Ever since having a go on a FATBIKE at “Crank 2″ in Pleasanton I was hooked and had to have one. I didn’t just want any old FATBIKE though and an idea hatched about making one very fat CX bike for doing Gravel Races and CX too. It had to have drop bars and no more than 4” tires to make it fast and I decided a fully rigid setup was the way to go. I discussed my idea with Bryon at “Crank 2” and the “Fatty Lumpkin” project was born. The goal was to have the bike finished and all the bugs ironed out before the 100 mile “Lost and Found” gravel race.
Unfortunately shipping delays meant that it was nearly 3 months before “Fatty Lumpkin” finally turned a pedal in Anger and this equated to just 6 days before the “Lost and Found”. Fatty had a few problems and we spent most of Sunday afternoon setting it up and adjusting the position. There were a few small problems with the front derailleur. back brake and rear tire that needed sorting but I took the bike home to give it a couple of shakedown rides.
The first ride was on Brushy peak and I had a real blast getting to know old familiar trails on the new steed. I was immediately impressed by the traction and rolling ability on the soft stuff and the climbing stiffness of the frame. The Salsa Woodcutter 2 drop handlebars worked really well and I felt as confident descending as I do with regular MTB bars. I was running a pretty low tire pressure and this made high speed cornering a bit vague and wayward. It also felt funny climbing out of the saddle. Getting the correct tire pressure for the lost and found will be a real challenge. I fiddled around a bit with my position and got it pretty close but unfortunately lack of light stopped my shakedown ride so I decided to try again in the morning.
For the second ride I upped the tire pressures to 14 psi and the bike felt quicker. Getting out of the saddle now resulted in a significant surge forward and high speed cornering was vastly improved. I decided to try some more technical single track and the bike handled it well but on the rocky stuff I was getting bounced around quite badly. I don’t intend to use this bike for the technical rough stuff (still have my 29er hard tail for that) so somewhere around 12-14 psi will probably be about right for the Lost and Found, It definitely not as quick as my Stumpjumper 29er but it certainly isn’t slow and I managed to get up a very steep trail that I have always had to walk up with the 29er. Traction really is that good.
The bike is going back in the shop on Tuesday to hopefully sort out the little problems and get it ready for the race. I know a Cyclo Cross Bike would be a much faster tool for gravel races but I really dont care about that. I just want to stand out from the masses and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it. Fatbikes may be slow but they are so much fun to ride they take 30 years off you. I do have a nagging doubt that 100 miles on a fatbike is going to be too big of a challenge but I am really looking forward to it.