Posted by Editor on 03/30/16
Last year, we reviewed the Specialized Fatboy in our initial roundup of Fat Bikes. The Fatboy line continues at Specialized (and has added the Hellga women's series), but the S-company has also branched out to straddle the line between trail bikes and fat bikes with the Fuse series.
There are three Fuse models - the Comp ($1999), Expert ($2699) and Pro ($3999) in ascending order. All feature front suspension and 650b wheel diameter with 3.0" width; what Specialized refers to as their 6Fattie Wheel System, which they claim offers better traction and cushioning - compared to a a more traditional tire in the 2.2" - 2.3" width, we assume.
It's an interesting idea; to presumably take the best aspects of fat bikes without the weight penalty and geometry requirements of a full-on fat bike. By the way, there is not much clearance to put on a wider tire in the future.
Specialized Fuse Pro 6Fattie
There are no complaints with the spec - Specialized M4 butted aluminum frame, RockShox Reba RC3 fork with 120mm of travel, SRAM DB5 hydraulic 4-piston disc brakes, SRAM S-2200 carbon crank and SRAM 1x11 X01 rear derailleur with wide-ranging gearing. The tires are the 6Fattie Ground Control; a version of one of Specialized's most venerable tires. The Pro even comes with the 125mm travel Command Post suspension seat post. The models below come with the same frame and a lower level spec.
Command Post suspension seat post
RockShox Reba RC3 fork
SRAM S-2200 carbon crank and SRAM 1x11 X01 rear derailleur
The question is: is the Fuse a Fat Bike? Our answer is: we don't really think so.
It has nothing to do with the quality of the bike or whether we even liked it (we did). But, it doesn't offer that big wheel, 'float on top of the trail', feel that we associate with Fat Bikes.
Whereas the other bikes we were testing rolled along on top of snow, mud and sand, the Fuse acted more like a traditional bike, bogging down in the deep and slushy stuff. On the plus side, it does handle sloppy conditions better then a regular MTB.
The Fuse is a compromise and, like all compromises, there are pros and cons. On the pro side, it is lighter then comparably priced and spec'd fat bikes, and the handling is sharper. On the con side, you lose that big tire feel that is a hallmark of the fat tire genre. The decision comes down to whether the pros outweigh the cons, and that depends on your riding preferences.
The Fuse seems to me to be suited to the rider who is looking for a single bike that will enable them to ride in pretty similar fashion to how they have on an XC/Trail bike, but that also allows them to handle sloppier conditions then they have in the past.
If you are looking for the true fat bike experience this likely isn't your bike, however, if you are looking to broaden your trail riding capabilities, then check out the Fuse.