In Minneapolis today, just a mile from GearJunkie headquarters east down the city’s famous Greenway Bike Path, an exciting chapter in the fat-bike story was unveiled.
At Freewheel Bike Shop, during the second-annual Winter Bike Expo, the self-proclaimed “world headquarters of winter riding fanatics,” Freewheel owner Kevin Ishaug lifted a black sheet off of a prototype bike to oohs and ahhs from a crowd.
The bike, code name “Project Murphy,” is a spanking new prototype carbon-frame fat bike. The Murphy is not just a lighter, more expensive way to go fat. It has some details that could change the way people ride fatties, including its unorthodox design with raised chainstays that allow an 83mm bottom bracket.
This bottom bracket is the same width as used with standard cranks, not fat-bike specific cranks, which are set wider to the chagrin of some riders. The setup will help get rid of that bow-legged, knee-straining pedal stroke that currently plagues some ultra-wide bikes.
The Murphy will be sold under the banner of Minneapolis Bicycle Co., a new brand announced by Ishaug. The startup company has no web site. Contact Freewheel Bike Shop for more information.
The bike is compatible with SRAM’s new XX1 drivetrain. In case you aren’t privy, that’s one front chainring and an 11-sprocket rear cassette. It’s a great setup for light, simple, full-range gearing.
Its 44mm headtube and suspension-corrected geometry will allow the use of Cannondale’s Lefty suspension fork. Never before has saying “I’m fat and squishy” caused such envy among your riding buddies!
Finally, think chains are outdated? The Murphy will work with belt-drive systems.
The one-off skunkworks model shown at the Expo today weighed 27 pounds on an in-house scale sans pedals. The maker said a production model could shed as much as another pound, making it among the lightest fatties ever built.
Production is under way and Murphy bikes may be available from Freewheel Bike Shop as soon as the end of January, Ishaug noted.
Made-in-the-USA bonus: The frame construction takes place in Minnesota. The Murphy will cost $2,400 (frame only) when it comes to market early next year, ready to roll on snow as one of the stealthiest fatties ever made.
—Contributing editor T.C. Worley reported from the Winter Bike Expo in Minneapolis. He reviewed the Salsa Mukluk fat bike last winter. On GearJunkie, the “fat” category got coverage last week in the article “Nation’s Largest XC Ski area opens to ‘Fat Bikes’.”