This Borealis Crestone evaluate is a long-term have a look at a motorcycle that has been available on the market for a few years, however nonetheless is delivering smile after smile. Simple to maneuver, but nonetheless secure in notoriously free situations. Light-weight & gentle feeling, even with these huge tires. Not exceptionally progressive geometry as of late, however nonetheless forward of its time to create a flexible trip from snow to mushy leaves to mud to summer time sand dunes…
Borealis Crestone, a benchmark light-weight carbon fats bike
The Borealis Crestone first debuted all the best way again in fall 2015. And sure, we’re about to put in writing hundreds of phrases and share tons of images of a motorcycle that has been nearly unchanged in additional than 8 years. You wish to know why? As a result of it’s nonetheless an ideal bike, and nonetheless getting higher with the addition of contemporary fats bike tires and suspension. Oh, and it’s truly extra inexpensive now than it was eight years in the past.
Plus, we’ve spent most of final winter enjoying within the snow on this bike. Winter is again, and it’s getting thrashed within the snow once more. And we realized some classes, that may very well be useful to cross on in case you are considering a fats bike buy.
Now, I don’t know should you actually do want a fats bike (n+1, and all however)? However we dwell within the mountains and completely do.
Let’s break it down
The Borealis Crestone is a light-weight carbon fatbike with huge tire clearance – as much as 26″ x 5” or 27.5″ x 4.5” and even 29″ x 3.0″ – and geo prepared for 100-120mm of fork journey. We by no means stripped the body naked, as a result of a motorcycle with tires this huge is rarely gonna break the UCI 6.8kg weight barrier.
However constructed up full with a KS Lev Si dropper put up, an inexpensive GX Eagle mechanical group, burly alloy cranks, low-cost 26″ wheels however good 4″ tires, flat pedals, and a Manitou Mastodon fork, it nonetheless weighs simply 14.16kg (31.2lb). And with the total carbon Borealis fork, it’s 1375g lighter at 12.8kg (28.2lb). Positive that’s no ultralight in comparison with a carbon XC hardtail, however with tires that simply vary from 1200-1700g a chunk and tubes that weigh as much as 450g, it’s fairly gentle. And it looks like that out on the path.
Fats bike standards-wise, the Crestone encompasses a BSA threaded 100mm backside bracket, 76.5mm chainline, a 31.6mm seatpost, 1.5″ tapered inside headset, plus 15x150mm entrance & 12x197mm rear thru-axles. It has standard inside cable routing, together with for a stealth dropper seatpost AND a entrance derailleur in case you are nonetheless residing in 1999.
Borealis Crestone’s restricted evolution
This fats bike hasn’t actually modified its geometry in a decade, largely relationship again to its Borealis Echo predecessor. However in a large 4 dimension vary (S-XL), it truly presents longer Attain and decrease Slack on our Small take a look at bike than many more recent fatbikes. Good for out brief 165mm tall take a look at rider.
Previous Faculty Fashionable Fatbike Geometry
The totally inflexible geometry of the Borealis Crestone appears oddly steep in comparison with fashionable hardtails (or some newer fats bikes) with a 70° headtube. However its secret, is that fats bikes are bizarre. And the free terrain you trip them in with heavy tires is just not regular. That “faster” dealing with helps counteract the sluggish steering you get from 2 kilos of entrance tire & tube. And Borealis balances it on the different finish with lengthy 455mm chainstays, that assist maintain the bike shifting in a straight line for stability, when grip is missing. It’s far more frequent to spin out your rear wheel on a fats bike than a standard hardtail. And I can’t bear in mind sliding many snowy freeride downhills the place I wouldn’t have killed for extra stability.
Oh, and swapping within the 120mm fork… at 30% sag, it does slacken the pinnacle angle by 1°, elevate the efficient Stack by 7mm, and successfully shorten Attain by 11mm. It’s at 50% of that suspension fork journey the place the geometry evens out utterly with the total inflexible setup, which looks like a candy spot suspension-wise, because it’s solely momentary huge hits that actually transcend that.
We’ll additionally ignore the 73° seattube angle just a little bit, as a result of Attain is a greater measure of match. And with zero offset MTB posts, you may normally slide the saddle a bit ahead for a steeper ‘digital’ seat angle and improved climbing effectivity, if you’d like. The trick right here although, is that you just truly do a variety of seated pedaling to energy by way of free terrain on a fats bike, so that you don’t truly need fairly as steep a seat angle as you’d count on on a contemporary path bike.
As I mentioned, good fatbike geometry is bizarre.
However what tires and what wheel dimension must you get?
That is genuinely the largest dilemma within the fats bike debate. And actually, we’re gonna have to actually reply it in a separate article. However tires and wheel diameter actually make the fatbiking expertise (as does wildly-low tire strain). Make the unsuitable selection in wheel diameter (trace: 26″is useless) and your fats bike will simply really feel a bit slower than it already is. However get the unsuitable tires for the situations you trip. And also you genuinely received’t be having a very good time.
In ultra-abbreviated style. Fork out the cash for lighter, extra supple tires in case you are actually using in snow. Should you trip hardpacked or groomed trails – whether or not filth or snow – low-profile treads do roll noticeably faster. But when your terrain is correctly free, be sure you have some structured directional shoulder knobs, as they’ll assist maintain your line.
If it freezes and thaws in any respect in your winter season, severely take into account light-weight studded tires – their grip is out of the world. And don’t neglect, regardless that greater diameter is healthier, wider isn’t essentially higher. An extended barely extra slender tire contact patch is probably going a lot simpler to pedal by way of mushy situations, and is simpler to manage in a straight line.
It’s much more sophisticated than this. However that could be a first rate place to begin.
And what in regards to the precise wheels, themselves?
That’s one other extra sophisticated query. We examined 4 primary wheelset choices. A brilliant fancy HED carbon 26″ wheel, and extra inexpensive ally 27.5″ HED wheels. Then 27.5″ alloy DT Swiss BR2250 wheels, and finances alloy Solar Ringlé Mulefüt wheels in each 26″ & 27.5″ sizes. The carbon HED wheels price $2000 for the pair. The alloy Solar Ringlé pair sells at this time for $420. The distinction in weight of a 26″ wheelset is 614g for the pair. It’s not nothing, and we may discover the distinction a bit, however it’s not $1600 of efficiency distinction.
Perhaps extra essential, even sticking with butyl internal tubes, we realized we may save 420g for a pair of wheels simply utilizing gentle 27.5+ tubes vs. 26 fats tubes. For no extra price. Butyl tubes are fairly stretchy, and fats bike low pressures are fairly forgiving. All of our wheels are tubeless suitable, however swapping tires round and fear about sub-freezing sealant efficiency, we by no means set any up tubeless. And had no points.
OK, however how does the Borealis actually trip?
Fats Bike setup and using model
My (Veronika) most important focus is path using and enduro, then gravel using, after which in winter primarily fats biking. All of final winter and someday this previous summer time, I examined the Borealis Crestone. It’s perhaps my 4th or fifth fats bike, with a variety of time spent on a pair alloy Duratec expedition Massive Paws, sooner Fats Jacks, and the extra trail-oriented Cannondale Fats CAAD over the previous few years. All with inflexible forks. Nearly all of my fats bike using is on arduous frozen surfaces and ice. However I additionally hunt contemporary powder to trip and prolong into the melting snow of spring.
Final winter I didn’t get as a lot packed snow as I wanted for. However fortunately, we dwell in a mountain cross, so I nonetheless received in 5-600km of snowy trails over 25 separate rides. These snow freeride rides usually don’t rack up the kilometers very quick!
Then, in summer time I grabbed the prospect to trip sandy seashores on the Baltic Sea.
Borealis Crestone fats bike’s first rides
My first rides had been on the unique setup that I obtained from Borealis, with a price-conscious mechanical GX construct and a inflexible carbon fork. Assume a roughly $2500 construct with a dropper and alloy wheels. The dropper is non-obligatory, however clearly a reasonably key characteristic to have on a fats bike. Like several path bike, it’s good to not cease on the highest of a hill and simply fly down the path. BUT with fats bikes particularly, I discovered it very helpful when you could get again in your bike after crashing in deep snow, passing a non-rideable impediment, or simply merely beginning to pedal in steep uphill in deep, uneven snow.
Personally, I don’t love the KS Lev iS dropper, as it’s a must to press the distant fairly arduous/far to get the “motion”. And as soon as it shoots up, it is sort of a rocket launch, whereas I choose softer, smoother dropper motion.
How does it look, and the way does it examine?
I rode the bike in differing snow situations – powder / icy snow / slush / mud / or mud over free leaves. And I used not less than 3 completely different units of wheel & 5 tires, in each 26″ & 27.5″ diameters. At all times searching that finest combo of weight, grip, steering management & basic trip really feel.
In comparison with the opposite fats bikes I rode beforehand – it doesn’t matter what wheel+tire combo – the Crestone felt lighter, dealt with extraordinarily nicely and I fell in love with it fairly shortly. Plus, who couldn’t love the superb color-changing green-tinted uncooked carbon body, that in gentle (particularly in direct solar) actually resembled the Aurora Borealis. I do know it sounds corny, however when the solar shines this bike appears nice.
With out direct gentle, the darkish inexperienced body appears practically black. However within the gentle, the carbon construction shines in shades of sunshine inexperienced to blue. It’s a easy private factor, however I want all my bikes popped like that within the solar.
Curiously, we did a variety of using inside clouds and at the hours of darkness. Such is winter within the Czech mountains.
Fats Bike Driving Assessment – Borealis Crestone carbon fatbike
Whereas using, the Crestone and its curious fatbike-specific geometry is solely responsive and climbed simply. I felt I used to be flying on flats. And I even loved going uphill, as nicely. Pace was particularly pronounced with the bigger diameter 27.5 wheels and narrower 3.8-4″ tires. The mix of sunshine carbon body, inflexible carbon fork & outsized carbon handlebar felt actually responsive. It’s actually an ideal setup using smoother packed snowy roads and groomed snow trails. However…
What I truly love essentially the most on winter using is the chance to go wherever and really feel a freedom of motion, not restricted on roads or outlined paths. I prefer to name the idea Fatbike Freeride!
Fats biking in my thoughts is linked with the thrilling alternative to discover off-piste using in untouched snow. Laying down contemporary tracks. I can trip in areas which might be practically unrideable in summer time. Or just unpleasantly bumpy attributable to so many roots & rocks. As soon as we get that first 30cm of snow and it packs down & freezes, all terrain smooths out. After which, using within the subsequent couple centimeters of contemporary powder is an actual pleasure.
Upgrading for trails to the Manitou Mastodon 120mm suspension fork
Nonetheless, for such path-free using or fats freeride path using, the tremendous stiff carbon fork is lower than supreme paired to the additionally stiff body. Driving full-tilt downhill is feasible. However it lacked among the enjoyable. And my higher physique shortly drained from all of the impacts. So, I swapped in suspension with the 120mm gen 2 Manitou Mastodon Professional fork. Concurrently swapping the fork, I additionally exchanged the 35mm Borealis bars for a straighter 31.6mm flat Beast carbon bar.
The swap made the Crestone much more enjoyable as a winter path bike. Then, the one factor I needed to care about whereas using was setting the acceptable tire strain. Really a troublesome name, usually within the unbelievably-low 4-8psi vary. A shout out to the analog Borealis low-pressure gauge for sorting tire strain!
Now, I can think about utilizing the Crestone as an virtually year-round hardtail with narrower or wider or studded tires, relying on the season. With large tires, the bike is sort of heavy to raise and get correct air time. However it’s nonetheless completely comfy with small jumps or drops, as much as say 1/2 meter. It’s nonetheless a carbon hardtail in any case.
Fats Bike Cons
The one actual draw back being that wider backside bracket (3cm greater than a standard path bike) that makes Q-factor, pedal stance, after which foot & knee placement wider than a extra supreme setup. Since I trip this bike solely with platform pedals, I can ‘cheat’ my toes a bit nearer collectively. However the huge stance is definitely noticeable after swapping from my enduro bike within the autumn. And I don’t really feel like I’ll do too many 100km rides on the Crestone.
Additionally, it’s essential to say that uphill pedaling efficacy was higher with the totally inflexible unique setup. A suspension fork actually is dependent upon particular person style. For off-road enjoyable path using I would definitely advocate the suspension fork. However for extremely longer snowy-packed street rides, I’d go along with the Borealis inflexible fork. The one main advantage of the Manitou Mastodon fork although is that it’s (comparatively simply) internally adjustable all the way down to 80mm of journey, which might be a cheerful medium compromise for a lot of fats bike riders.
Wrapping up final winter, we performed with utilizing the fatbike as a commuter bike to go snowboarding, too. Experience to the native raise, pedal to groomed XC ski tracks, or simply getting as much as a very good place to begin for backcountry snowboarding. It appeared to me like a very cool thought. So with some versatile 4″ Cake Eaters, I strapped my skialp skis to my backpack and pedaled as much as larger elevation to achieve deep skiable snow.
It concerned just a little little bit of ski+pack shuffling to make it work. And pedaling up was sluggish going. Largely within the granny gear. And we simply locked the fats bikes up deep within the snowy woods after we couldn’t pedal any additional. However it labored.
We’ll dial it on this winter for a bit extra effectivity, and doubtless some longer strategy rides. As a result of using to ski is little bit of a enjoyable thought, and a reasonably strong exercise!
Seaside life, too!
Trying on the fattest 5″ huge 26″ Terrene Johnny 5 tires, I struggled slowly with them a bit within the snow. However, on sandy seashores, they made the Crestone a variety of enjoyable. That massively fats tire was capable of cowl mushy, deep sand with grip and management.
I don’t normally benefit from the relaxed, lazy seaside life. And taking the Borealis Crestone with me to the Baltic seaside was a recreation changer. And, now I/m wanting ahead to the subsequent fats bike seaside journey, and exploring sand dunes, simply as a lot as I used to be excited for the primary powder this winter.
Winter returns and Remaining Ideas on the Borealis Crestone carbon fats bike
So the place does that depart us two and a half thousand phrases later about an outdated bike?
Properly, the Borealis Crestone is a lovely carbon fats bike that’s genuinely a blast to trip. In all forms of situations. Sure, we’d like to see what Borealis may do by modernizing the bike with barely longer, barely slacker geometry, and perhaps even an flip-chip on the dropout to provide the possibility for shorter summer time chainstays. And actually, if we maintain using this bike, we’ll type out a 100mm BB crankset, however with narrower Q-factor.
However in the long run, the carbon Borealis Crestone is a lightweight and versatile fats bike. And it brings smiles each time we trip. Whether or not using groomed snow tracks within the winter, muddy root-strewn trails within the spring, or summer time sand dunes… we’re pleased all 12 months spherical.
Oh yeah, and it’s arduous to argue with this URL: