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Otso Voytek 2 Review: Still the Best Fat Bike Even if the Snow Isn’t

Otso Voytek 2 fat bike with WTB tires
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Nearly eight years ago, Otso Cycles was born from Wolf Tooth Components. In the process, they introduced a bike that changed my perception of what a fat bike could be. Rather than a beast of a bicycle that was also a burden to pedal, the Otso Voytek relied on some clever engineering to create the best pedaling fat bike yet. More importantly, Otso accomplished this while still providing just enough clearance for a 26 x 4.6” tire.

The Voytek quickly became my favorite fat bike, ruining me on bikes with much wider Q-factors. But eight years is a long time in the world of bike development, and a lot’s changed since then. More fat bikes are running 27.5” wheels and tires, and geometry is constantly evolving. The Voytek could no longer survive on its Q-factor alone, so Otso went back to the drawing board. 

Otso Voytek 2 side
(Photos / Bikerumor)

In the Fall of 2023, Otso introduced the Voytek 2. A bike that is undeniably still a Voytek, but one that has a number of changes to help make it more modern – and still one of the best.

Finally some snow… kinda

Initially, I held off writing a full review of the Voytek 2 at the time of launch because I felt that for it to be a worthwhile fat bike review, I should actually ride in… snow. Sadly, every year since the original Voytek launched, we’ve seen less and less snow. This year was no different. Realistically, we only had one storm that resulted in conditions that were actually ‘fat bike worthy’. Fortunately, I was able to make the most of those few days and got a solid amount of snow testing in on the Voytek 2. 

26 vs. 27.5″

Over the years, and especially recently, I’ve had a lot of discussions with Wolf Tooth and Otso Co-Owner Brendan Moore about fat bike tire size. Specifically about (some of) the industry’s push towards 27.5” wheels and tires. Brendan is a big fan of 26” fat bike tires for snow use, and I’d have to mostly agree. 

On one of the few snowy days I had to work with, I decided to run back-to-back test runs on the same bike and the same trail conditions – first with 27.5” then with 26”. The tires weren’t identical, but both were 45NRTH Dillinger models, a 26 x 4.0” Dillinger 4 and a 27.5 x 4.5” Dillinger 5.

What I found was that while the speeds and segment times were similar for both setups, the 26” setup felt like I could push harder for longer. That tracks with my experience with 27.5” fat bike tires as a whole – they offer incredible traction and roll-over ability, but you pay for it with the weight. Apples to apples, the 27.5” setup will always be heavier than 26” (up to 2lbs!), and in the worst place to carry extra weight. 

With that said, there are times when I prefer the ride of the 27.5” tires like when riding over chunky rocks and ice. Also if you can find a lot of the really light, early 27.5” fat bike tires which were way undersized, they make for great dirt or hardpacked sand tires. 

This is all a long way of saying that regardless of your personal 26” x 27.5” beliefs, the Voytek 2 can run both so it’s the perfect choice for both camps. That’s thanks to the combination of the Otso Tuning Chip dropout system and the new rear wheel offset. 

Rear wheel offset – a necessary evil

The offset will be a polarizing topic, but it was added for a very good reason. With a Q-factor as narrow as the Voytek’s, there just isn’t enough clearance between the chain and the widest tires when it’s in the biggest cassette cog. Rather than compromising on the Q-Factor, the Voytek 2 was simply designed around a 5mm offset of the rear hub to the drivetrain side. This pushes the cassette and the chain out from the tire, solving the clearance issue. 

Thanks to the offset, the Voytek 2 now officially has clearance for 26 x 4.6” tires. You could technically run those on the original Voytek, but not in all axle positions, and the chain would rub on the tire in the biggest cog. The frame will also accommodate up to 27.5 x 4.5” tires. The fork will also clear up to a 26 x 5.4” tire on a 100mm rim if you want to maximize flotation. 

The offset rear does make it less convenient for wheel swaps if you already have a bunch of fat bike wheels. But most can be re-dished to work with the new setup. To me, this is a non-issue for the fat bike wheels since you probably only have one fat bike – and even if you have more than one, there’s a good chance they have different rear hub standards anyway (I recently had four fat bikes on hand, and every one of them had a different hub standard combination!).

A fat bike for more than just snow

Even if the hub offset bothers you, you should still give the Voytek 2 a chance because the bike is that good. Remember how I was just talking about how little snow we’ve had in successive years? That’s making me rethink my relationship with fat bikes – except the Voytek. That’s because it’s the most enjoyable fat bike that I’ve ridden outside of snowy days. 

The narrow Q-factor makes it the perfect option for loaded bikepacking expeditions on terrain where plus or even full-fat tires are preferred. It’s even narrow enough that it wouldn’t be bothersome to build it up as a trail hardtail and use it as your one bike all year long. 

I’ve actually been using the Voytek 2 mostly as a platform for riding with my daughter using a Kids Ride Shotgun Pro seat. That may seem like an odd choice, but the bike is uniquely positioned to be the perfect bike for the job. The Voytek 2 has the narrowest q-factor of any fat bike out there, but it’s still slightly wider than your average trail bike. That puts your knees slightly wider, which makes it easier to pedal around the toddler seat in front of you.

A big part of that is also due to the updated geometry which is very good in stock form. It’s also completely adjustable with headset and dropout chips that make it one of the most adjustable bikes around. It’s so adjustable that I haven’t gotten close to trying all the combinations with all the different wheel options. While the stock geometry is now on trend with many XC and Trail bikes with a 67.8º head tube angle and 73.8º seat tube angle, the 2º slack chip will drop that to a 65.9º HTA and 74.4º STA. 

Both the Tuning Chip dropout system and the Geochip headset system are typically well-designed by Otso, and neither has ever made the slightest noise or caused any issues in a lot of testing. I have less time on the Geochip system, but the Tuning Chip system may be the most reliable axle position adjustment system I’ve tried. 

While we’re on the subject of maintenance and hassle-free frame specs, the Voytek 2 runs a PF107 bottom bracket like the Voytek before it. I know, I know. Pressfit – ugh. But here’s the thing, proponents of the pressfit bottom bracket have repeatedly told me the same thing: it’s not the standard, it’s the lack of precision on poorly-made frames that causes issues. 

I still have that original Voytek, 7 years later. As a fat bike, it’s seen the worst conditions and at this point probably has more miles on that particular bottom bracket than any other bike here. And it has been flawless – no noises, and it still spins freely. Considering the PF design is integral to the narrow Q-factor design of the Voytek, it’s something to be aware of, but not worried about. 

Along those lines, optimizing the carbon around the bottom bracket shell and chainstays means that the Voytek 2 hasn’t lost anything in terms of efficiency. If you’re into fat bike racing, this bike is still as fast as ever. Yet, the Voytek 2 seems to offer better vertical compliance for trail riding and out-of-bounds adventuring. 

Going along with the incredible versatility of the geometry and wheel & tire choice, the rest of the bike can be built to suit as well. Rigid fans will appreciate the stock carbon fork with accessory mounts, while more aggressive riders will happily swap it out for a 100-120mm travel suspension fork (I added a Manitou Mastodon for riding with the kiddo, which made a big difference). Along with the fork mounts, the frame has tons of accessory mounts including a four-pack on the top of the downtube, top tube mounts, rack and fender options, and frame bag mounts on the inside of the front triangle. Otso now offers a custom frame bag by Cedaero that can be customized with your choice of material and color. 

Riding Away

riding Otso Voytek 2 fat bike on ice
Riding down an icy waterfall on studded tires – more intimidating than it looks when the water is multiple feet deep and you can hear it moving!

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the fat bike market rapidly dwindling. I firmly believe that a big reason for that is the number of brands that jumped on the fat bike bandwagon without fully understanding what goes into creating a great fat bike and seeing poor sales in return. But the changing climate also can’t be ignored – if there’s less snow, fewer people will see a need for a fat bike. 

Unless, it’s something as versatile as the Voytek 2. 

The Otso Voytek 2 excels in snowy conditions and is still one of my favorite fat bikes on the white stuff. But it’s outside of those winter months where the Voytek 2 really sets itself apart from the competition. Wherever your adventures take you, the Voytek 2 can be built for it – regardless of the weather.

For more technical details on the Voytek 2 including actual weight and geometry numbers, make sure to check out our first look, here.

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Wildpepper
Wildpepper
1 month ago

I ride xc trail summer and winter on my fat bike. I had to back off a bit because the wide Q factor on my Giant is killing my knee. Good to see more companies realize this issue and give you just enough clearance you need. I run 4.0 27.5. So the extra space just there to mess up my knee.

Thomas
Thomas
1 month ago
Reply to  Wildpepper

Funny enough I ride my Trek Farley and my Banshee Prime trail bike all year and I barely notice the Q-Factor difference. I mean I know it is there but it doesn’t annoy me.

I am riding flat pedals though so that might be a factor.

Deputy Dawg
Deputy Dawg
1 month ago

Looks like a lovely bike.

Maybe I was reading too fast, but all I saw was numerous references to “narrow Q-factor” without any dimensions?

In any event, I often switch from fat to regular during the same week, and never give the Q a moment’s thought, so I’ll keep enjoying my Salsa.

King County
King County
1 month ago

IMO, a fat bike can be an ‘anytime’ off-road bike and a ton of fun. When on gnarly terrain, you do not have to be as particular with the line you choose. Using a fatty is like running with ankle weights. You can still run, but you are faster without them. Regarding q-factor, I use flat peds and never notice a wider stance, but that does not mean my body won’t pay the price later on in life. If I knew of the Otso when I was fat bike shopping I probably would have gotten that. It may not have been out, yet.

Ridemore
1 month ago

I still think offsetting the rear wheel was not good for many, many people. If you just buy the whole bike from Otso, then who cares. But if you have 3 wheel sets, like I do, and do not want to offset them, as they no longer work with my old Voytek I still use, then you’re screwed. And buying wheelsets is no longer easy. For example, I got a nice deal on some Sun Ringle Mulefut 26″ wheels with the 177 rear hub. Great price. Put some studded tires on and threw them right on my Voytek 1. But while I do all my own maintenance and work on my bikes, I am not a wheel builder, never needed to be. And I most certainly do NOT trust anyone at the few local shops near me. My race wheels with Berd spokes? Would not trust a shop mechanic to getting those moved over…which then locks it into that new bike only, forever.

I know my opinion means nothing here, but the need to fit 4.6 tires on a Voytek is just not something I think should have mattered. If you need truly FAT tires, then buy the awesome Otso bike made for giant tires. Leave the Voytek to it’s multi-purpose, 29er, summer, winter anything goes bike, where you can simply swap off the shelf wheels.

Why couldn’t they have designed special dropouts that offered both? You want 4.6 tires, throw on Dropout X that requires the wheel dish, and Dropout Y for non dish wheels…that would have actually made Voytek 2 truly an upgrade that blows minds. But as it sits, I can not buy one, and that stinks, because I really wanted a 2nd so I can swap 29er summer wheels and fat wheels between bikes.

Oh well. Maybe Voytek 3 will offer both. Did I mention I love my Voytek, and Otso, and Wolftooth? I have bought a zillion products from them. But this dish only situation makes me sad.

Boom
Boom
1 month ago
Reply to  Ridemore

I was about to pull the trigger on the Voytek V2, but the sale price + the non offset rear wheel of the V1 made me decide to just go with the V1.

SnowRider
SnowRider
1 month ago

Can we all just have a round of applause for the best version 1.0 of any bike in recent history? A bunch of us owners sat around trying to come up with ways to improve on this bike for its sweet spot (groomed trails and sandy flatter terrain) and all we could think of was UDH and thread bottom bracket. Maybe a wolftooth hub option given limited 177 options. But the world moves on. Bravo Wolftooth.

Bubba the bear
Bubba the bear
1 month ago

This reminded me of Voytek , the bear ! Nice bike , nice bear sticker

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