Despite the mostly black styling with a flash of red, the Specialized Fatboy Expert isn’t exactly hiding in the shadows. The 26×4.6 inch Ground Control tyres make it difficult to miss, even if you’ve got poor eyesight. We loved the attention to detail that includes a typically American horizon silhouette along the super wide hubs.
Specialized is one of a few established bike brands that’s getting on board the previously niche fat bike market with three models. From next year there will also be an option to spec the recently launched Rock Shox Bluto RL suspension fork, specific to fat bikes and offering enough clearance for tyres up to five inches wide. That’s a LOT of takkie, bru!
On the trail the Fatboy Expert was pleasantly surprising. It didn’t have the drag or sluggish handling we expected (from how it looked). In fact very much the opposite, although the gnarly Ground Control tyres did demand that we give them aggressive lean in corners and berms. Riding on singletrack was agile and responsive, but you definitely have to be more pronounced in your riding style when pushing hard through the narrow stuff.
We found the 2×10 gearing more than adequate, especially on rolling hills, while the SRAM gripshift is a favorite of some of our testers.
While the primary focus of any fat bike is to cover surfaces normally unrideable by a regular bike the Fatboy Expert really did show it’s impressive ability to scale steep, loose, sandy and rocky climbs – largely thanks to the huge tyres providing so much grip.
However, rocky downhills and fast rock sections required caution, at speed you get bounced around a lot, especially without a suspension fork. Those tyre may look like big cushions, but they aren’t…
All in all, the Fatboy is an exceptionally fun bike to ride and a joy over jumps and through berms and tight, fast turns.
There are a limited number of Fatboy Experts coming to South Africa, with the majority of Specialized’s fat bike stock being in the Fatboy (R24 999) and Fatboy Pro with the suspension fork (R49 999) models.
SIZES: S; M (tested); L
TOP TUBE LENGTH: 603mm
SEAT TUBE LENGTH: 445mm
HEAD TUBE ANGLE: 70.5’
SEAT TUBE ANGLE: 73’
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 455mm
PRICE: R29 999
COLOURS: Gloss black, red detailing
FRAME: M4 Hydroformed Alloy
WEIGHT: 13.19kg (incl pedals)
FORK: Carbon rigid
SHIFTERS: SRAM S-series Gripshift, 10spd
FRONT DERAILLER: SRAM X7
REAR DERAILLER: SRAM X0, 10spd
CRANKSET: Custom E.Thirteen 175mm, 100mm axle
BRAKESET: Shimano Deore BR-M506 (Tested Magura MT)
WHEELS: Specialized Fatboy SL rims, Specialized Hi Lo cartridge bearing hubs, 135mm axles.
TYRES: Specialized Ground Control Fat 26×4.6
OTHERS: Specialized alloy stem (40mm, 6’ rise), Specialized 3d forged alloy handlebar (carbon tested), Specialized alloy seatpost, Specialized Body Geometry saddle
CONTACT: www.specialized.com; 021 808 7333
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*Originally published in TREAD Soul Provider Issue 31, 2014 – All rights reserved