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  1. #1
    rda
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    fatbike noob question - handling

    hi,

    just got a 2014 mukluk 3. rode it monday night, it was pretty difficult but i attributed most of it to the area i was riding in having lot of frozen snow quad ruts. rode again today at a differant place. this area is a bicycle only trail and no one has been riding it (no fatbikers but me round these parts) conditions had changed since monday too, we got about 3 inches of new snow and it's very fluffy icey snow on top of the 6" or so of frozen snow we already had. temps have been below 0 so that has made the snow very dry too.

    biggest issue/question is the front end seems to have a mind of it's own. you would be pedaling along and next thing you know it just goes off the trail. I assume this is what you call self steer?

    I tried letting air out, didn't really help. I did learn to adjust my riding style as the ride went on, i found that slow, steady, try to stay loose helped a little, but still unpredictable when the fron would decide to take off.

    I started with 7psi according to my digital tire gauge using screw on schrader adapors. probably has 5-6 in now. I know you can push the tire in quite a bit with your hand.

    is there anything i can do? bike is still stock, has the surley nate tires on it.

  2. #2
    mighty sailin' man
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    more likely the fresh 3" was hiding features in the frozen layer beneath it. self steer is on hard surfaces with lots of grip.
    Quote Originally Posted by davidarnott
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  3. #3
    rda
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    trail is pretty clean at this place as far as features. only tracks in the snow where old foot prints. it was hard to ride wether i stayed in the foot prints or went off to the side in the untracked snow.

    Kind of a frustrating ride today. i think what needs to happen is for it to get above freezing for a day or so then freeze again and make a nice crust. sound right?

  4. #4
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    You gotta ride these things like the old Harley's that had ribbed car tires on them. In other words, ride it like you mean it. Don't expect it to go where you want it to go. Make it go there.
    Edit:
    The previous statement only applies if your old like me!

  5. #5
    Loser
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    It takes a lot of balance to stay on top of loose snow momentary lapses in control will make the front wash out. Stay loose and try to center your weight, think float.
    Big Strings, Big Wheels, The Jisch Blog

  6. #6
    rda
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jisch View Post
    It takes a lot of balance to stay on top of loose snow momentary lapses in control will make the front wash out. Stay loose and try to center your weight, think float.
    i know, and thats what i started trying to do and it did help. it never did float though today, snow was just too loose. plus, i weigh 225 before gear too.

    I did just think of something though. that bike has the salsa alternator system which allows you to adjust wheelbase. I just checked and the bike was setup on the shortest setting. I will move it all the way back and give it another go saturday and report back.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rda View Post
    trail is pretty clean at this place as far as features. only tracks in the snow where old foot prints. it was hard to ride wether i stayed in the foot prints or went off to the side in the untracked snow.

    Kind of a frustrating ride today. i think what needs to happen is for it to get above freezing for a day or so then freeze again and make a nice crust. sound right?
    It sounds to me like the trail needs to get packed in. Warm would help but snowshoes, more walkers or better yet more riders would be best.
    Latitude 61

  8. #8
    Laramie, Wyoming
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    I think your 5-7 psi is way too high for your conditions for the front tire if you are in explorer riding mode.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcappy View Post
    You gotta ride these things like the old Harley's that had ribbed car tires on them. In other words, ride it like you mean it. Don't expect it to go where you want it to go. Make it go there.
    Edit:
    The previous statement only applies if your old like me!
    Plus one for that.

    If you've ever ridden a trials motorbike, that's the closest comparison I can come up with. Basically ride loose, keep the front wheel pointed where you want it and don't worry about the rear.

    The trick is getting the right balance of weight on the front.

    It is a technique that you will acquire from use. The fatbike isn't a magic bullet, and lots of snow is unrideable, but it will get you miles through stuff skinny bikes can't handle.

    As mentioned, your tyre pressures are high for that sort of riding.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  10. #10
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    I am a noob fat rider too and had sort of the same issue, I let air out down to what I think was around 8 PSI tire was pretty soft and slowed it down in the rough spots and it seems to behave better. It does take alot more arm strong steering to keep it under control though, my triceps were very tired after the three hour ride. Some spots just through me right off the trail into deep snow and I fell over, ahh its only snow and the landings are soft. The only wipes out that pissed me off was front tire wash out, these vee rubber tires suck in the snow, getting a set of Nates.
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  11. #11
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    think you guys are running to much air pressure. more snow less air pressure. Last night with 5-6 inches of snow we were in the 3psi range tubeless.

  12. #12
    rda
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    i have been riding dirtbike for over 20 years and ride all through the winter too, you will get the steering issue with it too, but not nearly as bad, helps to have a motor to compensate and keep your speed up too.

    So what pressure should i be running? i'm not even sure how accurate guage is using those stupid presta adaptors. my dial low pressure gauge doesn't even register so i use a top of the line from slime digital gauge that says it's accurate to 0 psi.

  13. #13
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Not to confuse things, but the OP was experiencing self steer.

    Normal suggestions for tire pressure experimentation say to lower pressures till you start to get self steer, then increase just a touch to make it go away.

    Saying that he's running too high pressure, should not be confused with self steer creation, or prevention.

    Yes, for soft snow, low speed, keep on truckin' if you can, type riding, 5 or 6 is high, to be sure.

    But he should know that once off that soft stuff, lower than 5 or 6 will have a whole mess of self steer, especially if the OP is over 220 as he says he is....
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  14. #14
    Laramie, Wyoming
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    I don't think the OP was experiencing "self steer" at all. He was experiencing rough snow conditions with his new bike for the first time with 7 psi. in his front tire.

  15. #15
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    I see self steer as when on a dry surface as you lean into a turn the bike's handlebar tries to turn harder into the turn. Also if there is a camber the bike tries to steer up hill. This is most noticeable at low pressures on trails with good grip (hard pack or pavement).
    On loose snow it is the snow conditions that are causing your handling problems. Snow does not provide a firm nor consistent grip. As you compress the snow under your tire it can try to squirt out the side or shift. Add trail camber, roots, ruts, foot prints, etc and the bike seems to have a mind of its own. You need to ride loose and work to get the bike the direction you want it to go. Riding snow is a challenge. The more you ride the better you will get at it.
    Also experiment with tire pressure. Lower pressure does usually help with traction, improving handling on snow. But the pressure you need will be dependent on tire volume and weight.
    Craig

  16. #16
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    +1 for sliding your wheel back in the alt dropouts. I was experiencing the same thing with my '14 Muk and a .5 inch rearward adjustment has the bike behaving much better. I started another thread on this topic: Chainstay length, fatbike handling & float? Some interesting comments there from some folks with years of snow riding under their fat tires.
    The older I get the better I was...

  17. #17
    rda
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    +1 for sliding your wheel back in the alt dropouts. I was experiencing the same thing with my '14 Muk and a .5 inch rearward adjustment has the bike behaving much better. I started another thread on this topic: Chainstay length, fatbike handling & float? Some interesting comments there from some folks with years of snow riding under their fat tires.
    yeah, i saw your post today and was encouraged by your results. i should be able to test all of this out on saturday.

  18. #18
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    well those are good tires, they behave them Nates...

    keep trying different stuff. some conditions suck no matter what mojo you roll with

  19. #19
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    I don't think the OP was experiencing "self steer" at all. He was experiencing rough snow conditions with his new bike for the first time with 7 psi. in his front tire.
    I hear you. He mentioned it, and I just wanted to clarify, since many were saying that his pressure was too high, etc.

    I agree, pressure too high for the given conditions, just making sure he understood what causes what is all
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  20. #20
    VENI VEDI BIKI
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    I had the same experience my first few times out. The handling on my Pugs improved 90% when I threw on a wider bar and shorter stem. There is just too much rolling weight up front to try and manhandle the thing with a regular sized bar. Also play with weight distribution. And, you need to realize 2 things: 1) you are going to squirm around on really soft/unpacked snow and 2) you tire will wash out if it gets tilted on its side. You can't steer a snowbike by leaning it over, once the snow gets on the slick part of the tire, its all over.
    Veni Vidi Biki

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  21. #21
    rda
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    checked the psi tonight it shows 4 front and rear now after letting some out during the ride. tires bulge quite a bit when sitting on the bike, sound right, or too low now? i will go take a pic in a bit and post it.

    i have adjusted the wheel all the way to the back now too.

    Will be riding saturday, hopefully alot better.

  22. #22
    rda
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    fatbike noob question - handling-img_20140123_183544_802.jpg
    front
    fatbike noob question - handling-img_20140123_183554_662.jpg
    rear

  23. #23
    rda
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    fatbike noob question - handling-img_20140123_183713_832.jpg
    front from another angle
    fatbike noob question - handling-img_20140123_183725_545.jpg

    Rear from another angle. Hopefully you can tell from the pics if i'm too high/low/just right for described conditions. I was sitting on the bike in riding postition for all of these. from looking at pics, it would appear that more needs let out of the front.

    Like i said, my gauge reads 4 psi now, but who know how accurate that is. I have a meiser low pressure presta gauge on the way

  24. #24
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    Yes I hope to fix my handling issue as well this weekend, bought a nate for the front last night. Have to wait till next week for more to come in so I can get one for he rear. Bought a low pressure tire gage as well and that sound be in this afternoon. Supposed to get 6 inches of fresh snow tomorrow so Sundays ride should be good. Went to a new LBS and met up with some fatty lovers so I might have a group to ride with now.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rda View Post
    Like i said, my gauge reads 4 psi now, but who know how accurate that is. I have a meiser low pressure presta gauge on the way
    Tires look about right to me.

    Now it becomes more about conditions and your learning curve.

    Riding in snow is nothing like riding in the summer.

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