scratches, scuffs, and nicks)
This fine year the wonderful Gnomeclause (Santa’s gnarly mountain biker cousin) surprised me with a brand-new fat bike. Not just ANY fat bike though, a smooth, sleek, affordable behemoth of a fat bike. In the land of 10,000 lakes there operates the company of Framed. This company sells affordable bikes of every kind. Gnomeclause decided that I was one lucky kiddo that needed to ride a Framed LTD fat bike.
Our demo bike has a subtle grayish blue paint with an amazing contrasting orange for the stickers. As the bike industry takes a step away from the 26-inch wheel in favor of the larger 27.5 wheels. The Framed LTD sports 27.5 x 4 Terrene Cake Eaters. While these tires didn’t come studded, they do have stud holes for those who want to add them. The Cake Eaters are tube-less ready, but I decided to keep the tubes installed for my test. The drive train for this LTD is the new Shimano SLX 12 speed system. Stopping this beast while careening through the groomed single-track trails is done so by a set of Sram Level disc brakes. What amazed me was the two bottle cage mounts. Two bottle cage mounts you say? What’s the big deal about that? Well, people of shorter stature (such as myself) seem to get only ever get one mount on our small-sized frames. Not this time though! The size 16 (small) sports TWO bottle cage mounts! The frame doesn’t hold two large bottles but can fit one large bottle on the down tube and a smaller bottle on the seat tube.
All the information that one can find on the Framed webpage is nice, but it doesn’t tell you how the bike behaves. On the shores of the Gitche Gumee there lays the town of Duluth. That is where my testing took place over the last couple of months. First impressions are important in life, bikes are no different. The first time I swung my leg over the frame I noticed right away a certain…..clearance issue. Standing at 5 foot 5.5 inches and an inseam of roughly 29 inches I had to stand on the balls of my feet to clear the top tube. Unlike the Framed Wolftrax (which has a curved top tube to make more clearance for shorter people) the LTD has a straight top tube. While it was never really an issue while riding the bike, I noticed if I put my foot down in softer snow the top tube would soon let me know it was there. Defiantly not a deal-breaker as this bike has many other great features.
As stated above the space to carry two water bottles is great for long days on the bike. While two bottles are nice, I personally would much rather have a seat tube with no bottle bosses. With the bosses on the seat tube and the small frame size, there is not enough room to run a longer dropper post. While many people do not see this as an issue there are some that use dropper posts year-round. This would only be an issue for smaller frame sizes. Larger frame sizes of the LTD can easily run a dropper post. Many may say, “why do you need a dropper?”, a dropper post is advantageous for getting the seat lower while getting on and off the bike in the snow. Not only is it useful then, but it is also very handy while shredding the loose fluffy downhill snow-covered trails and hillsides. Being able to get your weight lower and further back helps take some of the rider’s weight off the front tire to help with washouts (much like in summer but even more pronounced in the loose fluff). The ability to run a longer dropper is not a deal-breaker because a lot of people do not use dropper posts. I know a lot of people that think that a dropper post is completely unnecessary (just not me).
I came to like the flat grayish blue paint as it matches some of the rocks that litter the shores of Lake Superior, and the contrasting bright orange is just the right amount of popping color. One small feature that I would add, if this were my bike is frame protection, especially on the chainstay. Within the first couple of rides, the bike acquired some small paint chips in this area. This isn’t a huge deal as you can always pick up some cheap protection or use an old pinch flatted tube (who DOESN’T have a few of these hanging around).
The bike felt fast on groomed trails, the larger 27.5 tires seemed to help smooth out those pesky post holes that plague our winter trails. The Shimano 12 speed helps make all but the steepest of hills very manageable even is softer, slushy snow. Of course, tire pressure also makes a tremendous difference. I normally ride a wider 4.8-inch tire on my (26″) winter bike but on the groomed or mostly packed snow, the 4-inch (27.5″) tires worked very well. Handling was right in a sweet spot of vintage 26er mountain bike feeling and a slacked-out downhill whip. I felt the handling was spot-on for how I ride, which exceeds the “edge” and often leads me to take powdered snow baths. Typical for bikes in the LTD’s budget-friendly arena, the LTD is not the lightest. Coming in around 33lbs it is not for weight weenies. The bike’s weight is similar to other fat bikes that are more expensive. TOh and by the way, the current price on the Framed website for the LTD is $1,349. I challenge anyone to find a lighter fat bike for that price.
Now for what you’ve all been waiting for. I feel that the stock parts spec on our test bike is not set up for my style of riding (no dropper, only enough room for a 4-inch tire in the back) On the other hand, I thought the OE setup would be great for more beginner/casual riders. I have come up with a score of ……(drum roll please)…….4 out of 5 Fat Bike PSI!! I believe this bike was meant for people who are getting into our wonderful sport or the people that are out to enjoy the day pedaling and enjoying the great frozen outdoors. For lack of a better term, cross country riders. I think this bike would work great for that kind of riding.
For more information about the Framed Minnesota LTD visit – framedbikes.com