Otso Makes Fat Biking More Fun And Injury Free

Otso Voytek
The Otso team on our winter bikepacking mission.

Photo by: Meyvn Creative

A couple of years ago, the engineers that brought you Wolf Tooth Components set out to find the next niche product they could improve upon. After one of their colleagues ended up with buggered knees from riding his fat bike, the team had their objective — how to deliver a smaller q-factor on a fat bike. The result? Otso Cycles.

As tires and wheels sizes grew over the past few years, bike geometry grew with it, bringing wider chainstays, increased hub spacing, wider bottom brackets, and larger q-factors (the distance between the pedal attachment points on the crank arms, when measured parallel to the bottom bracket axle).

With a wider pedaling base, your knees are more likely to drive inward towards the top-tube, leading to misalignment and injury down the road. You also use different muscles with a wider pedaling base, so when you switch from your road or mountain bike to a fat bike, it takes you weeks to build up leg fitness using this new muscle recruitment pattern. For reference, one of the reasons Eric Larsen had to abandon his Antarctica solo fat bike mission in 2012 is because his knees hurt so bad he could hardly pedal anymore. So it is definitely an issue.

This larger q-factor not only impacts your body, but also impacts the handling of the bike as well as traction potential in snowy conditions. By completely redesigning the fat bike so that it can deliver a q-factor similar to that of your mountain bike, Otso gets around all these issues.

The Otso Voytek features a carbon fiber frame with spacing for up to 4.6-inch tires. You can choose between a rigid and suspension fork, and during the summer, throw on your 29er wheels and use it as a mountain bike.

The other unique feature on an Otso fat bike is the Tuning Chip system that provides 20mm of chainstay length adjustment, along with subtle changes to the bottom bracket drop and head tube angle. The change can be done in only a couple of minutes and will affect the riding characteristic such as going from fun and nimble in the shortest position to stable in the longest to power through deep snow and sand.

I had the chance to ride an Otso Voytek in Crested Butte and loved it. Lightweight (the top of the line build comes in and just over 21 pounds) and nimble, it felt like I was riding a mountain bike.

The Otso Voytek fat bike retails for anywhere from $3000 to $8000 depending on build. You can purchase them from the company website and the team is also super eager to help you settle on the right bike.

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