The Pug is the bike that started it all. The first mass produced fatbike. Back then you really needed vision to develop one of these things. Hats off to Surly. You can still buy this bike today pretty much the same as it was back then. Many components have been updated and are considered outdated by today’s standards. Back then nobody was drilling out rims yet. The thing weighed a ton.
Then the push to go even fatter was my 2011 Moonlander. Still a mass produced Surly bike. Huge 100 mil rims with 5 in tires. But still used a standard 135 mill hub. Was weird to put on the rear tire up thru the needed offset frame. I didn’t like this as much as the Pug. I felt it the bigger tires were a bit much for summer riding. Although that didn’t stop me from hitting up the lake a few times.
Then, several other manufacturers starting popping up. Mostly frame only. I got a hold of 9zero7’s in 2012 and thats when all the bike building started. If you wanted to run a aluminum frame you had to spec it yourself which made it tough to sell. No two bikes were the same, many close tho. But not identical. In fact, this bike used old levers and derailleurs I had laying around. The tire\rim choices were very limited. I went with the Marge lites then so I could rip it up in summer a bit more. Just 65 mil wide. At the time this was a pretty nice fatbike. Even tho I sold it a long time ago its still in this configuration today.
Then boom! The big manufacturers started dabbling and I got on the Trek bandwagon. The Farley came out in two models in 2013. Hard to get. I built, then rode the lite blue frame only to find that the geometry puts a 17.5in frame a little small for me so I got the black frame in 19in and switched everything over. Now a game changer as the bikes could be ordered complete like any other bike. Even tho I choose to build my own but I do that with all my bikes.
I used the Northpaw 47 mill rim. Yup, even narrower than the Marge’s. Still, I was not going for float but a more MTBish fatbike. Yes, there were times that I suffered in the snow with the skinny wheels but not as much as you would think. I can remember maybe 3 times. But the bike was fast and summer worthy. At this time nobody was riding these bikes in summer on dirt. Everyone was still trying to go bigger when I was past that stage and going smaller.
You would think now that Trek is pumping out fat bikes thats where I would stay. But no. In late 2012 I got me a carbon 9zero7 Whiteout. Holy crap a super lite fatbike. Again with the Northpaw rims and XT one by ten. Full XT hydro brakes and at the time everyone wondered how hydro would work in the cold. We all have been on mechanical up to then. I heard the seals will freeze and fail. Well, nothing happened, worked perfectly and I even let the bike outside one nite at about 0 degrees, then rode it no problem. I remember reading about tests others did and thinking that Ive done that test months ago. Anyway, the bike was great and remember racing it in both the Fat Bike Birkie and the Shuammy Fat Tire in Sept 2013.
Then Trek upped the game with a stock bike that came with a Bluto fork. And pretty much put the end of me having to build bikes to sell. They now came speced great out of the box. Problem was, one could not get enough of them. I loved this Farley 8 and now it was for sure a summer fatbike with frickin’ suspension. Many people said it was not a “true fatbike” with the sissy fork and those riders were just in denial. Fatbikes were now mainstream. Its like when you listened to Metallica all those early years and then they come out with “Enter Sandman” and now your little sister is playing it. Its progress either good (fatbikes) or bad (Metallica).
That brings us up to today. The Farley 9.8 that Ive written a ton about of late. The best of the bunch. Carbon 27.5 rims and tires. Such an awesome summer bike at 23 pounds. As I mentioned yesterday its in 29plus mode now and Im having a blast on it. The speed that these bikes evolved is crazy. Its not that long ago I was scrambling to build all theses bikes with parts that were rarely in stock. Hub width standards seemed to have calmed down with the fronts at 150m and the rear at 197m (thruaxle). I can remember building bikes where the prior bikes wheels would not fit. I remember stripping down perfectly good wheels just to put a different size hub on it. What a pain.
And while the manufactures still always play catch up in the fall the bikes are, for the most part, easier to get.
That 9.8 has been on the top of my car ongoing for days now, Im riding it almost everyday.
And thus ends (to date) my fatbike history.