Otso Fat Bike Buyer's Guide - Arctodus and Voytek
With the winter months approaching, our minds are starting to think about what to do when it gets cold and snowy and we can’t ride our other bikes. Luckily, Contender offers both the lightweight Otso Voytek and the more adventure-focused Otso Arctodus.
Just looking at the two fat bikes, often referred to as fat tire bike, you may think that they are similar, but they are actually different beasts for different types of fat biking.
Why Should I Ride A Fat Bike?
Many people ask “Why should we buy a fat bike if the winter season will only last a few months?” Otso’s bikes have become incredibly versatile so buying a fat bike no longer means condemning yourself to just riding it in the winter. The Otso Voytek was even built to run 29” mountain wheels, and transform the bike into a light and responsive hardtail mountain bike. This is a great feature, as it is one of the first bikes that you could ride year-round, and in all conditions.
Fat bikes also allow you to run low tire pressures. This allows you to be able to ride over most terrain, while still having a smooth ride. This gives you buoyancy and lets you ride on top of the surface instead of sinking in.
Fat bikes are extremely versatile bikes. This is especially true in Utah, but all through the world, there are many places to ride them. Many places in the Salt Lake City area groom tracks for fat biking in the winter months. Within half an hour from our shop, you have Millcreek Canyon, Round Valley, and the Shoreline, just to name a few, which would all be great places to take your Fat Bike. If you are not as familiar with Salt Lake geography, these are places that get good snow coverage in winter, and some are even groomed. A fat bike is also something that works great in soft sand, which means you can take the bike to any place with lots of sand to ride.
In Utah, there’s not as much sand as snow usually, but lots of places in Southern Utah, Lake Powell, Bear Lake, and the area surrounding the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island will have lots of sand to take your fat bike on. Really you can ride a fat bike anywhere with snow, loose sand, mud, or any other softer ground covering. These two Otsos would both be great machines for many types of Fat Bike riding, so we are hoping that this article will help you see which bike would be best for your needs as a bike rider.
As for tire pressure? We would recommend a tire pressure close to 5 PSI for soft conditions, and closer to 10 for hardpack and icy conditions. Check out our Youtube for an in-depth tire pressure setup guide. There is a lot of variation to tire pressure based on rider weight, including all the gear, and conditions, but once you get out on the bike a few times you will start to get good at picking the right tire pressures for the conditions.
Otso Fat Bikes: Which Is Best For You?
The Otso Voytek is built to be a lightweight, responsive, and fast fat bike. Starting off with the carbon frame, making the frame lighter-weight and stiffer than the Arctodus counterpart. Adding stiffness makes the bike better to pedal, and increases the power transfer through the frame meaning that it makes the ride faster. Otso also designed this bike to have short seat stays, a longer top tube, and a 69º head angle. All these features give the bike a snappy, and quick response while having a slacker-than-normal head angle, meaning the bike is better at trail riding than its competitors.
Another feature standard on the Voytek frame is the “Tuning Chip.” This is a small piece located at the rear dropouts that changes the geometry of the entire bike. The Tuning Chip allows you to change the wheelbase on the Voytek by up to 20mm, the bottom bracket height by 4mm, and the head angle of the bike through a half-degree range. With the Tuning Chip in the forward position, it makes the bike handle more like a race bike, making it fast and responsive. Placing the Tuning Chip in the rearward position makes the bike a little more capable, setting the bike up to respond well in deeper snow or more technical terrain. The Tuning chip can also be set up in between these two settings to give the bike the best of these two worlds.
Another reason to buy the Voytek is the massive amount of versatility it offers. This bike can be run as a 26” Fat Bike, a 27.5” Fat Bike, a 27.5” Mountain Bike, and even a 29” mountain bike. It also comes with three different fork options: a rigid fork, a 100mm suspension fork, and a 120mm suspension fork. With all the possible combinations of wheel size and travel, the bike can become a different beast for any type of riding available. From the deep snow of the Wasatch Mountains to the red rock of Southern Utah, the Otso Voytek is a perfect do-it-all, lightweight, and responsive bike for the occasion.
The Arctodus fat bike, named after the largest bear to ever walk the Earth, definitely lives up to its namesake. This bike was designed to be an extremely capable fat bike, and provide the maximum tire clearance available. The Arctodus frame has been tested with a 27.5 x 4.5” tire and a 26 x 5.05” tire, and both fit in the frame with room to spare. These are the widest Fat Bike tires available on the market right now, so this bike will be able to run any Fat Bike tire one would want to put on. Otso recommends a 26 x 4.8” for optimal performance and handling.
Besides the tire clearance, a lot of time and effort was spent designing the geometry of the bike. The bike has a head angle of 68.5º making it slacker than many of the other fat bikes available on the market. This bike also comes equipped with the Tuning Chip, like the one on Voytek, that allows that headtube angle, bottom bracket height, and wheelbase. These frames are also compatible with Wolftooth’s GeoShift 1º and 2º headsets, meaning this bike can actually run with a head angle anywhere from 66.5º to 70.5º. This bike is also compatible with the same fork options as the Voytek, so you can run it rigid, or using a suspension fork with up to 120mm of travel.
All these technical details combine to make this bike capable of even the most severe fat bike riding. Designed to be a beast on even the most gnarly fat biking trails, this bike certainly achieves the goal. This bike is also fully designed to be reliable and carry a large load to do multi-day expeditions, so if you are thinking about doing some of the races like Fat Pursuit, or the Iditarod, where you have to pack a lot of stuff on the bike, this might be a little better than the Voytek for you.
Both of these bikes are awesome bikes. The all-around Voytek, with a carbon frame and massive versatility, will cost you $2700 for the frame, $4530 for a Shimano XT build, or $4995 for a Sram GX AXS build. The extremely capable Arctodus, with the Steel frame, starts at $1390 for the frame. We are doing a build with the incredibly durable Shimano SLX drivetrain that will cost $2590 for the complete build. We are also happy to do any swaps or different components you would want, just give us a call and we will get everything set up for you.
Words by Joseph Bonacci. Images by Carter Hall.