FATBike on ice. The real deal!
Hier gehts zu Deutschen Version!
A couple of days ago we’ve shared some ideas how to prepare you FATBike for winter season. But frankly spoken what we’ve told you there was just a breeze of air compared to what we have today.
Today we’re gonna talk about tough stuff made for those who prefer their steak uncooked and only tremble with rage because it’s not gettin‘ cold enough outside.
Who can spot Whitehorse on a map? Congrats! For all others: it’s about 2.000km north of Vancouver close to the border to Alaska. They say it’s nice there but freaking cold during winter (-19°C at the moment) and snow covers what we call nature. Boy, it’s that cold up there that even a polar bear pulls on a jacket before he leaves home!
And right there in the middle on an icy nowhere a bunch of winter sports enthusiasts come together to step up to the plate and race the Yukon Arctic Ultra – the worlds coldest and toughest ultra marathon! So each of you who longs for racing a couple of hundreds of kilometers across arctic wildernis, with just a tent and a survival kit, at temperatures around -20°C to -40°C and unpredictable weather conditions is invited to join! Now for all of you who now think „Rooooar, this is real bad ass men stuff!“ be desperately disappointed: there is a bunch of ladies on the starter list! But no one of us. We are pretty much pussies…
What’s it all about
But of course we’re not gonna write about the Yukon Arctic Ultra just because we want to proof how though the others are. That would be too simple. No, there actually is one guy who lives literally next door to us and, in cooperation with Maxx, will accept the challenge and race the Yukon Arctic Ultra on a FATBike!
Seriously this is a truly insane story and we’re more then happy to become part of it by writing about it! So, today is sort of a kick off and from now on you will become exclusive insights into how you prepare yourself for such an extreme event and how it feels to be a racer. And of course we’ll put a focus on the material and how a FATBike has to be prepared for such a daring use. We, unfortunately, will not travel to Canada but stay at home. Sad but true. But we consider to write a few articles outside in the cold and dark nights simply to make it a bit more authentic!
FATBike on Ice step one. The material.
What’s a Siberian portable toilet? It’s simple: all you need is two wooden sticks. One to lean on in the snow, the other to keep the bears on distance. You probably already knew that. But have you ever thought about what it REALLY takes to survive a several days trip across the Canadian ice desert?
We neither did, but the folks of Maxx and Flori, who we will introduce to you shortly, have intensively thought about how to prepare man and machine for that. Just think about this one: in the same moment when we in subtropical Germany maybe build a snowman and then warm-up our numb fingers with a cup of nice mulled wine, Flori and his Arctic Jagamoasta maybe have to fight a bear or pull themselves out of an ice hole! This all may sound funny but the truth is that even with a FATBike the Yukon Arctic Ultra can be dangerous for fingers, toes and even the whole life…
Now, the Arctic Jagamoasta FATBike is the object of our today’s article. The list below was handed to us by Maxx. Pictures of the Arctic Jagamoasta and how it was build will follow as one of our next articles!
A Fatbike for winter needs to have certain features in order to handle cold, snow, ice and the lack of daylight. This is especially true if we are talking about arctic conditions where having the right equipment may even be a matter of survival.
One first thing to consider is if you will actually ride in extreme cold areas beyond 60° N/S? Or if you will actually use the bike more in rather “mild” winters like we know it in the Alps, Rockies or Andes? And how much up-and downhill meters will you have to deal with and what will the trails be like?
1) Internal Gear Hub (IGH) or Derailleur drive?
The choice between IGH and Derailleur transmission depends a lot on the type of trail and the expected level of elevation. The classic derailleur drive (our tip: 1 x 11sp because there are less moving parts) allows for a more sporty gear shifting and is lighter. However, chain, rear derailleur and possibly front derailleur still are plenty of moving parts in charge of transmission – each a potential problem in cold, snow and ice but also other obstacles like mud, sand and bushes. With an IGH (our tip: Rohloff XL 14 gear with special oil mixture) you have no issues with any such obstacles – even more so if you configured a gates belt drive instead of a regular chain. Therefore, this is a great solution for rough conditions and when the additional cost and weight are less of an issue …
Down to – 15° C hydraulic Shimano disc brakes with large discs (200/180 mm) are our recommendation, especially when you also use your Fatbike in warmer weather as well and need the best possible break performance. If use is in colder temps we recommend the mechanical disc brakes Avid BB7. Not the breaking fluid as such is the problem but the sealings on levers and calipers which can turn hard and rigid and thus cause leaks in the hydraulic system. The disadvantage of mechanical breaks is of course less braking power. So, it remains a question of individual priorities.
All moving parts and bearings need to be treated with a special lubricant, e.g. SKF LGLT2, which works down to – 50° C; housings and cables should – and all MAXX bikes have this – be applied inside the downtube, with sealed endcaps from Shimano. In addition to that the entire cable routing inside needs to be filled by the same anti-frost lubricant to prevent humidification. Otherwise the wires will freeze in the housings immediately when the bike is exposed to strong temperature changes, especially from indoors to outdoors. When configuring your individual Fatbike on www.maxx.de/en you can chose the option “Arctic-Setup”. This set-up also works fine in normal temperatures and does not need to be changed when summer comes.
4) No plastic parts:
No parts that have will need to support weight or have to deal with a lot of forces should be made from plastic, e.g. buckles, holders, attachment parts. Plastic may get brittle and break. Whenever possible use aluminum or stainless steel instead. Please also keep this in mind when choosing any bags or your saddle.
5) No quick releases:
In extreme cold quick releases on hubs and seatpost will not be reliable. They can even break. Therefore, you should opt for traditional Allen key solutions.
6) Winter tires:
An essential ingredient of your Fatbike are the winter tires which have a softer rubber, extra knobby profile, even on the sides. Any normal tire in the cold would get too hard and lose its grip on snow, especially when riding on grooved tracks or sloping hill crossings. Spikes only have an impact on ice or icy tracks and should reach way out to the sides. The disadvantages of spike tires are of course the additional weight – that’s why you may only want to have spikes in your front tire. For the width of you tire on snow, there is really only one rule: the wider, the better! Our snow favorite is VEE Snowshoe XL PSC (Pure Silica Compound).
For sure but… Riding tubeless on a Fatbike is a must! No „snake bites“ and no loss of energy due to the stiff tubes inside. Unfortunately, there is no proven liquid tire seal for the moment that will also reliably work in the extreme cold. So, be sure to have spare tubes and pump in your bags riding on a tubeless set!
8) Source of electricity:
Winter also means fewer hours of daylight. That’s why a good source of energy can have a strong impact on how safe you are and how much fun you have riding your Fatbike – especially when you are on an expedition and need a reliable way of charging your batteries for cell phone, head lamp or GPS navigator. Our recommendation is the SON Fatbike hub dynamo with two connectors – one for the SON Edelux metal headlight/taillight and the other for the wire connection to the voltage converter/recharger – we recommend E-Werk from Busch & Mueller mounted on Top Tube and finally to the battery pack – we recommend the Guide 10 Plus Recharger or the Forumslader – that you wear close to your body.
9) Suspension fork:
As long as you are riding at a max 15 km/h and the tire pressure is not too high there should be enough damping not to need suspension fork. If you ride faster and are on bumpy ground we recommend the Rockshox Bluto even though it means some additional weight. In the cold of the Yukon you will not move all that fast and the airtightness of the suspension may become a problem. Therefore you should be fine with a rigid fork.
Beer freezes as -20°C. So that’s not really the right place for us. But we’re looking to that extreme and truly unique story. Never before we had a chance to witness how a FATBike is being used that uncompromisingly in its natural environment. And never before we met a person who voluntarily does something like this.
We are FATly curious about how Flori and his Actic Jagamoasta will compete and what adventures they will experience.
So today what we have is FAT respect for Flori and the Maxx team who take this – perilous at least for Flori – challenge. Hats off, helmet on!
Ah, and by the way: for all of you who intend to try it themselves or at least want to feel like a true hero Maxx now offers the „Arctic-Setup“ in their Configurator!