I was able to spend about 20 minutes on a Blackborow on Thursday night, and spent my time wisely by finding the deepest snow I could find, and churning through it. This bike is amazing, and to me is something of a game changer.
The Blackborow has 5″ tires, which is not that terribly uncommon these days. Going back to the Moonlander, there have been a number of 5″ tire bikers coming out. For me, the Moonlander has limited appeal, predominantly because the handling is so slow. The chain stays are long, the steering is slow, the handling is expedition oriented, not fun oriented.
The geometry of the Bb is pretty close to the Beargrease, and really pretty close to the Moonlander as well. The Bb and ML have head tube angles within a degree, albeit with about a cm less fork offset on the ML. The Bb has chain stays that can be a full cm shorter than the ML. Somehow, it rides totally different.
The Bb feels a lot more playful and flickable. It hides the size of its tires very well when you’re not in the deepest stuff; it feels very mountain-bike like.
When you are in deep snow, there is no substitute for 5″ tires. I’ve spent 3 years on 4″ tires now, and the difference is just huge. There were areas that were hard to even get through on 4″ tires, and I’d be churning and pedaling and spinning as hard as I could to keep moving. On the Bb, I could gear down and just slowly crunch through. The reduction in effort was huge. Amazing.
The extra control and steering precision in snow from the 5″ tire up front was equally remarkable.
Right now, if I was looking for a bike to ride in untamed snow, this would be the bike. Riding deep, unpacked snow (and for that matter, riding deep, packed snow) was positively a delight on this bike.
For a multipurpose fatbike that is used on snow and gravel and everything in between, I would still stick with my Beargrease. The 5″ tires on 100mm rims on the Bb are great in dire conditions, but I’ll stick with narrower rims and tires for all-purpose use.
That said, I think the ideal all-purpose fatbike would utilize the Bb geometry with a carbon frame and fork, a 1x drivetrain, and 2 sets of wheels. One set would be a super light set (think 55-60mm carbon rims and 4″ tires, tubeless), and one set would be the bad conditions set (82-100mm rims and 5″ tires, probably also tubeless). As I look to the next iteration of the Beargrease, my plans for next year probably involve a second wheelset (a lighter wheelset), and then stuffing the fattest studded tires I can on the current Rolling Darryls within the Beargrease frame.
In any event, I wasn’t expecting the Bb to be such a delight, but it was. It was really a fantastic ride.