It seems like not all that long ago I was first hearing about fatbikes – bizarre creations with huge tires designed to go where no bikes had gone before. In no time at all, the fatbike arms race is on par with any other category of bikes with a rush to lighter, stronger, and faster bikes and the inevitable carbon fiber. Companies anywhere from tiny NAHBS type builders to fatbike giant Salsa have shown carbon fatbikes, so what is a new fatbike company to do? Jump right in with a carbon bike of their own, of course.
That is exactly what Borealis plans to do with their all new Yampa carbon fatbike which owes its name to the Yampa river in Colorado. The new company is the result of collaboration between Adam Miller and Steve Kaczmarek, with design help from Pete Basinger. Adam cut his fatbike teeth working for fatbikes.com and 9:zero:7, while Pete has more than a bit of experience both with Fatback, and as a champion Iditabike racer. Combining their skills, the resulting Borealis Yampa enters the market as one of the lightest fatbikes around.
Due to the light weight of the Yampa, Adam points out that you are able to do more with a fatbike this light saying, “The frame and fork are currently the lightest on the market. We will offer complete stock builds under 25 pounds with standard fat bike configurations.” Essentially, it becomes more of an everyday mountain bike that isn’t tied down to a single season. Target frame weight for the Yampa is sub 1300g with the fork coming in at 580g. Compared to other fatbikes like the 9:zero:7, the Yampa has a longer top tube, shorter head tube, and about 5mm shorter chainstays which should improve its all around trail manners. Much like the Salsa Beargrease Carbon, the Yampa features a tapered 1.5-1 1/8″ tapered carbon fork with a QR15 front axle. Miller mentions that with the bigger 4.8 tires and 135mm front spacing the thru axle makes a world of difference in the handling of the bike. The fork will also be offered for aftermarket sale, with the company open to providing it to other frame builders for OEM builds.
The frame also features full rear rack mounts – something not that easy to employ on a carbon frame. Specifically, Adam states that Old Man Mountain racks fit perfectly on the Yampa.
The rear axle remains a standard quick release, but it does bump up to a symmetrical 190mm – confirming the rumors of the new wider fatbike standard. Adam said that other companies may be going to the 190mm spacing as well which allows for 4.8″ tire clearance on 100mm rims with a 2×10 drivetrain. One big difference from the Beargrease is a 100mm threaded BB instead of a press fit unit. The Yampa will be front derailleur compatible with the aid of devices like Problem Solvers front derailleur adapter.
Cable routing is fully internal with shift cables jacketed internally for split housing, and brake hoses routed all the way through. After seeing that Borealis was offering an XX1 version on their site, we inquired what they would do for a crank since Salsa has the exclusive on OEM 100mm XX1 cranks for the first year of production. To get around the issue, XX1 bikes will be shipped with the most suitable crankset and a Wolf Tooth Component XX1 compatible ring.
Complete bikes will be built with Borealis’ own 32H j-bend hubs which will also be sold aftermarket. Offered in red or black, the 190/135mm pair have a QR15 front hub with is convertible to a standard QR with a tool-less conversion cap system. The rear hub utilizes a 6 pawl engagement mechanism with the option for an XX1 driver.
Availability of the first Yampas is expected in August, with pricing set at $2,249 for a frame and fork, and complete builds starting with x.9/x.0 at $3,599. In addition to the complete builds, Borealis plans to offer custom builds in the future through their website allowing you to build your dream fatbike. Borealis is currently accepting preorders from individual or dealers.