Category Archives: fatbike gear

Fatbikes for commuting?

Photo credit: RideFatbikes.com

From time to time I receive email or questions from someone wondering if fatbikes are suitable for bike commuting, trail riding, or riding outside of their native habitat (snow).

Yes to all the above.  While fatbikes are clearly more capable at snow riding than any other bike out there, that doesn’t mean that’s the only environment in which they can be useful.  They’d be laughable time trial or road racing bikes, obviously.  But in my experience, people who ride fatbikes either aren’t interested in that niche of cycling, or they have a bike for that purpose too.

Instead, consider a fatbike the swiss army knive.  The saw on a swiss army knife won’t do what a table saw will do, but it will serve for cutting something small in a pinch.  The scissors won’t match up to the pair you’ve got in your kitchen, but they’ll get the small jobs done.   At the end of the day, the swiss army knife will do so many things reasonably well, that you won’t care if another tool might have made any given job easier or faster, as you can’t possibly carry all those tools in your pocket.  Similarly, unless you have a garage full of bikes, you’d likely want a fatbike to cover several functions.

A fatbike will laugh at any other bike out there when it comes to fun and function in heavy snow.   It won’t have the speed or traction of a 29er with studded tires on ice, nor will it have the speed or agility of a road bike suitable to make it worth trying to show up at a road ride on a fatbike.  However, when the order of business is towing kids for a fun family ride, running errands by bike and enjoying the pace and the fun of the ride, riding mountain bike trails in a non-race environment, riding over sand/beach, riding snow, or even commuting by bike at a relaxed pace, the fatbike is the swiss army tool bike I grab first.

Plus, the variety and amount of equipment for fatbikes is expanding.  You can lace up a set of 29er wheels to make your fatbike into a capable and faster mountain bike.  When there is now snow in sight, consider cruising some of the new Surly Black Floyd tires (a low rolling resistance smooth tread tire) to speed up the pace.  When you want to do a triathlon, put on aero bars.  Okay, I’m kidding on that one, that’s one situation where you’ll definitely leave your fatbike at home.
For me, I have a fixed gear road bike, and a fatbike.  When the order of business is go fast or distance, I go for the fixed gear.  When it’s fun, pulling kids, trails, snow, or just taking it easy for a fun ride, it’s the fatbike.  I’ve got a 5-mile bike commute.  While I don’t ride much on the streets in the winter (due to car/safety concerns), I started riding the fatbike in early March last year before all the snow had melted.

I’d say my commute (depending on stoplights) is 15-20 min on congested city streets on the fixie (averaging 15-20 mph while I’m not stopped at a light).  On the fatbike, that may slow down to 20-30 minutes, with an average pace of 10-15mph.  That’s with aggressive Endomorph tires, while the new Surly Black Floyds offer less rolling resistance and would probably speed that up.

Don’t just take my word for it.  There are several blogs and websites out there that reveal the stories of other fatbikers.  Check out MN Bicycle Commuter at mnbicyclecommuter.blogspot.com.  The author, Doug, lives in Duluth and rides several bikes, year-round, crushing Duluth’s ridiculous snow in the winter on his Pugsley.  Or, check out FatbikeInTheCity.com for some insight on fatbiking on the mean streets of Cali.  The author, Errin, is an awesome fatbike advocate, and rides street and trail with his Mukluk.   Or, when it comes to fatbike adventure, you can find out more from Joboo on The Adventures of Joboo and his Pugsley.

In short, while a fatbike might slow down a commute on dry streets, it adds a fun factor that more than justifies any loss of speed (except for those who pride themselves on setting a land-speed record on their way to the office).  But once the snow hits, the fatbike brings capability that few bikes might rival, and none will match.  A studded tire 29er will definitely provide better ice traction and perhaps more speed in the right conditions but when the snow depth will make the 29er fail, the fatbike will prevail.

Please feel free to share your own fatbike perspective by leaving a comment below.

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Filed under fatbike gear, Fatbike Trails, Fatbikes, RIde Fatbikes

Need your help / input

Readers – many of you have responded positively via email and comments to the planned February 2012 Fatbike Frozen Forty.  I’ve been discussing sponsorships with several companies who will undoubtedly enhance this event, and make it well worth attending.  Read below and you’ll see we’ve got a preliminary date set.

While it is still early, and the event planning is in its beginning stages, some fun things are coming together.  To help, please leave a comment or send me an email to brad AT ride Fatbikes dot com.  The three current issues I need some help with from the loyal Ride Fatbikes community are the following:

1) Trail Selection Help

2) Insurance Ideas

3) Volunteer and rider sign-up

Trail Selection.  The most popular trail in our poll so far is Elm Creek.  However, it appears they may want us on the singletrack trail, rather than the multi-purpose trails.  I’ve been out there, and the singletrack trails, while awesome in summer, are somewhat narrow for winter riding.  It’s a 12-mile loop, so we’d run approximately 3 loops.  The downside is that while the main indoor facilities are within a long ride or a close drive, the trailhead does not have an indoor area for volunteers to hang out, sponsors to promote themselves or riders to warm-up.

Can someone on here suggest another metro area trail to explore?  Criteria include – sufficient area to ride 40 miles with no more than 4 loops, ample parking, room for sponsors, gathering and warming up, and (obviously) snow-covered trails.  Ideas?

Insurance.  I’m sure many small events run with a liability waiver/release only, but I’m exploring insurance.  If anyone reading has set up a small bike event, can you recommend resources for single-day event insurance?

Volunteer and Rider Sign-up.  This is preliminary, but it’s quite likely the event will occur February 11, 2012.  I’ve had several people comment or email that they are in and will be riding.  We’ll also need volunteers to help with day-of-event organization, points of contact, and mechanical help (tire flats, broken chain).  If you are in for either volunteering or riding, please send an email to Brad at Ride fatbikes Dot Com or leave a comment with your name and email below.

Thank you for any help you can offer.   I’m not wishing for snow yet, but when it comes, it will be fatbike season!

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Filed under Fatbike Frozen Forty, Fatbike Gallery, fatbike gear, Fatbike Trails, Fatbikes, RIde Fatbikes

Fatbike frame bags?

Who on RideFatbikes.com has purchased or made a frame bag, handlebar bag or other similar large-capacity bag specifically designed for fatbikes that allow gear, tools, or other miscellany to be stored on the bike?

I’ve seen some awesome  designs from Revelate Designs  (formerly Epic Designs) on bikes on the web, but have not had the privilege of seeing one in person or trying one.  I’ve also seen some “home brew” creations that look very solid as well.

For the benefit of the fatbike community, I’d like to post questions about gear and gear reviews here, and get comments, feedback and possibly even products to review from those who have used the gear, so the rest of us have the benefit of your experience.

So, who has tried a fatbike bag?  If so, which brand did you choose (or did you mae your own).  What has been your experience with the bag (quality, how much does it carry, durability, ease of use, etc.).  Please post comments, submit a pic of the bike and bag, and let me know if you have a bag design you want to donate for a review.

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Filed under fatbike gear, Fatbikes