I've been loving my Pofahl fat bike. I've gotten out on three rides this week for about 60 miles of riding total. The bike handles and fits great. It is really exactly what I was hoping for.
This bike was designed around Salsa's Woodchipper offroad drop handlebar. This bar is wider than typical road handles, and has a huge amount of flare outward in the drop section. The drop portion of this bar is designed to be the main position used. The transition from the bar to the brake hood is very flat, which make the hood position quite usable as well. I love these bars. I have them on my Salsa Fargo, my Rawland Drakkar, and my Steve Potts single speed. Given how comfortable I am on my other bikes, it seemed very logical to build this bike around the same bars.
There are some special considerations that come into play when adding these bars to an existing bike, or when you are designing a bike for them. Because the drop portion of the bar is intended to be your main position, the bar needs to be higher overall than it would be on a road or cyclocross bike. There are two ways to accomplish this, either you get a tall stem, or you make the frame tall enough to set the bars high.
With stand over height so important on a fat bike I decided on the taller stem approach. This type of set up for mountain bikes with drop bars was common in California in the late eighties and early nineties. It's an aesthetic that you either love or hate. I really like it. It gets the bars to a proper height, and still affords a lot of room over the top tube. For my personal fit, the tops of the Woodchippers are set 1" above my saddle height. This makes the drop portion of the bar about 2.5"s below my saddle height, right at where I like my flat bars.
The bike features a lot of little details that really make it a class act. I am a huge fan of these head tube enforcing lugs. I think they compliment the fillet brazed joints of the bike, and are a bit of a throwback to the look of lugged bikes that I love. These photos really don't do the paint justice, it really glows in the sun.
The drivetrain set up on this bike is durable and dependable. The derailleurs, chain and cassette are all Shimano XT. The shifters are Shimano bar end touring shifters. All of these parts are dead reliable in any conditions. They should last a very long time, and provide a measure of security on cold nights on dark snowmobile trails.
Gearing for this bike is low and slow. The front chain rings are 32t with a 20t grannie gear. The rear cassette is standard 11-34t. This provides a very low, low gear, and a plenty high gear for gravel or trails. The 32-11 high gear is really enough, I doubt there will be many times I'll spin it out.
Brakes on this bike are standard Avid BB7 mechanical discs. They are really the only premium option when using drop bars. The cable to the rear brake is routed through the rear chain stay. This keeps the rear end clean, and offers a really nice aesthetic touch.
The front derailler cable receives the same treatment. It keeps the top tube clean for easy frame bag mounting, and the routing works beautifully.
The wheels on this bike are rather special. They feature gorgeous Phil Wood hubs laced to the lightweight Surly Rolling Darryl rims. These are the blue wheels that have been featured on the blog here before. It's great to finally be able to use them. The blue color compliments the green very well. I really think it comes together well.
I plan on using this bike for general winter trail riding, as well as winter commuting. As the sizes of the frames are similar, the bags from my Fargo swap over easily to this frame. I'll be riding this set up for quite some time into spring as well. It's going to be a great tool to get back into shape for longer spring and summer rides.
Overall I'm thoroughly pleased with the bike and how it rides. I have about 60 miles on it so far, and I couldn't be happier. Mike built this bike exceedingly well, and it shows.