After trying a Salsa Mukluk a couple years ago, I became convinced that a fat bike was the perfect tool for running my small number of sled dogs. Regardless of trail conditions (which are usually poor in this part of the state) these things do it all and are really stable...snow, ice, mud. The only conditions they don't really work in is deep snow, which is what my skis or dog sled are for anyways.
Plus they're just super fun to ride.
Towards the first of the year I started looking a lot harder at picking up a bike. The cost on these things is really astronomical and no matter how much I kept running the numbers, it just wasn't looking realistic.
Then I saw that TreeFort Bikes in Ypsi had bought all the left over 2011 Mukluk frames from Salsa and was selling them at a big discount.
I deiced to move on the frame purchase. Planning to build the bike up over a few months and using as many parts from my current bike (that I'd bought on Craigslist a few years ago) as I could.
This bike had been converted into a half-fat bike last year by Ted at Ada Bikes, so I already had a few fat items I could use. I ended up getting a "open box" Hope FatSno 170mm rear hub from TreeFort in Ypsi at a huge discount also. Lastly, I ended up getting a Fatback FSA crank from Einstein Cycles in Traverse City which finished out the bike.
For the maiden voyage I took the bike and two dogs to the end of Esch Road at Sleeping Bear Dunes for a beach ride.
The ride went awesome, floating over the beach and even trough a little stream (mostly)...Unfortunately, I found out bikes aren't allowed on the beach at Sleeping Bear.
So far the bikes been working out great, I've been riding a lot and am ready to start doing longer rides and bike-packing trips both with and without dogs. I'm also looking forward to biking around the Big M and Pere Marquette rivers to do some Steelhead fishing this spring.
Because of the schedule Brigid and I keep, I've mostly been riding around town and on local trails with Emelia in her bike trailer...lots of fun and good training I hope.
This winter I decided to add a toboggan bed to my sprint sled. My goal was to open more trail opportunities up (we have limited access to groomed trails). Additionally, this provids a more suitable place for passengers (Emelia) to ride.
I tracked down a local supplier of UHMW plastic for the bed, asked a few questions on SledDogCentral and made the decision to go with thicker 1/4" black UHMW plastic.
After purchasing the plastic, I took the sled apart ditching any unnecessary components and replacing all the hardware with stainless steel.
I ended up cutting the width of the bed a little short, but it still went together ok. I also made a new smaller and lighter weight drag brake. One of the challenges of this conversion was remounting the claw brake without interfering with the bed. I came up with a few good ideas, but in the end decided to just leave the claw brake off. With the drag brake we wouldn't need the claw brake to stop and I wasn't planning on racing at all this season, so we wouldn't need it to meet race requirements.
Overall the project turned out really well. The sled retained almost all of its steering flexibility. It handles deep snow much better and now has a much more suitable passenger compartment.