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Framed Minnesota 1.0 Women’s Fat Bike Review

There are few things that can get me down as quickly as being stuck indoors all winter.  Are you the same way?  If you prefer sunshine to LED bulbs in the spinning studio, consider a fat bike.

And it doesn’t have to be an expensive one.  The Framed Minnesota 1.0 is an excellent entry-level fat bike that hasn’t sacrificed quality for price.  No it’s not the fanciest bike and it doesn’t have any bling–but it will get you some mid-winter Vitamin D and that’s priceless.

Riding on the Framed Minnesota 1.0 Fat Bike

Review in a Nutshell

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Quality components including Avid disc brakes
  • Direct-to-consumer business model

Cons:

  • Gearing is a bit heavy
  • Quick-release hubs rather than thru-axle

Price & Where to Buy:

Framed Minnesota 1.0 Fat Bike Detailed Review

Entry-level but Quality Components

The Framed Minnesota 1.0 comes with entry-level but quality components.  I’ve had zero issues so far with the brakes or drive train.  

The bike comes with Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes which I’ve found to be more than adequate for my weight.  In fact, since the Minnesota is a secondary “winter” bike for me, I’m happy to have the mechanical brakes that don’t require much maintenance or thought.  

The drivetrain is a SRAM X4 1×9 setup.  I’ve had no problem with shifting even in slushy, cruddy snow conditions.  My one complaint is the gearing.  With a 32t chainring up front and an 11t-32t cassette, I’m left wishing for a granny gear.  While the gearing might be fine in Minnesota, in the mountains of Utah, I could use a smaller gear.  I’m sure other petite females would have the same complaint. 

Should you choose to go with higher-end components, the Minnesota also comes in a 2.0 and 3.0 version, although only the 2.0 comes in a women’s-specific offering.  
The Minnesota 2.0 has a 2×9  drivetrain with smaller gearing, so if you’re going to be doing much climbing I’d choose to upgrade.  

Respectable Weight

At 33 pounds, the Minnesota 1.0 isn’t a featherlight performer, but it’s not dump-truck hefty either.  Compared to my sub-25 pound trail bike, I can definitely feel the difference in weight, but I consider it good winter training.  Compared to other fat bikes in this price range, the weight is super respectible.

Framed Minnesota 1.0 Fat Bike

Women’s Specific Fat Bike

The “women’s” version of the Framed Minnesota is offered in both a 15″ and 17″ frame.  If you’re a taller lady, you’ll need to opt for the standard Minnesota 2.0 which comes in a 18” and 20″ frame.

What exactly makes it a “women’s bike”?  Aside from the smaller frame size, the bike has pink decals and a women’s-specific saddle.  This is basically a case of “pink it and shrink it”, although it’s still a good option for smaller ladies like myself.  

Wheels and Tires

But what about the most important part of a fat-bike?  The fat tires!  The Framed Minnesota 1.0 Women’s has in-house Aluminum Alloy rims and 26×4.0″ tires.  I’ve found that the tires provide excellent traction and have had no issues with them, even being able to stand up and pedal out of the saddle on hardpack trails.

After riding tubeless tires exclusively for the past 5 years, I was a bit hesitant about riding tubes in the Minnesota, but flats seem to be less of an issue on snow than on rock.  I’ve yet to have a mid-ride tire change, and will update this review once I’ve had the job of that experience. If tubeless is important to you, you’ll need to upgrade your budget as you won’t find tubeless-ready wheels at this pricepoint.

One benefit of quick-release skewers is the ability to tow a trailer without an adaptor

The other thing that’s a bit of a bummer is that the wheels use older quick-release skewers rather than thru axles.  This reduces stability and strength and also means that you need to constantly check that they are tight. Because of the bigger tires, the wheels experience more vibration, and I’ve found that my rear quick-release frequently comes loose.  I check it before each ride.  

Direct-to-consumer model works well

This might earn the ire of my local bike shop friends, but I really dig the direct-to-consumer model that Framed uses.  It keeps the cost of the bikes down and allows you to get one of these bikes wherever you might live.  Delivery was quick, customer service has been good, and assembly of the bike was easy enough.  (At least according to my husband, aka my personal mechanic).

If you’re not comfortable assembling a bike yourself, or if you are a die-hard bike shop supporter, you can also find a list of Framed retailers on their website.  Unfortunately, Framed dealers aren’t all that ubiquitous, so you might have to resort to internet-order anyhow.  

Stuff to Upgrade

There are a few things I’ve upgraded or will upgrade shortly.  The first is to put a smaller chainring on the bike.  This will cost as much as it would have to buy the Minnesota 2.0 in the first place, so definitely think about the gearing before buying.

The second thing is the pedals. The existing pedals are just some cheap plastic Wellgos and I’ve swapped them out with some RaceFace pedals.

Finally, the stem is a bit long for my preference and I think many other smaller ladies will feel the same way.  Luckily, swapping a shorter stem is an easy and relatively cheap upgrade.  

Full Specs: Minnesota 1.0 Women’s

Specs from the Framed website.

Frame: FRAMED Exclusive Oversized 6061 Aluminum Alloy frame. Integrated Headset, Replaceable Derailleur Hanger, Cage Braze-ons, Sealed 100mm Bottom Bracket.
Fork: FRAMED 6061 Aluminum Alloy; oversized straight blade, disc mount. Fits wheels from 26″ x 4.0″ to 29″ x 2″ (135mm QR)
Headset: Neco Headset 1 1/8″ 
Gear: 1X9, Front 32t / Rear 11-32t
Crank Set: Truvativ 32t, 175mm alloy cranks with Square taper fully-replaceable. 
Bottom Bracket: Neco 100mm Sealed
Cassette: Sram 9 Speed Cassette 11-32t
Shifters: Sram X4 9 Speed Trigger Shifters
Front Derailleur: NA
Rear Derailleur: Sram X4 Rear Derailleur.
Chain: KMC X9 Rust Treated
Brakes: Avid BB5 mechanical disc, Inboard Knob Pad Adjustment, G2 CleanSweep 160mm rotors,Tri-Align Caliper Positioning System
Brake Levers: Avid FR-5; Aluminum, Reversible, Flat Rate Pull Reach Adjustment, Qwik-Adjust Barrel Adjuster
Saddle: Velo Plush Women’s specific saddle, designed for performance rides with comfort
Seat Post: FRAMED Lightweight Aluminum Alloy 400mmX30.9mm
Front Hub: Quando 14GA X 32 H Alloy 135mm, Quick Release Axle
Rear Hub: Quando 14GA X 32 H Alloy 170mm, Quick Release Axle
Rims: FRAMED Aluminum Alloy Single Wall Rim, 80mm wide, 32h, Weight Reducing Cut Outs, Double pinned
Tires: FRAMED Minnesota Fat Tire 26″ x 4″ 72 TPI Wire Bead
Weight: 33 lbs 11oz: Framed bases the weight of the MN 1.0 on an average 17″ frame. The exact weight may vary slightly from what is posted.

Warranty
Every Framed Fat Bike frame comes with a 3 year warranty. All components have a 1 year warranty, tires are excluded. The warranty covers defects in materials and craftsmanship, including manufacturing defects. The warranty does not cover any damages or defects caused by abuse, accidents or other incidents that are not the result of normal use of the product. See manufacturer warranty for more information. Warranty is valid for original purchaser only.

Please Note:
All complete bikes are sold and delivered partially assembled. Final assembly and an overall check of the bike must be completed by a qualified bike technician. Failure to have the bike assembled and checked by a qualified technician may void the warranty and could result in damage and/or injury if not assembled correctly.

Bottom-Line: An Entry-Level Fat Bike that Gets The Job Done

The Framed Minnesota 1.0 Women’s is an affordable entry-level bike with decent components.  Nothing is going to break, the weight is respectable, and it gets the job done.  If you just want to get out of the house and off the trainer, this is your bike.  I’ve been having a lot of fun on the Minnesota and have no regrets nor do I feel like need a more expensive bike to do a little snow riding.  If this is going to be your primary bike, you might want to raise your budget, but for a secondary “winter bike”, the Framed Minnesota 1.0 fits the bill.  

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