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  1. #1
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    Fat bikes and Pacific Northwest

    Hi, folks: I know Vik has written a lot of great stuff about PNW fat biking but thought I'd ask here too. Sorry if this has been covered before but I didn't see it readily in the archives.

    I am just learning about these (mostly 650b road/gravel/sorta rando-type biking for me). I live in Seattle and don't MTB much but a fat bike seems like a great addition--can hit the trails if I want but also ride along the Sound coast. And maybe I'll get adventurous and snow ride in Eastern Washington.

    Did other PNW folks find the fat bike a good investment or was it not suited or overkill for our area?

    Thanks a lot.

    Ryan

  2. #2
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    I bought my fat bike in Calgary on the other side of the Rockies where winter makes a fatty a no brainer. I've used my Pugsley less here on Vancouver Island than in Calgary and I've wondered if I would have bought a fat bike had the process started here. The situation here isn't as compelling for a fat bike as it was where there was a real winter.

    Our MTB trails here are very rough and technical and I prefer my 6"+ FS bike for trail riding. The lack of snow means I can ride a "normal" MTB 365 days/year.

    I don't have wide open beaches to ride here and there is no easy beach touring route that would make a Pugs the obvious choice.

    So that leaves bikepacking type dirt tours which the Pugsley would be a great choice for, but you can also ride this type of rides just fine on 29er MTB or a 650B gravel bike.

    The one place I use my Pugsley that I couldn't go with any other bike is beach riding in Baja. I go there enough that those trips alone justify my purchase of a Pugs.

    You mention rando type biking and if you mean riding brevets I wouldn't recommend a fat bike for those rides. You want a road bike which depending on the specific routes you plan to ride can run 700c or 650B wheels. If you are just talking about exploring gravel roads and not riding brevets then a fat bike would be just fine.

    I take a pretty realistic view to the choice about buying a fat bike. I clearly love my Pugsley, but I don't agree with the-fat-bikes-are-the-best-solution-to-everything attitude I read online a lot. Fat bikes are [for the most part] rigid mountain bikes with big heavy tires. They can go some places other bikes can't and they can provide a fun ride on terrain other bikes can also ride.

    Seattle should have a lot of bike shop options I'd find a shop that would let you demo a fat bike. Ideally one that you could take it somewhere more interesting than the parking lot. A lot of your questions will be answered with an hour or two in the saddle of a fat bike.

    You should also have a look at the Surly Krampus which sports 3" tires on 29er wheels. It's a cross between a fat bike and a 29er MTB. It may well offer better performance for general riding than a fat bike. Although you give up the deep sand/snow floatation.

    If $$$ aren't too much of an issue you can buy a fat bike and the build up a set of 29er wheels [incl the same rims used on the Krampus]. That gives you a way to change the performance/flavour of your fat bike quickly.
    Last edited by vikb; 02-02-2013 at 11:17 AM.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  3. #3
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    I think fat bikes can be fun anywhere, but certainly some places are better suited than others. I live in the PNW too, and mostly enjoy riding it in the snow. The beach is fun on occassion, but I get bored pretty quick on sand.

    Like Vik says, fatbikes do tend to get over-hyped around here. I love having a fatbike in the quiver, but wouldn't want one as my only bike. If I lived in a more snowy climate I would consider it a required bike, but where I live it's more of a novelty or occassional fun bike. That being said, I don't regret buying one, it was well worth the money to me.

    Also, some people love to ride their's all year round and use it as their only bike.
    Taiwan could probably TIG weld a ham sandwich to a dictionary these days, but its been a while since they were doing brazing.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, guys. By no means would it be the only bike! Just my only "mountain bike."

    Ryan

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcnute View Post
    Thanks, guys. By no means would it be the only bike! Just my only "mountain bike."
    Ryan,

    In that case, it might be perfect for you. Assuming your other bikes are all rigid (no suspension) then a fat bike will seem like the plushest ride ever.

    See if anyone rents them in Seattle. If not, post an add on craigslist and someone with a fat bike may offer you a ride.
    Taiwan could probably TIG weld a ham sandwich to a dictionary these days, but its been a while since they were doing brazing.

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