Manuel Beastley has become something of a folk hero since he stomped an international field of competitors at the Sea Otter Classic. Beastley seemingly came from nowhere to stamp his mark of authority on every off road event While the man is gaining a celebrity following—some are even comparing him to Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World”—we thought we’d offer a closer look at the unorthodox fat bike that Beastley piloted into the spotlight.
It’s no coincidence that Manuel rides the “Beast.” While guiding a fly-fishing tour on the Yukon’s Kathleen river, Manuel Beastley met a small team of executives bent on building a fat bike for the masses. Beastley, a longtime believer in fat bikes, shared some concepts. “The production Beast is essentially the same bike that I had built for myself three years ago,” commented Beastley. “Those guys really nailed it.”
“The Beast is virtually indestructible,” stated Beastley, adding that vice grips and a hammer are the only tools necessary to keep the Beast alive. Midway through the weekend, however, the clamp for the coaster brake fell off. “The brake still worked fine—it would loop around and catch on the seat stay—but the twisted spokes keep it all working flawlessly.”
The Beast sports a confidence-inspiring 69-degree head angle. Beastley reports, “That way I can stay calm when I’m riding right at the ragged edge.” Beastley has been clocked at 40+mph on the sand and on the snow, we’d say that the Beast is plenty stable.
Beastley upgraded to a set of Easton Cully-edition Flat Boy pedals. “I’ve been pals with Dave Cullinan for 25 years,” stated Beastley. “I was there in Bromont when Cully won the world championships in 1992. I partied my ass off that weekend.”
Beastley doesn’t believe a front brake is necessary at all for mountain biking, but USA Cycling regulations require brakes on both wheels in competition. “I had a Paul Components cantilever—with clamp-on brake bosses—for each race,” said Beastley. “But I put them away as soon as I crossed the finish line.”
Beastley upgraded the stock handlebar for this 770-millimeter wide, flat-track moto bar. “The bar is stiff and offers just the right amount of sweep,” stated Beastley.
Several editors of Bike Magazine scored a few laps aboard Beastley’s personal ride at the Sea Otter Classic. Frankly, we’re still scratching our heads about Beastley’s performance. Sure, the geometry is dialed—this bike just begs the rider to push the limits in turns and this thing is like a runaway freight train on the descents—but by the time we rode it, the Beast had developed some…quirks.
Right away we noticed a wildly inconsistent pedal stroke. Closer inspection revealed a bent/twisted bottom bracket spindle. We rode the bike with the front brake installed, but quickly realized (with no small degree of panic) that the cantilever was merely there for show. The short cantilever pads on the rim’s painted surface let out a blood-curdling squeal, yet didn’t do much to slow the barreling Beast.
By the end of the weekend, the fork blades were visible bent. Beastley was unperturbed and joked that the bike’s steering “evolved” throughout the event.
CRITICAL MEASUREMENTS (totally shreddable geometry!):
Weight: 48.6lbs. (as shown)
Head Angle (initial): 69 degrees
Seat Angle: 70 degrees
Wheelbase: 43 inches (with axle forward in drop outs)
Effective Top Tube Length: 22.5 inches
Chainstays: 20 inches
BB height: 12.5 inches
Stand Over: 27 inches
Gearing: 38x18t as raced / 38x16t stock gearing