The Chumba USA Ursa Major Titanium 1.0 offers a well-built, high-performing fat tire bike versatile enough to handle everything from beach cruising to snowy trail rides. The quality construction and handling even allow the bike to do alright in traditional mountain biking contexts.
Named for the constellation Ursa Major, "the Great Bear," this bike feels positively beastly. The stellar-chart inspired name also speaks to the bike's ability to handle serious adventure, from quick after-work rides to fully loaded bikepacking trips deep into the backcountry.
In this review, we'll take a closer look at the Chumba USA Ursa Major Titanium 1.0, including some of the highlights and downsides.
About Chumba USA
Chumba bicycles pride themselves on handcrafted, made-in-the-USA bikes that meet everyone's highest standards, from amateur riders to pros.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Chumba offers a full line of mountain bikes, fat tires, gravel bikes, and road bikes. Each product comes proudly adorned with a USA sticker, signifying that each bike is built by hand in the United States.
Each bike is constructed by expert in-house welders who painstakingly put together high-quality materials, using specific geometry to create bikes that perform exquisitely. Their dedicated crew loves bikes, and it shows. They take the time to personally inspect everything from the tubes to the handlebars to make sure it meets Chumba's high standards.
They also create custom bicycles. That means if you have a specific design in mind for a frame that can accommodate your frame, they can get it done. Their bikes' capabilities speak for themselves, as testified by their roster of accomplished cyclists.
Alexandera Houchin of Team Chumba won the Tour Divide bike race in 2018 and 2019 on a Chumba, even setting the record on the grueling 2,000+ race from the Canadian border to the Mexican border along the spine of the Rocky Mountains.
In addition to bicycles, Chumba offers an array of accessories. They have bikepacking bags, water bottle cages, axels, rubber grommets, apparel, stickers, and badges among their non-bike offerings.
Chumba is proud of their products, and rightly so. Their commitment to quality control, sustained by running a small operation of hand-built products by cyclists for cyclists, has made them a leader in the adventure bike world.
What We Like Best
The first question with fat tire bikes is: where will it work best? For a lot of fatties, a sandy beach or snowy trail really allows them to shine. The wide tires make them a little harder to pedal than traditional bikes, and they often run a little heavier than their skinny-tire cousins.
Not the Ursa Major. This bike has enough float to handle the traditional fat tire haunts, but with a little extra PSI in the tires, it performs incredibly well on even the tight turns and loose berms of rugged singletrack.
Part of that performance comes from expert design. The geometry allows for exceptional control and weight distribution so that riders can attack the trail aggressively. While many fat tires sometimes cause riders to hit their heels or calves against the tire - especially with a backset design - the Ursa Major accommodates riders of all sizes (particularly taller ones) without issues.
Again, this comes back to Chumba's commitment to quality control. When designing a frame, they test it on a wide variety of riders and adjust the puzzle pieces just enough to eliminate those issues without sacrificing performance.
The steel front fork handles punishment well, but Chumba also offers an upgrade to the RockShox Bluto for an additional fee. This upgrade seriously ups the Ursa Major's toughness, but even without it, the bike handles aggressive riding well.
Last but not least, Chumba left no design feature unconsidered. The bolts and holes' placement to accommodate water bottle cages and bikepacking bags suits the Ursa Major well. Even fully loaded down, the bike maintains its handling capabilities without disrupting the rider.
What We Don't Like
First and foremost, the brake levers on the Ursa Major come up a little short - though not literally. The pull requires two or even three fingers for full engagement, which presents some problems on a technical descent where having all fingers available for handlebar stabilization is paramount.
Furthermore, the Ursa Major has no easy way to adjust those brake levers except by lengthening the cable, so the lever closes a little distance to the handlebars. Unfortunately, this only makes it more challenging to engage the brake fully.
In terms of ride, the front wheel does tend to seek out obstacles like big rocks and bounce off of them rather than charging through. Reducing the tire pressure will mitigate some of that effect, and to an extent, that behavior occurs with a lot of fat-tire bikes.
Lastly, the steel fork on the front wheel provides a little less give on impacts of the front wheel. The option to upgrade to a RockShox Bluto dramatically improves the experience, but the "base" model might present some discomfort on a spirited descent.
Ultimately, finding things we didn't love required a little nitpicking. The Ursa Major has far more pros than cons, and Chumba offers some solutions for what few faults that do exist.
The Ursa Major Titanium 1.0 is, without a doubt, a top-of-the-line fat tire bike. It comes with a fairly hefty price tag, but you can feel good knowing that the product supports American jobs and USA manufacturing. You also know that you can talk directly with the manufacturers thanks to their excellent customer service, and even get the bike customized to enhance your ride.
If you live in a climate with snow on the ground some of the year, this bike will keep you active. And unlike other fat tires, when the snow melts, the Ursa Major will still be ready to give you an amazing day, or even several days on the trail powered by your own two feet.