So my current (or previous?) fat bike now was the original Specialized Fatboy released in 2013, right around the time all of the big players in bike manufacturing were jumping aboard the fatbike train. A couple of years previous to this is when I saw my first fatbike in a bike store window. My jaw dropped open. It dropped open again when I saw the price tag. When Specialized announced their bike it was for a much more reasonable price, especially when considering the spec it came with (4.6" tires, hydraulic brakes, modern rear derailleur w/ clutch, carbon fork, etc.). Due to their brand size, Specialized has a lot of buying power. Because of this, I often feel like their bikes (middle of the range and lower, not S-Works) offer the biggest bang for the buck in terms of stock frames and included components. The 2014 Fatboy was no exception and I felt was the best thing going compared to similarly equipped bikes.
Fast forward a few years, many miles and a number of bikes (of various disciplines) later to fall of 2017 when my black and red aluminum Fatboy Expert was looking a bit long in the tooth. It has been through four winters of salty mid-western roads, countless sandy miles on the two-tracks and lake shores of Northern Michigan. In addition, I made the mistake of looking at the new 2018 fat bike selection which ultimately broke my will power and the train of thought headed down the new bike line, a track my wife knows all too well. A new fat bike was in my future.
I am a huge fan of thru axles and tubeless wheels/tires (the 'old' Fatboy had quick release skewers and tubes) so my must-have list included those. I initially looked at the highest level aluminum frame offered and it checked most of the boxes, but I was excited to try out the SRAM 1x12 drivetrain, which the Carbon Comp next level had, along with better hydraulic brakes, carbon Sram Next cranks and some nice Stout tubeless ready wheels (also available on the aluminum model). Buying those extras separately would have cost a lot more than just buying the components outright on the bike from the manufacturer (at least that's what I told myself to justify the upgrade). Besides, how can you go wrong with a carbon frame? It's not at all necessary for a rider like myself who would do better to reduce bodyweight rather than bike weight (cheaper to do so as well!). Carbon on a fatbike isn't needed to absorb road vibrations like on a road bike since other than the tread hum, no vibrations get through the massive 4+ inches of fat bike tire meat. Anyways, long story short, I placed my order with the LBS and a few days later this beauty showed up.
As I write this, I'm a few weeks into owning the new bike so I can't give you a long term reliability/durability review or anything like that. What I can tell you is it has reignited my love of fat bikes. That same silly grin I had the first time I rode a fat bike is the one I get every time I pedal down my driveway on the way to local single track and I haven't hit single track this much since college. I can't wait to get the bike covered in snow and slush this winter!
As per the deal I have with my wife, any new bike I get needs to be as bright of a color as possible and I don't think they come much brighter than this. I do really like it, and as an added bonus, by not going with the 'murdered out' flat black look, the gloss coated bike will be much easier to clean. I have owed several flat black bikes in the past, and they are just simply harder to get really clean and once you do, it only lasts until the next ride when it will pick up road grime, mud and hand smudges (technical term for greasy human paw prints). Of course, you could just leave it covered in mud and that would solve the difficult to clean issue.
The frame geometries of new versus old are similar, if not the same, which is what attracted me to the Fatboy originally. Many fat bikes live up to the name and feel very 'fat'. You feel like you're driving a truck, or a steam roller, but the Fatboy still manages to feel a bit racy even with the 4" Specialized Ground Control tires.
In terms of difference noted outright, this bike is stiff and super flickable. What does that mean? It may be placebo after dropping a bunch of clams on this bike, but it climbs awesome (it doesn't hurt that I now have 1x12) and is so easy to flick around and jump. I find myself jumping curbs, roots and other random obstacles like I did as a kid with my first real 2-wheeled BMX bike and due to the reduced weight, it's easier to get both wheels off the ground. I think it will always be fun to get both tires in the air, it just takes longer now to heal when I mess up the landing.
As you can probably tell, I am enjoying the bike very much thus far. There are a few things I could nit-pick about it, like how you can hear the cable housings sliding and bouncing around in the down tube of the carbon framed version, or how they give you thru axles without the quick release style handle which requires you to pull out the multitool in order to remove the wheel, but as I said, super minor. Yes, minor as in about as first-world of a problem as anyone person could possibly have, so I will just reiterate my point that I really like the the 2018 Specialized Fatboy Comp Carbon.