Long Term Review: White Brothers Snowpack Carbon Fatbike Fork and Paul Components WHUB Front Hub

MRP White Brothers Snowpack fork review785

A stock Surly Pugsley is a great way to get into fatbiking, but there comes a point in the life of any good bike nerd’s bike that our attention turns to weight. Reducing weight, precisely. When it was time to consider a new fork for my Necromancer build, the White Brothers Snowpack carbon fork stood out from the rest. In the last year the fatbike world has really undergone a carbon revolution, but the Snowpack was one of the first.

See how the Snowpack handled the, well, snow pack after the jump.

0Long Term Review: White Brothers Snowpack Carbon Fatbike Fork and Paul Components WHUB Front Hub IMG_4851

Compared to the stock Pugsley fork, the Snowpack drops over a half pound weighing in at 878g. Weight is likely the main draw to the carbon fork, though riders looking for dry trail performance will appreciate the carbon fork for steering precision. I will say that compared to a steel fork, the Snowpack feels quite a bit more rigid – something that you won’t notice much in the snow, but becomes very apparent when riding over roots and rocks. The other big difference between the stock Pugsley fork is the fact that the Snowpack uses a centered front wheel build, not offset like the Pug.

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Even with just a standard 135mm quick release, the front wheel held fast. Fatbike tires put a lot of force on the skewer and dropout, especially when riding off camber sections, so the dropouts need to be stiff and have aggressive retention tabs to keep the wheel, and the brake rotor from shifting. The Snowpack passes here with flying colors. Honestly though, if I have to buy a special hub to run a fork, I would rather just go with a thru axle in the future.

Long Term Review: White Brothers Snowpack Carbon Fatbike Fork and Paul Components WHUB Front Hub

fkwb-bd-adaptor-k Long Term Review: White Brothers Snowpack Carbon Fatbike Fork and Paul Components WHUB Front Hub

In order to use the fork without an adapter, you need a special hub like the Paul Components WHUB. The fork requires a 135mm wide hub with front disc rotor spacing, meaning your standard 135mm rear hub won’t work. Unless of course, you pick up the  $30 White Brothers Snowpack disc brake adapter. The adapter will save you from having to buy a new hub, but it will add weight. Not only do you have the added weight of the adapter and two bolts, the adapter is only compatible with 180mm rotors, so you have the larger rotor to figure in as well. If your goal is to drop weight with a carbon fork, the adapter probably isn’t ideal. It’s worth noting that the WHUB and other hubs like it have a wider flange spacing due to the wider front disc rotor spacing which should result in a stronger wheel build.

Fortunately, with hubs like the Paul WHUB available, you have bulletproof options at your disposal. No different than other Paul components, the WHUB has been flawless. My fatbike is always covered in mud, snow, ice, or salty slush. Not ideal conditions for bearings in the least, yet after two full seasons now the WHUB still spins like it is new. It has only required a quick bearing adjustment once, which is easily done with the threaded bearing adjustment ring. At $181, the hub is a bit pricey, but it pays dividends in durability.

Long Term Review: White Brothers Snowpack Carbon Fatbike Fork and Paul Components WHUB Front Hub

Tire clearance on the Snowpack is generous at just under 5″. Riding a 4″ Escalators on an 80mm Vicious GFS rim, there was plenty of clearance on either side.

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Is there any reason not to get the White Brothers Snowpack fork? The only issue I ran into over the course of the review is really just more of a nuisance and that is the fact that the fork crown doesn’t clear the downtube on my Pugsley. Fork clearance will obviou8sly vary by frame, but for straight downtube frames like the Pugsley, the edge of the crown will hit the downtube if you turn it too far. You’ll never turn the wheel far enough when riding for it to be an issue, but if you crash or when you’re dragging your bike behind you trying to scramble up a snowy/muddy hillside or over downed trees it’s noticeable. Mine has definitely contacted the frame a few times, but shows no signs of damage. Just something to consider though it won’t keep me from running the fork in the future.

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Verdict:

From the beginning the White Brothers Snowpack has performed as advertised. It tracks well, it’s light, it has a bit of fore-aft flex for comfort, and is right at home on any fatbike. At this point in the game, there are a few carbon fatbike forks that are ~300g lighter and have thru axle compatibility which makes the $449 price tag of the Snowpack a bit hard to swallow. However, if you’re running a frame that has a 1 1/8″ straight steerer tube, many of the new forks are out since they are only offered in tapered steerers. While a bit expensive, the Snowpack is a quality fork that will be a serious upgrade to your Pug, and is perfectely paired with the Paul WHUB.

Comments

Austin - 01/24/14 - 4:29pm

For the fork issue. Get a second Chris King crown-race and file the top so you can stack two races together. Should get you enough clearance. I did this w/ a fox f80x that wouldn’t clear the down tube of a bike I had about 10 years ago.

Gabe - 01/24/14 - 4:41pm

I kind of doubt that I would notice a half lb weight loss on my Pug Ops… which is 34lbs WITHOUT pedals. No downtube clearance… I think I’ll stick with my steel fork for now.

If it ‘aint broke…

Keir Stiegler - 01/24/14 - 4:44pm

Would love to see some comparisons with any of the full carbon options too.

Float nasty - 01/24/14 - 5:07pm

Like you pointed out, Gabe, there are reasons not to put this on a full fat bike. Especially when it’s not a easy bolt on solution to stock pugs as the article seem to indicate in the intro. I know wouldn’t consider one on my mainlander, that’s for sure.

However, I have this fork and hub setup on my fat front 29er and that is THE application for this setup, without a doubt. You will already be buying a wheel and fork to make that transition and with the carbon I actually SAVED weight over my front suspension fork and wheel (I know, I know, I gained rotational weight but still …). They make this in a 468mm length to fit many sus corrected frames out there too.

Have you tried fat front? Game changer in the rigid single track riding world.

Mat Long - 01/24/14 - 5:41pm

It is now an MRP Fat Fork FYI.

Paul in VA - 01/24/14 - 5:59pm

My FHUB from 1995 is still running flawlessly.

Feldybikes - 01/24/14 - 8:23pm

You can kill a frame in a crash by having the fork crown contact the DT. I have a frame that I rebuilt he front tri on because this happens to a friend.

I suspect this is less likely to happen on larger frames. (Longer TT -> DT has a shallower angle) Though I obviously can’t say for what frames this stops being an issue.

Ray - 01/24/14 - 9:38pm

it is better to spend your money on a lefty conversion.

Felix - 01/25/14 - 7:42am

Regarding the comment by Austin and the fork issue:
You can also get a thicker crown race from Chris King that adds 5mm to give some more clearance. See here: http://www.aspirevelotech.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=AVT&Product_Code=PHS529

SmooveP - 01/25/14 - 11:25am

Another thing worth mentioning is the Snowpack may be the only aftermarket fat fork available in a 450mm A-to-C size right now. So, if keeping your Pug’s stock geometry is important to you, this is a good option. I’ve been running one of these on my Twenty2 fatbike for 2 years, and it’s been great. No downtube interference on my (small) frame.

W - 01/25/14 - 2:25pm

If one wants a light fat bike it gotta be full carbon. On my Pugs? No way. Bad crown clearance, more rigid???–bahhh!

jason - 01/25/14 - 8:55pm

Austin, Chris King actually makes a +5mm crown race for exactly situations like this.

isaac - 01/28/14 - 9:41pm

If you really want to drop some fat poundage get rid of the tubes! Switching over to tubeless will save you almost 1.5 pounds since each tube weighs a pound. My single speed pugsley ( with a few upgraded parts) weighs in at just 29 pounds.

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