Bike All Winter Long with a Fat Tire Mountain Bike
Here in Colorado we love mountain biking
, and we don’t want to hang up our bikes until spring just because there’s some snow and ice on the trails. Thankfully, we don’t have to. With fat tire mountain bikes we can ride throughout winter.
If you’ve never gone fat tire mountain biking, here’s what you need to know to get started this winter.
What is a fat bike?
, also called snow bikes and fat tire bikes, are a relatively new niche in the biking world. They’ve become extremely popular over the past several years and you may have already seen a few tearing up the trails. The tires can be up to five-inches wide, so they handle extraordinarily well on tricky terrain like ice, snow, and mud. There are differences in handling, but they ride much like a standard mountain bike.
Bike stores across the country now stock these fun bikes, too. Singletracks.com has some great guides on fat tire bikes in different price ranges:
If you don’t want to commit to purchasing a bike, do some research to see if there are any guides and outfitters in your area. Learning the ropes with an expert is a wonderful way to become comfortable biking during the winter, and they’ll show you some great places to ride.
How to dress for winter biking on a fat tire bike
If you’ve never mountain biked in the cold before it may take a few tries to get your clothing setup just right. The general rule of thumb is to wear what you would wear skiing, including warm, waterproof clothing and boots. Many fat bikers even use their ski helmets and goggles while riding, and others always carry a few hand and foot warmers with them just in case.
Since you’ll be dressing in layers and will want to bring some supplies along a backpack is a necessity.
Pack extra warm clothes and throw a hydration bladder in there to keep yourself hydrated throughout your adventure. Veterans suggest filling the bladder with warm water to delay freezing. Don’t forget to bring plenty of snacks, too.
Tire pressure and fat bikes
There’s one major difference between fat bikes and standard mountain bikes that you’re likely to notice right away: the tires aren’t as hard. That’s because you actually want your tires at a lower pressure for snow biking. The lower pressure gives you the traction needed to tackle difficult terrain and you may even feel like you’re floating above the snow.
Since tire pressure can have a massive impact on your fat bike riding, you should always carry a spare pump in your backpack for on-the-fly adjustments.
Preparing for emergencies
If you venture off into the wilderness you need to be prepared, even if you’re riding on a familiar trail. If something happens there won’t be as many people on the trails as usual, so it’s important to ride with a friend. If you’re going solo you absolutely must tell someone where you’re going and when you anticipate returning.
Now, there’s just one thing left to do before you hit the trails: prepare an emergency kit that contains (at the very least) a lighter/fire-starter, space blanket, map, compass, pocket knife, and light.
Now that you know what to expect, what to bring, and how to stay safe, it’s time to ride!