Words and photos by Zach White
There’s a big part of me that wants to give REEB a huge middle finger of a review due to the simple fact that there was no Oskar Blues beer offered while picking up or dropping off our REEBdonkadonk loaner at their bike-and-taco shop, CyleHops CANtina (Editor’s Note: This is the first time I’ve ever heard of Oskar Blues being stingy with beer. Maybe Mr. White needs to shower more often). Yeah, not even tacos, either. If there’s anything to know about REEB, and its parent company Oskar Blues, it’s that they love to throw similar attitude, or at least be perceived as an entity of rebelliousness and deviance. Don’t believe me? Check the photo of the chainstay decal that reads “RIDE BIKES, DRINK BEER, GO FUCK YOU.”. Harsh? Maybe. Not for everyone? Exactly. Any flavor more palatable to the masses, and chances are they’d have to move their cozy little fab shop from around the corner of the brewery in Longmont, Colorado to a bigger facility, and hire another welder to produce more than the 150-200 REEBdonkadonks projected for 2017. Growth is usually considered a good thing for businesses, but to REEB, it doesn’t really seem to be a motivator.
Essentially a fun side project for Dale Katechis, owner and founder of Oskar Blues, and his cycle-centric crew, Reeb is an excuse to play with bikes, a reason to “go to the office”, and a way to avoid conforming to whatever the bike industry is directing things toward. Sure, the irony is that the bike industry is filled with rebellious types already, which simply points back to REEB wanting to have their own bikes on their own terms, and not someone else’s. The good news is, if you’re the type who appreciates this kind of small batch rebelliousness, REEB offers several flavors.
The REEBdonkadonk is their fat bike, and it comes in two rear axle width options – a full blown fatty with 197mm spacing for up to 26×5.1inch tires, and a more popular version with 177mm rear axle spacing that’ll work well with 4inch tire widths. Both versions are made with US produced True Temper ABT tubing, and fabricated by Chris Sulfrian in REEB’s welding facility just around the corner from the OB brewery. Once fabricated and powdercoated, the frames are then transported a couple of miles across town to the retail Bike Shop at CycleHops CANtina to be built up with fully customizable kits and/or shipped out. Or, customers can come in and pick up their bike, usually along with a beer or three on the CANtina(not officially, but it sounds like it’s more common than not), if not some tacos, too.
Our review bike was a 177mm spaced version, with a build kit that brought MSRP to $4400 for the complete bike. At 32.9-pounds for an XL version with pedals, weight was about what was expected for a steel frame with big tires, a KS dropper, and mostly alloy bits and pieces. Build kits are very customizable though, so there’s plenty of option to tally up a bigger bill and save a few grams, but at the end of the day, it’s still a steel-tubed fat bike that’ll probably still weigh about 30-pounds out the door.
With sliding horizontal dropouts, the ‘donk can easily be set up as a singlespeed, in addition to a geared bike. The driveside dropout is bolted to the seatstay instead of being welded so a belt drive can be run in lieu of a chain, too. Speaking of welds, Sulfrian’s are a thing of beauty, so much so that it’d be ashamed to opt for anything other than the clear powder-coating. Other appreciated details in frame design include two water bottle mounts, a threaded bottom bracket, clean cable routing that avoids the downtube and chainstays where there’s more potential of them being damaged, and cable routing for a dropper post, too(stealth dropper routing is an option on the titanium frame, but REEB didn’t want to offer it on the steel frames as it’d be a perfect place for them to take in moisture). One thing to note is that for a bike brand that’s “beer” spelled backwards, there isn’t a bottle opener anywhere on the frame. Why? Oskar Blues cans their beer. That, and if you can’t figure out how to open a bottle with your pedal by now…
Out on the trail, the ‘donk feels like a well-sorted fat bike. A 69-degree headtube keeps steering up front predictable, and a roomy top tube in conjunction with a progressively slacker seat tube angle(72-degrees for our XL) keeps things comfortable in the cockpit. Starting with a 73.5-degree seat tube angle for the size small, and decreasing a half-degree with each size, effective top tube lengths are nicely tuned throughout the ‘donk’s sizing run. 18.3inch chainstays offer stability, but aren’t exactly short, which translates out on the trail as having the front end being slightly less poppy and playful as one might hope – but “poppy” and “fat bike” aren’t exactly synonymous, and 18.3inch chainstays are pretty standard in this genre.
In softer snowy conditions, a 4inch rear tire wasn’t quite the right tool for the job of floating a 200lbs pilot, so riders looking for true snow bikes should opt for the 197mm rear spacing in order to run wider, better floating rubber. As the snow packed in, and when ridden on trails with a mix of dirt, mud and snow, the ‘donk was in its element. By comparison of a fully wide fat bike, the slightly narrower spacing of the 177mm rear axle was more appropriate for riding on tighter and more technical trails where threading through rocks and stumps begs for as much room as can be provided. REEB states the 177mm version is by far the most popular option, which may speak to their popularity on Colorado’s front range where trails have a tendency to get packed in quickly when it snows, and are usually a mix of dirt and snow this time of year, verses turning into a complete winter wonderland.
From a strictly financial aspect, the REEBdonkadonk is a bit steep at $1600 for a steel frame, especially when a complete Scott Big Jon is the exact same price, and slogs along on snowy, sloppy trail in about the same manner. On the other end, $1600 for a handbuilt, beautifully welded and locally painted frame using US-made materials is pretty appropriately priced. Factor in the “it’s just a [email protected] fat bike” part of the equation, and it really does come down to whether or not one has an appreciation for high-quality/low-quantity US-made frames and/or wants to ride a conversational piece, if not purchase a bit of personality or attitude along with it. Having ridden the ‘donk around Colorado for a couple of weeks, it did catch the eye of a few locals who’d shout out a quick “REEB me!” in passing, or some similar verbal nod to the whole vibe around REEB. Regardless of how trendy, factual, or inflated the connection is between riding and boozing, it’s obvious that there are people who really identify with drinking beer and riding bikes as being one and the same. For this mindset, the REEBdonkadonk is a no-brainer if the price doesn’t offset their beer fund too harshly.
MSRP: $1600, frame-only($3200 titanium frame-only)
Sizes: S, M, L, XL(tested), custom geometry and sizing available for and additional $400
Colors: Six stock powder coats to choose from, or custom color for $95
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