The Comp Carbon Fatboy is Specialized’s second raciest fat bike offering, after its flagship S-Works version (in the UK at least – elsewhere the Expert Carbon strikes a midpoint between the two). The Comp Fatboy boasts the same lightweight FACT carbon frame as its pricier siblings.
It’s nicely finished with internally routed everything, even the front brake. In the name of weight reduction the Comp Carbon is only available with a matching carbon rigid fork, which weighs in at an impressive 637g of the overall 12.92kg. The tapered head tube and 150mm front hub spacing does mean this is RockShox Bluto suspension-compatible should you feel the need for it.
All cables, including the front brake, are internally routed
The drivetrain is a mashup of parts with a 10-speed XO rear derailleur, wide range 11-40 Sunrace cassette, Race Face Turbine Cinch Cranks with 28t chainring and an X9 trigger. Rolling stock is Specialized’s own with 90mm Stout XC Rims laced to Stout XC Hubs and clad in 4in Ground Control tires. The stopping duties are performed by Shimano Deore brakes leaving the remaining finishing kit to various Specialized XC alloy offerings.
Rigid for racing
Full fat and rigid is the best way to ride on snow. We found that suspension is unnecessary and not worth the additional weight penalty.
The 90mm wide Stout XC rims are wider than we’d want for regular trail riding, but help spread the tire for maximum traction on the white stuff. That said the stock 4in Ground Control tires are pushed to their limit and their profile becomes squarer and cornering suffers as the shoulder tread is pushed inwards. So we swapped out the tires for the 5in versions, which we found to be a huge improvement both on and off the snow.
We swapped out the stock 4in Ground Control rubber so as to get a more rounded profile
The conservative angles of the Fatboy put it firmly in the ‘long day in the saddle’ XC bracket. The steep 70.5 degree head angle puts you in a good position for attacking twisty climbs and cranking through the flat sections. The rigid fork kept the head angle from steepening any further when descending, though, which meant it didn’t feel too steep when tackling sweeping trails and fast switchbacks.
With that 11-40t range, the drivetrain was enough for most climbs, save the second day’s brutal climb to Egli Station, when a lower gear would have come in handy. Similarly, the 28t chainring didn’t provide a high enough gear for flat-out racing at the other end of the cassette.
Views like this are worth a little effort
Despite the lack of range, shifting was clean and precise, and not having to shift between front chainrings kept the momentum up when racing, as well saving a load of weight.
Too much braking
Shimano’s Deore brakes performed consistently well in the cold. With temperatures dropping below -10ºC, the hydraulics weren’t affected noticeably. Specialized’s choice of 203mm rotor at the front feels odd, though. The large rotor seems hugely overpowered for a fat bike, especially one that’s likely to see action in the snow.
Braking in snow is a fine art where anything more than feathering the front brake could easily wash out your front end, and the larger rotor needs additional calliper mounting brackets and bolts, which adds weight unnecessarily. The Deore brakes are powerful enough with 160mm rotors, and we’d sooner see a pair of those on the Spesh.
The lightweight FACT carbon frame is nicely finished
The finishing kit is functional and comfortable, with the choice of Specialized’s Body Geometry Henge Comp saddle being particularly welcome. Although a wide carbon bar and a carbon seatpost would complement the frame and fork for the ultimate race-ready package, a dropper post would’ve been the most useful upgrade for this event. Overall, on snow the Specialized felt fast and comfortable too.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.