Author Topic: Fat bike and snow... and a counterpoint  (Read 935 times)

cmh

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Fat bike and snow... and a counterpoint
« on: February 05, 2016, 09:15:18 AM »
Two weekends ago, we had a big snow storm in the NE US, we wound up getting around 31" (over .75 meters!) of snow. Had to shovel out three times over the weekend, and each time it looked like we hadn't done anything. Got out on my fat bike, had a bunch of fun in the snow. The reactions of folks walking in the street when I went by with the big tires was always funny.

After one of the rides around town - the photo doesn't do the blaze orange Plasti-Dip paint job any justice at all - the bike positively GLOWS outside.


One of my buddies out on his 27.5+ bike


Streets were deserted:


Snowbeard the not-quite-pirate:


So yeah, had a bunch of fun on the fat bike. Wife joined me for one ride on her 29er and even airing her tires down to single digit pressures, she was having a bunch more trouble riding the deeper stuff.


HOWEVER... fast forward a week and we're going up to Connecticuit for the weekend, where they got less snow, but still got a decent amount, and I have to choose which bike to bring. Do I bring the fat bike, because I know there's going to be snow on the trails, or do I bring the Epic, the short-travel, skinny-tired XC bike that I've been loving?

Well, I decided to make it interesting and bring the Epic, and you know what? It was AWESOME. The Epic has skinny, low-tread, fast rolling 2" tires, so it was constant work to maintain traction, and I certainly didn't go as fast as I could have gone otherwise, but the lack of traction made it an absolute blast. Snow on the side of the trail was softer, so gave some traction, but rolled slower. Snow in the center had been packed down by other riders, and rolled fast - but it also had next to no traction, so it was a balancing act of choosing the line to optimize between traction and speed. Then, in some spots, someone had ridden through when it was soft, and that had frozen, so there was a 2.5" wide rut down the center of the trail that was ice - had almost zero traction and my tires really wanted to follow it. On one downhill, I kept jumping over it as I switched from side to side on the trail to avoid the rut. On some trails, low spots in the trail had formed puddles, which froze over, offering virtually no traction - but it was the low part of the trail, the ice was flat, and I was going fast, so I aimed straight down it, and got through before the tires could realize the dumb thing I did and let go on me.

It was an absolute hoot.


So what's the moral of the story? Just because it's gonna snow doesn't mean you need a fat bike. Sure, a fat bike can be fun in snow... or a bunch of other places, but so can any other bike. Hell, back in the day I was riding a rigid 26'er with 1.95s in the winter because that's all there was, and I still had a blast. What's important is that you get out there and have some damn fun on a bike - any bike.



bxcc

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Re: Fat bike and snow... and a counterpoint
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2016, 10:35:18 AM »
Wait, I thought all fat-bikers were kool-aid drinkers? Kind of like 29er riders a bunch of years ago. You know, the "THERE IS NO WAY YOU CAN RIDE ON SNOW WITH 2" TIRES!!" type. Unfortunately, I know a couple. Thanks for the great write up. I would like to have one but I'm going with a plus bike for my winter riding. I can't justify a dedicated fat bike for my 5 snow rides a year. If the snow is good, I'm probably skiing.

cmh

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Re: Fat bike and snow... and a counterpoint
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2016, 07:34:41 PM »
Wait, I thought all fat-bikers were kool-aid drinkers? Kind of like 29er riders a bunch of years ago...

That's it exactly, except I became one of those 29er zealots and haven't looked back - although I freely admit that 26" wheels worked just fine for me for a loooooong time and I had many awesome rides on them.