Calibre Dune review£580.00

Budget fat bike is a mixed bag

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Mega -retailer GO Outdoors is hoping that the sub-£600 Dune will tempt down riders still sitting on the fat bike fence. But can a bike this cheap scratch the tractor-tyred itch, or has the price forced too many compromises?

One size, won't fit all

Like all fat bikes, the Dune requires a little extra scaffolding to accommodate its massive 4in tyres. To keep the weight in check, the frame and fork are made from 6061 aluminium. And to keep costs down the bike only comes in one size, which won’t suit taller or shorter riders.

There's no shortage of fun onboard the dune – which is heightened as you remember its price tag:
There's no shortage of fun onboard the dune – which is heightened as you remember its price tag:

There's no shortage of fun onboard the Dune – which is heightened as you remember its price tag

The Dune was designed with UK trail centres in mind, and the relatively slack 68-degree head angle and 69-degree seat angle are definitely more suited to singletrack sorties than long days in the saddle.

The tapered head tube is ready for a RockShox Bluto suspension fork, while the 197mm rear and 150mm front hubs follow the emerging fat bike standards. Clearance for 5in tyres on 80mm rims gives plenty of potential for finding your perfect wheel/rubber combo.

The lasco crankset is an obscure choice:
The lasco crankset is an obscure choice:

The Lasco crankset is an obscure choice

As you’d expect at this price, the components come from the no-frills end of the spectrum. Own-brand finishing kit is combined with obscure parts such as Lasco fatbike crankset and KT hubs. It all performed well out of the box, but we can’t say how it’ll hold up over time. The unconventional 2x8 drivetrain is made up mainly of Shimano Altus kit. The rims are Calibre’s own, and they’re crude but effective – stiff but with an inevitable weight penalty.

Short-ride specialist

The Dune’s slack angles and diminutive frame (for this 6ft tester, anyhow) give it a playful feel on the trails. The Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tyres are a component highlight, balancing traction and rolling resistance well at a low weight, which helps offset the heavy rims.

Even at this low price, the Dune displays the ‘go anywhere’ characteristic fat bikes are known for, trundling over everything in its path.

Shorter rides are definitely its forte though. On longer XC missions the limited reach becomes uncomfortable and the weak Tektro mechanical discs don’t instil confidence, necessitating two-finger braking.

Cable disc brakes are common on fatbikes, but the tektro units on the dune lack power:
Cable disc brakes are common on fatbikes, but the tektro units on the dune lack power:

Cable disc brakes are common on fat bikes, but the Tektro units on the Dune lack power

Over chattery ground the alloy fork is noticeably stiff too, transferring any impacts the tyres fail to absorb straight to your wrists. It also took us a while to get used to index-finger downshifts again, though the shifting was reliable and the 16-gear range was ample for everything we came across.

The Dune is less suited to epic adventures and exploring the wilderness than some other fat bikes, but it does succeed in feeling surprisingly nimble on groomed trails. Most importantly, it left us with the ‘fat bike grin’ – made all the sweeter by having change from £600 to spend on craft beer and beard oil!

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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