Approximately eighteen-months ago we took delivery of Li'l Kim (our titanium Muru Witjira FAT bike). From tropical sandy beaches to damp rainforest trails, quiet back-country roads, to busy National Highways, we've shared a few memorable adventures together.
Li'l Kim has been an enjoyable and versatile addition to our small fleet. Whilst she may not be the fastest bicycle for the majority of applications, she has proven herself in many ways. One Far North wet season, and several thousand kilometres later, here's what we have found ...
SETUP - Without boring you all with too many details, we built Li'l Kim as a fully rigid (no suspension), 2 x 10 (36 / 22T) trail bike. As the main test pilot, and being somewhat shorter than average, we chose Surly Knard 3.8" tyres wrapped around Surly Marge Lite rims (65mm wide). At approximately 12.4kg (including 1.5 scoops of Stan's sealant per wheel), Li'l Kim was certainly very proud of her figure.
WHEELS - Running 3.8" tyres (skinny by FAT bike standards) set-up ghetto tubeless was the biggest improvement we made early on. Thanks to the ingenuity of Ariel (Chilean Bike Mechanic, Photographer, Web Designer, Artist - and master of anything he set his mind to), our tubeless conversion resembled that of a tubular tyre; a 24" bmx tube being cut along its circumference and then glued (with tubular cement) to the bead of the tyre. At approximately 500g per FAT tube, this conversion saved us a few hundred grams in rotating mass. Whilst we can't confirm tyre pressures precisely, we estimate a range of between 3-8psi was tested on varying surfaces. This may sound like nothing to the average rider, but a difference of 5psi in such large volume tyres is significant.
DRIVETRAIN - After multiple 8hr events and long rides, we found the original big chainring to be a little ... big! As such, we switched our 36T for a 32T. The 32T allowed us to spin easier on all surfaces, thus delaying muscle fatigue (very important when the wheelset weighs several kilograms more than our other bikes' wheelset). The 32T also provided sufficient gearing for all road and off-road purposes.
BEARINGS - Given the volume of rain we receive up here in the North during the wet season, we weren't surprised when we had to replace the crankset bearings after a few months of riding muddy trails and creek crossings. As for the headset bearings, we merely removed them and gave them some TLC on a regular basis to keep them happy.
With the recent introduction of RockShox's Bluto (FAT bike suspension) fork, we were very tempted to swap out our delicious Muru Swale Ti (titanium) forks, but couldn't bring ourselves to alter Li'l Kim's classic elegance and fine lines. As such, we decided a second Muru Witjira was necessary as a comparison.