Badger Cycle Works Fattywompus 1.0 Overview

At the end of 2014 I decided to part with my beloved Raleigh RX 1.0 cyclocross bike to make way for a new steed. It was a bit sad, since I had loved the bike since the day I laid eyes on it, but I didn’t end up racing ‘cross like I thought I would.

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The Raleigh became my indoor training bike.

After the sale to a nice couple in the Twin Cities, I felt a void. I had only my Soma Doublecross and my Electra Saris branded cruiser. For most people, two bikes would be sufficient, but I’m not most people. I’m a hardcore bike nerd who strongly believes in the N+1 equation when it comes to bike ownership.

This is where the Fattywompus came in. I was browsing Facebook when I saw my friends over at Wheel & Sprocket had sourced their own house brand of fat bikes under the Badger Cycle Works name. They had two build options available at some really competitive price points.

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The Fattywompus 2.0 is spec’d with a solid 2×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, coming in at the $1299 price point.

The Fattywompus 1.0 is spec’d with a 1×9 Shimano Altus drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes at the $999 price point.

If anyone has been keeping track of the cost of Fat bikes, you’ll see that it’s hard to find a sub $1500 complete, let alone a sub $1000 one! There a some newer brands hitting the market that are starting to push the prices down with some cheaper builds and non name branded parts. So far most of them have had pretty good reviews from customers.

The thing that drew me to the Badger Bikes over some of the competitors is they are being assembled and sold via a local bike shop. Companies such as Bikes Direct or Framed are selling most of their stock direct to consumers via online sales. This can be a little sketchy with folks assembling their own bikes or when warranty issues crop up.

Some of the units are being sold through a dealer network, but as the race to the bottom continues there will be more and more of these bikes being assembled by folks with little or no mechanical experience. I can say I’ve already seen some photos of these on the web with forks installed backwards and other major issues!

Back to the fatty…I called up a friend of mine who manages one of the Wheel & Sprocket stores and had him place a Fattywompus 1.0 on hold for me. I had decided to buy the 1.0 since I had a stockpile of parts I had purchased in anticipation of building a fat bike from the frame up. I also knew I didn’t want to mess with hydraulic brakes since we get -40 below weather here.

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Within the week I was able to get my new bike and was extremely impressed by its massive 4.9″ tires and how nice the bike rode overall. There were a couple of items I knew I would have had to change out of the box, but nothing too expensive or difficult to change.

The seat post on the bike is 350mm, which worked well for Keri. Not so much for myself. I’m 5′ 5″ with long legs and a short torso. I ended up putting a 410mm seat post on, so I would have plenty of adjustment.

The seat post clamp also had to go. It was a quick release style that was kind of annoying to adjust, so an orange Salsa lip lock 32.0 sized replaced it.

The stock build of the bike is really solid. Trigger shifters work so well with a properly dialed dérailleur. Even the inexpensive Altus shifter was nice and crisp. I of course swapped it out because I can’t help but tinker with any and every bike I own.

My final build is this:
Frameset- Badger Bikes Fattywompus aluminum in Platinum 15″ small
Wheels- No name 135 front, 190 rear bolt on w/cutouts
Rim Strips- Surly clown shoe compatible in Orange
Tubes- Q tubes 26×2.75 (upgraded from the originals)
Tires- Surly Nates 120tpi ultra light
Seat post- Thompson 410mm
Seat clamp- Salsa lip lock 32.0 orange
Saddle- stock
Headset- stock FSA
Handlebars- Stock (will be upgraded with a more swept back bar)
Stem- Thompson 90mm
Brakes- TRP Spyke 180 front, 160 rear
Grips- ESI chunky
Shifter- SRAM X7 10 speed
Chain- SRAM 10 speed
Crank- stock sammox
Chainring- race face wide narrow 34t Orange 104 bcd
Rear der- SRAM x7 10 speed
Cassette- Shimano 11-36

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So far I love the bike and the build. The new tires and tubes shaved two pounds off the bike. It started at being almost 35 lbs. and now weighs closer to 32 with the component and tire upgrades. It’s much more responsive and doesn’t suffer from self steering, which those extra fat tires can often cause when the PSI is dropped.

A few things I may change are the cassette. A Shimano XT will allow me to install an extended range cog on the cassette allowing me to run an 11-42. I also want to swap the stem for a bit more rise and the handlebars for more sweep for a comfier hand position.

Overall I am super happy about my purchase and would recommend checking out the Badger line to anyone in the market for a fat bike that won’t break the bank. Winter riding has become much more fun with the fatty and I can’t wait to hit up the local MTB trails and beaches in the summer with it too!

Surly Intergalactic Product Tester!

First of all, sorry for the bit of radio silence on the blog the past couple of weeks. We’ve been taking some much needed away to spend with our neglected friends and families. Planning all of these really cool bike rides, workshops, and such tends to be exhausting and a gal can burn herself out if she’s not careful!

Ok, now back to our scheduled programming! I’ve been selected to be a part of an awesome new pilot program Surly (as in the bikes, not the delicious beer) has put together to get some feedback on their current product line up. The people testing the products are all women folk, as Surly would like to potentially expand their softwoods to include more lady friendly items. There were around 750 applicants total and those crazy bastards chose ME! I must have had one hell of an application or I was touched by bike angels or something. All I can say is I’m incredibly honored to be a part of it all and a big shout out Christina a.k.a Jules (per the Surly blog) for making all of my dreams come true.

The way the program has been set up is that we get sent one item out of a series of items that we noted we were most interested in. Surly then picks the item they want you to test based off of your size (body style) and location.

I was beyond thrilled when I received my envelope at my work mailbox. I couldn’t wait to go home to tear it open and see what was inside! Not only did they hook me up with the Surly Striped Raglan Shirt, but they included some pretty kick ass stickers, as well as instructions as to what I was to do with said items.

My initial reaction to the shirt was, “SOFT!” I kid you not, it was the most soft piece of wool clothing I’ve ever felt in my life. Had I not been standing in my parking garage when I tore open the package, I would have stripped down and put that bad boy on right then and there. Luckily for my neighbors I made it all the way to my condo before tossing my work bag and mail on the floor, then disrobing to put on the shirt. 15690388570_2a0e943a96_k
The shirt was soft and warm and comfortable all at once. I own some base layers from other companies who claim to have fancy itch free wool and they don’t even compare to the Surly stuff. I had none of the claustrophobic itchy wool feeling at all from the Raglan. I can also say that about the Surly long sleeve jersey I’ve had for the past couple of years. I’ve posted about the jersey in the past if you look back on the blog. I’m glad that so far both items seem to have the same level of quality. This is my third season of wearing the long sleeve jersey for winter commuting and it’s held up really well.

I ended up wearing the Raglan for two days straight without washing it. I even slept in the thing and wore it to work after that. No, I’m not trying to be a dirty hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I just wanted to test the wool’s odor repelling properties. It did a fantastic job of keeping the stink away. A big plus for if you are bike commuting to work and sweat a lot or if you need to travel light and don’t have access to laundry facilities.

The longer I wore the shirt, the comfier it became due to it stretching out a little bit. Sometimes when you put on a new wool shirt, it can be a little on the form fitting side. As you wear it the more it breaks in, kind of like a pair of jeans.

I ended up commuting to work a couple of days with the shirt as my base layer. Actually, I just wore the Raglan and my Patagonia down jacket over it and was good in 25 degree weather. It helped wick the sweat away and kept me warm. It’s nice to have a piece like that in your wardrobe. Sometimes I don’t want to wear three to four layers while riding. It’s much more comfortable to just have one or two.

I want to note that I am not being compensated by Surly for any part of this product testing. I’m giving my honest opinion of the product. In fact I will cover my pro’s and con’s of the Raglan below. There are a few changes I would like to see if they decide to make a “women’s specific” version of the shirt as it’s mostly marketed as a men’s or unisex product currently.

Pros:
-Extremely comfortable fabric
-Stitching and garment seem to be durable
-Garment length in the torso (great for being in a road riding position)
-Garment length in the arms (arms are long enough to prevent drafts when commuting)
-Screen printed tag (no annoying tag rubbing your neck)
-Competitively priced (when compared to similar products from companies such as Smartwool, Ibex,   etc. who sell woolen goods)
-Wicks moisture well
-Doesn’t stink after a few wears
-More comfortable as you wear it
-NO ITCH!
-You can wear it off the bike and not look like a roadie or tri dork. Totally passes as regular, non bike clothing.

Cons:
-The cut isn’t the most flattering if you have any extra cushion or are more shapely
-The color isn’t bad, but I’d like to see something like a black and white striped or maybe even a solid color with polka dot pattern (it could be something like little fat bikes or little surly logos instead of polka dots, but you get my drift) Something to make it a little more fashionable 😉
-Not made in the USA like some other wool items, but with that comes a much higher price point
-You can’t dry wool in the dryer, but that’s the nature of wool

Surly, in my opinion, has done a pretty great job with their existing soft goods. I purchased the long sleeve jersey with my own money and would do it again. If they end up coming out with a “ladies” version of the Raglan shirt, I would also spend my own money to buy one. I would also consider giving it as a gift. I can think of a few men in my life who work outdoors and would greatly appreciate having something like the Stripped Raglan.

I would definitely recommend any of their items (with confidence that they will hold up) to a friend or family member. I plan to continue to wear the shirt and look forward to reporting back on how it is holding up. Hopefully, if all goes well I will have one or two more items to test and share my thoughts on, but since the program is in its infancy, we shall see!

Thanks again to all the kick ass folks at Surly for making items that every day cyclists need and like to use. They aren’t here to sell you the lightest and most expensive of anything and aim to just make kick ass gear and I think they’ve succeeded!

**A special thanks for my friend Mary for letting me borrow her Pugsley for the fat bike photo!

A Winter of Cyclists- Madison

1655993_283983265085083_1209627768_nJoin us for a one night film showing of A Winter of Cyclists in Madison at the Barrymore Theatre on March 26th. Come out and see what it takes to ride to work all year long or bring a friend and show them what you are already doing.


About the Film

The documentaryA Winter of Cyclists (64 min) captures the inaugural Icy Bike Winter Commuting Challenge.  The film follows twelve cyclists as they attempt to bicycle commute during the winter months. Watch as they challenge each other during the cold, dark and snowy Colorado winter and experience the surprising comradery that forms as nearly 200 like-minded riders from across the USA, Canada, and other countries join in the Challenge. For those who cycle in the winter now, this film is a tribute to you. And for those who are considering it, catch a memorable glimpse of what could await you.

 

Film Details, Movie Trailer, and Tickets:ChainRingFilms.com

After the showing there will be a Q&A session with filmmaker Mike Prendergast, cast member and UW-Madison graduate Heather McCullough, and Madison Bike Winter’s Aaron Crandall.


Prize Drawing for Advanced Ticket Purchase

All advanced ticket purchasers are eligible to win a cycling gift bag from Machinery Row bicycles. Gift bags will include a water bottle, Machinery Row pint glass, L.E.D. wheel lights, tail light, lock, bicycle map of Madison, chamois butter sample, power food samples, and stickers.

 

 

Surviving Below 0 Rides

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Don’t be caught out in the cold looking like this guy!

Here are a few quick tips on how to survive riding in below 0 temps.

1. Cover any possibly exposed skin with Vaseline or Aquaphor
In negative degree winter weather it can take literally a few minutes for frostbite to set in. A thin coating of a petroleum based product on your skin will help put a barrier between you and the freezing cold. It also helps retain moisture so your skin doesn’t get dry and peel.

You can kind of equate it to getting a bad sunburn. OUCH!

2. DON’T WEAR COTTON!
Cotton does a really good job of holding in moisture, that’s not what you want when trying to stay warm and dry. Look for a base layer made of wool or a good synthetic that draws moisture away from your body. The benefit of wool is that even when it’s wet, it’ll keep you warm.

3. Try to wear or at least carry 3 layers worth of clothing.
Ideally you’ll want a good tight for your legs and a base layer for you torso. Find a good mid layer that insulates, but can also still breath. Your outer most layer should be some type of wind resistant pant/jacket combo. A jacket with pit zips is nice to help regulate temperature.

4. Cover your head.
Wearing a balaclava or insulated cycling cap, or a wool stocking cap under a helmet is the best way to go. Balaclavas are usually the best option as they cover more skin and help keep the neck warm as well. The head and feet play a big role in keeping your core body temp in check. Be sure to make sure each of them are properly dressed.

5. Goggles, goggle, goggles.
Did you know your eyes basically survive off of water and body moisture? In freezing temps anything wet will freeze. This includes your eye balls and it’s not fun riding with icicles forming on your lashes and your lids sticking together!

Pick up a pair of cheap ski goggles if you expect to do any riding below freezing. Basic sunglasses simply don’t cut it.

Those are our tips for the day. There are many resources available out there for winter bike riding. We quite enjoy BikeWinter.org. It’s a great resource for learning how to survive the cold while riding. There are also lots of fun local events posted on there for a number of cities. Madison had its own chapter of Bike Winter and Winter Bike to Work Week.

Have fun everyone and please, stay warm!

Biking Into Winter. Biking with Friends.

Saturday’s ride was full of fun, full of adventure, full of great food, and of course full of great conversation. Saris Cycling Group was our meeting point and there were about 8 of us there a little after 10am. We all grabbed a little coffee (we’ve recently invested in a 2.5l carafe), chatted, then headed out on Military Ridge Trail. We picked up 2 other riders on our way out and went westward into the great headwinds.

Since the ride was so last minute we weren’t expecting that we’d have more than 5-6 riders, but we had a nice group of 10! The two gentlemen on the ride were outnumbered with 8 of us chatty ladies, but they seemed to enjoy themselves.

Most of the group.
Most of the group.

Military Ridge was fairly dry with a few gummy spots where larger ‘cross tires came in handy. Everyone was either on a road bike or a ‘cross style bike. The headwinds all the way into Mt. Horeb were pretty intense. The pace was around 11mph until we got closer to the town, where there was more tree cover. The open prairie and marshy area outside of Verona can make for some tough riding. While the route is flat, you basically can’t coast due to the winds being always at your face. Needless to say, we earned our lunch.

The group debated a bit as to where we’d like to eat. The plan initially was to go to the Grumpy Troll, but others were interested in going to Sjolinds Chocolate House. We ended going to the Troll for lunch as they serve alcohol. Bloody Mary’s needed to be had after that ride!

The Grumpy Troll
The Grumpy Troll

The Grumpy Troll has a fantastic Gluten Free menu and fully stocked bar. We highly recommend stopping in! We have plans on going again, but with a trailer in tow to stock up on growlers.

Sjolinds ended up becoming our dessert destination. We had said goodbye to 3 of our ride crew as they had other commitments, but the rest of us were more than happy to spend a little extra time drinking hot chocolates and tasting all the treats Sjolinds had to offer. It’s basically a candy store for adults. Lots of high quality chocolates, caramels, cakes, pies, and delectables.

Checking out the treats at Sjolinds.
Checking out the treats at Sjolinds.

Once we had our fill of treats, we decided to head out. The ride back towards Madison was extremely easy. The tailwind was incredible and we were going 15-17mph vs. the 11mph on the way to Mt. Horeb. All was going really well on our way out. Lots of fun conversation and friendships being formed. Each of us came from different backgrounds, but all found common ground and enjoyed each others company. It’s always exciting to see a group of people mesh so well.

The only negative thing that happened during the ride is that Cassandra had a bad crash. She skidded out on one of the wooden bridges, hurting her right forearm and pelvis. Luckily after a few minutes of being curled up on the ground, she was able to get back up and walk her bike to the next nearest road.

Cassandra's road rash. It looks a lot less scary in this photo than it does now!
Cassandra’s road rash. It looks a lot less scary in this photo than it does now!

Luckily one of the riders, Jackie, had her significant other on the phone to come pick us up. George had met us in Mt. Horeb by car and joined us for lunch. We were very lucky that he not only was able to come pick us up, but also had a Saris Bones rack on the back of his car for bikes! It was a bit of a bummer to have to end the ride early, but the rest of the ladies stuck around until we were picked up and were able to finish out the rest of the ride.

We really appreciated the NO RIDER LEFT BEHIND policy. They kept us in high spirits while waiting to go home. It’s amazing how awesome of a group this was and we can’t wait to get back out there and see our friends again.

Cassandra ended up going to urgent care once we picked up the car. Nothing ended up being broken, but her right forearm is cut up pretty bad and really swollen. She also has a really badly bruised pubic bone. There are also some pretty gnarly bruises on her left inner thigh, lower left back, and on her bum. Pain medicine, ice, and lots of rest are keeping her from feeling too terrible. She can’t wait to get back on the bike!

Word of advice kids, don’t ride over rail trail bridges one handed! She skidded out and hit the side of the bridge while trying to put something in her vest pocket. Ouch!

Overall we’d say this ride was 100% AWESOME. Hopefully we can do this route again or something similar in the future. We have no shortage of rail trails in this area and have a number of small towns outside of Madison that offer great food options!

Welcoming winter by bike is a great way to stave off the seasonal slump, so get out and RIDE.

Check out some additional photos below of our adventure 🙂