Winter Fat Bike Project Part 2

Last week, I wrote about unboxing and the initial assembly of my 2016 Gravity Bullseye Monster fat bike from Bikes Direct. For $499 shipped to your door, it’s a great way to get into fat bikes, without breaking the bank. This is going to be my winter project bike, and I hope our readers will get a few tips for playing in the snow on a budget.

As mentioned in Part 1, the first thing I had to do was swap the bars out for some a bit wider. After that, I was ready for my first ride. Before heading out, I dropped the tire pressure from 20 psi to around 8. At 20 psi on the street, the Bullseye Monster rode smooth, and handled well for having 4 inch wide tires. For the sand I was expecting to ride on, I needed a lot less pressure. And at less than 10 psi on the street, this bike has a lot of understeer. Of course, on sand, your speed is low enough that it’s not so much of an issue.

Inexpensive bike shop “take-off” bars and stem

I had already installed a rear rack and bar bag (I’ll go over them next week) to carry tools, water, my phone, wallet, keys, and of course a camera, so I was ready to hit the “beach”. We have several lakes here in Utah, and when the water level is low, you have a choice of deep and loose sand, like a proper beach, or you can ride closer to the water on hard packed sand. I rode a bit on the loose sand, and found that traction was good, but I probably could have run less air in my tires. The 2×8 SRAM drivetrain worked fine in these conditions, as I found a low gear I could easily spin, and let the front wheel float over the sand as well as I could. A ride at a nice relaxed pace over the sand was still a bit of work compared to dirt trails.

2016 Bullseye Gravity Monster, at the water’s edge

After playing in the soft stuff, I decided to ride along the water’s edge. This was another fat bike learning experience. With a regular two inch wide MTB tire, your down tube will protect you from some of the spray off your front tire. A four inch wide tire means that all sorts of crud comes flying up at you. Between the wet sand flying into my face, and all bugs out that night, I didn’t last long. True story: I ordered a front fender as soon as I got home. But being able to traverse the soft sand, where I would have had to walk my XC bike, and then cruise along the beach, that was pretty fun. I did manage some nice photos as well, and will go back to test the fender (with some bug spray too).

Verdict? A high volume pump and a gauge that’s accurate at low pressures are next on my list of fat bike must-haves, along with at least a front fender. The trunk bag on my rear rack kept the spray off me, but I need to see if there is room for a fender on my 16″ frame.

Cost breakdown so far:

2016 Gravity Bullseye Monster $499

Take-off bar and stem $20

– Brian

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