Sunday Spore: Borealis Throws Down; D2 Accepts Challenge

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So this never happens: D2 ran his mouth.

A lot of readers got a bit butthurt about my post about carbon fat bike rims, and y’all called me a fag or told me I’m a bitch or whatever. I expect that.  But Borealis Bikes did something else: they challenged me. Adam from Borealis down in Colorado Springs, CO called me up and said, “I’d like to change your mind about carbon fat bikes.”

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That hat was just lying there in the road. Right where it belongs. Weird.

Alright, I said, I’d love to have you change my mind.

So Adam sent me a Borealis Yampa, a full carbon fat bike that weighs in somewhere in the mid 20 pound range. I’ve been shredding on it for the last few weeks and I’ll be doing a three-part review of it. This is part one, the introduction: what it is, why I’m riding it, and what I want to find out about it.

WHAT IT IS: Carbon. And lots of it. I was supposed to get carbon fat bike rims to go with it, but as of this writing, I have yet to see them land in my possession. The frame and fork are full carbon, as is the handlebar and the seatpost. It’s got Turnagain wheels (80mm wide) and Surly tires (Bud on the front and Lou on the back, both 4.8 inches). SRAM brakes are on stopping duty, and an XX1 drivetrain gives this bad boy go power.

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WHY I’M RIDING IT: When someone sends you a free bike, you ride that fucker. But seriously, the reason I’m riding it is because Borealis wants to change my mind about carbon fat bikes. That’s a tricky thing to do because I think most people who’ve read my recent posts misunderstand my stance on carbon.


Carbon is awesome. it rides fantastic. It’s light. It’s a great building material. I have nothing against carbon as a building material. My initial complaint was that carbon is often unnecessary in certain circumstances, existing only to drive up the price of a bike. Carbon fat bike? Sure, it’s cool, but is it necessary? Is it worth the astronomical price tag for a bike that doesn’t do it all? Fat bikes are niché bikes, so why spend all that money on it? That’s why I’m riding this bike: I want to find out if there’s a reason to spend five grand on a bike I’ll only ride in the snow or deep sand.

WHAT I WANT TO FIND OUT ABOUT IT: I’ve been in the bike industry for most of my life. I’ve worked for bike companies, I’ve worked for bike shops, I’ve raced…do I call myself an expert? I wouldn’t go that far, but I’ve been around the bicycling block. There isn’t much about a bike that will surprise me.

So, I want to find out why I should plunk down 5 grand on a carbon fat bike. More importantly, I want to find out if this Borealis Yampa is so mind blowing that it changes my perception of fat biking as a niché; in other words, could I happily own a really expensive fat bike and have it be my only bike? Because quite frankly, that’s the only way I’m owning a bike that expensive.

So, when all is said and done, I’m happy Borealis got in touch with me and I’ve been happy to put the Yampa through its paces. I’ll be fair about my review, and honest…let’s see how it all turns out in the end.


Thanks to KJ for dressin' up real nice like and takin' some photos.
Thanks to KJ for dressin’ up real nice like and takin’ some photos.
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About D2

I am a writer and a photographer. I never killed a man in Reno, but I once rode a bike through a casino in Vegas. Bikes are cool, huevos rancheros are for breakfast, whiskey is for dinner. Denver, Colorado, USA

11 Replies to “Sunday Spore: Borealis Throws Down; D2 Accepts Challenge”

  1. Speaking strictly as an elderly, and frequently, drunk cyclist : anything to make the ride lighter and easier. That shit doesn’t get softer as you get older.

  2. I got studded Kenda Klondikes on my fixed Crosscheck. It’s proven to be unstoppable in messy conditions.

    I just finished building a fixed conversion Schwinn Traveler from the eighties. That’s my fixed ride when it’s not icy out.

    I got my old Fisher HooKoo townie. Rack, fenders, big-assed 30 pack- swallowing panniers and a rigid fork that slackens it out so even my drunk ass don’t fall off. It’s my “who needs a car?” bike.

    If it gets too rough out to ride those, I cook wonderful things, drink too much and get (a little) fat(ter).

    It’s winter. That’s how we do things around here.

  3. Sure carbon is lighter and lighter is nicer when lifting the bike up for loading and that kind of BS. Fat bikes are big slugs though, so how much different can it feel? A good buddy of mine came up w/ a broken carbon road frame that he repaired and passed on to me (yes, really nice guy). Yes it was lighter but it was also a harsher ride than my late 80s Centurion steel bike. We still sort out the same when riding, meaning that it didn’t make me any faster, and I think I get a bit more agitated in the ass sooner. Carbon will never rust though as the old Centurion was doing, and I do hope to ride it til my final day. Carbon is over priced BS in most cases, but the industry knows there’s lots of richies in the bike world that will spend to look like the coolest cat in town.

  4. Mr. AA’s comments ring true, of course, but where my crabon/crabon Trophy Bike will ALWAYS beat steel is on a long climb. The thing just floats uphill.