Make Your Fatbike a Year 'Round Mountain Bike

If you have a fatbike you probably enjoy those big tires and all the flotation they give on a multitude of terrain options, but plus wheel sizes give you a lighter, faster bike for singletrack and gravel without having to fork out the cash for another bike. 

This Spring I had a 27.5+ wheelset built up so I would have some options this Summer.  I like the "plus size" bikes but didn't want to buy one when I can build a plus wheelset and use it on my carbon Trek Farley.  Doing this would give me two bikes in one that I could change at will simply by switching out the wheelset.  Now don't get me wrong, building another wheelset isn't cheap, but in my case (owning a carbon fatbike) it was cheaper than buying another bike and it only takes a couple minutes to convert my fatty to a plus bike.

In this post I will show you what I needed to build a wheelset that matched my bike for what I wanted.  I ride everything on my Farley including singletrack, gravel, bushwhacking and my work commute on paved roads so a second wheel option would extend my ride options and lighten up my bike.

First of all I had to know several things about my bike I was building the wheelset for.  These included:
  • Wheel size compatibility (I chose 27.5+ SunRingle Mulefüt 50mm)
  • Hubs (in my case it was 150x15 front 197x12 rear, both through axles thus I chose Bontrager Jackalope hubs which are the same hubs on my fat wheelset)
  • XD Driver compatibility (my drivetrain is a 1x11 SRAM requiring an XD Driver for the cassette)
  • Spoke hole count to match wheels to the hubs (32 in my build)
  • Cassette needed (SRAM XG-115011-speed 10-42T cassette)
  • Rotor size and brake compatability (Avid Centerline 160mm)
  • Rim strip (SunRingle Rim Strip 584x38 wide) 
  • Tubeless tape to set up tubeless (48mm wide x10m for the Mulefüt 50mm)
  • 34mm Presta TLR valves
  • Tires (Bontrager Chupacabra 27.5x2.8
  • Tubeless sealant (8 oz bottle Orange Seal Endurance)
Basically I kept all of my drivetrain and brake hardware the same to match my fatbike wheelset.  When you build your wheelset you'll have options when it comes to hubs, hoops and spokes.  Your bike's specifications may be different so contact your local bike shop or bike manufacturer to see what parts or wheel sizing are compatible with your fatbike.

Image Credit: Justin Williams

Once I received all the parts I ordered it was time to have my new wheelset built by a qualified mechanic at my local bike shop which happens to be Penn Cycle in Eagan.  My co-worker Justin Williams took to the task, we had been discussing my build for some time and he gave me some excellent information to help in making my decisions on hoops, hubs and spoke choices.  One of his signature spoke configurations was to have the four spokes near the Presta valve in silver (as seen in the picture above) and the rest all in black making it easy to find the valve when inflating the tire or hanging my bike on hooks.

Image Credit: Justin Williams

Once the wheels were laced up and trued it was time to install the rim strip which was the factory matching SunRingle 38mm wide rime strip.

Image Credit: Justin Williams

Then it was time to install the 48mm wide tubeless tape and the TLR Presta valves.

Image Credit: Justin Williams

Now to install the tires, put in the tubeless sealant and set the bead.  Pro tip: make sure the tire logo is in line with the logo on your hoop as seen in the picture above.

Don't get me wrong, I still love my fatty wheelset, but it's nice to have choices when riding a wide variety of conditions and trails.  My Trek Farley has through axles so changing out my wheelsets takes literally two minutes and I'm ready to roll whatever terrain I want.

24.07 lbs
27.18 lbs

Going plus on your fatbike will definitely drop some pounds from your steed, especially if you set up your wheels tubeless.  The picture on the left is with my stock Jackalope wheels w/ Bontrager Hodags (27.5x3.8) tubeless weighing in at 27.18 lbs. with Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 pedals.  The picture on the right is with my new 27.5+ SunRingle Mulefüt 50mm wheelset set up tubeless with Bontrager Chupacabras (27.5x2.8) tubeless with the same Crank Brothers Eggbeater 3 pedals weighing in at 24.07 lbs.

Consult your local bike shop or your bike manufacturer to see what your bike's specific sizing/wheel/hub options are available.  Then order all the parts you need for your build and make your fatbike a plus bike anytime you want.  Don't forget to tip your mechanic after he or she sets you up with your year 'round mountain bike

Penn Cycle & Fitness
Save Now On Saris Racks
and CycleOps Trainers


Lake Rebecca Singletrack Now Open

Construction is now complete and the Twin Cities' newest singletrack at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve in Rockford is now open.  The new trail system replaces the original 3.8 miles with over 13 miles through Lake Rebecca's Big Woods landscape.  With a series of looping trails, there is something here for everyone from beginners, intermediate to advanced riders.

If racing is your thing, there will be several races coming up at Lake Rebecca that you can get in on.  The first is the final race of the Dirt Cup Mountain Bike Sprint Series on August 31st.  Next up is the inaugural Landscape Structures Big Woods Classic (part of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series) on September 24th.  There will also be a grand opening celebration during the Big Woods Classic.  Then for some night time racing comes the Nocturnal Mountain Bike Races on October 29th.

For more information and updates on this new trail system visit the Lake Rebecca Singletrack Facebook page and the MORC Trail Conditions page.

Central Lakes Trail
Get out and enjoy 
the beautiful gem known as 
the Central Lakes Trail!


Wednesday Night CX Series Kicks Off August 31st

Image Credit: CX-MN Facebook Page

Wednesday Night CX starts off the early cyclocross season with seven weeks of racing at Aquila Park in St. Louis Park starting August 31st.  "These races will be organized, structured, low key early season races.  A great time to try the sport as a beginner or a chance to work out the kinks for those returning for the new season."  These are not USA Cycling races so results will not be sent, points will not be earned and a USA Cycling license is not needed to race.    

Race Flyer
"These races are a great way to test out the sport, and each Wednesday night will contain races focusing on different abilities so racers new to cyclocross can race against other "newbies" and elite level racers can race against other elite level racers. This will keep all the races fun and safe for everyone."

If you have ever wanted to give cyclocross racing a try, this is your chance.  Entry fee is only $20 and registration starts one hour before the first race each week and ends 15 minutes prior to race start.  Pre-register for the series for $120 at any of the Wendesday Night CX Sponsors.  Start times will change each week as daylight decreases so check the flyer and don't be late.  Advanced race will be around 60 minutes, Intermediate 45 minutes, Beginner 30 minutes and Newbies (8/31 & 9/7) for 15 minutes.  This is a chip timed series.

Course layout changes each week and will be done by that week's sponsoring shop.  Sponsoring shops include:

8/31 Now Bike and Fitness/Synergy
9/7 The Fix Studio
9/14 Angry Catfish
9/21 Maple Grove Cycling
9/28 Penn Cycle & Fitness
10/5 All City/Fulton
10/12 Tonka Cycle/MCT

For series updates or to contact organizers visit the CX-MN Facebook page.


Getting To The Great Minnesota Get Together By Bike

Avoid traffic congestion and the high cost of parking at the Great Minnesota Get Together by riding your bike.  The Minnesota State Fair has free secure and monitored bike parking at three locations.  The bike corrals are located at the Como-Snelling Gate (#6),  Hoyt-Snelling Gate (#2) and Randall-Buford Gate (#17).  They remain open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight.  Click here to download a printable color map of the Minnesota State Fair.

Image Credit: Minnesota State Fair

For State Fair goers that may have a longer commute, they can park and lock their bikes at one of several Park & Ride lots and take the bus for free to and from the fair.  These Park & Ride locations include:
  •  Roseville Area High School East of Hamline on Co. Rd. B2.  Not available Tuesday, August 30th or Thursday, September 1st.
  •  MN Dept. of Education East of Target, north of Co. Rd. B. (Pascal St. & Commerce St.). 
  •  U of M Minneapolis Campus (Not available Thursday, September 1st).  Various surface lots near TCF Bank Stadium along 6th Street SE and 8th Street SE open at 8 a.m. daily. 4th Street Ramp opens 4 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. weekends & Labor Day.
  •  Bandana Square North side of Energy Park Drive, east of Snelling Avenue (Weekends and Labor Day only).
Park Free, Ride Free bus rides are available from 8 a.m. to midnight and buses leave approximately every 20 minutes.  For a map of the Park Free, Ride Free locations, click here.

For Nice Ride MN subscribers, there is a Nice Ride Station located near the MN State Fair.  The U of M St. Paul Student Center Station is on Buford Ave. and is a short walk to Gate 16 by the Transit Hub.  Use the new Nice Ride Bike Share app for station locations, bike/dock availability and to rent/unlock bikes.

Image Credit:  Ochen K. from Bike Racks - Minnesota State Fair on Vimeo

There are several resources available to plan out your bike route to the fair.   BikeEverywhere has a Bike to the State Fair map that shows on-road, bike path next to road and bicycle corridor trail routes leading to the fair.  Please note that Lot 3 on this map has been moved from Commonwealth Ave. and West Dan Patch Ave. to the Randall-Buford Gate (#17).  Bike Walk Move has a downloadable Bicycling & Walking Como Avenue map that shows off-street bike paths and recommended on-street bike routes leading to the State Fairgrounds.  Cyclopath is a great tool for route planning.  Simply enter the beginning and ending addresses and it will find a bike route that matches the way you ride.

Google Maps using Bicycling Directions is also another great way to plan your ride to the Great Minnesota Get Together.  Enter the starting and ending points on your PC or by using the Google Maps app on your smartphone and you will be given several route choices. When using your computer you can even choose to send the route to your Google connected smartphone.  The Google Maps app even has an option to enable voice guided turn-by-turn directions so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Don't get stuck in traffic or pay the $13 State Fair parking fee.  By biking to the fair or using the Park Free, Ride Free bus service you can save yourself some money, enjoy the ride and arrive close to an entrance gate.

PLEASE NOTE that neither the fair bike corrals nor the Park & Ride lots provide for secure storage of bike helmets.


    Winter '16-'17 MN Fatbike Events

    With the explosion of  the popularity of fatbikes, Minnesota has become home to Winter fatbiking.  This year, no doubt is bound to see many new events and the return of some old favorites. 

    This season's calendar will include all types of  Winter fatbike events from festivals and races to demos and group rides.  Below is a list in chronological order.  Race and event organizers, if you would like your event listed, please send me an e-mail (or visit my contact page).  I will continue to update and add events to this post as they become available.

    Fat Turkey Ride-November 19, 2016
    Acceleration Sports and Fitness
    Brainerd, MN

    The "Pie Burner" Thanksgiving Weekend Fatbike Ride-November 26, 2016
    Hibbing, MN

    Global Fat-Bike Day-December 3, 2016

    Winter Bike Expo-December 3-4, 2016
    Freewheel Midtown Bike Center
    Minneapolis, MN

    Superfat Crit-December 3, 2016
    Freewheel Midtown Bike Center
    Minneapolis, MN 

    Frozen Frolic Fat Bike Race-December 10, 2016
    Elm Creek Singletrack Trail
    Champlin, MN 

    Solstice Chase-December 17, 2016
    Great Lakes Fatbike Series
    Big Rock Creek Retreat
    St. Croix Falls, WI
    42k, 21k
    Online Registration 

    Frozen Frolic Fat Bike Race-December 21, 2016
    Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve
    Savage, MN

    Introduction To Fat Biking-December 24, 2016
    Cleary Lake Regional Park
    Prior Lake, MN 

    Community Outreach: Introduction To Fat Biking-December 29, 2016
    New Prague Golf Course
    New Prague, MN

    Introduction To Fat Biking-January 7, 2017
    Cleary Lake Regional Park
    Prior Lake, MN 

    Lutsen-January 7, 2017
    Great Lakes Fatbike Series
    Lutsen, MN 

    Frozen Frolic Fat Bike Race-January 11, 2017
    Lake Rebecca Park Reserve
    Rockford, MN 

    Get Phat With Pat-Race #1-January 21, 2017
    River Bottoms Mountain Bike Trail
    Bloomington, MN 

    QBP Fat Bike Rennet-January 21, 2017
    Hyland Lake Park Reserve
    Bloomington, MN
    39k Illuminated, 13k
    Online Registration  

    Carver Lake Cold Catfish Cup-January 22, 2017
    Carver Lake Park Mountain Bike Trailhead
    Woodbury, MN 

    Fat Bike Fun Race-January 28, 2017
    Cleary Lake Regional Park
    Prior Lake, MN
    10k, 5k 

    Get Phat With Pat-Race #2-January 28, 2017
    River Bottoms Mountain Bike Trail
    Bloomington, MN 

    King Boreas Winter Triathlon-January 29, 2017
    Phalen Golf Course
    St. Paul, MN
    5k run, 17k bike, 7k ski
    Online Registration

    Arrowhead 135-January 30-February 1, 2017
    International Falls, MN

    Frozen Frolic Fat Bike Race-February 1, 2017
    Elm Creek Singletrack Trail
    Champlin, MN 

    Cuyuna Whiteout-February 3-4, 2017
    Great Lakes Fatbike Series
    Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails
    Crosby/Riverton, MN

    Fatbike Frozen 40-February 11, 2017
    Great Lakes Fat Bike Series
    Elm Creek Park Reserve
    Champlin, MN 
    40, 20 miles
    200 rider cap 
    Facebook Event Page 

    Fat Bike Vasaloppet-February 12, 2017
    Lake Mora
    Mora, MN
    38K Race, 10K Ride
    Facebook Event Page

    Fat Frozen Fun Team Relay Race-February 18, 2017
    Elm Creek Park Reserve
    Champlin, MN 
    4 hour, 2 hour and 2 Lap Newly Fat relays


    Summer Getaway to True North Basecamp

    Image Credit: Dan Jurek

    Since opening last Fall, True North Basecamp has become the place to go when visiting the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails for some "shred the red" fun.  They offer cyclists a great place to stay just blocks from downtown Crosby and they are "trail-connected" to the World Class mountain biking that the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area has become known for.  Whether you like a little comfort or choose to rough-it, True North Basecamp has the accommodations for you.

    Image Credit: Dan Jurek

    I'm not much of a camper, so when I visit Cuyuna I like to stay in one of True North's rustic lakefront cabins.  They offer me and my friends a comfortable place to settle in or to just take a break from riding.  Being trail-connected I can ride for a few hours and head back to the cabin to cool off in the air conditioning, grab a cold one and a bite to eat.  For those chilly evenings the cabins have heat and a fire ring outside for a campfire.  Each of their six cabins has a wonderful view of the Armour Mine Pit #2 Lake, one full and three twin beds, Wifi access to stay connected, USB charging ports for electronics and is right next door to the shower house.

    Image Credit: Dan Jurek

    For those that prefer to camp, there are 33 wooded campsites each with a fire ring and picnic table.  In addition to tent camping, True North Basecamp does allow pop-up and teardrop campers but they do not have hook ups or pull through sites.  Vault toilets are located throughout the campsite area and it's a short walk to the shower house.

    Image Credit: Dan Jurek

    After a day of riding in the Summer heat one of the first things you're going to want to do when you get back to the Basecamp is get out of your sweaty cycling clothes and take a shower.  The shower house which is located right behind the lakefront cabins has what you need to get feeling refreshed.  After a shower with conditioned water and a change of clothes you're ready to relax back at your campsite or cabin.

    True North Basecamp has the simple things needed to make your stay comfortable but you will need to bring your bedding/sleeping bag, pillow and towels for your stay whether you camp or rent one of the lakeside cabins.  If you plan on doing some cooking during your stay you will want to bring a cooler with ice to keep your food cold, a crockpot for cooking/reheating prepared meals, a campstove to cook on or cook over the open fire of the provided fire pit.

    For those that would rather have someone else do the cooking, Crosby is just a couple of blocks away with restaurants and bars that serve up food.  If you would rather stay in, Louie's Bucket of Bones now delivers to True North Basecamp.

    Image Credit: Dan Jurek

    Access to 30+ miles of Minnesota's best mountain biking is right on the premises and the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail is just across the lake.  If you want to cool off after a day out on the trails, there is a sandy swimming beach on the shores of the Armour Mine Pit #2 lake.  Another new addition this Summer is that pets are now allowed, so bring your trail dog with for the trip.

    If you are in need of a bike rental during your stay, Cycle Path and Paddle in Crosby delivers bike rentals to True North Basecamp.  Rates for a hardtail mountain bike are $35/half day or $45/full day.  Fat bikes, road bikes, canoes/kayaks and paddle boards are also available for rent.  Delivery schedule information is available on their website or call 218-545-4545 for more information.

    Image Credit: Dan Jurek

    True North Basecamp has special weekday rates that can save you a bunch of cash.  Rent one of the lakefront cabins Sunday through Thursday for only $69 a night, Friday and Saturday nights are just $125 a night.  Camping is even more thrifty Sunday through Thursday for only $19 a night and $29 a night on Fridays and Saturdays.  Check in time is at 4:00pm and check out is at noon.

    For a list of frequently ask questions about True North Basecamp visit the FAQ page.  To book your stay visit the True North Basecamp Booking page for Cabin and Camping reservations.  For updates and more information visit the True North Basecamp Facebook Page, Twitter Page or send them a message on their contact page.


    Summer '16 Minnesota Gravel Events

    Gravel racing season traditionally has been in the Spring and Fall but with the growing popularity of "riding gravel", Summer events have seen an increase in number in recent years.  In addition to established Summer gravel events, several new ones have been popping up over the last year or two.  By now, some of these events may be close to the rider cap while others still have plenty of room available if you want in.

    Image Credit: Jim Smith

    The Dirty Lemming is a Summer gravel tradition put on by Jim Smith in Watertown, MN.  This year's running of the Lemmings will be on July 30th.  Two course options include 100 km and 100 mile routes.  This is a free event limited to 100 riders, postcard registration is required and there may be a handful of spots remaining.

    Image Credit: Tour de Save Facebook Page

    The Cannon Valley Velo Club is holding its 13th annual Tour de Save on July 30th at the Spring Creek Soccer Fields in Northfield, MN.  In addition to the 10, 25 and 62 mile road routes, there will be a 46 mile gravel road ride.  Online registration is available until 6:00 pm the day before the ride.  Registration fee is $25 and a fundraising goal must be established.  Updates for the ride can be found on the Tour de Save Facebook page.

    Image Credit: grittygoose.blogspot.com

    The Gritty Goose Gravel Grinder is back for its second year in 2016.  It's a free ride that takes place on gravel roads near Monticello, Maple Lake and Buffalo on August 20th.  There will be two route options this year, 70 miles with almost 2,000 feet of climbing or 50 miles with almost 1,500 feet of climbing.  Online registration is now available.  "You'll have to ride it to find out why its called the Gritty Goose."

     The Heck Epic is a two-day (August 20-21) bikepacking staged event that starts in Two Harbors and travels North to Ely where you will camp for the night before returning back to Two Harbors on day two.  Distance covered will be about 205 miles.  Online registration is now available until August 15th or a rider cap of 80 is reached.  Entry fee is $100 and covers a hot breakfast buffet on Sunday when in Ely, camping facilities in Ely and a pint glass filled with beer at the Friday night registration meeting.  Updates for the Heck Epic can also be found on the Heck of the North Facebook page.

    Image Credit: Fiddlin' Fifty Facebook Page

    The Fiddlin' Fifty Gravel Grinder is a 50+ mile unsupported free gravel ride on August 27th in Balkan TWP that will venture mostly through the Superior National Forest north of the Laurentian Divide.  There are no stops along the way for food or water so come prepared.  Afterward there will be a potluck for those cyclists that would like to bring a dish to pass.  Postcard registration is open until August 20th.  Cards should have your name, address, and e-mail; age is optional. Send to: Fiddlin' Fifty, c/o Scott Dahlquist 6479 Colombe Rd. Chisholm, MN 55719.  Updates can be found on the Fiddlin' Fifty Facebook page.

    The River Valley 100 returns for its third year on August 28th taking cyclists through the scenic river valleys around Mankato in South-Central Minnesota.  This free event consists of both paved and gravel route options and is non-supported.  For those looking to ride gravel, a 100 km gravel ride and 100 km gravel race are available.  The gravel race details ares still being worked out but there will be a neutral roll out until out of town.  Registration is required and space is limited to 200 riders total (100 rider cap for the gravel race).  There are two ways to register, online or by mail.  Deadline for gravel racing registration is August 23rd.  Updates can also be found on the River Valley 100 Facebook page.

    Image Credit: Joshua Stamper

    The Gravel Conspiracy is an adventure ride taking place on gravel, dirt and Forest service roads along the North shore.  Dates are September 9-11.  "The tentative route will be to start from around Silver Bay and ride to Ely via double track, dirt roads, and gravel.  Second day will see us on a big loop west of Ely, and then returning to town for a 2nd night. This really simplifies the logistics.  The last day will have us rolling back to Silver Bay."  Registration is required and for more information visit The Gravel Conspiracy FAQ page or contact gravelconspiracy@gmail.com.

    The Back Forty is an 80 mile gravel grinder taking place September 10th in Denmark Twp. just North of Hastings, MN.  This isn't your normal gravel ride.  It would probably be best to visit the website and read the full description of the ride and its rules of competition.  Registration is free and can be done by sending an email to the event organizer. Updates may be found on the Back Forty Cycling Facebook page.

    Image Credit: Derek Chinn

    The Inspiration 100 is a 100 mile gravel race in its fifth year and starts in Garfield, MN on September 10th.  This is a free race and registration is done by postcard only during the month of July.  Registration is capped at 150 racers.  "The 2016 Inspiration 100 will be the final time this event is held. Let's go out strong!"  Updates can be found on the Inspiration 100 Facebook page.

    Image Credit: Drew Wilson

    From the gravel enthusiast that brought you the Dickie Scramble comes an event entering its 3rd year that showcases the beauty and challenge of gravel roads in the Root River Valley around Lanesboro, the Tour of Filmore"77 of the hardest and most rewarding miles of gravel in southern MN."  There will be grilling and a party at the finish and camping is available near the start the night before.  Registration is open until the start of the event and can be done by stating you are going on the Facebook Event Page or sending an email to drew@cyclocarbon.com.
    These events are unsupported (except Tour de Save) so bring everything you will need to get you to the finish.
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