Is this the biggest, prettiest, most ridiculously fun fat bike ever built?
From the minds of the guys at Oskar Blues, the Longmont, Colorado-based brewery that delved into small-batch singlespeeds a couple of years ago, comes the biggest, burliest, most ridiculous fat bike we’ve ever ridden. The REEBdonkadonk is a steel hardtail kitted with a Gates Carbon Belt Drive and built with enough clearance for the widest tires on the market.
This isn’t just any old steel bike. For its latest batch of new models, REEB worked in collaboration with True Temper Sports to develop a 100-percent U.S.-made steel tubing that would be compatible with 31.6 millimeter dropper seat posts. The result, which the companies are calling OX Platinum tubing, is a bike with bigger down and seat tubes than most standard steel rigs, for added stiffness and increased tire stiffness. The frame will accommodate 26x5-inch tires or even the new 29+ standard. Specs aside, the frame feels buttery smooth yet still snappy and weighs nearly a pound less than previous steel iterations. And we love the small touches, like the sliding dropout to accommodate multiple wheel sizes and the straight-gauge head tube that hides the taper inside.
The other particularity of our tester is the Rohloff internal-hub drivetrain. This German-built system has been around for a while and has proven itself to be the most reliable system out there (we know several riders who have finished the Tour Divide on one), with as big of a gear range as a standard triple mountain bike setup all stuffed inside the rear hub. Driven by a SRAM grip shifter, it worked flawlessly for us for the few months we had the bike. The only downfall is the unit’s weight, which contributed to the bike’s portly, 38.5 pounds.
So if it weighs so much, why use the internal hub? The answer goes hand-in-hand with the rationale for the Gates belt drive. Both are excellent at resisting the elements, which you are likely to contend with a lot on a fat bike. And despite our wet, snowy, mud-choked winter and spring, the Donkadonk kept silent and chugging without us so much as having to lube the chain.
Other than the chunky hub, which, to its credit, provided ample range for climbing even steep pitches at 12,000 feet, the Donkadonk was spec’d for shredding: Surly Clown Shoe rims hung with massive Bud and Lou tires, a rigid carbon MRP Fat Fork, 820mm wide handlebars for pushing the beast around, and a KS Lev Dropper Post.
That might sound like an aggressive build for such a hefty bike. But despite its weight, the Donkadonk still tore up the most rugged trails in Santa Fe. With the internal hub out back, the bike definitely felt as if it has a little extra junk in its trunk, especially on long climbs. But once we’d earned our turns—and yes, we pedaled it to the top of Ski Santa Fe in search of some late season snow—the descents were as playful as on any all-mountain hardtail. We slip-slided down the ski runs on a base of corn snow, plowed through berms and over rock ribs and rolls, and forded knee-deep creeks like Moses parting the waters. In fact, given our exceedingly wet spring and mucky trails, we’ve picked the Donkadonk over lighter, faster steeds more times than we can count this year—and left our skinny-tired friends bogged down in slop.
The REEBDonkadonk sells as a frame only for $1,600 and starts at $3,000 for a complete bike. Our tester goes for $6,200, as built. At those prices, it’s not for everyone, but then a steel fatty with Rohloff hub is hardly a mainstream bike. For pure fun and bling factor, however, not many bikes can out-donk this REEB.