BIKE SHOP DIARIES: RIDING A FATTY IN THE SNOW

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RIDING A FAT BIKE IN SNOW

Fat bikes are a BLAST! And even more fun in the winter snow! Now that winter is officially here, let’s answer a few questions we regularly get from our customers.


IS IT HARD TO RIDE A FAT BIKE IN THE SNOW?

If you’ve ridden mountain bikes, then you can ride a fat bike.  The snow will give you some rolling resistance, but fat bikes are very stable and easy to ride.

WHERE TO RIDE?

Think summer mountain biking.  Follow the established trails.  In Phils, Wanoga and Swampy’s they are all well marked.  And the ideal trail is hard packed snow. Small patches of ice are okay – but treat any ice longer than the length of the bike with respect. Otherwise your bike will slide out from under you.

A local favorite is the Wanoga Sno Park Fat Bike Trails. Depending on the weather, there are 3 and 6 mile groomed loops. They are really fun and easy to get around on.

Also check out Gary’s Top Fat Bike Routes

FLAT PEDALS OR CLIPLESS PEDALS?

We always suggest flats. It is so much easier to get started and step off if you are in a pinch.  That isn’t to say that you can’t wear clipless.  But for the folks who are renting are don’t have the confidence, flats are a no brainer.  And use pedals with the pins in them like those used by summer downhill shredders.  They will keep your feet in place versus a standard pedal.

Our friends at Bend Trails also have this to say about flats:

Once you stop and place your foot in the snow or hike-a-bike (which you will do), you will have a hard time getting your cleat back into your pedal. Ride with flats! This also allows you to wear hiking boots (high top, water proof) and can save you from buying specific winter riding boots.
— Bend Trails

When the snow is too deep up the mountain, the Deschutes River Trail is a great alternative.

View along the river trail.

HOW SHOULD I DRESS?

Think layers and carry a pack to store those layers. Also, it’s just as easy to overheat and sweat in the cold as it is to under-dress and be miserable. Clothing will vary depending on user comfort and the weather, but a good rule is to protect your hands and face first


PRO TIPS
Bend local and professional mountain bike guide,
Russ Risdon has a three tips for all fat bike folks:

#1 - When starting, balance against your brakes.  In other words, hold your brake when you are starting so that your rear tire doesn’t spin out or dig into the snow. Then start releasing slowly to start moving forward.
#2 - Don’t over dress.  When you get out of the car you want to be a little chilled because when you start riding you will warm up quickly.
#3 - Hydrate and eat.  A lot of people forget to drink or eat while riding on a fatty.  Put a bottle and food in your backpack, wear a hydration pack or simply put a bottle in your bike bottle cage.
And, of course, have fun!
— Russ Risdon

Russ Risdon in Valdez, Alaska. Reach him on Instagram @pedalfitruss.mtb


WHAT KIND OF SHOES?

You don’t need to invest in special riding shoes as long as you have well-insulated, waterproof shoes and wear thick insulated socks You can definitely buy some winter biking shoes.  However, if you are a weekend warrior or just riding occasionally, a waterproof boot and some warm socks will work fine. 

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO RIDE?

Ride when it is cold enough that the snow doesn’t get soft.  Preferably 32 degrees or below.  Your tire shouldn’t sink more than 1” into the snow when pedaling.  If it does, turn around and head back to the car and go get a coffee at Back Porch Roasters.

WHAT ABOUT TIRE PRESSURE?

This will vary based on the surface you are riding on.  But the general rule is not to leave ruts in a groomed trail and you want a big contact patch for traction.  For rentals, we usually set them up at 6 psi.  When in doubt, let some air out.

Courtesy @CWOCC

Courtesy @CWOCC

READY TO GIVE A FAT BIKE A TRY?

Feel free to stop in to our Bend Westside store and check one out. We love talking about fat bikes.

And for fun, you can rent one online and we will have the bike ready and waiting for you.

 
Specialized Fatboy SE

Specialized Fatboy SE

 

More information::

Bend Trails: Tips for Riding In Snow
Central Oregon Fatbikes Facebook Page
IMBA: Fat Bike Best Practices


 
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CONTRIBUTOR
John Stark - Hutch's Store and Online Support
Adaptive mountain biker / 3x Ironman Triathlon finisher / Fmr. Ultrarunner / Fmr. Long distance swimmer / Lover of Jibarito Pork Carnitas from Barrio in Downtown Bend

 

If you have thoughts or suggestions, we would love to hear them. Post in the comments section below.

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