Home to one of the most bustling fat bike scenes in the country, it's no wonder that a contingent of Minnesota companies have emerged to accommodate enthusiasts both near and far. Chief among them is Framed Bikes, whose fatties are gaining a reputation for being some of the best-priced quality snow bikes on the market. Not only are they a great entry-level brand, with prices that start under $800, they’ve also become a favorite of experienced riders.
While the Twin Cities-based Framed was founded almost five years ago with a BMX focus, they entered the fat bike market last year with their aptly named “Minnesota 1.0.” In 2015, the company dove in head first, debuting their Alaska Carbon and Alaska Alloy models, as well as expanding the Minnesota series, which includes both women’s-specific and youth options. We chatted with Framed Bike’s Davin Johnson about what drives this rapidly growing local brand in this booming new sport.
What made you venture into the fat bike scene in the first place?
A couple of us at Framed were passionate fat bikers and we realized there was a niche for a more attainable price point in fat. There are a lot of great fat bikes to choose from these days, but as a brand I'd say our fat bikes are set apart by being quality bikes at a very competitive price.
Is the Twin Cities a particularly good place to be for a company in the fat bike market?
I can't imagine a better place.
You debuted your first fat bike—the Minnesota—last winter and greatly expanded your offerings in 2015. Why did you decide this was a good time to go all-in in this market?
On the high-end, it was purely selfish to start. We had acquired a taste and kept wanting lighter, better, faster, stronger—we’re pretty stoked about the whole Alaskan Series. I've gone from having a ridiculously large quiver of bikes to only riding my Alaska Carbon for the last six months.
What made you decide to build women’s specific and youth fat bike options?
The women's and the youth were no brainers. There was a huge void in the market for well-equipped and well-priced women's and kids’ bikes. The kids’ fat bike has been the most fun for sure. I love all the photos and videos that we're sent by fat moms and fat dads of the fat little kids.
Where are your favorite places to ride around the Twin Cities?
Carver has been our go to for lunch rides and product testing. We also ride Theo and Leb a lot on the weekends. The new section at Theo has taken local riding up another notch and I am really proud to have that in my back yard. Then Leb in the winter is about as good as it gets for me. When I'm down to drive a little, it doesn't get much better than the red dirt of Cuyuna.
Can you offer some tips for someone looking to get into fat biking?
Borrow a friend’s bike if you have to, but try it. It may look a little goofy at first but it's hard not to smile your first time riding a fatty. The Minnesota 2.0 is the ideal entry fat bike. The shortened up geometry makes the bike playful and feel smaller than your average fat bike.
It's amazing how much heat your body can generate while winter riding. Inevitably your first few times riding you'll over dress and heat up. I recommend wearing layers and a pack the first few times. That way you'll have somewhere to ditch the extra layers as you start overheating.
What do you have planned for the future of Framed?
We're really excited for what's coming down the pipeline. The 2015 line blew up with options and for 2016 there will be some new options, but also more and more honing of the current lineup.