I’m looking at giving the fat bike a try this winter. First at a resort and then hopefully, if I haven’t hurt myself too badly, on some local trails. Fat bikes, or snow bikes, have been around for a while. Since at least the early 20th century, but it has only been fairly recently that they have begun to be manufactured for us, the masses. So since I’m looking into them, like always, I’ll share what I found with you.
While I’m looking at doing this in the snow, I should point out that the fat bike is a great all terrain vehicle. They are mountain bikes and will behave the same way. They are apparently fun on any trail, any time of the year. I’m hoping to find out. Also a great way to extend your outdoor biking season- no need to pedal on a trainer in the garage or basement through the winter months.
some things I now know and you should to before buying
If you know nothing about bikes- that’s ok. Apparently, having looked at some data, millions of people besides you and I are brand new to biking. Covid has got us all out riding. While fat bikes now come in all the fashionable materials and you can even get a custom build. I’m going to do the responsible thing, which just happens to also be what my wife said, and look at what’s in my price range. You can spend as much as you want, my wife doesn’t care, and the price range is pretty vast. Just find one you’re comfortable with and on.
You will ride your fat bike year-round, in the snow, on steep mountain trails (by me anyway), on local single track trails, and even around town as a commuter and errand runner. Dress appropriately for the weather you plan on goofing off in. If it’s winter, as a general rule it’s cold- dress warmly, layer up. Carry a pack, to keep extra layers, an extra pair of dry socks is always a great idea. Get a good helmet- if you’re going to go outside of budget this is where I recommend doing it. Goggles are great, heck- dress like you’re hitting the slopes for some skiing.
Hydration is just as important, if not more so, in the winter. Keep hydrated. Get some insulated bottles and pack something warm to drink, plenty of it. If you prefer water, pack warm/hot water to start. You can add electrolytes or other ingredients to your water to change the freezing point also.
If you’re anything like me nothing wrecks a day faster than cold, wet feet. There is no substitute for warm, snug toes when riding in the winter. In general, no special shoes are required as long as you have a well-insulated (preferably waterproof) shoes and wear thick insulated socks, but there are several excellent shoes and boots designed for snow riding. You can always grab some chemical toes warmers for added comfort, handwarmers too.
As with any activity, new or old, it is always a good idea to be prepared. That is especially important when playing in the cold. It may seem like a bit of overkill but I keep a lighter/fire-starter, emergency blanket, map, compass, pocket knife, and a light in my pack no matter where I’m heading, what I’m doing, or how long I’m going. And very importantly, buddy up. Don’t ride alone and even then, let someone know where you’re going. Really take the same precautions if you’re trail riding as you would hiking.
I’m really looking forward to giving this a try. Keeping fit in the winter can get a bit dull. I’m not a gym rat. I need variety and like being outside. This fat bike thing makes outdoor exercise in the winter seem fun and possible. I suppose I could take up skiing or snowboarding- I’ll have to look into it- never really tried, possible. Used to love ice skating, hockey, but that’s not so possible where I am now. Anyhow, I’ll start with the fat bike then try to not kill myself on a snowboard.