The Fatback Big Su and Knight Composites wheelsets
These two new rims from Fatback Bikes bring serious innovation to fat bike wheel design and represent the new standard in fat bike wheelsets.
While fat bike technology has expanded a great deal over the last decade, there was still room for improvements in rim design. The number one performance upgrade on a bike are it’s wheels, as they are rotational weight. Previously, fat bike wheels were either moderately light, and a pain to set up tubeless, or heavy and not tubeless compatible. We love our Goldilocks solution, which brings all the best attributes into the same wheel. We set out to make the best-in-class wheelset, and the Big Su/AK SL aluminum wheelset delivers.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT FAT BIKE WHEELSET?
There are many components that, combined properly, add up to great wheels, including rims, hubs, bearings, spokes, even the nipples. Each component was carefully examined in our development process. Read further to learn what makes the Big Su wheelset better than other wheelsets, even at twice the price. By the way, the rims get their name from the Big Susitna River in Alaska. The river is part of the Iditarod Trail Invitational, which is the granddaddy of all winter endurance races, and often delivers some of the harshest conditions racers will ever see.
BUILDING BETTER FAT BIKE RIMS
Weight, stiffness, compliance, durability, ease of maintenance and tubeless set up are the primary factors that determine how a rim performs. Fatback Bikes spent 18 months developing two new rims, one alloy and one carbon, each setting new standards in weight and design. From internal shaping, to material choice and wall thicknesses, we made no compromises. Each decision was based on performance, and has delivered the results we set out to achieve.
- The Big Su rims are the lightest 80mm alloy rim available at 640g.
- The Big Su are easier to set up tubeless. No special kits, tools, tricks or 17 step ordeals.
- The Big Su will run pressures as low as 3psi.
- The Big Su wheelsets are light, but also stiff and durable, and there is no issue using tire levers.
FATBACK ALASKA EDITION HUBS OFFER QUICKER ENGAGEMENT
A wheelset is only as good as its weakest link. We set out to improve on what was already the hubset with the least rolling resistance, the Fatback AK SL. When looking at fat bike hubs, many are just a wider version of a traditional mtb hub. Severe cold places different demands on all moving parts, and if not taken into account, even the most highly regarded hubs will not perform. Our premium hubs manufactured by Hadley outperform all others for reliability, and we wanted to bring that level of performance to everyone, so we put more energy to our own house brand hubs to match the performance of the Hadleys. Most basic fat bike hubs have either 24 or 32 points of engagement. This allows for a huge free stroke before engaging, which may cause you to pedal through your power stroke before clearing an obstacle. We upgraded our hubs to 6 pawls, with 72 points of engagement. This combination provides an almost instantaneous transfer of power.
THE NEW ALASKA EDITION HUBS ARE MORE DURABLE AND SMOOTHER
Durability is very important, as we not only make bikes for ripping trails, but for people that ride in extreme condition like the interior of Alaska in the heart of winter. These folks rely on their equipment not only to get them from point A to point B, but for survival as well. Since the development of 1X drivetrains, with up to 50t rear cogs, more torque is applied to freehub bodies and axles, stressing hubs in a new ways. Our new Alaska Edition hubs use more durable materials (such as steel axles, which are needed for hubs as wide as 197mm), and an additional bearing in the free hub body over traditional designs.
THE FATBACK ALASKA EDITION HUBS FOR THE BEST WINTER FAT BIKE WHEEL PERFORMANCE
We spec Ezo Japanese bearings with extreme temperature grease because they offer incredibly low drag in cold weather fat bike riding and unmatched performance to other bearings we’ve tested. Almost no wattage is lost due to rolling resistance, whereas other hubs tested have over 12X the rolling resistance of our AK SL!
THE BIG SU IS THE BEST ALUMINUM FAT BIKE WHEELSET AVAILABLE
The combination of Big Su rims, Fatback Alaska Edition hubs, double butted 14/16 gauge stainless spokes and brass nipples make this an incredible wheelset. Low rotational weight, quick free hub engagement, easy tubeless set up, and durability ensure the best riding experience possible.
This all lead us to ask, how can we improve on our carbon rim, the mighty Footprint?
FATBACK BIKES AND KNIGHT COMPOSITES COLLABORATE TO DESIGN A PREMIUM CARBON FAT BIKE WHEELSET
So yeah, Carbon… With the new Big Su wheelset coming together we realized we need to up the game with carbon. Our Footprint carbon wheelsets had been amazing, but it was time to advance this rim beyond its current form.
Who better to partner with than Knight Composites, one of the leaders in carbon rim technology, who also happens to be in the same town as our secondary location in Bend Oregon. Knight Composites is no stranger to riding fat bikes, so we approached them to collaborate on a new fat bike rim. Using our knowledge of fat bike rim requirements along with their carbon capabilities, we got right to work.
We are sure you all know about the leading lightweight carbon rim on the market. It’s light, but not durable, doesn’t set up or hold tubeless all that well, has weight restrictions, and is a bit of a pain to build. Some points to consider when choosing a new fat bike carbon wheelset include:
- 81mm outer width and 520g.
- The ability to run less than 6psi or even 4 psi in the winter? You may need that ability!
- Can you ride it hard in all conditions from winter in Fairbanks, rocks in Moab, to roots in the Northeast?
- Can you true the wheel without pulling the tire, dumping the sealant, and removing tape?
- Most importantly, can you set them up tubeless easily, without a team of helpers and gadgets?
ARE YOU SEEKING THE LIGHTEST CARBON FAT BIKE WHEELSET?
While we really love our AK edition hubs, we know certain riders want the very lightest wheels possible so we have the option to build with the always great DT-Swiss 350 hubs, which also tested well in the University of Alaska hub test last winter.
- The Knight/DT Swiss wheelsets are ridiculously light. The rims weighed 520g and complete wheelsets around 1880g.
- They have the strength and durability of the best mountain bike rims on the market.
- They set up tubeless easily with just a floor pump.
We spent a tremendous amount of time testing all relevant fat bike tires to develop the internal rim bed and beadlock to make setting up tubeless a snap, then focused the design and layup around durability and strength. After reaching those goals, we focused on removal of unnecessary material, and changes the resin and layup before fin reached a rim we were proud to put our names on.
We believe you will find these new fat bike carbon rims and wheelsets capable of handling every type of off road riding possible, from the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska, to the chunky roots of the Pacific Northwest to the Rocks of Moab.
COMPARING THE BIG SU AND KNIGHT DT WHEELSET FEATURES AND SPECS
|Big Su (complete bikes only)||Big Su – Alaska Edition||Knight – Alaska Edition||Knight – DT Swiss|
|Rim||Fatback Big Su – 640g – 81mm
|Fatback Big Su 640g – 81mm
|Knight Wide Ride 520g – 81mm
|Knight Wide Ride 520g – 81mm
|Hubs||Fat bike – 32 hole||Fatback Alaska Edition 32 hole||Fatback Alaska Edition 32 hole||DT Swiss 350 Big Ride|
|Spokes||Double butted||Double butted||Sapim Race||Sapim D-Light|
|Tubeless Compatibility||Easy and Recommended||Easy and Recommended||Easy and Recommended||Easy and Recommended|
|Points of engagement||48||72||72||32t ratchet (upgradable)|
|TLS – Tire Lever Safe||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|