First Impressions of my Fat Bike

I’ve been looking forward to this snow for a little while. I’ve wanted to go skiing for about a month and a half, and lately I’ve wanted to try out my new Fat Bike.

I was on the fence for a while as to whether or not I wanted one and I gave in to peer pressure, drank the kool-aid and phoned Norco up and asked if there were any fat bikes left in stock. Their answer was no, but our amazing rep hooked my up with a frame, fork, wheels, tires, and a crank so I can use some of the parts off of my CCM makeover for a complete build.

So in saying that, a few items to remember. Firstly, I built this up with some used parts so I’m not even considering the drivetrain in my assesment. It works, that’s all that matters.

I rode to work today and my first mistake was too much pressure in my tires. I fixed that for the ride home pretty quick. This was definitely affecting my grip and well I’m sure I’ll be playing a bit more with that in the future.

Otherwise, it was fun. I only rode it for a short section on a rails to trails that was not packed down and honestly , it didn’t blow me away. Better grip in lose snow yes, but I still slipped a few times. I suspect that was to do with tire pressure. I would guess that trails that are packed down a bit would be much better as well. That is the next test.

It felt slow and heavy. That is compared to my 29er full suspension. I’ve seen the videos of guys sending it and just ripping it on these bikes and I know in this case it’s the rider, not the bike. So, I better ride my new bike more!

Overall, it was fun and a positive experience and I look forward to riding it more. There is a learning curve and I’m sure that’s what I’m experiencing now. I will post some pics and do a follow up soon.

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That wasn’t all that glowing of a review.

It was an honest review as of now. It was certainly fun and yes I had more traction. But I do feel there is a learning curve that I need to go through to appreciate it fully. It could be I’m a little out of shape or that I’m used to 29" wheels.

I’ll bring it to Hali and let you go for a rip, see what you think.

Wow, slow and heavy. Sign me up.

The guys ‘sending it’, they’re not going down hill by any chance, are they?

@riderx thanks for sharing your honest review. It will be interesting to hear how the fat bike fills a niche – or not – in your stable. I hope it ends up being more than a solution to n+1 :smile:

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I’ve lowered the tire pressure, which made a huge difference in that the traction is quite good now. I am going to change my stem as well. This should make for better handling.

Thats unfortunate @riderx. Last summer I took the Bigfoot about 40% of the time.

Its a different type of fun. Are you going to be able to rip down rough sections of a trail like on a full squish . . . nope. However the climbing ability is out of this world. I love prowling in the summer . . . slow speed crawling through the bush.

What tires are you running? Pressure is very important.

The type of tire is also impt. Vee Missions (stock on mine) are garbage. Surly Nates . . . best thing evah.

Honestly, I disappointed that your first impressions weren’t better, but I am really interested to your evolution of figuring out this bike. It will help me answer a lot of questions I have about myself owning one cause we’re similar riders.

I took my first proper fat bike ride today. Tested out a Specialized Fat Boy Expert. Was only a short ride, half an hour or so but enough to pass along a few thoughts. Todays trail conditions were a bit mixed, soft snow on top, shallow crust below then another layer of fluff. Not ideal for any bike to be honest, I think you would need 6" tires to say above the ice fully today. As a result traction at times as awesome, then other times you’d smash the ice layer and slide out. Not really the fault of the bike, just crummy snow. I’d like to try the bike again in different conditions and back to back with a regular bike to compare.

Anywho some thoughts…

  • This bike had a sweet parts kit, XO drivetrain, XO grip shift ( I think this is a smart move on a bike that may often be used with big winter gloves on) carbon fork, other nice bits.

  • Fat bikes are bouncy, feels a bit strange on hard surfaces, not as noticeable in soft snow. I think this would be a bitt sketchy feeling on jumps. Suspension might help here, the bike I was on had a rigid fork.

  • Rides like a bike. Other then the steering felling a bit heavy it didn’t feel strange or anything. I managed to do wheelies, manuals, hops, nose pivots, even a few pedal kicks, seems normal to me. If you can shred on a regular bike you can shred on one of these too.

  • Under aggressive cornering (with lots of bike body separation) you may find your ankle rubs on the tire if your a flat pedal ride and like to do a foot pivot. Not a big deal just would take some getting use to.

  • Climbs well, just make sure you weight the back tire properly. Just because it’s ‘fat’ doesn’t mean you can ride with poor form.

It was fun, and I need to try it again for a longer ride, more testing required.

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Tire pressure is definitely key as you say. The Grip is very good now that I’ve lowered it.

The stem change is better as well. With less weight on the front of the bike, it has made the steering much easier, and for an overall better handling bike.

I’m warming up to this bike. It rides much better now. I do look forward to a nice long ride on groomed trails in the very near future to see how it handles after the changes I made .

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It will be interesting to hear if there is a big difference on groomed trails as I would just ride my regular bike on groomed trails without much problem.

Do you mean groomed xc ski trails? I don’t think the xc skiers like that.

No, I mean trails that have been walked or snowmobiled on. I do my best to avoid XC ski trails for the short period of time that we have enough snow for XC skiing.

I love that this review reinforces my decision (not that it was ever a consideration to buy one in the first place) to not own a fatbike. When it takes effort to rationalize a purchase, well, that says it all right there.

I ride my “regular” bike on tramped down trails all the time. In fact I ride on fresh fallen snow all the time too. I kinda like the challenge of it being really hard. Not sure a fat bike is for me. They look cool but I don’t have enough disposable income to burn on a luxury like this.

All the power to those of you who have them and love them though

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Agreed, I know people who have them and genuinely enjoy the experience. I’ve had the same ‘winter bike’ with studs permanently attached for over 10 years now and have never experienced a situation where I thought ‘wow I wish I had something slower and heavier with balloon tires to make this ride more fun’.

:frowning:

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I’ve since been able to ride Wolfville Reservoir Park and Long Lake in the middle of winter I’ve also made some adjustments including a shorter stem and playing with the tire pressure.

I have to say that this bike is making itself a home in my stable.

The grip is excellent, as it should be, with the proper tire pressure. I was able to make it up and around snow covered trails. I had to relearn sharp turning techniques. If you keep a steady pedal stroke it grips and climbs very well.

Is it necessary to ride in the winter? No, I could still ride my 1993 Kona Lava dome, and will in icy conditions with my studded tires, but the Norco Bigfoot does make general winter riding more enjoyable. With the right conditions and setup, this bike can be the ticket.

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