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Posted by John Lynn on December 01, 2015
SHOULD I GO WITH 80 OR 100mm RIMS
Unless you have some epic trips planned, like competing in the Iditarod Invitational or a heavy-duty “bike-packing” trip, 80’s are your best bet. Lower weight, and lower rolling resistance make 80’s the best all-around option. That said, if your adventures require maximum floatation, there is no substitute for increasing the size of your contact patch. No modifications are necessary with the newer and wider 9:ZERO:7 frames. Every frame 9:ZERO:7 sells from the 170 QR Slider to the 197 Whiteout AL, Carbon, and Team Editions can accommodate up to 5 inch tires with ease.
On that note, every 9:ZERO:7 frame and fork combination can also accept a correctly built 26" 27.5" or 29" wheel.
ARE CARBON FIBER RIMS WORTH THE MONEY?
The best upgrade you can purchase for your bike are carbon wheels. Period. The HED 85mm Big Deal rims (setup tubeless, of course) can easily drop 1.5 to 2 pounds... per rim! That's three (3) to four (4) pounds of rotational weight loss from your bike. You don't have to be a super-lightweight racer to immediately feel the performance advantage of a carbon fiber wheel.
This is true regardless of the frame material the wheels are connected to. We here at Fatbikes will happily ride every wheel we sell, but when it comes time to race we mount HED Big Deal wheels. We just got our first set of 100mm HED Big Fat Deal rims and will post an update when we've got enough miles on them to evaluate them properly, but for soft conditions the 100mm HEDs with 45NRTH Dunderbeists/Flowbeists are looking like the hot ticket.
In addition to the BFD carbon wheels from HED, we also received a couple sets of their new aluminum offerings. The Will Ross recently got back from a weekend trip of testing and has given them the thumbs up. The HED 100mm BFD carbon wheels will be available on fatbikes.com very soon.
SHOULD I RUN CLIPLESS OR PLATFORMS?
This is a debate that predates the invention of the super wide rims. Strong arguments can be made for both options. It is more difficult to keep your feet warm with a clipless setup; however, you gain a tremendous amount of pedaling efficiency, especially in hillier terrain using a clips system. Clipless systems can ice up, but platform pedals can seem sloppy, especially if you are used to riding clipless pedals on other bikes. What do we ride? The racers in our office ride clipless, the commuters ride platforms.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR FEET WARM?
If you are using a platform pedal, choose a lightweight, insulated boot.
For clipless pedals, the best off-the-shelf option are the 45NRTH Wolvhammers. This is the most popular boot with Team 9:ZERO:7. These boots are admittedly not cheap, but the value of keeping your feet warm is priceless. This year, 45NRTH introduced a the Wolfgar. A high-performance carbon-soled winter boot designed for clipless systems in the coldest of conditions.
HOW WELL DO FAT TIRES HANDLE ON ICE?
Two words... Studded Dillinger! 45North unveiled the first dedicated studded fat bike tire and it was a dream come true. They are offered with 27 and 120 tpi casings. With the exception of Dillingers, fat bike tires don't handle ice. Be very careful riding over ice with non-studded tires; they are optimized for riding on snow. 45NRTH Dillinger tires are available both studded and studless. Fatbikes.com offers kits to install the studs in the 45NRTH tires. This is a great option for the budget minded (or the weight weenies who want to optimize their studs to weight ratio).