Before we get into details, I think the story behind Borealis is rather interesting. The Fat Bike Company started in the fall of 2012, when Adam Miller and Steve Kaczmarek met while Adam was studying entrepreneurship at Colorado College. Steve was an Adjunct Professor helping with the program. With Adam’s history working with fatbikes.com and 9zero7 and Steven’s sales and marketing background, one thing lead to another and they decided to go into business together. Did I mention Adam is only 22 years old?
“everything that you see here is sold, we’re just trying to keep up.”
So when we heard at Interbike about the Yampa, a fat bike that was sub 22 pounds, we were instantly intrigued. We made our way to Colorado Springs in December to get a tour of the warehouse and pick up a bike to test out for a few months. The small little brick building they call home in downtown Colorado Springs is well hidden, you would never know a bike manufacture would be inside. Adam welcomed us in for a tour, he said “everything that you see here is sold, we’re just trying to keep up.” There was a lot of stuff in that small warehouse. Adam sent us on our way with their Yampa X.9/X0 version. The polished carbon fiber frame stood out like a sore thumb, the bike is truly a thing of beauty.
The Yampa comes in a few different versions, the XX1, XO1, and the X.9/X.O. Their obvious goal… to make the lightest fat bike on the market. Especially with the growth of fat bike races, why not make a bike that is race friendly. All Yampas are made up of a carbon fiber frame, with a 190mm rear end. This ensures you can fit the biggest tires on the biggest rims for maximum flotation. The bike comes with a wide 100mm bottom bracket shell. The frame also comes with internal routing and a tapered headtube. Another super cool feature is the 4 built in eyelets on the seat stays for your rear rack.
Not Just Frames:
The Fat Bike industry is so young, it only makes sense to do everything you can as soon as you can, to not only get your name out there but to maximize profits. They decided to manufacture their FH1 hubset and FF1 carbon fork. The FH1 front hub is your standard 135mm, 32 hole that comes in at a mere 204 grams. It’s built around the 15mm through axle fork, but end caps can be purchased for QR. The rear hub is 190mm, 32 hole with a 30 point engagement body. The free hub can be swapped out with their XD driver body to fit your XX1 cassette. The Hub comes in at a weight of 339 grams without the QR skewer. The funny long skewer weighs in at 62 grams. The FF1 carbon fork is a thing of beauty. The 135mm spaced fork comes in at 660 grams with the 15mm thru axle. The lightest mountain bike fork that is currently on the market.
Borealis went with Sram components, XX Brakes, XO shifters and rear derailleur. X9 crankset and front derailleur. TRUVATIV Noir T40 Riser Bar 720mm, Stylo T20 stem and seatpost, and WTB Rocket V saddle. Surly Rolling Darryl rims held 45 NRTH’s Husker DÜ’s up front and Dillinger tires on the rear.
Hopping on the bike in the parking lot gave me flashbacks of riding my Specialized Stumpjumper HT. The Yampa is very nimble feeling, more like a race bike then a fat bike. The feel crosses over in the performance of the bike, and you can initially see this when climbing. At times I forgot I was on a fat bike. The geometry set me up perfectly for climbs, which is important on snow. Standing out of the saddle was when I noticed how capable the bike was. It is stiff, making sure you don’t waste any effort. I went tubeless with the rims, unfortunately, I did not get the chance to test out the Carbon Carbondale rims. I had to mess around with the PSI for super dry, fluffy snow, but once I did the 4 inch tires were more than enough.
On the downhill I noticed it to be much more maneuverable than any other fatbike I have used. The 15mm thru axle helped it turn over in cornering and helped on tight snowy singletrack. I also didn’t notice the “fat bike feel” up front where the wheel wants to turn over on either direction while going straight. The 82mm Rolling Darryl’s and tires had something to do with that.
The Yampa made it’s way up to the Arrowhead Ultra in Northern Minnesota. I loved using the Yampa for bikepacking because it is so light, adding bags adds weight, and to be able to keep weight down after its all said and done is important. Did I mention this bike likes to go fast, in a short 10 mile race last week, the bike instantly took off needing to be up front. The 30 point hubs quickly helped pass folks without putting too much hurt on your legs. Snowy singletrack is fun, and we were surprised how well the Husker DÜ tires up front hooked up to the snow.Whether you’re in the market for a race bike or just don’t want to be dragged down anymore, the Borealis Yampa is the right bike for you. A few changes are in store for next year, they will be making replacement end caps for the rear hub to make it 12mm compatible, that leads us to believe that the frame will also get an upgrade next year. Only time will tell, but anything Borealis is doing is a good thing for the fat bike industry. Pricing: XX1 – $5549 XO1 – $4695 XO/X9 – $3599