Fat Bike Questions- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Feb 2004

    Fat Bike Questions

    For those Fat Bikers out there in Eastern Ontario (I'm in Georgetown BTW), I had some questions about usage in our conditions/areas.

    First, I'm not a hard-core mountain biker. I was in previous years, but now I'm mainly a roadie. Several reasons for this, but one is a neck condition I have that means the more I use my upper body the more it hurts. I can manage 3+ hour rides on the road without much pain, so that's my playground.

    Why I'm considering a Fat Bike: in the winter (right around now through to sometime in March) I mainly ride indoors. But I need to mix it up now and then. I have a short, hilly gravel trail less than a km from my house, which would have been perfect this morning as the winds are gusting around 50k and a road ride was out of question. I'm not that far from Hilton Falls, Albion, etc. But I would really only venture there less than 10x over the winter (only I catch the bug). Lastly, I don't want technical rides, just flowing double track with not-too-technical single track. When the snow flies, I know it makes some trails less technical.

    - we don't have the best winters in terms of snow, for those fat bike owners out there, how many rides do you get in on really good snow conditions?
    - do you use your fat bike when there is no snow, not as an alternative to your other mountain bikes (I don't have one), but because it's better in certain conditions (can you explain a few)?
    - in snow, do you find that you fall at all (I have decent skills on the trails, having done lots of mountain biking a couple years ago)? I ask because given my neck issue falling is not good for me...not to mention it takes much longer to hurt in my mid-40's
    - can you buy one for around $1,000 and not have to add anything due to terrible quality? I don't want to start dropping $, not worth it for me...I just want to buy it and use it in certain conditions, to supplement indoor training in the winter.


    FYI - I posted here as opposed to Fat Bike sub-forum because I know this is a great community!

  2. #2
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    Nov 2013
    1000 bucks will be a heavy one running tubes and shit tires

    otherwise it rides like a bike, if you don't fall you don't fall


    on snow and ice I have had my fastest and most painful falls, and
    they come from nowhere and you go down fast

    you don't have to fall though, just walk the bits you think might be tough

    studded fat bike tires ...I will not go on fatbike and snow without them, ice or no ice

    don't overthink it really, get a 1000 fatbike and ride it.
    "Put your seatbelt back on or get out and sit in the middle of that circle of death." - Johnny Scoot

  3. #3
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    Reputation: iliketexmex's Avatar
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    Oct 2016
    Quote Originally Posted by View Post
    don't overthink it really, get a 1000 fatbike and ride it.
    This, or

    You could even spend less and plan $ to upgrade the tires. But either way, riding in the snow is fun. Bundle up and get outside. I don't run studs, but I can see where it might be nice. I don't ride frozen lakes, so I get away with it.

  4. #4
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    Reputation: CptSydor's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    I've been on a fatbike for 5 years now, going into my 6th season (3 in Hamilton, 2 in NB, now I'm based in BC).

    Fatbikes are heavy (especially cheap ones) and often snow covered trails that see foot traffic (maybe that hilly gravel trail) can be pretty bumpy (lowering pressure helps). Combine this with riding in less than ideal conditions (softer snow, narrow trails, much bike manipulation) and in my opinion, in general, your upper body gets a pretty good workout on a fatbike.

    Ideal conditions, where the snow is packed, smooth and there is a nice wide tread, no ice, pretty much only happens in places that are groomed (Albion), a couple days after a moderate snowfall. If it's a place that's not groomed, you need to wait until you get lots of traffic (like Hilton) for it to become prime. That can be a couple days or more than a week, if it was a larger snowfall. Once the conditions become prime, it's usually feast, you ride your brains out. If I were to quantify it, I would say you get 2-4 days of prime riding every 2 weeks. 2-4 days of poor to no riding, the rest is moderate/mixed.

    I've never ridden anywhere where I've said, damn, I'd rather have my fatbike (but there are people that love them and ride them all the time). Closest I've ever come is very technical, flat, slow stuff like Hilton Falls, or some trails out in NB. The fatbike hooks up and lets you clean tough sections easier. But I suspect, given your restrictions, riding Hilton in the summer is not something you'd do.

    If I am riding moderate to poor conditions especially, I do come off the bike more. Historically fatbiking in snow is like riding an endless skinny. Once you get off the packed trail, it's soft and easy to lose your balance. Most is just slow speed, put your foot down, but if you have a bit of speed and get into the soft stuff, you can have some abrupt stops. Add in ice and it can get sketchy. There always seems to be ice in southern ontario (and NB) with freeze/thaw cycles. I went studded last year and even now in BC where snow condition are much better, I still won't take them off. You'll always find a little ice along the road/side walks etc.

    You can get cheap fatbikes, I suggest looking for a used bike at the $1000 price point. New I think for around $1000 you are going to be at the lowest of the low end for reputable bike brands (and might need to go up a couple hundred).

    I'd highly recommend you rent a fatbike in your case, maybe wait until you can test some varied, winter conditions.
    Straight outta Rossland

  5. #5
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    Nov 2011
    I'd have to say given the chance to do over, I would not buy a fat bike, at least at the prices when I bought. Prices have come down a lot in the last couple of years. There are always a few used on Kijiji. I expected a ATV type experience, go anywhere in any conditions. Anything more than around 3" of fresh snow takes the fun out of it. Plus here in southern Ontario, there is a tendency to get some nice snow and then a few days later get a thaw and any trails with traffic turn into an icy churned up mess.
    I think I got a lot more use out of my Altai Hoc Skis and snowshoes last season than my fat bike - depends how much snow we get this year.
    I think a lot of it depends on where you live and the trails in your area. As CptSydor says, minor falls are common - you're riding in slippery and less than ideal conditions.
    I'd either rent or borrow a bike to try.

  6. #6
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    Feb 2004
    Thanks for the feedback and insights. I can imagine the trails a day after the snow falls, chopped up with footprints...and the effort it would take to plough through there. I donít think itís for me. Perhaps Iíll just visit Albion several times and rent a fat bike. Cheers!

  7. #7
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    Reputation: Dgage's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    Good idea to rent one..knowing what I know now, I wouldn't of bought mine..I'd rather play hockey
    Friends don't let friends cheer for the TML

  8. #8
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    Reputation: Greg_o's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Some pretty so-so views here.

    I only use mine during winter, so take this with a grain of salt..

    The thing with fat bikes is, they can be just as much fun as a mtn bike, if the conditions and bike set up are spot on. If the conditions are poor, or you bike isn't set up well (tire pressure being the biggy) it's not a lot of fun.

    Deff. try renting one somewhere with good snowy but packed down trails. Albion has been mentioned but I don't think they've got their grooming technique down as I find it generally icy there (although a few times per season it is epic - err, as epic as double track can be. Of course some of the single track gets traffic...)

    Generally the Hilton Falls aka Wondering Lynx aka Mohawk aka Agreement Forest area, Puslinch, and Hydrocut are were I go to based on traffic which equals good trails.

    I bought a sub $1000 bike and have been happy with it. (didn't want to spend $$$$$ on a bike that will see a lot of salty highway miles travelling to trailheads. That said t's now in it's 4th year and I'm excited to do a few upgrades.

    In terms of falling - I guess I'm way slower than most because I can not remember any "hard " falls on this thing.

    ..now just tinker with our bikes and feed the cats. - oldbear52

  9. #9
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    Mar 2012
    I dont know the conditions where you live, but lm in Switzerland, l get snow from now till March (as you do), and my "trails" arent groomed at all.
    Ive been on a Fattie for 3yrs now, and its my go to bike, l useit all year round, l commute on it (20kms one way), my 2 other bikes get very little loving, Roadie & 120mm FS Trek.
    I believe its a personal taste thing, you like them or not, simple as that. Friends have borrowed it and absolutely hate it, l cant stop riding it. I ride itwhere the FS would be better, just because the Fattie is more fun,plus wheelies are easier

    I run at least 4.6" tyres, l have more trail oriented tyres for summer, and 4.9" for winter, although lm thinking of going down to 4" (or even smaller) for next summer. Tyres selected & their pressure are more important (for snow/sand riding) than the bike itself. Buy a $8k Fattie, put shit tyyres on at the wrong pressure and you aint going nowhere.

    As l said my trails are never groomed, so if the snow is deep lm plouging through the hard way, usually in the 30/42 gear, its hard, its great for your balance, you will fall (could be an issue for you), little kids look up to you like a superhero, women throw themselves at you and of course there is an increase in penis size.

    always mad and usually drunk......

  10. #10
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    Can't argue with that lol
    ..now just tinker with our bikes and feed the cats. - oldbear52

  11. #11
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    I am someone that loves my fat bike. I have to add that I have a carbon Beargrease which makes it pretty light and have two sets of of 45north tires for summer and winter conditions. I have also added a Bluto this year. I ride the bike in the summer mostly at Hilton Falls and have brought it to Buckwallow at few times. Like the Captain said, basically flat technical terrain. I have a set of trails close to the house I have been riding for over 25 years, so it offers a bit of change from the full suspension bike. I am not hard core or a racer, but do ride all year round 3 times a week on average. It is nice to have the variety. Fat bikes don't glide over the snow. If you don't have trails systems that get foot traffic or much bike traffic and you have to blaze everything, it can be a chore. Hilton Falls, Albion, and Durham get lots of traffic and are typically good and can be ridden even without a fat bike. My local trails get lots of traffic except for a couple of long sections. My wife and I will snowshoe those and then I go over them with the fat bike. Unless you are going to get out regularly in the winter on your fat bike, or are looking for a different type of experience in your ride, I would not bother with a fat bike.
    At Hilton Falls, for example, you will be able to ride 80% of trails without a fat bike under normal conditions. There will be sections that will be a total chore without a fatty, but who cares. Fat bikes are a bit about the performance on snow, and a lot about the experience of riding that type of bike.
    Burnt Norton

  12. #12
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    Feb 2015
    If you're not having fun on a fat bike then you are just not doing it right!
    That said they're definately not for everyone, but if you enjoy getting out in the Winter your first crust ride will have you falling in love with the sport. There's nothing quite like rolling over several feet of snow on the Spring crust.
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  13. #13
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    Reputation: langford's Avatar
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    May 2004
    I've had my fatbike for a month now and love it! It makes even riding on grass fun! I got a KHS 4season 500 for less than $1000 with ok stuff, hydraulic discs were the main thing I was looking for. I think the tires will probably suck in snow, but otherwise everything is good. I've done a 30km road ride (not the best bike for that, but it was still fun - slow, but fun!), rail trails, single track, even hauled firewood in a trailer with it, no falls yet!
    I didn't try one first, I've known for a while that I needed one. I've ridden my regular mtb the last 5 winters at Halton Forest, the snow really smooths things out, but when the snow gets deep, there's not much room for error, but all that happens is your front wheel stops rather quickly and when you put your foot out to brace yourself you fall over in the snow. Fat bikes tend to be slower = less injury. I'd suggest renting one when conditions are good if you're not sure, but I highly recommend getting one. The fun factor is huge!!

  14. #14
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    I love my fat bike and have a separate set of carbon 29+ wheels and tires for summer use, so it's my year round MTB.

    I bought a cheap first fatbike to see if i liked it...i did...and have bought 3 since then.

    Definitely rent one or buy a cheap one to see how you like it first.

    I tell anyone who asks "I have never had so much fun going so slow" when i talk about riding in the snow.

    Unless you are riding on glare ice or riding down a ski hill (don't ask), you won't hurt yourself if you fall.
    Toronto, Canada
    2019 Scott Foil 10 Disc
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