Fat Sand Tour
I recently took a tour of the amazing manufacturing plant of Fat Sands out of Deerfield Beach, Florida. Their production facilities are amazing and their gear is perfect for cruising around all the various terrain Florida has to offer. From sandy beaches to the treacherous glades, these fat bikes do it all.
Components of the Factory
I met Tommi, our beautiful and gracious host on the showroom floor. She showed me the various models and customization options available to all consumers. Customers can choose from a variety of colors, frame sizing, and accent details. The bikes retail somewhere between $500 and $800 depending on the options selected.
We then moved to the back of the building. The warehouse is filled with a variety of machining tools and work benches. There was also an enormous machine that I could not recognize. Tommi told me it was an industrial water softener. Because of all the iron and uneven pH levels in the water around the Florida coast, an industrial water softener is essential to the manufacturing process. During the welding process, if the water is not balanced and has a controlled iron content, the metal can warp.
Industrial water softeners are very specialized products and Fat Sands had to have theirs custom built by Robert B. Hill Co. out of Minnesota. The water softener itself is made up of boilers and has tons of pipes and valves sticking out every which way. Because there is so much going on in the factory around them, the commercial water softener has to be explosion proof. It is a pretty crazy contraption.
Pretty crazy stuff! Photo courtesy of Hillwater.com
I am sorry to bore you with this, but I had never seen anything like this. After the exposition on the water softener, Tommi guided me through the various tools they use. Other than the array of welding and molds, because the bikes are made out of aluminum, most of the equipment is fairly recognizable to anyone who has been in a bike shop.
Finally, an employee, whose name escapes me, showed me how their infamous tires are made. Despite the size, there was nothing really novel about the wheels. Anyone who has put spokes on a wheel knows this process. Still though, it looked much more difficult because the wheel itself is large; while only 26″, the wheels width is 4″.
After the tour, I took one of the bikes from the showroom on a little test drive. The fat wheels really do make all the difference and I was riding through sand no problem. I had tried other fat bikes before, but I really liked the smooth tires on the sand. The other fat bikes I have ridden were largely for snow.
Salsa mukluk, better for the snow.
Overall, I was surprised at how light the bike was. This is a benefit for a beach cruiser. I have to give a big thanks to everyone at the factory for showing me a wonderful time and I strongly encourage you to check out their stuff.