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Compulsive Bike Builder
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In our last episode, we saw all of this:

https://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=137198

Upon completion I saw several things I would like to change, as happens with any project. I really liked the Fatbike frame's differences from the Pugs (see Wildfire's input in the build blog): vertical dropouts, regular hub front fork and brakes, smaller (and clever) 73mm bb, years of experience tuning, success in epic Alaskan races, handmade in the US by DeSalvo, substantial wieght savings, etc.

The Pugs was new on the market and highly sought after. I decided to try to sell it immediately, as that might be the best time to sell and make a change. I am in the bike business, and sometimes it makes sense to do stuff like that. Sure enough, I found a happy customer in Alaska with relative ease and set out to build a replacement.

This blog is a result of many people's interest in seeing the follow up bike build, and I enjoy doing this, so here goes.

Before I ordered a replacement frame, I figured I would check other custom frame makers. All of them came to the same conclusion: it would be a big learning curve to make a frame with that much offset, unique bottom bracket, etc., and none of them saw it as a learning curve that was worth it for them or for me. Vicious was another option, but the Thunderwing is custom only and much pricier. Wildfire has standard sizes & geometries (although you can tune it for extra $), so it can be had semi-custom and more affordably. In this case the medium is the way I like it, and the geometry is really already tuned for the kind of bike and riding, so I was OK with it.

Mark at Wildfire and Mike DeSalvo have a great partnership. Mark designed the bike, has improved it over six plus years, knows the ins and outs of snow/sand bikes, rides and races in the big multiday Alaskan winter races, etc. Mike's reputation as a frame builder preceeds him.

I preferred to have the frame bear DeSalvo branding, though, and Mark was OK with that. I still bought the frame through Mark. If I were in Alaska I would go with the Wildfire brand for sure. It has not arrived yet, but I do not have long to wait at this point, probably a few weeks. My timing was good. 5 buyers placed orders right after me, and Mark was ready to do some Fatbikes, so my wait is shorter than many others.

As for the frame's finish, I have seen lots of bikes with visible carbon fiber, aluminum, and titanium, and some crude ones with visible steelwork. But I have never seen a bike with welds like DeSalvo's with the metalwork left exposed, and I thought that would be very cool.

Coincidentally, Mike showed off a track bike in raw steel with a matte clearcoat at Interbike:

Well, that did it for me. I did want some color, however, and Mike explained that braze ons were a bit of an issue, and hard to make presentable on such a bike. Thus the choice of a track bike for Interbike. For now I have decided that leaving just head tube and maybe the top of the fork welds visible will be enough. I did a real hack job on a picture of a Fatbike to get an idea of what I was thinking of, and came up with this.

I gave up on the logos after a while, I got enough of a clue of what it would look like to satisfy my curiosity and impatience.

With the head tube left exposed, I decided that I would go with silver components. I have accumulated a nice assortment of silver goodies, but some are still being decided on:

Noteworthy is the silver Thomson X2 stem. This was from the first batch of them made in that color. I do not think I will carry the silver theme through all the components, since I do not want to strip, polish, and re-anodize Large Marge rims, really. So while the silver King rear hub has major bling points, I am still undecided on them. I would still need to buy a front King, and I already have a set of WTB Laser Lite Discs in black. The XT crank with octalink will probably not work due to the lack of width of the bb spindle (73Ex126 may not be wide enough), but I have it available to try.

If all goes well, I will have the rims in my hands next week and begin the wheel build, and a frame a few weeks after that. I will post updates as I go.
 

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I love steel frames that have a clearcoat finish. You will have to be very carefull because any nick in the clearcoat and it will rust at the spot and spread under the clearcoat.

Here is a picture of my girlfriends bare steel, or as she calls it naked road bike.
 

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Compulsive Bike Builder
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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Large Marge, Meet Chris King. Chris, this is Marge.

I could not resist. After weeks of trying to talk myself into building a more affordable, practical wheelset, my silver King hubs siren song seduced me and I could hold out no more:




I figured it was going on a custom handmade frame, one of few I am ever likely to own, it seemed appropriate to build a nice wheelset to adorn it with.

Just to tell the full tale of these wheels, they hide a secret inside. I spent a few hours with a dremel, tin snips and a sander creating single wall Large Marges. The XC models are not available, and I am trying to build a relatively lightweight 4" tire bike. After examining the cross section on Surly's site and staring at my rims, I decided they would still be very strong as single wall rims. The rims have a large circular section next to each sidewall that I left in that will support them. Counting those two circular sections and the two I-beam supports, the rims are 5-box design, and massively overbuilt. SnoCat and Remolinos are single wall rims. The width of the rim inherently fights flex. After cutting down the first one, I did a little flex comparison, both vertically and laterally. Of course, the single wall did flex more than the double wall. But the single wall Marge is still stiffer than any of the regular XC rims I had to compare it against, so it looks ok. If it crumples up after a few rides I will be sure to post pics. Of the wheel, but not me.

Sorry, I do not plan to take pictures of the inside of the rim. It is hideous, take my word for it. The weight of the rims dropped from about 1150 grams to 865 grams each, saving 285g of weight, 570g total, or over 1 1/4 lb rotating weight. In addition, the air volume of the tires is increased, making their springiness more linear, allowing lower pressures, and just being a good thing overall. I installed some lighter tubes that are still very thick that have been tested in these tires, good for 250g each of saving, or another 500g total, call it 2.35lb rotating weight reduction. The rear wheel weighed in a couple of grams shy of 1400g, the front about 1260g. I used 14/15g spokes and brass nips, both rims are offset even though the front fork will not be offset, but the offset is still a good thing because it gives you a zero dish wheel, offsetting the disc dish. I was able to use one spoke length for all 4 spokes: 258mm. Now Surly just needs to make a Kevlar bead Endomorph for more weight savings. Plus it would be foldable, and it would be practical to carry a spare on a trans-arctic ride or something like that. I have no interest in trying to do a tubeless conversion. Yet.

I took the front wheel do a local dealer - The Path - to mount it on a Pace 29er carbon fork. The axle to crown is the right size. The wheel installed and spun with no buzz with 20psi, way more than I will ever use, and that pressure makes the tire grow noticably. However, I had about a credit card thickness clearance between the fork and the tire. Any fork flex, wheel flex, or a less than perfect tire casing would cause rub. And there will be flex, so basically it is not a fit. So I will have to live with a beautiful handcrafted steel fork that weighs about .8 lb more, has gobs of clearance, rack mounts, and a custom paint job.

No ride reports yet, but soon, I am sure, soon.

xpost to AK, Surly
 

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Alaska Turner Mafia
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DirtDad said:
I spent a few hours with a dremel, tin snips and a sander creating single wall Large Marges.

Sorry, I do not plan to take pictures of the inside of the rim. It is hideous, take my word for it. The weight of the rims dropped from about 1150 grams to 865 grams each, saving 285g of weight, 570g total, or over 1 1/4 lb rotating weight.
I wish you would post a few pics, we could easily overlook some form for function's sake. For the large amount of weight savings, I'd visually like to see what you did as it appears to be well worth it, as long as they don't crumple like you mentioned.

Please keep us updated as this build progresses. thanks

Rando
 

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DirtDad said:
Just to tell the full tale of these wheels, they hide a secret inside. I spent a few hours with a dremel, tin snips and a sander creating single wall Large Marges.
GrayBoy at Surly did this with his about a year ago--and I think he's still riding that wheel with good results. Photo below.


DirtDad said:
In addition, the air volume of the tires is increased, making their springiness more linear, allowing lower pressures, and just being a good thing overall. I installed some lighter tubes...
Which tubes?

Can you really notice the increased air volume becoming more linear? I agree with the theory, but didn't suspect I'd really feel it.


DirtDad said:
Now Surly just needs to make a Kevlar bead Endomorph for more weight savings. Plus it would be foldable, and it would be practical to carry a spare on a trans-arctic ride or something like that.
Amen.


DirtDad said:
I have no interest in trying to do a tubeless conversion. Yet.
It's pretty painless. Wall-to-wall duct tape to seal the rim off, an old valve from a dead tube, some sealant and a compressor. Shot it "all the way up" to 20psi for the first 48 hours, then backed it down to about 8, which is where it sits now.

MC
 

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Recovering couch patato
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That single wall Marge makes my heart go BOOM! Might not be the easiest for tubeless though.
Great work DirtDad you did it too, DirtDad!

I'm also impressed that you can tell the difference in springyness. For narrower tire, I actually think smaller air volume might be better to avoid pinchflats and maybe aid handling/rolling. Running a lightweight inflated tubular in stead of a tube, for instance, and then latex-tubeless.

With these tires being so huge, I am dieing to try the trick I saw on Discovery. Some folks with their 4x4 inflated a flat tire by first sprinkling some lighter fluid over the tire (not sure where exactly), lighting it up, and having the heated air expanding to seat the tire onto the rim fr further inflationg. It's the coolest thing since sliced bread, if you ask me. Please let that trick work on Endomorph as well! Don't try it at home, though...

Do do tell about the tubes. And Mike, please tell hwo you like the Endomorphs tubeless?
 

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Compulsive Bike Builder
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Discussion Starter #8
There is WAY I will post pics of mine now

Woaahh, Grayboy's rims are nicely done! Mine are a total hack job, with no cut outs. But it makes me think about it....

WTB makes some big XC tubes, theirs are about 250g each, the Large Marge's are about 500g each. The WTBs are like 2.7" or something, so they have some expanding to do, but the Surly need to grow, too. The WTBs are still suuuuper thick, so I forsee no problems. Of course, it they have some dramatic failure I will post pics.

As for increased, linear air volume, it is all on paper, just a free benefit worth noting. I won't really be able to do a side by side to see if I can feel it, but it sure sounds good, eh?
 

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How can a 250g at 3.7" be super thick, when made out of plain butyl rubber?

This also brings me to the more lineair feel. Wouldn't the higher surface tension in the WTB tube affect handling and rolling? I bet the WTB tube at 15psi rolls slower than the Surly tube, even if there's half the rubber to move. If a real-life test proces my hunch wrong, that'd be great!
 

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Compulsive Bike Builder
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Discussion Starter #10
Will have to play around with it

Cloxxki said:
How can a 250g at 3.7" be super thick, when made out of plain butyl rubber?

This also brings me to the more lineair feel. Wouldn't the higher surface tension in the WTB tube affect handling and rolling? I bet the WTB tube at 15psi rolls slower than the Surly tube, even if there's half the rubber to move. If a real-life test proces my hunch wrong, that'd be great!
I have both tubes, I will have to try them and see how they feel/roll. I guess the thickness is subjective, the WTBs are thicker than any other tubes I use. They are lighter and thinner than some Maxxis DH tubes I have. The Maxxis would fall between the WTBs and the Surly for thickness and weight.
 

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mikesee said:
It's pretty painless. Wall-to-wall duct tape to seal the rim off, an old valve from a dead tube, some sealant and a compressor. Shot it "all the way up" to 20psi for the first 48 hours, then backed it down to about 8, which is where it sits now.
Do you have much time on the tubeless set up in the snow? Running my studded Klaws tubeless on Stan's rims didn't work too well under 30 psi; I believe this was due to snow being pushed into the tire and breaking the seal. If the added volume of the Endomorph allows you to safely run tubeless down to 8 psi, well that would be a beautiful thing.

Speaking of volume, anyone know how the 3.0" Nokians compare to the Endomorph on a Large Marge (or how the width of the casing compares between uninflated tires)?
 

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miles e said:
Do you have much time on the tubeless set up in the snow? Running my studded Klaws tubeless on Stan's rims didn't work too well under 30 psi; I believe this was due to snow being pushed into the tire and breaking the seal. If the added volume of the Endomorph allows you to safely run tubeless down to 8 psi, well that would be a beautiful thing.

Speaking of volume, anyone know how the 3.0" Nokians compare to the Endomorph on a Large Marge (or how the width of the casing compares between uninflated tires)?
I have zero miles on them tubeless--won't get my frame/fork for another few weeks.

Last winter I ran my 3.0 Gazzas down to 3psi. The burly sidewall/casing construction of that tire allowed it. I have no illusions that the Endo's will do well below about 6-7psi (tubeless). The Endo's seem fine at that pressure when there is a tube supporting the tire.

The Endo's are significantly larger (casing width/volume) than the Gazza's. I may still run a Gazza up front so that I can steer in the soft or off camber stuff. A smaller (hah!! 3.0 = smaller!!!) front tire is fine on snow--much of your weight is floating on the rear tire.

MC
 

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mikesee said:
The Endo's are significantly larger (casing width/volume) than the Gazza's.
Thanks Mike. I'm currently having great fun with Exi's mounted on the SnowCats I picked up from you. I use 20 psi for all around riding, and down to 10 psi for snow.

More floatation would be nice though, and studs are very helpful around here too, so a 3.0" Gazza with homemade studs mounted tubeless on a Large Marge sounds very appealing. It seems the tread on the Gazzas would lend itself to studs better than the Endo's, and the aforementioned stiff sidewalls would be a nice addition as well, even if it does give up some volume to the Endo.. Maybe I'll try to get a front wheel with this set up to try out before comitting to a WildFire.
 

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miles e said:
Thanks Mike. I'm currently having great fun with Exi's mounted on the SnowCats I picked up from you. I use 20 psi for all around riding, and down to 10 psi for snow.

More floatation would be nice though, and studs are very helpful around here too, so a 3.0" Gazza with homemade studs mounted tubeless on a Large Marge sounds very appealing. It seems the tread on the Gazzas would lend itself to studs better than the Endo's, and the aforementioned stiff sidewalls would be a nice addition as well, even if it does give up some volume to the Endo.. Maybe I'll try to get a front wheel with this set up to try out before comitting to a WildFire.
Check out the AK forum, specifically the threads about the Knik Glacier. A few of that troupe run the Gazza's sans studs on the ice out there. Depending on how/where/what you're riding, the Gazza on a LM may be enough.

Drop me an email before you commit to an LM front wheel.

MC
 

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I'm up in AK too and on the climb I do to start all my rides, a broken culvert pipe under a steep section of road (approx 15% grade) creates a permanent seep in the road. At the freezing point, layer upon layer of water is added and freezes, and the entire road becomes a shoulder to shoulder glacier for about 75 meters. There is no way in hell you are getting up that without studded tires. I have 6 sets of Nokian studded tires, and when the temps drop and the ice gets really hard, even those are scratching for purchase up that section.

That is unless you have a thin veneer of snow on the ice and with the Pugsley/Large Marge/Endomorph pumped up to about 8psi in back, I was able to crawl up that section, carefully, along the edge, and only spun out and got stuck once. Basically, if you were riding over ice on flat terrain (like a frozen river bed), you would have no problems without studs.

I took the Pugs out last night for a while after a day of white-out. It was very cold (for Kodiak) at about 5deg F, and 4-5" of very fine fresh snow over some older, crusty stuff. There was basically nowhere I couldn't ride. Impressive.
 

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tscheezy said:
I'm up in AK too and on the climb I do to start all my rides, a broken culvert pipe under a steep section of road (approx 15% grade) creates a permanent seep in the road. At the freezing point, layer upon layer of water is added and freezes, and the entire road becomes a shoulder to shoulder glacier for about 75 meters. There is no way in hell you are getting up that without studded tires.

Basically, if you were riding over ice on flat terrain (like a frozen river bed), you would have no problems without studs.
Didn't mean to suggest that you could climb icy walls on the low-psi Gazza's, merely that they do well on ice on rivers and lakes.

For those of us that encounter primarily snow and little ice, it just doesn't make sense to haul around the weight and drag of studs (not to mention the cost) when it comprises a small percentage of the riding we do. I'd rather get off and walk a short distance (then remount on compliant rubber) than be able to ride 100% of the loop and have to do so on studs.

I'm curious about the steep icy hill that starts your ride. After that 75m section, how much of the loop is ice? In other words, if you ride a ~20 mile loop, and only 1 mile of it is icy, do you still use the studs?

Enjoy the snow.

MC
 

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Totally depends. Sometimes we have nothing but ice, everywhere. Other times the only regularly icy stretch is that little glacier flowing down the road. We generally put studded tires on in November and take them off in March unless we get a long thaw mid-winter. In the past we just took time off from riding if the snow got deep. Now with the Pugs, those snowy periods won't stop me anymore. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It gonna be twins!

It has been a while since I updated. To make a long story long, my bike got lost then crunched in shipping. DeSalvo is making it up, however, which is pretty amazing considering it was not his fault. Mike knew I wanted to see if I could make a fatbike on the cheap as a guest bike so friends could join me on sand rides. I figured I would get a used Pugsley someday. But when this bike got messed up, Mike offered me a deal I could not refuse on a second frame. So I took him up on it. That frame will actually arrive first. Mike got it painted locally, I let him get whatever color was the easiest like black, white, whatever. Mike said it will be like a Yeti Blue, which looks like a great color.

I am trying to make the guest bike as flexible as possible for fit. I got a medium frame and I will put a Syntace VRO bar/stem and an SDG I Beam seat/saddle for adjustability. If anyone knows of other trick adjustable parts, let me know.

Mike also took some pics of the frame under construction. Actually it took him a long time to take digital pics and email them to me, I think he is better with a welding gun than an camera and a computer. Had I known that, I would not have have asked, and I would not ask him for pics in the future. But he obliged this time nonetheless.


A trio of seattube/bb shells and nice welds. The BB shell is asymmetric, and the non-drive side crank arm is sort of "countersunk" into the shell on a fatbike.

This is a series of one of the tubes getting cut:






Seat tube/BB assembly in the jig:


More tubes join it in the jig


After being welded together. More gorgeous welds visible here. I know this one is mine, my name is on it, lol


The chainstays look to be a lot of work, here they are in all their girth being welded up, I like how the brake tabs are sticking out here:




Meanwhile, a wide clearance fork is getting put together:


Mike may have more pics at some point, should I keep posting them?
 

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Sweet

Keep us posted. I got to share some trail with Wildfire Mark this winter hell of a nice guy and good sense of humor, and some sort of super winter dog!! I recently had some contact with DeSalvo too it seems like there is all kinds of happy Karma around a product from those two guys.

I must have missed the post about single wall large marges (kinda tuned out the board for a few months) nice idea. Will you be using this bike on sand mainly? I really like the endomorphs and those tires more than anything else sold me on the whole fatbike thing. They are very light for the size, in my opinion, and roll really well. Can't wait to see more.

I am really curious to see what happens if one sets out to build a light fat bike. I sort of gave up on trying to make the pugs light.

Adam
 
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