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Moose Bicycles Fatbike 2.0 Review

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Moose Bicycles Fatbike 2.0 Review

Old 12-13-17, 10:28 AM
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RecceDG
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Moose Bicycles Fatbike 2.0 Review

So upon a time, I rode a lot. Like, a LOT. 1000km a month LOT.


But then I moved, took up a new job that kept me busier, and tweaked my knee. Fell right off the wagon and put on a ton of weight.


Eventually I came to realize that this new state of affairs could not stand, and I really need to start riding again.


Problem: I am in New Brunswick. We have a lot of winter in New Brunswick. Like, a LOT. Historically, that means the Computrainer - and while that is a good piece of kit, there is a limit as to how much I can ride it before I want to shoot myself. Riding should mean riding, not just hamster-wheeling.


And I happen to have an MTB trail literally in my back yard. I have a 400m loop and a 2.5 km (so far - I keep building it) out-and-back. The snow gets too deep around here to really make a regular MTB work, but I heard good things about fatbikes... and given that I indeed got fat, there's a certain symmetry to having the fat dude ride the fat bike.


So I decided to get one.


The trick though was this is, to a degree, an experiment. I didn't want to drop $4k on a high-zoot crabon ultra-fatbike only to have it live in my garage. I wanted to pick up a cheap one, so if it turns out that the thing doesn't work or I just don't like it, I wouldn't be out the cost of a new kidney. By the same token though, I know enough that you have to spend enough on a bike to get it out of Bicycle Shaped Object territory.


So I started doing some research.


For a while, the leader was the Norco Bigfoot 3. Reasonable groupset, tapered head tube, nice large range rear cassette (42 tooth Suntour vice the normal 38 tooth Shinamo). Only downside - cable operated brakes. MSRP $1200 CAN before tax.


But then I discovered Moose Bicycles.


Moose is a startup based out of Montreal. They appear to be building bikes based on choosing Chinese frames out of a catalog, branding them, and then selecting componentry - and there's nothing wrong with that. Some manufacturers push specs to Chinese framebuilders, but lots of them order right out of a catalogue. Some places are more open about it (Bikes Direct, for example) others are more circumspect. But there's nothing wrong, in principle, with a Chinese catalog build - so long as the components are reasonably selected.


Moose is right on the cusp of a model change, and the "Fatbike 2.0" model went on sale for $999 + tax, with free shipping. Compared to the Norco, it is straight head tube (boo) and the 38 tooth cassette, but Shinamo hydraulic brakes (yay!). Everything else was similar or identical to the Norco - same crank, own-brand cockpit, seat, and seat post, Deore 1x10 transmission, Chinese 5" tires on wide rims w/9mm QR axles.


$200 less and you trade the tapered head tube and wider range cassette for hydraulic brakes. That seemed worthwhile in my book, so I bought it.


It showed up mostly assembled and well packed.





Put together:





It became immediately obvious that the pedals it shipped with were utter junk - stiff bearings, crappy rough castings... just awful (but not entirely unexpected). So I replaced the pedals with a set of CrankBros Mallet DH:





Another surprise - the tubes have Schraeder valves (like a car tire) instead of a proper Presta valve. This is problematic, as both my low-pressure air gauge and my pumps are all Presta. Happily, they shipped enough air in the tires to act as a start point - and I ordered new Presta-valve tubes.


First ride, up and down my street: this thing rides WIERD on hard surfaces. It feels like the tires are flat (even though they are not) and there is considerable steering feedback. It takes a bit of effort to get the bars turned and the tire wants to pull the bars back straight.


Second ride: a few loops of my 400m track (which has some big roots, two rock gardens, and a logroll, and was wet and squishy at the time). The steering weirdness goes away once you are offroad. Instead, it just trundles over everything in its way, and the tire does a really good job of sucking up high-frequency, mid-amplitude bumps. Rocks and roots pretty well vanish. Harder hits do bounce the bike around (it is still a hardtail) and off-line bumps (like rocks) will bounce the bike offline to a degree, making steering remain fairly active in places. Notwithstanding though, being bounced offline doesn't have the same consequences as a regular bike, as those big wheels just rumble over whatever is in the way. It is tough to go fast on this bike, but it is very easy to go places that my race bike just won't go. And it laughed at the squishy bits too - wet spots that would have cut a 3" deep rut on a 2.25" wide tire the 5" tire barely makes an impression - which means the riding season gets extended not just because of snow, but because you can ride in the wet season when a regular bike would trash the trails.


Third ride: up and down the out-and-back. This trail is finished to the point where it is just rideable on my race bike - lots of roots to still come out and some smaller bumps to be busted up and raked smooth. The fatbike barely notices any of this stuff. It doesn't like to be pushed hard (stuff starts bouncing and it is hard to stay on the trail) but it'll go anywhere.


Fourth ride: the 400m loop with 8" of fresh "heart attack" snow (snow that immediately compresses into icy concrete and clogs snowblower impellers, meaning it has to be shoveled away). Bike rode through it like it wasn't even there. A single lap was enough to self-groom the trail surface and then it was like riding summer singletrack. I can see how studded tires might be good on ice, but I did a bunch of laps and it was just like riding in summer, and even the first lap offered no particular problem.


The bike absolutely works as advertised.


I've gone ahead and ordered a better saddle, carbon bars (the aluminum stock bar gets really cold) better grips, and proper Presta tubes. Add the price of the pedals, and now we are over the price of the Norco - but the Norco would have needed these upgrades too, so I still come out ahead.


Recommended.
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Old 12-13-17, 10:52 AM
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Great review! I need that bike...

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Old 12-13-17, 03:09 PM
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Great review and lovely fat bike!
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Old 12-14-17, 06:54 PM
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Chainstays are crazy long (500mm). Most fatbikes are around 450mm. If you look you can find some as short as 430 without hurting tire clearance. Short rear end makes for better handling and traction.

Then there's the 71* head angle. Is this a road bike?
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Old 12-15-17, 07:10 AM
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Good review. I'm partial to prestas also but most of the fat bike community seems to prefer schraeders.

Enjoy the bike. I've only taken mine (new Minnesota 3.0) on a couple of very gentle snow covered trails because I'm only 5 weeks post-road bike mishap-induced fractured pelvis (x3), but the fat bike seems like it will be a lot of fun. Looking forward to when I can stomp on it in heavier snow.
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Old 12-18-17, 08:25 AM
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Update:

Snow performance appears to depend quite a lot on the type of snow. Since my last snow ride, we had a bunch of rain, then very cold temps. That has produce a hard crust, over a layer of dry, granular snow, over a layer of ice.

The stock tires, particularly the rear tire, has quite a bit of trouble with this. It is possible to ride in this - barely - but it's a lot of work and I bet I was throwing a rooster tail with all the spinning.

I can see why the local MTB club grooms their trails.

So I have ordered one of those heart-stoppingly expensive Dillinger 5 snow tires and we'll see how that works.
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Old 12-20-17, 06:32 PM
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New seat:

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Old 12-23-17, 05:37 PM
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Some more tweaking:




Grips:



And a proper tube so I can set pressures properly:



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Old 12-24-17, 08:15 PM
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I am in Montreal so looking at Moose bikes was pretty easy.
The fatbike 1 looked pretty good but I decided to take a different route.
My mechanic said studded fat tires wouldn't cut through the snow to the ice underneath.
I know next to nothing about fatbikes. Did you happen to look at the fatbike 1?
What did you think?
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Old 12-28-17, 01:37 PM
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Tire
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Old 12-30-17, 12:58 PM
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Holy crap that Dillinger works!
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Old 12-30-17, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by RecceDG View Post
Holy crap that Dillinger works!
Well if looks could shred snow then that Dillinger is assuredly good to go.
So,are you ready to try out the Matterhorn?
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Old 01-02-18, 10:27 AM
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Mine is on its way, $1,099 (including the frame bag) for the 2018 Fat Bike 2 model. Thanks for the review, I'm looking forward to riding it. I do have some good pedals that I'll be using instead so the pedal issue is a non-issue for me too.

The Schraeder tubes is a bit of a surprise but I think the tires can be made tubeless which will be a summer project for me, not a winter one and if the rims are not tubeless-compatible, there are hacks, or, just as you did, switch to presta tubes.
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Old 01-03-18, 07:50 AM
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New stem:



That made a big difference in the fit/handling - for the better.
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Old 01-03-18, 07:52 AM
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Latest setup pic:



I have another Dillinger 5 on the way, and that should about do it.
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