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