Thursday, April 18, 2013

The "Thick" & The "Thin" Of It

Today I want to introduce you all to two new, and vastly different, bikes we just got in at Europa Cycle & Ski recently. The "thick" one is Origin 8's "Crawler" fat bike and the "thin" bike is Salsa Cycles new "Warbird" model. Let's take a look at the Crawler first...

Origin 8's Crawler fat bike
The Crawler is a bike I am somewhat familiar with having ridden the previous pre-production version two years ago at Interbike and the final version you see here last year at Interbike. The Crawler is in the"fat bike" class of bike, sporting 26" X 4" wide rubber, but it diverts from the Surly/Salsa type fat bikes you may be familiar with from that point on. This is a very unique bike, even without the ginormous tires and wheels. I'll detail ot all the nuances for you now..

Note the derailleur hangar
This bike's drivetrain is very unique for a fat bike. It has a NuVinci 360 hub that features Constantly Varying Transmission, (CVT), for a wide range of drive ratios. Notice that I didn't say the word "gears" here. That's because the NuVinci transmission doesn't have "gears" inside it. It also gives the rider a very different sensation at the pedals.

Without going into deep technical jargon, the deal here is that you have the ability to vary your ratio without "steps" that a traditional drive train would feature. Even internal geared hubs have "stepped ratios" and you feel this as a change to your cadence/pedal pressure as you change gears. With a CVT, you have no such "steps", only a smooth change from "easy" to "hard" and anywhere in between.

Massive tire clearances
The other distinguishing factor here is that the Crawler is not a "symmetrical" rear triangle frame, although it uses a 135OLD spacing, like a traditional MTB. It is also not as offset as a Pugsley by Surly is. It is offset very slightly to the drive side to optimize the chain line with the 100mm bottom bracket/crank set fitted to the bike. All this allows plenty of clearance by the tire.

The hydro-formed aluminum frame is also designed with plenty of rear tire clearances, so while I do not know that bigger than 4.0" tires would work, it looks like they may with the 80mm rims the bike comes with. Also, more versatility is offered with the provided rear derailleur hangar, which with a traditional geared set up and rear hub, may allow for a truncated drive train and therefore a slightly lighter set up. Obviously, single speed set ups are supported as well.

Clearances at the chain stay
The frame also has rack mounts on the rear and on the CroMoly steel fork up front for load bearing duties. Braking is handled by the ever reliable Avid BB-7 mechanical disc brakes, and the Origin 8 Devast8er fat tires are a good all-around snow/sand/mud/dirt tire for year round fat biking. Of course, Surly tires in the 3.8" range or Big Fat Larrys will be okay here. The larger Bud and Lou are unknown fits at this time.

Finally, the icing on this fat cake is that the retail price for owning this unique 20" framed monster is less than anything currently available in fat bikes. MSRP $1400.00 is over $300.00 cheaper than anything else out there. Check it out! These Crawler's are hard to get right now and we expect this one examnple will be all we'll see until Fall. Don't wait! Check this out now.

Salsa Cycles Warbird 2
I've talked a lot already about the next "thin" bike for this post. It is the racing gravel grinder bike by Salsa Cycles: The aluminum Warbird 2.

The Warbird 2 is a disc brake bike bred to deal with the rigors of rough gravel and go really fast doing it. It features a hydro-formed, lightweight aluminum frame that has been tweaked to allow maximum front triangle space so a frame bag and water bottles will all fit there with no problems.

Carbon fork
The Warbird 2 also features an Enve Composites carbon fork with tapered carbon steer tube. Yes- it is super-light! The tapered head tube hides an inset sealed bearing head set from the harsh elements. Braking duties on this bad bird are handled by Avid Road specific calipers and rotors are 160mm front, 140mm rear to help keep the weight in check.

You'll note that all cables run under the top tube in full run housings. This is done to beat inclement weather, mud, and dust while you enjoy perfect shifting and braking despite the conditions.

Frame fitments are sparse, as Salsa believes that a top tube type frame bag and a seat bag are how most garvel racers will carry the goods they need. There are three water bottle mounting points: One on the seat tube, down tube inner triangle, and one underneath the down tube.

Geometry is slightly relaxed for stability on loose surfaces like gravel and dirt. Tires are the excellent Clement USH, which features a smooth center tread strip allowing for fast pavement riding, yet has some aggressive "diamond file tread" on the sides for stability and purchase in dirt and loose gravel. These tires are 35mm wide, but the Warbird 2 can swallow up to 38mm rubber if necessary.

Nice orange ano appointments
The Warbird 2's drivetrain features a 2 X 10 set up with Tiagra "brifters mated to a rear derailleur from Shimano's excellent 105 group. Hubs are Formula for Salsa and anodized a nice orange hue to match the bike.

The tubing on this frame is shaped for some comfort to the rider and for maximum mud and tire clearances. The bottom bracket is a PF-30 type and it allows the FSA Gossamer 46T/36T crank set to spin freely. This sort of gearing is really great on gravel roads.

So- is this only for gravel grinding? Oh no! This is a lightweight, disc brake equipped rig that will go on any road, fast and efficiently, with nary a blink at bad weather, mud, dirt, dust, or whatever you can throw at it. Commute, use it as an "all road", all weather bike, or just as your hard core road rat rig. Whatever you want, really. I think of the Warbird 2 as the road bike that fears no road or weather.

This one is a 58cm, and we also have a 56cm on hand. Either will run you $2499.00 and are available now at Europa to scope out and take home. Hit the road on a Warbird 2......any road!

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