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Fatback bikes

by Jeff Ellis

June 28, 2011 (Anchorage, Alaska) – Alaska is known for many things, from its Bering Sea crab fisherman, big game hunting and fishing, to Sarah Palin, long winters and 20+ hrs of daylight in the summer months. Increasingly, for a number of cycling enthusiasts Anchorage, Alaska is becoming known for it’s production of a particular style of bike called Fatbikes, (also known as floatation or snow bikes).

In 2007, Greg Matyas, the owner of Speedway Cycles in Anchorage designed a version of snow bike called the Fatback. Matyas, a former US Junior Nordic Ski champion and Nationally ranked junior cyclist, built upon a style of bike that has been evolving since the late eighties.   

Over the last two decades, there have been several other snow bikes in one design or another. What sets Fatback bikes apart is their symmetrical frame design.  “We were the first to make a symmetrical frame capable of using the wider tires and rims, along with a 3 X 9 drivetrain,” notes Matyas.  To accomplish this point’s out Matyas, “others have bent the rear stays over about 3/4″ and used a wider bottom bracket to push the chain out, then drilled the spoke holes off center so the rim could be back in the plane of the frame.”  With the Fatback design the rear hub is much wider and the rim is built right in the center of the hub, so there is no dish.  

Since the introduction of the Fatback in 2007, the bikes have been shipped around the world.  Not surprisingly Canada – sharing a similar northern climate – is Matyas’ number one international customer.   You might be surprised to know that Australia is number two followed closely by South Africa where the Fatback’s floatation ability are used for travel across deserts, and beaches.  

For more information regarding the Fatback check out the website here.

If you find yourself in the Anchorage area drop by Speedway Cycles (speedwaycycles.com) to demo a bike, or join them for their weekly year-round Shop Ride at 6 pm on Monday nights.

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