Tag Archives: fat bikes

Round the Block

One of my first adventures on the Specialized Fatboy; a 20-mile circumnavigation of Block Island, RI. Absolutely convinced me that fat bikes were the door to a whole new world of riding.

Fat bike around Block Island

GPS track of the course, including ferry trip.

From the ferry in New Shoreham, I rode across the island to the breachway  at the Coast Guard station on the west side. From there, I’d stay right on the shore for the entire counter-clockwise trip.

[Click on images to open slideshow]

Sand, cobbles, seaweed…were all passable terrain for the massive tires. Although certainly challenging in spots, nearly every bit was rideable.

Tech Sheet: Fat bike standards

As companies scramble to get their best designs to market in the exploding segment of fat bikes, a whole new array of dimensions are being offered. Tire size, hub spacing, bottom bracket width, are all being hammered out to find the sweet spots of functionality.

Here’s a quick overview the situation:

Tire sizes

Tire width on fat bikes falls into one of two nominal labels: 4-inch or 5-inch.

So called 4-inch tires were the first of the huge knobbies, offered on classic models such as the Salsa Mukluk and Beargrease. Actual dimensions are typically labelled 3.6-3.8 inches and are mounted on 60-80mm wide rims. This size is now considered a year-round, all terrain performer. Light and narrow enough for general trail riding while still having enough flotation to venture onto the beach or navigate packed snow conditions.

5-inch tires are the latest development and are intended for maximum flotation over extreme terrain: deep sand, snow, and whatever loose, rocky, leaf strewn course you plot. Trail or no trail, these behemoths will conquer whatever your legs can push through.  Actual sidewalls are labelled 4.6-4.8. Tires of this size are ideally mounted on rims 80-100mm wide. Featured on Specialized Fatboy, Salsa Blackborow, Moots Frosthammer, and Framed Minnesota XWT.

Hub spacing

With wider and wider tires and rims, frames and forks have had to swell to provide necessary clearance.

Up front, the original 135mm width is still prevalent on bikes with standard quick release front hubs such as the Mukluk and Fatboy. Rigid thru axle forks use 142mm wide, 12mm axles, just like the rear of a standard MTB. The Rock Shox Bluto suspension fork has brought about the burlier 150 x 15mm thru axle format. Several rigid bikes from Salsa, Rocky Mountain, and Framed are spec’d with the same spacing to facilitate an easy exchange between forks for different seasons and riding environments.

Out back, 170mm quick release or 177mm thru axle hub spacing is found on 4-inch tired bikes. 5-inch bikes run on either 190mm QR hubs or 197mm thru-axles.

Luckily many hub manufacturers are offering a variety of end caps and axle options to convert between the standards should you choose to alter your setup or buy a new frame or fork. Most front hubs will convert to any of the 135-150mm standards. However, rear wheels have less flexibility. 170mm QR and 177mm thru axle are generally interchangeable, as is 190mm QR and 197mm thru axle, however 170mm cannot interchange with 190mm.

Bottom brackets

The 100mm bottom bracket is nearly standard on fat bike frames at this point. Both threaded and press fit shells are common and there are now a wide variety of cranksets available, from heavy duty to ultralight carbon. However, the resulting chainline may still not be optimal on the widest platforms. As such, Salsa and Surly have introduced an even wider 132mm shell for the best possible gear alignment.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for One-Bike-to-rule-them-All, consider a 4-inch tired platform such as the Mukluk, Beargrease, or even the ground breaking Bucksaw. On the other hand, if barrier beaches, knobby prints through untracked snow, and generally going where no bike has gone before dominate your day dreams, then perhaps a 5-inch fattie will be needed.

As always, experience is best. Stop by, chat with our staff and take a ride on each. We’ve got the the best fat bike stock in Rhode Island.


Only at Stedmans.

Salsa Blackborow DS

Fresh Produce: Salsa Blackborow


Salsa has gone plus size for 2015. The new Blackborow, named after the stowaway on Shackleton’s infamous Antarctic voyage, features extra wide rims and 4.8″ tires for maximum flotation over snow, sand, and extreme terrain.

Blackbarow 1

Available in two flavors: geared and “dingle speed”, this adventure rig also features many of Salsa’s trademark details, including Alternator dropouts, tons of bosses for bottles and gear, and no-nonsense parts spec.

Blackbarow DS

The Bearpaw fork is Bluto-swap ready with 150 x 15mm thru-axle while the rear features the widest standard 197mm axle. Salsa chose to spec the frame with their PressFit 41 bottom bracket and Surly OD crankset to offer the narrowest pedaling stance (Q-factor) and optimal chainline on such a wide platform.

Salsa Blackborow DS

If you’re looking to explore the limits of where a bicycle can go, check out the new Salsa Blackborow.



Salsa Blackborow DS
Clearance for massive 5″ tires. Dingle drivetrain features 30 x 18 and 26 x 22 gears linked with a stout KMC Rustbuster chain.


Salsa Blackborow DS
Dingle Speed: One gear to blaze, One gear to crawl. Simple, silent, and solid.
Salsa Blackborow DS
Cassette hub is ready for gears or single cogs. 197mm thru-axle. Alternator dropouts tension chain and can be interchanged for different axle and gear configurations.

In stock and ready to test ride.

Not local? Give us a call anyway, we’ll be happy to tell you all about the Blackborow and any other fat bikes!