In 2020, I ordered a Pole Taiga L (Pole Taiga page) frameset. It is slack, low, and long, and I can run really big tires, specifically the Surly Bud and Lou.

The Taiga in the woods

The build took months, and there were a lot of details to sort out, but it was so worth it!

This thing flies down trails!

Things I learned

The fatbike craze is well and truly over.

Some of the components were hard to find. I wanted Hope BB and cranks, but since I couldn't find that stuff anywhere, I settled on Raceface. Finding the right spacers for the 120mm frame and RF189 CINCH spindle was hard, until the Swiss distributor sent me a pack.

I wanted DT Swiss Hubs, but again, they were impossible to find. Luckily, someone sold unused Hope hubs back to my LBS, and I got those. Plus, they were orange!

Surly doesn't build the Clown Shoe rims anymore. If you can't find any online, you have to either get carbon rims (which I don't want to trust with my 100kg+), or go 80mm, which makes the tires rounder.

It turns out that when you are riding a fatbike, little boys point at you, and guys over 50 want to start a conversation. Everyone else doesn't care :-)

Pole could do a better job documenting their frames.

I ordered the wrong adapters for my brake disks, because I had to guess.

After a bunch of rides, I also saw that the back is not long or wide enough for 203mm disks, so I will have to scale down to 180mm in the back.

Brake disk rubs frame

A Pole Taiga frame size L will not really be happy with a 203mm brake disk in the back.

You will need to buy tools

A lot of tools.

Every component that goes on the bike comes with some specific tool. Bottom bracket, cranks, cassette, fork (the star-fangled nut!), they all are attached, tightened, and/or detached with tools that you will absolutely not have lying around.

You will need grease, cable ties, allen keys, and other tools. PRetty important: torque wrench(es) - I had to buy one for low-torque things like attaching stuff to your handle bar, and one for high-torque things like attaching cranks.

You also absolutely need a bike stand, but i guess that is a given.

Whatever Youtube videos say about cutting a brake hose - you will need a bleed kit

When you buy brakes, you should also buy the bleed kit. Chances are you will have to cut the hoses (on Hayes Dominions, specifically, the rear one is crazy long!), and chances are you won't be able to do it cleanly.

Just get the bleed kit.

Parts

I was worried about my choice of drivetrain, but it was good. On the Vitus, the Salsa Mukluk, and the Taival, I was/am running a 11-46 XT cassette. I wanted more range, but not 12 gears.

The Deore 11-51 cassette and matching derailleur have great range, and the cassette is made of steel. I thought that was good for a fatbike. Is it heavier than the XT stuff? Yes! But it works with an XT shifter, and so far, it has been shifting perfectly.

The OneUp dropper with its 210mm drop is really great. Both the Taival and the Taiga have low frames, and it feels good to be able to go that low.

The Hayes Dominion A4 brakes are a lot better than the 2 pot SLX brakes I was used to. Wow!

Trust

It's funny, in a way, but I do trust a bike, down a hill, at considerable speed, that I built myself.

I was wondering about that, before I started riding it. How could I trust myself to build this to be stable enough? With brakes that don't just fail?

But in the end, I followed the instructions, made sure to respect torques, and it all worked out just fine.

I made no really bad choices (except 203mm, see above), I botched only the cutting of the brake hose, and everything is running pretty smoothly.

I'm not an expert. I started riding in 2017. I had a good teacher, I guess (thank you, Kev!), and I don't have two left thumbs.

What I want to say: if you cannot buy your dream bike, build it!

It's really a great feeling when you ride on something you have planned and built all by yourself. Highly recommended!

Build

Actual photo of the Pole Taiga frame
The Taiga with wheels, but missing cranks

Look at the cable management!

Taiga top tube cable management

Parts

It takes a surprising amount of parts to build a bike from scratch. Here is my list:

Frame & Fork
Frame Pole Taiga L
Pole Taiga L frame
Fork Manitou Mastodon Pro Ext 120mm
Manitou Mastodon fork
Drivetrain
Bottom Bracket Race Face BSA 83mm for CINCH (I couldn't find that for 120mm, so I got the 83mm version and just removed the plastic tube)
Race Face bottom bracket
Crankset Race Face Crank Set Turbine CINCH System FAT 190 with 170 mm cranks
Race Face cranks
Pedals OneUp Components Comp flat pedals
OneUp pedals
Chainring Race Face Chainring Direct Mount CINCH System Steel Narrow Wide black 30 Teeth
Race Face chainring
Shifter Shimano XT SL-M8000
Shimano XT shifter
Cassette Shimano Deore CS-M5100-11 11-speed 11-51T
Shimano Cassette
Derailleur Shimano Deore RD-M5100 11-speed Shadow Plus
Shimano derailleur
Chain Shimano XT CN-HG701-11
Wheels
Rims Surly Clown Shoe 100mm set up tube less using fattystripper (Surly discontinued the Clown Shoes, so it was a tad hard to find two)
Surly Clown Shoe rims
Hubs Hope Pro 4 Fatsno Front & Hope Pro 4 Fatsno Rear (in orange, because)
Tires Surly Bud 26x4.8 (front) / Surly Lou 26x4.8 (rear)
Surly Bud and Surly Lou
Mudguard Beaver Guard Mudguard - Mastodon
Components
Brakes Hayes Dominion A4 4-piston with Hayes D-Series 203mm rotors front & back
Hayes brakes
Grips Deity Knuckleduster
Deity grips
Handlebar Truvativ Descendant Downhill 25mm 31.8 800mm
Truvativ handlebar
Stem Truvativ Descendant 31.8 40mm
Truvativ stem
Headset Cane Creek 40 (came with the frame)
Cane Creek headset
Seatpost OneUp Components Dropper Post V2.1 210mm
OneUp dropper post
Saddle Ergon SM Enduro Comp Men M/L
Ergon saddle

The wheels are built by Stefan Buser of Lifestyle Cycles in Arlesheim. I simply don't trust myself to do wheels.

In case you are surprised by my choice of cassette and mech: just when I was about to order a 12-speed XT drivetrain, Shimano released the 11-speed Deore group set with a 51 teeth steel cassette. I decided to use that, mainly because that way, both bikes are 11-speed and I can exchange parts, if needed. And also: it's steel!

On top of the list above, I had to buy tools (Race Face 16mm/8mm adapter, Race Face BB tool, Hayes DOT 5.1 bleed kit, Putoline chain wax, ...) and small parts (garmin holder, brake disc adapters, cable end caps, outers end caps, cable ties, and such), and I only got away with this few because over the time I was riding the Vitus, I had already bought a lot, e.g. a bike repair stand.

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