In hindsight, I should have seen the Otso Voytek coming. As it turns out, Brendan from Wolf Tooth Components and I have similar tastes in fat bikes and the steady stream of questions about my likes and dislikes should have tipped me off. In spite of that, I was still surprised when he told me they were launching a bike company. First up? A stainless steel gravel bike and, yes, their take on a fat bike.
In typical Wolf Tooth Components and now Otso fashion, this wouldn’t be your run of the mill fat bike. The Otso team promised one of the best pedaling fat bikes around, plus it would be great for plus. The Otso Voytek has the potential to blur the line even further between a seasonal fat bike and a year ’round ripper, so of course I was excited to get my hands on the very first sample available.
To review the bike, first I would have to build it. After sending out what they have called the Frankset (frame, fork, headset, BB, and crankset), it was time to assemble a build kit. While my last fat bike build was fairly stealth, the blue/grey frame option of the Voytek inspired a more colorful parts selection. I can verify that the blue is hard to match with anodized parts, but I’m pretty happy with the outcome…
Yes, that is a blemish on the head tube. No, it didn’t come like that. In my excitement to get it outside and photograph it so I could build the bike, I knocked the frame over on my workbench [#$&%!]. Otherwise, the finish on the carbon frame is beautiful. The silver is a deep metallic with panels of the light blue tucked inside the stays, the fork, and along the downtube. It was a tough call to decide between the stealth black version and this one, but in person this frame does really look even better. When sold as a Frankset, the frame includes a matching rigid carbon fork. Technically a fat bike fork, the spacing is 150 x 15mm to match the spacing of a RockShox Bluto and is suspension corrected to 100mm. When in 27+ plus mode, Otso recommends a 120mm travel fork to slack out the head angle by 0.5º and slightly raise the BB to compensate for the smaller tires.
For me, a lot of the excitement about the frame centers around the narrow Q factor. This may seem like a weird thing to get excited about, but when fat bike Q factors are pushing 203 to 233mm, a fat bike with a Q factor as low as 183mm starts to sound a lot more appealing. For reference, many new trail bikes with Boost cranks are around 177mm making the Voytek’s number not that far off.
Otso accomplished the narrower stance by using a PF 107 BB shell which is the equivalent of an 83mm threaded BB and a RaceFace Cinch crank with the RF149 spindle. Running a Cinch ring flipped outward or the WTC CAMO ring with a custom offset gets the chainline in the right place with a 177 x 12mm rear hub. More impressive is that the frame will still clear up to 4.6″ fat bike tires.
The narrower Q factor should make the frame an excellent candidate for plus size conversions so to add versatility, Otso created their Tuning Chip dropout system. Rather than a sliding dropout, the tuning chips use two different position chips for a total of three fixed axle positions. The stock chip can be reversed to provide the fore/aft positioning, and the second chip creates a middle position, each with a 10mm change in chainstay length. The angle of the dropout also makes each position alter the head tube angle by 0.2º. The Tuning Chip system is bolted into the frame and then the whole system is tied together with a 177 x 12mm axle for a solid connection.
Housing for the Voytek is internally routed for the rear derailleur cable and dropper post, with each offering a full tunnel – just push the housing through and it pops out the other end. Brake housing is run externally, with cradles and zip tie ports molded into the frame and fork.
With all of the hardware including axles and even the crown race for the headset, the fork weighs in at 1.74 lbs (789g), and the frame comes in at 3.51 lbs (1.59 kg). Quite light.
Due to the fact that the Otso really lets you build two bikes in one, that also means that you will need two different wheelsets. Fat bike wheel sets with a 177 x rear and 150 x 15 front hub have been around for a while, but the plus build with a 177 x 12 rear and 110 x 15 front may trip up some manufacturers. I decided to go with Industry Nine wheels not just because they are offered in beautiful colors to complement the bike, but because they had no problem building the wheels to match.
On the fat build, Industry Nine’s Torch Fat Bike BigRig 760 uses the HED BAD aluminum rim which has an inner width of 76mm. Otso steered me towards the narrower rim profile to better fit 4.6″ tires like the 45NRTH Flowbeist/Dunderbeist, but to also give 4.0″ fat bike tires a more rounded foot print which they prefer for aggressive riding. The wheels feature Industry Nine’s Torch hubs with 120 points, 3 degrees of engagement with their 6 pawl system which has proven itself in the past to be extremely reliable in fat biking conditions. Weights are listed at 2150g for the set which is only improved on by the fact that you can supposedly run the rims tubeless without tape. I haven’t had a chance to verify this yet as I was forced to set up the rims and tires without an air compressor while on the road and the only way I could get the tires seated with a floor pump (even a Bontrager Flash Charger) was to add a layer of Gorilla Tape. When I set up the bike for the winter I’ll re-investigate this claim. As shown here, the wheels would go for the base price of $1495 plus a $160 Level 2 customization upcharge for the single color Turquoise anodization.
As build only serves to highlight, the amount of custom hub and color options Industry Nine is turning out has caused them to basically stop offering stock wheels with the exception of solid black in select builds. In order to better accommodate the increase in custom color requests, Industry Nine is investing in an all new anodization facility in their current Asheville headquarters. The new tanks will allow 11 colors to be run at any time and should decrease lead times on custom colors thanks to increased output. And since consistent anodization is an art that needs practice, you can find Industry Nine’s handiwork on Asheville Brewing tap handles throughout the city.
For the plus set up I went with Industry Nine’s BackCountry 450 which uses their own 45mm internal width rim again laced with their Torch hubs and 2.9/2.7mm butted aluminum spokes. This wheelset uses the same 177 x 12mm fat bike hub as the BigRigs, but adds a standard Boost 110 x 15 front hub to work with a boost suspension fork. The rims came pre-taped with i9’s own stretchy black tape and their anodized to match valves.
On the scale, the wheels come in at 1084g for the rear and 906g for the front with tape and valves.
As part of the Frankset, Otso sent the frame with a RaceFace Six C carbon crank with a CAMO chainring system. While the Six C cranks have been replaced by the Next SLs, they still use the same RF149 83/107 axle to offer the narrower 183mm Q factor while clearing the chainstays and offering proper chainline.
Drivetrain duties are taken care of with a SRAM GX system, pretty standard here.
Magura’s new MT Trail carbon brakes are like they were meant for this build with the blue levers matching almost perfectly. And how ’bout those WTB PadLoc grips? I borrowed the blue locking collar from the pink/blue grips to make the perfect set of blue/green to match the bike. Along the same lines, when I saw D.Fendr’s latest collaboration with Bicycle Crumbs, I knew I had to have the green version for this bike.
Magura also provided the seatpost with their Vyron electronic dropper holding an SDG Fly MTN saddle.
The Truvativ Jerome Clementz BlackBox bar that is cut to match the PadLoc grips is held in place by a scary light Wren Sports stem. The 3D forged stem seems to be strong enough, though the nothingness to the stem and the tiny T20 bolts aren’t exactly confidence inspiring. I would actually prefer a stem that is a bit heavier with T25 bolts – most of my multi tools don’t include a T20 so it makes trail side adjustments an issue, plus it seems like an invitation for ham-fisted mechanics to strip them out. So far so good though, and you can’t really beat the weight.
The other main difference between the two builds comes from the fork. The fat bike uses the stock 100mm suspension corrected carbon fork while Otso sent over a RockShox 120mm Reba Boost fork for the plus set up. The longer travel helps compensate for the smaller tire size of the 27 x 2.8″ tires, and seems to work well with the geometry of the frame. I also plan to run a RockShox Bluto interchangeably with the rigid fork.
I’ve already been experimenting with tire selection since the frame has so many options, but most recently it’s been 45NRTH Van Helgas for fat and the new Maxxis HR II 27 x 2.8″ tires for plus. At 970g per tire, the HR IIs are fairly light for such a meaty tire and fit the personality of the bike well. Maxxis also gets credit for almost identical weights between the two tires – something that’s not always the case with the bigger rubber.
Complete builds as pictured including pedals (Time ATAC MX8 fat, Shimano XT Trail plus) and Bontrager XXX bottle cage came in at 25.7 lb (11.66kg) for the fat bike and 26 lbs (11.79kg) on the dot for the plus bike. Without carbon wheels or a higher end drivetrain (minus the crank) that seems extremely respectable.
First ride reviews coming up next! For more info on the Voytek and Otso Cycles in general, check out our first post here.