Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.

    Caveat: I'm no spring chicken. I'll be 62 in 5 months.

    I drooled over fat-bikes since first spotting them in the LBS about 8 years ago. My wife solved that problem with a new Minnesota 3.0 for my 60th birthday and my other bikes are sad.

    We are blessed with nearly 30 miles of sandy beach a stones throw away. Benson Beach south and the North/Long Beach Peninsula north. It dawned on the S.O. that my early morning solo road bike jaunts on the dangerously narrow rural county roads around here could be traded off for the wide-open beaches. From my descriptions of the inherent safety issues around distracted teens, RV drivers, recreational fishermen, etc., on our narrow, winding, no shoulder road (sections) it was only a matter of time when this solo rider was going to get picked off.

    I ride for health, principally heart strength to withstand arrythymia and secondarily, managing stress, better sleeping, general fitness. Cycling has done wonders for keeping arrythymia at bay and I've benefitted all around. The fat-bike added fun!

    But the beach riding really was an eye opener. Beach riding: No such thing as coasting. The pace is slow...7+ mph average though I can crawl at 3.5 mph in the soft stuff or blast downwind at 15-18 mph+ on hard sand with a tailwind. I plan my rides around late afternoons/evenings, tides & weather though I really don't worry too much about getting caught out. Winds over 15-20 mph render the beach unrideable head on...but I've taken advantage of 30 mph+ storm fronts to blast downwind miles...then take the bus home. I set up a 16.8 mile beach TT route and rode that in an hour 5 minutes at a 15.5 mph average by picking a super hard sand tide, pumping the BFLs to 25 and finding a bit of tail wind.

    Bike maintenance has been a PITA. Here's the short list over the last year and a half
    2000+ beach miles and I've gone through:

    4 Chains
    3 BB bearings (original cartridge + 2 GXP)
    1 Cable set
    1 cassette (gears not free hub)
    1 derailleur hanger
    4 jockey wheels
    1 rear derailleur
    2 pedal sets
    3 22 tooth front cogs...all rendered razor sharp
    2 brake pad sets

    Most damage is due to our salty and nasty abrasive "black sands" that are composed of: iron, silica, quartz, magnetite, titanium, chromium, as well as ground to a fare-thee-well granite, basalt, etc. Jellyfish really mess with the jockey wheels. I've evolved to frequent weekly chain maintenance, extremely gentle washing after every ride, I use Tri-flow for chain/derailleur/hinge point lube and wipe down the frame/wheels/spokes/misc metal parts with WD40 weekly. I may go to a spray on version of Cosmoline. Though all this the free hub & front & rear hubs are fine. I sense super quality BB bearings eventually but take-off GXPs from the LBS have seen me through so far. I plugged every hole on the rear stays/stay braces/unused bosses after one too many slough crossings. I've stopped barreling through water as I get tired of the maintenance...

    Wasn't long before I began altering the bike to tackle beach headwinds and soft sands..

    Swapped upright bars for Salsa Woodchipper drops
    Added Ritchey adjustable stem
    Use road brake levers
    SRAM bar end shifters
    Triple bar tape wrap up, double wrap on the drop
    X9 rear D (that plus a new hanger solved shifting issues)
    LBS mech special ground a 38 front cog to fit. My 38-22 setup allows the downhill 25-30 power blasts or slow grind up the occasional 15-18% slopes or...really cardio red zone sand.

    Gone back and forth on 2 X 10, 1 X 10. Currently run a 2 X 10 with 22-38 front and 11-32 cassette.

    My most used tires are shaved Big Fat Larrys that I modified by taking of the center 3 rows of knobs with a hot-knife. I also use Vee Tire Co. Speedsters for street riding and the original H-Billies for gravel/logging roads. Still rolling on the original wheels/hubs. The BFLs fit but I lose the two lower gears due to tire clearance issues. This problem solved itself as my legs got stronger. And occasional grinding into low hasn't compromised tires yet....Eventually I'll likely swap out the BB/crank for a RF or equivalent for a wider Q. I run the BFLs from a low of 2 psi all the way to 25 psi..just depends.

    The Woodchippers allow me to get low into headwinds and offer many hand positions. Their disadvantage is on tight technical single track. Hard to make slow sharp turns when the bar end shifters/drops bang the top tube. For gravel/logging roads and beach they are fine. As some of you noticed I rode the STP on the Speedsters and that was a blast. I'm still looking for fast street tires with tread tough enough for 3" minus logging roads....that'd let me ride highway miles to more back country roads.

    Ridden hard & steady beach riding the Minn 3.0 has developed my cardio & leg strength in a balanced way, more than I could ever as easily on my road bike. By that I mean a 2 hour beach jaunt is like 4 hours on the road. It's like climbing a 1%-3% hill for hours. Given our flat profile around here, that's a pretty good trade off.

    What's in the future? CF fork, CF rims & tubeless. Overnight weekend truckin' and most of all...a lot of fun.

    Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.-image.jpeg

    Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.-image.jpg

    Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.-image.jpeg

    Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.-image.jpeg

    Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.-image.jpg

    Reflections on 18 months of fat-biking.-image.jpg
    Last edited by Jseis; 08-03-2016 at 12:53 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jseis View Post
    Jellyfish really mess with the jockey weeks.
    First world problem!

    Fairing over the rear wheel in some pics?

  3. #3
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    Enjoyed reading. I'm the same age as you. I just got my first real fat bike today and did a beach run and was very happy with how it and I performed. Interesting about the handlebars.

    How about a sail for downwind runs?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    First world problem!

    Fairing over the rear wheel in some pics?
    Jellyfish stick like glue! Yes, I added a front cog-chain guard (made out of a plastic funnel) and a rear backstay guard to keep sand from flying forward and coating the BB/chain. Sorta worked but I'm rethinking that.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by beachride View Post
    Enjoyed reading. I'm the same age as you. I just got my first real fat bike today and did a beach run and was very happy with how it and I performed. Interesting about the handlebars.

    How about a sail for downwind runs?
    Actually a buddy suggested one of those Kayak parafoil kites. One of these days 🤔.

  6. #6
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    Jim it's Jason--I loved this write up. Riding the coast is why I bought my first fatbike and I finally feel like I am fully enjoying our coast. And your neck of the woods is a fantastic area for fatbike beach riding. Hope to see you in September in Ocean Shores.

  7. #7
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    Hi Jason! Yes I'll be up at OS this Sept. I forgot to mention that meeting you-all through NW Fatbike Group on FB really helped me. Ward showed me the shaved BFL idea and now he's on 5.05s! I had a blast last fall.

  8. #8
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    Good stuff thanks for sharing!
    Drop by the fat biking and health thread and keep us up to date
    2016 Trek Farley 5 "Farley"
    2017 Growler MBS "Sir Fatsalot"
    2018 Kona Wozo "Adipose Rex"

  9. #9
    turtles make me hot
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    That maintenance list actually doesn't sound so bad considering that bike is primarily ridden on that dark NW sand.
    Our sand on Long Island is white and dry and really doesn't stick. I dust my bike off with a paint brush after a beach ride and change the chain after beach riding season.
    I like turtles

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    That maintenance list actually doesn't sound so bad considering that bike is primarily ridden on that dark NW sand.
    Our sand on Long Island is white and dry and really doesn't stick. I dust my bike off with a paint brush after a beach ride and change the chain after beach riding season.
    You are right as I've accepted the reality that constant beach riding is a maintenance trade-off. I've wondered what other sands are like and when I ride our trails and roads it's like a maintenance vacation.

  11. #11
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    Hopefully in my lifetime we will get away from exposed drivetrain.

    In the meantime a question for the experts: what is the best sand conditions chain lube? I'm pretty sure it's not tri-flow, but I could be wrong.

    Also, I was surprised at the posters use of WD-40. It's mostly a solvent/degreaser and a fantastic sand and gunk collection tool in my experience. I would think getting some of that in your bottom bracket would be trouble.

  12. #12
    turtles make me hot
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    Finish Line Dry works pretty well for me.

    I use Phil Wood Tenacious Oil otherwise.
    I like turtles

  13. #13
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    Good on ya mate!

    Would a belt drive (I know current bike not compatible) and IGH lower some of the maintenance? I don't know a lot about belt/etc in beach conditions, so maybe someone else with more knowledge on it could chime in.

  14. #14
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    Nice read!


    Quote Originally Posted by beachride View Post
    How about a sail for downwind runs?

    I'm a windsurfer and before fat bikes I would always take my old schwinn clunker down to South Padre Island. Very wide beaches with hard sand.

    We had one land sailer and evenings you get a very brisk on shore.
    Even with only a 4.0 meter sail you could easily get up to 30mph.
    No way you could keep up on the bike, until we realized the biker could just hold on to the sailors harness. Then we took turns dragging each other down the beach.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teton29er View Post
    Hopefully in my lifetime we will get away from exposed drivetrain.

    In the meantime a question for the experts: what is the best sand conditions chain lube? I'm pretty sure it's not tri-flow, but I could be wrong.

    Also, I was surprised at the posters use of WD-40. It's mostly a solvent/degreaser and a fantastic sand and gunk collection tool in my experience. I would think getting some of that in your bottom bracket would be trouble.
    I do not use WD-40 as lube but as anti-corrosion prevention for the powder coating and anodized rims. It also displaces water. Thus I really do wipe it down and leave nothing but a shiny smooth look. Used this way, nothing sticks to it. I pay particular attention to spoke nipples, rim cutouts, threaded bosses, edges. Here's why: Galvanic corrosion between dissimilar metals is aggravated by salt air/moisture. Despite the most excellent marine grade frame aluminum, my bike has various stainless steel, steel, cast metal fasteners. It'll all corrode and if you read up on WD-40, my use of it this way is consistent with its formulation. But it is a disaster as lube as if you leave residue (chain) it'll hold sand and destroy two parts. But it works fine as an anticorrosion preventive maintenance if you wipe it down to a shine and leave no residue. The standard for corrosion prevention is Cosmoline and I'll try it too eventually.

    A belt cog drive with an internal geared hub would be interesting though it's $$$ and for now...I can buy lots of chains & cogs. Maybe I'll invent a CF guard that completely encloses the drive train. That would cure a host of ills.

    A Phil Wood BB is the way to go. I must admit...2000+ miles later the stock hubs/free hub keep on trucking!

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