It’s been almost six months now that I’ve been using and abusing this bike and we’ve already been through a lot together. Enough to warrant an update about how we’re getting along…..
In those six months this bike has ridden many, many kilometers in a bunch of different countries and conditions. On dry dusty singletrack in France and in deep, deep powder in Austria. Short quick technical blasts in Switzerland and long slow bikepacking slogs in Italy – it really has seen some action!
Ok, let’s get to it – what do I think about it now that we’ve become so very intimate…..
As I stated in the ‘First look’ the frame is a bloody lovely thing and obviously that hasn’t changed.
I’m still a massive fan of the geometry. Long and stable enough for soft snowy conditions and yet not so long that it feels sluggish on regular trails – best of both worlds.
I’ve scuffed up the finish a little by using the frame unprotected with various bikepacking bags but that’s the beauty of titanium – it’s looks even better with a bit of character and if I eventually decide that I want it to look sharp and new again I can just polish it up and it’ll come up shiny in no time.
But by far my favourite thing about the frame is the smile it gives me every time I stop and take a minute to appreciate it’s lines, welds and built quality – it really is a thing of beauty.
I’ve been gathering my thoughts on the Lauf fork in preparation for a separate in-depth review on them (coming soon) so I’ll not go into massive detail here but…..
They’re good. No, better than good, they’re great!
Light enough to not be a burden when they’re not needed (in light, fluffy snow for example where the tyres and the snow are more than enough damping) and then they provide a very welcome and chatter-reducing amount of bounciness when the going gets rutted and icy.
The issue I have is that the price is prohibitive and I’m yet to be convinced that they’d be a justifiable purchase for most regular folks. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the serious racing types who would likely just put up with a little discomfort in order to save weight. Somewhere in the middle are people who take their riding seriously enough to want to invest in a nice bit of kit that works and needs little maintenance and the Lauf fork is perfect for them!
There’s not a lot that needs saying about the hubs and tyres on this bike (Hope hubs and Surly ‘Bud and Lou’ tyres) as they are tried and tested classics that’ve been reviewed and analysed to death.
I agree with the general consensus on the whole in that the tyres aren’t the lightest out there but boy to they deliver on performance and, as a longtime Hope fan, I can’t fault the hubs (though I have heard of some of the more hardcore distance fatbikers complaining of seal and bearing failures).
So that leaves the Nextie rims…..
Again, I’d heard a few negative stories and so was healthily skeptical about them but they’ve been faultless! Still as true as the day they first rolled out of the garage, lighter than anything else I’ve played with and they look stunning – what’s not to like???
The 1×11 XT drivetrain with Absolute Black oval chainring is a joy to use – the latest technology returning to mechanical simplicity – it just works!
Raceface cranks hold the pedals on a turn around without any fuss or issue.
The Thompson seatpost and Charge ‘Spoon’ saddle are tried and tested so no surprises to be found in that department.
Easton carbon bars and an FSA carbon stem keep things light and pleasantly flexible in the cockpit, which is nice.
Finally the mix of XT (front) and BB7 (rear) brakes do exactly what they should without any complaints.
In short – I am loving this bike!
It’s everything I want in a fatbike and pretty much nothing I don’t want.
Given a limitless budget and access to the blingest offerings on the market there is still very little that I would change on this bike.
Lighter cranks would be a nice luxury upgrade and I’d like the Lauf fork to take a BB7 caliper but other than that I can’t really find fault.
I’m hoping finally to make it up to Rovaniemi next February and so the Bat Fastard will finally get to try it’s hand at something a little more epic and I reckon by then I’ll know everything there is to know about this well engineered, visually lovely and exciting machine.
Until then I’ll keep on playing and enjoying the ride…..