Fatback Skookum Review

Fatback Skookum Review

A Full Carbon Fat Bike Capable of Being Ridden Year Round

Fatback Skookum SideWinter is officially here! In addition to our Fat Bike offerings from Felt, Moots and Surly, Fit Werx is fortunate to represent Fatback, one of the true pioneers of Fat Bikes and still one of the finest. Among other innovations, Fatback introduced the Fat Bike world to innovations likethe 197mm symmetrical rear end design that allowed the Fat Bikes to accept extra wide tires and rims like the 4.8” variants found on the new Fatback Skookum. Fit Werx is proud to be partnered with Fatback – a company that aligns well with our goals of carrying products from truly innovative companies striving to be “best in class” over “best in marketing”.

The Fatback Skookum is a full carbon fiber bike that distinguishes itself from many other Fat Bikes by being designed to be suitable for both fat tire riding in the snow and sand as well as accepting Plus sized 27.5″ or 29″ wheels for trail and cross country riding. To quote Fatback:

“We took the things we love best about our favorite mountain bikes; agility, speed and sexy lines, and combined those with the amazing capabilities of a 26″ X 4.8″ tire; traction, stability, flotation, and comfort.”

Fatback Skookum Frame Design

The monocoque carFatback Skookum Head Tubebon fiber frame’s design incorporates a 197mm wide rear triangle, so that the bike can handle those big, 4.8″ wide fat bike tires on 100 mm wide rims. However, you can also swap those wheels for more conventional 27.5″, or 29″, shod with Plus sized mountain bike tires. The frame is designed for a tapered steerer tube, 1.125″ top bearings and 1.5″ bottom. The Fatback Skookum being reviewed is equipped with the Rock Shox Bluto fork, a common suspension fork on Fat Bikes, offering up to 120 mm of travel. The suspension fork reinforces the usefulness of this bike as a four seasons hard tail ride, suitable for use on the winter snows and summer beaches and river beds with the wide tires or on the warmer weather single track or cross country trails with “narrower” hard pack tires.

The oval-shaped carbon fiber downtube of the Fatback Skookum is quite wide. The seat tube is ever so slightly arced so as to provide adequate clearance for the big tires, while locating the bottom bracket and crank in the proper place. The entire frame design flows very gracefully to my eye with the main tube intersections formed very smoothly, and the joints flowing together beautifully. This is a very well designed and proportioned frame that is responsive and stable feeling – just what you would expect from a company that started a long-time ago building bikes for Iditabike.

Fatback Skookum Component Package Options

Fatback Skookum Rear TriangleFrom the factory, the Fatback Skookum is well equipped for its job, with a wide variety of build options. There are four factory build kits, offering a wide variety of component choices that make the Fatback Skookum range in price starting from $3100 ready to ride.

  • The only Shimano-based system, labeled the “XT 3 Season”, includes Shimano XT shifting and hydraulic brakes.
  • The “X01 4 Season” model is based on SRAM GX1 Grip Shift system, with a 1X11 drivetrain and Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes.
  • The “GX1 3 Season” model has SRAM trigger shifting and SRAM’s Guide hydraulic brake system.
  • The “X01 4 Season” model has the SRAM Grip Shift system, Avid BB7 mechanical brakes and a SRAM 1 X 11 drivetrain with an 11-42 cassette.

In addition to the component options, the Fatback Skookum is also available from Fatback with four wheel options: two alloy rim choices (DT Swiss or Mule Fut), and two carbon fiber rim options of Fatback’s own design to reduce weight. You can also get a Fatback Skookum frame and fork, and have Fit Werx build it up with your choice of components and wheels – we’re here to help you select the best parts for your use.

The Fatback Skookum GX1 3 Season Build

Fatback Skookum Bottom BracketThe Fatback Skookum equipped with the SRAM GX1 3 Season build is one of the more popular kits as it features the progressive Guide hydraulic brakes and SRAM’s very nice new GX components all at a very competitive price starting at $3550 with Mule Fut wheels. To be more specific about the component specifications, the drivetrain has SRAM GX X-ACTUATION 11 speed shifters, controlling a SRAM GX X-HORIZON 1X 11 rear derailleur. The 11 speed XD drive cassette has a gear range of 11-42 and the crankset is a Race Face 1X alloy crankset, with a 30 tooth chainring. The bottom bracket is the Race Face S Type Team XC and tying these drivetrain together is the SRAM PC-X1 chain. The build kit comes with the excellent SRAM Guide hydraulic brake calipers and levers and the rotors are SRAM Centerline with a big 180mm front rotor and 160mm in the rear.

The wheels on this review Skookum feature name brand DT Swiss BR710 26″ rims, mounted to Fatback alloy hubs. The tubes for the tires are from Schwalbe, and 4.8 inch wide tires are Schwalbe Jumbo Jims. Wonder why Fat Bikes are usually heavy? Rubber is a big part of it. The tubes on the Skookum are 380 grams each, and the tires weigh 1,280 grams, or 2.13 pounds, each; a total for tires and tubes of 3,320 grams, or about 7.3 pounds and that is without the actual wheels to mount them! For comparison sake, a performance oriented mountain bike tire set can come in under half thFatback Skookum DT Wheelat… Thankfully the DT rims can be converted to tubeless so you can eliminate some weight quickly. The front wheel comes equipped with a 15mm thru axle, while the rear is 12mm with the Fatback original 197mm spacing.
As for remaining miscellaneous build items, the carbon fiber seatpost is 31.6 mm, mounted with a two bolt alloy head, making it easy to adjust the saddle position. While we chose the rigid post version, the frame is ready for an internally mounted dropper post, a really nice touch. The stem and handlebar are aluminum alloy. The Skookum actually gives you a choice of two color schemes for ’16 with a racy white/black option called “Chinook” or the good looking dark blue and lime green “Moss” finish of our demo bike.

The 20” frame weighed in at 1,780 grams, or 3.17 lbs, including the carbon seatpost. The finished bike, without pedals, weighs 28lbs. 15oz., or 13.13 kg. Keep in mind that these weights are for the largest frame size and with the Rock Shox Bluto fork on the front. This is a very good weight for a Fat Bike with a front suspension fork in this price range.

The Fatback Skookum, as built with the second level of wheel offerings from Fatback (DT Swiss), sells for $3,799. All in all, this is a very good deal on what can easily be described as a feature rich Fat Bike. The SRAM GX works great and gives up very little functionality to its more costly big brothers (XX1 and X1).

Other Fatback Bike Models

In addition to the Skookum, Fatback offers two other models. The Fatback Corvus is a more traditional dedicated snow Fat Bike than the Skookum constructed with Unidirectional Carbon Fiber Monocoque Front Triangle, 197mm rear hub spacing for a 12mm thru axle, BSA threaded bottom bracket (a blessing!), oversized headset, and posts for 160mm disc brake rotors. Prices for the Corvus start from $2,975, depending on the build options selected. The other model is the Fatback Rhino that is constructed of 6000 series aluminum and competes with bikes like the Felt DD30. Like the Skookum, the Rhino is designed to woFatback Skookumrk well with Fat Bike wheels and tires as well as four season mountain bike 27.5″+ and 29″+ wheels and tires. The Rhino can therefore be an economical way to get one bike that is capable of doing just about everything off-road except full on downhill blitzes. Prices for the Fatback Rhino start from $1,999.

Fatback Skookum Conclusion

We really like that Fatback just builds Fat Bikes – we appreciate focus and passion from a brand and this is one brand that is steeped in Fat Bike history and proven execution in epic events like the Iditabike. The Fatback Skookum is no “me too” Fat Bike, yet it is very progressive and built with the future and versatility in mind.

As I have said before, if you are looking for an alternative to sitting on your trainer, staring at a computer or TV, stop-in or give us a call about Fat Bike options like these from Fatback as well as others from Felt, Moots and Surly and we can get you outside and having fun in short order. ThFatback Ridere Fatback Skookum, or one of Fatback’s other offerings, can provide the good workout, scenery variety and fresh air that your training regime needs to keep energized. Given the very high quality frame, and a great selection of components and wheels, the Skookum should satisfy any rider’s needs for a high quality Fat Bike. Add a separate set of Plus sized mountain bike wheels and tires and the Fatback Skookum will let you head off-road with a high grade hard tail when the snow is gone.

The development of bikes such as the Fatback Skookum, suitable for year-round off road riding, and adventure road bikes such as the Parlee Chebacco (http://fitwerx.com/parlee-chebacco-review/), riders have the ability to enjoy riding year round, on and off road, and over all types of terrain, with just two bikes that can do most everything well. Previously you would have needed a stable of at least four bikes to do this: one for paved roads, one for gravel and dirt roads, one for three-season trail riding, and one for winter snow riding. Now, you only need two, plus two extra sets of wheels, and bikes such as the Fatback Skookum and Parlee Chebacco will meet all of these needs, short of racing, very, very well indeed. It is a great time to buy into the next generation of bike and frame technology and versatility as features like the wide range of tire options, thru axles and disc brakes are going to be big parts of bike technology for a long-time to come.

Remember what your mother used to say when you were a child (or at least mine did)? “Go outside and play!” Just do it on a Fatback from Fit Werx!

About Jim

After almost thirty years as an attorney, Jim decided he was ready for a change in 2007. After being a Fit Werx client for years, Jim started working with us as part of an internship and he went full-time at Fit Werx in early 2009. In the summer of 2010 Jim assumed the Service Manager role for our Vermont location and is now a mainstay. Whether he is helping a rider find a good road ride in the area, fixing a pesky bottom bracket issue, or carefully building up someone’s new bike to their positioning numbers, Jim is an accomplished technician, a great resource and here to help.

Find out more about Jim Here

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