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  1. #1
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    New question here. Winter fat biking

    So I've had my Surly Neck Romancer about 9 weeks, I've done 500+ miles and loving it. I don't want to stop riding in the winter so what do I need to be prepared for the cold harsh snowy conditions?

    I live on the border of NH and VT so it gets pretty cold and the winters can be nasty.

  2. #2
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    Theres lots of things that can be useful, and you'll find a lot of variations.

    Depending on the weather I use a combination of:
    Balaclava/scarf/neck warmer thing/hat with ears/headband/skullcap.
    Always wear eyewear - sunglasses/safety glasses/ski goggles.
    Various gloves depending on the weather/temperature.
    various shoe wear - SPD's/boots/shoe covers/wool socks
    Pants - jeans/winter cycling tights
    usually an underarmor style base layer with various jackets - my favorite are two castelli winter cycling jackets that are 100% useless if you're not making your own heat. On a bike, I can easily go with the base layer and jacket down to 0F.

  3. #3
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    Do some research dude. Tons and tons info out there.


    Edit: I was in a bad mood when I responded.
    Last edited by jonshonda; 09-24-2013 at 06:42 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonshonda View Post
    Do some research dude. Tons and tons info out there.
    And how many threads have that info all in one place? Now I'm subscribed.
    Riding Fat and still just as fast as I never was.

  5. #5
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    I have done research, and most of the results are from people doing road biking. I'm looking for hands on experience with fat bikes riding snowmobile trails and or nordic trails.

    Do people typically use a regular helmet or do they go with full face downhill style helmet?

    I was thinking of going with the downhill style for extra warmth and the added safety when I inevitably fall.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diaonic View Post
    Do people typically use a regular helmet or do they go with full face downhill style helmet?
    I either wore a normal bike helmet or a snowboard helmet and goggles.

    If it was icy or rocky I'd add in knee and elbow pads.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  7. #7
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    I Live in Maine, so same idea...

    my setup is:

    Under Armor
    Thin Thermal jacket and a Winter Coat
    Thermal pants and Outer snowboard pants (super thin)
    I have i Fur hat Not Helmet cuz on snowmobile trails if i fall i fall into snow, Ski goggles and Fur mittens
    LLbean Boots

    I ussually layer up a bit more on colder days and bring a backpack to shed clothing on hot days

    i alway like to carry extra hand warmers just in case....

    Add a bit of vodka to you water so it doesnt freeze...
    carry some snacks

  8. #8
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    Wool is your friend with a breathable outer layer.
    And I love beer!!

  9. #9
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    Head: Burton snowboard helmet with a synthetic sweatband under for moisture. I get too hot in anything above 30 degrees.


    IMG_2392 by jonshonda187, on Flickr

    Upper body: synthetic thin base layer for moisture control, then a cheap goodwill found merino wool layer, then maybe a underarmour cold gear layer over that. I wear a p.I. windbrarrier jacket over everything.

    Lower body: still a work in progress, but p.I. barrier pants with a p.I. barrier wind breaker layer pants on top. I still get a little cold in the thigh area. Anything too bulky makes it hard to pedal.

    Hands: Answer gloves work awesome. But I have sweaty hands that don't get too cold. Never needed much more even when very cold. (Below zero)

    Feet: keen 200 gram insulated boots. Not very bulky, not too tall to limit movement.

    Lights: Gets dark fast in the winter months. Get lights w/ batteries that will last in the cold

    Large Saddle Bag: Store another pair of gloves and some hand warmers.

    A way to get out of the water If you fall through the ice you might be in trouble. I bought some retractable ice pics that are connect with a cord. Slide one down each sleeve, and they are there when you need them.
    Last edited by jonshonda; 09-24-2013 at 06:42 AM.

  10. #10
    Laramie, Wyoming
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diaonic View Post
    I have done research, and most of the results are from people doing road biking. I'm looking for hands on experience with fat bikes riding snowmobile trails and or nordic trails.

    Do people typically use a regular helmet or do they go with full face downhill style helmet?

    I was thinking of going with the downhill style for extra warmth and the added safety when I inevitably fall.
    If you are talking about real winter riding, a helmet is going to make things more complicated. Are you talking about riding on snow? If so, how fast are you normally going to be going? There are some rare times of insane speeds but generally you will be going not much faster than you can run and I don't see any runners wearing helmets. Remember, when you fall, you will likely be falling because you stopped and forgot that you are putting your foot down on unpacked snow.

    I rarely see a need for a helmet on a fat bike.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    If you are talking about real winter riding, a helmet is going to make things more complicated.
    What constitutes "real winter riding"? I ride my fattie daily on a groomed MUP as a commute during the winter. Is this not a "real" winter ride?

    I agree that if you're riding snowy single track that often a helmet isn't really needed. But if part of your winter riding is on the roads that a helmet is probably a good idea. I just use my regular helmet with a hat under it.

    A full face helmet, except for the added warmth it might provide, seems a bit overkill for most any winter biking, real or otherwise.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    If you are talking about real winter riding, a helmet is going to make things more complicated. Are you talking about riding on snow? If so, how fast are you normally going to be going? There are some rare times of insane speeds but generally you will be going not much faster than you can run and I don't see any runners wearing helmets. Remember, when you fall, you will likely be falling because you stopped and forgot that you are putting your foot down on unpacked snow.

    I rarely see a need for a helmet on a fat bike.
    My plan is to ride some single track, some double track and dirt roads in the area. Honestly I wouldn't ride without a helmet, I can see your point with the single track being slow.

    Up here there are group rides and the group "rides" on Tuesday and Thursday. If the trail snow is too deep they'll snowshoe first and the following group ride they'll take the bikes out.

    This is my first season so I'm just trying to get a handle on it. I saw someone on youtube using ski goggles and a full face helmet, seemed like a good idea on cold days. But I guess a face mask would work fine too.

  13. #13
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    We wear helmets all winter, snow hides rocks and ice and we ride fast and believe it or not we crash at pretty decent speeds. Helmets do not hamper extreme cold weather riding at least for myself and everybody I ride with.
    And I love beer!!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdundee View Post
    We wear helmets all winter, snow hides rocks and ice and we ride fast and believe it or not we crash at pretty decent speeds. Helmets do not hamper extreme cold weather riding at least for myself and everybody I ride with.
    +1 - I am not a helmet Nazi for all biking missions, but I fall a lot more in the winter than I do in the summer so I rarely skip the lid.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

  15. #15
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    I will add to the list--Those nice large insulated mitts for the handlebars your hands slide into (I use them for anything below 25 degrees). They also keep the shifters a little bit warmer (keeps them from getting sluggish as the temps approach 0F)

    As others have stated, layers, moisture wicking fabric.
    In the cold, cotton is bad (no blue jeans)--gets wet and stays wet, then you get cold and wet.

  16. #16
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    Here are some links that might help you out.

    One is on winter riding skills. How to Ride Through the Snow | Bicycling Magazine

    This one is on staying warm
    How to Dress for Cold Winter Mountain Bike Rides | Bicycling Magazine

    Hope this helps. :-)

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    If you are talking about real winter riding, a helmet is going to make things more complicated. Are you talking about riding on snow? If so, how fast are you normally going to be going? There are some rare times of insane speeds but generally you will be going not much faster than you can run and I don't see any runners wearing helmets. Remember, when you fall, you will likely be falling because you stopped and forgot that you are putting your foot down on unpacked snow.

    I rarely see a need for a helmet on a fat bike.
    If a helmet seems complicated to you, you definitely can't afford to risk a head injury. (Just kidding ya-- couldn't resist messin with you with that ....)

    Seriously though, I can't see ANY argument against a light helmet. At slow speeds on single track, a spill could land you headfirst into the pokey end of a branch. On groomed trails or snowmobile trails I frequently get up to 30 mph and a wipe out could easily cause a head injury if you hit your own bike or ice or whatever. Around town, we're talking ice patches which also don't mix well with brain tissue.

    Finally, I like to wear one to set a good example for kids and knuckleheads who think they don't need one.

    My favorite winter helmet is a climbing helmet. It instantly adjusts to different hats and secures a head lamp.

  18. #18
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    I wear a couple layers of under armor thermals, and maybe a microfiber wool vest up top and winter cycling tights and bibs down below, with thermal hiking boots & wool socks. Ski gloves on my hands, a scarf and a hardshell helmet with a knit watch cap and goggles. It's been fine down to 10
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  19. #19
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    I agree with the helmet being much more important in the winter. I've gone down much harder more often in the winter on patches of ice. Trees pose much more of a danger when you're skidding along on ice.

  20. #20
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    I just started riding last year in the winter on my fat back and learned a lot by reading through these forums. The biggest thing I learned was to dress warm! Follow the advice given above, it's all great. The biggest issues I had at first were keeping my feet and hands warm. I solved these issues by buying a set of Keen Brixen boots and getting a set of Trails Edge Moose Mitts. Now I can ride all day with proper layering as well. I love riding in the winter!
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  21. #21
    Laramie, Wyoming
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    Teton, yes, there are times that higher speeds are possible. Part of it is that during winter rides (in places where winter is really winter) sweat and temperature control is KING if you are riding for more than a few minutes. A helmet is just another piece of clothing and one that doesn't allow for moisture and cold control very well. I don't wear a helmet when I walk, run, hike, ski, or ride my fat bike. I try to be aware of dangers but any one of us could trip walking through our houses and die, yet we don't often hear of people wearing a helmet for walking.

  22. #22
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    icebike.org

    Not fatbike specific, but helpful for general winter riding gear information: Icebike Home Page

    On the helmet question, I would never advise someone else to ride without one, but I play the odds and use mine less in winter for the same reasons as others have stated: slow speeds, softer landings. If I plan to ride road or encounter ice I wear a helmet. Can't imagine using a full face helmet in winter due to fogging issues. Hard enough with glasses/goggles.

    Oh yeah, moisture/sweat management is everything: start out cool; layers are a must (add/remove as necessary; have a system for carrying the layers you aren't using); merino wool, capilene, and pogies are awesome. Consider platform pedals and boots/mukluks (warmer in winter IMO), but plenty of people ride clipless with good results.

    Experiment. Pay attention to materials (wool, capilene, etc.), but don't get hung up on brands or cycling specific stuff. Adapt your other outdoor gear when and where you can. Find out what works for you.

    The first photo was taken at about -20F, the second was taken at about +25F.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Winter fat biking-20-below.jpg  

    Winter fat biking-img_3793.jpg  

    The older I get the better I was...

  23. #23
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    I took care of a teenage boy for about a year with TBI. That stands for traumatic brain injury. I always wear a helmet now. When I was younger helmets weren't even invented for bicycles, nor were they used at all by anyone for skiing. I use my ski helmet for winter biking at freezing or below. I don't use ski goggles on my bike as I get too hot, but I rarely bike in single digit temps or below.

    I made the mistake of buying a Castelli jersey once. Now I own a lot of Castelli. The Castelli Espresso Due Jacket has exceed my expectations over a wide range of temps from 40's to single digits with a couple of layers of thin microfiber below it. The combination of materials (like windstopper) with the napoleon zips in front and shoulder vents in back work far better than "pit zips" could ever dream of. Air channels in through the front breast zips and out the backvents when you get hot and sweaty. Zip em back up if you cool down too much. I own Showerpass, Gore, Patagonia Asssos, Suogi, and as great as they are, I pick the Expresso almost everytime. Castelli fits tight so go at least one size larger than normal.

    For pants I prefer Pearl Izumi amfib winter cycling tights. They shed off freezing rain like you wouldn't believe and work well from 50's to single digits with microfiber beneath.

    Some people like the full winter bike boots but I just use my normal cleated bike shoes with 2 sets of bike overshoes, one quilted and another with goretex "rain" protection. I have the replacement soles with heated battery power but rarely use them.

    I've been biking winters before fatbikes were invented, with various combinations of studs and/or tirechains. I love winter.

  24. #24
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    Re: Winter fat biking

    Whatever you wear, the MOST important thing - is to be slightly cold when you are just standing outside. Do a test outside before you leave. I like to feel chilled, and it's hard to fight the "I need something warmer" feeling. But if you are warm and fine with no chill - you are going to get too hot when you are actually exerting energy and sweat. Sweating is the enemy in winter, which is why materials like wool are so good because they don't get as cold when damp.
    Last edited by duggus; 09-25-2013 at 01:38 PM.

  25. #25
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    K.b., I share your enthusiasm for the Expresso Due jacket and the the PI amfib. My go-to winter gear. On the "warmer" days I'll wear normal bibshorts with a pair of cold weather castelli tights, good to about 35F.

    I grabbed a pair of neoprene shoe covers with some sort of extra water proof layer on the outside that looks like fake leather (the logo fell off a few years back and I cant figure out what they are). On the really cold days I'll put a pair of fleece-lined shoe covers inside my junky pair of SPD-cleat shoes as a secondary sock.

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