Sep 24, 2010

This is FatBike Alaska

Fat biking in the Northland! FIRST POST


Here you will find information, resources, photos links to one of the hottest and fastest growing sports in Alaska! FATBIKING

With the upsurge of 'off-the-shelf' products designed specifically for fat tired bicycles the sport continues to grow in Alaska, where off-trail riding is the norm. These industry developments have opened up a whole new realm of biking possibilities for the masses - riding potentials that were only available to skilled mechanics, racing and elite adventurers in the past!

Fatbikes have opened up a new realm of biking here in the we go!

Any inquiries directed at this page or other fatbiking information should be emailed to: fatbike.alaska(at)

Blog comments are welcomed...

Apr 20, 2009

FatBack is Wired Gadget

Alaskan Snow Bike Rolls Into Sunny California

By Leander Kahney EmailApril 18, 2009 | 4:03:41 PM


MONTEREY, Calif. -- Alaskan biker Greg Matyas' Fatback snow bike has huge fat tires and a unique banana-shaped top tube that slopes down in the middle.

The tires are designed for snow and so is the top tube: it slopes to stop you whacking your privates when you step off the pedals and sink into the snow.

"It's saved me many times," Matyas laughed.

Matyas got a lot of admiring looks and 'Cool!' comments as he rode his Fatback bike around the Sea Otter bike show.

Based in Anchorage, Alaska, Matyas custom builds Fatback bikes for customers, some of them who ride on soft sand as well as snow. The bikes start at about $3,000.

"You air down a little bit and it rides better than a full suspension bike," says Matyas, who rides his bike in Alaska year round.

"It's way more fun than staring at the TV," he says. "We have underground race series all year long. After the races, we hang hot around the fire like a bunch of homeless guys with $4,000 bikes. There's a magic to being out in 30 below."


Photos by Jim Merithew/

Apr 9, 2009

Frames Compared

Wildfire FatBike -
- Cost: $995
- Frame: Chromo; 4.6lbs (19”); custom options.
- Fork: 2.5lbs; spacing 100 mm
- Wheel issues: 160mm rear hub spacing; no offset.
- BB: 100 mm
- Dropouts: Vertical disc.
- Made in: USA
- Warranty: 5 years
- Ride: Priceless

Chain Reaction 9:Zero:7 -
- Cost: $1899
- Frame: Ti; 3.3lbs (17”)
- Fork: Built around a 450mm A-C, The Pugs 100mm fork will work. We also stock Black Sheep Ti and Desalvo forks to match.
- Wheel issues: 160mm rear spacing, non-offset
- BB: 100mm
- Dropouts: Vertical.
- Made in: USA
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Ride: Indisputably the best (This is an inside joke, so don't hammer me on this - I say it tongue in cheek).

Surly Pugsley -
- Cost: $575 - $600
- Frame: chromo; 5.66lbs (18")
- Fork: 2.52 lbs uncut; 135mm spacing
- Wheel issues: 135mm hub spacing front and back; funky 17.5mm offset
- BB: 100mm
- Dropouts – horizontal
- Made in:
- Warranty:
- Ride: I don't know, never been on one

Fatback from Speedway -
- Cost: it says $1500 for frames; custom forks starting at $400 (is that on top of the 1.5K? I'm stoopid)
- Frame: sweet Ti, custom available with lots of fork options; 3.5lbs (18”)
- Fork:
- Wheel issues: 165mm rear spacing; no offset
- BB: 100mm
- Dropouts:
- Made in:
- Warranty: 3 yrs
- Ride: I don't know, never been on one


Apr 6, 2009

Susitna 100

Susitna 100 from indieAK films on Vimeo.

From Indie AK Films...Anchorage - based production company...working on a 'Fat Bike' documentary with Carl Battreall

Apr 5, 2009

Iditarod Trail Invitational on VELO


Snow machine: Jeff Oatley's Rig for the Iditarod Trail Invitational

One of the most famous and unique endurance races in the world takes place annually in Alaska. The Iditarod sled dog race was won on March 18, when Alaskan Lance Mackey reached the end of the 1049-mile route from Anchorage to Nome in nine days, 21 hours, 38 minutes and 46 seconds. The last finisher came in nearly six days later.

A separate but similar race pits self-propelled competitors against each other on the same route as the Iditarod. The annual Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) is limited to 50 racers, who may choose a mode of travel (bike, ski, or hike) and a race distance (350 miles to McGrath, or 1100 miles to Nome).

VeloNews had the opportunity to talk with ultra-endurance rider Jeff Oatley, winner of this year’s 350-mile ITI, about the equipment needed for the event.

The RaceThe 350-mile ITI begins in Knik, Alaska and follows the Iditarod Trail to McGrath, which took Oatley five days, 19 hours, and 34 minutes this year. As you might imagine, the preparation is unlike that of pretty much any other race out there. Extreme cold, snow, ice, and variable trail conditions place unique demands on both the bike and rider.

The most important concern for any competitor of the ITI is safety, which means readiness for the harshest weather that Alaska can dish out. “The thing about the ITI is that it demands a much larger skill set than any other race I know of,” said Oatley, “It traverses the Alaska Range in the middle of winter, so you have to be prepared to deal with everything that goes along with that.”

While simply surviving the race is essential, getting to the finish line in good time is the goal. With these two priorities in mind, it’s all about finding a balance between functional lightweight travel and packing the right equipment to ensure survival.

Those competing in the ITI are expected to be entirely self sufficient, which means carrying food, water, and sufficient gear for warmth. There are two checkpoints where riders are able to replenish supplies, including food and batteries, which must weigh no more than ten pounds. “The checkpoints are roughly 30 to 80 miles apart and you get warm and eat something in most of them,” said Oatley, “but in some conditions mileage is irrelevant … The stretch from Puntilla Lake to Rohn is about 35 miles but this year it took me 57 hours to cover due to some extremely bad snow conditions.”

“Self sufficiency is paramount,” says Oatley, an avid cyclist who has competed in many of the popular epic races, including the Leadville 100, 24 Hours of Moab, the Colorado Trail Race, solo Race Across America in 2007, and the ITI the last five years in a row.

The BikeOatley chose to use a Speedway Cycles Fatback because the titanium frame weighs less than a Surly Pugsley and features a no-offset design. Using a 165mm Hadley rear hub, the Fatback design allows the rear wheel to be dished to the center, just like a front wheel, yet with no interference between the chain and tire.

Oatley uses Nokon housing because the solid aluminum shells stand up to the cold better than other synthetic cable housing. In extremely cold temperatures, traditional housing loses its malleability, putting it at greater risk of cracking.

Equipment choices like these make sense, but why aero bars for a race that averages about four miles per hour? “Using handlebars to push the bike has resulted in some nerve problems in my right forearm,” said Oatley, “I found that the aerobars provide a very neutral arm position for bike pushing—plus they provide a bomber mounting point for my bivvy system.”

So how much pushing should one expect to do in the ITI? “In a ‘normal’ year you can plan on pushing a bike about 50 to 60 miles,” said Oatley. “This year I probably pushed between 110 and 130 miles.”

In temperatures as low as -40F, common grease and chain lube can begin to work against the rider. “The first absolute imperative is to remove the factory grease from the free wheel mechanism,” said Oatley, “The factory grease will freeze around zero degrees.” Oatley chooses to use arctic-grade Mag 1 grease. “All other lubes can get pretty tight so my race bike has a bottom bracket that I soaked in kerosene to remove as much of the lube as possible.” Oatley also removes the grease from his hubs and replaces it with Mag 1.

For chain lube, Oatley prefers a normal Finish Line Dry Lube. “I carried a small bottle during the race and reapplied it three or four times,” said Oatley.

“Tire pressure is the name of the game in snow riding,” said Oatley. As you can imagine, the pressure required to comfortably ride a 3.7-inch Surly Endomorph is quite low. “During the race this year I started with around 15psi,” said Oatley. “Pretty quickly I dropped that to something less than 10psi… By the end of the race I was probably running 5psi or less.”

A few modifications can go a long way during a 5-day race through Arctic conditions. In an effort to save on weight, Oatley drilled 108 one-inch holes into each of his 36-spoke, 80mm wide Remolino rims, which reduced the overall rim weight by about a third. He also modified his Selle Italia Flight saddle by covering it with a 5mm thick seat cover. The pad provided a good cushion for the nearly six-day race, and also helped as a barrier to the cold.

And in a last minute decision, Oatley decided to replace his six-degree stem with a 17-degree riser stem. With previous back injuries, Oatley said that “a relaxed position is better considering the course record is 4.2 miles-per-hour.”

Simply using the Lake MXZ300 mountain bike shoe is not enough to keep a rider’s feet warm in arctic conditions. Oatley protects his feet by buying shoes about four sizes too large and then wears between three and five socks, including booties. Oatley’s typical sock configuration includes an RBH Designs Vapor Barrier sock, a medium and a heavyweight wool sock, and a waterproof nylon bag.

Even though it seems like a lot for a bike, Oatley said that his bike only weighed about 28.5 pounds and cost just about $3,500 (about $6,500 if you add the gear), not including the labor spent drilling 216 holes into the rims.

Component Highlights:Frame: Speedway Cycles FatbackFork: Speedways Cycles custom steelWheels: Remolino 80mm wide rims; Hadley 165mm rear hub, Chris King 100mm front hubDrivetrain: FSA Carbon Pro Team Issue crankset (22/36/44); Truvativ 100mm ISIS bottom bracket; Shimano E-Type front derailleur, SRAM X0 rear derailleur; SRAM X0 twist shifters; Shimano XTR 11-32 9-speed cassette; Nokon derailleur housingBrakes: Magura Marta SLPedals: Crankbrothers Egg Beater 4TiTires: Surly Endomorph 3.7-inchSaddle: Sella Italia FlightStem: Bontrager 100mm 17-degree rise Grips: Ergon GC-2Aerobars: Profile Design Jammer GTGear Highlights:Shoes: Lake MXZ300Booties: Apocalypse DesignsHeadlight: Lupine WilmaGPS: Garmin eTrex LegendSeatpack: Epic Designs Super TwinkieFramebag: Epic Designs Top tube bag: Epic Designs Gas TankHandlebar bags/hand warmers: Dogwood Designs PogiesGloves: Pearl Izumi Gavia and RBH Designs Vapor Barrier Mitten

Mar 14, 2009

Fatbiking 101

It's Official!

Our Recreation, RECR 193, Winter Cycling (aka FatBiking 101) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Kuskokwim Campus is a go!

Maybe this is a first of its kind at the University of Alaska! Curious if others are doing anything like this in an academic setting...please let me know if you are?

I use the website as a repository - focal point for the class. It includes: the syllabus (obviously), links to course resources like the fatbikealaska weblink, videos, pictures and even uptodate tweets regarding class happenings.

A little taste of the syllabus below:


Course Description
RECR 193 is a survey of winter bicycling in Alaska. Topics covered include: Alaskan Winter Cycling Roots &History; Performance & Off-season Training; Bike Design, Performance & Construction; Expedition Readiness and Wheel Building. Practicum will include in-region day-rides and bike-building opportunities for all students. Upon completion, students will have a better understanding of the new levels of fitness and the safe enjoyment of the out-of-doors that this growing winter sport can provide.

Course Goals
* Exposure to some of the unique bicycling history in Alaska
* Understand the roots of Snow Biking and the Development of 'FatBikes' in Alaska
* Develop a broader knowledge-base regarding ultralight camping and self propelled travel
* Understand critical design and construction components for winter bicycles
* Develop basic mechanic skills and confidence through hands-on bike shop experience
* Review off-season training tools and performance
* Recognize and practice safe wilderness travel etiquette


Mar 11, 2009

New Fat Bike Forum

MTBR has put-up a new forum dedicated to the Fat in Bikes:

Two cool threads:

Fat Bike History

Fat Bike FAQ

Still like the Alaska forum as a repository though...more centric to our efforts and each their own!

Feb 10, 2009

Jan 27, 2009

Winter Foot System


A - Liner sock, Generic Polyester Mens Dress Sock
B - VBL Sock, RBH, Single Layer (top)/Insulated (bottom(insideout))
C - Insulation Sock, RBH VBL Combo (top)/Hollowfill Wool(bottom)
D - Boot, Solomon B52 TS GTX (top)/Insulated Footbeds(bottom)
E - Gaiters, Outdoor Research, Epic Fabric
F - Overboot Insulated, Wiggys
G - Overflow Overboot, Wiggys


I think I have about the same $ invested in my footsystem...I guess you get what you pay for in footgear. You could probably (lol, I know you can) go 2 the second-hand store and pickup a pair of old softsole sorels and then head-over to the food store and clip a dozen fruit/vegetable plastic bags for vbls, slap a good gaiter on them...and get pretty good results too...for way way less!

Really liking the idea of layering on the feet, just like we do with our other clothing systems, because it adds to the variability... the real trick is accommodating all conditions...on expeditions and esp. here in the Delta I'm forced to work across the gamut of conditions...thus, the layered, interchangeable, foot system.

I gotta say...

the Wiggys overflow waders, at 8oz, tiny packsize and fitting over all my gear...I don't leave home without saver here! If we were to have a race here on the Kusko I would make them mandatory gear.

the Wiggys Lamilite insulated boots are way way warm....preliminary look is good but the verdict is still out on how far you can walk in them though...will know more after spring expeditioning.

RBH vbls are way superior to anything else I've used...insulated version is rightup there with any other sock combination I've used.

the Solomons are IT for me...super light for a winter boot, plenty warm just the right amt. thinsulate (I think 400gm), just the right flex in the sole which doesn't freeze and most important, the fit for for my wide foot is perfect...I'm using them @ 2 sizes-oversized. A real winter hiking boot...the only mods I made were that I nailed some sheet metal screws to the sole for traction and put some longer laces on them.

using men's dress socks is not only 'style'ish' they are the only liner socks I've ever worn that actually 'stays up' and doesn't sink into a ball under my foot...thats good!

Links on MTBR et al:

Insulating Feet from Pedals?

Lobbens, NEOS or both?

Winter Shoes The Warmest?

Winter Riding and Warm Feet

Winter Boot Setup


Dec 23, 2008

Derailleurless Multispeed

Derailleurless Multi-Speed

[Overview: Expedition style drivetrain; primary winter riding - remote frozen river trail and beach coastal evirons; purpose - simplicity and variability, minimalist but not without; builder - Martin Leonard III]

Surly Pugsley Framset


Phil Cassette Hub
Paul Tensioner
Surly SS Cog / 22t


Surly Whirly Crankset
Surly and Salsa Rings
22t / 30t / 33t


3 Speed Manual Transmission...Simple
Two Main Gear Ratios: 39.5 / 43.5 gearinches
Bailout Gear Ratio: 29.0 gearinches


And if you're really can shift with a flick of the toe!


Nov 22, 2008

A Thin White Line

On February 24, 2001, more than one hundred adventure racers from over ten nations embarked on three of the hardest adventure races in the world: The Iditasport 130, Iditasport Extreme & Iditasport Impossible.

A Thin White Line follows this 1,100 mile race along the Iditarod Trail from Knik Lake to the historical gold rush town of Nome in some of Alaska’s harshest back-country.

Explore the bitter cold and bitter sweet trials and tribulations in this award-winning, adventure documentary, now available on DVD.


Oct 13, 2008

Lost Coast Expedtion

The Lost Coast is a stretch of wild coastline along the Gulf of Alaska starting from the eastern end of Prince William sound extending some 400+ miles to the south and east. Bordered on one side by thousands of miles of open ocean and breaking waves and the high glacier covered Chugash and St. Elias Mountain ranges on the other. It is not protected by islands and is fully exposed to the brunt of the sea and weather systems that swirl in the gulf building power, then slam into the mountains to the north. With that said, it is a incredibly beautiful and wild stretch of coastline.

Starting on August 18th, we will attempt to make the journey between the towns of Yakutat and Cordova. Biking the beach when we can, foot when we can't and use packrafts to cross the large bays and portage the numerous glacier fed rivers. Our route is front loaded with challenges. Close to Yakutat we will need to cross the Hubbard Gap - a massive calving tidewater glacier bordered by steep & rocky shoreline. Heading North we encounter the Sitkagi Bluffs and the worlds largest piedomont glacier, the Malaspina. Next up is perhaps the biggest challenge of Icy Bay. A 3 mile crossing of a bay chock full of icebergs. Continuing northward is cape Yakataga, the mid-way point and food drop that will be delivered by a bush pilot.

Lost Coast Trailer from Eric Parsons on Vimeo.

Miles of beach later we reach the barrier islands and the beginning of the massive Copper River Delta which we must finally stumble across to reach to town of Cordova about 300 miles of wilderness from where we started. Fun!