Fuse Pro 6Fattie

Our Mid Term report on the Specialized Fuse Pro 6Fattie by Grannygear.

Even though I have a lot more time planned on the Specialized Fuse Pro 6Fattie for the future, I wanted to put out an update based on the time I have had on her, and cover two points of perspective that likely will apply to this exploding genre of 27.5″ Plus hardtails as a whole.

Now remember we got it Out Of the Box here and the First Impressions were here.  Since then, other than just riding it, I have done two things…I compared it to a typical 29er FS that I have in the garage and I explored the adventure potential of the Fuse Pro 6Fattie by taking it bikepacking.  So lets begin with the comparison to the FS 29er, in this case a Specialized Camber with a 120mm fork (115mm rear travel), carbon wheels and some beefy trail tires.

Does the Fuse Pro 6Fattie make the FS 29er a dinosaur?  And if not, what about 27.5+ in a full suspension?

Good questions, and I think not on both accounts.  Here is why.  I know this Camber very well, so after being exclusively on the Fuse Pro 6Fattie for many rides, I grabbed the 120mm 29er FS and took it out for a quick, but aggressive ride.  The difference was quite dramatic, more than I expected, but not in the way I expected.  First of all, the two bikes weigh nearly the same overall although the Camber’s wheels/tires are lighter.  But rolling down the paved road to the trail, the 29er FS really did not feel much faster (although the new 2.35 Schwalbe Nobby Nics are not a really fast rolling tire) and once I hit the sandy fireroad, the difference was even less, as I noticed the sand more on the 29er FS and I noticed how the front wheel was so easily pinged off dead-ahead by small rocks, etc.  Standing and pedaling up small rises in the trail felt about the same as far as getting out what I was putting in.  It did feel a bit faster overall, and I imagine something like an Epic would be even faster feeling still, but I think most buyers of a Fuse Pro 6Fattie would not be wondering if they could replace their Epic with a 27+ hardtail, but they might be wondering if it would replace a mid-travel FS 29er like the Camber.

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Onto a singletrack, and riding slighty uphill, I was put in a position to be pedaling while turning and with a forward weight bias.  And what struck me was how active the steering felt on the Camber, in that I mean to say that compared to the Fuse Pro 6Fattie, the Camber took much less steering input to initiate a turn or even correct the line.  It was enough to require me to recalculate my riding a bit or I was oversteering…it felt ‘hyper’ active, in a way.  But that was also fun as small weight shifts accomplished much more.  On the down hill sections of singletrack, with mixed in hard baked, off-camber turns and crumbly overburden, the FS 29er felt sketchy, but accurate, like I got exactly what I asked of it steering wise, but that it asked me back, “hang on and trust me cause this will feel a bit edgy”.  And this is a good handling bike with a pretty wide rim at a pretty low pressure running a beefy trail bike tire.  It also was…well, very fun too, but in a different way.  It felt much more iffy with less traction than I had grown used to and the bike was more active, being affected more by the trail surface. I felt more ‘in touch’ with the trail in that sense, although it took a bit more nerve to commit to faster turns.

IMG_3483It occurred to me that the 29er wheel and tire were more ‘accurate’, to use a word, in that they had less of a mind of their own…no self steer, very little tire flex.  And there was no moon bounce at all, and that is something that is there with the Plus bikes, although that is tunable to some degree with tire pressure and rim width.

As well, the FS nature of the Camber was a hoot to ride in the way that only full suspension allows…pumping the bike over things, loading the back end into corners and popping out the other side…and let’s face it…a Fuse Pro 6Fattie is still a hardtail so the extra comfort of 115mms of travel and a 29er tire at 21psi trumps the fatter tire and a rigid rear end.

And when you combine a tire with less deflection/bounce with full suspension, you get a really different feel, and it is different enough to where the two have reason to exist on their own, although the lines to blur a bit more than before.  it does make me wonder how the Plus size will translate over in the longer travel FS market.  I have some doubts that the bounce and squirm will always be what a more skilled and aggressive rider will want.  We shall see.  I still think a 120mm F/90mm rear FS that could take both 29er and 27+ would be fabulous, but getting it tuned to work with the different BB heights and shock tunes could be challenging.


Fuse Pro 6Fattie bikepacking

Camp Grannygear

“Honey…I am going camping and I am taking my bike”

When I first saw the Rocky Mountain Sherpa FS at Sea Otter, I thought it was brilliant as an Adventure/Bikepacking mount.  I remember talking to the boys at Salsa Cycles and saying that a Salsa El Mariachi that could run both Plus and non-Plus wheels would be an amazingly versatile bike (and so would a Salsa Spearfish be in the same configuration).

Fuse Pro 6Fattie bikepackingSo when the Fuse Pro 6Fattie hit the decks of my residence, I thought that it would be a fine camping bike, although not a perfect one.  And it did not take long for me to plan a quick overnighter or two to get out and see how this platform…not just the wheel/tire size…but the 120 fork/slack angled/hardtail Plus as a genre would be when loaded up with gear and pointed towards the great outdoors.  It was, in a word…fantastic!

Using a set of soft bar and seat bags I had on hand, and adding a Revelate Designs Ranger frame bag (size Medium for the LG Fuse Pro 6Fattie), I set out with a buddy and his similarly equipped Specialized Epic for an overnighter.  The route was a mix of pavement and rough fireroad/old doubletrack, and had quite a bit of elevation gain, much of it on pavement.  So that meant a Fat Bike would have been maddeningly slow in that part of the trip.  But I also knew that there was going to be a lot of sand from recent rains and a fire in the area, enough so to make even a normal 29er pause and fumble, especially when climbing.  So I was curious how the Fuse Pro 6Fattie and the 27+ set-up would fair…would it be the perfect middle ground?  It was.

Fuse Pro 6Fattie

It got cold overnight…Garmin said 25.2° in the morning after sunrise. Revelate bags are da’ bomb.

Not only did the tires allow me to ride all the sandy sections with grace, they also did not slow me down too much on the faster paved roads, although when we were coasting side by side, the Epic would walk away from me with similar rider and cargo weights.  So there is some more rolling or air resistance or something dragging me down a bit, although I only could show this when we coasted downhill.

Fuse Pro 6Fattie

Sand like this is no issue with a Plus tire.

The entire package of geometry and 120mm fork, and the inherent stability of the bike and those big tires, were just fabulous when loaded down with what likely was 10 pounds or so of gear, and I don’t think adding another ten pounds to that burden would change anything.  Crossing ruts and rolling through loose, rocky sections was a breeze, and if this would have been an all day(s) trip, that calmness under those rugged conditions would add up to a less stressed/tired rider at day’s end.  Now you know that a full on Fat Bike is the king of two wheeled beasts of burden, being even more stable and capable in trying trail conditions, but for where I live, the Plus bikes make more sense as a compromise ‘pack mule’.

Why is the Fuse Pro 6Fattie not perfect for this?  Well small things, but they add up.  For one thing, SRAM 1x is really good for most all trail uses for most folks, but you do not get a really low gear or a really smooth and efficient high gear either…2x gives you both, so depending on who you are and where you ride, you may be sad about only one chainring.  If I was doing extended bikepacking rides on this bike, I would likely do what it would take to get a 28T chainring on there and take the loss on the high end.  A dropper post is not gonna get used on a bikepacking bike as it would most likely put your seat bag into the rear tire if it was lowered.  Of course you can pull it off for big trips and run a more compliant Ti or carbon post for comfort or just live with the Command post as it is, ignoring the dropper part of the deal.  There is no third bottle mount on the underside of the downtube.  Also, the rather compact geometry of the frame does not allow for a really big frame bag and it is aluminum, where most adventure riders tend to move toward steel or Ti for this type of use.  And if we really want to go big on the adventure/bikepacking side of things, then honestly 29+ is likely a better bet for that, taking the stability and footprint up a step and making running a rigid fork a bit easier to swallow, if that is a priority.

But in calling out the Fuse Pro 6Fattie for these shortcomings, I realize that this is a bit picky of me, and to be fair, the Fuse Pro 6Fattie is aimed at the much wider, mid-fat part of the rider curve, that being trailriders and fun seekers, much more than it is towards eccentric bike mounted campers riding across Wyoming, etc.  However, it proves that with a few compromises here and there (and none of them too serious), the Fuse Pro 6Fattie is very good if you DO WANT to get out there and bikepack off of it.  It worked really well for me and I have another desert trip planned with JeffJ and his Trek Stache 9 (another smart choice for all-round trail bike use mixed with adventure/camping duties).  And if the Fuse Pro 6Fattie stays around long enough, I would love to take a shot at the Kokopelli on it.

Fuse Pro 6Fattie

And to bring this full circle, once I got home, it took all of ten minutes to strip the bags off the bike and put the SWAT cage back on the Fuse Pro 6Fattie, putting it back to all-round trail duty where the lighter than steel frame, dropper post, and 1x gearing allow for a lighter and more agile trail bike than I might have with a full-on expedition rig.  Not bad at all.

Next up?  Well, I want to tweak the cockpit fit a bit and try a different tire on the front to increase bite.  One thing is for sure…I am glad that we have so many choices right now as mountain bikers.  It is a sweet time to be a rider and Plus bikes are a viable option that have a lot of appeal, even though they have some downsides too.

I think the Specialized  is well done and a worthy player in this new Plus game, a game I am very much enjoying playing.

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Note: Specialized provided this review bike at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.