Meet the Fatboy. I’m not trying to be insensitive; that’s its name.
New fatbikes are being announced with some regularity in recent weeks. Among the biggest of these recent announcements is the fact that some of the largest bike manufacturers in the world are offering fatbikes in 2014. Specialized recently unveiled its fatbike offering, the aptly named Fatboy.
It’s important to think about what it means when a company like Specialized offers a bike that has previously been viewed by many as “niche” or fad. It reinforces the fact that some of the largest and most respected companies in the world of cycling are introducing a new bike, not simply because it’s the new bandwagon, but because it is a product that has explosive grown and demand, and that fills an actual and viable industry niche. But you already know that, and so does Specialized. On with the show.
While we have not yet had an opportunity to see the Fatboy in person (or better yet, to ride one), we’re confident that they spent a great deal of time and R&D determining the geometry and design considerations in its aluminum frame fatbike with a tapered headtube with carbon fork.
At this point, figuring out how to design a proper fatbike is a bit less of a leap of faith than it was in the days when the early pioneers of the fatbike world were bringing new product to market. That’s not to say less goes into it, it’s just less of a gamble and they’ve had more frame and component development experiments by other manufacturers to draw upon and leverage.
One of the obvious design details that makes the Fatboy a bit unique is the spacing for a 190mm rear hub. With many of the leaders in the industry at 170mm currently (and some using offset 135mm), time will tell whether this departure from the current standard will be a benefit or not.
One thing that the unique frame design allows is clearance for tires up to 5 inches. Specialized has spec’d their own 4.8″ 120 TPI Ground Control fatbike tire for the Fatboy. For those who already ride fatbikes, you realize this means the industry may continue to develop tires that are larger than the 3.8″ – 4″ fatbike tires that have been dominant in recent years. While a few bikes like the Surly Moonlander have already pushed the envelope with tire size, having the sole fatbike offering from a company like Specialized build a frame for such large tires suggests the demand for super-beefy fatbike tires may expand.
We won’t get into the controversial subject about whether people prefer mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes. To many people, this is as sensitive of a subject as paper or plastic. That aside, Specialized concluded their Fatboy should have hydraulics. They also went with the smooth-shifting Sram X7/XO drivetrain, in 2×10 format (on the Fatboy Expert), and Sram X7 (on the Fatboy). The two offerings – Fatboy vs. Fatboy Expert contain other differences in spec which you can review for yourself in the full spec sheet, attached below.
It’s great to see that fatbikes continue to come onto the scene, with the support of additional companies who will continue to drive R&D, in turn making components more widely available, expanding options and selection, etc. Thanks to Specialized for sending over the specs and photos for us to share, and we’ll look forward to hearing more from them in the future!
For the entire photo set of Specialized Fatboy photos on RideFatbikes.com, take a look at the gallery below, and click on any of the photos to see a larger version. If you want to see it in your local shop, you will find it sometime in September or later.