Sunday, 26 July 2015

Wolf Tooth Elliptical | Fad or Fabulous?

When I first laid my eyes on the Wolfooth Elliptical chain ring I thought to myself "what's wrong with a circular chain ring?" 

Theses have been written on the bio-mechanical aspects of using an oval chainring versus a circular.  As we are not continually applying consistant power throughout the entire pedal stroke, the oval essentially maximizes power and minimizes resistance.  Sounds great in theory doesn't it?

Way back in the 1980's and into the 1990's Shimano developed an oval crankset (3x) called called the Biopace.  It was supposed to help riders overcome the "dead zone" when the pedals are in the 12 and 6 vertical position.  Riders eventually lost interest and it died.

With the increase in 1x drivetrains there seems to be an increase in oval availability to consumers.  The fine people of Wolftooth sent along one of their 32T Elliptical chainrings for review on Fatbike Republic.

According to thier website Woolftooth's "proprietary design has ovality of 10% and timing of 112° after TDC (top dead center). These values provide the benefits of an oval ring without the drawbacks of greater ovality or more aggressive timing. 

The simplest way to explain how they "feel" is that where your pedal stroke is weakest it feels like you have a 2 teeth less on the chainring and where you have the most power it "feels" like you have 2 more teeth.  Example: a 34t chainring feels like a 32t in the weak part of your pedal stroke and a 36t in the part of the stroke where your legs have the most power."

Apparently the difference between the Biopace and the Wolftooth elliptical is that the Biopace had two less teeth during the power stroke and two more when at the weakest point . . . the complete opposite.

That sounds great . . . but does it really work?


The chainring installs just like any other, however it has to be positioned in a particular location in relation to the crank. There is a marking on the chainring (outlined in the video) that makes it quite simple.

The elliptical also uses the same length of chain as the circular chainring with the same number of teeth.  Just drop and swap.  No messing around with shortening or lengthening chains.

Wolftooth also sent along a set of 10mm chainring bolts in red to complete the installation.  They are the perfect length for a 1x conversion and come in a bunch of colors.  The little bit of eye candy really pops  and looks sharp against the black crank.


I spent quite a few hours with the elliptical spinning my rear tire over, around and through various types of terrain.  To be honest I was initially expecting something significant . . . a revolution in fatbiking or a big fat flop.  I didn't get either.

What I did get was something subtle in a positive way. . . a more fluid pedal motion.  It just felt better. Its almost like when fine tuning tire pressure during a winter ride, nothing significant . . . it just feels better.

I also noticed a slight difference in climbing and acceleration.  Again in a positive way.  My Norco felt a little snappier and the hills not quite as "hilly".

And thanks to the Drop Stop technology no chains were dropped even though I was using an unclutched 1x9 drivetrain.

I'm thinking that the elliptical will really shine with a smooth carpet of white under the tires.  Smoother terrain + smoother application of power = more fat fun.

Is the Wolftooth elliptical chainring for everyone?  It  is definitely something that you need to use to understand and appreciate. I know that I'm liking the improvements and I'm really looking forward to trying it in the white stuff.

#wolftooth #wolftoothelliptical

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Boost 148 | Pony Rustler

A short time ago here on Fatbike Republic is was proposed that the future of full suspension fatties would be tied to Boost 148 which would allow a 29er to run wider 27.5+ rims coupled with a 27.5+ tire.

Well on July 20, 2015 the forward thinking, envelope pushing people over at Salsa unveiled their 2016 Pony Rustler . . . a Boost 148 full suspension semi-fat beauty rocking 650b with 3" tires.  It 
fits squarely in the 1.5" gap between the Horse Thief and Bucksaw.

Does this mean the end of the full-suspension 4" fattie or is it just another option for the fat fanatics?

For 2016 Salsa has offered up three full-suspension fatties: Bucksaw Carbon X01 and Bucksaw X01 (direct carryovers from 2015) and a  redesigned Bucksaw GX1.  These year-two offerings from Salsa happen while we have yet to see other mainstream fatbike manufacturers pony up with their full-suspension fatties.

Will we soon have access to a bonanza of Boost 148 semi-fatbikes, or will the Pony Rustler be the only bike in a one horse town?

Sunday, 19 July 2015

What is a DINGLE-X Drivetrain ?

A dinglespeed is essentially a single speed bike with a high and low range.  Its not technically a geared bike, but instead has two chain rings on the crank and two on the cassette giving it two speeds.  Low speed torque and high speed cruising.  As there is no mechanical shifter the rider must stop,  remove the wheel and move the chain.  Not something you would want to be doing on a regular basis.  Salsa does have it as an option on their 2015 Blackborow DS.

Ok . . . so what is a Dingle-X?

Those of you with sharp eyes who followed my Wolftooth 1x9 experiment may have noticed that I retained my small chain ring. Its hidden right in behind the Drop-Stop.  I kept the small chain ring just in case I ever get into the situation where I may NEED some lower gears to get me over, through, or around something really nasty.  Or there could be a time when I am completely out of gas and need a smaller gear to spin.  Either way its not taking up any usable space and the weight is not even worth considering.  With no front derailleur I have to manually drop the chain, in the same spirit as the dinglespeed, yet I retain the full 9spd rear end. 

Hence . . . Dingle-X.

Switching from high to low range is actually quite easy and just takes moments.

Step 1: Push rear derailleur forward loosening the chain.  

Step 2: While holding derailleur forward, pull chain off Drop-Stop.

Step 3: Slowly release derailleur while at the same time lowering the chain onto the small ring.

Voila . . . instant low range.

Repeat the process in reverse to put the chain back on the larger ring.  

If you have to do this during every ride you may want to think about putting the front derailleur back on.  I thought about dropping to low range once on this really long climb . . . but I took a break instead.

Is this something you would consider with your 1x conversion?

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Brocks Head Frozen Waterfall | Ride Video

The Brocks Head ride is probably one of the most scenic winter rides in this neck of the woods. 

Five lakes, hills and perfect trails make this 20km (2hr) ride a definite for the winter fatbike bucket list.  You can find the map here.

The final destination, a frozen waterfall emptying itself into the Atlantic ocean, is not something you see every day.

A great group ride.  Enjoy !

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Preview | StaFast Extended Test

I had the opportunity to review a pre-production beta version of the StaFast suspension stem on a fatbike.  I completed an unboxing, install and ride report during the winter riding season.

   Unbox & Install

   Field Test

StaFast have since tweaked and upgraded their beta version suspension stem and have gone into full production of their 95mm and 105mm stems.

They have sent along a 95mm consumer version stem for full review and field test in more severe riding conditions.  

No more soft snow and cushy tires . . . now its terra firma and double digit psi.

Stay tuned for updates.

The extended test has been completed 
and can be seen here !

#stafast #stafastfat

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Swagman G10 Fatbike Platform Hitch Rack

How do you transport your fatbike to the trail head?  

I carried mine inside my vehicle and outside hanging from the top tube and I was not truly happy with either.  I looked at roof mounted carriers, but I don't really want to be wrestling a 30+ lb bike in wind trying to get it secured.  I don't have a pickup so the only other option was hitch mounted tray style.  

After some research I discovered a Canadian company that just released their new fatbike mounting system . . . Swagman.

Swagman is located in Penticton British Columbia and have been making bike racks for over 20 years.  Swagman was kind enough to provide a G10 and their new Fat Trays for review on Fatbike Republic.

Be sure to watch the video (at the bottom) which has additional information and details.

The G10

The G10 is a hitch mounted rack (1 1/4" or 2") and can carry up to two bikes.  Maximum load of 45lbs per bike - perfect for even the most portly fatike.

The G10 arrived with absolutely no damage as it was quite well packaged.  

The Fat Trays are shipped separably and are boxed in pairs.

Opening the box you will find all the rack parts, instructions, galvanized nuts and bolts, a security cable and four standard wheel trays.

Assembly took less than 20 minutes using a 1/2" wrench (or socket) and a phillips screwdriver.  

Instructions were referenced, but honestly it was pretty intuitive putting the rack together.  Fit and finish was excellent.  

The assembled rack was 46 lbs with the Fat Trays adding 3 lbs a piece.

Actual installation was a breeze.  Slide in, line up the hole for the hitch pin and install the pin.  Done !

Fat Trays

Swagman's Fat Trays are new for 2015.  They are a direct replacement for the standard wheel trays on the G10.

These are no wimpy plastic wheel holders that are prone to cracking, these are made from powder coated steel.  The extra long ratcheting strap feeds into a spring loaded buckle to keep the bike secure fore and aft.  A rubber cushion on the strap ensures that there is a secure grip on the wheel.  I believe the cushion is unique to Swagman as I have not noticed it on any other fat adapters.

The Fat Trays are adjustable for bikes of different sizes.

Swagman claims that their new Fat Trays will take up to a 5" fatbike tire.  The Trays easily handled a 5" Snowshoe XL in addition to 4" Nates.  They could probably handle a 5+" tire like the Snowshoe 2XL.

So what do you do when you need to carry a non-fat bike? The Swagman Fat Trays will handle mountain bike tires and those ultra skinny road tires.

In Use

Installing a fatbike on the G10:

  • Raise the padded hold-down hook & loosen the straps
  • Lay bike in trays
  • Lower hold-down on top tube
  • Secure the ratchet straps 

It takes about 30 seconds to install or remove a bike.  The cable lock is a breeze to use and is covered in the video.

Throwing on a second fatbike takes a little more time, and they fit quite nicely.

If you need to get into your vehicle with bikes mounted, flip the lower lever and tip it back . . . full access.

With no bike aboard, fold the upright down, flip the lower lever and tip the rack forward.  Its locks securely and compactly against the vehicle.

I have traveled dirt roads, potholed pavement and smooth asphalt with my Bigfoot mounted in the G10.  The bike did not shimmy, shake or quiver even when driving 100 kph on the highway with side winds.  I'm impressed.

I have reclaimed the interior of my Jeep, no longer have to carry extra bungee cords and straps, and do not have to worry about running into a store with questionable characters afoot.

I do have two suggestions:

1) Reflective tape.  Put some on the underside of the rack so that it can be easily seen by others when the rack is folded.  I did this for under $10.

2) The rubber cushion could also be a little wider as it is currently just a smidge wider than the wheel cutouts.  However, there is plenty of room on an 80-100mm rim to strap the bike down.

If you are looking for a hitch mounted bike rack to carry your fatbike be sure to check out the Swagman G10 with Fat Trays. There are numerous North American retailers that can supply this suburb bike rack.  

And for those with fatbikes a little less portly, check out the Swagman XTC2

#swagmanracks #swagmanG10fat