HOW TO SPOT AN OUTDATED FAT BIKE
Older technology is constantly being phased out. What was "current" in 2013 to 2015, is now antiquated, because CONSIDERABLE changes happened between JAN 2015 and summer of 2016 in fat bike manufacturing design of drive-trains and frameset geometry. And in 2016 to 2017, significant changes and improvements were made to suspension systems.
If you buy into antiquated "tech" now, you will be seriously restricting your ability to upgrade in the future, and it will involve a considerable investment to upgrade "old tech". Your Fat Bikes resale value will also decrease quickly if you buy into outdated technology trends.
In the picture above, of a 2015 SARMA VORTEX, we will show that it is a complete disaster of a Fat bike design. The main issues found are :
- 36 lb weight (before pedals!)
- 2x Double chainring up front
- 4-bolt low-end, forged OE crank, that was known to completely come apart at will, while riding
- 10 SPD drivetrain
- Low-end mechanical brakes
- 135mm Hubs with cheap axles cap spacers 2x7.5mm to "convert to a 150mm" front hub. Problem with these, once you lost an axle cap spacer, the wheelset was unuseable.
- VERY HEAVY soft metal 90mm rims were used, and were NOT tubeless compatible.
- The Bikes were sold and stocked with non TR-rated tires... meaning the tires could neither be used or converted to tubeless riding
- QR quick release rear hub - caused lots of flex in the rear-end of the bike while riding
- Low-end Bluto fork, only 80mm travel, provided sub-par suspension performance
- Frame incompatibility for the majority of the tire/wheelset combinations below
- Stack and Reach settings were just terrible.... riders were overly stretched out on these bikes and they provided poor traction
- The Q-factor on the crank was really wide for some reason...one of the widest Fat Bike cranks I've ever seen or ridden on. It was not comfortable.
- I could keep going down the list, but hopefully you get the idea.
- retail was originally about $1800. Then sales started online and vendors were hoping to get $1200 cash for the bikes, then it got so bad some were moved for only $800, still brand new. Then they pretty much disappeared all-together.
RED FLAGS :
STRONGLY HESITATE BUYING A FAT BIKE IF YOU RUN INTO THESE ISSUES :
- Hub spacing that is not TA (thru-axle) both front and rear.
- Frame Hub spacing that is not 150mm FR, and either 177mm or 197mm RR.
- Wheelsets that use 135mm front hubs with 7.5mm spacer sets (to equal 150mm). Likewise, 190mm rear hubs with 3.5mm spacer sets (to equal 197mm). (spacers get lost when changing tires).
- 2x Double FR chainrings, using 9spd or 10spd drivetrains.
- 1x Drive-train systems that are not either 11spd or 12spd. The 9 and 10spd shifting systems are vastly outdated at this point, with extremely low resale value. You will have to replace the RD, FD, chain, cassette and shifters to move up to 11 or 12 spd systems, which can become quite expensive.
- Wheelset Hubs that are not 11 and 12 spd compatible. (This is a must have)
- 80mm Front Suspension forks, or frames that are not suspension corrected, or corrected in geometry for only 80mm of suspension travel.
- Bluto suspension forks, either (RL) or (RCT3) versions. They have been surpassed by the Wren ATK and Mastodon PRO models. Bluto forks also cannot handle 27.5 x 4.5in tires/wheelset combinations. (This applies to all other "Fat Bike" suspension forks currently on the market)
- Non-tapered headsets (significantly limits suspension fork options)
- Complete Fat Bikes that weigh more than 33 lbs, with 4in tires. (vendors put narrower tires on Fat Bikes to give the "appearance" their bikes weigh less - it's a very deceptive sales technique to "save" at least 2-3 lbs off the declared factory weight of a Fat Bike).
- Frame incompatibility for 26in tires up to 4.8in width
- Frame incompatibility for 27.5+ tires up to 4.0in width
- Frame incompatibility for 29er+ tires up to 3.25in width
- Frame incompatibility for 26in rims up to 100mm width
- Frame incompatibility for 27.5+ and 29er+ wheelsets
- Frame incompatibility for Dropper Posts
- Frame incompatibility for up to 34t ROUND front chainring (on 1x system), or 32t OVAL front chain ring.
- There are some issues with Crankset Q-Factor and Bottom Bracket (BB width)... usually "Q" is 193 or less, and BB is 83-100mm width. Some current brand designs will use Press Fit bottom brackets of 121mm or less.
- Press-fit bottom brackets MAY save a bit of weight, but they add complications to maintenance, and can lead to crankset creaking (and play) issues which can be extremely hard to resolve, once it starts. External bottom bracket systems are suggested for these reasons.
- If Stem length is 80mm or more, the rider has usually been sized to the wrong Fat Bike frame, except if being sized to XL frames, for riders well over 6ft tall.
- Wheelsets that are not tubeless compatible.
- Tires that are not tubeless compatible.
ANOTHER EXAMPLE of a Fat Bike mail-order company that sells very outdated Fat Bikes = FRAMED BIKES of Minnesota. The majority of their fat bikes usually check off at least 5 or more significant issues on this list. They don't have as many ongoing issues as SARMA, but they still garner a very low resale value to customers in the "know".