Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle in the snow? It wasn’t very fun, was it? It’s been tried before. Cleats, studded tires, even lightweight tire chains have all been utilized in an effort to make bicycles roll in the winter snow and ice, but nothing really worked. Snow-related bicycling issues are much of the reason that the FATBIKE was invented. Rolling on giant, almost motorcycle, dirt-bike sized wheels, FATBIKES look markedly different from regular mountain bikes, and wow, do they work in the snow.
Although they are also now being ridden in sand and dirt, the FATBIKE actually got its start in the Alaskan snow in the mid 90’s. In fact, the first bike was initially called a SNOWBIKE when it first came out, before the name was changed to FATBIKE. All FATBIKES have wider than normal rims, but when gearing up for snow riding, they really run wide rims, sometimes several inches wide.
The big, wide rims and low tire pressures (as low as 5 psi) are the reason that these tires will roll where regular bicycle wheels simply sink and get stuck. FATBIKE riders have several different tire choices, ranging from low profile, which works best for dirt and hard packed snow, whereas wider, more open patterns are utilized for riding in deep, softer snow. And the big tires are more sensitive to changes in air pressure and in the FATBIKE world a change of 1 PSI can make a huge difference in handling. In the fat bike world, the saying is always “when in doubt – let air out.”
There are whole worlds of winter adventure just waiting to be explored on a FATBIKE. Logging roads, jogging trails, even groomed snowmobile tracks would all be suitable for peddling around a FATBIKE. Do be cautious of riding on groomed cross-country ski trails because many of them do not allow dogs or snowshoes because they tear up the ski trail. The same goes for riding at downhill ski resorts. Even though your FATBIKE is non-motorized, do not automatically assume that you can ride it anywhere you want. Always check first.
Hopefully you can get an opportunity to test ride one of these innovative and cool new bicycles and it is my recommendation that you find a shop that will let you take one out for a spin as soon as possible. With the winter weather coming on – you might not have to spend so many days on the treadmill if you own a FATTIE.