Mukluk+

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26 thoughts on “Mukluk+

    • I bought the fork because it was readily available and I knew it had better tire clearance than similar RockShox forks. I was surprised when the 3.0″ Knard fit with some room to spare. Still hashing out the wheel and tire preferences.

      • I thought that was the new rock shox fat fork before taking a closer look.
        Did/does the 29+ leave suspension to be desired compared to your 29er rig of last summer and “normal” 26×4″ fat tires?

        • Fat tires give a lot of suspension, but it does not compare to the refined adjustments on a modern suspension fork including variable compression, rebound damping, and even travel adjust. I often feel when mountain biking on a fatbike that the tires are too soft or too hard. I experience a similar feeling on a 29+ bike, but overall, the experience is much more controlled and less bouncy. But then, a 29+ bike still rides like a rigid bike, or a very-short travel suspension bike. I’m coming to realize the best balance of features for my non-winter adventures. Under review are traction, suspension, flotation; system durability, mechanical simplicity, and tire choice; ease of packing luggage, and of course, fun.

          This Fox fork can be tuned in a variety of ways. The air chamber can be tuned to rider size and riding style. There is a basic rebound dial on the bottom of the right leg. The top of the right leg features the C-T-D compresssion dial, features a stiff “Climb” mode, a mid “Trail” mode, and a wide-open “Descend” option. The top of the left leg features an on-the-fly travel adjust from 120mm travel down to 90mm, perfect for climbing or fast riding on smoother, tight twisty trail. Aside from the massive tire clearance on some of the Fox forks, I really wanted to gain a better understanding of all the available suspension features. So far, base upon a few commutes around town, this set-up is one step closer to the bike I want to be riding.

          Still up for review are 45-50mm wide rims and 3.0″ tires. In any case, neither the Dually nor the Rabbit Hole are truly tubeless ready rims, which is a big drawback for my intended purposes. I’m considering some other rim options in the 35mm range, including 2.3-2.5 inch tires. There is a certain 35mm carbon rim high on my list right now that looks tough enough for the job: http://www.derbyrims.com

  1. Looks great, can’t wait to hear how it rides! 29+ squish is something I’d like to try on the Kramps, sadly the manitou I bought doesn’t fit such big tires… boo hoo.
    All the best

  2. Nice! I just had to remove my old F29 since the Dually rims (which set up tubeless for me pretty easily) being 5mm narrower than RH’s didn’t fit the tires under the arch anymore. But I need a new fork anyways :)
    I was going to wait for the Rock Shox RS-1 but with needing another new wheel (new hub standard…again) and the fact it costs more than some full bikes (?!) I am probably going to go your route.
    How do you like the change in geometry of the Muk?

    • I like the RS-1, and the inverted design promises to keep the fork moving smoothly. If I was commited to a fatbike fo the next year or two (which I am not at the moment), I’d also consider the Bluto for year-round squish. For me, dynamo hub compatibility is important. I am happy to experience a high-volume tire, quality sus fork, with 15mm axle, tapered steerer, etc.

      The geometry feels great at 120, only a little taller and more relaxed than with the stock fork. Already, when I drop the travel to 90mm, the front end feels low. By the end of the week 120mm will be the new norm.

      Also, the fork is the factory model Fox 29 Talas 32. When shopping for a fork the Revelation forks were too long for my purposes, with less clearance than a Fox. The Rebas are nice for tires up to 2.4. It turns out this fantastic fork was gathering dust in the shop I work at, so I bought it. It is fancier than I first planned, but I think I will enjoy it. Both the CTD and travel adjust are nice features.

      Now, my only concern is the BB width, regarding pedal clearance on tight singletrack, which is really only a part-time issue. I’ve also had some knee pains this winter, but I don’t necessarily attribute that to the wide Q, as I pedaled a Pugsley for over a year with no issue. I’ve been following some of the other interesting 29+ custom concepts, especially from Andy Peirce in Del Norte, CO (http://www.ampeircecycles.com/titanium-294fatrohloff-drive/) and Dr. Jon in the UK (http://drj0nswanderings.wordpress.com). Still, if a fatbike is on my horizon for next winter, or for future travels, I’d prefer to keep the compatibility. Maybe MN, AK, CO, or MT next winter? Maybe the epic Baja 1000 fatbike tour? That’s what keeps me thinking.

      • I’ll be interested to learn how this works out for you. I have a 100mm fork on my Krampus; I agree with you that it makes the bike much more trail friendly. However, I’ve given up on the Knards due to their extremely fast wear rate. I got about half a season out of them. I’ve switched to Ardent 2.4s on the 35mm Derby rims for now, and I’m pretty happy with that setup. I’ll be trying the first alternative knobby that makes it to market, either the Dirt Wizard 29 or the Maxxis Chronicle.

        The BB width issue is the reason I went with the Krampus in the first place. I like wide rims and tires, but my Mukluk hurts my knees after about 3 hours.

        • I’ve never been a big fan of Knards, especially on snow or dry SW trails. They are a fun “good conditions” tire for temperate climates (and pavement). Really, I’m looking for a capable “all condition” tire, which is why I prefer more aggressive models like the Ardent or Hans Dampf. I expect to order a pair of 29×2.5″ Maxxis Minion DHF tires soon. The Chronicle looks awesome. I’ve really enjoyed Ardents in the past few years, and they make a great long-distance dirt touring tire.

          I’m on the same page regarding rim dimensions as well. I have decided that 45mm rims are larger than I need unless I intend to use 3″ tires full time. Rather– especially, and perhaps only with the suspension fork– I prefer a 2.3.2.75″ tire, which would be better paired to a 30-35mm rim. I handled a pair of Derby rims with Hans Dampf tires on them, and have been very impressed with the relative heft and apparent strength, despite the claimed weights. They are heavier than other carbon rims, which seems to have resulted in a trail-worthy design and a tour-friendly model for someone like me.

          In my search for wide rims, I’ve narrowed down the field to wide rims that I do not wish to use (Velocity Dually and Blunt35, Spank Spike, Sun MTX33, Surly Rabbit Hole) and wide rims that only come laced to wheel systems (Ibis, Syntace, American Classic). As such, the Derbys seem like the best option. The 32mm rim (29.3mm internal width) on the American Classic Wide Lightning rim is intriguing, and appears to be lightweight. The intended usage is claimed to be XC/Enduro, which means they should be tough enough for most of us.

          I’d be happy to swap parts onto a purpose specific frame like the Krampus, however I am currently in a rapid stage of testing between my hardtail Raleigh XXIX from last season, the ECR, the full fat Mukluk, and the current 29+ hardtail Mukluk. I’m curious to know how much the wide BB will affect performance on trails. I had some knee issues this winter, but I don’t think it was the widee BB, as much as my fore aft position. Not sure, as I pedaled a Pugsley for over a year in the past. I’ve even considered a custom frame if I finally decide exactly what I want. Then again, the design concept with the Mukluk is to retain full-fat compatibility in case I land in AK or MN next year. But then, I can just get another fatbike.

          • Thanks for the insights. How does the Hans Dampf compare to the Ardent 2.4 in width? Would you recommend it over the Ardent for sandy/rocky southwest conditions?

          • Similar casing size, although the Hans Dampf is much more aggressive. As it is described as a “jack of all”, it really does everything well. I especially favor it for steep climbs, steep descents, hard cornering, off camber sidehill sections…

            But, the Ardent is faster and wears really nicely, and is probably a better choice if lots of dirt roads are involved. The Hans Dampf is the preferred trail tire. Looking forward to the Minion DHF.

            Note, I’ve used the EXO version of the Ardent and the Evolution series Hans Dampf.

  3. I like the idea of using a fat bike frame as an only bike and just swapping out tires depending on the season/conditions. It seems to me that running 26″ x 3.8″ fat tires on 47-50 mm rims would be close to a 29+ in O.D. but a little fatter. With the RS Bluto such a setup would be a great option I think. Like a 29 ++. Would be close to what you’re achieving with the mukuk and 29+. I think it would be nice to have just the little bit extra fatness along with a sus fork. What do you think?

    • The OD of 26×4 and 29×2.3 is about the same, but 29×3.0 is appreciably larger. It is actually the negative squish characteristics of fat tires that keep me from riding them all year. Anyone who has ridden a fatbike on MTB trails knows the feeling, and for some riding styles and some terrain, this is fine. Elsewhere, it can almost be a hazard to be on fat tires. I’ve gone over the bars on a Pugsley on a steep descent at White Mesa, NM. A better rider might have cleaned it, but I effectively bounced over the bars. Suspension damping is useful in other situations, but this example speaks loudly in my mind. I also have more fun riding trails and rough stuff with a suspension fork. In total, the ride is more dynamic, safe, and fun.

      The nice thing about the 3″ tire concept is that the tire isn’t so big that it wants to “buck” the rider, but is large enough to soften the ride, provide good traction, and as much flotation as most riders need in a dirt road/trail setting. It feels undersized when there is snow on the ground, but on dirt singletrack it feels huge. Sometimes, even, it feels too big (and I dislike Knard tires for most trail conditions). I think 29×3.0 is perfect for rigid 29ers.

      Fatbike and 29+ wheels are also heavy, and currently, there aren’t many proper tubeless designs, although that is changing.

      Finally, the outside diameter of a 29+ wheel is huge. perhaps more than I need and want is many situations. Would 650×3.0 be better? 29×2.5 on 35mm rims? 26×4.0 on 50mm rims? For now, I’m betting on 29×2.5″ on 30-35mm rims with a reliable tubeless design.

      • That’s good info, thanks. It will be nice when there are more tubeless rims available. I’m looking forward to trying a full suspension fat bike with 26 x 3.8 tires on 50 mm rims @ 10-12 psi.

          • Just for kicks I wanted to see if it was possible to mount a 26 x 4 tire on a regular mtb rim. Surprisingly, it barely fit on my 94 Marin Bobcat Trail’s Surly 1×1 fork and actually rode pretty well. The tire is 3.3″ at the widest point and the tire profile is great! I was expecting it to be super unstable and not safe to ride, but with 10 psi or more I felt confident it would be fine. Now I’m intrigued by the possibilities of running a 26″ super light skinny carbon rim wheelset, tubeless, with a light 26 x 4 tire such as the Ultralight HuDu for bike packing/ exploring purposes. More out of curiosity than anything.

  4. Hey Nicholas, you mentioned knee pain. I often hear about knee pain from cyclists, and this usually helps.

    The outside of the quads become tight, so much more than the inside muscles. Everyone hears about tight IT Band, and Gluteus, maybe Vastus Lateralis. This tightness pulls the kneecap out to the side. Stretching these muscles and bands help.

    Balance the Quads and keep the underside of the patella healthy and in it’s track by strengthening and shortening Vastus Medialis Obliquus. This inside head of the quadriceps does mostly the last 15 degrees of knee extension. This motion is stopped a bit short with cycling, so the muscle isn’t strengthened compared to the rest.

    An easy way to strengthen this muscle is to place a pillow or some sort of bolster under your knee, and squish it downwards. This provides resisted motion targeting the muscle. You can place a hand on VMO (the teardrop shaped muscle inside and just above your knee) and feel that it fires with each press.

    Try it out, if it’s pain-free for you to do this, and expect results in a few weeks once the muscle gets stronger and stronger. Here’s a link to a vid that shows the main idea. I wish you all the best and lots of painless cycling in the future.

    Adam John Biesinger, RMT

    • Adam, Thanks! I’ve noted improvements this winter when I avoid long, strenuous rides and try to stretch more. It will be good to have a more direct focus with regard to my knee. I am hoping to have it all sorted before summer. In a way, it is a long-term injury, as I’d first felt strains and pains on my first tour six years ago. However, I mostly avoid pain while riding and touring. The pain this winter has been a surprise. I attribute it to saddle position, but mostly, to high-torque riding conditions and lots and lots of riding. Riding on snow with 15lb wheels is tough on the body, no matter how strong you are. In fact, at times, I feel like my leg strength challenges my connective tissue and joints. I especially like climbing on the bike.

      Thanks again!

  5. Hmm, many good thoughts.
    Some questions…
    Why not return to Flow Ex if you’re thinking of 2.4 to 2.75? Although I imagine you’d think a 35mm version and a 50mm rim from them would be the absolute business.
    I presume Blunt35s are out as like Duallys they’re a bit iffy tubeless?
    Why not 2.4/2.5/2.75 in the back, 3.0 up front?
    Chunky Monkey’s still of interest?
    What’s Lael going to be riding then – how will you be matching up bikes? What conditions are you expecting. Still E Europe?

    • Stan’s rims are the business. I’ve considered the FlowEX again, but I recall the times last summer where I thought slightly wider rims would be better, to better support 2.35″ tires, to make the most volume out of the casing before flattening it (like the 45mm Dually would). Somewhere between 29mm and 45, there is a perfect rim dimension for me. I am betting on something right around 35.

      Blunt 35s are out, even thought the quality of Velocity rims is very nice and they can be set up tubeless. These days, as a matter of principle and ease of use, I want to give my money to companies like Stan’s that are developing genuine tubeless features. They also ease the process of moutning non-tubeless tires tubeless, should I need to buy a wire bead Racing Ralph in Lviv, for instance.

      I don’t have much interest in the Knard tire, in any dimension. Not enough tread for trail use, and not enough rubber for longer-term touring/bikepacking– it wears out too quickly. The Dirt Wizard looks like a great pattern and a great casing size. Sadly, it is still unavailable. I alos wish Surly would put more stock in tubeless-specific designs. Hopefully these things are in development, rather than being ignored for being an unnecessary fad. It my just be Alaska, but many riders in temperate climates (not the desert!), are skeptical of the benefits of tubeless systems.

      Chunky Monkeys are tough and big, but I don’t love the tread pattern. The knobs are very broad, giving less traction than something with a few more knobs, and a few more edges to bite the dirt. Otherwise, the casing rolls a little heavier than Ardent. Lael had some moisture leaking from both of her On-One tires for the duration of their use. She never seemed to be losing much air, if any, but they may not be the ideal tubeless tire. I’d still recommend the Chunky Money and Smorgasbord. Tough casings for sure.

      Lael will be riding an updated version of her XXIX. She loves the bike. Already, it has the 20/20 carbon Answer handlebars, which are wider and lower than the Marys. We plan to bump up the fork to 100mm, or 120. And we will build her a new front wheel with a spare Flow EX rim, to gain a little more width over the WTB wheel that has been on the bike for years. Otherwise, I’ll go over the bike in details to tune it for long-term use. There will be a few more changes, most likely. As she has considered a full-sys bike, but decided to stick with this bike, it seems appropriate to spend a little time and money on improvements.

      Still E Europe? Maybe. Maybe more.

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