Monday, December 22, 2014

Framed Minnesota 1.0 (YAY FAT BIKES!)

Ok so I guess its time to finally post my take on these wonderfully wide tire'd marvels of modern ingenuity.

I've got about 35mi on my new Framed Minnesota 1.0 and I'm a believer. Fat bikes have been the talk of the industry in a major way for probably the last two years or so.  Now that they have plowed through the gimmick phase more and more manufacturers are getting in on the game and offering tons and tons of options.

I had been waiting for the solid budget option seeing as much of my winter money goes towards skiing.  It very much seems like Framed has become the budget model of choice at least by what I can tell by chatter in New England.  Seems like I was hearing them talked about constantly this Fall and they certainly have figured out a pretty good formula with their Minnesota line.

I added more reflectors since this pic

Classic XC geometry, modest parts spec and super affordable.  Perfect stable bike if you ask me.  Get in cheap, make sure you like it and will use it regularly and then upgrade parts accordingly.  I prefer the trickle down approach so as I upgrade my race bike my fat bike also gets more awesome.  I feel like the Minnesota 1.0 is to fat bikes what the Redline Monocog was to SS when it was the stable bike everyone wanted to experiment with a few years ago.

So far the bike is holding up well.  I beat on it pretty well this past weekend.  Headset needed to be snugged up at about mile 20 of our ride but that's no big deal and very possibly could have come a bit loose from the factory.  I got my first pinch flat as well which was fun.  Dealing with fat bike tires/tubes trail side is hilarious.

I was running Central NH snow riding pressure not Southern NH dirt/rocks pressure and found a big rock and got the biggest snake bite I've ever seen.  I don't even own spare fat tubes yet so I had to patch a tube for the first time in years.  Luckily I was actually riding with my camelbak and had a patch kit.  I think I'm going to need to purchase a new trail pump for fat biking though.  My little crank brothers pump doesn't cut it.  I would probably still be out there pumping if I didn't get a pump from someone else.

The bike rides really well.  I feel at home on it like I did with my old Monocog.  That standard XC geometry just seems to work well for me.  Climbs a lot better than expected as well which is nice.  The only thing I need to get used to is the inertia of the wheels and the whole 'self steering' phenomenon.  Its a weird feeling that is hard to explain but suffice it to say there is a lot of rolling weight and sometimes it just kinda does what it wants.

I was commenting on it on this past ride and several of the more experienced fat bikers said tires can make a big difference with that so I might be looking into a new set based on their recommendations.  I also always seem to get better at offsetting it the longer I ride it.  Start out a bit shaky but within a few miles I'm good to go.

I can certainly see the appeal of these things.  They definitely bring back the adventure aspect of riding.  A little less emphasis on fitness and efficiency and more on FUN.  I think its the same reason gravel bikes are as big as they are right now.  Its the same concept but for roadies.  Cyclists are currently buying adventure and fun.  You can call the bike whatever you want but that's what we're buying right now.  The nice thing is while I'm having all this adventure and fun my legs are also hauling around a 35-40lb bike with a good portion of that weight being rotational. #secretworkout

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Salomon Q-98's and BCA Magic Carpet's AKA my new AT Setup

New Toys!

After a few seasons of only a few AT excursions PSU students had to go and vote for Waterville Valley to receive the Student Senate Ski Package this year and dramatically heighten my need for a slightly more legit AT setup.  My old G3's served me well and were a great setup at a great price for my introduction to touring.

Now they are again the first setup for a freshman at Bowdoin and I met the guy to sell them at the exact same location I met the guy I bought them from.  Nice and poetic.

I was very fortunate to get a Salomon hookup through a coworkers wife who works at a nordic center.  Proform is a very niiiiiiiiiice.  I ended up going with the Q Series Q-98 in a 180.  I needed some convincing from Dustin that 180 was the length to go.  Felt long, but I've been a bit out of the ski tech game for a bit and these early rise tip/tail skis ride quite a bit shorter and Salomon even has a honeycomb tip structure that is super light and makes for low swing weight.

Also ended up finding a deal on some Tyrolia Adrenaline AT bindings through as well as the BCA skins making the whole setup downright affordable.

This past Thursday I got a great opportunity to get my first test run on the new boards in 4-6in of fresh powder that eventually turned into some heavier junk bumps mid day.  First few runs were magnificent.  Such a good ski for me.  Super well rounded.  Confidence inspiring at speed, great edge hold.  Floats well and is surprisingly quick.  Once the terrain turned a bit more variable is when they really shined, particularly compared to the K2s I've been on to date.  Super stable, weren't bothered by crud at all.  Held lines like a champ.

And can I just say hook free taper is GOING TO CHANGE MY LIFE.

Such a simple concept but I doubt I'll ever want to ride a ski without it ever again.  Basically the widest part of the sidecut is quite a bit farther from the tip than is traditionally the case.  Keeps the tips from hooking in rough snow as well as the tips of the skis from getting hung up on each other when getting knocked together.

I've always had a huge problem with that with my K2s because of those damn decorative rivets they insist on putting on skis.  NEVER AGAIN.

The only thing I didn't get to test is how they do in the really tight trees.  My guess is there will be a slight learning curve.  Because I have been on softer park-esque boards for so long I think my style in the trees has adopted a bit of a 'smear' vibe that will probably be harder to do on these skis.  But with them primarily being my AT setup that scenario probably won't be too common anyhow.

Skins arrived a few days ago and I trimmed them up today.  Kinda wanted to just get G3 skins again but was able to get a much better deal on the BCA's and the reviews were pretty good.  They do seem like a solid skin although I definitely like the tail clip from my old G3s better and I also really appreciated the trim tool with built in offset.

I actually ended up just running the skins right to the edge and skipped doing the offset all together because it was just that annoying.  I also found enough articles of people who actually don't do the offset either for various reasons so I figured what the hell.  I can always trim the offset in later if I have problems.

Very much looking forward to my first tour on these bad boys.