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.


  1. Any bottom bracket drop or handling issues? I am thinking about doing the same thing.

  2. I am wanting to purchase a wheelset for my Kona Wozo - to make it a 27.5 plus bike. Any recommendations on wheels? I could have a set built, but want to look at pre-built first.


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