Rob McKillip and the Fat Equinox at the Iowa Bike Expo

When Rob McKillip’s venerable Trek TTX Equinox broke during warmups for the Iowa State time trial championship, he didn’t throw in the towel like some would have. Instead he simply hopped on the other bike he’d brought that day; his fat bike. After suffering through that TT, Rob’s broken Trek was relegated to wall-hanger status and forgotten until a while later when carbon fat bikes started popping up. Unimpressed with the offerings he’d seen, and with the memory of that brutal time-trial-on-a-fat-bike on his mind, Rob began chatting with Drew Wilson of Cyclocarbon; and thus the Fat Equinox was born.

Click past the break for details on this wild ride…

all photos courtesy Drew Wilson of Cyclocarbon

Drew Wilson was intrigued and excited at the challenge of reshaping the Equinox frame to fit fat tires and still maintaining the factory Trek aesthetic. All the while he needed to allow the proper chainring, crank, and heel clearance necessary to actually ride the thing. Drew tells us that he preserved as much of the original frame as he could, although in the end the fork is a Carver fat fork painted to match. The rear stays were removed and segmented into more than a dozen pieces during the reshaping process to fit the Surly Black Floyd 3.8″ wide tires. Those tires are wrapped around a pair of (why not?!) custom carbon wheels including a fat, disc-brake, disc rear wheel. The rear wheel was crafted based on a tri-spoke similar to the front, but uses a solid foam core similar to the Zipp 900 discs.

The bike retained the stock cockpit and uses a SRAM R2C bar-end shifter actuating a SRAM clutch-type derailleur across an XD 10t-42t 11 speed cassette. Rob opted to run mechanical disc brakes so he could retain the bike’s original Bontrager XXX-lite aero brake levers.

In addition to substantially reshaping the rear end of the bike, the OEM bottom bracket was replaced with an English threaded 100mm titanium piece made by Paragon Machine Works. A SRAM XX1 fatbike width crankset and a 44t ring spin around the widened BB shell. Drew tells us the chainring has been flipped outward to give more chainstay clearance, even if it biases the chainline slightly towards the heavier end of the cassette.

Since the goal was to retain as much of the factory Trek look as possible, the original fairing-style seattube was widened to cover the whole rear tire as well as extended rearward behind the seattube. The bike runs typical fat bike 135mm and 170mm quick release hubs front and rear.

One of the main reasons Drew agreed to the project was knowing that Rob would really use the bike, and not let it moulder on a shelf as a piece of art, from Rob, the owner:

I contacted Drew and he warmed up to the concept immediately. It took a couple hundred messages, a visit and an extensive Google spreadsheet to plan it all out. The best decision I made was to leave all the artistic and style decisions to Drew, he’s the professional. I thought the bike would give Drew the opportunity to really show his true skill and craftsmanship, in a way that the carbon fiber bike repairs didn’t.

The end result was better than I imagined. It’s been hilarious to see the online reactions to the bike… People seem to either love it or hate it!!! In person, people really love it.
 
I didn’t have the bike made to just hang it on the wall. I rode nearly 1000 miles on it last year. Obviously it’s only for road riding. The bike weighs about 29 pounds. I have it set up 1×11 with a 44 up front and a 10-42 in the back. The gearing is perfect for a wide range of riding. I think every triathlon bike should use this gearing. I ride it in time trial races, RAGBRAI, RAW (Ride Across Wisconsin) and anytime I ride for fun on the road.”
Given more time, Drew would like to shorten the fork to lower the front end some, increase the size of the rear fairing, and perhaps integrate a Di2 drivetrain.  But for now, Rob likes riding it too much to let it go under the knife again. For more information, contact Cyclocarbon via Facebook.

51 COMMENTS

  1. every so often there comes along an abomination whose quirks are redeeming. I can’t help but feel like the e-bike version of this one would be suitable for those who voted in our current U.S. Pres.

  2. I happened to see this bike a week ago at the Madison, WI bike swap. It was actually really cool.

    To the guy who asked “why?,” I will paraphrase Sir Edmund Hilary: “Because it [the broken TTX frame] was there!”

  3. I’m no minimalist and have way more bikes than I need but I can’t help but think about the hungry children in the world when I see something like this.

  4. He asked, “Can you dig it?”, and I said yes.

    BR should only have two goals right now: to score a ride on that thing and to get that bike in a studio for some proper photos.

  5. You could also race a triathlon or time trial on just your rims no tires at all and it will literally make the exact same amount of sense as this. Or….. or your could race crits wearing a parachute…. Or you could put a hot dog in a thud buster seat post and see if the friction warms it up. All make just as much sense as this.

  6. To those taking this way, way too seriously: this is something made for fun by a carbon fabricator. Are you familiar with this idea, this “fun?”

    The guy does frame repairs and, from what I saw at his booth, pretty good ones. This explicitly isn’t for sale. It gets some attention for his business and makes people smile. What’s the problem with that?

    • I’m pretty sure this project was never about being cool. Just my two cents.

      Also, wouldn’t a “fat” monster cross bike essentially be a fat bike with drop bars?

  7. This bike is amazing…those that recognize the “fun” aspect are the ones that get it. Lighten up people and don’t fear the strange sensation on the lower part of your face.

  8. A good choice to use an existing fork (presumably with adequate engineering & testing) rather than cobbling something together. Safety for carbon forks needs more than intuition and inspiration.

  9. Drew Wilson is a card. He has a very short from-think-it-to-try-it distance compared to most people, which I see as a good thing. AND he knows his way around composites. That bike is a proper blend of science and goofing off.

  10. I’m not sure I would have left the Trek name on it. No reason to give free advertising to the company whose bike let you down at race time.

  11. It’s well worth a go. Like the old saying. Don’t knock till u try it. I would. End of the day. It’s a bike with a difference….

  12. How does somebody look at that beautiful work of art and NOT think to themselves “GAWD I WANT TO RIDE THAT THING”!!? Looks great.

  13. I’ve got a soft spot for the disc rear wheel. It looks like a huge, deep platter. That deep brown color is perfect for replicating a ceramic dish, too.

COMMENT HERE: (For best results, log in through Wordpress or your social media account. Anonymous/fake email comments may be unapproved or deleted. ALL first-time commenter's posts are held for moderation. Check our Comment Policy for full details.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.