Fat bike for deep snow- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New question here. Fat bike for deep snow

    Hi all,
    Fat bikes caught my mind much so I am interesting, do they really allow ride over knee-deep or waist-deep unpacked snow in the forest. Out of ski, hiking, snow mobiles or any other kind of trails. It could be funny complement to my skiis.

    I would like to be able to ride where backcountry (not XC!) skiers can.
    What tire diameter is sufficient for this or my expectations are too high and it will sink as "usual" bike ?

  2. #2
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    With Clownshoes, Bud n Lou and 5 psi, 6" of fresh powder is as much of a workout as I desire. It's extremely slow going and a lot of work, YMMV.
    Riding Fat and still just as fast as I never was.

  3. #3
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    It really depends on the snow. The same patch of snow can be rideable one day and not the next depending on temperature etc.

    If you're sinking in up to your knees, it's unlikely the bike will improve things.

    Fatbikes are not a magic pill, but they're many times better than the alternative.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mic106 View Post
    my expectations are too high and it will sink as "usual" bike ?
    This.

  5. #5
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    If so, as in any case I will be restricted to trails, is it reasonable to get 4" tire bike which could save me some $$ or weight?

  6. #6
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    If I was starting from scratch, I'd buy a frame with the ability to take the widest tyres, even if I wasn't going to fit the fattest.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mic106 View Post
    If so, as in any case I will be restricted to trails, is it reasonable to get 4" tire bike which could save me some $$ or weight?
    If you are going to be doing a lot of fresh, unpacked powder - your best bet is to go wiiiiide. 4.8's

    Do you snowshoe at all? That will help... and you can make your own trails ahead of time. Also... if it snows 5" and you ride a path... then the next day it snows some more... you ride it... etc etc... then it isn't so bad as you are packing it down in between snowfall.

    But otherwise, no - you can't go plowing through knee deep snow very easily, still lots of resistance.
    ...Be careful what you're looking at because it might be looking back...

  8. #8
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    They are great fun when trail conditions for quality xc-skiing are marginal or worse...seems as though many feel fatties are an absolute necessity for ALL winter riding, however...Oftentimes trails are quite ride-able on "regular" bikes, or those only "slightly" modified with 40-50mm rims and 2.0+ tires...we used "Snowcats" and 2.0+ tires extensively in Alaska for more than a decade before fatbikes came about...i.e.-sometimes a fatbike is superfluous...conversely, even the fattest of bikes sometimes is nowhere near sufficient, they are fatbikes not magic bikes and the laws of physics still apply...but many times they turn what would be a suffer-fest on a "normal" bike into a tolerable or even enjoyable ordeal...or better...Bottom line-do it...Alaska has a couple World-cup xc-skiiers on fatbikes now, presumably for the cross-training/poor-trail condition aspect...additionally, this last spring I rode with an olympic-hopeful speed-skater (it was his first fatbike ride). He said the fatbiking would make a great addition to his off-ice training...coincidentally, I broke him...he said no-more before the ride was over and we took the road home...
    If Huffy made an airplane, would you fly in it?

  9. #9
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    I like to try to get conditions where you had a bit of melting in the day with a clear sky overnight so it freezes, then you get a nice crust. Unfortunately I have to drive up the mountain to see if that's the case. Rideability totally varies with the weather.
    All I am saying is give pizza chants

  10. #10
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    Ok. I will try fatty any way. Now I know what to expect.
    Really appreciate your answers!

  11. #11
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    In conditions where you need wide backcountry skiis (as opposed to say Fisher e99's) a fatbike ain't gonna float you and you will be walking or possibly postholing. I weigh 190 and even with Bud and Lou on 100 mm rims, in conditions where I would be postholing when walking, I can't quite ride either.

    Gonna need the next evolutionary increase to 6+ inch tires and 130mm rims to push past that threshold.

  12. #12
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    Sometimes when you posthole if you walk you can ride. If the snow will almost support you walking on a semi hardpacked trail over deep snow you can ride but not walk, at least for a ways. But if you are wading through waist deep powder no fat tire no matter how wide is going to do it with only human power.
    Latitude 61

  13. #13
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    Granny gear 4psi just hoping to keep balance.

    If you can ride in anything over your axles you are doing good.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashtestdummy View Post
    With Clownshoes, Bud n Lou and 5 psi, 6" of fresh powder is as much of a workout as I desire. It's extremely slow going and a lot of work, YMMV.
    Quote Originally Posted by duggus View Post
    If you are going to be doing a lot of fresh, unpacked powder - your best bet is to go wiiiiide. 4.8's

    Do you snowshoe at all? That will help... and you can make your own trails ahead of time. Also... if it snows 5" and you ride a path... then the next day it snows some more... you ride it... etc etc... then it isn't so bad as you are packing it down in between snowfall.

    But otherwise, no - you can't go plowing through knee deep snow very easily, still lots of resistance.
    Quote Originally Posted by damnitman View Post
    They are great fun when trail conditions for quality xc-skiing are marginal or worse...seems as though many feel fatties are an absolute necessity for ALL winter riding, however...Oftentimes trails are quite ride-able on "regular" bikes, or those only "slightly" modified with 40-50mm rims and 2.0+ tires...we used "Snowcats" and 2.0+ tires extensively in Alaska for more than a decade before fatbikes came about...i.e.-sometimes a fatbike is superfluous...conversely, even the fattest of bikes sometimes is nowhere near sufficient, they are fatbikes not magic bikes and the laws of physics still apply...but many times they turn what would be a suffer-fest on a "normal" bike into a tolerable or even enjoyable ordeal...or better...Bottom line-do it...Alaska has a couple World-cup xc-skiiers on fatbikes now, presumably for the cross-training/poor-trail condition aspect...additionally, this last spring I rode with an olympic-hopeful speed-skater (it was his first fatbike ride). He said the fatbiking would make a great addition to his off-ice training...coincidentally, I broke him...he said no-more before the ride was over and we took the road home...
    Quote Originally Posted by jonshonda View Post
    Granny gear 4psi just hoping to keep balance.

    If you can ride in anything over your axles you are doing good.
    Thanks for the honest comments everyone. I'm a car free year round rider in Canada, I live at the core of a large city that luckily has a extensive off road trail system. I've been making out fine for years winter riding with 2.4"-2.5" tires. I might struggle somewhat on the days where the snow is fresh but wihin a day people that walk these same trails give me a 12" wide packed trail to ride on. I love hikers, god bless em.

    Conditions change here very quickly with Chinook winds so the snow can disappear in a very short time, while I wait for the next snow storm I can hardly wait to get the big heavy tires off my bike. Then I come to MTBR and read threads where people pose the question like "Is a fat bike a good choice if you have only one bike?", and the answer from a lot of people is a resounding yes, and I think to myself, what am I missing here?, I would hate to have to spin those heavy wheels and tires in conditions other than snow or sand, I'll stick to my 2.0+ tires for most conditions.

    But here is the thing, I find my self caught up in the fat bike craze, I think about how cool it would be to own one. I work in a bike shop I can do fat relatively inexpensively. Then I come and read threads like this and it's put into perspective. For me to truly take advantage of what a fat bike offers I would have to drive it to a location out of the city just like I do now to go mountain biking, I live in the foothills of the Rockies, as an everyday winter ride, it's way too much bike.

    Thanks folks, this thread has really helped me to be honest with myself and decide if I needed to go fat, the conclusion I have come to is that I don't. I would be better off for the conditions I live in to just go chubby instead, Rabbit Hole, Knard, Dirt Wizard, 2.75"-3" ish

  15. #15
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    I believe in the 2 bike approach to winter commuting. One skinny/studded tire bike and one Fatbike. There have been times when studs weren't enough, and others when Fat knocked me on my ass. Studded fat tires are too expensive and overkill for most of my commuting. I can usually tell which bike is better for the day's commute by the time I get down my driveway.
    Jason
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  16. #16
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    have to remember pedals will be shoveling snow, it's not just about tire float,, deep snow interrupts your pedaling as well. get a pair of marquette fat skis to lay down a track, then ride it the next day... a bit quicker than snowshoes,,,

  17. #17
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    A fatbike will not allow you to go where XC skiers can't go. Nor will it allow you to go where BC skiers go - into the backcountry, off trail, through deep snow. Riding over/through 8" of fresh unconsolidated snow on a hard base (ice/ground) will test the best of riders using the widest of rims and tires. Even if it seems OK for the first 100 meters, you'll quickly discover that you cannot possibly ride for miles to your favorite BC run allowing you to go where your BC skis allow you to go.

    These bikes are best suited for already established trails with a firm base and can handle snow depths up to 3" easily and up to 8" with wide setups, rider skill, and legs of pure steel. They are not skis. They do handle a whole lot better than a skinny tire bike though on consolidated trails with snow. Your expectations seem a bit in the clouds. Get a bike though and you'll become grounded with their capabilities and more fun than you can imagine.

  18. #18
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    If I was starting from scratch, I'd buy a frame with the ability to take the widest tyres, even if I wasn't going to fit the fattest.

    +1!!!
    The LPG

  19. #19
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    ...To help clarify my statement, I bought a fatbike 6 years ago and other than an occasional errand on my cargo bike, I have not gone back to skinnies, winter or summer...Get a fatty and two or three different wheelsets and tire combo's and you have one bike for all seasons...100's for soft winter conditions, 65's for winter hardpack-n-ice and summer dirt, 29+ for summer and for road work...you can even replace various components for seasonal applications...all with one bike...

    -edit- oh yeah, I forgot to mention the fun-factor...I have never ridden a bike that is as much fun as my fatbike...ever...even when fatbiking sucks its tons more fun than anything I've ever pedaled (that's tonnes for those of you not in the US).
    If Huffy made an airplane, would you fly in it?

  20. #20
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    This is an example. My tyres aren't the fattest available on this bike.

    You can see where my pedals have been scooping snow. Once you're sinking that deep it is really hard work.

    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 5736' Highlands, Scotland

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAGI410 View Post
    I believe in the 2 bike approach to winter commuting. One skinny/studded tire bike and one Fatbike. There have been times when studs weren't enough, and others when Fat knocked me on my ass. Studded fat tires are too expensive and overkill for most of my commuting. I can usually tell which bike is better for the day's commute by the time I get down my driveway.
    I'll be doing the same. I wrench at a shop and have been commuting on a studded skinny bike when it's icy, but leaving it at home when there's snow. I've had a few customers take the two bike approach and it seems to be the best way to approach winter riding in these conditions. I'll soon have my own Moonlander to do the same myself.

  22. #22
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    I use my clunker on the snow bike trails, but can only do that when it is very cold. Last winter it was -20F a lot so I rode the clunker with 2.1 tires quite a bit on them. When it got up to +15, even the day after it was -20, I just sunk in, couldn't go anywhere. The winter before last it was our typical +10 to +20F and I could not use my clunker at all on these trails. I think I am going to buy a fat bike for our groomed winter trails, but I am unsure about what tires work?

  23. #23
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    One time last winter I rode in 6-8" of super-light powder on a flat surface once. It was a unique event due to the consistency of the snow, otherwise I wasn't able to replicate anything like it. The usual limit is more like 4" of snow. You need compaction to ride a fatbike, or a hard surface not far below the snow. Riding through 4-5" of snow is extremely tiring and you make little progress. A few inches on a hard or firm surface is just about right. Fatbikes make it easy to ride trails that have just a little bit of compaction, as trails tend to take on an upside-down "U" profile, with a hard raised center and soft edges. Riding with skinnier tires usually results in being pulled to the edge and then stalling out as your bike sinks way down in the snow.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  24. #24
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    I use Rossignol BC 125's and they will go where no bike can in deep powder. But, corn the snow up and freeze it, and studded tires will go anywhere with the right maniac.

  25. #25
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    I was wondering why I was getting sucked to the outside and bogged down on corners with my 2 inch tires. I never noticed the upside down U, but it makes sense.

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