Tag Archives: passion

Project Fat: Part Three- The Ride

Mike Galoob and I  have been planning a fat bike ride for a while now. For one reason or another though the stars just never seemed to align so that we could both escape our obligations long enough to put together something good. Something…epic. And then, just when frustration was really beginning to set in, it happened. A blizzard. On a day when the shop was closed. When both of us had an entire day to devote solely to riding our bikes. It was, in the truest sense of the words, The Perfect Storm.

As mentioned in Part One, Fat Fever has gripped the shop for months. Mike might have it the worst (or best depending how you look at it). He has replaced his traditional mountain bike with a full-time fat bike. He continually reminds us how capable the big tires are whether the terrain is single track, sand, rocks or snow. Being new to the fatness I was eager to try out my bike on these surfaces and more. The problem is that almost no one location features all of them in one spot. We discussed this at length and the idea for our ride was born.

It just so happened that on this past Monday the shop was closed, a storm was immanent and we both had clear schedules. In order to explore the capabilities of our bikes we decided to link our favorite traditional riding spots as well as a few unconventional areas we hadn’t spent much time in. The idea was to ride from one location to another, trying the bikes on sand, snow, gravel, trail and road. We would meet in the morning at Rome Point in North Kingstown, ride to Ryan Park, head west to Big River and Arcadia in West Greenwich, then south to Burlingame and return to our start point. Easy enough, right?

Well…no. Our plan was to be on the road by 830am but naturally we were both running late. Mike was going to ride to the ride but ran into tubeless trouble and had to return home to fix his problem. In the interest of time I decided to meet him in South Kingstown and we would instead start our adventure from there. All in all we were finally rolling by 930am. The snow was beginning to fall and we were psyched to have a whole day of riding ahead of us.

fat bike winter beach ride

We headed towards Narragansett in search of some sand. The temperature was about 18 degrees and ice was everywhere so the world was pretty much our oyster. We rode through coves and over marshes, snapped a few pics and moved on towards destination number two: Rome Point in North Kingstown.

marsh

Unfortunately the most direct route from Narragansett to North Kingstown is Route 1A, which for the unfamiliar is a paved main road. We detoured through Bonnet Shores to ride on the beach and then cut though URI’s Bay Campus to explore the rocky beach. Looking back this was probably my favorite part of the ride. I honestly didn’t think a bike could ride through terrain like this but low and behold, the Fatboy plowed right though. Beastly!

bay campus rock

bonnet beach

We continued up towards Rome Point for some more beach riding, heading under the Jamestown Bridge along the coast line and watching visibility drop lower and lower as the snow began to thickly fall. Cruising through Rome Point the realization that conditions were rapidly changing began to occur as my studless 5″ tires slipped and slid through the corners while Mike’s 4″ studded rubber clawed for traction and made the gap between us bigger and bigger. Inevitably I fell, using the opportunity to snap a few pics to cover for my poor bike handling skills before Mike came back looking for me. Shhhh!

rome pt btw trees

From there Ryan Park was the next destination for some single track. We cruised through some access roads to get there, did a couple hot laps through an old pump track and quickly continued on via rail trails towards Big River.

mike railing it

Sometime around this point I realized that suspiciously smooth snow most likely has ice underneath. After a tough couple falls I was sure avoid these areas. Lesson learned.

too fat for ice

After a quick pit stop for a snack, some hot chocolate and a little route planning it was back on the bikes. We rode along power line double track and gravel roads with ominous signs reading ‘Pass At Own Risk’. And is it just me or does every road in West Greenwich go uphill? It certainly felt like that anyway. We were about 5 hours in at this point and whew, I was feeling it. Reaching the New London Turnpike was a welcome relief as I finally began to recognize some familiar sights. It meant we were getting close to our next destination….Arcadia.RAOR

quarry

It was now around 4pm. I had originally told Ellen we’d be back by 230pm, but so much for that at this point. At first our plan was to ride a few trails in Big River, Arcadia and possibly even Burlingame if time allowed. Clearly, it did not. We cruised along the North South Trail through Carolina, realizing that the snow was falling faster and we were rapidly losing daylight.

shannock

A difficult decision was now upon us: continue on the NST or play it safe and head for home. We decided home was the best bet. I was pretty beat. Food was gone and we’d been riding quite a bit longer than originally planned. Every climb hurt, fatigue was setting in and I was mentally exhausted. I was getting sloppy, even riding directly into Mike at one point and nearly taking both of us down in the process. In times like this it gives you a totally new perspective and appreciation for those who take part in endurance fat bike races such as the Iditarod in Alaska. A quick detour through the Duval Trails in South Kingstown was the final stop before heading back to the car and wrapping things up. What an adventure it had been.

duval

The bike had performed flawlessly. This was one of the most fun rides I’d been on in a long time. Sometimes a new bike motivates you to go places and do something you wouldn’t otherwise take on. Do you have to go ride 58 miles in a snowstorm to enjoy it? Of course not. Does it make for a great story? Absolutely!

route

This ride taught me many things. Perhaps most importantly though it gave me a completely new perspective as to the capabilities of a fat bike. It is said that these bikes can go nearly anywhere, but really, it’s the truth. The control and stability is out of this world and if you’re looking for one bike to take you anywhere and everywhere I can confidently say you’ve found it. A fat bike will allow you to go places you never imagined, and the smile you’ll wear in the process will be from ear to ear. If you haven’t ridden one yet stop by the shop and give it a try. Rent one for the weekend and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Better yet, look for Mike and I. We’ll probably still be smiling.end of ride

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…