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  1. #1
    Canuck in the mud again
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    Howto: Drilling fat bike rims for weight reduction

    1- Make a template out of ~3/16" steel. This template will have two 1/8" holes the distance apart of your spoke holes. The third hole is a 1/4" hole exactly halfwaly between, but, offset the same amount as the offset on your rims (if applicable). Insert 2 roll/spring pins into 1/8" holes about 1/4"" through far side
    2 - If not using a Cordless drill - Trace the inside of your rim onto a large hunk of wood. Make sure the distance accross when cut will be at minimum the width of your table on your drill press.
    3 - tape over your Valve hole! both sides, or you will forget where it is... and drill it out...
    4- Using your template, drill 1/4" holes around the perimeter of the rim as shown;

    5 - It should look like this when done;

    6 - then using a 1-1/2" hole saw, drill out rim using pilot holes already created, starting beside valve hole, less chance of mistakes. DO NOT drill seam of rim!

    7 - You can pre-drill the wooden block for somewhere for the blanks to go (and less chance of scratching) if you want. Or just drill, index, repeat. watching out for seam and valve hole.

    8 - Finished Vicious Cycles Gracefull fat Sheba w/ holes

    9 - Insert rim onto applicable Fat Bike

  2. #2
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    So, what saved the most weight- drilling the rims, or leaving the cassette of the hub? Nice rim tape though.

  3. #3
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    Looks beautiful. Just curious though, what was the before and after weight ? I rode a TommiSea & to be honest, it was no speed demon and I was more impressed that it would take curbs and parking lot headers while being bullet proof sturdy & solid. Also being able to take it all terrain. is the tape going to get nasty ugly from sand, mud, snow to where it's a pita to replace more frequently ?

  4. #4
    Canuck in the mud again
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog3 View Post
    So, what saved the most weight- drilling the rims, or leaving the cassette of the hub? Nice rim tape though.
    Fat bikes run rear hubs front and rear, I have the Inter-3 on the back, so running a spare cog on the front is less critical. - this hub was $25 shipped, so the savings were mostly monetary, as they're likely lighter hubs out there...
    The drilling still does matter, but mostly for looks while the devest8rs are on, they are too heavy.
    I'm looking at swapping out the Devest8r on the front for Black Floyd's for a ~2lb weight savings. I just hope the floyds will still work on hard packed snow when the trails get busy.


  5. #5
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Interesting, but it looks like all that work knocked about a pound off a 40 pound bike. Hardly seems worth it to me, but maybe the fact that it's rotational weight makes it more significant.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  6. #6
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Interesting, but it looks like all that work knocked about a pound off a 40 pound bike. Hardly seems worth it to me, but maybe the fact that it's rotational weight makes it more significant.

    I kind of agree.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

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    Actually I think it looks cool- and FUN! Was there an issue resetting the front fork to 135? Or, does Surly make a wide fork?

    The OP did mention it was as much a "looks" thing as much as weight savings.

  8. #8
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog3 View Post
    Actually I think it looks cool- and FUN! Was there an issue resetting the front fork to 135? Or, does Surly make a wide fork?

    The OP did mention it was as much a "looks" thing as much as weight savings.
    Pugsly's fork comes at 135mm.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  9. #9
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    Don't they have some fat rims already drilled out?

  10. #10
    Canuck in the mud again
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    Don't they have some fat rims already drilled out?
    Where's the fun in that?

    and yes, if you wish to pay 3x what I did for my rims.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    So what Rim strip did you use and what psi will it handle, since it has to contain
    the pressure inside the tire.

    Oh and how many rim jobs does it take to pay for the tools bought to do it?

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    LOL Thats really, really SICK! Which, loosely translsted, means 'I want one!'

    Have been looking at fat-bikes for a while now and the only thing thing holding me back to date has been tire and parts availability here in Montreal. As in - there isn't any! Maybe over the summer I'll have some stuff shipped in - anything to make the winter a little more interesting!

  13. #13
    Canuck in the mud again
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    So what Rim strip did you use and what psi will it handle, since it has to contain
    the pressure inside the tire.

    Oh and how many rim jobs does it take to pay for the tools bought to do it?
    I have a drill press, Milling machine, and calipers - but a corded drill and a precise machinists ruler will do.
    All in all, the pattern was made from scrap. All I am out is my time.

    As per rim tape - it's gratuitous, all you really have to cover is the spoke heads if you ride clean areas, if you have sharp objects duct tape is best.
    This is Duck brand duct tape, one wrap face out, with surly rim strip glue to glue facing inwards.
    Also comes in flame, pink, yellow, black, and green

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    nice to have a machine shop, to show off , or is this in a a CoOp,
    so folks can drop by and use all that stuff, too.?
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-28-12 at 09:22 AM.

  15. #15
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    So what Rim strip did you use and what psi will it handle, since it has to contain
    the pressure inside the tire.
    Apparently a lot of the guys running snow-rims don't use rim tape at all and use tire pressures so low that it isn't an issue. I'm thinking this is a better idea ( duct-tape) since it'll let you play in the sand in the sumner and get away with it. I give him points for ingenuity.

  16. #16
    Canuck in the mud again
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    nice to have a machine shop, to show off , or is this in a a CoOp,
    so folks can drop by and use all that stuff, too.?
    It's really not that complicated to make the pattern!!!
    1 - Cut a scrap piece of metal or even hardwood, if you have to, a hacksaw will do. Dimension should be the inner witdth of the rim/ or ridges within it.
    2- Take a sharpie/marker, place wood/metal over valve hole and mark 2 spoke holes, and valve hole. This will give you your pattern.
    3- drill the pattern with 1/4" drill bit in the middle, and 1/8" holes where the nipple holes are. place 1/8 pins, or whatever you have similar in holes.
    4- drill using 1/4" drill around rim to create pilot holes, inwards if using drill press, outwards if using cordless/coreded drill.
    5- Obtain 1-1/2" hole saw from chinese import - In canada we use Princess auto, in USA use Harbor freight or similar. Drill big holes.
    6- keep work area clean - yes your'e making a mess, but don't scratch the rim needlessly.

    IF you are really interested I might design a lightweight pattern that can be mailed- it only has to last 64 holes.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    Don't they have some fat rims already drilled out?
    Yeah but- Those Vicious rims can be had for $38, versus $120 or more for the Large Marge. Once roobydoo had his drill fixture made, he probably got all those holes drilled in an hour. The savings would make for a pretty good hourly rate I'd say.

  18. #18
    Senior Member kamtsa's Avatar
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    Drilling the these heavy tires will reduce even more weight.
    Happier than a camel on wednesday.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Delmarva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Interesting, but it looks like all that work knocked about a pound off a 40 pound bike. Hardly seems worth it to me, but maybe the fact that it's rotational weight makes it more significant.
    Indeed. I don't see much benefit given the weight and the massive knobby tires. Kinda like drilling tractor rims.

  20. #20
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
    Indeed. I don't see much benefit given the weight and the massive knobby tires. Kinda like drilling tractor rims.
    Apparently that frame is speced at 5.6 lbs and the fork at 2.5 lbs so short of drilling out the tires themselves - there doesn't look like a better place to look at for shaving weight. Those tires are speced at 3.3 lbs each so once the rims are drilled, this actually may not be a heavyweight build.

    My Maxxis Hookworms already run 1,125g at 26x2.5in vs 1,500g at 25x4.5 for Big Fat Larry's - if you want to go that width.
    Last edited by Burton; 02-28-12 at 03:31 PM.

  21. #21
    Canuck in the mud again
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Apparently that frame is speced at 5.6 lbs and the fork at 2.5 lbs so short of drilling out the tires themselves - there doesn't look like a better place to look at for shaving weight. Those tires are speced at 3.3 lbs each so once the rims are drilled, this actually may not be a heavyweight build.

    My Maxxis Hookworms already run 1,125g at 26x2.5in vs 1,500g at 25x4.5 for Big Fat Larry's - if you want to go that width.
    Burton is on to something here. Black Floyd's reduce weight even more at 1100g or less. I am looking into obtaining one for the front.

  22. #22
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roobydoo View Post
    Burton is on to something here. Black Floyd's reduce weight even more at 1100g or less. I am looking into obtaining one for the front.
    This is the part I really hate about the Internet. The spec on the Surly site states those have a 120 TPI construction - even though 27 TPI is clearly marked on the tire. I'd expect a pretty radical difference in riding experience and weight between a variation like that. Should be worth checking into before making a commitment.

    I kinda like those bigger monsters myself anyway - in fact would be the only rationale for me to buy the bike !
    Last edited by Burton; 02-28-12 at 06:06 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Delmarva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Apparently that frame is speced at 5.6 lbs and the fork at 2.5 lbs so short of drilling out the tires themselves - there doesn't look like a better place to look at for shaving weight. Those tires are speced at 3.3 lbs each so once the rims are drilled, this actually may not be a heavyweight build.

    My Maxxis Hookworms already run 1,125g at 26x2.5in vs 1,500g at 25x4.5 for Big Fat Larry's - if you want to go that width.
    Once that much metal is removed it
    would seem like the wheel would be less strong.
    Where could it be ridden?

  24. #24
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
    Once that much metal is removed it
    would seem like the wheel would be less strong.
    Where could it be ridden?
    Fat bikes are normally ridden in conditions where floatation is a priority. Snow is the number one playground followed by sand beaches. I have both in my area. Tires are run at really low pressures to give as large a footprint as possible and aside from the exertion of overcoming a lot of rolling resistance (the bikes are geared very low) the bikes aren't really subjected to high stresses. They don't go fast enough and are usually used on fairly level ground - even when going downhill on a skislope the slopes are groomed.

    Not a machine for setting speed records, but the fun factor looks really big. Sort of like a Hummer bike. Some of the guys are kite-sking on the frozen lake out back in the winter and this looks like something else that would just be a novel amusement. I've been on the lake with studded tires but in deeper snow, fresh or otherwise, wider tires would be more stable.

    I've been thinking about one of these for a couple years now and think I'll just have to go for it!
    Last edited by Burton; 02-28-12 at 09:18 PM.

  25. #25
    Canuck in the mud again
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delmarva View Post
    Once that much metal is removed it
    would seem like the wheel would be less strong.
    Where could it be ridden?
    As per the amount of metal removed:
    These rims are excessive in every way. The thickness of the material you are drilling through is among the thickest of any rim available.
    Reports of those who also have trials bikes are finding the strength comparable to rims found on those bikes even after drilling.

    My LBS pictured says this used to be quite common in BMX years ago in our area.

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