Tag Archives: Dream Bikes

Project Fat: Part Two- The Build

I’m a total geek when it comes to bicycle components. Give me some aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium or electric parts and I’m good. Perhaps the only thing better than playing with the latest road or mtb pieces is piecing them together to create a final working product. One of my favorite parts of working at the shop is creating a custom build from the frame up.  Naturally a custom-painted shop-themed fat bike had to have a dream build kit but with more options than ever…what do choose? More importantly…where to even begin?

As with most builds, I started with the cockpit (aka seatpost, stem and handlebar). Shimano, Easton and even Specialized make nice bits. But the group that really got my attention was the Raceface Next SL with its modular crank design and matching bar and seatpost. These matte carbon fiber bits are light and look fantastic in pictures, nevermind in person. Even the packaging is classy. Unfortunately they don’t currently offer a Next SL stem, so a Turbine will see duty instead.

bb crank in boxcrank next spnext hbar

The next consideration is drivetrain.  SRAM has a proven winner with their 1x X1, X01 and XX1 groupsets. And while the range of a 10-42 cassette sounded great, a dedicated cassette driver did not as it limited future flexibility. Cue Shimano XTR 11 speed. Not only could I use existing wheels but still also get 11 gears.  Plus it’s just plain hot. A little titanium here, some aluminum over there, plus…come on…finned brake pads! So cool. It had to be the XTR.

fb
Let me repeat: FINNED BRAKE PADS!

9020 rb

9020 brake and shifter
Even the shifter clamp is a work of art

rd

Rear Derailleur is a sharp mix of alloy, carbon fiber and steel

cassette ft indiv
Check out that attention to detail. Nearly every piece has holes drilled or hollowed out segments in the name of weight savings.

 

This leads to wheels, one of the most (if not the most) important components on a bicycle. While it’s all relative, light weight was a priority. But with subjection to harsh temperatures and occasional salt water, durability was paramount. The Whiskey No.9 rim is nice but a lil narrow. Hope hubs are available in many colors and have a great track record. But I’ve long been envious of HED rims and after seeing the Big Deal laced to Industry Nine hubs last year on Jim’s Moots FrosTi the decision was clear. Besides, at this point what the heck right? Borrowed alloy Fatboy wheels are in service until they arrive in a few weeks.

hed i9

And we can’t forget about the fork. The stock rigid fork will be used for frozen ponds and packed snow but since this will be my all-around mountain bike a little suspension would be nice. At the moment there’s only one fork out there: the Bluto. Rockshox is the only brand with a fork currently available so that was probably the easiest decision of this whole thing. 100mm should get the  job done.

bluto in box

And that’s about it. The brakes were bled the other day and frame protectors were applied. With those finishing touches the bike was finished on Monday and has a maiden voyage set for this weekend. Stay tuned for Part Three- The Ride in the coming days.

Project Fat: Part One- The Concept

Fat Fever: those two words probably best describe the atmosphere at the shop over the past few months.  Traditionally, winter is quiet at Stedman’s. Lately though we’ve been busy building, selling and riding fat bikes. Big frames and knobby tires are everywhere, and we’re quickly becoming one of Rhode Island’s best places for all things fat.

The question is…why?

I think there are a few reasons.

First: You can take them anywhere. No seriously, anywhere. Sandy beaches, technical single track, snowmobile trails, plowed roads, even frozen ponds. Name another type of bicycle that can do all of those equally as well?

Second: Stability. Four and Five inch tires running at 8psi will roll over nearly anything with unreal stability. We’ve had several customers trade in their traditional mountain bikes for fatties simply because they feel safer and more confident due to these easy-rolling big tires.

Third: They’re different.  Many people have bikes but fat bikes are still a bit of an oddity and easily in the minority at most Sunday group rides. But that’s part of what makes them cool. Whether on the shop sidewalk or trailside parking lot you’re almost guaranteed to have somebody come up to you asking what it’s all about. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd this could be your ticket.

 

To celebrate our collective Fat Fever, we decided to do something special. We’ve never had a bike painted in Stedman colors so it only seemed appropriate that this would be the perfect opportunity. A Specialized Fatboy frame set was chosen and colors were picked out. After going back and forth on a few different ideas someone suggested using the shop jersey as inspiration and painting the front half blue and the back half silver, with a STEDMAN’S banner connecting the two. And what frame would be complete without a head tube badge? Credit goes to Jim for the idea of a true ‘head’ tube badge of Everett Stedman’s face. Check out the process below.

Tons of credit goes to Ricky ‘Wacko’ Legault for painting the frame and putting in countless hours to bring this idea to reality. It turned out better than even we could have ever imagined and we can’t wait to take it for a ride!

Coming up: The build. 1x was a no brainer but SRAM or Shimano? 10spd or 11spd? Custom wheels or prebuilt? Carbon cockpit or alloy? Rigid or suspension fork? Stay tuned…

Ridden: Moots Vamoots RSL

Last August I became the owner of a titanium Moots Vamoots RSL. I set it up with Shimano Ultegra 11-speed and Shimano wheels. From everything I had heard, I had high expectations for the ride quality of the Moots, but relatively low expectations for the bike to feel fast, especially since I was coming off a carbon fiber dedicated racing frame. The Moots is heavier and more compliant. My first ride began with descending Bear Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the second ride brought me to the summit of Mount Washington. I have since put in months of riding on both flat and hilly terrain. I’ve found that the Moots has the smooth ride of a classic steel bicycle while being as fast as a carbon frame such as the Specialized Tarmac and the Bianchi Oltre.

Moots Vamoots RSL Mt Washington hill climb
Nearing the finish line on Mount Washington Last August on my Moots

I attend the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont and I race for the school cycling team there. About half an hour south of Burlington, there is a network of fantastic dirt roads, the hard-packed dirt does not require aggressive tires, and a road bike can handle these roads fine. That being said, the Vamoots RSL eats up these roads and springs up every climb the rolling terrain presents. Steel bikes are known to have the compliance to smooth out dirt, but they don’t have that same snap to them that the Moots has as I shift out of the saddle into a sprint. This bike is comfortable and it does not sacrifice performance for that comfort.

One of my favorite things to do is racing my bike. The performance of the Vamoots RSL gives me confidence for the coming collegiate road-racing season. The Moots is still responsive and quick on climbs and in a sprint. It is a little bit heavier than many high-end carbon bikes, but it does not ride any slower for it. Some people questioned my decision to go with titanium over carbon considering my dedication to racing; some of these comments made me doubt myself, but now with some riding time on the Moots, I have no regrets. The bike is fast and can take on any carbon bike of the same caliber.

The aesthetics of high-end bikes is becoming polarized. Frames are either painted up to be flashy with strong reds and fluorescent yellows, blues, and greens or they are simple with a matte black finish or some other simplistic, classic style. All Moots models show off the beauty of titanium with that soft, metallic gray and those black or white decals adorning the bike. It is gorgeous. The Moots Vamoots RSL has a very classic and simple aesthetic that matches its ride. It is not too flashy and it looks incredible. My Vamoots RSL has a titanium, white, and black color scheme with blue accents that keeps it classy. That being said, appropriate bar-tape, saddle, bottle-cage, and sidewall colors could give the bike a little bit more flair if that is your thing. The unpainted titanium gives the Moots frames a classy, timeless look that can easily be made your own.

One amazing part of owning a titanium bike is the assurance that that bike will hold up and continue to be your bike for decades. Carbon is fast, but fragile. I am concerned about the rigors of the collegiate racing season and the high rate of crashes in collegiate races. If carbon is cared for and does not see a crash, there should be no issues, but it would be unreasonable not to expect a crash while racing collegiate. The titanium of the Moots can hold up through crashes and being packed along with my teammate’s bikes better than a carbon bike could. The aesthetics of the bike are not the only timeless part of the bike. The frame will last a very long time and keep the same ride. Moots offers the option to send the frame in and get it sandblasted and have the decals replaced. Between this and the durability of Moots titanium bikes, I know the Vamoots RSL will continue to ride and look like my new bike from last August for years to come.

Moots Vamoots RSL

By Jimmi Hayes

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