Fat bikes have definitely caught on.
At least that’s what you’d think judging by the attention they’ve received from the general media.
Here’s a link to a report on WCCO Channel 4 about the increasing number of trails being groomed this winter for fat bikes: “Finding Minnesota: Fat bikes are gaining traction.”
To me grooming trails for fat bikes raises some questions.
I keep wondering if trails are groomed, do you need a fat bike to ride them?
Most riders and — maybe even manufacturers — will admit that even though they have tires that are four inches or wider, fat bikes aren’t much good in more than a few inches of snow.
So far the challenge in most of Minnesota this winter hasn’t been excessive amounts of snow. You’d have to go out East or to Chicago for that.
My friend Bob Hines and I rode for 20 miles Saturday and the reason we didn’t go 45, as Bob had done the day before, was wind chill, not snow.
Overall this winter, the two reasons for my deciding on any given day to ride the bike I have on a trainer in the basement, not outside, have been air temperature or winds, not road conditions.
And, when I’m riding outside, it’s on a decidedly “unfat” bike with tires a bit more than a third the width of those on fat bikes.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t buy a fat bike if they want to, I just saying they don’t have to have one to ride bike during winter.
If trails are groomed, just about any bike, other than a road bike with really skinny tires, will probably perform as well as a fat bike.
Personally, I feel more secure using studded tires — heavily studded tires.
They can cost as much as $100 a tire, but that’s a lot less than $1,000 or so for a low-end fat bike.
There are less expensive studded tires and cheaper alternatives. Here are a couple links:
If, however, you’ve been bitten by the fat bike bug and have the money, the trails, race and camaraderie that the WCCO video shows sure looks like fun.
And anything that encourages more people to pedal, is great as far as I’m concerned.