May 2021 Update: Pole has removed the Taiga from their site, and according to rumour, the Taiga is "not currently a priority". I think that this bike is easily the best fat bike ever made, and that news is a big blow.
September 2022 Update: You can use a 12 spd SLX derailleur with 11 spd shifter and cassette. Works superbly!
December 2023 Update: I'm making "Frankenbrakes", see below.
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!
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 tyres rounder.
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.
A Pole Taiga frame size L will not really be happy with a 203mm brake disk in the back.
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.
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.
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 Hayes Dominion A4 brakes are a lot better than the 2 pot SLX brakes I was used to. Wow!
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!
I have been riding the Taiga for just over 2000km since I built it, and there was some optimisation to be done.
First change was to replace the rear rotor with a 180mm rotor, so it wouldn't rub on the frame.
The Ergon saddle is great, but it is not for me. So I put Kev's old Selle SMP Plus saddle back on.
I had a coaching session, and the coach suggested I try a longer stem. So I replaced the 40mm Truvativ Descendant stem and am now riding with a 60mm Truvativ Hussefelt. That thing is a monster! In the end, I replaced it with a 60mm Truvativ Descendant.
The Deore Cassette gave up after 1500km in May 2021. I replaced it, plus the derailleur, and have replaced both a couple of times, since.
In Summer 2022, I read that the Shimano 12 spd derailleurs have the same ratio as the 11 spd. So I bought a 12 spd SLX derailleur and put it onto the bike. Shifting is significantly better now, a real treat! Can recommend!
In December 2023, I decided that the 180mm brake disc in the back was not good. I wondered whether I could use a 200mm disc, like a Hope Floating Rotor. So I decided to try it on the front wheel. There were issues,e.g. the brake pads for Dominion A4 brakes have little tear-shaped extensions at the bottom that touch the rivets on the Hope discs. I cut those extensions off, and used a 20mm PM-PM adapter, and the brake seems to work fine. Next step: do the same in the rear.
I like that the brake disc has the same colour as the hubs. It's the little things in life...
Look at the cable management!
It takes a surprising amount of parts to build a bike from scratch. Here is my list:
|Frame & Fork
|Pole Taiga L
|Manitou Mastodon Pro Ext 120mm
|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 Crank Set Turbine CINCH System FAT 190 with 170 mm cranks
|OneUp Components Comp flat pedals
|Race Face Chainring Direct Mount CINCH System Steel Narrow Wide black 30 Teeth
|Shimano XT SL-M8000
|Shimano Deore CS-M5100-11 11-speed 11-51T
|Shimano Deore RD-M5100 11-speed Shadow Plus
|Shimano XT CN-HG701-11
|Surly Clown Shoe 100mm set up tube less using fattystripper (Surly discontinued the Clown Shoes, so it was a tad hard to find two)
|Hope Pro 4 Fatsno Front & Hope Pro 4 Fatsno Rear (in orange, because)
|Surly Bud 26x4.8 (front) / Surly Lou 26x4.8 (rear)
|Beaver Guard Mudguard - Mastodon
|Hayes Dominion A4 4-piston with Hayes D-Series 203mm rotors front & back
|Truvativ Descendant Downhill 25mm 31.8 800mm
|Truvativ Descendant 31.8 40mm
|Cane Creek 40 (came with the frame)
|OneUp Components Dropper Post V2.1 210mm
|Ergon SM Enduro Comp Men M/L
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.