a new phantom in the wooded wilderness beyond pavement
THE ULTIMATE STEALTH GIANT
As I write this 2015 intro, my current abode is situated in the northwest region of the United States, what some folks refer to as the Pacific Northwest due to the western edge that abuts the vast Pacific Ocean. The states of Washington and Oregon are home to the mighty Cascade Range, a long wide mass of mountains in which one volcano after another is clearly visible to people who visit the heavily forested wilderness region. These big fire breathing giants are still alive, some awakening from time to time, sending us humans scurrying for our precious lives. Others are resting quietly in deep slumber, and we build our homes around them because the beauty outshines the perils. A volcano is scenic with snow.
The volcano is not the only giant out here however! Rumor has long held that an old species known as Huminoidus Elusivus thrives in the dark woods of the Cascade and Coast Ranges. At seven feet ten inches in height, and weighing in at a staggering 500-1000 pounds, there is a creature roaming the backcountry, which, if it wore shoes, would take a US size 27 if a fully mature male. Of course, this species is wild, thus clothing is not an option. Nor would it be necessary, because the Huminoidus Elusivus mammal is covered totally in thick fur. Imagine a gorilla, only considerably larger, and walking like a human being, rather than on all fours like a gorilla usually walks.
This bipedal humanoid, sometimes referred to by the experts as a cryptic simian, is known by several more common names depending upon its Earthly location. In Australia, it is known as the Yowie in the Himalayas, the Yeti, in Mongolia, the Yeren, in Japan, the Hibagon. But where I sleep at night, sometimes in a tent mind you, the species is commonly called either Sasquatch or Bigfoot. In Canada and the United States, the “Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization” maintains all the up-to-date sighting information, and sponsors four-day expeditions for those who are interested in a possible sighting.
It is thought that Bigfoot may be a modern-day descendant of this planet’s largest known ape, the prehistoric Gigantopithecus, which is an extinct species that existed between nine million to 100,000 years ago. The Gigantopithecus stood as high as ten feet, and weighed upwards of 1200 pounds, according to fossil records, but since no leg or pelvic bones have yet been discovered, it is uncertain whether the Gigantopithecus walked upright or on all fours like a modern gorilla.
Bigfoot, as reported to currently exist here in the Pacific Northwest, is the ultimate creature of stealth, rarely being seen by humans. Science reports that for a species to be as widespread as postulated by Bigfoot enthusiasts, the population necessary for ongoing breeding would need to be sufficiently large as to make the sightings rather commonplace, as one might expect of bears or elk. Generally, due to the current facts, Bigfoot has been relegated to the status of folklore, or blatant hoax in some cases.
I have never personally observed one of these Huminoidus Elusivus species, but one night around 2 AM, while tent camping in the forests of southern Oregon on a trike expedition, I could hear an eerie series of distant, yet very loud and distinct, mournful wails that seemed to come from a large animal of some sort. It is difficult to describe because I have never heard vocalizations anywhere remotely close to this. All my life I have hiked and camped in wilderness areas, yet this particular night, alone in my tent, was a first time experience, which kept me awake and listening for about twenty more minutes, while the bizarre sound kept wafting through the dense forest growth. Among some First People of the Pacific Northwest, eerie whistling vocalizations have been reported for many hundreds of years. Visit oregonbigfoot.com or bfro.net for more info.
Well, whatever the actual state of absolute reality regarding the Bigfoot controversy, at the very least, studying this online is guaranteed to bring some fun to one’s afternoon. But, you may be asking yourself right about this very second, why have I devoted this introduction to a mammal that may be only a figment of people’s imagination.
Okay, that’s easy to answer: Bigfoot is my pet name for this rather large fatrike of mine, a connection that you probably understand when contemplating the trike’s big feet (fat tires). There is also one more concept here: human powered tricycles allow for silent passage, so no one even realizes you just pedaled by. This trike is indeed the ultimate stealth giant, albeit in an inanimate form, compared to a volcano or the large elusive creatures who inhabit the darkest deep reaches of remote Pacific Northwest woodlands.
After all, since I currently live right in the thick of genuine Bigfoot territory, and I find the topic quite fascinating regardless of what my reasonable mind tells me, this naming sort of fell into place. I mean, there is no backwoods vehicle powered by pedals with feet any larger than the ICE Full Fat, so Bigfoot it is! I like the sound of it. I like the fun of it. And who knows – since I will be silently riding Bigfoot off into the deep forests of Oregon’s high mountains, a new chance to finally see a real Bigfoot may be in my future. The giants won’t even hear me coming!
FULL FAT FULL LENGTH DISCUSSION MOVIE:
The Birth of Bigfoot:
MR. TUFFY TIRE LINERS – EASY TO INSTALL ON FULL FAT
This fatrike is designed to be ridden in the outback, the wilder the better, and it is fully my intent to do so. Of course, out there in the backcountry, there are tire gremlins all over the place, those little obscure items that find their way through the tire’s carcass and into the inner tube. The result is what we know as a flat tire, although a flat inner tube would be more precise.
Being that I have never had a flat tire on a trike during my years of riding these fun machines, and being that I prefer to remain flat-free for all my triking days, and knowing full well that the wilds of Planet Earth hold a variety of objects that can puncture a tire and tube, I have chosen to use Mr. Tuffy tire liners to protect all that precious air in the three Schwalbe inner tubes mounted on Bigfoot.
I have installed the 4XL size of Mr. Tuffys in all my tires. Installing tire liners on this ICE Full Fat is super easy compared to my former ICE Q and Catrike 700, due to the incredible malleability of these monster tires. The front two can be installed simply by resting the trike on its side, without even having to remove the wheel from the trike. I did install the rear Mr. Tuffy without removing the wheel as an experiment, but that attempt ended in failure, as I could not get the liner satisfactorily positioned. So, I ended up removing the rear wheel and did the work on the workbench.
Here, I have the Topeak floor pump in hand to reinflate the tube.
Using two cardboard boxes keeps the hub from being marred on the pavement, and it also stabilizes the trike while working on the upper wheel, tube, and tire.
Mr. Tuffy fatrike tire liners are worth their added weight if you don’t like flats!
Steve’s custom designed rear fender/rack/pull handle mounts atop the stock ICE pannier rack, and allows his Arkel TailRider top trunk to be easily mounted.
The rack being painted to match the stock ICE pannier rack
Mounted on the trike: fender/top rack/rear pull handle all integrated into one piece
Arkel TailRider mounted on top, Arkel RT-60 panniers mounted on sides:
Equipped with panniers – ready for the backcountry – Bigfoot keeps getting bigger!
Mojave Desert trike images (October 2015)
DECEMBER 22, 2015 UPDATE REGARDING TIRES
I’ll make this quick:
One “thumb-down” since my other hand is busy holding the box
In case you have not read the report, I’ll sum it up here and simply say that I had 4 flat tires in 17 miles while riding my ICE Full Fat in California’s Mojave Desert. This is in spite of the fact that I had carefully installed the famous Mr. Tuffy 4XL tire liners in each tire to protect the vulnerable inner tube setup that shipped from the ICE factory for use on this trike. Bottom Line: Mr. Tuffy failed repeatedly, with numerous needle-like thorns sticking clear through the liners, leaving the inner tubes with so many minuscule puncture holes in each tube that it would have been a futile effort to patch them all (especially since they would go flat again in just a few more miles). Conclusion: Convert to a tubeless tire setup!
So, seeing the wisdom in all this, and realizing that if I truly do want to ride my wonderful fatrike through the wilds of Planet Earth, which I do, I am in the process of converting the stock factory tube setup to a tubeless solution with Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant inside. The lesson has been learned the HARD WAY, but at least it was indeed learned. My skull may be thick, but it is not impenetrable! Yee Haa … fun days lie ahead.
Wheels have been removed to facilitate the conversion (old boxes make great trike stands)
Three Alexrims ready to go tubeless
These beefy VEE tires are definitely more rugged than the original Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tires that came installed direct from the ICE factory when I received the trike. Visit the VEE tire company HERE if you wish to learn more about them for your own fatrike. Even though these VEE tires are tougher, I still recommend converting to tubeless if you prefer to keep on riding rather than replacing inner tubes continually! Go tubeless – ride free!
Just watch how well Stan’s NoTubes sealant works to stop flat tires:
Click HERE to visit the Stan’s website!
JANUARY 16, 2016 TUBELESS TIRE CONVERSION COMPLETE!
Ever since the Full Flat Fiasco, where dozens of minuscule pinholes from tiny desert thorns prevented me from enjoying the Mojave Desert backcountry, I realized a tubeless tire solution was the most productive path to follow. With the assistance of my cycling buddy Matt Jensen, who has a fatbike with tubeless tires that he converted from tube tires, Bigfoot is now happily as flat-proof as possible. It is indeed a great day in trikedom!
We converted to tubeless using the so-called “Ghetto” method because the ICE Full Fat comes with rims that are not air tight – the seam is not welded, thus would not retain air. The Alexrims Blizzerk 80 rims on Bigfoot have a non-welded seam, which requires a ghetto solution. Alexrims makes a Blizzerk Pro, with welded seams, but that does not come on the Full Fat. Additionally, with the weight-saving holes cut out of the rim, air would escape through them if only the rim strip were in place because rim strips are not air-tight. Gorilla Tape can be applied over the rim strips if you have a welded seam rim, and a traditional tubeless tire conversion could be applied, but I opted for the quicker, easier, and cheaper ghetto method. Besides, Gorilla Tape leaves a sticky mess if ever removed.
With ghetto, we installed a 24×2.4-2.75 Kenda Q-Tube inch inner tube onto the wheel, and then pumped just enough air into it so it would be inflated slightly. Next, we sliced the inner tube in half along its length, so that we could spread the tube material out over both sides of the rim. This method effectively will seal the air in the tire, not allowing it to escape through the wheel seam or hole cutouts in the wheel. The “ghetto” name comes from the fact that in the “old days”, riders who were experimenting with tubeless tires used this jury rigged solution to get the job done. It may be old fashioned, but it WORKS!
Then, the fat tire is mounted, in preparation for air inflation. With ghetto tubeless, the stretched rim over the bead area will be contacting the tire bead instead of the metal rim contacting the tire bead directly. This seals the air tightly, and with these low pressure tires, air is never lost like in high pressure road tires. Prior to tire inflation, 6-8 ounces of Stan’s NoTubes sealant is poured into the tire carefully. At this point, the tire is inflated to at least 10 pounds, although we pumped the tires up to 13 PSI.
The wheel and tire, with tire now fully inflated, is cleaned up (any soapy water necessary, or spilled sealant wiped away), and then the wheel is rotated and shaken in all directions to fully insure that that sealant is well spread around the interior. Finally, the wheels are mounted on the trike, which is then immediately ridden to further guarantee that the Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant is well spread around the interior of the tire. Flats are now a thing of the past! Another big advantage to this conversion is that there is nothing inside the tire (tube and Mr. Tuffy liner) to inhibit smooth rolling of the tire on the pavement, or to put the tire off balance, so the trike actually rides noticeably smoother and softer.
I would have created a video of this procedure, but so many are available already on YouTube that one more is not necessary. I’ll put another person’s video at the end of this article to give you an idea of how this looks in motion.
PHOTOS OF THE GLORIOUS DAY:
Matt installs the tire over the wheel, which has the cut Q-Tube spread out over the sides of the rim. This will ultimately keep all the air in the tubeless tire.
Airing up the tires is one of the final steps of the procedure.
With tire aired up, it is shaken to distribute the sealant all around. Note the tube sacrificed for the job is now protruding around the edges. The tire bead seats against the tube. This excess tube material may be trimmed away later for appearance if desired.
I hold the bottle of Stan’s NoTubes tire sealant, an absolute must for backcountry explorers!
I installed Surly black rim strips, replacing the stock ICE orange strips (I like black).
Here is the tube you will need for each wheel if you have 26 inch wheels. It is a 24 inch sized tube because you want it to fit super snug. A 26 inch tube will NOT work.
The 24 inch tube sticks out on each side once the job is complete. It can be left this way, or trimmed away with scissors or a blade if you want it to look like a standard tube tire setup.
Notice the sacrificed 24 inch tube excess around the bead. Keep it or trim it off as desired.
PHOTOS OF MATT JENSEN TESTING OUT OUR FINISHED TUBELESS FULL FAT:
NO MORE FLATS! YEE HAA … HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!
Below is a video presentation by someone else, showing the ghetto method of tubeless conversion. You may notice slight variances in this person’s method, however it does show the splitting of the sacrificed tube. Matt and I used a different tube size than these folks did, but you’ll get the idea. There are many more YouTube videos of this ghetto setup.
MARCH 28, 2016: UPGRADE TO SHIMANO PD-M424 PEDALS:
I have recently changed the pedals on Bigfoot, a transition I found necessary due to some Nerve Compression Syndrome issues. Formerly, I was using the iSSi II minimalist pedal, a great looking all-black pedal. It was a mountain bike pedal, designed similarly to the MB Shimano pedal. I have used this type before on my ICE Q, which I rode almost exclusively on the pavement for touring. Here is where I found the issue with this style of pedal on the Full Fat backcountry trike:
The minimalist pedal is just that … minimal. For me, it was placing too much pressure on my forefoot area when really pushing hard in deep sand. Being so small, the iSSi depressed the sole of my Lake MX-165 MTB shoes, which I have been wearing again because they are better suited for rugged backcountry riding and camping. After about an hour and a half of off road pedaling, including some deep sand, those nasty hot spots were sizzling, as they once did years ago before I figured out how to ride without forefoot pain.
I have now removed the iSSi pedals (MSRP: $75), replacing them with Shimano PD-M424 MTB pedals, which provide a relatively large foundation for the shoe. This lessens the pressure delivered to the forefoot by a significant margin. Using my SIDI Dominator 5 MTB shoes, the iSSi is fine, with no pressure problems, due to the SIDI sole, a hard plastic that does not compress under pressure like the Lake MX-165 MTB shoe. The Lake shoe has thick Vibram soles, and they are more compatible for longer riding sessions with the PD-M424 pedals. The iSSi pedals come in eight different colors for coordinating with the trike.
The Shimano PD-M424 costs $38.75 on Amazon today, and is available HERE.
These pedals can also be used with street shoes if necessary, whereas the iSSi cannot.
Below are the two MTB shoes I use. The upper shoe is the Lake MX-165 with Vibram sole, the bottom shoe is the SIDI Dominator 5 with hard plastic sole. I used the SIDI shoes on my Pacific Coast ride, and never experienced any issues with hot spots. With the new PD-M424 pedals on Bigfoot, I can use either shoe with comfort, as they spread out the force applied while pedaling in rough terrain.