The Fat Boy is well named as the 4.8″ tires that will be stock on this beast are just crazy looking. Riding this bike around the demo area, I was stopped a couple of times by passers by who asked what it was for. Add to those folks the ones that just pointed and stared and it was sure not a stealth bike.
As mentioned earlier, the two models differ only in parts spec but both have a monocoque carbon fork based on the Chisel and are built to accept 5″ tires. Not shown yet were the Specialized branded tires that will be 26×4.8″ size with a tread based on the Ground Control tire. The rim shows some unique material removal in a pretty cool pattern and weighs 795g in a 90mm width. The upper level model gets an XO rear der and both of them get Gripshift.
The rear hub is 190mm wide and the front is 135mm, both being Specialized branded hubs on the one I rode. Pedaling around on the monster tires that were running at 6psi, the sound is pretty cool…rrRRRrrr…and I expected it to feel ponderous both in acceleration and handling. I was quite surprised to find that, despite a claimed 30lbs weight (which is not that heavy…quite light actually…for a Fat Bike), it moves out pretty well when you pedal it. And even the handling was surprisingly light and accurate. Weird. Not what I would have thought at all.
So there was a bit of a snow bank nearby but it was just too much of a temptation to resist taking it up the chair lift and down one of the trails on the mountain ( I even left my pads on just in case my enthusiasm got the best of me). I mean, I knew it would go over hard packed snow…duh…but would it be any good on a dirt trail that did not require 4.8″ wide tires just to navigate it?
It was amazing really. It was absolutely a blast. Traction is so off the hook high, that I would be terrified to see what it would take to exceed the traction that the front tire offers when turning. On the beat-down and crumbly surfaces, the bike just griiiippPPEDDDD around the corners with the tires making a weird noise and off you went. I could go surprisingly fast, even get small air and it was just no issue, but the limit button began to pop up when you would hit successive bumps and the big front tire would begin to bounce higher each time.
It was surprisingly normal feeling, in a weird kind of oompa-loompa way, and it steered pretty much like a regular bike. Specialized intends this to be on the Snow Racer side of things, and while I know less then zero about snow racing, I imagine that the Fat Boy will fun to ride on any surface that is dirt based. It is amazing how all the low pressure rubber changes where you can ride, what lines you take. I was playing around on a side trail that would have been hard to walk on…ruts, loose hens egg and orange sized rocks…and it just pedaled up without even noticing. It is darn smooth riding too with all that cush in the tires.
Guitar Ted is the man that actually knows about Fat Bikes. Me? A pure novice. But I would sure like to grab something like this and work out a desert bikepacking trip. Maybe take it to the beach and cruise low tide. Maybe even terrorize the local guys on the single tracks…let them live in fear of the tire noise coming up behind them. It would leave a heck of a mark on their backs as I rode over. I don’t think the Fat Boy would even notice.
More detail pics for ya, then a video interview with Scott Stroot, one of the bike nuts at Specialized.