Bearclaw Bicycle Co. was born out of the need to make the fat bike we wanted to ride. As we saw fat bikes grow, we had a hard time finding one that delivered everything we were looking for. Most models were too slack to feel like fast, quick race bikes, whether on snow or dirt. Many had suspension corrected frames that brought the front end up too high and slowed handling. The raciest bikes could only fit four inch tires, not the five inch tires that we want for exploration or ungroomed trails near where we rode. Most fat bikes weren't coming with 1x drivetrains, or carbon rims, or the right mix of components. In short, we wanted to build the bike we wanted to ride.
Owner Jason Lowetz spent countless hours and almost two years perfecting our frame. The first prototypes arrived in late 2013, and we went to work. Three more test frames were put through the paces, combining plus wheels, fat wheels, and year-round riding conditions under some of our fastest riding buddies. They were told to try to break them, to push the frame to its limits, to let the miles add up and to tell us what they thought. The final production frame arrived to us the night before North America's biggest one-day mountain bike race, the Iceman Cometh Challenge. It was the perfect stage to debut our bike, and located in our backyard in Traverse City, Michigan.
Two frames entered the race, and our BBCo. test riders went for first and third thanks to Cody Sovis and Mike Tettleton. The legend was born. The frame's racing pedigree was confirmed that winter during the Short's Brewing Fat Bike Series, where riders on Balthazars took the Men's and Women's Series titles thanks to Ryan Kennedy and Liz Belt.
The 2016 Iceman Cometh was the icing on the cake for our first full year as a bike company. Cody retained his fat bike category title, while sportingly hopping into the Pro race later in the afternoon with 27.5+ tires. He became the first person to ride the Iceman twice in a day, both races on a Balthazar.
As fast as our bikes are, we're just as excited about where they'll take you. The Balthazar has been the platform for big bikepacking trips, exploring unmapped trails all over the Midwest, and taking the long way home after work.
Our Thunderhawk titanium road bike has been designed with the same spirit as the Balthazar. We wanted a bike we could ride everyday, no matter what was on the table. From the local road race to singletrack, gravel fondos and the cross country classic every fall, the Thunderhawk picks up where the Balthazar leaves off. Responsive and quick handling characteristics combined with room for 40mm+ tires. Go ahead and win your local road race on Saturday then toss your wider tires on and explore the backwoods Sunday.
We're excited about the different build options we offer for our Balthazar and Thunderhawk, making it easy to find the groupset and spec that fits your riding style. We've partnered with Sram, 45nrth, Schwalbe, WTB, Ritchey, Thomson, HED, DT Swiss, Industry Nine, Raceface, and Orange Seal to offer the best.