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  1. #1
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    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?

    We have lot of trails in my area and I love Nordic/XC skiing, though sometimes the snow melts too much, before we can get a good base. As I don't want to scratch up my skis, I am wondering how the snow performance are on fat bikes are like? Usually it can be a mix of snow, ice, grass, and some mud. I did just buy a 29er, so I do have more traction. I do see some folks riding fat bikes even in the summer, though I have yet to try one off road, let alone on the snow. I know they are bit more pricey than your typical bike and I don't know if they will come down in price or not, would they be worth it for winter riding when the snow isn't playing nice? Do any of you guys exclusively use yours year round?

  2. #2
    turtles make me hot
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    Since getting a fat bike in 2012, my 29er fully sits and gets dusty.
    Riding in snow and cold weather has become my favorite thing and I'm on Long Island so if the trails are no good for even a fat bike, I ride on the beach.
    I have a few sets of wheels and tires for different types of rides. 29+ for fast singletrack and two different fat wheelsets for beach or snow.
    I like turtles

  3. #3
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    I rode all last winter in Minnesota. Everything from mud, to packed trails, to fresh snowfalls from 1" to 1' and glare ice.

    Every day was different. Some epic, some miserable.

    My first ride in 6" of slushy wet snow I thought I made a big mistake. Bike was sliding out on me non stop. I could have walked faster.

    Other days on packed (from other bikes) single track trails I could ride as hard as I could in the summer.

    On another occasion it snowed about 8" and I had to ride five miles home from work. WHAT A BLAST! I was passing cars lined up at intersections and jumping snow banks.

    Riding in the winter is unique in that conditions change daily an can make all the difference.

    My skinny bike has zero miles on it since October. Fat bike has over 3,000.
    "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

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    16' Sturgis

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  4. #4
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    I should add, many folks around here ride icy trails with low pressure fat tires or regular tires. I need studs to enjoy icy trails......
    "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

    16' Trek 8.4 DS
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    and I'm OK admitting..
    16' Sturgis

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  5. #5
    Rippin da fAt
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    Hostage, the fatty is a great ride on good snow however, soupy snow sux right out loud. With soupy conditions I head to lower elevations to hit the desert and play in the sand and ride trails. The fatty and the b+ are the two bikes getting the attention as well as my trials bike.
    You'd be hard pressed to get me to not ride my fatty 4 seasons a year cause the fatty is without regard to seasons.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
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  6. #6
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    There will be huge variations depending on your snow depth and quality. Locally, here in Alaska I got first gen Pugsleys and with my 200+ lbs I found I had to have a very hard packed trail in order for me to get the floatation I needed. Even soft snow machine trails left me sinking in with the stock tires. Last year I got a Fatback Corvus setup with 100mm rims and 5" Dillinger studded tires and it was night and day. My wife and I rolled over snow we could not have thought about negotiating on the 4" (nominal) Pugsley tires. If your conditions tend toward icy, consider studded tires of some form. If you have hard pack you may well get away with a 4" tire but having a rig that will at least handle a 5" if you need it is certainly a plus. The other lesson was simply getting the bike around. When we come across a steep snowy hill with the Pugs it's a serious struggle in our boots to force the bike up the slippery snowy slope. With the carbon fiber Corvus it's still awkward to get up slopes we can't ride but at least it's a lot lighter than the Pugs and a huge advantage. So my recommendation is to spend more than you want on a bike that will meet your actual needs instead of buying twice like I did.

  7. #7
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    Studded fat tires, studded fat tires, studded fat tires.

    Some people think they are just for ice, but they are not. Hard frozen ground? They'll give you gobs of grip. Packed snow? You'll feel more like you care on a summer bike and able to "corner", rather than the slightest lateral force causing your wheels to slip. Climbing up that steep hill and want to be able to put the power down rather than have to tip-toe and possibly slip? Powder? IME they are like little claws protruding from the tire, increasing the surface area and once again giving you more grip. More control with your brakes? All this and they don't slow you down (everyone here rides them and races on them, well, most people do, the smart ones IME). I've been on the D5 studded tires for two seasons and I can't think of a better all-around tire for winter. If I have the $$, I'd like to build a narrower carbon wheelset to mount studded D4s for racing, but that would be only for racing and I do pretty well racing on my D5s anyway Any good studded fat tire will probably do, but if you live in a place that gets winter, where the snow usually stays for weeks to months and the ground temperature is such that it's usually below freezing, they are highly worth it. Truth be told, they aren't great on ice, they are infinitely better than no-studs, but compared to narrow-studded tires they don't put as much pressure on the studs and don't dig in as well, but they more than make up for this in their ability to handle nearly every winter situation with confidence and control.

    I say all the time that you can spend 450-500 for a crankset and it'll work just like a $200 or cheaper crankset, it's not giving you any increased functionality and while the weight savings may be worth it to some, the value is pretty low IMO. With $500 of studded tires, it's worth every penny and I'd do it again every time.
    Last edited by Jayem; 08-06-2016 at 12:15 PM.
    "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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  8. #8
    bigger than you.
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    fat bikes suck in the winter. Nobody likes them; anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

  9. #9
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    ^^ I'm a liar.
    Snow was gone before I got mine. It did work great in the muddy spring and still works great in the summer. My old skinny tired 26 sits in the corner of the garage neglected.
    Fat tires offer flotation and traction, you can go places you wouldn't think of with skinny tires sand, mud, snow ect.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the input, I live near Rochester,NY. We can get pounded with snow, though there is always a warm day that likes to melt it away The winter can be hit or miss up here.

  11. #11
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    All we have are fat bikes any more. The stability of a fat bike and all the places they will go , makes any other kind of bike a bad choice for us.
    If you get one I highly recommend getting the fattest you can.. I did not do that and this fall will be getting a fatter / fattest bike .
    Studs change the winter riding. But don't have to cost ALOT . I tried out several different studded tires last winter and found the steel framing screw studs to be by far the best for traction. They actually do provide summer time bare dry ground type traction on glare ice. There are threads on here about studding your own tires. .
    Seems everyone here that has tried larger than 4" tires has stayed with them except possibly for summer riding only. It's easy to put a narrow tire on a 197 spaced rear end . Putting wide on a 170 spaced rear end however is difficult.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hostage View Post
    Thanks for the input, I live near Rochester,NY. We can get pounded with snow, though there is always a warm day that likes to melt it away The winter can be hit or miss up here.
    I grew up in Fairport and Penfield. Fat biking will work just fine for your winter conditions. There are tens of condition variables to any particular snow day which you'll learn to deal with in the best possible way. Some days riding just isn't possible. Fat biking will open up more days to outside winter recreation where skiing isn't good, but not necessarily every day.

    Haven't been up there in 2 years, but last I knew several shops had fatbikes in stock during the year. Mendon Cyclesmith (craig) is on here from time to time. Rochester Fitness and Cycling had some in the past too.

  13. #13
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    It's Shweet!!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Trigger Finger View Post
    Seems everyone here that has tried larger than 4" tires has stayed with them except possibly for summer riding only.
    It may seem that way but it is for sure not true. True for many but not all.
    Latitude 61

  15. #15
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    My fat bike works great in almost any conditions, and it makes poor conditions almost fun.

    I have ridden a 26er and a 29er in the Winter for years, though, as long as there was not enough snow to XC ski on.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  16. #16
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    I live outside of Chicago and ride and/or ski everyday. I started on a 26", then 29" and now on a fatbike. The fatty's better, but your 29er will work.

    When it really good skiing, the biking won't be the greatest. But after a few days the trail gets packed and the riding is good again.

    You'll get a lot more riding days. My best season for nordic was 85 days during the polar vortex.

  17. #17
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    I had a blast on the snow! I do ride my fatty most of the time now but still enjoy the Lefty Flash 29er at times. Go with the fattest you can for sure. My Amorok will go 5" and I am running a 4.9 and it is sick how much traction I get from these things! Moving to a Farley that will take a 5"tire but comes with 4.7" now. Fat is where it's at man!
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff_G View Post
    I should add, many folks around here ride icy trails with low pressure fat tires or regular tires. I need studs to enjoy icy trails......
    I love my fatty studded tires.

  19. #19
    vmk
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    Do I need to say anything except that I didn't touch my XC skies all winter




  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by vmk View Post
    Do I need to say anything except that I didn't touch my XC skis all winter
    Exactly. Mine don't even come out of the basement any more. Even though I can't ride my fatty in all the conditions that I can xc ski in, I have so much more fun on the former, and we have such good conditions and trail opportunities for fat bikes around here, that strapping on my xc skis is just boring by comparison.

    Of course, as with all things snow-related, your ability to travel on a fat bike is still condition dependent. Learning to understand snow dynamics helps a lot with assessing conditions appropriate for fatties.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by vmk View Post
    Do I need to say anything except that I didn't touch my XC skies all winter
    Looks like that's probably sacrilegious there.
    Finland?

  22. #22
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    Hi there,

    How receptive are XC skiers who you encounter to sharing the trail?

    Cheers!
    Glen

  23. #23
    Nor­wegr
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    Quote Originally Posted by vmk View Post
    Do I need to say anything except that I didn't touch my XC skies all winter
    That's an amazing bike, been wanting to build one like that since the dude came out!

  24. #24
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    It comes down to snow conditions and climate. Approximately half of the snow rides i did last year were completely miserable. The ones that were good, were epic though.

    There are a ton of people here that don't just drink the fatbike coolaid, they're snorting fatbike cocaine and shooting fatbike heroine while smoking the fatbike crack and say it's their only bike and fatbikes cure cancer.

    I'll be honest, i get excited when fatbike season is over and i can get back to my nomad. Fatbikes keep me in shape over the winter, wich is exactly what i wanted it for. I did get a new carbon fatbike that im excited to try this winter, but I'm not jonsing for it.

    It's different, it's fun, but sometimes it sucks. There's a pretty steep learning curve.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Utahbikemike View Post
    There are a ton of people here that don't just drink the fatbike coolaid, they're snorting fatbike cocaine and shooting fatbike heroine while smoking the fatbike crack and say it's their only bike and fatbikes cure cancer.
    God I love this quote
    "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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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpeden View Post
    Hi there,

    How receptive are XC skiers who you encounter to sharing the trail?

    Cheers!
    Glen
    Haha.
    "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

    You're turning black metallic.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Utahbikemike View Post
    It comes down to snow conditions and climate. Approximately half of the snow rides i did last year were completely miserable. The ones that were good, were epic though.

    There are a ton of people here that don't just drink the fatbike coolaid, they're snorting fatbike cocaine and shooting fatbike heroine while smoking the fatbike crack and say it's their only bike and fatbikes cure cancer.

    I'll be honest, i get excited when fatbike season is over and i can get back to my nomad. Fatbikes keep me in shape over the winter, wich is exactly what i wanted it for. I did get a new carbon fatbike that im excited to try this winter, but I'm not jonsing for it.

    It's different, it's fun, but sometimes it sucks. There's a pretty steep learning curve.
    I'd stop short of saying any of my winter fattie rides are 'miserable'- but some rides are definitely more challenging than others. I still pretty much always have fun though. Other than that, fully agreed. Fat bikes were invented for certain kinds of terrain and conditions, and they're pretty damn good at that when conditions are right. But I'm over wanting to ride one year round.
    "The only way we can truly control the outcome of a ride is not going on it, which is a choice I'm unwilling to make." -K.B.

  28. #28
    slower than you
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    they're like this...

    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-12493479_10153421926478123_6089973721482637557_o.jpg

    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-886873_10153391802798123_176806925104557843_o.jpg

    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-12484593_10153389948928123_4430792298192386476_o.jpg

    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-12314699_10153318883848123_9180510676109476610_o.jpg

    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-11233166_10152926535953123_368947513303334636_n.jpg

    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-11233560_10152923767068123_4236746405213018972_n.jpg

    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-10888390_10152619399908123_5810032762912712057_n-1-.jpg
    "May your trails be winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." - Ed Abbey
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  29. #29
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    Outstanding stuff Chrysler!
    Yep, it's a little funny that the OP asked if the fatbikes were any good for the specific conditions they evolved to address.
    Obviously, ymmv but I'm really looking forward to my first winter on the XC trails where I live! I've really enjoyed it on the hilly, boggy areas where I live but I'm not a DH uber racer and never will be a roadie - situations where I'm pretty sure most would NOT want to use a fatbike. To each his or her own.
    2016 Trek Farley 5 "Farley"
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  30. #30
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    I fell in love with fatbikes not only for winter riding, but because they are the best form of mountain bike/offroad bike in existence.
    Yes there are better downhill options, and yes a dedicated trail bike will probably work better in summer trails for most people, but if you want "one bike to rule them all" fatbike is definately the way to go. I use mine exclusively all 4 seasons, and no other bike brings the same

    As people here mentions, get something that supports the biggest tires (look towards 2xl support and see the 2xl thread for spesifics), they are my go to winter tire, no competition. (i do often ride outside any groomed tracks though)

    That said though, some pople have the wrong idea about rinding in snow: They have an image of themselves just pedaling away like it's summertime, and that is often not the case.
    Even with 5.1" tires there are times it's like this: pedaling 10-15 meters, washout. start agin. Another 10-15 meters, stop, etc. too much powder, too much wet snow without grip, etc.
    It's not like rinding in summer, but if you can get into the idea that some days the challenge lies in the "grind", getting the balance right, and finding traction.
    Some days your ride might only be half a mile, yet you'll come home swetty and tired like you'd just run a marathon.. Another day you might float like a maniac and travel tens of miles without braking a sweat. Some days you'll ride faster than a downhill skier, and some days it's like riding on the moon.

    The beauty is that when riding on snow every day is different.

  31. #31
    cmg
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    Im one that injected the Fatbike heroin, and got hooked.
    I'd never even ridden one and figured Id try Chinga carbon one, and after a lot of playing with set up, Im stoked with it.
    Its been 1.5yrs and my fully has had no work since Fattie arrived. I ride Fattie all year round, I also "race" Fattie, in that I enter races with the hope I can finish them
    So the question at hand......
    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?
    Its hard work.......but worth it
    Motivation - sitting inside in 20 degrees and looking at the thermometer which says outside is -5 degrees, was never for me "motivating"
    Grind - forget this float bullsh!t you hear everywhere, you do sink in (not as much as a skinny tho) and it can be hard work
    Cold - its bloody cold, but proper gloves fixed 80% of my problem, still often came home with blue toes though
    Clothing - takes half an hour to dress/undress
    Salt - I still rode on roads a bit, so salt was a issue
    Commuting - is funner in summer (with Fattie of course)

    Couple of side notes though:
    * Im an Aussie (from the tropics) now living in Switzerland, snow/cold is new to me
    * Ive only ridden one season in the snow
    * for that one season I was unfit due to a broken leg in the summer (not Fattie related)

    I am absolutely looking forward to this winter though

    and as always, YMMV.....
    always mad and usually drunk......

  32. #32
    vmk
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpeden View Post
    Hi there,

    How receptive are XC skiers who you encounter to sharing the trail?

    Cheers!
    Glen
    Sometimes it feels that they even have a hard time sharing it with other skiers... But I don't mind, just keep out when it's soft and avoid busy trails/times (night is a best time to be there with lights).

    But it's not fun and games all the time, sometimes you need to push or just try to survive somehow to the next road. Now that I think of it, IT too is FUN, just a different kind of fun.
    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-img-20160305-wa0002.jpgHow are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-img-20160308-wa0003.jpg
    It's not 1000% fat biking here:
    How are fatbikes and trail riding in the winter?-wp_20160306_13_49_28_pro.jpg

  33. #33
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    "Other" bikes? There are OTHER bikes (besides fatties)? When my first fat bike showed-up, all other bikes ceased to exist for me. I sold my full suspension 26er, and my hard tail has been gathering spider webs in the garage. But my two fat bikes are ridden constantly. In fact, as I type this: I'm looking at the one leaning on my work desk. Doesn't matter if it's 100 degrees outside (like it nearly is today) or 10 below... there are no other bikes in my universe anymore (at least not ones that I wanna ride).

  34. #34
    Rippin da fAt
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpeden View Post
    Hi there,

    How receptive are XC skiers who you encounter to sharing the trail?

    Cheers!
    Glen
    That one depends on the kind of people where you hit the trail. In my region the snowmobilers and xc'rs get along fairly well. They generally do help with donations for the grooming operations which is nice. Multi use is multi use. Some people think the world revolves around them and others are very kind and courteous.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

  35. #35
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    Our Nordic Ski Club might be an offshoot of the Hitler Youth, haha...but honestly it's not that bad. Most problems have come from riders on ski-only trails and then subsequent over-reactions from Nordic skiers. I think it may have been worse in the past, more people are embracing the fatbikes in anchorage and many of them are Nordic skiers. Plus the kids doing Nordic ski teams go crazy (in a good way) when the fatbikers go by.
    "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

    You're turning black metallic.

  36. #36
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    If you're a nordic skier, like me, you probably will mostly find the fattie fun during the shoulder season when there's not enough snow. If you're a diehard bike person who would otherwise be on the trainer, it'll change your life!

    Just get some warm shoes and flat pedals, and save the suffering of clipless.

    -Walt

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