Dec 12, 2006

All Weather Sports Fairbanks

Source of information for winter cycling, and the creators of the Snow Cat rims! The AWS site has the latest in reccomendations for tires, suggestions about boots, and most important, intel on setting up your bike for winter.



Info...Snow Cat Rims

simon at

Dec 7, 2006

Fatbike Camping Nuggets

Light in weight, efficient use of technology, complete systems are a few personal Nuggets for those fatbike-cyclists who are looking for lightweight kits to complement their winter Kruzing and /or Racing.

These suggestions are not based on a 'do without' mentality...ideally, we'd all like to enjoy some 'level of comfort' AND a 'large margin of safety' especially at ultra-low ambient temps. How to accomplish that within some stringent weight and volume requirements?




BushBuddy stove is an improved version of the original TREKSTOV, being slightly smaller and lighter, and with an improved grate design that is less prone to clogging with ash.

The stove complete weighs just 10 3/8 oz., and makes a compact package 4 5/8 in diameter and 4 1/8 high when nested (which will fit inside most 1 ½ liter pots). Because it burns wood, it is a very economical stove to use as there is no need to carry your fuel (albeit some fire starters)with you wherever wood is available (it does not need batteries).

A wind break is necessary to maintain proper airflow to the stove. Too much air and you're constantly feeding the will burn through a lot of wood. Keeping the airflow regulated with a wind break/shield of some sorts is the key. I just bring along my MSR great.

You will also need to have someway to segregate the pot used with the stove from the rest of your gear...soot from wood burning gets everywhere...I use a separate stuffsac that is dedicated to the blackened pot.




Ultralight down quilts, sleeping bags, jackets and booties made in the USA with the world's finest materials.

skaha-hoodie-3d-large kobuk-knickers

The Skaha Plus is an ultralight down sweater with a fully baffled integrated hood. Based on the Skaha, the hoodie has the added protection of a down filled hood for only one extra ounce, complete with toggle and drawcord face closure. The entire lightweight down jacket is built with 3/4" baffling and is filled with 800+ goose down. The Skaha Plus is warm, but not bulky. At under 10 oz total weight size medium), this is an amazing piece of gear. Sleep in it!

Kobuk knickers are the perfect companion for our ultralight Skaha down sweater. Baffled down knickers are a huge boost of warmth. There's an elastic drawstring in the waist, and the same generous cut to allow for ample layering and ease of movement. We use the optional suspenders made with lightweight 3/4" webbing.

arc-alp-open arc-alp-bottom-closed

Nunatak Down Quilt

Oware Bivy


Big Agnes Lost Dog OverBag Don't put your moisture into your down insulation...put it in a lightweight sythetic overbag that is easy to air dry. 20oz, Primaloft insulation with a pertex shell, w/ a pad sleeve for retangular pad.

Pacific Outdoor Products Max Thermo is the thickest lightweight pad I've used...the 3/4 length weighs in at 15oz and packs to minimal 10in x 4in. and inflates OK.


Pacific Outdoor Products Uber Micro is the lightest, yet fully functional, closedcell foam pad I've used...the 3/4 large weighs in at 3oz and serves as a great backup to air mats and for general camp use. Folds nicely.




Stephenson Tent
Stephenson Warmlite...if you've not heard of the 'house that Jack Built' you've been behind the times since the 60s. These tents have been setting the standard in the Arctic for years...pound per pound, the strongest and warmest 'full-on' tents in the world. Double walled, good ventilation, very light...far exceeds any singlewall or bivy at similar weights and a true engineering study.

We have a 3ERV and a 2ERV...Jack's son runs the company now and with some vision has added a recent 2C (climber's) to the line...shorter lighter than the standard 2R could be the perfect solo winter tent...will try it with the new large door but without the endliner and side windows on this will be used strictly as a winter tent...less holes the better.

alphamid03 alphamid12

OWARE Tarp Tents Traditional miners style four sided tarp tents...ultralight fabrics and minimalist construction makes these the standard for floorless tents. We use the Alphamid and the traditional 'miners' tarp/tents.




Pacific Outdoor Products ultralight drybags make the perfect minimalist panniers. The relief valve allows for molding of load...keeps gear dry and well organized.

Little voice says: protect your nice to your feet...I get out of the boots and VBL socks asap and 'protect my feet'. The Feathered Friends Booties are plush and worth every ounce.

Nov 26, 2006

ADN FatBike Article Nov06

For these broad-tired bikes, 'fat' isn't a dirty word

Alaskan's creations conquer snow, but face cost challenges from Outside

Anchorage Daily News



In the snow on the wintery trails around Anchorage these days can be found the imprint of Mark Gronewald's success.

It is writ in the shallow chevrons of the print of a bike tire nearly 4 inches wide.

Years after Gronewald first advocated the fat-tire bike as a viable alternative for winter transportation and recreation, his vision is rolling up hills and dipping into valleys across Southcentral.

The FatBike, as Gronewald calls it, has arrived.

alaskan outdoor center - aoc

Visit almost any bike shop in Anchorage today, and you will find a fat-tire bike on display. Most shops display them prominently.

Unfortunately, it is hard to know whether to congratulate Gronewald or console him.

That's because the owner of Wildfire Designs Bicycles in Palmer -- builder of the FatBike that first attracted attention by tying for victory in the 2001 Iditasport Impossible human-powered race from Knik to Nome -- no longer drives the fat-tire phenomenon.

Gronewald is still in the FatBike business. He's subcontracted frame construction to DeSalvo Cycles in Ashland, Ore., but he's still building bikes, selling wheels and rims for fat-tire conversions and promoting winter mountain biking.


But leadership in the fat-tire market has clearly passed to a Minnesota-based company.

Surly Bikes
hit the trails last year with a reasonably priced (at least by upscale mountain-bike standards) fat-tire that's built in Taiwan. The Surly Pugsley, as the bike is called, is the fat bike you'll see in most Anchorage shops.


"When you design bikes up in Minnesota you have to think fat, especially if you want a ride that can handle the Midwest's snowstorms and mud," the magazine Hooked on the Outdoors said at the rollout of the Pugs last year. "The Pugsley (is) a mischievous bike that rolls on super-pudgy 4-inch-wide, 26-inch rims. ...The Pugsley eats up snow and slush, but it's also the ideal ride for beach bums looking to cruise the sand or explorers looking to off-road the outback. Nature's worst will never stand in the way of your commute again."

Nice bit of revisionist history that conveniently overlooks Gronewald and bike builder John Evingson, once of Anchorage.

Both of those men have been playing with fat-tire bike designs for years. But Gronewald says the origins of the FatBike go back even further.


He traces the lineage to Texan Ray "El Remolino" Molino, who experimented with wide-tire bikes for riding on sand in the 1980s. Remolino modified bikes to accept super, extra-wide rims that could support monster tires. He eventually pushed rims to such widths -- three times wider than regular rims -- that special bike frames were needed to accommodate them.

"He was before me," Gronewald said, "and he had a couple prototypes before that. They weren't quite as refined."

Gronewald took the Remolino concept and started tinkering with refinements six or seven years ago. Eventually he had a reliable, solidly functioning FatBike. By the middle of this decade his FatBikes were cleaning up in the ultimate test of fat-tire bikes -- extreme races across the snowy winter trails of Alaska.


Riders on FatBikes won the 350-mile Alaska Ultrasport race along the Iditarod Trail from Knik to McGrath in 2004, the 1,100-mile race along the Iditarod to Nome in 2005 and the 350-miler again this year.

Guessing FatBikes might hold potential to turn at least some summer mountain-bike adventurers into winter riders, Surly picked up the idea and ran with it. The company, a division of even bigger Quality Bike Products Inc., not only makes bikes, it also makes a 65-millimeter (approximately 2 1/2-inch) rim it calls the Large Marge to fit those bikes.



For Gronewald, this has been a mixed blessing. Pugsley bikes compete for customers, but until the Large Marge rims showed up, rims for FatBikes were hard to find.

"So that's a good thing," Gronewald said, though he still longs for Remolino's 80-millimeter (more than 3-inch) rims. These rims, which have big holes drilled in them to reduce weight, have a cult following in the small but growing world of fat-tire cyclists.

"I was just offered $500 apiece if I could get a hold of some older Remolinos," Gronewald said last week.

Winter 'fatbiking' on the Kuskokwim

Readily available Large Marge rims go for about a fifth of that. Not all mountain bike frames will accommodate a rim this wide.

So an investment in fat-tire rims is usually going to force an investment in a fat-tire bike.

The Pugsley frame can be had for $500 to $600. A Wildfire frame from DeSalvo will cost you about half again as much, a lighter titanium version even more. Gronewald contends the DeSalvo frame is a higher quality product than the Surly.

A fully built up, ready-to-ride Pugsley -- frame, rims, wheels, tires, cranks, brakes, etc. -- can be had for less than $2,000. Gronewald said the cheapest FatBike he can build will run $2,100.


A big part of the cost for either bike in true FatBike form is the wheels. Large Marge rims cost $100 to $150 each.


Built-up wheels -- rim, hubs and spokes -- cost $250 or more, depending on the quality of the hubs and spokes involved. And then there are the Surly Endomorph tires at about $100 each.


Start adding such niceties as Magura Marta SL hydraulic disc brakes ($630) to avoid cables freezing in their housing or ice interfering with rim brakes, state-of-the-art Shimano XTR cranks ($629), lightweight Sram X.O shifters and derailleurs ($500) -- not to mention pricey little goodies like carbon-fiber handlebars and seatposts -- and it would be easy to push the price of even a Pugsley toward $5,000.

For the dedicated tinkerer, there are cheaper ways.


Find an old mountain bike frame with at least 3 inches of rear-tire clearance; a Large Marge rim can be built up to a low-cost hub. And Nokian makes a cheaper 3-inch-wide tire, the Gazzaloddi, designed for downhill mountain biking but usable for winter riding.

It doesn't offer quite the float of the Endomorph, but it's better than a standard mountain bike tire.

Some riders have also had success in mounting Endomorph tires to 40- or 50-millimeter rims designed for downhill mountain bikes, even though Surly discourages that.


The greater the difference in width between rims and the tires that are put on them, the greater the likelihood of pinch flats, particularly when riding at the low pressures necessary to make fat tires perform well in snow.

Still, long-time mountain biker Carlos Lozano of Anchorage said he's been running Endomorph tires on 44-millimeter SnowCat rims without trouble.


"It works just fine," he said. "The thing I'm learning about having the SnowCat/Endomorph up front is that the profile of the tire is taller."

As a result, when tire pressures are low, the big sidewalls can flex a lot, "and that induces tire wag," Lozano said.


While cyclists on Large Marge rims can use extremely low tire pressures, maximizing float on soft trail, Lozano said he has to keep pressures above 10 pounds per square inch to keep the bike from feeling too loose.


SnowCat rims are available from All Weather Sports in Fairbanks ( for $120 a set.

Even with tire width reduced somewhat, Lozano said his bike still astounds him with both its soft-snow float and its comfortable ride.

Despite the price tag and the big marketing push being made by a cheaper competitor, Gronewald's FatBike business is still plugging along.


"I'm still getting quite a few bike orders," he said. "It keeps me busy all winter."

Couple winter bike building with a summer job working for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Division of Parks, and Gronewald has a year-round income.

But will it last?

The Surly Pugsley could be part of a rising tide of interest in winter biking that lifts FatBike builder Gronewald to new heights, or Pugsley could be the leading edge of a wave of low-budget competitors that sweep over him.

"I don't think it's hurt me at all so far," said Gronewald, who believes knowledgeable cyclists recognize that he has a better product. "Mine are lighter and faster, and they've got a better track record for races."

All of those things are commodities marketable to a small core of serious cyclists.

Among this group, the old standard used to be that a lighter part was worth the increased cost up to about $1 per gram. Now an increasing number of cyclists appear willing to sometimes pay $3 or $4 per gram for weight savings.


But for the bulk of the cycling market, the budget-price Pugsley will probably prove attractive.

"I do wish more people were on mine versus theirs," Gronewald said, adding that he also values the growing market.


"It is turning into kind of a sport for more people," he said.

Because fat tires offer more float, the bikes are easier to ride on Susitna Valley snowmachine trails than regular bikes.

Front tires don't punch through nearly as often, and riders don't do nearly as much snaking down the trail, a problem linked to tires sinking deep in snow and being pulled to one side or the other.

The low-pressure, 4-inch-wide Surly Endomoprh tires sink in so little that local nordic skier Tim Kelley said he'd be happy to see more of the bikes on local multi-use trails. Where other mountain bikes tend to tear up the trails, Kelley said, fat bikes pack them in. His experience so far this year, he added, is that getting on a trail behind a pack of Pugsley riders is actually better than getting in behind fellow skate skiers.


Gronewald agrees.


"They don't tear up the trails like skinnier tires do," he said. "It doesn't take many passes before there's a really nice trail."

Fat-tire bikes also take the abuse of frozen rocks well.

All of these things make the bikes attractive to athletes who cross-train in a variety of endurance sports. Whether any of these factors will combine to create a true fat-tire fad remains to be seen.

"I don't know if you're going to see a boom," Gronewald said. "It's still sort of on the fringe, but I do think you will see more people getting into it."


Already there are enough that Gronewald doesn't find his FatBike getting laughed at when he's out.

"When I first started riding them," he said, "people were kind of making fun of me."

Now there's a new, equally irritating issue.

"The one that gets me," he said, "was I was out riding my Fat Bike, which I've been building for seven years now, and some guy tells me, 'Hey, man, you just copied the Pugsley.' "

What's a little guy from Alaska to do?

"I don't have much of a marketing budget," Gronewald said. "Marketing these things in Alaska, there's only so much you can do."


Still, he isn't ready to abandon his FatBike dreams. He knows he's got a good product and visions of how to make it better.

"I've actually been toying with the idea of carbon fiber (rims)," he said.

A wide, molded carbon-fiber rim could significantly drop wheel weight on a FatBike. Lighter wheels mean lighter bikes, and lighter bikes always roll faster and easier.

Why, a sub-25-pound FatBike pedaled by a skinny rider could float down most Alaska trails, opening more Alaska wilderness to winter biking.


It doesn't hurt to dream.

Daily News Outdoor editor Craig Medred can be reached at

Nov 19, 2006

Rohloff Winterizing


Most Speedhub users agree that Rohloff case oils are winter competent / functional only to ~ freezing temps. At the temps we're running the hubs in Alaska, below 0dF can be the average, the Rohloff oils are useless.


So....numerous folks have looked @ possible solutions...

Rohloff Oil int the Cold...Cryo Results

It is very nice to have access to a cryogenic freezer.

Running the freezer at ~ minus50dC / minus59dF.

I'll post some results from testing Arctic Oil destined for the Rohloff Hub.


Mobil 1 Synthetic 0W: thick honey! (not effective)

Rohloff All Use Oil: (? still cooking)

Kerosene thinned Rohloff all use Oil: watery! ( too watery ?, leakage)

Kerosene thinned Molykote grease: (? still cooking)

Kerosene thinned LubriPlate grease:


Rohloff Links

Discussion on MTBR:

Rohloff Club

Speedbone, Shifter, Tips

Stripped Torx

General Discussion on Turner

Should I Get the Rohloff

Which Chainring / Cog Size


Nov 11, 2006

We don't need no steenking pogies

"We don't need no steenking pogies"

Link to the MTBR forum

Actually...pogies are'em - use'em occassionally...with a quality VBL mitt and some of the new windproof fabrics you can accomplish much of the same with less!

If you've biked in 'real' cold, windy conditions...a fairing is indespensible and can be the difference between riding and old fairing, 80s vintage, is somewhat obsolete...but working on a new one for the Wildfire and Pugs layups...mostly off of Jones and Mary bars. is laying them up...


As mentioned, I haven't used a fairing for years...the one I do have experience w/ had a large fiberglass conelike front end mounted high on the fork and stabilized off of the brake levers (I was using a small profile road bar and road levers.). The plexi windshield extended up to about mid-face level when was a tank...~ 4 pounds+ with hardware...but it worked and took a beating over a few years of hard use all above the Arctic Circle. I purchased a number of them and that fairing cost me ~ 150.00 wholesale 20 years ago. Sorry for not having photos...they're lost in my storage 'black hole'!

The ZZipper fairings are WAY refined compared to my early rendition.

Karl at ZZipper has made a number of fairings for Alaskans and many for upright MTB riders. I've sent him some of the bars I'm riding and he's fit both of the upright designs. I'm looking at the Mountain88 and the ATB models. Asided from cold weather protection I feel that the aerodynamics provided and the resultant efficiencies shouldn't be overlooked.

Evidently the Plexi he's using is aerospacegrade but I'm not sure how it performs at minus temps. I will mount the fairing like a brake lever...snug, but loose enough to re-align in a crash. Karl is a good guy and ZZipper a long standing company...he stands by his product and will make what ever is called for.

The plexi fairing he markets for MTB / Uprights weigh .75lb...the hardware is custom and of high quality weighing .75 lb.

Heres Karl's ZZipper pricing:

I'll take delivery soon...but not soon was frigin cold and windy this morn...

'real' cold!



Link to the MTBR forum

Karl and the ZZipp ATB

ZZipp Mounting Hardware

ZZipp Mountain88




Oct 19, 2006

Some Fatbike Videos

Some videos fatbiking on the frozen Kuskokwim River near Bethel, Alaska ...efforts underway to develop a wildernes bike race on the Kuskokwim KB150...Steve riding one of the aoc surly pugsleys.

Straight-up Kusko Kruz'in

Getting Cycledelic on the Kuskokwim

Oct 10, 2006

Wildfire AOC Rohloff Kusko Kruzer

Wildfire AOC Rohloff
'Kuskokwim River Kruzer'

Follow the thread @ mtbr alaska forum

At the Wildfire shop!

Mrs. Wildfire Portrait

Rohloff, Rennen CT

Paul Canti

Surly NR, WTB GG legacy FH, WTB GG HDST

Jones Bar, Rohloff Twist

WTB GG PD, Sugino, Surly SS CR

Rohloff Ext ShiftBox

Rear Rack