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  1. #1
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    Bontrager Gnarwhal B Fat tire review.


    27.5 x 4.5" is a lotta tire on the front of any bike.





    I have ridden and loved this tire in winter, on hardpacked snow and ice. It is so surefooted, so confidence inspiring, that it's hard to imagine a tire I'd want to ride more in those conditions.


    That said, those conditions don't come around very often. Now that I have Mastodon on the front of my Fatillac I can't help but to install any and every obese tire to see what it brings to the table.


    I've done a handful of rides now with the bike set up as such. Roughly 10psi in each tire -- apropos given that I'm largely riding tech trail and not soft surfaces with it. Could probably drop as low as 8 up front without appreciable self-steer, and I've ridden it down to ~2.5 on a wider rim, on snow.





    I don't know the exact difference in weight between the Gnarwhal and the B Fat (~3.5") Hodag that was on there previously, but I'd guess close to 8oz. Numbers aside I can immediately tell that an increase has happened: the bike just wants to go straight, and the faster you're going the more this is so.


    No real surprise there -- gyroscopic inertia and all that.


    And the traction? Sheeeee-it. It's stupid, in a word. Blow a line and it doesn't notice. Deliberately leave the trail to ride chunky wash, wallride a slab, descend a pourover -- it just eats it up and farts out a creative blend of silt, sandstone dust, and bentonite crumbs as if to say "more please".


    Again -- no real surprise there, given the massive air volume and massive square edged blocks.





    All that said, the word that comes to mind over and over as I ride this tire is "overkill". It's fun to have a tire creating incessant easy-button situations for you, but at some point you realize that the added mass and lack of need for input are removing some of the challenge of riding. And I know that challenge isn't IMBA-approved these days, but that doesn't mean I don't crave it anyway.


    Conclusion: Awesome tire for snow and ice. Awesome tire for off-piste 3-season riding. Massive overkill for a rider with any level of skill beyond "IMBA Expert", which is somewhat similar to "Owned my first bike for 2 whole months now...".


    Don't hesitate with questions.


  2. #2
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    edit: comment was off topic so i deleted it
    2003 Kona A
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    2012 Cannondale Hooligan
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  3. #3
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    that bike....that tyre.....its a monstah! :-)~

  4. #4
    fat guy on a little bike
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    any chance in getting the gnarwhal in the back of the fattilac? i am assuming not, since you didn't mount it up...

  5. #5
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    Thanks. I've been surprisingly happy with the B size Hodags so have wondered about going to the extreme of these you review or a Barbagazzi set.

    I'm not agreeing with bashing the IMBA experts but one's region and involvement with the sport could temper those opinions. Flow trail and facilities improvements haven't taken away truly expert trails in my area but they've made the sport sustainable and so popular that we now have former foes as partners in the best situations and unable to stop us and in other cases. We have hundreds of kids and women new to the sport. Just as we wrap up a major investment in the stuff you bash we have our first generation of newcomers working at more sustainable solutions for expert riders.

    It may only be the studs option that keeps me interested in the Gnarwhal after last year's no snow season experience with 27.5 Hodags. I already thought those were either bad condition weapons or cheating. My experience is those Hodags and plus tires are too much for the trail type you're criticizing.
    ƃuoɹʍ llɐ ʇno əɯɐɔ ʇɐɥʇ

  6. #6
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    Let me take this thread off track...
    What kind of handlebar is that?
    It looks tall AND sweepy

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Let me take this thread off track...
    What kind of handlebar is that?
    It looks tall AND sweepy
    Squirrel!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Squirrel!
    WHERE?!?!
    But seriously....what barz is themz?

  9. #9
    Rippin da fAt
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    Mike, it doesn't take the challenge out of riding, you haven't reached its limit. All it's doing is opening up more opportunity to give a bike a true shakedown. Thanks for sharing your findings with a tire that's filled with good times!
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

  10. #10
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    I've tried searching for this answer elsewhere but cannot find it anywhere.

    What is the overall diameter? Or, in other words, is the overall diameter of 27.5x4.5 larger than 29x3 or 29x3.25?

    TIA
    2003 Kona A
    2005 Kona A
    2012 Cannondale Hooligan
    2016 Salsa Deadwood

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