With the hidden benefit of less outrigging, the bike handles much more like a mountain bike, which increases the winter-riding stoke factor exponentially.
Otso Cycles is a new bike company created by the engineers at Wolf Tooth Components in Minnesota who are dedicated to packing innovations, attention to detail and new ideas into their fun-to-ride bikes.
The Voytek is Otso's carbon-fibre hardtail mountain bike engineered around the Plus-Fat concept and designed to be ridden as a 27.5+, 29+, 29'er or fatbike with the ability to accommodate up to 26x4.6” tires on 70mm rims. Tested was the rigid fatbike configuration with 26x4.0” Terrene tires.
Otso's engineers have been riding fatbikes ever since they have been readily available as mass-production bicycles, and with their experience and expertise, decided to try and improve the sluggish feel that fatbikes traditionally have. Instead of designing the bike around the size of tire, Otso engineered the bike from the bottom bracket out. By using the 83mm DH bottom-bracket standard, Otso is able to narrow the Q-factor by 20mm over the normal fatbike standard, thus bringing the riders' feet within a normal pedaling range under the hips.
The high-end carbon Taiwanese-built frame features more carbon and less fibreglass and filler, a detail you really notice when you pick up the deceivingly light frame and look closely at its construction and aesthetics.
Not only does a narrower Q-factor improve your biomechanics, but it was also my experience that the bike handles better. When riding the Voytek, I noticed the bike cornered better than a traditional fatbike due to the reduction in leverage provided by the narrower Q-factor. Imagine an outrigger boat – the “outrig” stabilizes and prevents the boat from tipping. On a fatbike, the wider Q-factor acts like an outrigger, making it harder to tip the bike into a corner. The Voytek rides more like a traditional mountain bike, making it easier to lean into and rail corners.
Speaking of railing corners, the Voytek is equipped with the shortest chainstays of any production fatbike (430mm). The patent-pending Tuning Chip rear-dropout system allows the chainstay length to be changed from a nimble 430mm to an in-between position of 440mm to a stable 450mm length. I tested the Voytek in the 430mm position and found the ride extremely playful and fun. Coupled with the added benefit of the above-mentioned narrow Q-factor, I ripped corners that I regularly ride so swiftly that it gave me a perma-grin.
The modern geometry, with its slacker headtube angle and shorter
chainstays, really does blur the line between a plus bike and a fatbike, as Otso suggests. With the narrowest Q-factor of any production fat-tire-compatible bike, the Voytek feels like a mountain bike, and opens up a new dimension in summer or winter riding with its potential to be the one mountain bike for all seasons. I found the geometry spot on, and its handling really does feels more like that of a mountain bike than that of a traditional fatbike.
The Voytek has been built with a “no compromise spec,” and features a Shimano 1x11 drivetrain and disc brakes, DT Swiss 340 177 and 150mm hubs, custom 70mm Lithic Rhyolite aluminum tubeless compatible rims and Terrene Wazia tires. These fundamental parts have been carefully selected to deliver a superior ride, while customizable options are available that upgrade cranks, cockpit, wheels and tires. The shifting and braking was flawless, even in sub -20°C temperatures, and the Terrene tires, set up tubeless, hooked up exceptionally well in snow-packed singletrack.
The Voytek was a pleasure to ride. In winter-riding conditions, it performs as you would like a fatbike to, without any sluggish, heavy feel. The narrow Q-factor is a significant benefit, as it also does away with any knee pain that may arise from prolonged wider-leg pedaling. With the hidden benefit of less outrigging, the bike handles much more like a mountain bike, which increases the winter-riding stoke factor exponentially.