All-wheel-drive (AWD) for bicycles is one of those things that's been around in one form or another for some time now, but is still mostly considered an oddity. In cases where cyclists have to ride on ice or plough through snowdrifts, however, it starts to make some sense … and when those people are riding across Antarctica, it makes a lot of sense. That's what Australian adventurer Kate Leeming is attempting to do, and if you've got the cash, you can buy an AWD fatbike like the one that she'll be using.
Leeming first approached Philadelphia-based bike-designer Steve Christini about the project in 2013. His company, Christini Bicycles, had started offering AWD mountain bikes in 2001, although it subsequently moved onto manufacturing AWD motorcycles.
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He proceeded to build her a one-off AWD fatbike, which she was apparently quite pleased with. Steve is now producing a line of bikes based on hers, and offering them to buyers via a Kickstarter campaign – some of the proceeds are going towards her expedition.
The AWD can be disengaged when not needed, and starts with a gearing system on the non-chain side of the rear hub. That gear turns a series of drive shafts linked with universal joints, that run up through the seat stay and top tube, into a chain in the head tube, and ultimately down to another gear on the front hub.
It's demonstrated in the following video.
Christini is offering backers two main versions of the aluminum-framed bike: the FAT 4 (equipped with 4-inch-wide tires) and the FAT 5 (with 5-inchers). Along with the AWD, some of the bikes' features include a carbon fork, Avid mechanical disc brakes, and an SRAM GX 1 x 11 drivetrain. They tip the scales at 31 and 33 lb respectively (14 and 15 kg), which actually isn't all that heavy for non-carbon fatbikes.
If you're interested in getting yourself one, though, be prepared to pledge US$4,995 for the FAT 4 or $5,995 for the FAT 5. And should you want a bike specced exactly like Kate's, a five-unit limited-run "KL Edition" of the FAT 4 and 5 can be had for $8,195 or $9,650 a pop – assuming all goes according to plans.
She can be seen trying out her bike, in the video below.
Interestingly enough, this isn't the only fat-tired bike out there that was inspired by a woman's trip to Antarctica. UK-based Inspired Cycle Engineering already offers a fat-trike that's based on one used by British adventurer Maria Leijerstam to ride from the edge of the Antarctic continent to the South Pole.