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  1. #1
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    Chainstay length, fatbike handling, and float?

    Conditions have been terrible this season and I've been struggling a lot more on the trail this year than ever before. Also getting used to a new bike (2014 Mukluk vs 2010 Al Fatback). Built the Muk up from the frame with my old parts & geo is not all that different, so I'm pretty sure it's not the bike, but the conditions (dry, sugary, wind drifted snow with too few trail users to pack things down) that are causing me trouble. Still, I've been wondering if there's anything to gain in stretching the Muk a bit by sliding the Alternator dropouts rearward. Anyone tried this? Any gains in handling or float (all other things being equal)? I've been running the rear wheel all the way forward and like the way the bike handles on hard surfaces. Any opinions on longish vs shortish chainstays for snow riding? Maximum adjustment appears to be .75 inches.
    Veni vidi velo!

  2. #2
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    How does the bike handle to you? To fast? To slow? Pretty sure almost every angle or length is different between the two frames you mention. The Fatback was designed with thier snow handling wants in mind. The new Mukluk seems more trail/ST oriented? Lengthing the CS's will surely slow the handling down a bit, but there are many more factors than just that, can't hurt to try, no?

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    Push them back for more stability and more balance weight distribution. This will help with float. 0.75 is a lot you may fit a bigger tire in there. I ordered a frame with 190 spacing and clearance for 100 and 4.8 tires. Their prototype chainstays length was 17.9. Production specs has them pushed back to 18.3 which is good for winter but not what I want for summer. I wish the frame I bought had .75 of adjustability like yours! Enjoy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    Conditions have been terrible this season and I've been struggling a lot more on the trail this year than ever before. Also getting used to a new bike (2014 Mukluk vs 2010 Al Fatback). Built the Muk up from the frame with my old parts & geo is not all that different, so I'm pretty sure it's not the bike, but the conditions (dry, sugary, wind drifted snow with too few trail users to pack things down) that are causing me trouble. Still, I've been wondering if there's anything to gain in stretching the Muk a bit by sliding the Alternator dropouts rearward. Anyone tried this? Any gains in handling or float (all other things being equal)? I've been running the rear wheel all the way forward and like the way the bike handles on hard surfaces. Any opinions on longish vs shortish chainstays for snow riding? Maximum adjustment appears to be .75 inches.
    Shorter stays are better if you're spinning out. You gotta get the tire all up under you where it can have weight on it to hook up.

    You still have to get pressures right, fore/aft balance right, etcÖ But if all that is sorted, figure out how to get that contact patch closer to your CoG.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JordyB View Post
    How does the bike handle to you? To fast? To slow? Pretty sure almost every angle or length is different between the two frames you mention. The Fatback was designed with thier snow handling wants in mind. The new Mukluk seems more trail/ST oriented? Lengthing the CS's will surely slow the handling down a bit, but there are many more factors than just that, can't hurt to try, no?
    Thanks for the reply JordyB. I'd say the Muk is quicker handling. I'm going to play around with it, just wondering whether to expect much of a difference. Relevant numbers are pretty close between the two frames, I'd say: CS - 17.6-18.3 for the Muk vs 18.1 for the FB, HT angle Muk 68.5 vs FB 69.5, ST angle 73 for both. TT lengths differ and the Muk is suspension corrected, thus longer fork legs and, I think, higher HT.

    I'm also spinning out more, which is interesting since, as mikesee points out, the shorter stays of the Muk outta bring the rear wheel closer to my CoG. Maybe I don't have the fore and aft balance thing as "sorted out" as I thought.

    Time for some experimenting. Thanks to all who replied.
    Veni vidi velo!

  6. #6
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    Eureka Muk moment

    So I lengthened the chainstays on the Muk by .5 inches, bringing the total length to 18.1 inches. Not so coincidentally, this is the same length as on my 2010 Fatback, a bike with excellent snow handling characteristics, imo. Voila! The Muk immediately settled down. Far fewer instances of the rear wheel sliding out, better traction in most situations, and a noticeable improvement in float. Overall the bike responds far more predictably to fore and aft as well as side to side weight shifts, allowing me to stay upright and keep moving through slop that had me dabbing or walking before. I won't pretend that I completely understand what's going on here other than to guess that it has something to do with the stability of the longer wheelbase and improved fore/aft weight balance, but the benefits gained by a .5 inch adjustment is amazing. Probably could have achieved similar results with a longer stem, a different handlebar or by moving the seat forward, but the Alternator dropouts made it super easy.
    Veni vidi velo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    So I lengthened the chainstays on the Muk by .5 inches, bringing the total length to 18.1 inches. Not so coincidentally, this is the same length as on my 2010 Fatback, a bike with excellent snow handling characteristics, imo. Voila! The Muk immediately settled down. Far fewer instances of the rear wheel sliding out, better traction in most situations, and a noticeable improvement in float. Overall the bike responds far more predictably to fore and aft as well as side to side weight shifts, allowing me to stay upright and keep moving through slop that had me dabbing or walking before. I won't pretend that I completely understand what's going on here other than to guess that it has something to do with the stability of the longer wheelbase and improved fore/aft weight balance, but the benefits gained by a .5 inch adjustment is amazing. Probably could have achieved similar results with a longer stem, a different handlebar or by moving the seat forward, but the Alternator dropouts made it super easy.

    It's real easy to explain, Alaskans know what they are doing when it comes to riding on snow!! Lately the merit of a good bike be it a fat bike or skinny mtb is having the shortest stays possible and truly there are trade offs. I noticed this a few years ago when I went from a Pugs to the older American made 907 with longer stays, it was night and day different in the snow.

  8. #8
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    My favorite snow bike has almost 19" stays w 26"wheels - not a fat bike just old and steel. I sometimes read "Super Short stays" as a bit negative.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloborealis View Post
    So I lengthened the chainstays on the Muk by .5 inches, bringing the total length to 18.1 inches. Not so coincidentally, this is the same length as on my 2010 Fatback, a bike with excellent snow handling characteristics, imo. Voila! The Muk immediately settled down. Far fewer instances of the rear wheel sliding out, better traction in most situations, and a noticeable improvement in float. Overall the bike responds far more predictably to fore and aft as well as side to side weight shifts, allowing me to stay upright and keep moving through slop that had me dabbing or walking before. I won't pretend that I completely understand what's going on here other than to guess that it has something to do with the stability of the longer wheelbase and improved fore/aft weight balance, but the benefits gained by a .5 inch adjustment is amazing. Probably could have achieved similar results with a longer stem, a different handlebar or by moving the seat forward, but the Alternator dropouts made it super easy.
    I've been curious about this myself, but have yet to experiment with my Moonlander. I have some spare Surly Monkey Nuts sitting around, and now I know what to do with them!
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  10. #10
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    Sometimes it is just the right weight balance. Longer stays tend to make a bike less sensitive to fore/aft balance. Years ago I bought a bike with super short 16" stays. That bike could climb up walls but if I scratched my ear the rear wheel would spin and I would be picking myself off the ground. Just saying the shortest chainstays aren't always best.

  11. #11
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    Shorter stays are better if you're spinning out. You gotta get the tire all up under you where it can have weight on it to hook up.
    Huh?;

    Look at a sandrail, or hillclimb or drag motorcycle for your answer. They have very long rear ends. You are trying to flip that long long wheelbase over when you put power into the rear wheel. The longer the rear end, the less likely it is so succeed. With the weight located so far in front of that, the effect is further magnified. All of this also drives that tire into the surface. The change is rather slight in relative terms when talking about a bicycle, but the effect is no less dramatic. I can drive up a snowy hill with the front tire floating in the air, and not loose traction. I built both my bikes with 17-7/8 CS length. Short CS is to make slow bikes feel faster.

    There is a reason that traditional snow bikes have long CS. If you want forward bite in snow, GO LONG!
    Most people ply the Well Trodden Path. A few seek a different way, and leave a Trail behind.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMaker View Post
    Huh?;

    Look at a sandrail, or hillclimb or drag motorcycle for your answer. They have very long rear ends. You are trying to flip that long long wheelbase over when you put power into the rear wheel. The longer the rear end, the less likely it is so succeed. With the weight located so far in front of that, the effect is further magnified. All of this also drives that tire into the surface. The change is rather slight in relative terms when talking about a bicycle, but the effect is no less dramatic. I can drive up a snowy hill with the front tire floating in the air, and not loose traction. I built both my bikes with 17-7/8 CS length. Short CS is to make slow bikes feel faster.

    There is a reason that traditional snow bikes have long CS. If you want forward bite in snow, GO LONG!
    No.

    Climbing machines are built for climbing. Snowbikes can't climb for beans regardless--the surface doesn't adhere well enough to itself to matter.

    Traditional snowbikes had long stays because the builders didn't know any better, didn't ride snow themselves to experiment, or didn't care.

    We know better now.

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    Gotta agree with Mike here. The long swingarms on drag and hillclimb motorcycles are all about controlling wheelies so they don't flip over backwards, not so much about traction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnroyal View Post
    Gotta agree with Mike here. The long swingarms on drag and hillclimb motorcycles are all about controlling wheelies so they don't flip over backwards, not so much about traction.
    Yep motored hill climb racers are so overpowered that wheelies are very easy to achieve, the long swingarms counter that. Most cyclists can shift weight forward easily enough to counter any wheelie given our much lower power.

  15. #15
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    I dunno physics from psychics, but what I've gained from the longer stays seems to have more to do with balance, stability, and handling than traction, insofar as I understand the term. Simply put, I can ride through deeper, less packed snow much easier than before. When the bike gets all squirrelly, I can bring it back under control by shifting my weight and hold my momentum before the front slides out or the rear bogs down. The rear tire seems to "float" better, by which I mean it has less of a tendency to saw through the surface of the snow than it did when the wheel was more under my butt. On my last ride there were a few times when I was able to keep the rear from sinking and hold "traction" by sliding forward on the seat or even lifting off the seat and leaning over the front wheel. Other times, when spinning out but not sinking, I could regain "traction" by shifting weight rearward off the back of the saddle. With shorter stays I seldom had time to make any corrections before losing the front or rear.

    When I had my Fatback, I remember handling improving in a similar fashion when I dropped my seat a little and slid it all the way forward on the rails. Since I already had the cockpit of the Muk pretty much how I wanted it, I started thinking about the sliding dropouts as additional point of adjustment. What still amazes me is how dramatic small adjustments can be.

    Come summer, I'll be sliding the wheel all the way forward 'cause I like the way the shorter bike handles on dirt. Hope this little anecdote helps folks riding sliding dropout bikes dial in their rides for their conditions.
    Veni vidi velo!

  16. #16
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    Sorry, duplicate post from earlier.
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    I've been thinking about sliding my rear wheel back on my necromancer all winter, and after reading this thread thought I'd give it a try.

    I made a quick wood spacer to make sure the axle doesn't slip. This increased the chainstay about 1". Then I headed out for a 10 mile sunset ride on a snowmobile trail.

    In almost every respect this improved the bike. It tracks better, it floats better, it's more stable climbing and descending in snowmobile crud. There was a few spots where the rear tire would start to break thru the crust, sucking away forward speed. I'm certain that I would have augured in the back tire in more places if it was forward. You can really feel that the front tire is taking more weight and earning it's keep. I especially love how it climbed- so stable at slow speed and when I stomped on the pedals it wasn't driving the wheel down into the snow as hard. On one steep loose section I was glad to see I still could use body position to get all rear weight I want.

    I need to try it on some narrow single track, but I'm already sure I'll like it. I tried following my track and snowmobile ski tracks, and it was noticeably easier follow a thin line.

    When I was almost back to my truck I finally discovered one negative quality--I tried to bunny hop off a little bump. Instead of getting airborne, I barely got the front tire off the snow and the rear tire felt like it was 2' behind me. Glad no one saw that...

    Thanks for the thread Velo! I'm looking forward to more rides with this set up to evaluate it further, but I think I'm already sold.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Chainstay length, fatbike handling, and float?-key.jpg  


  18. #18
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    One thing is for certain;

    You are dealing with a longer lever, if you will. The longer wheelbase tends to slow down reactions to change in all directions. This obviously has the effect of making the bike feel slower, but when you are dealing with very low grip/stability situations, that is a plus. You are putting more weight on the front end by moving your weight forward of the rear axle.

    My fatbikes have 17.875 CS, and a 47"WB. Granted, I am 6'5" so that is called for. I have no frame of reference and have only ridden these fatties, but I find them very stable in both snow and dirt, and surprisingly do not find them overly sluggish on Summer single track. I would like to build a short CS bike just to compare.
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  19. #19
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    From a static physics perspective, I'd point out that the chainstay length is only half of the equation. The farther out front the front wheel is, the less weight will be on it and the more will be on the rear. So a bike with long chainstays but an even longer front end will keep traction just as well as one with short chainstays and a short front end. Front and rear length together help stability. So the ideal snow bike for stability and traction would be just plain long, but then it would handle pretty slowly and probably be undesirably heavy.

    From a practical perspective, I'm in the same boat trying to figure out the right balance for me.

  20. #20
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    I pulled my rear wheel back about 1/2" a couple days ago after another fresh 4" snowfall. I'm convinced it made it easier to adjust weight distribution and retain better traction while climbing.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    I figured there was no reason to start a new thread since there was good info in this one. In a different thread there was a debate regarding whether long or short chainstays were better for snow. I was thinking about that yesterday as my rear tire kept sinking into the snow and greatly reducing my forward progress or causing me to stop. Loss of traction really wasnít the issue, it was the rear tire sinking in and I found myself automatically scooting forward onto the nose of the seat to balance the bike out better and get weight off the rear tire....
    What psi were you running?
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    Could it have had something to do with seat tube angle as much as stay length? Am I wrong in thinking short stays with steep seat tube angle could actually have less weight on the rear tire as a bike with longer stays and a slack seat tube angle? Especially if the rider has longer legs? Talking seated position only.

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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    Hadnít thought of that but my bike has a 73į seat tube angle.
    I have pretty long legs and my last bike had 17.5" stays and a 73 deg seat tube angle and that bike would wheelie all day long with gobs traction when seated. Now my most recent one have 16.5 inch stays with a almost 75 deg seat tube angle and honestly won't lift the front in a seated position like the former, also seems traction has decreased some.

    I wish I had the abilities to do a cad drawing (or something similar) to see what the difference of weight over the rear axle actually is taking the seat tube angle, saddle height, and stay lengths into consideration. (seated)

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    This is all a matter of intended use. My fatbike has 18.7" stays. Combined with a relatively steep 70 degree head angle, my bike handles more like a very stable bikepacking / endurance bike than a trail ripper. As I use this bike only as a winter / snow bike, I appreciate the long stays and resulting tons of tire clearance, extremely stable long wheelbase, snow clearing ability and ability to easily fit a 2x with a 100mm BB shell (I prefer 2x for this particular bike). I'm not sure if it climbs any better than a shorter stayed bike. I can clear some extremely steep stuff on this bike even in snow, but that's likely more due to massive grip and 22x36 low gearing.

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    My son and I were practicing wheelies last night on our Wozos. mine was set up with Barbes 4.5" in the longest CS setting and my son's was set up with 29+ Minions in the middle CS setting.

    The only bike I couldn't wheelie was our tandem

    If you want to be scientific about this weight distribution thing, try using a scale to measure weight change.

    Quote Originally Posted by bdundee View Post
    I have pretty long legs and my last bike had 17.5" stays and a 73 deg seat tube angle and that bike would wheelie all day long with gobs traction when seated. Now my most recent one have 16.5 inch stays with a almost 75 deg seat tube angle and honestly won't lift the front in a seated position like the former, also seems traction has decreased some.

    I wish I had the abilities to do a cad drawing (or something similar) to see what the difference of weight over the rear axle actually is taking the seat tube angle, saddle height, and stay lengths into consideration. (seated)

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    My son and I were practicing wheelies last night on our Wozos. mine was set up with Barbes 4.5" in the longest CS setting and my son's was set up with 29+ Minions in the middle CS setting.

    The only bike I couldn't wheelie was our tandem

    If you want to be scientific about this weight distribution thing, try using a scale to measure weight change.
    Never said I couldn't wheelie it but there is a noticeable difference in effort.

    I think a good cad drawing would show the correlation between seat tube angle, weight over axle, and stay length.

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    If you set your seat fore and aft position for correct knee over pedal spindle distance then seat tube angle should not really matter. Your seat will be farther back on the seatpost cradle on a steep angled bike. There maybe seat to handlebar ramifications though.
    Latitude 61

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    Quote Originally Posted by sryanak View Post
    If you set your seat fore and aft position for correct knee over pedal spindle distance then seat tube angle should not really matter. Your seat will be farther back on the seatpost cradle on a steep angled bike. There maybe seat to handlebar ramifications though.
    I don't know how much that is used anymore for mountain biking anyways. I would need to run a setback dropper on a couple of my bikes just to get it back far enough. That and it would defeat the purpose of steep seat tube angles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bdundee View Post
    I wish I had the abilities to do a cad drawing (or something similar) to see what the difference of weight over the rear axle actually is taking the seat tube angle, saddle height, and stay lengths into consideration. (seated)

    Check out bikecad. Takes a bit to learn it but it'll do exactly what you say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sryanak View Post
    If you set your seat fore and aft position for correct knee over pedal spindle distance then seat tube angle should not really matter. Your seat will be farther back on the seatpost cradle on a steep angled bike. There maybe seat to handlebar ramifications though.
    Yeah, I thought that was common sense, but some of the younger non-roadie folks don't know bike set up: Patella lined up with pedal spindle, 10-15 deg knee bend or whatever floats your boat.

    Stem length is more about comfort, though some people will argue that shorter stems handle better

    A steeper STA improves tire clearance and makes up for a long TT.
    A long TT makes up for a slacker HTA.

    I swear there's a pattern here

    Has anyone tried weighing a bike while seated, using two scales, blockin the wheels? I'd be curious to know the difference in weight as a ratio, whether a shorter chainstay really make a significant different in that ratio.

  34. #34
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    You guys really are over analyzing this. 2-3 cm of chain stay length isnít going to make a significant difference. You can easily shift your body that amount when riding. I have what would be considered long chainstays - 468mm and I have never noticed less traction or less float compared to guys I ride with that have chainstays in the 430-440 range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Overkill View Post
    You guys really are over analyzing this. 2-3 cm of chain stay length isnít going to make a significant difference. You can easily shift your body that amount when riding. I have what would be considered long chainstays - 468mm and I have never noticed less traction or less float compared to guys I ride with that have chainstays in the 430-440 range.
    That's one opinion

    It would be suprising to me that someone wouldn't notice a difference of two inches in chainstay length, but maybe it's more about not caring than not noticing.

    The thing is, the industry noticed, and they have made changes in frame design that reflect feedback from riders, buyers, shops, R & D, which is significant.

    Fat bikers are about as dyed in the wool as it gets, they are only a few years removed from making their own gear. I get that, I was there with telemarking and muni. Still, being a Luddite doesn't really lead to improvements, so maybe keeping an open mind has it's value?

    Personally, I enjoy change and welcome it, it's my personality

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    That's one opinion

    It would be suprising to me that someone wouldn't notice a difference of two inches in chainstay length, but maybe it's more about not caring than not noticing.

    The thing is, the industry noticed, and they have made changes in frame design that reflect feedback from riders, buyers, shops, R & D, which is significant.

    Fat bikers are about as dyed in the wool as it gets, they are only a few years removed from making their own gear. I get that, I was there with telemarking and muni. Still, being a Luddite doesn't really lead to improvements, so maybe keeping an open mind has it's value?

    Personally, I enjoy change and welcome it, it's my personality
    I said 2-3cm, not inches! I should also be clear about my personal experience - I only use my fatbike on snowshoed singletrack. I donít use a snowbike for mtn biking. I have I mtn bike for for mtn biking.

    Industry noticed? Yeah, they follow trends and the trends are driven by the fact that 90% of fatbikes probably donít see a cm (ha, not inches!) of snow. So is this discussion about non snow trail riding with a fatbike or fatbikes on snow?

    Iím all for short chainstsys and longer front centres on my mtn bike, but a snowbike, not so much.

    I have likely 15,000+ km of singletrack riding on snow over the years. Iíve had the luxury of riding various bikes with modern mtn geo to long chainstsy ďold school ď designs, and there really isnít much difference on snow. Iíve found the longer chainstays to provide more stability and more float, and overall be more versatile in my area. Your area may benefit from short stays - who knows. I think youíre over analyzing the effects of chainstays length on snow though when you are travelling at an average speed of 10-14 km/h!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Overkill View Post
    I think youíre over analyzing the effects of chainstays length on snow though when you are travelling at an average speed of 10-14 km/h!

    If you can cover 10+ kph then the snow you're riding has nothing in common with what I know.

    I've ridden ~20,000 miles on snow -- deep, dry, ungroomed snow -- in my life. I'd guess that .05% of it was over 5kph.

    In no way suggesting you're wrong or off. Just that snow varies dramatically, and I have yet to find a place or condition where a shorter chainstay bike didn't outperform one with longer stays.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    If you can cover 10+ kph then the snow you're riding has nothing in common with what I know.

    I've ridden ~20,000 miles on snow -- deep, dry, ungroomed snow -- in my life. I'd guess that .05% of it was over 5kph.

    In no way suggesting you're wrong or off. Just that snow varies dramatically, and I have yet to find a place or condition where a shorter chainstay bike didn't outperform one with longer stays.
    I donít have an opinion on the conditions you are describing - 5km/h and less are conditions that Iíve never encountered. To be honest that sounds like snowshoe walking/running territory to me. I wonder what percentage of fatbikes would see snow like that seeing as such a tiny % of them see snow at all!

    This could be an example where chainstay length matters as itís super extreme for average speed (conditions dictating the speed a- not your fitness). Iím sure youíre a pretty fit dude with that much mileage/experience, so Iíll trust your wisdom in this context.

    For my snow/conditions, I havenít found chainstay length to be a significant factor at all in the operating range of 430-470mm when riding snowshoed/fatbiked single track. I live in Quebec and we see an average of 2.5 meters of snow during the season. Throughout the winter we get freeze/thaws with wet and dry snow. Itís really rare that Iíd encounter sustained deep dry snow.

    Itís always cool to learn about other peopleís background and experiences. Thanks for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Overkill View Post
    we see an average of 2.5 meters of snow during the season. Throughout the winter we get freeze/thaws with wet and dry snow. Itís really rare that Iíd encounter sustained deep dry snow.

    Itís always cool to learn about other peopleís background and experiences. Thanks for that.

    I'm on a riding roadtrip over this holiday season, riding trails I rode for 15 years but haven't ridden for 20, plus a whole bunch of new ones, all on a sporty (borrowed) fatbike.

    The conditions we're riding largely mirror what you've described, and we've been going "fast" more often than not. And most of that time I've found that tire pressure and rider attentiveness are more important than bike geo or tread type. You can make almost anything work, within reason.

    It's been fascinating to observe this: I finally understand why tires like Husker Du's and Dillingers have gotten popular, and why bikes with geo that would ensure walking on our trails work just fine here.

    So, like you said, it's cool to learn about other people's background and experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    3psi, cold, around 0įF, that snowmachine trail I had made was over about 18Ē of total snowpack.

    If you were trenching the trail at 3psi why on earth would you not drop pressure?

    You can argue geometry all you want but if you don't know enough to keep going lower on pressure there isn't much point.

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    A couple years ago I upgraded from a size Large Fatboy to an XL Scott Big Ed. Initially I was pretty upset because the BE seemed to have lost a lot of traction, float and climbing versus the Fatboy. Being on the smaller end of the height range for an XL, I think my weight was distributed too far back which had a couple of negative impacts. First the front and would wheelie too easily and didn't climb very well. The other thing that surprised me was float. I was overloading the rear tire and it didn't float well. And, the front tire was basically underutilized for its float. I made two small tweaks that made a huge difference. 1st I dropped the stem down by two spacers which probably moved 5-10 pounds forward. Second, I slid the seat forward about 5mm. These two changes made a huge difference in any sort of loose conditions and/or where you need float. Things about like a canoe....you want to have good fore aft balance or it won't track right.

    Edit: the Big Ed has a longer wheelbase but still had issues without distributing enough weight forward.
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    I like chainstays.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    Pretty simple, that section of trail was going to end soon at a more packed down trail where I knew I wouldnít need as low of pressure. It didn't feel like spending the time to air down and then back up for a 15 minute section of trail.

    That's as good a reason as any, and we do that sometimes too. We all have our own level of tolerance for walking.


    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    Tonight I ran an experiment to test your and others end all, be all short chain stay dogma


    It's this sort of open-minded thinking that leads to real scientific breakthroughs. Good thing you're open to it...



    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    Like others have written I've found a long wheelbase and long chain stays to be better for riding on snow because the bike is more stable and easier to control.

    Snow conditions vary by location. Yours are clearly different from mine. I don't have any reason to not believe you, even if in 20 years of riding every kind of snow condition available in the northern hemisphere I have yet to find a combo of conditions that has produced the same conclusion that you've drawn. I'm always experimenting with different setups -- sometimes on my main bike, sometimes by borrowing bikes from friends or local shops -- to try to make things work better. I don't have a dogmatic approach to this: I just want incremental improvement every season. And the past few years have given better than incremental -- as long as you're open to change.

    I wish that we (collectively) could find a better term than "short chainstays" to describe what I'm after with my flotation bikes, because there's so much more to it than that one parameter. Putting the rider's CoG closer to the rear axle seems to be accurate, as well as less of a hot button phrase.

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    So, in the end, we've determined that some it comes down to preference, some local/regional conditions, some bike geo beyond mere chainstay length and some of it can be addressed with proper tire pressure at least as much as a slightly shorter or longer chainstay. Wow - who knew?
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    I think some preferences might also be due to stubborness

    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    So, in the end, we've determined that some it comes down to preference, some local/regional conditions, some bike geo beyond mere chainstay length and some of it can be addressed with proper tire pressure at least as much as a slightly shorter or longer chainstay. Wow - who knew?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    I think some preferences might also be due to stubborness
    Yup, as is often the case. And sometimes preferences are formed prior to extensive experience, rather than the other way around.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    No Big Fat Dummy riders with experience of riding on soft snow?
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    So, in the end, we've determined that some it comes down to preference, some local/regional conditions, some bike geo beyond mere chainstay length and some of it can be addressed with proper tire pressure at least as much as a slightly shorter or longer chainstay. Wow - who knew?

    And, if you really think about the totality of what you just wrote, you could conclude that it really says nothing of value at all. Because as the conditions deteriorate it's the fine details that matter...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    And, if you really think about the totality of what you just wrote, you could conclude that it really says nothing of value at all. Because as the conditions deteriorate it's the fine details that matter...
    You know, it's this ^ kind of thinking that gets in the way of making sweeping, universal statements.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    The biggest annoyance to me is the ass end of the bike trenching out or suddenly sinking into the trail stopping all forward progress. I think that anyone who rides in snow has had that happen to them at one point or another.
    Actually the biggest annoyance to me is the FRONT end of the bike trenching out or suddenly sinking into the trail, stopping all forward progress.

    I don't really have a strong enough opinion on chainstay length to feel it's worth it to convince others to share my view...so I really can't comment on that matter. But if I had to choose one end of the bike to sink and stop, it would be the rear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brentos View Post
    Actually the biggest annoyance to me is the FRONT end of the bike trenching out or suddenly sinking into the trail, stopping all forward progress.

    I don't really have a strong enough opinion on chainstay length to feel it's worth it to convince others to share my view...so I really can't comment on that matter. But if I had to choose one end of the bike to sink and stop, it would be the rear.
    Wut are you saying?

    Thatís blasphemy!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by brentos View Post
    Actually the biggest annoyance to me is the FRONT end of the bike trenching out or suddenly sinking into the trail, stopping all forward progress.
    I bet if you had longer chainstays that wouldn't happen.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    still, short chainstays are better

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    still, short chainstays are better
    Careful - I just received a red chiclet from someone (who hasn't contributed a single post to this thread), telling me I'm not taking this thread seriously enough for their liking.

    To appease this dork, who shall remain nameless, I'll reiterate what I tried to say above (albeit with a sense of humor), and which apparently went right over his/her head - there's more going on than mere chainstay length. I see that as an obvious, objective fact, and it seems like most of us agree on that. The subjective part of me, however, still prefers chainstays on the shorter end (at least for a bike that runs a 5" tire, in my case), and I have yet to find a downside to that on snow. I ride in the northern Rockies, across the spectrum of conditions typical for this region.

    As with just about every topic on this forum, YMMV, especially if/when filtered through your own personal bias lens.

    Was that 'serious' enough? Hope so, because I will now go back to taking very little about bikes all that seriously. Deal with it.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    *You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Smithhammer again.*

    IMO, which means virtually nothing as the vast vast majority of my fat bike time has been on 2 fat bikes (Framed MN 2.2 and On-One fatty Trail w/ a 485 a-c carbon fork), shorter chainstays with a longer front end is better than longer chain stays with a shorter front end... in the snow.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brentos View Post
    Actually the biggest annoyance to me is the FRONT end of the bike trenching out or suddenly sinking into the trail, stopping all forward progress.

    I don't really have a strong enough opinion on chainstay length to feel it's worth it to convince others to share my view...so I really can't comment on that matter. But if I had to choose one end of the bike to sink and stop, it would be the rear.
    Iím trying to imagine how the front would sink in before the rear. The only logical explanation is youíre riding some sort of fat pennyfarthing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    Careful - I just received a red chiclet from someone (who hasn't contributed a single post to this thread), telling me I'm not taking this thread seriously enough for their liking.
    This made me laugh out loud

    Last time I got a red chiclet, it was from someone who thought a joke was real; an unnamed dude from Utah.

    What makes this entire conversation ridiculous is the idea that we expect a bicycle with a footprint smaller than a snowshoe, to support our stoopid arses as we trundle along a trail at half the speed we could hike.

    Really people, does this not figure into your thinking?

    I enjoy the challenge of biking in soft snow, but packed snow is the only snow riding that makes sense. If I needed to do some serious backcountry travel, Iíd get skis or snowshoes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dbhammercycle View Post
    *You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Smithhammer again.*

    IMO, which means virtually nothing as the vast vast majority of my fat bike time has been on 2 fat bikes (Framed MN 2.2 and On-One fatty Trail w/ a 485 a-c carbon fork), shorter chainstays with a longer front end is better than longer chain stays with a shorter front end... in the snow.
    This is my experience as well, the Wozo is a good example of this geo.

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    I feel this is blown out of proportion, but it comes from good intents. The first 29ers and fat-bikes had wacky 18.5" or longer chainstays. Some had adjustable dropouts.

    The thing is, we are extremely adaptable, we might think that one feature of a frame "makes all the difference", but that doesn't compute a lot of times. BB height (which varies by tires), seat tube angle, reach, stem length, head tube angle, heck-even wheel rotational mass, etc., all come together IME.

    So once the chainstay length is fairly reasonable, saying that it makes soooo much difference to go to 16.5 vs. 17.5 is a bit ridiculous. My Specialized Enduro 29er had sub 17" chainstays and rear end squat, but my Pivot 429SL with closer to 17.5 stays pops up way easier on the front end. I've had many bikes closer to 16.5 and many closer to 17.5, with still quite a few more than 18. There are plenty of people that ride those 3rd generation (1st carbon gen) 907/Fatbike bikes that still have long stays that will be faster than anyone reading this thread, are they really missing all that much from their riding experience? I say no and call BS.

    So at some point, we are trying to make smaller and smaller slices (changes) and making claims that it makes bigger and bigger differences to how a bike rides. I call BS on this much of the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    ...Surely there is a thread crying out for your attention to wax poetic about the Wazo and how itís short chainstays work to increase the size of ones penis as itís commn knowledge that long chainstays make one flaccid due to their effect on the bikes geometry.
    Wait - is this true?!?

    I mean, in general I'm fairly happy with my current size, but I'll trade in my Blackborow for a Wozo tomorrow if it means an extra half inch of....uh...downtube.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    That has never really been an issue for me. There are certainly conditions where that can happen but in my experience if you are losing the front end that much the trail is so soft that it is unrideable. Basically the front tire sinks in before you can even start getting forward momentum.
    Chainstay length, fatbike handling, and float?-norco-endo.jpg

    I would have preferred my rear tire punched through the snow.


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    A problem for me riding on marginal snomachine trails is the front end just sort of washing out. This leads to an instant turn with loss of momentum and then trying to get started again and then another washout......
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    Maybe your chainstays are too short and HTA is too slack 😁

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    Wait - is this true?!?

    I mean, in general I'm fairly happy with my current size, but I'll trade in my Blackborow for a Wozo tomorrow if it means an extra half inch of....uh...downtube.
    Well, I'm not gonna make that claim, but let's just say that riding a Wozo hasn't hurt my relationship

    I guess AK could be jealous, waiting all that time for a replacement frame only to be back on the "same ol, same ole", perhaps it's more metaphysical than physical... in which case I'd suggest therapy, short chainstay therapy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Overkill View Post
    Maybe your chainstays are too short and HTA is too slack 😁
    Old school bikes so it's not that!
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    Quote Originally Posted by sryanak View Post
    Old school bikes so it's not that!
    Most washout problems in my experience comes down to pressure and not enough weight on the front end. In loose washout conditions try to lower pressure so you can easily push the palm down and touch the rim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    This made me laugh out loud

    Last time I got a red chiclet, it was from someone who thought a joke was real; an unnamed dude from Utah.

    What makes this entire conversation ridiculous is the idea that we expect a bicycle with a footprint smaller than a snowshoe, to support our stoopid arses as we trundle along a trail at half the speed we could hike.

    Really people, does this not figure into your thinking?

    I enjoy the challenge of biking in soft snow, but packed snow is the only snow riding that makes sense. If I needed to do some serious backcountry travel, Iíd get skis or snowshoes.
    This is cute.

    Since Ben thought it was worth mentioning, I was the last person to stoop to the level of giving the Chain Stay Messiah a negative rep point.

    And I will continue to give positive rep to anybody who calls you out on your BS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    Yep lower your tire pressure. I had to do the same thing earlier today and it makes a tremendous difference.
    Yeah I know, I was just trying to add a problem that was slightly different than the front wheel dropping out of sight and has nothing to do with chainstays.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sryanak View Post
    Yeah I know, I was just trying to add a problem that was slightly different than the front wheel dropping out of sight and has nothing to do with chainstays.
    The thing is, front tire washouts could be a short chainstay issue - the shorter the chainstays, the longer the front centre, the less weight on the front end, the increased likelihood of washouts. Pick your poison.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Overkill View Post
    The thing is, front tire washouts could be a short chainstay issue
    Everything is a short chainstay issue, even when it's not.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Everything is a short chainstay issue, even when it's not.
    Thatís why the word ďcouldĒ was selected. My first suggestion was pressure as mentioned above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    That makes sense to me. The front end of my wifeís Mukluk feels a bit lighter and not as planted as Iím used to.

    In case there was any doubt, it's officially winter on emptybeer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    In case there was any doubt, it's officially winter on emptybeer.
    Lol

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    The most unstoppable snow bike is the Hanabrink and they put you in the middle of the bike.( please note that I said unstoppable, not efficient)... itís called 50/50 weight distribution and if you want to float on snow, you want tires as wide as you can get them and to have your weight in the middle of the bike. To much weight on ether end and you sink.JMO

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    Quote Originally Posted by MUSTCLIME View Post
    The most unstoppable snow bike is the Hanabrink

    I'll take that Pepsi challenge.

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    Im not sure if its in my head or not, but l lowered my stem 2cms, and moved my seat forward ("slammed" l think the Bros would call it), and l felt the bike rode better in the deeper soft snow than before, lm hesitant to say float as l dont think the bike actually "floats" with my 95kgs (in my bday suit), more of a "doesnt completely sink" scenario.
    I cannot adjust my CS length.
    Although it might also be due to the fact that l took the 4.9 FatbNimbles off and put my 4.6 Minions on, but that is less tyre than before, so lm a little confused overall, and have decided to go riding again today
    always mad and usually drunk......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Overkill View Post
    The thing is, front tire washouts could be a short chainstay issue - the shorter the chainstays, the longer the front centre, the less weight on the front end, the increased likelihood of washouts. Pick your poison.
    Weight distribution is likely a factor, and logically chainstay length affects that but only as long as the rider is seated.

    I suspect using skinny mtb geometry on a fatbike may be a factor. Our tyres are more than twice as wide so there is a considerable difference in the magnitude of the forces reacting with the tyre.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmg71 View Post
    have decided to go riding again today
    and l did

    always mad and usually drunk......

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    Follow the force young obi wan, may your travels lead to the wisdom you seek.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shinkers View Post
    This is cute.

    Since Ben thought it was worth mentioning, I was the last person to stoop to the level of giving the Chain Stay Messiah a negative rep point.

    And I will continue to give positive rep to anybody who calls you out on your BS.

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    Ben short chainstays suck monkey b@lls and you are totally wrong and ignorant!! Does this earn me a green chiclet

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    Quote Originally Posted by MUSTCLIME View Post
    The most unstoppable snow bike is the Hanabrink and they put you in the middle of the bike.( please note that I said unstoppable, not efficient)... itís called 50/50 weight distribution and if you want to float on snow, you want tires as wide as you can get them and to have your weight in the middle of the bike. To much weight on ether end and you sink.JMO
    How does the weight distribution change with inertia and gradient?

    It looks like a mini bike and a golf cart got together over tequila and did Whoopi.

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    [QUOTE=Nurse Ben


    What makes this entire conversation ridiculous is the idea that we expect a bicycle with a footprint smaller than a snowshoe, to support our stoopid arses as we trundle along a trail at half the speed we could hike.

    Really people, does this not figure into your thinking?


    So...the best way to stay on top. or at least not sink as much, is to keep your weight balanced as much as possible between both tires?

    Some prefer to do that with long stays...and hasn't Mike posted that with short stays, he finds it easer to shift weight fore and aft? And possibly he finds a shorter wheelbase more to his liking for its other benefits also?

    Two ways to skin a cat?
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  90. #90
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    [QUOTE=SADDLE TRAMP;13477685][QUOTE=Nurse Ben


    What makes this entire conversation ridiculous is the idea that we expect a bicycle with a footprint smaller than a snowshoe, to support our stoopid arses as we trundle along a trail at half the speed we could hike.

    Really people, does this not figure into your thinking?


    So...the best way to stay on top. or at least not sink as much, is to keep your weight balanced as much as possible between both tires?

    Some prefer to do that with long stays...and hasn't Mike posted that with short stays, he finds it easer to shift weight fore and aft? And possibly he finds a shorter wheelbase more to his liking for its other benefits also?

    Two ways to skin a cat?[/QUOTE]

    I would say, yes. And, for most of us, it's about getting the best performance out of the bike we have. I had an early Fatback with long stays that handled great in the varied conditions of northwest Alaska. When I encountered snow conditions where the front started washing out and/or the rear trenching, I could eke out a bit better performance by moving the seat forward and lowering the stem. After breaking that frame, I got a '14 Mukluk with adjustable stays. I started with the rear slammed forward, but found the bike very squirrelly on anything but packed trails. I moved it back in increments and the handling kept improving. I ended up leaving it in the longest position all winter and never noticed any loss of traction on climbs that I couldn't overcome with a dynamic riding position.

    One guy's anecdotal report. Carry on.
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  91. #91
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    It's like all sorts of stuff we've seen in the industry:

    Goofy 18.5+ chainstay lengths, ok, yeah those are a bit long, if we get it around 17.something it's not so bad, but there are people always screaming to go to 15".

    Slack headtube angles, 72 degrees was crazy and just not a good fit for most riding, so we get to around 68 for most trail bikes, and on some 29er enduro bikes people are still screaming go go to 62 or whatever (if you are endoing a 29er, you got a lot bigger problem than just the HA).

    Wide handlebars, yeah the 600mm stuff and less was pretty ridiculous from a control standpoint, but now there's a couple people screaming to go significantly over 800mm.

    Sacrificing full suspension traction for what is called "playful" damping.

    And don't even get me started on hub standards...

    At some point, we get a lot of positive return for a change/tweak. At another point, it's marginal benefits, if not going in the complete negative direction. Be wary of "popular opinion" or how "other people do it". I'm as guilty of that as anyone else, but I actually realize it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    It's like all sorts of stuff we've seen in the industry:

    ....At some point, we get a lot of positive return for a change/tweak. At another point, it's marginal benefits, if not going in the complete negative direction. Be wary of "popular opinion" or how "other people do it". I'm as guilty of that as anyone else, but I actually realize it.
    Agreed. As with so many things, there is a reasonable middle ground that works pretty darn well for most riding. Going to a particular extreme (whether it's chainstay length, handlebar length, HTA, etc) may make a bike excel at a particular type of application, usually at the expense of versatility in other ways. And then, as has already been abundantly mentioned, there are a whole bunch of other variables beyond those objective bike setup factors that are going to play into it....

    So, what is actually being debated here?
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    No Big Fat Dummy riders with experience of riding on soft snow?

    A good friend of mine has a BFD, and took it to ride snow over the holiday. I wasn't with him -- he just sent an email with a brief synopsis. Worth mentioning that he and I have never discussed riding snow, nor chainstay length on fatbikes. He's a California boy and he rides beach with this bike 99.99999% of the time.

    He said he couldn't keep traction on the rear wheel when climbing -- it just wanted to spin, or dig. Didn't matter what the grade was, nor what the pressure was.

    Said he circled back to his condo, grabbed his 2-year old, bundled said 2-year old, and installed him onto the rear child seat. Said traction was much improved in so doing, and float didn't change.

    It's almost like as the rider mass got closer to the rear axle, his ability to float *and* maintain traction improved...

  94. #94
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    As I mentioned in the other thread, a unicycle will place all the weight right over the ''rear'' axle, so that takes the concept to the extreme, which is often helpful from a physics point of view.
    I have never tried one, though, so I don't know if it will float like a feather or sink like a rock, but I have a pretty good idea

    Spinning will greatly affect flotation, though, as one is literally digging a hole, and by doing so, transferring even more load to the sinking axle.
    I think that is the key to this entire discussion.

  95. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    A good friend of mine has a BFD, and took it to ride snow over the holiday. I wasn't with him -- he just sent an email with a brief synopsis. Worth mentioning that he and I have never discussed riding snow, nor chainstay length on fatbikes. He's a California boy and he rides beach with this bike 99.99999% of the time.

    He said he couldn't keep traction on the rear wheel when climbing -- it just wanted to spin, or dig. Didn't matter what the grade was, nor what the pressure was.

    Said he circled back to his condo, grabbed his 2-year old, bundled said 2-year old, and installed him onto the rear child seat. Said traction was much improved in so doing, and float didn't change.

    It's almost like as the rider mass got closer to the rear axle, his ability to float *and* maintain traction improved...
    Thanks, much as I expected.

    Thus the answer is short chainstays. If you prefer long chainstays, carry a 2 year old for traction. Apparently it is not necessary to place said 2 year old under the wheels for grip.

    Or another answer is much much wider tyres so we're not trying to finesse away the deficiencies of insufficient float...
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  96. #96
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    I made some measurements yesterday in hopes to add actual data to the discussion. I placed a scale under the tires and shimmed some boards under the other end to keep axles level. Took measurements bike only and then with me in my neutral seated position.

    2015 Bucksaw, 100mm Bluto, small frame BUCKSAW X01 | Archived Bikes | Salsa Cycles
    bike only 50F:50R distribution
    me and bike 33.3F:66.7R distribution

    2013 Mukluk, 110mm Lefty Max, alternators short as possible, small frame 2013 Mukluk 2 | Archived Bikes | Salsa Cycles
    bike only 50F:50R distribution
    me and bike 35F:65R distribution

    My contact points on both bikes are nearly identical, relative to each other. Those points in reference to the wheelbase do vary slightly from bike to bike. I'm seeing roughly a 1/3:2/3 split. I don't ride the bucksaw in deep snow so no evaluation if it's better or worse than the Mukluk. In any case the difference in weight distribution between both bikes is not very significant anyways.

    Waiting for the scale to settle down as I was getting comfortable I saw 5-10% variations. Purposefully shifting my weight in a seated position can force up to 15% swing in distribution from the base values above. Can anyone else contribute?

  97. #97
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    It makes sense that they would be close since the chainstay lengths are very close. Could you measure the Mukluk with the dropouts all the way to the rear?
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  98. #98
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    With motorcycles the increased trail of a longer swingarm leads to more stability which undoubtedly translates to bicycles with increased CS length, the trade off being less playful or flickable. I think this is proven geometry but people will undoubtedly argue there experiences differed and very well may not have noticed the difference but again its proven geometry.

  99. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Thanks, much as I expected.

    Thus the answer is short chainstays. If you prefer long chainstays, carry a 2 year old for traction. Apparently it is not necessary to place said 2 year old under the wheels for grip.

    Or another answer is much much wider tyres so we're not trying to finesse away the deficiencies of insufficient float...

    I'm not drawing any real conclusions from this data point. It was just interesting that he wrote to me out of the blue this morning with these observations. Beyond that it merely confirmed what I already suspected, thus it isn't really worth much.

  100. #100
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    The ďfloatĒ you seek has less to do with weight than the ratio of tire contact surface to weight.

    Iíve been riding fat muni for years, still run a 24 x 4Ē. A muni with a BFL has 100% of the riderís weight on one wheel, so the ratio is much higher than splitting the weight between two tires.

    That said, muni fat is the ultimate in traction, ride on ice, no worries, just watch the first step!

    Quote Originally Posted by Espen W View Post
    As I mentioned in the other thread, a unicycle will place all the weight right over the ''rear'' axle, so that takes the concept to the extreme, which is often helpful from a physics point of view.
    I have never tried one, though, so I don't know if it will float like a feather or sink like a rock, but I have a pretty good idea

    Spinning will greatly affect flotation, though, as one is literally digging a hole, and by doing so, transferring even more load to the sinking axle.
    I think that is the key to this entire discussion.

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