Carbon Fat Bike – gear junkie

from gear junkie
fat bike drivetrain.jpg

Carbon fat bikes can cost $5,000 or more. A new entry, the Carbon Alaskan from Minnesota-based Framed Bikes, will go for less than $2,400 when it comes to market this fall.

This summer GearJunkie got an exclusive test. You may have read our initial impressions in June, where we described the (at the time secret) bike as “super stiff and strong.”

Since then, we’ve put many more miles on the Framed, testing both the size medium and large versions.

framed bikes.jpg

Although they were both prototypes, and Framed is making changes to part specifications as well as the frame, below is the first full ride review available anywhere.

There are only a handful of these bikes on the planet right now, all of which are being ridden by product developers. Here’s the GearJunkie first look. —Tom Puzak

framed carbon alaskan fat bike.jpg

The Gear: Framed Alaskan Carbon

Price: Starts at $2,395

Available: October, 2014

First Impressions: Beefy, solid, unbreakable. The frame is the stiffest, strongest fat frame we’ve ever seen.

carbon fat bike frame.jpg
The naked, unidirectional carbon fiber can be seen here on the prototype frame, but we are told that production bikes will be painted with a matte finish

Where To Test It: The Alaskan is fun in the summer, as the Bluto fork allows the rider to hit mountain biking terrain without getting beat up too badly. But, of course, fat bikes really shine on snow and sand, and that’s where the Alaskan is most at home.

Who’s It For: The buyer looking to a fat bike to fill multiple voids in his quiver.

Boring But Important: The base build specs the Bluto fork, SRAM X7 drivetrain, and Avid BB7 mechanical brakes. The rear hub spacing will be 197mm with a 12mm through-axle. All in, the bike will weigh about 31.5 pounds. A second premium build will feature SRAM’s X1 drivetrain, with pricing and other specs TBD.

fat bike bluto shock.jpg

Killer! The SRAM Bluto is awesome. We continue to be impressed at how well the front end of Bluto-spec’d bikes absorb bumpy terrain and track through corners. We hope to never ride another fat bike in the summer without one.

Flaw: The wheels are heavy. Even though the Maxxis Mammoth (26” x 4”) tires are great, they are a bit sluggish to get up to speed mounted to these 80mm rims. When questioned on this, Framed mentioned that the bike may be spec’d with lighter tubes (the bike had full weight Surly tubes in). Regardless, finding a second set of wheels would be a great upgrade if you want to save weight and gain speed.

carbon fat bike framed.jpg
These 120tpi Maxxis Mammoth tires were excellent on the trail this summer, a good choice by Framed

Who Should Buy It: The all-mountain summer rider, the winter rider, or the endurance racer who upgrades the wheels to get the build light enough to be raced.

We are hoping that the brand comes to market with a 1×10 drivetrain with a Wolftooth 40t cog conversion on the base $2,395 bike, but we are told that dream is still in the works.

The bike is likely the most versatile fat bike on the market due to its large range of available modifications straight from the company. Let Framed know what you want and they can get you a rigid front fork for another $300, or go the other direction and grab a dropper seatpost straight from the brand (our test bike had one).

fat bike framed bikes carbon.jpg
We suggested that Framed feature both a SRAM X1 build and a second build using the poor-man’s X1 (with Race Face and Wolftooth). Both systems offer plenty of gear range, but separate front rings for summer and winter might be ideal

Bottom Line: Framed is making a good fat bike here. A strong beast of a fat bike. One could say it’s bordering on being overbuilt but with carbon, you don’t pay much of a weight penalty for that extra strength. The parts are the best you can get for the money. Try it, you’ll probably love it. If you want to love it more, upgrade the wheels some day and you’ll have an even lighter and faster ride.

More Info: Click here for specs, geometry and additional images.

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