Product Review: Wren Inverted Fat Bike Suspension Fork with Extreme Winter Damper

I first came across Wren Inverted Suspension Forks before attending Interbike '17.  I contacted Kevin Wren from Wren Sports before heading out to Las Vegas for the convention because I wanted to meet with him and learn more about his product.

I set up an appointment to meet with Kevin and his partner Russ Johnson at their hotel and invited a friend of mine, Charly Tri (owner of My Bike Guy) who was also in town for Interbike.  We sat there with them for about two hours and learned all about their fork design, their Extreme Winter Damper and asked many question that they answered for us.  It was a very informative meeting and I was eager to try out their suspension fork in some very cold Minnesota Winter riding conditions.

Kevin and Russ have had their forks tested all over the world in some extreme climates and were interested in my feedback during a full Minnesota Winter which can see temperatures all over the board.

Not long after our meeting and some follow up technical support questions I had for them regarding tire and wheel size, since I have four different wheelsets and a variety of tire choices, they sent me out the Wren Fatbike Suspension Fork for a 150mm Hub that had 110mm travel.

Out of the package supplied by Wren Sports was the 110mm travel Inverted Suspension fork with 150mm thru-axle, carbon bash guards to protect the stanchions and their Extreme Winter Damper.  To ensure proper installation of the fork and damper I brought them and my bike into Penn Cycle for the work to be done by one of their service professionals, thanks Eric.

During the Fall when the weeds die down is my favorite time to do a little bushwhacking off the beaten path to see where my bike can take me.  This can be a very rough ride on a hardtail fatty with all the varying terrain, tree branches and logs.  I had been used to riding these areas for the past couple of years with a carbon fork, but now I had the opportunity to try it out with the Wren suspension fork.  What a difference it made, it really smoothed out the little bumps and made the big branches and log crossings more comfortable with a lot less jarring on my shoulders, arms and knees.

When bushwhacking I like to ride the biggest tires possible for my bike's clearances (Bontrager Barbegazis-27.5x4.5) to give me maximum flotation over the very bumpy and sometimes soft forest floor.  This is something I could never do with my Rock Shox Bluto fork.  On the 110mm travel Wren suspension fork, I left the 10mm safety clip and added the 10mm travel clip giving me 100mm of travel in order to have the proper tire to crown clearance.  Thanks Wren for engineering a fork that can accommodate these new larger tire/wheel sizes.

The first real test came on December 30th this past Winter when the morning temperature dipped to -17° F.  I loaded up my bike onto my rack and drove to a swampy area with two creeks and some great Winter bushwhacking.  Even though my bike was stored in an unheated garage, the bike and fork became acclimated to the temperature during the drive to the swamp.  This would be the coldest day that I tested the Wren fork.  There would be another day later where the temperature dipped to -11° F where I also did some extreme cold testing.

During both of these subzero rides, the Wren suspension fork with the Extreme Winter Damper was put to the test on both bumpy and smooth terrain.  The fork still worked in these temperatures but was not as quick responding as in temperatures above 0° F.  The ability for any suspension fork to work in these temperatures without seizing up is a real challenge, but Wren has seemed to figure out how to keep it working despite negative temps in the teens.

In late January I got a chance to roll the groomed singletrack of Cuyuna to test out the Wren fork in an environment with much more rolling terrain than here in the Twin Cities.  The temps were in the high 20's° F that day and the Wren fork performed flawlessly smoothing out the ride with all the dips and rollers I rode along.  This was the first Winter in 3 years on this bike that I had front suspension and I really enjoyed the added comfort level.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed riding this last Winter with the Wren Inverted Suspension Fork.  Their TwinAir System made it easy to dial in the feel I wanted for the conditions I would be riding giving me the proper rebound and compression for a smooth ride.  The Keyed Stanchions kept the fork running true preventing twisting and the Extreme Winter Damper that was installed was able to tackle temperatures that other suspension forks would not work properly in.  The ability to accept a large number of wheel/tire combinations with the installation of travel clip(s) to ensure a proper safety (10mm) for muddy or snowy conditions to prevent buildup in the tire/crown gap was also a big selling point for me.  I was always a rigid fork rider in the Winter until I tested this fork and from here on out I'll be using it every Winter to come.

The suspension fork used for testing in this review was installed on a 2016 Trek Farley 9.6.  This fork is available with the standard damper for mountain bikes in 100mm or 110mm hub widths with 110mm or 150mm of travel and for fatbikes with 135mm or 150mm hub widths with 110mm or 150mm of travel for $899.99 direct from Wren Sports.  For more information on the Wren Extreme Winter Damper and pricing, contact Wren Sports via their Contact Page.

Penn Cycle & Fitness
Join us on Saturday, April 21st in the parking lot behind our Bloomington location. From 8:00am to 4:00pm we will have more than 100 New Old Stock bikes and more clothing, shoes, parts and accessories than you can shake a stick at!


MN 30 Days of Biking Events

30 Days of Biking was started back in April of 2010 as pledge between friends and has grown into a worldwide movement.  To join in on 30 Days of Biking all you have to do is make the pledge to ride your bike every day in April whether it's a short roll around the block or a century ride. The distance or destination doesn't matter as long as you get on your bike and ride.  You can share your 30 Days of Biking adventures by using the hashtag #30DaysofBiking on social media.

Below is a list of 30 Days of biking events starting with a Kickoff Party at Surly Brewing and a bunch of kickoff rides on March 31st.  I will continue to add to this list as 30 DOB events become available.  Follow updates for 30 Days of Biking on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

30 Days of Biking Kickoff!-March 28, 2018
Fargo Brewing Company
Fargo, ND

30 Days of Biking: Kickoff Party-March 31, 2018
Surly Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

30 Days of Biking Duluth kick-off Ride-March 31, 2018
Sir Benedicts Tavern on the Lake
Duluth, MN

30 Days of Biking Kickoff Party Pre-Ride-March 31, 2018
Erik's Bike-Board-Ski
Minneapolis, MN

30 Days of Biking Kickoff Party Pre-ride Northeast Mpls-March 31, 2018
Deming Heights Park
Minneapolis, MN

30 Days of Biking: Ride to the Kick-off Party-March 31, 2018
Farmstead Bike Shop
Minneapolis, MN

Kickoff Party Pre-Ride-March 31, 2018
Freewheel Bike
Minneapolis, MN

2018 Kickoff Ride & Afterparty-March 31, 2018
Minnesota State Capitol
St. Paul, MN

SPBC 30 Days of Biking Kickoff Ride!-March 31, 2018
Minnesota State Capitol
St. Paul, MN

SSR's intimidation-free slow roll to the #30DaysofBiking kickoff party!-March 31, 2018
Seven Spokes Bike Shop
St. Paul, MN

30 Days of Biking-April 1-30, 2018
Facebook Page

30 Days of Biking: Ice Cream Ride-April 1, 2018
Farmstead Bike Shop
Minneapolis, MN

30 Years of Biking + 30 Days of Biking-April 1, 2018
Maple Grove Cycling
Maple Grove, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 3, 2018
Lake Monster Brewing
St. Paul, MN

30 Days of Biking: Thursday Ride Series-April 5, 2018
Surly Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

In which we ride bikes and eat pastries-April 7, 2018
Perennial Cycle
Minneapolis, MN
4-6 miles

30 Days of Biking: Movie Night-April 8, 2018
Farmstead Bike Shop
Minneapolis, MN

30 Days of Biking: Taco Tuesday-April 10, 2018
Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Falls
Minneapolis, MN

30 Days of Biking: Thursday Ride Series-April 12, 2018
Surly Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 14, 2018
56 Brewing
Minneapolis, MN

In which we ride bikes and eat pastries-April 14, 2018
Perennial Cycle
Minneapolis, MN
4-6 miles

30 Days of Biking: Family Ride--Three Playground Tour!-April 15, 2018
Farmstead Bike Shop
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 15, 2018
Pryes Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 17, 2018
Bent Brewstillery
Roseville, MN

30 Days of Biking: Thursday Ride Series-April 19, 2018
Surly Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

Tiny Bike Shop Concert featuring the Decayed Realms-April 20, 2018
Perennial Cycle
Minneapolis, MN

30 Days of Biking: Record Store Day Ride-April 21, 2018
Farmstead Bike Shop
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 21, 2018
Pryes Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

In which we ride bikes and eat pastries-April 21, 2018
Perennial Cycle
Minneapolis, MN
4-6 miles

30 Days of Biking: Campout Fake-Out-April 22, 2018
Farmstead Bike Shop
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 22, 2018
56 Brewing
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 23, 2018
Pryes Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 24, 2018
Lake Monster Brewing
St. Paul, MN

30 Days of Biking: Thursday Ride Series-April 26, 2018
Surly Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 28, 2018
Utepils Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN

In which we ride bikes and eat pastries-April 28, 2018
Perennial Cycle
Minneapolis, MN
4-6 miles

30 Days of Biking: Bikes & Music-April 29, 2018
Farmstead Bike Shop
Minneapolis, MN

Ben Weaver's: 30 Days of Biking River Ramble IV-April 29, 2018
Perennial Cycle
Minneapolis, MN
Online Registration

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 29, 2018
Bent Brewstillery
Roseville, MN

Bike and a Pint or 2-April 30, 2018
Sisyphus Brewing
Minneapolis, MN

30 Days of Biking Celebration Rides-April 30, 2018
Sir Benedicts Tavern on the Lake
Duluth, MN

Grand Finale Campout with 30 Days of Biking & Surly Brewing-May 5-6, 2018
Surly Brewing Company
Minneapolis, MN


6th Annual Filthy 50 Registration Opens March 20th

The Filthy 50 returns in 2018 for its sixth year and has become a tradition for many gravel enthusiasts.  Cyclists come from all over Minnesota and neighboring states to the small town of Stewartville to race on the rolling gravel roads of Olmstead and Filmore Counties.  The scenery along the route is amazing and at the end of the race you will know why it was named The Filthy 50.

The Filthy 50 has introduced many to the joys of riding gravel and for some it was their first gravel race.  October gravel is amazing with the Fall colors, scenery and weather this area offers to those that take the challenge.  I highly recommend that you register and experience this race that is very special to me and many others that continue to do it year after year.  Below are the details, rules and a special message from race director Trenton Raygor.

The Details
  • The 6th annual Filthy 50 will take place on Sunday, October 14th, 2018.
  • The event will start and end on the north end of Stewartville, MN. The mass neutral rollout will take place at 10am and the riders will have until 4pm to officially finish.
  • Thanks to our incredible sponsors and those from the community who have taken the time to donate or volunteer, registration for The Filthy 50 will continue to be FREE for the 6th year in a row! That’s right, no payment required, though donations are accepted and greatly appreciated.
  • Registration will open on Tuesday, March 20th at 12PM CST and can be completed quickly online. Visit http://the-filthy-50.com/registration to register before the 1000 rider cap is reached. You must register with us to ride. There will be no walk-up registration on the day of the event.
  • In addition to our 50 mile route, we are bringing back The Pretty Filthy (24 Mile) and The Little Filthy (12 Mile) alternate routes for a third year due to popular demand. We hope that these routes inspire more rookies to see what riding gravel is all about.
  • We know that many of you love the results at the end of the day, so we aim to continue that tradition. However, this year we will also be offering a category for those who would prefer to remain unaffiliated with the results. Look for it on the registration form.
  • IMPORTANT: This event is completely unsupported. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU. Bring EVERYTHING that you need for the distance you are choosing to ride. Expect absolutely NOTHING to be provided to you on the day of the event before or during the ride. Remember, it can get rough out there, so be prepared.
  • GPX and TCX files, as well as cue sheets, will be made available for download to all riders who end up on our official roster. The course is unmarked, so this is critical information. Make sure to have your cycling computer loaded or cue sheets printed prior to checking in.
  • Elevation profiles of the course and other exciting pieces of information will be provided through Filthy 50 social media prior to Sunday, October 14th. Find us and follow us!
  • Between registration and October 14th, those on the official roster will be sent email communications regarding event day logistics as well as some other crucial information on what to expect. Wait for it and don’t forget to check those “SPAM” and “Promotions” folders.

The Rules
It is of utmost importance to us that everyone stays safe and enjoys The Filthy 50. These are the rules.  We think they are reasonable.
  1.  You are 100% on your own. Be prepared. 
  2.  You must REGISTER to ride with us. 
  3.  This ride is unsupported. Bring EVERYTHING with you that you will need. 
  4.  Always wear your helmet. 
  5. Respect the course and those who live there. Please do not litter. Leave no trace.
  6.  Obey all TRAFFIC LAWS
  7.  If nature calls during your ride, please do not please do not answer it in front of others. 
  8.  Ride safely. 
  9.  You are responsible for you.
  10.  Have fun and use good judgement. 
We try to keep it simple, so if you require more detail, please CONTACT US.

Here’s a little throwback video to 2013, which was the first year of The Filthy 50.

"Race it and set a record. Ride it and take in the beauty. Either way, get filthy." - Unknown


In addition to many fine people like yourself, these very generous sponsors help make The Filthy 50 happen. Please support them like they support us!

ADAM TURMAN - A professional illustrator & poster artist from the Twin Cities.

BANJO BROTHERS - Tough. Practical. Affordable. Bike Bags.

BELCH - Comfortably unrefined.

BELL LAP COFFEE - Small batch artisan roasted coffee beans.

 BICYCLE SPORTS - A full service bike shop in Rochester, MN.

BUCKNELL CONSTRUCTION, INC. - Meeting your construction needs, located in Stewartville, MN.

FAREWAY - An economical food store located in Stewartville, MN.

GLATT PHYSICAL THERAPY - Physical therapy. Bike Fitting. Wellness.

 HED - The best wheels on the planet. Period.

THE HUB BICYCLE CO-OP - The Twin Cities’ only cooperatively owned bike shop.

JUST RIDE MINNESOTA -  Cycling apparel. Just ride.

KATE'S REAL FOOD - Real Food. Real Energy.

KURT KINETIC - Making the BEST indoor trainers from Minneapolis, MN.

MARKMAN OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY - Capture the great outdoors.

PANARACER - Between you and the ride.

 PENN CYCLE - Your Twin Cities bike shop since 1957.

RIDING GRAVEL.COM - The gravel enthusiast’s resource.

 ROCHESTER CYCLING - A Rochester, MN bike shop for all of your bike needs.

SUNSHINE SANITATION - Sanitation professionals from Stewartville, MN.

 SURLY BREWING - Give a damn. Do good. Drink beer.

TWIN SIX -  Classically influenced cycling.

Despite this being a free event, it wouldn’t be able to happen as intended without the support of these amazing sponsors and incredible volunteers.  If you are interested in sponsoring this year, please send an email to thefilthy50@gmail.com.  You can also show your support by donating to The Filthy 50 here.  For those not racing that would like to volunteer you can do so by sending an email to the above address.

From the Director

The late great Mike Hall used to say, “Nothing that’s worth anything is ever easy”. I suppose that’s why all of you keep coming back every year, oh yeah...and for the Surly as well. Is The Filthy 50 easy or is it hard? For many of you, just showing up at the start line for your first gravel ride traversing unfamiliar countryside at a distance that you’ve never attempted before is hard. For you riders who are experienced, I would argue that your Filthy 50 will be as hard as you make it. Even for me as an organizer, I’ve been told by many of you that I’ve chosen the hard way. Maybe.

Here’s one incredible thing about The Filthy 50. I’ve been fortunate enough to have folks riding alongside of me this entire way. Whether I take us into a roaring headwind or up a seemingly endless climb, just when the legs can’t take it anymore, someone steps up and takes a pull. [cycling metaphors you guys] To our amazing sponsors, to those of you who have participated in the "MEAT RAFFLE", to those who have donated anonymously, to my mom, dad, brother, sister, my wonderful family and talented friends who have volunteered time, skills, and ideas, to the first time rider, to the veteran racer, to the surrounding communities; Thank you. I wouldn’t have made it here alone and I couldn’t keep this up without you.

This year, we plan to bring back some of your favorite Filthy traditions, including the perfect weather [just kidding, this year it’s going to be 35 and raining], the “Meat Raffle”, “The Fast 50”, as well as “The Filthy Party” which will be waiting for you at the finish line. Beer lovers rejoice as Minnesota’s finest, Surly Brewing Company, is back and has once again promised to pour you free pints AND our friends at Fareway have assured us that they will be supplying another free crate of ice cold Root Beer for all of you non beer drinkers to enjoy. How amazing are our sponsors? “But I need post ride brats and burgers!” Never fear, the Rochester High School MTB Team will be slingin’ grilled eats for you as well.

This year, we also plan on trying some new things. We intend to celebrate the mid-pack and lantern rouge riders with a special something for “The Last 50”! Our chip timing system will be back in action this year [thanks to my brother Jackson] and will allow us to make the aforementioned possible. We also plan to add a course photographer or two and will be throwing in a few new features at the finish. Lastly, I cannot divulge too much at this point, but for those of you arriving in Stewartville the day before, there will be a VERY SPECIAL something happening here on Saturday, October 13th. Stay tuned for more information on that as the plan unfolds.

When we started this ride, I thought I knew where we were going. Turns out, five years in is when I finally realize that the only thing I truly know is where we’ve been. As our friends over at Twin Six would recommend, keep moving, “Forever Forward”, and we do. However, after reaching a mile marker like this one, we appreciate you all for putting a foot down with me, allowing me to crack this pocket beer and reflect on the roads, rivers, valleys and vistas that we’ve discovered together. You’ve already got me looking forward to what’s next. Thank you for riding with us.



Seven Open Streets MPLS Dates Announced for 2018

Open Streets MPLS returns for its eighth year with seven events that cover all quadrants of the city including the University of Minnesota.  What started as one event in 2011 has grown into something big that gives cyclists, pedestrians, skaters and skateboarders a new way to see the city without automobile traffic.  These events are a great way to explore these neighborhoods, their local businesses and meet new people in a fun, family-friendly way.  And best of all, they are all free.  So grab your bike, walking shoes, skateboard or skates and enjoy these neighborhood streets that are free from traffic for one day.

Thanks to the Our Streets Minneapolis, the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross)City of Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Foundation Real Estate Advisers, AARP Twin Cities and All Energy Solar for making these events possible.  These events have brought out thousands of people to see these neighborhoods in a way that is not possible during the rest of the year.

Local community members plan out these events and around 100 volunteers are needed for each one.  If you would like to volunteer for any of the Open Streets MPLS events, visit the Open Streets Volunteer page and fill out the sign up form.

 Open Streets MPLS Dates

Sunday, June 10th
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Lyndale Ave. S
from 22nd St. W to 54th St. W

Sunday, July 22nd
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
E. Lake St. from Elliot Ave to Minnehaha Ave;
Minnehaha Ave from Lake St. to
E. Minnehaha Parkway/Godfrey Parkway

Sunday, August 5th
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Central Ave. NE,
22nd Ave. NE, Monroe St. NE, 
and E. Hennepin Ave.

Sunday, August 26th
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Franklin Ave. E
from Portland Ave. to 28th Ave. S

Saturday, September 15th
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
West Broadway from 
Penn Ave. N to Lyndale Ave. N

Sunday, September 23rd
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Nicollet Ave.  
from W Lake St.  to 46th St. W

Sunday, September 30th
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
14th Ave. SE, 
 University Ave. SE, 
 and Oak St. SE


2018 Arrowhead 135 Stories

The Arrowhead 135 is a human powered ultra-endurance marathon that takes place every year during the coldest part of Winter.  Participants have 60 hours to complete the 135 mile trek from International Falls to Fortune Bay Casino in Tower on the Arrowhead State Trail.  Racers are required to stop at three checkpoints (unless racing unsupported) that are spaced about 35 miles apart, where race officials can pull a racer due to frostbite or other medical concerns. Participants must run, ski or bike the distance with their sub-zero survival gear,  no outside help except from other racers or race officials and they must follow a strict set of race rules out on the course.

Image Credit: Christopher Tassava

This year's race saw Jay Petervary miss a course record by only a minute and take his third Arrowhead 135 title while Sveta Vold took first place both unsupported and overall for the women.  The extreme cold weather conditions were a contributing factor that had 56 of the 72 cyclists completing the race under the 60 hour cut-off.  I have compiled all of the stories, photos and news articles of  racers who chose bike propulsion pertaining to this year's epic race.  For full race results, click here.

Image provided by Sveta Vold

Race Participants:  Bike Propulsion

Ben Doom-2nd Men, 2nd
Sveta Vold-1st Unsupported Women, 1st Woman, 24th
Find your limits. Arrowhead 135

James Kiffmeyer-24th Men, 25th
James Kiffmeyer

Whitney Beadle-2nd Woman, 29th

Christopher Tassava-29th Men, 32nd

Travis Van Neste-30th Men, 33rd

Erv Berglund-40th Men, 45th

Jacklyn Carlson-Hayes-7th Woman, 54th
The Arrowhead Ultra 135 - 2018

Back of the Pack Racing-Multiple Racers/Results
Image Credit: Sveta Vold




Bike Jacket First Impressions

Since getting my first tray rack bike rack (Saris SuperClamp) a couple of years ago, I have had the problem of road grime and salt getting all over my drivetrain, wheels and cables causing problems and corrosion.  I would have to immediately rinse my bike down with warm water as soon as I got home to prevent further damage.  There is now a new product called the Bike Jacket that eliminates this hassle and protects valuable wheels and components during winter driving.

Getting to and from the trailhead with your fatbike on a tray-style rack in snowy or wet road conditions can really make a mess of your bike.  Bike Jacket owner Amy Middleton had experienced this problem and came up with a solution for it.  The Bike Jacket comes in two sizes to fit most fatbike wheel/tire combinations.  Regular fits tires up to 26"x 4.5" and Large fits tires 26"x 4.5" to 27.5" x 4.5".

Studded tires could tear up conventional materials but Amy had this in mind during manufacturing.  Go ahead and put your studded tires in the Bike Jacket, it's durable lining can handle it.

Even with a suspension fork, the Bike Jacket fits. Simply zip the zipper around the wheel and and secure the hook and loop fastener behind the fork for a custom fit.

Protecting the drivetrain is key when using the Bike Jacket, it completely covers the wheel, cassette and front chainring from any road grime and salt.

As you can see by the above picture, both brake lights and the license plate are easily visible using the Bike Jacket. When covering your back wheel and drivetrain, make sure to secure the Bike Jacket using the hook and loop fasteners in a way so that it doesn't cover your license plate.

When not in use or after hosing off to clean, simply hang the Bike Jacket up to dry and store.

Fatbike wheels and components are expensive and the Bike Jacket is a great way to protect your investment.  Not only is it good for Winter but will also get plenty of use during the transitional periods during the Fall and Spring when the roads can get a bit messy.  The Bike Jacket is available from BikeJacket.net for $299.00 and can be shipped anywhere in the USA and Canada.

Disclosure:  Bike Jacket provided a sample to use for this article but offered no other form of compensation for this review.
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