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Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    620

    Fat bike equals fun, fun, fun

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    There have been several times in my life where I have commuted during the winter, right through snow and sub-zero temperatures. The latest was over the course of three winters in Chicago, 2007 though 2010. Two of those years the bike was my only means of transportation as in, no car. That was just before the arrival of fat bikes on the bike seen or I would have had one, back then.

    We now live in the north woods and my major winter activity has been cross country skiing, which I can do right out our back door. Still have my winter mountain bike which I used in Chicago, studded tires and all, but it's pretty much been ignored for the skis during the winter. Just couldn't see it competing with my skiing.

    The fat bike craze has reached our area, though, so have been thinking about giving one a try for a couple of years. One of the reasons is that good cross country skiing is so dependent on snow conditions. Figured when the snow wasn't the best for skiing, I might be able to substitute the fat bike.

    I was right. Picked up this Salsa Blackboro earlier this spring, still in time to try it in snow and mud and sand, too. It's a 2015 model, so we got a great price on it.


    Shortly after we got the bike in late March, we had five inches of wet, sticky, slushy snow with an air temp hovering right around freezing. That's NOT a good snow for skiing, but had to try. Half a mile and I called it quits. Just not much fun and I could just about walk, faster. Traded the skis out for the Salsa. Well, it ate that snow for breakfast.

    A couple of weeks, ago, I also learned that a fat bike is a lot more than just a bike to ride in the snow. On one of my bike routes, there is a half mile of road that is all sand, deep and soft. It'a tricky ride with my hardtail 26" wheeled mountain bike - lots and lots of fishtailing and if I'm not careful to avoid some deep pickup truck made ruts, I sink to a dead stop. Again, the Salsa just plowed though.

    Also learned just how comfy this bike is to ride on our local mountain bike trail which is little more than single track over tree roots and rocks. Definitely an easier ride than with my standard hardtail Trek.

    Now, a fat bike is not a road bike by any stretch of the imagination. I was surprised, though, to discover that the big bike rolls pretty nice on pavement. Once those big tires get moving, the bike builds up tremendous momentum. Over the same stretch of rolling, slightly hilly pavement, I actually discovered that the fat bike required less shifting than my standard 26" hardtail Trek!

    Next winter, in addition to riding some groomed trails made just for fat bikes, I will be riding the Blackboro out on the lake ice, where there wind tends to keep the snow level lower than back in the woods. May even give some bike packing a try. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    My Bike Packing Bike is the Surly ECR so not a true fat bike - 3+ tires aren't quite wide enough for snow over 3 inches deep. But what I love about it and know my friends who ride "true" fatties concur is how forgiving the ride is on rough roads and trails. I have learned to trust the bike and can accomplish hills and rough terrain that I could never do on any "mountain bike"
    Here is a shot from our S24O this past weekend. Click image for larger version. 

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    Sky King
    ____________________
    Gilles Berthoud "Bernard"
    Surly ECR "Eazi"
    Empowering the Bicycle Traveler
    biketouringnews.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    620
    Same, here. One of our local MTB trails is used for regional race events and, frankly, it is way out of my league. Even some of the local MTB guys shake their head when you mention it. My issue is that I just don't have the strength to handle all the rapid and constantly changing vertical stuff. Even on the few level sections, the rocks and tree roots eat my Trek hardtail 26" bike. Really brutal. Found that I do better with the fat bike, even though it has no front suspension. Still can't handle the ups and downs, but, for sure, I'll take the fat bike every time on a backcountry trail and, especially, going off trail for a little bushwhacking, which I have done.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 05-03-2016 at 11:30 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    478
    I just picked up a Fat bike (Specialized Hellga) this past February and I have to agree 100% It is so much fun!!! Out of the 5 bikes I own it is my favorite!! I told my husband after I bought it "This fat bike is the bike I have been searching for my entire life!"
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Love your Salsa
    2012 Trek Lexa SL
    2012 Giant TCX2
    2015 Trek Remedy 7
    2016 Trek Lexa C
    2016 Specialized Hellga-Fat Bike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    620
    Thanks. Love your Helga, too.

    The fat bike really has helped to rekindle an interest in my bicycling, up here. Our riding season is so short, I just relegated my biking to the few warm months we have and turned to the skis when the snow season was upon us (late October through May, some years). Can't wait for winter, now.

    I also take our dogs on our daily run with the fat bike down an old lake access trail that is a no no for a road bike. Just amazes me how this thing can just keep rolling along and do it so, comfortably, too. How did I ever get along without one?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    478
    It sure beats sitting inside on the trainer in the winter months too!!! That's the main reason I bought mine was for a winter bike but I am having so much fun riding single track here as it warms up too. .......and I will most likely commute to work a few days a week as the days get longer.
    2012 Trek Lexa SL
    2012 Giant TCX2
    2015 Trek Remedy 7
    2016 Trek Lexa C
    2016 Specialized Hellga-Fat Bike

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,075
    I am most likely getting one for next winter. Our winter is not as long (and we had no snow this year, a sorry 3 times on my x country skis and not one snow shoe), but I do see advantages to having the fat bike for some trail riding, also. I sucked at mountain biking, but I think I will be more confident on simple trails and in the snow on those huge tires. Been exploring some dirt roads and new hiking trails around my new home, so... I considered a gravel type road bike, but I already have 2 road bikes, and I really want to ride on the snow. Looked at the Helga at my LBS, and I am sure that is the one i will get, since I really need a small, WSD bike. Can't wait!
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    478
    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    I am most likely getting one for next winter. Our winter is not as long (and we had no snow this year, a sorry 3 times on my x country skis and not one snow shoe), but I do see advantages to having the fat bike for some trail riding, also. I sucked at mountain biking, but I think I will be more confident on simple trails and in the snow on those huge tires. Been exploring some dirt roads and new hiking trails around my new home, so... I considered a gravel type road bike, but I already have 2 road bikes, and I really want to ride on the snow. Looked at the Helga at my LBS, and I am sure that is the one i will get, since I really need a small, WSD bike. Can't wait!

    I find my confidence soars on the fat bike. I feel like I am riding a tank that can plow through anything--and it does LOL. It can corner like no tomorrow too. Play around with tire pressure to get the sweet spot for different conditions. I am excited for you--you will love the Hellga. I wish I would have been able to afford one of their higher end offerings (carbon front fork etc) but I can't complain and I had no idea I would like fat biking as much as I do.
    2012 Trek Lexa SL
    2012 Giant TCX2
    2015 Trek Remedy 7
    2016 Trek Lexa C
    2016 Specialized Hellga-Fat Bike

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    620
    Couldn't have said it better about the confidence thing. I love MTBs and always have, but I am way too conservative to keep up with good mountain bikers, though I have tried and have even taken have lessons. An adrenaline junkie I am not; very much the play it safe type. I find that the fat bike is something of an equalizer for me, though. It's not magic and it won't turn me into a highly skilled rider, but it does at least get me into the game a bit more, meaning I am a lot less stressed out when doing trails that made me a nervous wreck with my 26" hardtail.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 05-04-2016 at 03:04 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    Just remember that Ice is still Ice and falling on ice isn't much fun

    Tire Pressure - We carry one of these meiser tire gauges making it easy to measure tire pressure. We are often adding and removing air on one ride to adjust to terrain.
    Sky King
    ____________________
    Gilles Berthoud "Bernard"
    Surly ECR "Eazi"
    Empowering the Bicycle Traveler
    biketouringnews.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    620
    For sure. Been there, done that on pavement enough. The good news is that our lakes are always covered with snow, so that traction won't be too much of a problem. Never see bare ice. In fact, lake riding should be even better because the wind keeps the snow level on the lake lower than back in the woods. Can't wait to give it a try.

    Yes, a special low pressure gauge was something I bought right away. The gauge on the pump just doesn't cut it when the recommended tire pressure is only between 5 and 15 psi and even 2 psi makes a difference with these tires as far as how they perform. In the snow and mud, I usually stay under 10psi, usually between 5 and 8psi. On hard pack and gravel, I like over 10 psi. My gauge is an Accu-gauge that reads 0-30 psi.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 05-05-2016 at 07:59 AM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    2
    your fat bike is cool

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    2
    hi everybody

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    620
    Thanks.

    Just to update. I am now doing most of my trail work, 365 days a year, on the fat bikes. With some experience, you can adapt your technique to somewhat compensate for fat bike shortcomings on the real techie stuff, i.e., quick turning and rapid climbs, to name two. They'll still never be as agile and quick as a regular MTB trail bike, if that's your thing, but they will let you deal with some trails and conditions that are all but impossible on any other type of bike. When I do switch to a standard MTB, I miss that wonderful stability of the fat bike, immediately. Seems like I have to be all the more alert with the standard MTBs. Riding a fattie gives me more of a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery.

 

 

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