The juggernaut of bicycles – this is how fat tires bikes are called. They have wide and knobby tires, often reaching a width of 4 to 5 inches. These bikes are heavy and can be a beast on the trail. While they are more popular for biking in the snow during the winter months, they are versatile enough to tackle a wide array of trails, even on pavements.
Do you want to get started in fat-tire biking? The thought of getting in a fat bike can be intimidating, but if you know the right techniques, it will be a pleasant experience.
Why You Should Try Fat-Tire Biking
Before we start talking about the basics of fat bike riding, let’s talk about some of its benefits. The experience is far from riding a regular mountain bike or road bike. Here are some of the most compelling reasons to try a fat bike today!
- It takes you to places you haven’t biked before. From snowy hills to muddy trails, this is a versatile bike. Even on sandy beaches, this bike is sure to deliver exceptional performance.
- The weather does not matter if you want to go biking. Because of its weight, it has great wind resistance, making the bike stable even when it is windy.
- You can have a more comfortable ride. The added weight also means that it is more forgiving. It can absorb vibrations so that your body does not have to deal with most of the impact.
- It is also a great way to stay fit and healthy, allowing you to burn more calories than you would in a normal bike.
- Riding a fat bike is a challenging experience. This is for those who dare to go bold and ride new territories while staying safe and sound.
Choosing a Fat Tire Bike
As you get started in fat-tire biking, one of the first things that you need to do is to find the right bike. The options are plenty, but this should not give you an excuse to choose just any bike. Start by considering your budget, and from here, you can create a shortlist of the brands and models that you can afford.
Like in other types of bikes, you need to find the right size. From the length of the frame to the diameter of the wheels, make sure that the size is suitable for you. It would be best if you can physically try the bike before purchasing.
Look at the parts of the bike and see to it that they are all high-quality. From the saddle to the tires, see to it that the bike is built to perform. This way, you can be confident that it will provide the best bang for the buck.
Simplicity is also a major consideration. With this, experts recommend choosing a 1x drivetrain instead. You do not need to have complicated gears. Unlike a mountain bike, you can survive with fewer gears while making sure that you get the most out of every ride.
Why are fat tire bikes so expensive?
Fat tire bikes are expensive because they are bigger than traditional bikes, and hence, they cost more to produce. The tires are wider and larger, and hence, it will require more materials. Plus, they are built to handle tough conditions, so quality is second to none, which makes the price go up.
Are fat bikes worth it?
Yes, fat bikes are worth it! You can get the best value for every dollar, especially if you pick one from a reliable brand. You can take it almost anywhere regardless of the weather. Regardless if it is summer or winter, you can go biking.
Gear Up Before You Ride
Before you start fat bike riding, make sure that you are equipped with the right gear, especially those that you will need for your safety. The right mountain bike gear can save your life while also making your ride more comfortable.
Among others, one of the non-negotiables is your helmet. This will protect your head from serious injuries arising from a crash. A regular mountain bike helmet will be enough to protect your head. Elbow and knee pads will also help, especially if you are a beginner.
Just like in what to wear mountain biking, you also need to dress appropriately for fat biking, especially if it is winter. Wear lightweight jackets with sufficient insulation to keep you warm. Choose clothes that will make it easy for you to move while protecting you from the cold weather. If it is summer, breathable materials are the best but don’t go for those that will easily absorb sweat, such as cotton.
You also have to check your bike and make sure that the components are up to the task of fat-tire biking. For instance, you will need flat pedals. If you walk in the snow, it will be difficult to get your cleat back to the pedals. The best way to avoid this problem is to use flat pedals instead. They will let you wear your boots without worrying that there will be no traction.
Know the Proper Technique
Most of the fat-tire biking techniques are similar to riding a mountain bike. From mountain bike cornering to the basics of steering, most of the techniques will be the same.
When you are riding a fat-tire bike, one of the most important is gentle steering. At the same time, you will need to maintain an upright position. Regardless of the bike handlebar type, you should never turn it too quickly. Otherwise, the tires will end up sinking. It is best to be slow and steady in your ride.
Proper posture is also crucial when you are mastering the fundamental techniques of fat-tire biking. You need to use your core strength for maintaining a vertical posture. A fat-tire bike is heavy, so you will need more core strength. Like MTB training, you need to strengthen your core muscles to make you more efficient when you hit the trails.
The pedaling technique in fat bike riding is different compared to the way you move mountain bike pedals. Emphasis should be on making smooth pedal strokes and not on pedaling quickly. You should apply enough force to complete a pedaling circle instead of simply pushing down hard every time you pedal. If you apply sudden bursts of power, you may lose control of the bike.
Mind the Tire Pressure
One of the most important in fat bike riding is the pressure of your tires. It is best to keep it low. The specific pressure will depend on the size of the tires you are using. The logic is that when the tire pressure is low, it increases float and reduces rut. This will allow the tire to slightly flatten and distribute weight evenly when you are on the trail.
The pressure will depend on the surface where you are using the bike. Some factors will affect the right pressure, such as the weight of the rider, here is a general guide on the right pressure on various terrain conditions.
- 0 to 2 PSI: For light and dry snow
- 2 to 3 PSI: When you are in deeper snow with a need for more flotation
- 4 to 5 SPI: In softer snow or when the snow is not compact
- 6 to 8 PSI: For very hard-packed snow
- 10 PSI and up: When you are on a pavement
Take note that fat tire bikes are sensitive to pressure changes. A slight difference in pressure will cause a significant change in the way the bike performs. So, make sure to always check the pressure and see to it that it is right for a given environment.
Get Your Bike Winter-Ready
For most people who will be trying fat bike riding, they will do so during winter and in snow. The wide and knobby tires of fat bikes are made for such conditions, making it easy to cut through the snow. Before you do this, however, make sure that your bike is winter-ready.
As mentioned earlier, you should have suitable clothing. Aside from this, you should also have studded tires. In some cases, the tread pattern of the fat tire is enough to plow on snowy grounds. However, if you are riding on frozen ground, it is best to have studded tires. It will be easy to lose traction and control, resulting in accidents. With the help of studs, on the other hand, the tires will have a stronger grip.
Before you head out, you should also take the time to lubricate the chain of the fat tire bike. This will help to minimize friction and make the ride smoother. Shifting can be sluggish when you are biking in cold weather. The best way to make your bike more responsive is to lubricate the chain. Keeping the drivetrain clean will also help to optimize the performance of your bike.
Fat Bike Riding Etiquette
As a beginner, you will most likely commit mistakes. However, avoid being the annoying rider that other people will hate. To do this, one of the most important is to learn proper etiquette. Below are the most important things to remember.
Avoid Freshly Groomed Trails
If you see a freshly-groomed trail, it is best to avoid it. If you go through it, you will be leaving a rut. The rut will freeze, and you will ruin the experience for others who will be passing through the trail later on. It is best to give the trail some time to dry and harden before riding it.
Know the Trails
If you are riding on snow, avoid Nordic trails and classic trails. Research the area to make sure that fat bikes are allowed. You should also ride the firmest part of the trail to avoid a deep rut that can pose risks to other people. When you are on the trail, always stay as far right as possible. Reserve the left side for skiers and snowmobiles.
Ride, Don’t Slide
A common mistake that most beginners commit is to slide their fat-tire bike on the trail instead of riding it. You should never lock up your back tire, especially when you are descending. This can leave a rut on the trail. To avoid sliding, learn how to use the brakes effectively.
Q: Can you ride a fat tire bike on the pavement?
Yes, you can ride a fat tire bike on the pavement. It will work fine on smooth surfaces the same way it will perform on muddy and snowy terrains. However, because it is wide, heavy, and typically has lower tire pressure, it won’t be as fast a regular mountain bike.
Q: Are fat bikes harder to ride?
Yes, fat bikes are harder to ride compared to regular bikes. One of the main reasons for this is because fat bikes are heavier and bigger, and hence, it will require more effort on your end. Also, these bikes are often used on snow and mud, making it more difficult to conquer the terrains.
Q: What is a fat bike good for?
A fat bike is good for riding challenging terrains, especially when snow, mud, and other obstacles are present. The knobby and wide tires make it a great option for winter riding. Compared to regular bikes, the wheels will offer better traction.
Q: Are fat bikes fast?
Fat bikes are fast, but that depends on where you are riding. If you are on pavements, fat bikes will be slower because of their weight and tire pressure. In snow, gravel, sand, and other environments, however, you can expect fat tire to be faster.
Globo Surf Overview
Fat-tire biking is a great experience, especially if you want to ride through the snow in the winter. You will be using a heavier bike with wider tires, so it can be a bit more challenging. Preparation is key! From being equipped with the right gear to knowing the proper etiquette, take note of our recommendations above for a pleasant ride!