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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.