Monday, February 28, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Pofahl Fat Bike Details

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. 

Bike Fit

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. 

Frame bags

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. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Fillet Brazed Fat Bike.

Way back when...

Almost exactly a year ago I started talking about a fat bike.  At the time only the Pugsley was commonly available, and I thought that design could be improved on.  I started talking with friends in person and on this blog about a bike I dubbed the "Fatgo."  This was in reference to my desire to have the handling qualities and cargo capacity of my Fargo with fat Surly tires.  Here was the first design iteration from February of last year.

I really love the way my first generation Fargo rides on icy, sketchy roads.  It's very sedate, and stable almost to a fault.  I feel very confident and relaxed while riding that bike, both are things I wanted in a fat bike.  As happens every year about this time, our season really picks up steam.  We get busy with repairs, orders, bike conventions, and we start to ride more.  In no short time the ideas about fat bikes were largely forgotten in my mind.  Maybe not forgotten, but certainly shelved away for the time being.

Enter the Mukluk

Last season passed as a blur.  We were super busy all year and had a hell of a good time.  By the time most of the summer had passed, I'd largely forgotten about snow and all related aspirations. At the end of the summer season Interbike, our industry trade show in Vegas, takes place.  At this show Salsa released the Mukluk.  the Mukluk was pretty much the answer to my prayers.  It incorporated nearly everything I was thinking of using on my thought up custom.

I ordered my Mukluk shortly after they were released.  I settled on a frame and fork rather than the offered complete bike as I wanted to have Salsa Woodchippers on the build.  I wanted to build a set of killer wheels for it, and other parts would fall into place once the bike was up and rolling. That bike would have looked a lot like this.

As you can see, it's pretty darn similar to what I had wanted in the first place.  The bike would be stable, light, and have all the provisions for racks, fenders, and water bottles I could want.

A flaw in the plan

What I had not planned for, and what surprised many people, was the overwhelming demand for Mukluks.  Salsa was inundated with orders from shops, and the fat bike buying public all clamored for a limited supply of these bikes and frames.  We were experiencing the same rush for Mukluks as many shops around the country.  From local riders to call from out of state, it was clear that demand for these bikes would surpass the availability.  I had a choice to make, should I keep the frame for myself, or should I offer it for sale?

After mulling it over quite some time, I decided to sell my Mukluk.  It went to a very nice man in New York, who is enjoying it handily.  I have no doubt that I will own a Mukluk someday, and I've already planned out that build.  That said, I still wanted a bike sooner rather than later.  Looking at the available options, I pulled out the old Fatgo drawings.

Refinement and implementation 

After modifying the old designs taking into account recent developments, I contacted Mike Pofahl.  Mike is the man who builds custom bikes in Faribault.  He's been building bikes for 20 plus years, and does beautiful work with brass fillet brazing.  He's built me and many of our customers bikes, and he's just a great guy.  Mike agreed to build me a frame similar to the Mukluk, but tweaked slightly for use with Woodchipper handlebars.

Here's the final drawing we agreed upon.  In the end, the fork was made slightly longer for more snow/mud clearance, but it's pretty much spot on.

Mike graciously put aside his other projects and completed my bike in an astonishingly short two and half weeks!  I am very grateful for his effort and craftsmanship.  He built me a wonderful bike.


Mike dropped off the completed frame, fork, and stem last week.  I had them at the powder coater on Monday, and he had them ready to be picked up Thursday.  After the final small parts came in yesterday I built the bike and rode it on it's maiden voyage last night.  I love it.

I'll go into the build details in a post later this week.  Bottom line is this bike flat out rocks.  It's exactly what I had hoped it would be.  Happy Monday all.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pofahl Fat Bike

My new fat bike is done!!  It's stunning.  Check out the blog Monday for a write up, and later in the week for full details.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Phil Wood Rohloff.

Yup, you read that right.  Phil Wood has released some photos of a custom hub shell for Rohloff 14 Speedhub internals.  For most people the standard 32 hole Rohloff is sufficient.  If you are hauling heavy loads, or building the the hub for a tandem, it may not be.  Here's a new option.  Phil says these will be available in 24,28,32,36,40 and 48 drilling, and will be available in anno colors.  Bottom line, it's stunning.  

People have been asking for 36h or more drillings from Rohloff for years.  Especially for tandem use, I think it makes a lot of sense.  Rohloff claim that with the larger hub shell and 2 cross spoke lacing make up for that, and it probably does.  Still, when I built my Rohloff up for my tandem I would have picked 36h over 32h just because.

I'll look for more info on pricing, Rohloff Warranty, availability and any other details I can find out.  Phil and Rohloff, seems like a match made in heaven to me.

Check it out from on Phil's Website Here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Salsa Fargo Complete: First look

Salsa has started to ship out 2011 Fargo completes to dealers.  We got our first three in late last week.  These bikes are everything I had hoped they would be.  They come with nice parts at a reasonable price.  The components are nice enough to work well for years, and yet are priced to keep it at a fair $1750.

The color this year is a very classy bone color with a pearl finish.  It has a really nice luster and would match just about any color of components you could want to dress it up with.  I'm thinking a Chris King brown set up with a antique brown Brooks would be to die for!

The panels are a Salsa's woodcut design.  These are really understated as well, and the darker brown compliments the main color really well.

Quality drive train components in a 2x10 format should keep this bike turning out miles for along time.  I am a big fan of the trend towards compact doubles for general bike use.  It provides the usable range of most triples while reducing mechanical complexity.  I think it just looks better too.

I love the subtle curve of the seat stays as they hit the rear dropouts.  The gentle curve adds a touch of class and really blends into the curve of the dropouts really well.  On the smaller sized bikes this also helps make room for the chain stay mounted disc brake.  Salsa's motto of "Adventure by Bike" is written inconspicuously on the inner chain stay.  I dig it.

The Fargo comes stock with WTB's excellent Silverado saddle and Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost.  The Thuduster is a welcome addition to the build.  These are hugely comfortable at the end of a long day in the saddle.  I've loved using mine.  The fact that these are now standard equipment should make a lot of people very happy.  In the background are Continental's fine Race King 2.2" tires.  These are currently my favorite all around use tire.  From hard MTB trails to gravel, these do well in a variety of conditions and roll exceedingly well.  Another very well thought out component choice in my opinion.

Salsa brown gel bar tape matches the panels really well and in general goes very well with the overall look of the bike.

A 31.8 Woddchipper bar, Cane Creek S-3 headset and a new 4 bolt Moto Ace stem round out the front controls of this bike.  Good quality stuff all around, these do the job without complaint, and should almost last forever.  These new stems are a very nice improvement over the older 2 bolt Salsa stems.  They have a more refined look, and appear a bit more streamlined in appearance.

The new 2011 Fargo complete is a killer bike.  The new geometry is much more mtb/gravel as opposed to the older touring minded bike.  This will still end itself to offroad touring very well, but will do so in a much more modern way.  The bike will be much more at home on single track than it's older counterpart, and should make a much better all round bike for most people.  In addition, this year's Fargo can take an 80mm suspension fork.  This is an improvement that my hands welcome in certain places.  It is one of the main reasons why I will at some point own this bike.  I still love riding my original Fargo, but there are now enough reasons to legitimately own both.

Happy Wednesday all.  Have a good one.

Friday, February 11, 2011

MN Bound Fat Bike Video

For those of you who haven't seen this, this is a great video about fat biking in MN Winter.  Gotta love Ron.

Have a great weekend folks.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Surly Cross Check: Small Blue Style

To compliment our stock black 54cm Surly Cross Check, we ordered in one of Surly's finest in a 46cm Robin's Egg Blue color.  This bike flat out rocks.

Cross Checks in general are awesome bikes.  They are one of the most versatile bikes we sell.  Set this bike up with rear rack and you can get groceries or trip it into work.  Full rack mounts make this bike a lively, light duty touring capable steed.  You can throw a set of road tires on it and grind out a century or two in comfort.  Studded tires make this a near perfect winter bomber.  These will fit up to 1.8" mtb tires allowing for light single track use as well.  As they come stock they are one of the best out of the box gravel bikes for the money I know of. I love Cross Checks.

This is the new Robin's Egg Blue color for 2011.  It's lighter than it appears on Surly's website, and has a very slight green hint too it.  It's almost toothpaste blue.  I really like it a lot.  If I had to pick I'd take this over the black, but that's just me.

Cross Check completes are a wonderful value.  These sell for $1099.99, and come with a very smart selection of parts.  Every bit of this bike is affordable and practical.  The bar end shifters are bullet proof and will last forever.  The wheels are nicer than most comparable bikes for the money.  The drive train and brakes are sensible parts that won't drain your wallet while performing well.  In fact, the only part I don't like on the bike is the saddle.  There's a nice Brooks here that would take care of that handily.

This bike is a welcome addition to our in stock line up.  It'll look great sitting next to it's bigger cousin, and it'll make a wonderful bike for someone just in time for spring.  Happy Tuesday folks, I hope it's a good one.

Monday, February 07, 2011

New Rawland rSogn Released

Sean from Rawland sent us this press release this week for their new model, the rSogn.

This an evolution of the original Sogn series of bikes that Rawland started out with.  This is a 650b specific wheeled, cantilever equipped fat tire capable bike.  The new color is stunning, and the geometry has been refined with input from Rawland riders who have ridden the original bikes for years. This bike features road quick geometry, with a higher rake fork to keep things stable.  With thin tires or fat, these ride very well indeed in conditions from road, to gravel to single track.  The bike pictured weighs in at 21.5 lbs, keeping it in line with other performance type bikes.

The rSogn uses similar tubing to the Drakkar.  Other feature points such as the Pacenti crowned fork and reinforcement rings carry over from the Drakkar as well.  In general these bikes have longer than standard head tubes that support a more upright position while eliminating the need for high rise stems or many stem spacers.

The rSogn will fit standard road and MTB drive trains.  This is shown with the new Sugino external bearing crank in 50-34 with 7900 derailleurs.  Tire clearance is enough for full 2.3" tires and mud, or smaller tires and full fenders easily.  This bike has a 12-28 rear cassette which keeps the steps between gears small but overall gear range fairly broad.

New seat post decals carry the Rawland Nordic theme into the new model.  Just behind that in the photo you can see the new seat stay mounted frame pump peg.

This is a great looking new bike from Rawland.  It is at once classic yet modern.  I love the aesthetic of the slight top tube slope, big tires, and tight frame clearances.  These promise to keep the Rawland hallmarks of stylishly classic designs with modern day performance alive. Give us a call if you have any questions about this bike, or if you are interested in picking up one of these fine steeds for your stable.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


I love Brooks saddles, the B17 in particular.  For years every bike I actually ride has had some form of this saddle on it.  Brooks recently came out with their standard saddle in three new colors, Madarine Orange, Apple Green and Electric Blue.  We now have these colors in stock.  We also have the standard B17 black in both men's and women's models.

These are among many new arrives at the shop for spring.  We have things like new racks, panniers, camping equipment and clothing all coming in stock before spring.  This spring is going to be a good one.  Have a good weekend folks. 

Friday, February 04, 2011

17" Mukluk Complete For Sale!

Early this week we got a call from Salsa about a 17" Mukluk Complete that a dealer no longer wanted. We have that bike in the shop assembled and ready for sale. This is a bone stock complete Mukluk as they come from Salsa. It is exactly as pictured on Salsa's website.

This one won't last long at $1500.00.

We also learned today that our Ti El Mariachi Completes and Salsa Fargo Completes will be arriving on Tuesday. These will be just in time for the arrival of the new bike racks next week, and will set the shop for more Salsa parts and bikes to come.  These bikes are stunning for 2011, be sure to come check these out next week.

The El Mariachi Ti's are just gorgeous.  These bikes are very reasonably priced at $3299.99 as well.  For US built Ti with awesome parts throughout, these are killer bikes for the money. 

The Fargo Completes are also much anticipated.  The new more MTB like geometry and component spec really sets these apart from the very touring centric older generation Fargos.  While I love my older Fargo, this new bike will fit many more people's general riding better.  I may end up with a complete myself.  There is very little I would change on the stock bike.  These will sell for $1750.  Again, this is a killer value for the performance. 


Next week is shaping up to be a big one for us.  With amazing new products and new ways to display them coming, the shop should be totally different by week's end!  Have a great weekend folks.  We'll see you soon.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

2010 Bike Sale

We have several 2010 bikes left in the shop on sale at considerably reduced prices.  Check them out and get a jump on spring early for less!

2010 Gary Fisher - Mamba 29er  
Size - 19”
MSRP $929.99
Now $600.00

2010 Gary Fisher - Marlin
Size 19”
MSRP $769.99 
Now $500.00

2010 Gary Fisher - Simple City
Size 20”
MSRP $599.99
Now $400.00

2010 Redline -
MSRP $799.99 
Now $650.00

2010 Trek - 3700
Size 19.5”
MSRP $419.99 
Now $285.00
2010 Trek - 7.2 FX
Size 17.5”
MSRP $519.99
Now $350.00

2010 Trek - 
Size 17”
MSRP $519.99 
Now $350.00

2010 Trek - 7.1 FX
Size 17.5”
MSRP $429.99 
Now $300.00

2010 Trek - 7100
Size 15”
MSRP $429.99 
Now $300.00

2010 Trek - 7000
Size 15”
MSRP $359.99 
Now $250.00

2010 Trek - 
Sizes 14.5”, 16.5”, 18”, 13.5” WSD
MSRP $369.99 
Now $260.00

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Do you want MTB trails in Rice County?

This was forwarded to me by a friend and long time public trail advocate in Northfield.  Rice County is currently assessing their parks plan for the near and long term future.  If you live in Rice County, or would like to ride your bike here, I urge you to fill out the survey below.  I would suggest specifically stating your desire to see mtb trail system development allowed in Rice County in the comments section.  

"Rice County is currently in the process of gathering information for
the Comprehensive Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan.

In order to gather input from those who live and work in the County,
we would greatly appreciate your assistance. The information gathered
will guide staff in determining the needs of residents and greatly
assist in the development of the plan. Please visit the following link
to complete a survey:

If you have additional questions please feel free to call
(507)332-6113 or e-mail"

Thank you for your support!  I am hopeful one day that we can have professionally designed MORC supported trails in Rice County.  Your opinion matters though.  Particularly to those who live, work, or have family or friends in the area, this is the time to make your opinion and voice known.  Tell your county government that you want trails here today!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Rohloff Equipped Surly Travelers Check

We just completed this wonderful build of a Surly Travelers Check.  This is a travel bike.  It features machined couplers in the frame that allow the frame to be separated in two halves.  This allows the bike to be broken down into parts small enough to be fit into a 26" x 26" x 10" hard case for air or rail travel.  By breaking down into this small size it makes the bike much more manageable with other luggage.  The hard case also protects the bike and contents.  The small size makes the case under most airline minimum sizes for normal checked luggage as well.  This cuts down on costs shipping the bike by quite a large amount.

Custom Concept

We built this bike for a customer who travels internationally.  He wanted the versatility provided by the Cross Check frame.  This bike will ride and handle just like a standard Cross Check.  It has the same tire clearances, and will fit similar racks if needed.  The general set up is in between his road type position and the more upright position of his Fargo.  He can easily pack a set of larger 44-50 mm tires with him on his travels for more mtb or rough trail sections.  Wherever he will be traveling to, this bike should be versatile enough to make riding enjoyable.

Build Parts

This bike is built around two main components.  The coupled Cross Check frame makes it versatile, while the 14 speed Rohloff hub keeps it visually and set up simple while being mechanically bullet proof.  The hub is really the mechanical focal point of the build.  Classic Sugino square taper cranks make for a clean look while keeping the classic appearance of the bike.  Viva square taper bottom brackets!

Looking toward the future and a possible disc brake alteration, our customer opted for disc brake compatible hubs front and rear.  The front hub is a black White Industries M16.  Spokes are Sapim butted spokes with brass nipples.  While reasonably light, these are plenty tough for touring or mtb use.  Completing the wheels are rims from DT Swiss.  These are their wider TK 540 touring rims.  TK's have an excellent reputation for durablility and quality.

The tires we chose are Continental Speed CX tires.  These are really cool tires.  They are fairly large volume and are very quick rolling.  These retain the aggressive side knobs from some of their tires, keeping cornering decent on gravel or offroad.  For unknown types of riding, these seem to be a reasonable compromise of rolling resistance and capability.

Fitting the disc Rohloff to this frame required a little bit of doing.  Everything eventually fit just perfectly.  Wheel removal is simple, and cable routing allows for smooth, easy shifting. Not much room for error here though.  DT Swiss RWS skewers keep the hubs firmly in place front and rear.

The Rohloff shifter is mounted in the traditional bar end location via an adapter called a Hubub.  Shifting is easy from this position, and feels much like a standard Shimano bar end type movement. Cable routing is smooth and even around the head tube, well away from the front cable or hanger.

The Rohloff cables are help in place with converted Problem Solvers clamp on cable guides.  This allows the cables to be detached from the frame for packing with just three bolts.  A third small bolt holds a padded c clamp to hole the cables to the seat stay.  The rake cable rides just above the clamp on guides and still moves freely and smoothly.

The seat post, stem, and handlebars are from Salsa and Ritchey.  Classic performers at reasonable prices. The brakes are Paul Components Cantilevers.  These are reliable, great looking brakes.  They add another touch of elegance to a really handsome build.


This is a fabulous bike.  The whole impression of it is purposely understated.  This is not a big that immediately jumps out and grabs you.  It is not supposed to.  It is a utterly bombproof, very comfortable, quite versatile bike capable of riding just about any where. I am throughly pleased with how this bike came out.  There were a lot of small challenges involved with putting this bike together.  In the end it was worth all of that.  It's a beautiful thing.